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One of the many Camino-themed pieces of art that decorates O Camiño do Inglés restaurant in Ferrol, Galicia.

Both arms of the Camino Inglés - the route originates in A Coruña and Ferrol, Galicia.

The lime green line indicates the English Route of the Camino de Santiago from Ferrol to Santiago de Compostela.

When people think of the Camino de Santiago (The Way of St. James) they often first think of the long 800 kilometer (500 mile) trail that marches westward across all of northern Spain from the Pyrenees Mountains to the tomb of Saint James in Santiago de Compostela. That route, the “French Route”, is certainly the most well-known, but there are many other roads to Santiago de Compostela. One of them is the English Route, which begins in Ferrol, Galicia. It’s the shortest of the “official” Camino routes measuring just 118 kilometers (73 miles).

 

 

“The English Route” in Spanish is La Ruta Inglés. In Galician it translates as O Camiño do Inglés. The restaurant O Camiño do Inglés is located on Rúa San Francisco directly on the Camino route as it leaves the port of Ferrol and meanders through the town along the Ría de Ferrol before heading off into the forests and small towns on the 5 days to walk to Santiago de Compostela.

The map here shows the route from Ferrol (the lime green line), but the English Route also has an arm that originates in the beautiful city of A Coruña (the light blue line). The two paths diverge near a small historic place called Hospital de Bruma – where an actual pilgrim’s hospital operated until the 1500s. The route is full of historic significance in addition to being a tranquil stroll between charming small towns, tiny aldeas (villages), rolling hills, farmland, and forested mountains.

During my very first visit to Galicia in 2014 one of the highlights of my visit to Ferrol was dining at O Camiño do Inglés on the eve of setting out to walk my very first Camino (that visit is recapped in a previous blog post). I returned again to dine here in 2016. It wasn’t until 2017, during my third visit, that I was finally able to enjoy a full tasting menu. That’s what we’ll be talking about in this blog post.

Chef Dani Lopez tells us all about the menu.

Because the menu changes frequently to represent what’s seasonal and fresh in the local markets, a large black chalkboard is brought to the table in lieu of a printed menu. Chef Daniel Lopez walked us through the menu items and offered to put together a shareable tasting menu to show off the best the restaurant had to offer.

I opted for the wine pairings, while my dining companion selected a few options by the glass, starting with an organic Vermouth, Amillo Vermut Reserva Jerezano. Our waiter brought a tasty bowl of olives from the Galician province of Ourense as the first wine pairing was poured – a Manzanilla from Andalucía: Entusiastica by Bodega Delgado Zuletan.

San Martiño al corte en adobo (Sliced San Martiño in adobo)

Local San Martiño fish (John Dory in English) sliced and served crudo style (raw) in adobo seasoning. Adobo, a spice blend of paprika and cumin, is quite common in Andalucía and was perfectly balanced in this dish. It goes without saying that the fish was super fresh; we loved the clean flavor and excellent texture. It paired perfectly with the Andalusian Manzanilla.

Xurelo, escabeche, boniato (Mackerel, sweet and sour sauce, sweet potato)

Mackerel naturally has a strong flavor so the intense escabeche sauce (made with roasted soy here) matched the intensity of the oven roasted fish. Creamy sweet potato and tangy green onions went together nicely and balanced the entire dish.

Trenzado by Suertes del Marqués from Tenerife is a white wine blend of Listán Blanco and Vidueño grapes described as an interesting wine that goes well with vegetables, particularly with the corn that was featured in the next dish.

Buey de mar, maíz, espinacas (Crab, corn, spinach)

Not a photogenic dish, but we really enjoyed digging into this enormous pile of sweet shredded crab meat over spinach sautéed with garlic. I’m still not sure which was more luxurious, the crab or the velvety corn soup that enveloped it.

Another bottle from Bodega Delgado Zuleta, this time a sherry, Monteagudo Palo Cortado, to accompany the house’s current signature dish – “Zorza” de albacore.

