Un finde Gallego

This year for Easter vacation we booked a last minute trip to A Coruña, a small coastal city on the coast of the region Galicia. I’ve been avoiding this region in hopes of one day doing the Camino de Santiago. I wanted to first set foot in Galicia and in Santiago de Compostela with a backpack and not much else but I couldn’t stay away. We took the six hour train ride to A Coruña and I closed my eyes as we passed Santiago so that I wouldn’t spoil my future camino.

So, we stayed in A Coruña for two nights and it was just enough time to see everything we wanted and to get a feel for the city. Our hotel was on the port side of the city and it was located very central and close to some of the most beautiful buildings. We were so lucky to have sunshine and good weather especially as they say “it always rains during Semana Santa.” The people in A Coruña were kind and we found some of the best spots to eat.

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Our first night we had dinner at A Taberna de Cunquiero on Rua Estrella 22. We walked into this crowded bar/restaurant located on a busy street full of other places to eat. We squeezed into a spot at the bar and started out with some regional Mencía wine. Our drinks came with a small bowl of soup for a tapa. Later we ordered more wine and a ración of zamburiñas and berberechos. The quality of this shellfish was impeccable and Josemi and I were immediately impressed by A Coruña’s cuisine.

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Our second day in the city we dedicated to exploring. We walked along the beach and had a long walk around the peninsula and to the Torre de Hercules. There we came across views that made me homesick for Caifornia and Big Sur. The coast of northern Spain is so similar to California’s northern coast.

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That afternoon we were hungry for pulpo (octopus). We read reviews for Pulpeira O Fiuza on Avenida Navarra, 33 and decided to check it out. From the outside this place looks like an appliance store or something and Josemi and I were a bit wary about going in. Walking into the place we quickly saw that it was full of older Gallegos and we knew we had acertado (got it right), The menu is very simple, something that most great spots have, so we got an order of pulpo and a half order of padrón peppers. For desert we had some soft tetilla cheese with some membrillo (quice jelly). This place is a must, just be sure to ask a waiter for a table.

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On our last day in A Coruña we walked around the city, grabbed a long breakfast and wandered around wasting time before catching the bus back to Madrid. We came across Taller de Pan Banneton Galera, 29. It caught my eye because on the window I saw “SOURDOUGH.” Here is where we learned that sourdough in Spanish is masa madre. I am embarrassed at how long it took me to figure this out. I am such a bread lover that when I was kid they called me Bread Girl at my local supermarket, how did I not know about masa madre sooner? So the bread we got at this place was amazing. The perfect sourdough loaf and I have yet to find one as good in Madrid.

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With this nice spring weather I am getting a huge travel urge. This week we are booking trips for the next months and some food based summer road trips. Can’t wait!

Porto

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So now I have been to Portugal twice in my life and have decided that its a magical place. The people are so kind, the food is great and it’s romantic. After my first trip to Lisbon I came back to Madrid with an urge to learn Portuguese and move back there one day. While in Porto a few weeks ago I said to Josemi a few times “estoy muy feliz aquí”. Now I can’t wait to plan a trip to Portugal’s southern coast.

So, Porto. A small port city north of Lisbon placed alongside the river Douro. Home of Port Wine. All we did was eat and drink and walk around this beautiful place.

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One afternoon we crossed the river to the Port Wineries and checked out Kopke “the oldest port wine house”. They did a wine and chocolate pairing with five wines for under twenty euros. We at a table near the window overlooking the Douro while sipping our wine. Our favorite was the Colheita 1999 Port. We tried to buy a bottle but remembered we were traveling only with carry on bags so it wouldn’t be possible. Currently searching for that bottle in Madrid.

