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Posts Tagged ‘albariño’

Date of visit: Saturday, April 29, 2017

“Galicia is Different.” That phrase is seen a lot in social media and it’s quite true. Galicia is full of unique places, people and things to do. One unique place to visit is the aldea (village) of Fofán. We first visited Monica and Juan’s charming stone house in the hills of the O Salnés region in 2015 (read all about that visit here). Since then, the industrious couple have made many noteworthy changes to their quirky little agrochic haven:

1.  The 2016 fall harvest was fruitful with the arrival of this sweet little bundle to Fofán – baby Carmen! This captivating little beauty loves everyone who visits.

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Juan, baby Carmen, and Monica welcome visitors to their home in Fofán.

2. Two guest rooms have been welcoming visitors in the main house for some time now via AirBnB. Both done in clean, crisp white, guests will feel quite at home in either of these rooms on the house’s main floor. I can only imagine how wonderful it would be to sleep here and wake up to that delicious, fresh-baked bread smell wafting in from the kitchen just down the hall!

3. Monica now hosts bread making classes in the kitchen at Fofán. The home’s kitchen isn’t for show – it’s a true working kitchen. Monica continues to make her legendary pan de calabaza (pumpkin bread), and now offers various bread making classes by appointment. We participated in an “international” bread making class. Other classes are geared towards artisan bread, pastry, Galician empanadas, and even classes for kids to come and try their hand at crafting homemade bread.

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Here I am getting my hands dirty making Chinese ‘bao‘ buns, stuffed with a delicious mix of ground chicken, ginger, garlic, and scallion. The bao were then placed in a bamboo steamer for about 20 minutes until ready. The best part of the class? Sampling the delicious product!

The Chinese bao and Italian foccaccia that we made during the class are on the left. Monica’s signature bread, the pan de calabaza is on the right.

Delicious homemade Focaccia in three easy steps:
Make the dough.
Spread it out by hand with good olive oil and fresh herbs (rosemary here).
Bake to perfection in the oven with a bit of steam.

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Monica and MyLifeOnVacation pose with the freshly griddled Tunisian black olive flatbread.

4. Monica and Juan are frequent international travelers so inspiration from exotic locales feels right at home in the aldea. As pictured above, we made Tunisian flatbread, Italian focaccia, and Chinese bao during the international bread making class. We then learned about some of that international luxury was also coming to the lower level of the house in the form of a Turkish bath / hammam. The basement was extended to be the home of the new sauna. Since this photo was taken, in April 2017, the construction has been completed: windows and doors of the cellar (pictured below) were installed and the Turkish bath / hammam is operational at the time of publication of this post.

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The basement at Fofán, now home to a relaxing Turkish bath.

5. A bonus of the basement expansion is this gorgeous new terrace above, situated right off of the kitchen. With a quaint white picket fence, ample seating, gorgeous Portuguese tiles, and fantastic hillside views, this is a completely inviting place to relax and soak in the peace and tranquility of the aldea below.

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Visitors will enjoy this beautiful large patio overlooking the entire village. One can actually see the ocean from the house! Looks like the perfect spot to enjoy a bottle of wine.

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How about a closer look at that Portuguese tile on the new terrace? Gorgeous! And our Eferro zocos (wooden clogs – in this case sandals and boots) look great too! I’m wearing newly acquired sandals and Monica is sporting her custom-made wedding boots.

6. The wide variety of trees and plants impressed us during our first visit back in 2015 – more than 30 different varieties. Since then there are even more plants, trees and crops being planted. In addition to the existing greenhouse, two new structures are now on the property in Fofán: a bunny hutch and chicken coop!

Cute bunnies in the hutch and productive heritage chickens in the coop.

You never know what’s going to be growing in the village: During our visit, fresh herbs, artichokes and strawberries were in season. We enjoyed sampling the sweet fresh picked strawberries immensely.

7. There are hórreos all over Galicia, but very few have been transformed into a comfortable guest room that one can stay in.  Talk about a unique opportunity at Fofán!

8. But the most notable change since our 2015 visit has got to be the acquisition of Galicia’s “largest bottle of Albariño”!  It was originally a boat (constructed in 1999 to promote the Camino de Santiago) and is now affixed to the land here in Fofán. A local artist from Coruña was brought in to paint the “label” of the wine bottle. Since these photos were taken in April 2017, all of the construction work has been completed and the bottle is ready for guests to stay in this utterly unique lodging.

The local newspaper published this great article titled “Sleeping inside a bottle” in June 2016, which shows the final look of the bottle inside and out. In addition to offering the entire bottle for guests to rent overnight, they plan to also use the sitting area to host wine tastings, or other events, in the garden. Let me guess …. tastings of Albariño wine??

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Photo courtesy of MadeinFofán.

