A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to travel to Galicia to enjoy an express 72-hour gastronomic route. Although it might seem impossible, I had never visited this wonderful region before. For sure, after that intense weekend, I would go back more than once and with more time in my hands. How could I not go to a place where you can eat seafood for less than 25€ per person, with wine and dessert included? At least in Barcelona I assure you will not find such a deal.
I booked my flight, hotel and car through Expedia.es, where I had my travel itinerary and other important information organized in my account. When getting ready for your next trip, I advise you to book the most important things through their website, because then you will have everything organized in one place, which you can check on their mobile app or online account. You get notifications if your flight, hotel or car reservations change as well as reminders. In the same notification you can access to their phone number, for example, when I had to return the car, I got a reminder about the time and place where I had to do it and how. Being the clueless person that I am, I did not even remember the time and, in a second, I was able to call the car rental and asked a delate the return time without a problem.
I had to plan a route to eat in the best-rated places of La Coruña, Santiago de Compostela and Finisterre (another time I will visit Pontevedra, Lugo and Orense, it was impossible to squeeze so many places in such a few days). I talked to several friends and people that I knew could recommend me on where to eat well in Galicia. My dear friend Juan Carlos, from the blog Gastronomía en Verso, sent me an email with many wonderful restaurants in the city, Coruña, and some in the countryside. Pam, from the blog Uno de Dos recommended me a couple more, and then friends of friends, Galicians and etc… put the icing on the cake.
First stop: Coruña
We stayed at the Hotel Meliá María Pita, a classic restored some years ago. The best views of Coruña, a delicious breakfast, huge rooms and bathrooms. I recommend it without question.
You must go to La La Pulpería de Melide, I think I will never taste an octopus like that one again. In fact, I did not dare to try octopus anywhere else in Galicia, only for not to remove Melide’s octopus taste from my head. Gorka Rodríguez, his chef, was awarded last year as Best Chef of the Year 2015 by the Galician Gastronomic Forum A Coruña 2015, which does not surprise me. Besides the octopus, you have to try their Galician beef and for dessert their cheesecake, which makes you touch the sky.
23 km from Coruña, we have the city of Betanzos, known for its many restaurants and for having the best Spanish omelet, recognized worldwide. We went to La Casilla and, although their omelet is supposed to be the best, I confess that I had the desire to taste the one from Casa Miranda, who according to Juan Carlos is infinitely better, and I believe him :-). It is true to say that in La Casilla we were speechless with the Galician roasted beef, you must try this dish, even after eaten an eight eggs omelette.
Walking through the streets of Coruña:
Churrería Bonilla a la Vista (the one in Galera Street, is the most authentic), in this “churrería” they cook the typical chips that are trending nowadays, which come in the giant can and are so good.
Another place that you should not miss if you go to Coruña is the Bodega Priorato in Rúa Franja, 16. As the name suggests, they have a Priorato wine served in a porrón – a classic Spanish crystal wine decanter – with a handful of peanuts. The floor, covered with peanut shells, give a special charm to it, which makes you think it has taken years and years to look like this. Its appearance also makes you think that this place has seen thousands of dating couples who want to break the ice in a casual spot while drinking good wine and sharing the small pleasures of life.
We had diner in the restaurant A Mundiña, several people recommended it to us and I can understand why. I recommend the clams, the spatter lobster (lubrigante in Galician) and the caldeirada of rockfish (their main dish made with San Martiño, Escacho, Pinto, Raya… the more tasteful rock fish prepared in the traditional way. The same way sailors of Costa da Morte prepared them at their home).
5.00 h (next day): visit to la Lonja, the Coruña fish market
One of the most magical experiences I have lived. Dawn (after the big dinner of the day before) three hours before the sun came up, cold, sleepy and hangover, we went to the Coruña fish market, la Lonja, to see the fish auction.
It is not open to the public, to go there you have to apply for a special permission, which did it even more intriguing and exciting.
I cannot describe what I felt seeing all those people buying fish. The atmosphere in the fish market is tense because of the agenda and the rush, but there are very good vibes among those who work there. Laughs, hugs, and like one of the fishers with whom I had the pleasure of chatting for a bit, Montse, said: “it is like a pre-school of grownups.”
If you have time, you must stop in the village of Carral, famous for its bread, but wherever you go in Galicia the bread is spectacular, each one better than the last one. Take some time and go through the bakeries of Carral.
That same day we went to Finisterre (Fisterra in Galician), known as the end of the world. We only had time to eat at Tira do Cordel (the best sea bass I have ever tried) and watch the sunset from the top of the hill.
Santiago de Compostela
Hotel AC Palacio del Carmen, certainly a lovely place to stay (if you are lucky, and they give you a room not on a high floor, you will have better views than the ones I had). It has a beautiful garden where you can lie down for a sunbath, meditate, do yoga, exercise … and a spa with a pool, a sauna, a steam room and a gym.
Breakfast at Café de Altamira, a hotel restaurant decorated in a very original way, emulating a wine bar with modernist airs and retro touches, without forgetting the stone and wood roots of Galicia.
Eating in Santiago
It is almost mandatory to go to the Abastos 2.0 restaurant; I guarantee that I had one of the best dining experiences in years. I went with a friend who two weeks ago went to Celler de Can Roca, the best restaurant in the world, and he told me that he enjoyed dinner almost as much he did there.
The icing on the cake of our gastronomic weekend was the restaurant Casa Marcelo. My friend Marta could not describe it better (she was there a couple of days after we did), she said “God, I’m about to cry. I’m enjoying so much the food that I almost hug the waiter”. We fell the same way. The fact is that we almost did not go because we could no longer eat anything else. Luckily, I have a bottomless stomach, because I believe that never in my life I had I eaten so well. I do not know if it was the cluster of emotions, we lived between the exhaustion of the day before going to the fish market, the trip to Fisterra, the dinner at Abastos 2.0, the walk through Santiago or the Mass at the cathedral where we saw the Botafumeiro…
Casa Marcelo had ‘rebirth’ in 2012, after thirteen years revolutionizing the Galician cuisine with a tasting menu and as the only option for diner in a space with open kitchen. Since then the menu passed away (now it lies buried in the garden of the restaurant, I swear it is true, you have the proof in the picture) and it moved on to serve dishes in a new concept: a tavern that offers Galician and Japanese tapas. I highly recommend their oysters; scallops; dim sum; shao-mae chicken curry; leek and potato with yolk and Iberian bacon (you will die slowly); the hearts of artichoke (after resurrecting you will die again); the steak tartare with country sirloin (a little too rough for my taste, but exquisite); temaki tuna and steak chimichurri… I assure you that everything else I had not the opportunity to taste was only for the lack of space in my stomach. For dessert, you must ask their cremosito cheese with quince (a cheese from raw milk they make at the restaurant), chocolate, tangerine sorbet, and Pedro Ximenez. I will only say one thing: I want to return to Galicia to return to Casa Marcelo.
Post By – La Cocina de Carolina @Carolina_ferrer_