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Zorza (cruda) de albacore, patata, pimiento, huevo (Raw marinated albacore tune, potato, pepper, egg)

Zorza is actually a marinated pork dish, but the version here at O Camiño do Inglés is an inventive play on zorza, if it were an Asian dish that landed in the northwestern coast of Spain.  This “zorza” was made from white tuna, fried potatoes and Padrón peppers in a sweet and savory sauce made of paprika oil, sweet chili, sesame oil, soy, and vinegar. Sprinkles of egg yolk, green onion, and sesame seeds are the perfect addition. The fish really stands up to these bold flavors; it’s no wonder this is one of the signature dishes here.

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2016 Alma d’ Mar Albariño from Bodegas Albamar in the Rías Baixas wine region.

Merluza Casa Marcelo (Hake Casa Marcelo style)

Chef Dani previously worked at the Michelin-starred Casa Marcelo in Santiago de Compostela and openly admits to being inspired by one of the dishes there. He executes it in his own style, which is opposite of the version at Casa Marcelo. Perfectly cooked tender moist hake fish sits atop a pepper pil pil sauce with a tangy caldo de limón (lemon broth) over top.

Crisp and delicious, this 2016 Muros Antiguos by Anselmo Mendes is a Portuguese vinho verde wine from the area just south of the Rías Baixas made of Loureiro grapes that paired wonderfully with the Salmonete course.

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Salmonete, endibias, estragón (Red mullet, endive, tarragon)

“This is a very French dish” Chef Dani announced when he brought this plate to the table. Fish fantasies came true with this excellent Galician product prepared with international inspiration. The smooth, buttery tarragon sauce was very French, indeed, and a bit unexpected and extremely delicious with the firm, gently cooked ocean fish.

As we chatted about wine with the sommelier, he made a last minute switch to this 1993 Viña Gravonia from Lopez de Heredia, an inspired pairing for the final savory dish of the meal.

Lentejas, foie, calabaza (Lentils, foie gras, pumpkin)

As we were deciding on the meal, Chef indicated he would send out 6 fish courses and one meat course. When it came time to serve it, he amended his statement to say that the final course was a meat dish, “kind of”.  I understood what he meant as soon as I tasted the dish. Lentils with pumpkin and marinated red onion topped with chunks of foie gras that quickly melted into the already rich broth. Lentils as a main meat course sounds sort of unassuming, but this was a truly fabulous dish.

For dessert wines, we sampled a Pedro Jimenez (tased like we were sipping liquid dried figs and grapes); and a Guitian late harvest Godello.

Arroz con leche a nuestra manera (rice pudding our way)

We enjoyed this complex-flavored, excellent version of traditional rice pudding with hints of cinnamon stick, vanilla bean, and brûlée-d sugar on top.

 

Kit-Kat de Te Matcha – Another international dish – this time a tasty dessert inspired by the Japanese version Matcha tea Kit-Kat. White chocolate cold cream was the anchor of the dish with a lovely green te matcha sauce, crumbled sable cookie and almonds.

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la felicidad es el camino, no el destino” (happiness is the journey, not the destination)

One entire wall of the dining room is decorated in a sweeping mural that ends with the sentiment that “happiness is the journey, not the destination”. That is something that pilgrims discover while on the Camino de Santiago, and it’s so apt that it is also experienced here at O Camiño do Inglés.

Date of third visit: October 18, 2017
Date of second visit: September 22, 2016
Date of first visit: June 10, 2014


O Camiño do Inglés
Rúa San Francisco, 17, 15401 Ferrol, A Coruña (map)
+34 981 721 765

Website: www.ocaminodoingles.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ocamino.doingles/
Instagram: www.instagram.com/ocaminodoingles

English spoken: YES

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Bronze sculpture of Jules Verne on a giant squid near Vigo’s marina.  Photo credit to María José Alcalde Abal (@alcaldejos on Instagram)

In the classic 1870 novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Jules Verne dedicates a chapter to Vigo Bay. Captain Nemo guides the Nautilus up the coast from Portugal to Vigo to discover (and plunder!) sunken treasure.  “”Did you know, sir,” he asked, smiling, “that the sea contained such riches?””  Verne’s character, Captain Nemo, may have been speaking of “ingots of gold and silver, cascades of piasters and jewels” when he referred to the sea’s riches, but those of us who visit Galicia in the present day get to enjoy riches from the sea in the form of exceptional shellfish and seafood.

img_2690Maruja Limón is located right in front of Vigo’s marina, very near the large bronze sculpture of Jules Verne (sitting on a giant squid, no less!), just on the other side of the Montero Ríos gardens. We were greeted by a booming classic rock soundtrack as we entered the Michelin-starred restaurant. Once seated in the main dining room we discussed the menu and wine list with our waiter.