As mentioned above, one can actually see the ocean from Made in Fofán.  As the map above illustrates, they are conveniently located to a variety of interesting towns in the O Salnés region:

 

 

 

  • Meaño (13 minute drive) The closest destination wineries are in Meaño, a mere 13 minutes away from Fofán.
  • Cambados (15 minute drive) The noble old town of Cambados is known as the “Capital of Albariño” and was named a “Cidade Europea de Vino 2017” (2017 European Wine City). Their annual Albariño wine festival, the first weekend in August, is one of the most highly anticipated events of the year in the region.
  • Portonovo (18 minute drive) Just on the other side of Sanxenxo is the beautiful Baltar Beach in the town of Portonovo. Calm waters welcome visitors of all ages.
  • Sanxenxo (20 minute drive) In the mood for a party atmosphere? Look no further than Sanxenxo, the “Marbella of Galicia”. Expensive yachts populate the marina and Silgar Beach fills with local and international tourists all summer long. From here one can even catch a boat to explore the island of Ons.
  • Combarro (21 minute drive) Try Combarro for a quiet and quaint atmospheric fishing village with a beautiful port and winding alleyways.
  • O Grove (30 minute drive) O Grove is known as the “paraiso de marisco” shellfish paradise and worth a visit explore and enjoy their many beaches (especially the longest, Lanzada Beach) and many (many!) seafood restaurants.


Made in Fofán
Lugar de Fofán 8, Armenteria
Meis, Galicia, Spain
+34 622 098 721

Website: www.madeinfofan.com/
Facebook: www.facebook.com/madeinfofan
Twitter: www.twitter.com/madeinfofan
Email: madeinfofan@gmail.com

See links to AirBnB listings here: SleepInFofán

English spoken: Yes

For more information on the O Salnés region, please visit: www.osalnes.com/en

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Date of visit: Friday, April 28, 2017

(Image credit: National Geographic)

Galicia’s Costa da Morte (Coast of Death), stretches all along the northwestern coast of Galicia from the village of Muros (the “x” at the bottom of the photo to the left) all the way up to the village of Malpica (the “4” at the top of the photo). While the name is a bit unfortunate for marketing purposes, visitors to the Costa da Morte need not be afraid. It’s named for the numerous shipwrecks that used to take place back in ye olde seafaring days. The miles and miles of coastline is a nature lover’s paradise with unspoiled rocky shores and gorgeous views aplenty. The map to the left is borrowed from this National Geographic article that goes into more specifics about the many sights to see on this part of Galicia’s coastline.

We enjoyed a lovely full day exploring the Costa da Morte, including a visit to the lighthouse at the End of the World (in Fisterra), fabulous lunch at O’Fragon Restaurante (read more about that here) and stops at the Ézaro waterfall (near Cee), and Muxía.  As evening approached we made our way to As Garzas Restaurant near Malpica, and enjoyed watching a perfect sunset right from our table against the windows of the front dining room.

This Michelin starred restaurant is situated in the main floor of a bungalow style house just meters from the rocky shore. As soon as we entered, María José Sánchez, wife of Chef Fernando Agrasar, made us feel right at home. She runs the front of the house and speaks English wonderfully. After our warm welcome, she very helpfully explained various menu items. As was the case earlier in the day, we opted to order a la carte rather than taking advantage of either of Chef Agrasar’s extremely appetizing tasting menus featuring their contemporary Galician fare.

 

As Garzas menu above. A la carte in the center and tasting menus on the right.

 

Getting things started was an aperitif of empanada casera de xouba (homemade mackerel empanada) served on these darling fish shaped wooden plates. This was the lightest, crunchiest empanada pastry I’ve had.

 

The Galician bread on the left side of the serving tray, described as “pan de toda la vida” (good old Galician bread), had a really satisfyingly crispy crust and wonderful flavor. The bread on the right side of the serving tray was another excellent house made bread with frutos rojos y pasas (nuts and raisins). Beautifully presented sweet cream Prestes butter with sal negra (black salt) paired perfectly with these honest artisan breads. There was a symphony of crunching coming from our table with the crispy empanada and these two excellent breads. Hands down, this ended up being the best bread of the trip. Given the overall excellent quality of Galician bread in general, this is high praise, indeed.

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Cheers to a wonderful day on the Costa da Morte and a beautiful evening at As Garzas.

Serious and elegant white blend from the subzone of Gomariz in the Ribeiro D.O, the 2013 Salvaxe is made from old vines (between 60 and 80 years old) of Lado, Silveiriña, Albariño, Godello, and Treixadura grapes. This small production wine paired perfectly with the seafood options that made up our meal.

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Croquetas caseras de bacalao al Pil-Pil (Salt cod aioli croquettes).  These croquetas satisfied with a creamy, mild flavored cod.

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Zamburinas, verduritas tostadas, aguacate y espuma de puerros (Variegated scallops, roasted vegetables, avocado and leek foam)

The whole menu is brimming with fresh seafood, the specialty of the house. Mr. Vacation proclaimed “This is why you come to Galicia!” when this stunning plate of local sweet grilled scallops and cold grilled vegetables accented by a sweet leek sauce, avocado purée, fresh peas, and tomato jam hit the table. A stunning dish.

