I’m just back from Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain (detailed post to follow soon, I promise!) but in the meantime, I can’t stop thinking about one of the dinners (and subsequently, lunches) that I had while there…
Tucked away along the side of Santiago’s market, you can find Abastos 2.0, a buzzing kiosk-sized bar (taberna) with a room-sized restaurant across the alley. If you can’t seem to find it, look out for the deep green awnings and the frantic chefs and waiters running from bar to restaurant with trays of tapas and goblet-sized gin and tonics. I love makeshift, pop-up-feel interiors and this place has taken my obsession to new heights, with exposed walls and piping, concrete floors and lots of half-finished wood and crate slats forming the bulk of their interior furniture and tableware. Then there are the Spanish touches – cherry red lighting to give the kitchen a slightly sultry feel (entirely appropriate when the food is this good), massive turquoise window shutters and quirky cutlery.
The menu is firmly rooted in the culinary history and identity of Galicia, with seafood (molluscs in particular) taking pride of place in both their tapas and tasting menus. As a result, we started our tasting menu with a mollusc-dominated dish – mussels marinated in apple cider vinegar, razor clams dusted with a gin-and-tonic sea foam and clams on apple puree. Despite misgivings about the mussels (I generally find anything marinated in vinegar to be too heavy), everything was delicious and the pure, fresh flavours meant we could start the “heavier” dishes with a cleansed palate.
We then moved on to a more Japanese-inspired dish – cod on seaweed with a ricotta cheese sorbet and maize crumble. The flavours reminded me a fusion between fresh sushi and some of the Peruvian cuisine I’ve been trying lately – I’m still not sure the amount of ricotta cheese sorbet worked completely for this dish but it was easily left to one side. Salmon on chestnut pasta followed with a smidgen of avocado and pannacotta cream. Then to separate the fish from the farmyard, we were then served a Galician take on a classic Spanish tomato salad – rocket, salted plum tomatoes and pistachio vinaigrette served on avocado puree. I always think there is so much that can be done with salad and this dish was proof that even with the simplest of ingredients, something delicious can be created.
The centrepiece of the meal was organic, grass-fed beef served with root veggies (potato and carrot) and a touch of rocket with a slightly tangy vinaigrette (my Spanish was unfortunately not good enough to establish what this might have been – but it worked!) The beef was divine, medium rare and well-salted (which I like) and the root vegetable ensemble, although simple, meant there were no distractions from the wonders of Galician steak!
At this stage in the meal, I had no idea what course we were up to and was feeling a strong sense of post-steak anxiety regarding how much room was actually left in my stomach. Luckily, we were presented with some soothing apple slices sprinkled with grapefruit rind and I could feel myself relaxing into pre-dessert anticipation. It was a bit on the heavy side and probably more up Charlotte’s dessert alley than mine (I’m a cheesecake girl, she’s all about the choc) but that didn’t stop me from scraping the plate clean on my chocolate-cherry slice and passionfruit sorbet.
We finished the evening with a copa – a gin and tonic that quite frankly lives up to its name with copious amounts of gin (warning: you have to say stop or they will keep on pouring..) and a touch of tonic and ice. We’re always keen on trying local gins and as we’d already tried Nordes, which is a bit sweet-salty in the glass, we instead went for a gin called Ginabelle made from Mirabelle and the local Albarino grape.
And how much will this all cost you? Well, you might laugh but with tasting menus at 35 euros and glasses of wine at 3 euros, we happily agreed we had some spending money left over for a tapas lunch the next day – and as usual, Abastos 2.0 did not disappoint…
Happy travelling, Mo xx