Although the tasting menus were tempting, we opted to order several items from the left side, nuestra parte salada (our savory part), of the menu to share.

The first thing presented was a wooden box full of very good quality Galician bread.

Vigo is the largest fishing port not only in Galicia or Spain, but in the world!  So it’s no wonder that the restaurant, located just across the street from the marina, would feature an innovative amuse bouche inspired by the sea. With instructions that it should be eaten by hand, we truly enjoyed this sweet and creamy cabracho (cold scorpion fish ‘cake’) on top of “roca de algas” (literally “algae rock”, but what was actually an extra light crispy biscuit) topped with locally sourced wakame (another type of seaweed).

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Amuse bouche inspired by the sea!

We selected a pair of highly regarded lovely white wines to start with: 2015 Pousada, an Albariño-Treixadura blend from the Condado do Tea region of the Rias Baixas, and 2015 Rafael Palacios As Sortes Godello from Valdeorras.

Hueva frita de otra manera, béchamel suave de trufa blanca y setas de temporada (Egg fried in another way, soft white truffle béchamel and seasonal mushrooms). Our first dish was decadent and rich in the best ways possible. The egg was gently cooked sous vide style then fried like a croqueta and served over roasted mushrooms and a truffle béchamel sauce. I loved the runny yolk blending in with the truffle sauce … and was appreciative of the great Galician bread on hand to clean the plate. Due to the warmer than usual autumn and the forest fires that tore through many parts of Galicia the week that we were there, mushrooms were actually in short supply during this trip, so we appreciated any that we found on menus.

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Hueva frita de otra manera, béchamel suave de trufa blanca y setas de temporada (Egg fried in another way, soft white truffle béchamel and seasonal mushrooms)

Ensalada de tomate marinado, queso del Cebreiro y maíz tostado (Marinated tomato salad, O Cebreiro cheese and toasted corn). Sweet marinated sun-dried tomatoes with chunks of O Cebreiro cheese, cornbread crumbs, and topped with frisee.  O Cebreiro cheese is Galician from the mountain town of the same name located on Galicia’s eastern border with Asturias. This unique cow’s milk cheese was brought back from nearly being forgotten about many years ago by several families in that mountain village. What looks and tastes like goat cheese is actually made of cow’s milk. This perfectly tangy cheese paired beautifully with the sweet marinated tomatoes and not at all bitter frisee salad.

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Ensalada de tomate marinado, queso del Cebreiro y maíz tostado (Marinated tomato salad, O Cebreiro cheese and toasted corn)

Vieira encebollada, shitake y trufa de verano (Scallop in onion sauce, shitake mushroom and summer truffle). Another rich decadent sauce accompanied the perfectly cooked scallops. The kitchen was wise to serve the refreshing tomato salad in between these two rich dishes. Check out those shaved summer truffles absolutely covering the scallops! While it looks like a lot of truffle, this summer variety didn’t overwhelm at all, but added a nice flavor to the sauce that pooled gently around the scallops. Crunchy fried onions and roasted mushrooms complimented nicely.

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Vieira encebollada, shitake y trufa de verano (Scallop in onion sauce, shitake mushroom and summer truffle)

Switching to vino tinto (red wine) for the remainder of the courses, we enjoyed the 2014 Attis Espadeiro from the Rias Baixas wine region.

Jurel a la llama, soja fermentada, cacahuete y chile (Flame grilled mackerel, fermented soy, peanut and chile). Mackerel is known for being an intensely flavored fish, so it wasn’t a surprise that this version, cooked over flame with some smokiness to further intensify the flavor of the mackerel itself, was no exception. The flavorful fish was nestled in a pleasant loose grain porridge and sprinkled with chopped peanuts. The chile was not really discernible, which was a shame since the strong flavor of the fish would have stood up to it nicely.

