Porto, Galicia & Madrid (Food report on my summer vacation)
Just got back a few days ago from a couple of weeks in Porto, Galicia (Vigo & La Coruna) and 3 days in Madrid. Lots of great food!
Where to begin! Ate all the seafood & fish that I could. We had roasted chicken with fries and chicken drippings, with salad & great local wine to wash it all down with, at the beach! With a copule of orders of pimientos de padron (always ordered some where I went, so why not at the beach!) Finished a couple of meals in Galicia with local orujo, a liquor which comes in 3 varieties (green, yellow & white, white being the strongest, & best, imo). Beer, tapas, local wines, lovely local cheeses, delicious local fruit (plums, apples etc). Ham & pork. Excellent coffee wherever I went... A lovely home cooked meal at a friend's parents in Madrid (un cocido Madrileno). Everyone went out of their way to feed me local dishes!
Had a lovely meal of shrimp al ajillo, Galican octopus*, sliced & sauteed calamar, a dish of baby potatoes, salad, wine. Everything almost swimming in e.v. green olive oil and garlic (garlic slices could be seen). Also had a few homecooked Galician specialty dishes, such as caldo Gallego and the best tortilla I've ever had, made with local potatoes and farm fresh eggs (they had to be organic I think, the yolks were dark yellow almost orange.) Also empanada Gallega (one time with roast pork loin slices and another with bonito). Both delightful, esp. the pork one. Albarino is a white wine produced in Galicia, and it's quite delicious, esp. paired with the local cheeses.. Sheep & cow cheeses, goat etc etc.
*There's a place in La Coruna where we went for lunch called 'A Casa do Pulpo'. We go in and I ask "so what are we ordering?" I am told by Tia Isabel (an older lady) "Pulpo" (octopus), so I ask "what else should we order?" I am advised by Tia Isabel that pulpo is all they offer there (the place is constantly busy - we had to wait for a table!) I am of course bewildered. But it's true - that IS all they offer! Well, that and great house wine (the bottle has a label with the name of the restaurant on it). New wine, red, slightly sparkling, delicious.
I'm getting a handle on making my way around Porto. Food/drink highlights: grilled seafood of course, tiny finger-sized sardines, fried & crispy, eaten whole (head to tail), great pastries & great green wine, red and white, and Port for very decent prices in the stores (brought back 2). Sopa da Pedra, etc. The last time I had a lovely flan they called 'molotov' which was a very tall, very large slice of flan (little bubbles in it melted in your mouth). So delicious. Couldn't find the place this time. Oh well, that's it, I'll just have to go back!
Brought back lots of dark chocolate, some plain, some with cherry and chillies, some with chopped coffee beans, with mint, with orange. Also pimenton (regular and hot), saffron, flor de sal, & Spanish olive oil (the last time brought back a few bottles of Portuguese organic olive oil). Also canned seafood.
My camera battery expired 3 days into my trip! Could only happen to me! So I had to stop clicking food of course! Good thing I have a great memory, esp. when it comes to food!
Madrid was absolutely crazy, what a city. I had lots of good coffees in Madrid! I had one called Cafe Bonbon, over ice - it was good! That & we discovered a tapas place the night before I left that was terrific - everything you think about when you imagine a Spanish tapas joint (chaotic and so much fun!) Great food, too! Loved it. Hams were hanging on the ceiling, there was quite a hectic pace, etc. (it´s on the edge of La Chueca & called El Tigre). For each round of small glasses of draft beer you get two tapas plates, next round, 2 more tapas plates (but different food this time!) It was so much fun! My Madrid cousins encouraged me to throw napkins where they may land on the floor (whether making it into the garbage bin or not), local style! What FUN!
One thing that struck me during my trip is how delicious the food is just about anywhere, from the simplest local cafe to the nicer places, consistently good, and they use good local ingredients. Simple preparations (a la plancha) to fancy, all good, I found.
By a lucky coincidence I met the first place winner of Avila's tapas competition (he's the boyfriend of one of my cousins). They may visit us in Montreal in December and he's promised to cook some dishes for me here, how lucky can I get! (Avila is a suburb of Madrid as I understand.) Sorry if this report is a bit disorganized, I get excited talking about food and all the food memories compete with one another!
That's all for now, had to share with you fellow Chowhounds. I love reading all of your reports as well!
(btw, I'm not from Spain but speak Spanish which I found added to my enjoyment)
I forgot to mention that I bought a pack of black tomatoes at a supermarket in Galicia, which were called kumato, and they were very tasty. I found this info on them today:
"...the super-sweet Kumato, which originates from the Galapagos Islands and was developed to tolerate the dry, salty growing conditions of the Mediterranean..."
re: kathy from ma.
I think you'll have fun in Madrid. I found it excitingly chaotic & a bit overwhelming, but mostly in good ways! It's hard to go wrong with the food. The Madrid cousins did mention that the buffet at the Casino in Madrid is very good, in case you want to try that. It's apparently quite varied, with very good offerings (nice selection of seafood etc) & I'd think they'd also have good wines as well. Didn't try it this time around, my 3 days there went by in a flash!
Guess you could tell I'm a fan of food in Spain, even their chain restaurants offered good food. A little neighbourhood cafe downstairs from an apartment building had not only excellent coffee (of course), but also there was a young man in the corner making churros to be had, fresh, with your morning coffee!