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Cigalas y alcachofas estofadas (Langoustine and stuffed artichokes)

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Vieira con parmentier de champiñón (Scallop with mushroom bisque). This was so incredibly flavorful. Pass more of that bread to sopetear (sop up), por favor!

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Raya y asado de sus espinas (Skate fish and broth of the bones). The fish here and in the dish below were both perfectly done, a su punto.  The skate accompanied by intensely flavored spinach.

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Merluza, puerros asados, su caldo y perlas de trufa (Hake, roasted leek, its broth and truffle pearls)

All of the homemade desserts were tempting, but in the end we selected two of our favorite desserts of this trip: torrija and chocolate soufflé.

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Torrija de pan de frutas con helado de flan de huevo (Fruited bread torrija with egg flan ice cream)

Torrija has been discussed many times in this blog (like here and here) – it’s my favorite Galician dessert. As Garzas’ version is similar in style to the one we had at Bido in A Coruña, cool and creamy on the inside with a crunchy darkly caramelized sugar top.

Soufflé Coulant de chocolate con natillas caseras (Chocolate soufflé with homemade custard). This trip to Galicia was book-ended by visits to Paris, so soufflé was one of the themes of our trip. This excellent version of decadent rich chocolate soufflé with a vanilla sauce was on par with those we had in France.

More tasty treats with coffee service was the perfect end to the evening’s luxurious meal.

We felt so at home here at As Garzas. That is, if our home featured beautiful embroidered linen napkins, gorgeous views of the Atlantic Ocean, impressive tableware, and the highest quality wine and seafood! It was so difficult to leave. As it turns out, one actually doesn’t have to leave after a wonderful evening – As Garzas is also a bed and breakfast with 4 guest rooms just upstairs from the dining room! The thought of that bread for breakfast in the morning is so tempting. Next time we will have to stay overnight to fully enjoy this beautiful home and the warm hospitality offered within.


As Garzas
Porto Barizo, 40, 15113 Barizo – Malpica, A Coruña (map)
+34 981 721 765

Website: www.asgarzas.com
Website B&B: www.asgarzas.com/es/alojamiento/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/As-Garzas
Instagram: www.instagram.com/asgarzas

English spoken: YES

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Date of visit: Friday, April 28, 2017

img_8356Fisterra, Galicia (Finisterre in Spanish) is known as “the end of the world” by pilgrims who carry on with their pilgrimage to the sea after arriving at the tomb of St. James in Santiago de Compostela. Whichever name you call it by, it’s a beautiful place where the rocky coast of Galicia meets the Atlantic Ocean to complete this legendary, epic journey. Perched high above the end of the world on a hillside in the aldea (village) of San Martiño de Arriba, sits Ó’Fragón Restaurante.

It’s an uphill drive to get there (the restaurant’s website offers a YouTube video of the trip to help guide you there!), then  a zigzagging walk down a concrete path to get to the minimalist modern building that houses Ó’Fragón.  The contemporary building is starkly beautiful with light wood and bare concrete interior, perfect in that it doesn’t draw any attention away from the spectacular sea views through the floor-to-ceiling windows nor the equally spectacular food that will be served.

Photos from the parking area. Restaurant entrance is down the zigzag path.

 

Clean and minimal, nothing distracts from that incredible view!

The menu is not extensive, but it doesn’t need to be. Fresh, top quality Galician products make up the menu items. They are listed, quite proudly, first in Gallego, then in Spanish and English. If you have the time, the tasting menu at €35 per person with optional wine pairings only €15 more is a tremendous deal, given the quality of the fare and exceptional list of carefully curated Galician wines Ó’Fragón offers. We ended up ordering a la carte as we had a dinner reservation later that night to consider (at As Garzas in Malpica, Galicia), but next time I will take advantage of the tasting menu without hesitation.

The regular menu (left), that gorgeous view (middle), and the tasting menu (right)

 

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Fran expertly opens the bottle of sparkling Galician wine with nary a whisper.

Our host for the afternoon was Fran Insua Fernández. Fran has been a restaurateur in Fisterra since 2003. He is not only the owner but also runs the front of house and speaks excellent English. The original location of Ó’Fragón was down in the middle of the town of Fisterra, relocating up the hill to San Martiño de Arriba in December 2015.

I was very interested in tasting a sparkling Galician wine. Fran recommended this clean and fruity Eidosela Albariño (100%) Extra Brut from the Rías Baixas region, made in the Champagne method. Another dining companion enjoyed this 2015 Pazo de Seoane Rosal (an Albariño, Caíño, Treixadura, Loureiro blend also from the Rías Baixas). Mr. Vacation had a taste for a “mezclado”, red and white vermouth over ice. Of course, Galician Nordesía gin made the mezclado even better, and is made by the same folks that I visited in the fall at Vía Romana.

Albariño sparkling wine, Pazo de Seoane Rosal, and a mezclado.

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Tomates Ecoloxicos, Xeado de Queixo Azul “Prestes” – Organic Tomatoes, Prestes Blue Cheese Ice Cream

This first dish so perfectly defined what this restaurant is all about: light and refreshing. Organic tomatoes with Prestes blue cheese ice cream was a uniquely delicious combination with the cheese flavor shining through the creamy cool ice cream atop perfectly ripe juicy tomatoes. The melting ice cream and tomato broth made the best sauce on the plate, perfect for dipping with the hearty Galician white and flax-seed bread.

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Croques ó Vapor – Steamed Cockles

Simply steamed berberechos (the Spanish word for cockles) dressed tableside with good quality local Galician olive oil. That’s it. That’s all you need, or want, when dealing with such high quality product.

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Longueiróns á Tixola – Pan Cooked Razor Clams

These magnificent mollusks are local razor clams. So local, in fact, that you can even see the beach from which they were harvested in the photo below. Similar to a navaja (traditional razor clam), the longueirón has a straighter shell and a lighter sandy color. If the croques above are Galicia on a plate, these longueirones are Fisterra on a plate.

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This beach here, as seen from the restaurant’s patio, is where the longueiróns are harvested.  It doesn’t get much more local!

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Arroz Carnaroli, Croques, Queixo – Carnaroli Rice, Cockels, Cheese

Toasted rice cooked just al dente risotto style in a light, not soupy, sauce. Absolutely delicious with a generous amount of those same tender, sweet cockles we enjoyed as an appetizer.

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Solombo de Tenreira “Costa da Morte” (POUCO FEITO) – Veal Sirloin from “Costa da Morte” (SERVED RARE)

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Estrela Mencía red wine.

This veal was a real treat for the meat lover at the table. The menu made it very clear that it would be served rare. Rare it was – and it was absolutely perfect served that way. This gorgeous hunk of meat sat atop scalloped potatoes with thyme and roasted red and orange peppers on the side. The icing on the cake was the pink sea salt. It was made pink in-house by soaking the sea salt flakes for 24 hours in red wine from the Ribeira Sacra region.

Speaking of red wine, Mr. Vacation selected this Estrela wine from the Amandi subzone of the Ribeira Sacra wine region. This medium bodied red Mencía paired nicely with the veal dish.

 

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Guiso de Polbo con Patacas Novas – Octopus Stew with New Potatoes

More Galician favorites here: humble octopus and potatoes are brought together into a flavorful, richly satisfying stew. With a sprinkle of good paprika and that wonderful Galician bread at the ready to take advantage of that juice on the plate!

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Ameixas Babosas na nosa “Mariñeira” – Babosa Clams in our own “Marinera” sauce

Ó’Fragón presents their own unique take on the classic dish Clams Marinera by omitting the tomatoes that usually make a sauce for fresh babosa clams (a Galician variety).  The just-barely-there sauce was a fragrant mix of caramelized onions, black pepper, white wine, and clam broth. So lightly dressed, the clams remained at center stage on the plate.

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Dessert and Cheese menu

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Xeado Cremoso de Limón – Creamy Lemon Ice Cream

This was anything but a traditional lemon ice cream. As much as we loved the flavor we found the texture was perhaps the most interesting aspect of this dessert; creamy like a lemon sherbet, but with a marshmallow-like consistency.

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Biscoito de Laranxa Amarga-Mandarina – Bitter Orange Cake-Tangerine

Fran advised that this wasn’t an ordinary cake. This would be a lightened up cake. A cake that’s been turned inside out, so that the ‘cake’ (more like a crumbled cookie) is the base but the cream and the orange would be the stars: one scoop of orange sorbet and two quenelles of bitter orange heavy whipped cream each decorated with a caramelized mandarin orange slice. Very unique and, true to Fran’s word, very light.

Fran at work (left) and taking a moment for a photo op (right).

With the clean, streamlined preparations of first class Galician products accompanied by fine Galician wines, Fran has truly created a unique and relaxing space for memorable destination dining. Way back in a 2010 interview with La Voz de Galicia newspaper, he stated that he had the idea to create a kind of gastronomic temple in his hometown of Fisterra (“facer en Fisterra unha especie de templo gastronómico”). That is precisely what he has done here on this hillside overlooking the Atlantic Ocean at the end of the world.


Ó’Fragón Restaurante
Lugar San Martiño de Arriba, 22, 15154 Fisterra (map)
+34 981 740 429

Website: www.ofragon.es
Facebook: www.facebook.com/ofragon/
Instagram: www.instagram.com/ofragon_restaurante

English spoken: YES

Our reservation was made 3 weeks in advance via email for our springtime visit. If you plan to visit in summer, I would recommend booking at least that much in advance.