Jurel a la llama, soja fermentada, cacahuete y chile (Flame grilled mackerel, fermented soy, peanut and chile)

Pieza de ternera de Lugo, torrija de patata y un jugo de ajo tostado (Piece of tenderloin from Lugo, potato torrija and toasted garlic jus). For our final main course, this flavorful Galician beef was absolute perfection. Beautifully presented flavorful tenderloin cooked “a su punto” (a perfect medium rare) with this delicate, yet rich, jus just decorating the plate. For even more umami, several sautéed mushrooms played along as well. The marvelous potato “torrija” was something I hadn’t seen in Galicia before. Basically, this was a potato gratin (surely made with plenty of cream, hence the ‘torrija’ reference) cut into cubes then crisped again just before serving. Delicious!

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Pieza de ternera de Lugo, torrija de patata y un jugo de ajo tostado (Piece of tenderloin from Lugo, potato torrija and toasted garlic jus)

From the Lo dulce (The sweet) portion of the menu, we selected the Chocolate, frambuesa y toffe (Chocolate, raspberry and toffee) dessert. Crispy tubes of toffee filled with a light cream atop a bed of darker chocolate cream, vanilla cream, raspberry coulis, and sprinkled with chocolate crumbles. We enjoyed this light dessert with such a variety of flavors and textures.

Chocolate, frambuesa y toffe (Chocolate, raspberry and toffee)

As is usual in restaurants in Galicia, another round of sweets accompany the post-dessert coffee service.

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In addition to the dining room where we sat, the restaurant features two other spaces; Maruja Granuja is a casual bar area in the front of the restaurant for enjoying a wine accompanied by small tapas and a separate Cocina Vista dining space where a handful of guests actually sit at a bar in front of an open kitchen to watch the chefs create special tasting menus.

Reservations recommended.

Date of Visit: Saturday, October 21, 2017


Maruja Limón
Rúa Montero Ríos, 4, 36201 Vigo, Pontevedra (map)
+34 986 473 406

Website: www.marujalimon.es
Facebook:  www.facebook.com/MarujaLimon.Restaurante

English spoken: YES

 

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Cocido is a cold weather Galician specialty, a hearty one-pot meal with all of the major food groups represented:  Meat, Potatoes, Beans, and Greens. Oh, and with filloas, Galician crepes, served as dessert. Yes, that’s a nice balanced meal.  In six visits to Galicia I had never sampled this local delicacy, but on my seventh visit, the goal was finally achieved on a beautiful Sunday afternoon in the coastal city of Vigo.

img_2798We were staying at the swanky Gran Hotel Nagari Spa right in the heart of Vigo’s Valladares neighborhood along the wide boulevard lined with stately buildings and interesting sculptures. While asking about local sights and restaurants, the hotel staff mentioned that their own restaurant, Restaurante Alameda XXI, would be serving Cocido on Sunday. The restaurant had already been recommended to us by a chef friend in A Coruña, so the decision was easily made; we would relax and enjoy Sunday afternoon right in the hotel.

The restaurant’s luxurious modern décor contrasted nicely with the homey, traditional meal that was to follow.

As an aperetivo (appetizer), the kitchen sent out a tasty bite of cremoso de queso San Simón con membrillo y sesamo (creamy, smoky San Simón cheese with quince paste and sesame seeds).

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Aperetivo – a taste from the kitchen: cremoso de queso San Simón con membrillo y sesamo

First came the caldito, a thin broth which is actually the cooking liquid of the Cocido, which contained short fideo noodles and finely chopped hard-boiled egg. The broth was quite light and subtle in flavor, a surprise considering the amount of pork in the actual dish.

