I had the opportunity to travel to Galicia, Spain this October! I have been to Spain once before, but never to the Northwest region of Galicia. I love Spanish wines and find that every time I visit Spain, I feel at home. Galicia is comprised of the provinces of A Coruña, Lugo, Ourense, and Pontevedra, and is bordered by Portugal to the south. I was able to spend three days touring wineries and restaurants in Galicia, and then after went to Portugal. Now, ideally it’s best to spend more time in each region/country… but if you’re in a time crunch and want to do both, you absolutely can!
The first day I arrived we stayed in the beautiful city of A Coruña. This is a port city on a point in the Galicia region of northwest Spain. It’s known for its Roman lighthouse, the Tower of Hercules, which has sweeping coastal views. I had the pleasure of going up in the tower and witnessing all of the beautiful views of A Coruña; it’s simply stunning. The food in Galicia is very good and you will find a lot of pork and seafood in this region. We had lunch at La Sartén de Coruña where I enjoyed an array of different shared plates with three other wonderful wine writers from NYC and Brazil! We started off with the La Sartén octopus, which comes grilled and is served with boiled potatoes and onion. The portions are large enough for sharing and everything is very fresh and delicious. After the octopus came the steamed clams in a wonderful red sauce. We, of course, paired every course with a bottle of Albariño, which is the most well known white wine from this region of Spain. Now, because fish is very big here, it was only proper that our first lunch was a giant platter full of grilled fish. All of these dishes you will find on the Special House Menu here at La Sartén de Coruña.
After lunch, we walked around quite a bit until heading to the hotel to get ready for a late dinner. I absolutely fell in love with A Coruña while visiting this October and absolutely want to go back. The city itself is inviting and exciting, with great restaurants, nightlife, and people.
Day 2 in Galacia consisted of winery visits beginning at 9 am! Our first stop was a beautiful winery named Pazo D Rubianes. The winery and property itself are extensive and they hold one of the world’s largest Camilia flower collections. I must say, being a New Yorker, I don’t get exposure to different types of nature unless I travel. Sure, I could always pop over to Central Park and the Flower District here in NYC, but it’s really not the same. I really enjoyed seeing Chesnuts in their full fuzzy forms while visiting Pazo D Rubianes! This winery produces fantastic Albariño, which is the white wine you will find everywhere in Rías Baixas, Spain. For those unfamiliar with the grape varietal Albariño, it’s very crisp and mineral-driven and depending on the winemaker, vintage, and vineyard, it can express notes ranging from yellow apple and citrus to pineapple and mangos. On the nose, they are very fragrant and expressive of terroir and fruit. These wines pair beautifully with Spanish cheeses, pork, and seafood; typical cuisine of Galicia.
After a wonderful winery visit, it was time for a decadent lunch at Pandemonium Restaurant. “Back in 2003, a group of nine chefs got together to form Asociación Nove Grupo Gastronómico (Nove Association and Gastronomic Group) in order to vindicate the modernity and relevance of the new Galician cuisine without giving up on the origins of the avant-garde gastronomy ‘made in Galicia,’ which combines the best of tradition and innovation.” – Nove.biz. Chef Antonio Botana is the Chef at Pandemonium and served a spectacular 7-course lunch of Creamy Root Vegetable and Anchovy Soup, Tuna Stuffed Tomato Confit, Shrimp over Spicy Rice, Galician Grilled Fish, Galician Pork, and a Chocolate Dessert. Every course paired perfectly with Albariño and the overall experience from service to presentation was exceptional. This restaurant is absolutely worth visiting while in Cambados!
Once lunch was finished we took a stroll over to Bodegas Gil Armada, where we toured the historic Pazo de Fefiñáns and found out that the winery, was founded in 1959 by Joaquín Gil Armada. He is the heir to one of the oldest vineyards in Salnés that gave birth to the first bottled albariño wine at the beginning of the 20th century. – Bodegasgilarmada.com. The winery produces great Albariño of course, but they also distill a line of liqueurs and spirits that I quite enjoyed. Herbal and Coffee Liqueurs are very popular I learned in Spain, and here I enjoyed an array of them ranging from herbal to sea salt water! The sea salt water was quite enjoyable in a weird way, but my overall favorite was the Distilled Spirit with herbs and caramel aka Aguardiente De Hierbas Tostada.
That evening we had the opportunity to stay in one of the coolest hotels. Parador de Santo Estevo. This Monastery in Ribeira Sacra boasts stunning architecture, offers great service and also wonderful room accommodations. Everything is elegant and pristine, including the restaurant which offers an incredible three-course menu for $35 Euro. I enjoyed the first course of Squid Ink Pasta with Cheese and Truffle Sauce, Poached Egg, Pecorino, and White Truffles. The second course was Duck Confit with Bulgar Wheat, Sauteed Mushrooms, and Cherry Chutney. Both courses were filling and delicious! Last but not least, I ended the evening with a red wine Poached Pear and Ice Cream; simple, elegant, and delectable.
It’s a lot to pack in, in just a few days, but as you can see, it’s definitely do-able. In just two days I saw, ate, and learned a lot about the wines, agricultural tourism, and food of Galicia. You can visit any time of year and have a great time here. Be sure to keep an eye out for more posts on the rest of my trip to Galicia, Spain!