Category: Galicia.

Galician gastronomy

Ask any Spaniard for some good reasons to visit Galicia, and the first will invariably be ‘seafood’

Jeremy Lennard,


Ask any Spaniard for some good reasons to visit Galicia, and the first will invariably be “seafood”. The region’s contorted coastline of rocky headlands and shallow sandy inlets support marine life in such variety and abundance that a diet that most would think of as extravagant luxury for Galicians is simply their staple.

Only 20km inland, Santiago taps willingly into this rich resource, as evidenced by the refrigerated windows of the tapas bars that spill out on the pavement of Rúa Franco in the old town. Baskets of clams, oysters, cuttlefish and squid vie for space with lobsters, crabs and langoustine; and on the shelf below, sea bass and monkfish lie next to hake, tuna and, of course, the humble and ubiquitous sardine.

The region’s signature dishes are octopus – pulpo a la gallega – served on a wooden platter drizzled in olive oil and dusted in paprika, and percebes, or goose barnacles. The latter come at price – both literally and metaphorically. The best ones grow on the rocks just below the low tide line and so are dangerous to reach. From time to time the local papers carry stories of a percebeiro plucked off the rocks and swept to his death by the Atlantic surf. They look more like the severed toes of small dinosaurs than anything you might want to eat, but prise them gently apart and under the rough skin of the stalk lurks a tender piece of flesh with a fresh, delicate taste of the ocean that the well-heeled in Madrid will pay upwards of €150 a kilo for.

As luck would have it, Galicia produces some fine white wines too. Albariños manage to be fresh, crisp and dry while retaining just a hint of the fruitiness of a Rhine wine. They are said by their admirers to be the best, most balanced whites in Europe, and Ribeiros run them a close second. And as if that wasn’t enough, most tapa orders are served with a hunk of the local crusty, malty brown bread.

From Michelin stars to spit-and-sawdust, Santiago has something for every budget, and the options can be overwhelming. If you’re still stuck, go where the locals go – for which it’s worth exploring off the main drags in the old town.

Carnivores too are well catered for in Santiago. The lush pastureland around the city produces some of the best meat in Spain. If you’re hungry and not counting your euros, sink your teeth into a beef chuleton – literally a “big chop”. A more humble option might be raxo, a peasant dish of diced pork fried in spices and served with potatoes.

When it comes to dessert, the city has its own offering. Tarta de Santiago is made of almonds; something like a Bakewell tart without the icing. It’s sold everywhere, but the best ones can still be bought directly from the Benedictine nuns at the Convento de Belvis. And to round off a meal in a truly tranditional Galician manner, order an orujo blanco, a local, rather utilitarian version of grappa distilled from the pulp left over from pressing Albariño grapes.

Vegetarians can get to feel a little sidelined, but there are almost always one or two options on the menu, and they can at least tuck into one local speciality, the eating of which amounts to a kind of culinary Russian roulette. Padrón is famous not only as the spot where the body of St James was brought ashore, but also for its peppers, or pimientos. About the size of your thumb, they are fried hot and fast in olive oil and sprinkled with salt. Most of them are sweet, but beware – there’s no way of knowing which they are, but in most portions there are one or two hot enough to make your eyes water.

Source link

Category: Galicia
Please login to your facebook account before comment.