There are so many things I hate about A Coruña; the cold weather, the humidity, the old fishing town feeling, the smells. Some of my worst memories were made there. But, somehow the Galician food seems to make up for all the bad memories, bad smells and bad feelings.
A Coruña has been a hub of the Galician fishing industry for centuries. Its cuisine centers around seafood, which is great both at the cheap and at the more formal marisquerias (seafood restaurants.) Polbo á feira (octopus served with olive oil, Spanish paprika and coarse sea salt) it’s the big “star”. You can find it pretty much anywhere in Galicia, but we had our share at the Pulpeira Maria Pita in A Coruña.
Although the octopus gets most of the credit, there’s so much more in the Galician menu. Delicious Caldo Gallego (Potatoes boil in broth together with chunky white beans, radish greens, pork belly, and usually chorizo, ribs, and other cuts of pork), empanada Gallega, Tarta de Santiago, Galician cheese, and the unbelievable bread (Pan de Cea) that you’ll need to sop up the last drops of just about any dish you eat in Galicia!
And there is Galician beef. Apparently, Galician Blonds (retired dairy cows, which can be as old as 14 years) have become as “famous” as the traditional Galician pulpo these days. Top chefs in Spain and England are willing to pay a small fortune for the beef which is on the menu of some of the best restaurants in A Coruña. These elderly cows’ milk is used to create the region’s speciality Tetilla cheese. Their meat is marbled naturally with fat created over the years, giving a deeper flavor than other beef.
Unfortunately, I learned all of that too late and we didn’t have a chance to try these old fat cows that, just like wine, get better with time. But we ate Galician beef at this weird (for lack of better word) place called A’gramalleira. Now, bare with me as I try to describe this cookware. As you can partially see in the picture below, the Gramalleira is a metal cone with spears. Meat cubes are placed in each spear. The Gramalleira, which looks more like a torture instrument rather than cookware, is than placed in a hook and it hangs over a fire pit. The meat cooks. The cone is transferred to a platter and yet hangs on another hook. Underneath the cone sits a bowl of steamed rice which sucks all the meat drippings. But wait! Once they bring the plater with the hanging meat+rice+3 different dipping sauces to your table, the server pours some type of liquor over the hanging meat and lights it up on fire. The meat hangs there all caramelized, the smoke intoxicates your senses, and the rice is swimming in juice.
Despite my “no love” for A Coruña, I have to admit that our time there was filled with great food and some very special memories. I’m so thankful my husband and kids were there with me this time. It made every little bite tastier and some of the bad memories less bitter.
Also, while in A Coruña…