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Posts Tagged ‘seafood’

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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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: 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: 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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