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The second day we went on a hunt for the best Francesinha. Several friends told me that it was the thing to eat in Portugal so of course I was intrigued. We finally found a place with amazing reviews and stopped by for lunch. It was good but I’m not sure why people seem so obsessed with it. Walking around Porto almost every restaurant advertised their Francesinha. It’s a meaty sandwich filled with steak, sausage and ham and covered with cheese and a thick tomato sauce served with french fries. Sure it’s good, but that’s about it. Josemi thinks it’s the same idea as the Spanish Cachopo, breaded steak with cheese and ham inside.

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One night we decided to try a tapas style restaurant across the plaza from our apartment, Taberna do Largo. This place is a modest bar/store with a quiet candle lit atmosphere. You might miss it walking by but it’s the place with the red doors. We sat at a small wooden table in the back and ordered a few dishes to share and more than a few glasses of port wine. If you know Josemi and I you know that at almost every new place we go, if they offer a cheese or charcuterie plate on the menu we try it. We were not disappointed. Our favorites from this one were the smokey chorizo and the soft goat cheese were to die for. We asked about the cheese and learned that it was from small supplier in Alcains, located inland, not to far from Spain. On our way out we bought a wheel of cheese to take home.

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Taberna do Largo

Largo de S. Domingo 69

On our last day in Porto we took a day trip to the ocean. We just hopped on a bus that took us along the river and it was beautiful. Note: the buses run much less frequently than in Madrid.

Shout out to Josemi who was a rockstar speaking portuguese while I could barely call for a taxi.

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Banibanoo

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A favorite lunch spot. I first tried this place a year or two ago with some friends from a bible study group. I was surprised that it was in my old neighborhood and I had never heard about it! Located not to far from the Plaza Manuel Becerra on Calle Martires Concepcionistas 19. Thank God it is close enough to my work so if I get there quickly I can have this amazing food during the week!

This Persian food restaurant is filled with natural light and the homemade style dishes are full of exciting colors and flavors. The menu of the day is a great price and you get your choice of three of the many dishes on display, a drink and a tea, coffee or dessert. It’s a good idea to have a reservation because this place fills up quickly, mostly with business people on lunch breaks.

Must try: The typical Iranian drink with cucumber and rose petals.

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Goop Detox

In the spirit of the new year a few weeks ago I tried a detox. Normally I wouldn’t even be interested in a detox but reading about Gweneth Paltrow’s Annual Goop Detox on her lifestyle blog, I changed my mind. It didn’t even seem like a detox, just good whole cozy warm foods, perfect for winter. It is all about eating clean unprocessed foods. No caffeine, red meat, dairy, added sugars and no alcohol. I loved this detox and highly recommend it. All the meals had so much flavor and were so filling and satisfying. My only complaint is that I feel like I was always cooking. By the end of the week I was exhausted of cooking (and really wanted a glass of wine).

Something that made a huge difference in flavor of all the dishes was making a homemade chicken broth and then using that in all the recipes. This alone gave each dish so much more flavors and depth. Normally in my own cooking I get lazy and end up using store bought broth and chicken bullion, but need to start making more of my own broths.

Our fave recipes from the Goop Detox were the Detox Niçoise Salad, the Turkey and Sweet Potato Chili and the Kitchen Sink Thai Fried Rice. We’ve made all of these recipes at least three times each and it makes enough to have dinner and then bring leftovers to work for lunch the next day.

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Homemade Chicken Broth
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Thai Fried Rice (we used green beans, peas and cabbage for the mixed veggies)

 

 

Pancake Tuesday

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Happy Pancake Tuesday! We made these Banana Pancakes over the weekend to indulge. This recipe is so fluffy and not too sweet. I add an extra banana to the batter. Josemi was baffled at the idea of brunching something that was only sweet. I guess during these five plus years of dating me he has lost a lot of his sweet tooth (since I hardly have one at all).

Although we normally don’t participate in the 40 days of lent, other than not eating meat on Fridays, this year we are deciding to really give up something. Alcohol. Wish us luck! Are you giving up anything for lent?

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Logroño is Underrated

Found another small city gem pinchos paradise. Spain is like a never ending “fuente” of these and I can’t get enough.