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Date of Visit: Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Just to the east of Galicia lies the province of Asturias with the charming port city of Gijón on its northern coast. In May 2016 a family cruise included a stop in Gijón. I was very interested in this cruise stop since the Northern Route of the Camino de Santiago passes through Gijón, right along picturesque white sand San Lorenzo beach. The old fishing village (now the recreational marine port) is a short walk away through the charming old quarter where you can find shops and even a few cider bars (siderias – an experience you should seek out when in Asturias!).

But our real mission during our too-short stay in Gijón was to visit the Asturian temple of the fabada – Casa Gerardo.  Fabada is a classic Spanish dish made of large white beans (alubias), pork shoulder or ham, morcilla (blood sausage), and chorizo. Since its founding in 1882 as a roadside tavern, Casa Gerardo has been making this classic fabada at this same location. Located along a busy road in the village of Prendes, about 7 miles from the old town of Gijón, it is operated by the Morán family, father Pedro and son Marcos. They are the fourth and fifth generations, respectively, to operate the restaurant which earned a Michelin star in 1987.

Casa Gerardo’s signature fabada is firmly rooted in a historic past, but the menu veers off into modernity with deliciously executed contemporary dishes. On the printed menu, one side of the menu is labeled “dishes that remain on the menu and are now house classics”, while the other side is labeled “contemporary dishes”.  The amuse bouche that kicked off our meal certainly showed off this modern bent in fine fashion.

The first amuse was this surprising and refreshing “Margarita de Manzana”. Think of a welcome cocktail, just not in a glass. Chunks of apple soaked in tequila (!), sprinkled with salt and with a hint of citrus. The perfect palate cleanser to begin the meal.

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Amuse #1: Margarita de Manzana – our welcome “cocktail”.

Another great example of a modern take on a classic Spanish dish, this surprising savory potato “tortilla” ice cream on crispy rice was intriguing. It perfectly captured the essence of the quintessential Spanish tortilla in a completely unique and enjoyable fashion.

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Amuse #2: Tortilla (potato flavored) savory ice cream!

Consommé made of potato skins served warm and absolutely bursting with potato flavor. The bread service was exceptional. White, wheat and cornbread were offered several times throughout the meal and served with smoked butter.

Amuse #3: Potato Consommé  – Bread service

Our meal started in earnest with some of the most luxurious and flavorful jamón ibérico in all the land: jamón ibérico de bellota reserva Joselito. No need to say more, just look at it! Ok, I’ll say a bit more; Joselito is a brand name, and it is considered to be one of the very best in Spain.

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Jamón ibérico de bellota reserva Joselito – Joselito reserve acorn fed Iberian ham cured for at least 36 months.

The bocadillo crujiente de quesos, a well known staple at Casa Gerardo, are small tents of two pieces of crispy puff pastry held together with a thick line of creamy Austrian cheeses (reported to be a mixture of La Peral, Los Beyos, and cream cheese). Crunchy, creamy, salty and a little sweet – this appetizer hit all the notes and left me wanting another round.

Compango is meat with which the beans of the fabada are stewed. These croquetas contain rich little morsels of the compango in beautifully prepared croquetas.

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Croquetas del compango de la fabada (croquettes made with the meat of the fabada)

And finally, the main event! The fabada we came all this way for. Beautifully cooked alubias (large, creamy white beans – see the bottom of this post for more information on what makes these beans so special!) in a delicate yet richly flavored broth. Served with the compango on the side. While listed on the traditional side of the menu, this dish is absolutely a gourmet fabada – a Michelin star fabada – and one that will surely serve as a point of reference upon which future versions of this dish will be compared.

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Fabada de Prendes (white beans with ham, smoked morcilla (blood sausage), and chorizo)

Another traditional dish with the same creamy alubias, this time stewed with clams and garnished with parsley. We enjoyed the delicate and rich broth, which was less intense than the fabada de Prendes, given the lighter seafood flavor.

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Fabes con almejas (white beans with clams and parsley)

Lobster and monkfish salad with vinaigrette and garnished with mayonnaise sauces made of mustard, plankton (seaweed), and red pepper. Seaweed is actually a pretty common ingredient used in Spain’s northern coast. A wonderful fresh, light dish featuring seafood of the highest quality.

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Salpicón de bugre y pixín con vinagreta y mayonesas de mostaza, plancon y pimiento morrón (lobster and monkfish salad with vinaigrette and garnished with mayonnaise sauces made of mustard, plankton (seaweed), and red pepper

From the “contemporary” side of the menu, Mr. Vacation selected this beef tenderloin with quinoa, foie gras, and micro vegetables. A lovely plate with flavorful beef with a touch of decadent fois gras.

