Stalking the Wild Tapas of Santiago de Compostela
The capital of Galicia, Spain, Santiago de Compostela, is home to one of the world’s great cathedrals, the end of the road for thousands of Pilgrims who have walked here since the Middle Ages seeking salvation.
My pilgrimage to Galicia was to be equally inspirational but was to attend the Atlantic Food Conference, learn as much as I could about Galician cuisine, and search out the best restaurants in town.
There would be the inevitable "pain" of eating too much on this journey, but what the hell, one must expect to pay something for enlightenment.
Aside from the crowds grazing on free samples were the restarauteurs, wine experts and chefs who had come to the conference learn from each other.
He made three empanadas (meat pies): an open-face sardine tomato red pepper and onion in the traditional Galician shape of an oval boat: an autumn pie with chestnut flour and wild mushrooms and one of layered crusts with mushrooms and chicken.
Galician empanadas are renowned, and he is a master. I went with some star-struck trepidation to the next presentation by the chef who has changed everything.
He has shown the cooking world that our limitations are self-imposed. That anything is possible. I am a huge fan, but to paraphrase Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park: "just because you can does not mean that you should."
His creations escaped from his laboratory, and when let loose on an impressionable world, spawned many little copycat monsters.
Ferran is closing his famous restaurant el Bulli in two years, has been appointed a tourism ambassador, and commented on a need to return to traditional foods. Thank you, holy one. It is exactly what I had come to Galicia to do
Galicia is famous for its seafood. It has the largest fishing fleet in Spain and is the second largest producer of mussels in the world. We took a day trip out to Rías Baixas on the coast to the town of Cambados to visit the nearby shellfish beds at Santo Tomé - Serrido.
There is a continuous effort to monitor and maintain the health of the shellfish crop by limiting the amount that can be taken each day and strict standards for the minimum size of each type of clam.
After the backbreaking work of digging, the entire harvest is purified for at least 24 hours in large tanks to purge them. They are fantastically fresh and clean, which we had a chance to discover in one of Cambados leading restaurants, Yayo Daporta.
Named after its young chef and owner, this is an upscale restaurant that combines playful nouvelle cooking, with a devoted respect for the integrity of local products.
According to Chef Yayo, everything on the tasting menu (55euro) was locally grown.
Octopus Cannelloni, oysters and cockles served with a terrine of foie gras, and my favorite, Scallop Carparccio with crunchy bread, garlic and paprika sauce were just part of the menu. Read more...
Like this on Facebook: