A gourmet's guide to Santiago de Compostela

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  So here we are in Santiago de Compostela. We figured that if we have to wait a week to get Sam back on the road Santiago is not bad as options go. And while we've not been sleeping much due to frantically checking emails, making calls to Fedex and sending shipping details, we've also been indulging in the incredible Galician food here in the city. From simple bars that have become a local institution to experimental menus from notable chefs, Santiago de Compostela is a foodie's paradise. On our first day we stopped in to O Gato Negro, a bar that has occupied the same spot since the 1920s and is now run by the founder's grandson.

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Pimientos de Padron are a Galician specialty

Pimientos de Padron are a Galician specialty

  The tiny bar thronged with people and we feasted on pimientos de Padron, a famous Galician dish of local green peppers fried and served sprinkled with coarse salt. Then clams in a red pepper sauce, which we mopped up with crusty bread, and finally pulpo a la Gallega, the most famous dish of the area, fried octopus served with sweet paprika.

Clams with red pepper sauce

Clams with red pepper sauce

Pulpo a la Gallega - the famous local octopus dish

Pulpo a la Gallega - the famous local octopus dish

Eating at O Gato Negro

Eating at O Gato Negro

  The central market of the city opens almost every morning and its six long halls are filled with sellers of fish, meats, cheeses, nuts, vegetables, fruits and flowers. We wandered in to get some supplies and were distracted by home-made cheese, hams and beautiful local ceramics.

Santiago's market

Santiago's market

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Santiago's market

Santiago's market

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Beans and lentils in Santiago's market

Beans and lentils in Santiago's market

  We stopped for lunch in Abastos 2.0 (www.abastosdouspuntocero.es) within the market building, one of the city's most modern restaurants created in partnership between manager Iago Pazos and chef Cerqueiro. Our lunch was a tasting menu created in the tiny kitchen within the restaurant space by Chef Alicia. and served on a high table. We enjoyed a rich creamy soup of Allo, an Atlantic fish, followed by Salmon Tartare served on crispbreads.

Sopa de Allo

Sopa de Allo

Salmon Tartare

Salmon Tartare

  This was followed by mussels in escabeche served in a tin with crusty bread, Merluza (a delicate white fish) with green olive puree, Eggs served at 64 degrees with chorizo and potato foam, and finally Cordium (a white fish) served with algae foam. All the dishes were created on the basis of what was available fresh in the market that day. 

Mussels in escabeche

Mussels in escabeche

Eggs 64 degrees with chorizo

Eggs 64 degrees with chorizo

Sargo Cordium - white fish with algae foam

Sargo Cordium - white fish with algae foam

Chef Alicia at Abastos 2.0

Chef Alicia at Abastos 2.0

  The following day we headed back to the market and nearby Café de Altamira (www.santiagoturismo.com) for lunch. We enjoyed a light meal that started with an appetizer of chickpeas with pigs ears but the highlight was an unbelievable good Pulpo a la Brasa - chargrilled octupos served with red pepper sauce. It was cooked to perfection and the red peppers added a richness to the dish which elevated it to 'hero' level. I'd go so far as to say that I'd make a special effort to come back to this restaurant just for this dish.

Pulpo a la brasa

Pulpo a la brasa

Garbanzos con orejas - chickpeas with pig's ears

Garbanzos con orejas - chickpeas with pig's ears

  The city is filled with delicatessen's and bakeries selling the very best wine, cheese, hams, conserved seafood, marmalades, olive oils, cakes and chocolates. One of our favourites has been Gastroteca in the heart of the old town, and we've put together some gourmet baskets which we're now selling online here. The gift baskets come in either a handmade basket or more unusually an original crab-fishing basket and can be shipped directly to you. They include incredible wines and products which we've tested ourselves (tough job but someone has to do it!). Please have a look and if you have any question please feel free to contact us. Happy shopping!