The broth was nice, particularly with a nice piece of Galician bread, but it was just a prelude to the star of the show that arrived next: the Cocido!

img_2788An enormous dish with enough to feed several people was placed on a small table brought over just to hold it. All of the usual suspects in a traditional Galician Cocido, sprinkled with savory paprika, were present:
lancón – salt pork
jamón –
cured ham
panceta –
bacon
costilla  pork ribs
grelos – turnip greens
repollo  cabbage
garbanzos  – chickpeas
patatas  – potatoes
morcilla – blood sausage
lomo de cerdo
– ham shoulder
oreja   pig ears
chorizo  spicy pork sausage
pollo  – chicken

Where to even begin? Well, the logical way to begin is with a small taste of everything then go back for more of the favorites. My favorites were the ribs, ham shoulder, greens, chickpeas and potatoes. There was more of the caldo (broth) in the bottom of the pan, which was perfect when spooned on top of the tender boiled potatoes, easily mashed on the plate. Cocido is probably technically considered a stew since everything is cooked together in one pot, but the ingredients remain whole and don’t stew together as a soup or traditional stew might. Despite this is my only Cocido experience, I would say this seemed to be is a very fine representation of the genre.

As a general rule, filloas are served as dessert with Cocido. Filloas are light and thin Galician crepes. Delicious freshly made filloas filled with orange compote were served over a crema de naranja (orange cream) with toasted slivered almonds, and sprinkled with a light dusting of powdered sugar. A lovely light end to a hearty meal.

The weather on this day in Vigo was spectacular for October, so the outside seating area was filled with multigenerational families enjoying their Sunday Cocido. I look forward to trying other versions of Cocido in future visits to Galicia!

Date of Visit: October 22, 2017


Restaurante Alameda XXI
Plaza de Compostela, 21, 36201 Vigo, Pontevedra (map)
+34 986 211 140

Website: www.granhotelnagari.com
Facebook:  www.facebook.com/granhotelnagari
Instagram: www.instagram.com/granhotelnagari
Twitter: www.twitter.com/granhotelnagari

English spoken: YES

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Bocadillo de calamares – Fried squid sandwich

Bocanegra’s bocadillo de calamares (fried squid sandwich) is already a classic in this 3 year old restaurant, making best-of lists that wax poetic about the bread (crisp with a soft large crumb), mayo (flawlessly acidic), and fresh squid (fried to crunchy perfection) that combine to make this stellar sandwich. I’m here to tell you that this sandwich lives up to the hype. But that’s not all Bocanegra is known for, not by a long shot. Chef Pablo Pizarro’s internationally inspired menu features tempting items from not only Galicia, but many other cultures as well. The Chef’s 7 course tasting menu (with wine pairings) took us on a flavorful tour around the world!

Bread service came with four types of excellent quality Galician bread (raisin walnut, brown, white and wheat), tomato and olive oil, plain olive oil, and a bowl of olives.

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Four excellent examples of Galician bread

Who doesn’t love a table-side prep? Our waiter, Toni, did not disappoint as he executed every step of the guacamole prep with great panache. Ripe avocados were mixed in a marble molcajete with precisely added tomato, red onion, Maldon sea salt, fresh squeezed lime and a healthy shot of Tabasco sauce. A perfect taste of Mexico, right in Galicia! Served with house made chips, the small portion was perfect to accompany our first pairing, “7 Cuervos”, a Galician Saison beer.

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Guacamole y Totopos – Guacamole with fried tortilla chips Guacamole made table-side – a perfect taste of Mexico right in Galicia!

 

The kitchen sent out smoked sardine on focaccia with whipped smoky San Simón da Costa cheese as an additional amuse-bouche. We’ve had a dish similar to this in other restaurants in Galicia and it’s a favorite for a reason – the rich, dense sardine is treated to a slightly sweet marinade, placed on top of a bed of creamy lightly smoky and sweet (thanks to a little hit of sugar whipped in) San Simón cheese all built on top of a baton of slightly crispy focaccia. Paired with Vermut Lustau rojo, a slightly botanical and not-too-sweet red vermouth from Jerez, in the south of Spain.

 

Focaccia, San Simón y Sardina – Focaccia, San Simon cheese and sardine

Crudo-style gently marinated seabream was dressed with lime, olive oil, red onion, cilantro sauce, and edible flowers and featured a sprinkling of tart, yet surprisingly sweet, chopped gherkin pickles. A light and refreshing dish paired nicely with 2016 Sameirás 2016, a Ribeiro blend of Treixadura, Godello, Lado and Loureira grapes.