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One of my favorite friends was just in town and we haven’t spent a weekend together in about 5 years. Way too long. We met back when we both studied abroad in Madrid and it was a fast and easy friendship. Andrea is the kind of friend that when we are together we didn’t have to do anything special and it was always so fun and full of laughter. Such a great friendship that we decided to get matching tattoos, lyrics of some Spanish song we had never heard. Over the years, while I’m home in California, I always make it a point to drive up to San Francisco to grab lunch with her. So when she messaged me with plans for a trip to Madrid I was overjoyed. Finally together again in the city that we met, with more time than just a lunch to catch up and make new memories.

tattoo

We booked our trip to Logroño the night she arrived to Madrid on a recommendation from a coworker raving about the wine and pinchos. It did not disappoint. Logroño is the capital of the province of La Rioja. This is wine region. Calle del Laurel is the place to go for a bite. Each bar has its specialty pincho and of course the wine is flowing.

When we first arrived, after checking into our hotel we rushed over to the tapas street to grab something to eat quickly before the restaurants closed. We walked into Bar la Casita one of the first places we saw even though it seemed  a little bit slow and empty. Here we tried our first glass of wine of the weekend and some manchego cheese and their croquetas. Soon after the tiny bar was full.

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Later that night we went out for all the pinchos we could get. This was a toast with goat cheese, iberian ham and raspberry sauce drizzled on top. Sounds weird but its not if you are like me and love mixing sweet and savory flavors. Find this one at Bar Blanco y Negro c/ Bretón de los Herreros 48.

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Then we made our way over to Bar Lorenzo Travesía de Laurel 4 where their specialty are these hot dog style things. We tried one with chorizo and another with pincho moruno and their green secret sauce. Bit fans. We also saw people ordering hot caldos so we tried it and it was amazing. Getting a cup of broth in Logroño is a thing apparently and I love it. Perfect for a cold winter night.
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I saved the best for last. The mushroom stack from Bar Soriano Travesía de Laurel 2. This bar is so tiny and was so full that the people were spilling out onto the streets. As far as I could tell this was the only thing that they served, and wine. So simple and so good. A stack of three mushrooms on a piece of bread topped with a shrimp and skewered with a toothpick. Just be careful with the hot oil while eating. Andrea and I were so excited to try it that we both burnt our mouths.

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It was so great catching up with such a good friend and having a mini adventure together. I am so excited about how far she has come since I met her, and where she is going now. After Logroño Andrea did some solo travel up north and then came back to Madrid for another weekend together. On our last night out, on the taxi ride home our stupid tattoo song came on the radio. See you soon friend!

andrea
La Latina, Madrid 2012
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Logroño 2017

Salmon Poke Bowls

I’m such a fan of poke bowls and so bummed that this Hawaiian dish hasn’t made its way to Madrid yet. Recently Poke Maoli opened up in Barcelona and I’m praying that they open a place in Madrid as soon as possible. In the meantime I have been perfecting my poke “recipe.”

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I N G R E D I E N T S:

200g Sushi grade salmon (or tuna)

1tsp sesame oil

2tbsp soy sauce

1tsp honey

1tsp brown sugar

1tsp rice vinegar

1tsp Sriracha

1/2tsp red pepper flakes

1 in ginger, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

salt

pepper

wakame seaweed salad

1/2cup white rice

toasted sesame seeds (optional)

green onion (optional)

Boil 1 cup water and add rice. Stir. Cover with lid and cook for 20 minutes. Let cool.

Cube fish. Place in bowl. Salt and pepper the salmon and drizzle with sesame oil. In another bowl mix approximately 2 tbsp soy sauce with 1 tsp honey, brown sugar, rice wine vinegar and Sriracha. Mix. Add garlic and ginger. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Pour soy mixture over fish, mix and place in fridge 1 hour.

Place rice in bowl and top with wakame salad and the fish. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onion. Enjoy!