Galicia is known as the garden of Spain, and rightly so, but it’s mainly known for its seafood which is nothing short of spectacular! The Clams, Scallops and Octopus really are to die for and the ‘Percebes’ (goose barnacles) actually are one of the most dangerous creatures to harvest, giving the ‘Costa Da Morte’ it’s name. The area we stayed in was Pontevedre on the Atlantic coast.
Carril is a beautiful fishing village right on the Ria De Pontevedra (one of the 4 estuarys that make up the Rias Baixas).
Taberna Do Carril is one of the best fish restaurants i have ever eaten in! Almost all of the seafood that they serve is caught right there in the bay and it is so very, very fresh
These are Percebes or goose barnacles. They are incredibly dangerous to collect from the waterline where the waves crash against the rocks on the Atlantic coast between Camarinas and Fisterra. They can only be hand harvested and each year scores of ‘Percebeiro’ loose their lives as they get swept away by the ‘seventh wave which can appear out of nowhere from an otherwise calm sea’
The bay at Carril empties and swells with the tide and as it does the fishermen collect the clams by raking the bed with massive basket rakes. There are 4 different varieties of clams found across the coasts of Galicia and they all have different qualities.
These are my good friends from Carril who showed us around. Loli (with the glasses) is the chef at Taberna Do Carril and taught us so much about how to cook octopus, clams and scallops etc.
Cambados is the home of the Albarino, a perfectly dry white wine produced here in the Rias Baixas. Every square inch of land is given over to the cultivation of the grape, every grass verge, bit of scrubland and behind every garage the vines are being carefully cultivated for the wineries.
After a few hours in the Central Square, Plaza Alfredo Branas, we wandered up and through town to have lunch at ‘A Dos Pineiros’, a fantastic restaurant just up the ‘avenida da pastora’ past the cemetery
Empanada de maiz de Berberchos (cockle pasty!) this is maid with a maise corn pastry with cockle filling.
Always a bonus stumbling across the fish market where the catch has literally just been landed.
The beaches in Galicia are utterly stunning and very sparcely populated even in August! This beach is at Montalvo, just past Sanxenxo, and you can drive right up to it, park up and you’re on the perfect beach. (Its has a really nice little beach bar and toilets etc)
Another fantastic beach where you can really make a day of it is ‘Area Das Pipas’ or ‘Area De Reboredo’. Two beaches about 100m long and right next door to each other in the area of ‘O’Grove’. At about 2.30, just as you’re starting to get hungry, everyone on the beach vanishes and heads for the ‘Chiringuito’ where they are barbecuing whole sea bass and sardines on a charcoal grill just outside the bar. Its amazing.
Santiago De Compostela is one of the most stunning cities I’ve ever been to. Its buildings are medieval and the streets are long and narrow. Its central plaza is littered with exhausted travellers whove made the pilgrimage to visit the Cathedral De Santiago De Compostela. The ‘Camino’ or pilgrimage is a spiritual journey taken by all kinds of people in search of spiritual enlightenment, they all carry the symbol of the pilgrims, a scallop shell with the sword of the Apostle St James, to signify the quest that they have embarked upon.
I believe that i possibly ate my own body weight in Octopus, Galician is reputed as the best in Spain. I have to agree! We have now sourced Galician Octopus from Fisterra in A Coruna (Galicia) and have it on the menu at Levanter, cooked exactly as Loli taught me in Carril.
We stayed at the Parador ‘Kings Hotel’ or Hostal de los Reyes Catolicos on the central plaza. It really was stunning, a converted monastery from the 15th century.
Pontevedra is up there as one of the most beautiful and undiscovered places we’ve ever been to in Spain. The seafood is unrivalled, the octopus actually is the best and the whole vibe of the place is just so Spanish, really laid back, relaxed and the people are the friendliest and most helpful I’ve ever come across. I genuinely love Galicia!