 

Sargo Aliñado, Pepino, Lima – Marinated Seabream, gherkin, lime

Stunningly presented on beautiful plates, our fourth course was perfectly prepared merluza (hake fish) in salsa verde over mashed potatoes. Galician Padrón peppers were the main ingredient in the earthy, slightly acerbic sauce. What better to accompany this dish than some bubbly wine. Eidosela Espumoso Albariño sparkling wine (Burbujas del Atlántico – Atlantic bubles) cut right through the bitterness of the peppers.

 

Merluza, Salsa de Pimientos Verdes y Patata – Hake, Green pepper sauce and potato

Fresh oyster and razor clam tartare on a plate painted with spirulina served as the bed upon which a perfectly cooked sea bass rested. It tasted of fresh, clean sea. There was a surprise too; the oyster leaf placed as an accent is an herb actually tastes exactly like oyster. What an interesting discovery! This 2016 Godello by Godeval Cepas Vellas from Valdeorras was my favorite wine of the day. I could have sipped all afternoon long!

 

Lubina con Tartar de Ostra y Navaja – Sea bass with oyster and razor clam tartare

Our wine pairings switched from white to red with this smooth, organic Tinta de Toro (Tempranillo) that called itself “sexy wine”. Our waiter described it as “potente; con cuerpo”. As such, the full-bodied 2015 Corral de Campanas paired nicely with our next plate: partridge, seared rare, over large tender white beans in a decadent pot liquor broth.

 

Perdiz y Habas – Partridge and beans

The final savory dish brought another continent’s delicious flavors to the table – Vietnamese fried egg roll stuffed with beef cheek, blood sausage and mushrooms, wrapped in lettuce with mint, basil and cilantro.

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Nem Vietnamita de Carrillera, Morcilla y Setas – Vietnamese egg roll of beef cheek, blood sausage and mushrooms
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Chef’s tasting menu plus wine pairings of the day.

If you’ve been a reader of this blog for any time, you will know that my favorite Galician dessert is torrija. While this Spanish version of French toast is mostly seen around Easter time in the rest of Spain, it is found all the time in Galicia. Bocanegra’s housemade creamy delicious torrija came with lemon curd and a quenelle of dulce de leche ice cream on the side. Ice cider (cidra de hielo) from Galicia’s neighbor, Asturias, was our final wine pairing. Valverán 20 Manzanas, served cold, had a pure apple flavor perfectly suited to the dessert courses.

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Torrija con Helado de Dulce de Leche – Torrija with dulce de leche ice cream

The final dessert was surprising unique: helado de zanahoria — carrot ice cream! The presentation was artful with the carrot ice cream sharing the scene with chilled dark chocolate mousse, creamy peanut butter cream, chewy marshmallow pieces, buttery cookie crumbles, and decorative edible flowers.

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Chocolate, Cacahuete y Zanahoria – Chocolate, peanut and carrot

After a relaxing cup of café con leche to finish the meal, we had the chance to speak with chef Pablo Pizarro for a few minutes to talk travel and restaurants in other parts of Galicia.

Chef Pablo Pizarro focused on his craft in Bocanegra’s open kitchen.

As the topic of conversation turned to gin and tonics, our intrepid waiter rolled over an impressive cart giving us a front row seat to another impressive show as he prepared of a couple of well-crafted cocktails. Gin & Tonics are a big deal in Spain, and a staple in all bars. It’s no wonder, with this kind of careful attention to the art of the cocktail.

Date of Visits:
October 12, 2017 (tasting menu)
October 20, 2017 (bocadillo)

Bocanegra
Riego de Agua, 33, La Coruña 15001 (map)
+34 881 895 464

Facebook: www.facebook.com/bocanegracoruna
Instagram: www.instagram.com/bocanegra_coruna
Twitter: www.twitter.com/BocanegraCoruna
Website: www.conceptonegra.com

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When traveling near or far, it is always wise to ask locals where they eat. We were first heard about La Sartén from a local friend, Fran (of FranFret Guitars), and were really pleased to finally be able to visit during our most recent trip to Galicia in October, 2017.