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Corte de solomillo con guiso de quinoa, foie y micro vegetales (beef tenderloin with quinoa, foie gras, and micro vegetables)

Even in Asturias we couldn’t help but select an albariño from Galicia. Pazo Baión (left) makes an elegant, slightly citrusy, albariño from 40 year old vines that we thoroughly enjoyed. Mr. Vacation opted for a glass of Beronia Reserva Edición Limitada (right) from La Rioja to accompany his steak. This classic tempranillo is a limited edition wine with less than 35,000 bottles produced.

When one thinks of the legendary dishes as Casa Gerardo, the crema de arroz con leche requeimada de Prendes comes in a close second to the fabada. Comfort food taken to a whole other level. We all absolutely loved this creamy rice pudding with a brûléed sugar top.

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Crema de arroz con leche requeimada de Prendes (rice pudding with brûléed sugar top)

Another dessert came to the table, a gift from the kitchen: Chocolate & frutos secos (chocolate and nuts). A lovely ensemble of creamy chocolate, hazelnut ice cream, chocolate cake crumbles with pistachos and marzipan. A delicious mix of flavors and textures.

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Chocolate y frutos secos (chocolate and nuts)

During the meal father Pedro Morán came by to greet the table and make sure everything was delicious. During dessert son Marcos Morán came by to say hello and chat for a bit.  I’d love to know what I was bending his ear about (left)! He was just as charming as his father and invited us back to see the kitchen (right).

Books make some of the best souvenirs. Last year Casa Gerardo published this tome, Casa Gerardo, 50 Pasos de la Cocina Contemporánea. It won a “best in the world” award for the ‘Chef’ category in the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. This beautiful book is big and heavy with gorgeous glossy photos throughout. Way too big to carry around for the rest of our journey, so I sadly left it on the display shelf in the lobby.

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Now for more about those big beautiful white beans. Alubias are not only found in Asturias. During a subsequent trip to Galicia, I ran across a big beautiful bowl of white beans (the ones pictured to the left, in the colander) for sale in Lugo at the weekly farmer’s market. I recognized them as being very similar to the Asturian fabada beans (these were Galician fabas de Lourenzá) and inquired as to how much for ½ kilo (about a pound). The lovely woman selling them could hear my accent and first asked when I would be preparing them. Since I had 10 more days in Galicia then a flight home to the United States she kindly declined to sell them to me, explaining that these were fresh beans and they just wouldn’t last that long.

Even though I wasn’t able to bring their gorgeous cookbook (nor any fresh beans) home, I was thrilled to see that the recipes for both of their signature dishes, the fabada and the arroz con leche, are listed on the restaurant’s website.

A few months after our visit to Casa Gerardo the restaurant and family were featured in Season 1 of the new Amazon series “Eat the World with Emeril Lagasse” that debuted in September 2016. In the show Marcos reveals some of the secrets of the fabada including this: the white beans they use are fresh beans that they freeze until it’s time to use them, not dried beans that have been soaked. He mentioned another important tip: you don’t stir the beans while they are cooking – no spoon! Just shake the pot a bit. The elder Morán went on to explain the proper way to eat the fabada, but you will have to watch it to find out for yourself. It’s a really entertaining segment on the third episode, featuring chef José Andrés, who also hails from Asturias. Definitely worth watching!


Restaurante Casa Gerardo
Carretera AS-19, km9, Prendes,  Asturias, Spain
+34 985 88 77 97

Website: www.restaurantecasagerardo.es
Instagram: www.instagram.com/cateringcg
Facebook: www.facebook.com/marcos.moran.casagerardo
Twitter: www.twitter.com/cateringcg

English spoken: Yes

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Date of visit: Sunday, September 18, 2016

When visiting O Grove, Galicia, one can’t help but be impressed by the number of beaches on this gorgeous peninsula. More than 15 beaches with almost 10 kilometers (6 miles) of sand line the shores at various points ranging in size from very long, such as La Lanzada beach (2.5 kilometers / 1.5 miles long!), to the very small, such as the beach at Porto Meloxo (a mere 100 meters / 325 feet in length).  In front of the tiny beach at Porto Meloxo is where you find Taberna Meloxeira.

There is always a long list of restaurants waiting to be visited and checked off whenever I visit Galicia. Taberna Meloxeira had been on this list for a while now and I was excited to finally able to make it there for a relaxed Sunday evening supper last fall. While my visit was in the evening, I would actually recommend going during the day to enjoy the view of the wooden boardwalk and the small Porto Meloxo beach right out front. You might even take a stroll before or after dining along the boardwalk that meanders over to the Port of Meloxo, a charming little fishing port dotted with small fishing boats.

Inside the small comfortable restaurant the wait staff is extremely friendly and helpful. In no time at all I was ready to peruse the menu with a glass of water, albariño wine, and a tasty little empanada appetizer. Immediate seating was available on this Sunday evening, but most other days of the week are booked out in advance at this charming small eatery (there are 9 tables with seating for about 30).

