Galicia. What a Life!

20 Jun

I was disconnected from the internet the other night when I was drunkenly writing a derisive post about the absence of good food in Bilbao, but luckily it never got published; hearing about microwaved pintxos, bad bread, and depression would not suit your needs.

Luckily, my last day in Madrid was good; I ate delicious oreja a la plancha (pig’s ear).  At times, I was afraid I was about to consumer ear wax, but it turned out to be all gelatinous goodness.  Avoiding the few stray pig hairs, I enjoyed it thoroughly.  I also had a giant oyster and some cava.  Oh, and some other wine.  Oh, and an anís.  And some kick-ass Salmorejo Cordobés with pieces of jamón and olive oil.  And, ah, bread, bread, and more bread.

Finally, after a train ride to Pontevedra, which consisted of eight hours of me reading a Spanish translation of Twilight, a book I would never touch in English, I arrived.  In the last hour of the train ride, as Beverly Hills Chihuahua played on the small TV monitors, I watched, amazed, as tons of trees rushed by the windows, surrounding mountains and lakes, like a magazine spread on Maine.  But there were also grape vines.  I was lost in the beauty.  Scared.  No one ever told me that Lost and Found was a feeling and not just a game.  I was so lost in our amazing surroundings, but I also felt like I had arrived at the right place.

When Encarna, my Spanish contact and friend-to-be, picked me up with her brother, Manuel, and her husband, she explained that we could drop my stuff off at a small little nothing hotel near their house and then have a simple dinner in their winery.  Can you say UNDERSTATEMENT?  We went to the hotel, which turned out to be a beautiful guest house situated among lush grape vines.  I was the only guest that night, so I had the house to myself.  A clean, large room, well decorated, with a queen bed was where I would sleep.  Excuse me!  Are you serious? I couldn’t believe my immense luck.

At the winery, we drank their Albariño wine (a white wine typical of Rías Baíxas in Galicia; theirs is golden, minerally, and tastes a bit of apples and pears), ate jamón, bread, eggs from their chickens, a salad of lettuce and onions from their garden, and homemade croquetas.  I could not understand this to be a simple meal; it was monumental for me–the definition of farm-to-table.  And they were so accustomed to that way of life.

Today, we had a light breakfast before traveling to the restaurant where I’ll be working to eat lunch.  The restaurant, Nixon, in A Estrada, specializes in salmon, and, oh, did we eat salmon!  We started with great bread with olive oil and their Albariño.  Next, we had a piece of smoked salmon with passionfruit sauce and cheese ice cream.  What a combination!  It was delicious, and you know what?  To those of you who say cheese and fish don’t go together, screw off!  It was great.  Next, sliced smoked salmon with oil and vinager and some sea urchin.  Equally delicious!  Next: crispy salmon with applesauce, a piece of apple cooked in port, and and balsamic reduction.  Finally, a piece of perfectly cooked salmon with red pepper coulis, olive oil, and a crisp on top.  And then a chocolate souffle.

smoked salmon, passionfruit, cheese ice cream

smoked salmon with urchin, oil, and vinegar

crispy salmon with apples and balsamic

salmon with red pepper coulis--a modest description for such flavor

We tried a Tempranillo in addition to the Albariño, which was also very good.  I understood that it was from 2000, but Encarna’s father explained that a few more years in the bottle would allow the tannins from the wood barrel to soften and make the feeling of the wine on our teeth and palates less dry.  I really enjoyed learning all of this and eating such great food.

What a life here!

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5 Responses to “Galicia. What a Life!”

  1. Laura June 21, 2010 at 12:50 am #

    Looks and sounds fabulous!!! Have a wonderful time! I want to go there!

  2. harry July 5, 2010 at 3:28 pm #

    i tried albarino for the first time the other day, soooo good

    • getinmebelly July 6, 2010 at 12:45 pm #

      yeah, it’s very refreshing and clean tasting, as long as it’s not too sweet

  3. Brian July 6, 2010 at 3:04 am #

    SWEEEEET! I like the menu: salmon, salmon, salmon, chocolate souffle….
    Lol, as for that cheese ice cream, the first thing that popped into my head was your bleu cheese ice cream that everyone loved at HEC.

    • getinmebelly July 6, 2010 at 12:44 pm #

      lol samesies! when they said cheese ice cream, i was like, um hello me! but it was actually more like cheesecake because the cheese was “Queso Philadelphia”–cream cheese

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