La Sartén is a classic Galician restaurant in the old town of La Coruña that is known for quality Galician seafood, beautiful traditional preparations, and warm service from the friendly polished staff. Located just up from Plaza María Pita, it is one of several quality restaurants located along the Plaza de España, along with other well regarded establishments such as Miga, and A Pulpería de Melide.

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After being warmly welcomed upon entering the restaurant, we were shown to a nice table in the dining room and quickly got to looking over the wine menu. From a nicely representative list of Galician wines, we selected a Ribeiro from Casal de Armán. Their Finca Misenhora is a limited edition of only 3415 bottles made of mostly Treixadura with about 5% each Godello, and Albariño grapes. Clean, crisp, yet soft in the mouth, this lovely white went extremely well with the seafood we selected from the menu.

 

Perusing La Sartén’s ample menu which features a wide variety of preparations of local Galician shellfish, seafood, salads, and rice dishes:

 

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A delicious taste of pastel de marsico (savory seafood pudding) in puff pastry from the kitchen

In the mood for classic Galician fare, zamburiñas (variegated scallops) seemed like the logical place to start. These small scallops, cooked very simply with a slight hint of tart citrus and crispy crumbles of jamón ibérico, were so delicious. Scallops, particularly these small ones, are almost always served in Galicia with their delicious half-moons of roe still attached.

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Zamburiñas a la plancha con zumo de cítricos y polvo de jamón ibérico – Grilled variegated scallops with citrus juice and Iberian ham crumbles

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La Sartén serves a fine quality Galician bread that is perfect for sopping up all of the flavorful oil on the plate. There’s even a specific word for sopping up: sopetear!

We savored every morsel of this stellar salpicón de bogavonte y centolla (cold lobster and crab salad). Pictured below is just half of the dish, there were two portions of this light and refreshing salad loaded with tender chunks of flavorful lobster and spider crab, decorated with grated hard-boiled egg.

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Nuestro salpicón de bogavonte y centolla – house cold lobster and crab salad

With several different octopus options on the menu, we opted for the pulpo a la plancha con cama de patatas cocidas y cebolla (grilled octopus on a bed of boiled potatoes and onion). Octopus tentacles, cut longways and griddled on a flat top, were perfectly tender with a lovely char from the griddle. The boiled Galician potatoes, delicious in their simplicity, were merely drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with paprika. Red onions are not necessarily traditional, but the sweetness they added to this dish was inspired. This was another plate that you definitely want to sopetear with that wonderful Galician bread!

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Pulpo a la plancha con cama de patatas cocidas y cebolla – grilled octopus on a bed of boiled potatoes and onion

For dessert we took the advice of our friendly waiter and ordered the tarta de queso fria con galletas y moras (cold cheesecake with cookie crust and blackberries). Also drizzled with caramel sauce, this dessert made in house was light, creamy, and delicious.

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Tarta de queso fria con galletas y moras – cold cheesecake with cookie crust and blackberries

After thoroughly enjoying another afternoon of fine Galician wine and exceptional quality seafood, we will be sure to ask local friends for more recommendations in future visits to A Coruña!

Date of Visit: October 19, 2017


Restaurante La Sartén de Coruña
Plaza de España, 11, 15001 A Coruña (map)
+34 981 919 313

Website: www.restaurantelasarten.com
Facebook:  www.facebook.com/lasartenc
English spoken: YES

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Date of Visit: Monday, May 1st, 2017

img_5713On Galicia’s western coast lies the town of O Grove which is known as the o paraíso do marisco – the shellfish paradise. So it’s no wonder that a restaurant located in the heart of O Grove’s pedestrian center has become so well known for their seafood burgers. We enjoyed an afternoon visit to Misturas Tapería during our spring 2017 trip to Galicia. 

Misturas features unique artwork throughout the restaurant, exterior and interior. A large canvas next to the front door is specifically designated for customers to contribute to with their own artistic stylings. The articulated wooden dolls hanging from the ceiling are particularly jovial, and give a really good sense of the cheerful attitude we encountered during our entire visit. As we passed through the front room, a bar with several high-top tables, this gorgeous display of artisan bread and jamón (ham) really caught my eye.  (see photo below)

We were greeted at the front and shown to our table in the back dining room by Chef and owner César García Fernández himself. This year he is celebrating 20 years as a chef with the last 7 or so here at Misturas. We spoke only for a few minutes but his friendly, approachable personality comes shining through and is equally transmitted through the restaurant’s playful décor and the menu itself.