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The menus at Meloxeira Taberna are so cute! Whimsically done in the style of old fashioned Rubio educational workbooks (cuadernillos Rubio), used in Spanish schools since the late 1950’s. Within, the menu contains something for everyone: for the adults, menu items are printed in schoolhouse cursive style. For the kids, there are games to be played, pictures to be drawn, and even a little bit of homework to be done if they get bored. Ok, maybe all of the fun and games are for the adults too!

Fun and games aside, the menu (above) is a treat to peruse featuring a wide variety of Asian fusion dishes along with more traditional Galician items. Lists of appetizers, ceviches, fish, wok dishes, and meats fill the pages. There is a short list of wines printed on the cover of the menu, and the restaurant also dedicated an entire wall (actually a chalkboard) to speak directly to us, the diner, about the various drink options. Titled “And what is it that you like?”, the board discusses the wines available, suggests cava if you are feeling like something a little bubbly, Jerez if you are the adventurous sort, and even a gin & tonic if you might want to visit the beach later. It closes with an invitation to drink, eat, enjoy, relax, and smile. What a lovely welcome!

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A large chalkboard decorates one wall. The evening of my visit, it closed with a welcoming message inviting guests to drink, eat, enjoy, relax, and smile!

It was quite difficult to pick just a few items to try, but the waitress was truly helpful in explaining various dishes to help the selection process along. To begin, La Presa de bellota ahumada, cured and smoked Iberian ham that was served in an absolutely stunning presentation with jewel-like drops of salsas made of: Sriracha, wasabi, mango, peas and radiccio. This plate was stunningly beautiful, but it was even more delicious! The ham was silky and tender, with a light smoky flavor. Mixing and matching the flavors from the various sauces was a flavorful adventure. A really wonderful dish.

 

The next course was zamburiñas Thai a la brasa (grilled Thai variegated scallops). Delicious, fresh from the sea local scallops with a flavorful Thai sauce were perfectly satisfying.

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Zamburiñas Thai a la brasa (grilled Thai scallops)

For the main course, Arroz Thai salteado con gambas y vegetales (Thai rice sautéed with shrimp and vegetables). Very flavorful with a nice punch of fresh herbs and lime to brighten up this savory rice dish that had a nice subtle hint of smokiness from the fire wok in which it was prepared. Meloxeira is also known for their ceviche dishes, no surprise given the quality of the local Galician fish that is used. Ceviche will definitely be on the list to order during my next visit!

 

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Arroz Thai salteado con gambas y vegetales (Thai rice sautéed with shrimp and vegetables)

Just a few days earlier I experienced my first “Torrija” (see the previous post from Culler de Pau), which is a Galician dessert that is more or less a very custardy French toast. That description doesn’t do it justice at all, and when I saw it on the menu at Taberna Meloxeira, I couldn’t wait to try their version!  The Torrija was served hot, caramelized, and with a generous scoop of excellent quality vanilla ice cream.  A lovely close to a very nice meal.

 

 

Torrija caliente con helado de vainilla (hot Torrija with vanilla ice cream)

 

In the few short years it has been open, Taberna Meloxiera has earned a stellar reputation as a place to have a good time, enjoying the inventive menu, quality products, and friendly, knowledgeable service. They have been listed in the Guia Repsol and were recently recommended by Michelin star chef Pepe Solla (of Casa Solla in nearby Poio, Galicia). Well deserved!


Taberna Meloxeira
Rúa Porto Meloxo 100, O Grove, Galicia (map)
+34 886 161 389

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/taberna.meloxeira
email: tabernameloxeira@gmail.com

English spoken: Yes

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Date of Visit: Saturday, October 10, 2015

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O Grove, Galicia celebrates the Festa do Mariscos (Shellfish Festival) every year for the first two weeks in October (this was the 52nd annual). We were fortunate enough to be able to rent an apartment just a block away from the main hub of activity in the town square, Praza do Corgo.  Mr. Vacation and I made the journey from A Coruña to O Grove on this Saturday afternoon and got settled into the apartment with plenty of time to enjoy a bit of the festival before our 10:00 p.m. dinner reservations at La Queserí Tasting Room. We were dining with José of Turismo Verde de Galicia and his lovely wife Montse, who live in O Grove. La Queserí Tasting Room is located a mere 5 minutes away from the Praza do Corgo, so it was a quick trip from the festival to dinner.

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Here, Gonzalo explains how the cheese cave is organized.      Photo by @Turvegal

La Queserí Tasting Room first came to my attention via social media in the months leading up to our October 2015 trip to Galicia.  Following their Facebook page, I had the impression it was just a cute little restaurant where one could stop by for some wine and cheese in the afternoon. I was wrong! It turns out to be a cute little private dining restaurant located in a cheese cave! Proprietors Gonzalo Germade and his wife Diana have turned the lower level of their home into a cheese cave / dining room that is available by pre-reservation only, for a maximum of 10 people. The comfortable dining room actually adjoins the temperature and humidity controlled cheese cave, which is separated by a glass door.

 

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Just look at these beautiful cheese specimens! They are monitored, rotated, and taken care of on a daily basis by Gonzalo in their temperature and humidity controlled cave as they ripen. Note the bamboo mats below each wheel, for moisture control.

To kick things off, we toasted our first meal together in Galicia with a nice bottle of Xión Albariño from the local Rías Baixas wine region. I’m blogging a little bit out of order here, so this was actually the first dinner (of many!) the four of us had together.  As such, we all clinked glasses in a “Welcome to Galicia” toast over a big beautiful seafood empanada that we dove right into. (Note: photo credit on the close-up of the empanada on the right goes to José @Turvegal – he’s got a way with food photos!)

When toasting at an event in Galicia, it is tradition to say “de hoxe nun ano” (‘de hoy en un año’ in Spanish or ‘a year from today’ in English) to express the hope that the celebration can be repeated the following year.  I’m happy to say that we have been able to repeat many lovely dining experiences with our gallego friends since first learning this toast.

Our menu for the evening was prearranged about a week in advance. Because of the name of the restaurant I was most focused on the cheese, but it turns out La Queserí Tasting Room also specializes in the local seafood. Gonzalo regularly visits O Grove’s lonxa (fish market) to source the best and freshest seafood.  I continue to follow Gonzalo and La Queserí on social media (Facebook) and it is a non-stop parade of the incredible mariscos he purchases at the lonxa to prepare for their guests.

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Next came a plate of these gorgeous, fresh, delicate navajas (razor clams). Wow!  Photo credit again here to José @Turvegal.  Yet another example of how a very simple preparation allows a first class product, such as these flavorful and tender clams, to shine. We always enjoy this Galician delicacy, and this was one the best example we’ve tasted, before or since.

 

 

For me, the cheese course was the main event. The photo below on the right (by José @Turvegal) shows the cheese plate “before”, while mine (left) is more of a “during” representation. I will just fess up and say that I dug right in and then remembered to snap a pic. Gonzalo is extremely knowledgeable about all of the cheese in his cellar and explained the origin and age of each of the six unique cheeses, along with some tasting notes to help us to become familiar with those that were completely new to us.  He was nice enough to write down the names and origins of each of the cheeses … and when I find that list again, dear reader, I’ll be sure to update the blog.  But for now, let me assure you each of the cheeses on this thoughtfully composed board was delicious.  The Spanish blue cheese (see photo on right, lower right cheese with grape on top), a Calabres from the neighboring province of Asturias, was my favorite.  Funky in the best way possible, I surely ate more than my fair share of it.

Edit: Descriptions of the cheeses are now listed below.  Please refer to the photo on the right, beginning with the tall cheese in the top left corner:

Brillat-Savarin (Burgundy – France) – French triple cream cheese made of pasteurized cow’s milk aged for 1-2 months.
Selles sur Cher (Loire – France) – French raw milk goat cheese with a light wood charcoal on the rind, aged for 1 month.
Langres (Champagne – France) – French raw cow’s milk washed rind aged for 2 months.
Calabres Reserva (Asturias – Spain) – Spanish raw cow’s milk blue cheese aged natural caves at 1000 meters of altitude in the Picos de Europa – a mountainous area of Asturias (the province next to Galicia).
Cantal “Vieux” (Auvergne – France) – French cow’s milk brushed rind cheese cured for 24 months. It is very rare to see this variation of Cantal outside of France; it has a strong taste and can last up to 18 months without spoiling if handled properly.
Guía (Gran Canaria Island – Spain) – Spanish raw sheep’s milk soft cheese aged for 8 months.

Check out the delicious bread that came along with the cheese selection: Our first taste of Made In Fofán squash & poppy seed bread (left) and traditional pan de leña bread (right).

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The main course!  Naturally, we knew we were going to have some sort of seafood as the main entrée, but while planning the menu the week before there was an option for Gallego beef.  I had been seeing a lot written about the high quality of beef in Galicia, but hadn’t yet had the chance to sample any myself.  We opted for one plate with Gallego beef, served as a hamburger with French fries.  The other three plates were sargo al horno, baked white seabream, fresh from the market, over potatoes.  Our mains were accompanied by a Spanish red from Pagos de Araiz (from Navarra).

 For dessert, we finished with satisfying cheese and membrillo (quince paste) filled empanadillas.

The walls were decorated with wine and cheese … we felt right at home.

Did I mention that in Galicia, dinner goes late?  Very late!  It was 1:30 a.m. by the time we wrapped up this memorable meal, after much animated conversation with our dining companions and Gonzalo, our engaging host.


During our visit in the fall of last year the dining room was the only space available for a maximum of 10 people, as mentioned above.  In the summer, two additional tables are set up outside, so guests can also be accommodated al fresco for lunch or dinner.

La Queserí Tasting Room
Gonzalo Germade Alfonso
Lugar de Meloxo 65A, O Grove, Galicia
+34 647 215 263
Facebook: La Queserí Tasting Room

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