The single page menu is divided into several different sections with a traditional naming convention: Embutídos (cured meats), Frituras en Aceite de Oliva (fried in olive oil), and Especialidades a la Brasa (grilled specialties). Several menu sections were a little more cleverly worded: Ensaladas Frescas y Divertidas (fresh and fun salads), Más Natural (more natural), and Mìticos (legendary).

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Our table in the back dining room afforded us a nice view into the kitchen where Chef César García was busy prepping after kindly showing us to our seats.

Four kinds of artisan bread for the table (above, left). To accompany this lovely variety of bread, four flavored butters were presented (from left to right): yerbas verdes (green herbs – cilantro and basil), mojo picón (a flavor typical of the Canary Islands), limón (lemon), and fresa (strawberry).

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We always love a good croqueta in Galicia and these Croquetas de Pulpo y Grelos (octopus and turnip greens croquettes) from the “fried in olive oil” section of the menu were excellent – rich and delicious! We shared a bottle of local albariño with our meal, a 2015 Pazo Señorans from the Val do Salnes in the Rias Baixas D.O..

From the “more natural” section of the menu, we opted for the Wok de Verduras Barbacoa con Vieiras (wok cooked barbecued vegetables with scallops). Fresh and delicious, they came with a surprise – generous slices of crispy jamón ibérico (Iberian ham) on top. A very nice plate for the table to share. The photo on the left, above, is the plate as it was served, and the photo on the right a close-up of a scallop and those delicious vegetables.

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Burgers de centolla (king crab) and burger de rabo de vaca (oxtail)

We shared the burgers family style, our server slicing them each in half tableside. Two burgers de Centolla (king crab) and one burger de rabo de vaca (oxtail) were all stellar; each topped with Gouda cheese and a runny egg. Flavorful dipping sauces were splashed around the serving board Jackson Pollock style and chunks of addictively delicious roasted potatoes accented the board.

Misturas first ventured outside of traditional hamburgers with a pulpo (octopus) burger and now offer many varieties on their separate burger menu that takes up an entire page! The selections on this day were: Pulpo (Octopus), Chocos en su tinta (cuttlefish in their own ink), Atun rojo (Bluefin tuna), Rodaballo (Turbot), San Martiño (John Dory), Rape con gambón rojo (Monkfish with red shrimp), and Lubina de anzuelo con vieiras (line caught bass with scallops).  The burger de Centolla (king crab) that we enjoyed was an off-menu special.

The burgers at Misturas aren’t limited to the seafood variety. In addition to a tasty looking veggie burger (quinoa, eggplant and grilled pepper) there is a wide range of interesting options for the meat eaters: Rabo de vaca (Oxtail), Carrillera Ibérica (Iberian pork cheek), Pollo de corral (Free-range chicken), Lacón (Bacon), Magrete de pato con foie (Duck breast magret with foie gras), and Secreto Ibérico (Iberian pork loin)

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A neighboring table enjoyed the grilled fish deboned and plated tableside.

For dessert, we couldn’t not get the torrija (pictured on the left above). Torrija is often referred to as Galician French Toast, but for me it often plays more like bread pudding. Misturas’ version was made with orujo (Galician moonshine!) and had a crunchy sugar topping. On the right above, is the sweet grilled pineapple with flambéed rum sauce and ice cream that the entire table raved about. Misturas offers café a pote (pot brewed coffee) as opposed to espresso based coffees to accompany dessert.

While the seafood burgers are unique and we enjoyed them immensely, I look forward to returning to Misturas to explore more of their interesting menu and to enjoy the friendly service and relaxed atmosphere. Calling ahead for a reservation is recommended, especially during the busy summer months.


Misturas Tapería Restaurante
Rúa Plateria 18, O Grove, Spain (map)
+34 986 732 877

Facebook: www.facebook.com/Misturas-tapería-restaurante-301410993243294
Instagram: www.instagram.com/taperiarestaurantemisturas

English spoken: Yes

 

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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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