PONTEVEDRA

                                                                                                                                                                        15.8.09

EATING AND DRINKING

EATING

The quality of meat, fish and – particularly - shellfish on offer in this part of Spain is superb but, in truth, the range of dishes in which this excellent primary produce is used is rather limited, especially in tapas bars. And – save for the ubiquitous (and Hispanisised and ginger-less!) Chinese restaurants – international cuisine is so rare as to be almost not worth the time trying to find it. But if you are only here for a week or two, this is not going to be a problem. So, throw yourself into the local cuisine with gusto and see, for example, how many different types of ‘prawn’ you can come across. Try the octopus and, if you are really adventurous (and rich), the percebes. For those with memories of a bucolic upbringing, there is even tripe (callos), meat and vegetable broth (caldo) and pigs’ ears (orejas).

You may find vegetables in rather short supply, certainly compared with the volume of meat and potatoes you will be given. But salads are always available.

Tapas bars:- The old quarter is awash with these and the best thing to do is to wander around until one takes your fancy, for whatever reason. There is not much point spending valuable eating time comparing menus and prices since these are nearly always the same. Seafood dishes predominate, of course. Just a few citations:

1. Bocaito: Was - and may still be - the ‘in’ bar with the locals. Just by the Teatro Principal, in Dona Tereixa. Specialises in scrambled egg concoctions

2. Jaqueyvi: Offers excellent cured ham and cheeses. Like the Bocaito, more expensive than the run-of-the-mill bars. Opposite the Bocaito, in Dona Tereixa. There is a prize for the first person to figure out the origin of its name.

3. Eirado da Leña: This is in my favourite square, Praza da Leña. It is one of the few places in town to take the trouble to provide an English translation of its menu.

4. El Pitillo: Not so up-market but has fine food and the zamburiñas en ajillo are wonderful. Just down Rúa Alta from the lovely Praza de Santa Maria. Go to the tables upstairs if you don’t like the TV in the corner. Of course, you still won’t be able to hear yourself speak if there only as few as two Spanish diners there but  it is a better ambience. Spanish diners converse by shouting at each other, usually simultaneously.

5. O Cortello:: With some reluctance, I am naming my favourite bar.

The menu is the normal limited one but the quality is excellent and there is a great ambience, presided over by the owner, Agostín. If you ask, he will give you an English version of his menu, provided by me. Bear in mind that Agostín often refers to me as Mr. Johnny. I really have no idea why. Agostín may also try out his list of English expressions, likewise provided by me. I have resisted the temptation to include some gratuitous insults for him to deliver in his well-intentioned ignorance. Don’t mention Butlins; Agostín worked there 35 years ago and will bring out his photos at the slightest excuse. And then describe them in machine-gun Spanish, with an Andalucian accent. ‘O Cortello’ means ‘pigsty’, by the way. It can be found down the side of the church (Basílica) of Santa  A Maíor, at the top of Isabella II. To whet your appetite, here is Agostín with a couple of the langostinos he puts in his superb salpicón de marisco, plus 3 octopuses.

Restaurants: At the top end of the market there are Casa Solla and Casa Ces, both in Poio on the Sanxenxo road (C550) not far out of Pontevedra after you have crossed the Barca bridge. Within Pontevedra, there is the Alameda (guess where) and Casa Román, in Garcia Sanchez, just off Praza Galicia.

Coming down from these culinary heights, there is a wide choice of cheaper places to eat in town, including several pizzerias, hamburger joints and take-away pizza parlours. One reasonably-priced restaurant I am happy to recommend from personal experience is O Alpendre dos Avós II, in Av. Xeneral Gutiérrez Mellado. For a tasty and tremendous value menú del dia - and excellent tapas in the summer - try Al Moro. This is on the edge of Praza Curros Enriquez in the old quarter, at the end of Fernandez Villaverde.

There was a vegetarian restaurant (Ambrosía) at the bottom of Praza Verdura. This is only fitting as this means 'Vegetable Square'. This first started to offer meat dishes and then converted itself into yet another tapas bar.

There was an Indian restaurant in and also a Korean restaurant but neither of these could drum up enough custom among the conservative Galicians and both, sadly, closed down.

There are several ‘gastronomic’ festivals in Galicia throughout the summer. Appendix 4 lists those which are within an hour’s drive of Pontevedra. More or less.

A translation of menu items is given in Appendix 5. Many of these are local terms and will not appear in your Spanish dictionary.

If you are looking for a Churrasquería [or asador], here are a few suggestions:-

1. The San Blas Churrasquería. In San Blas, off the main road to Vigo, at the big roundabout on the edge of town. Not easy to find so ask around. Best to book - 986 84 64 19

2. The Porteliña Brazilian Churrasquería on Calle Porteliña, in Poio, across La Barca bridge. This is part of the road to Sanxenxo. On the right hand side not far after the roundabout with signs to the Venus 'motel'. Be careful as there is a more traditional Bodega Porteliña next door, though they are owned by the same people and I don't suppose they will mind where you end up. The Brazilian place does numerous rounds of meat for 17 or 18 euros. Be warned, you will feel stuffed by the end.

3. O Fonal: Just down from the Parador, towards the river

If you're travelling south from Santiago on the old road [N-550] towards Pontevedra and Vigo, you'll come to a village called Esclavitud. Or Slavery. Just before this [in Picaraña, I think], on the right hand side of the road, you'll find a restaurant called Reina Lupa. The sign outside says it has the best bacalau [cod], which might well be true. But its meats are certainly excellent, as is the Mencia wine from Quiroga. And the entire family speaks English, which is very rare in Galicia. Highly recommended.

DRINKING

Bars and Nightlife (‘La movida’)

As with the tapas bars, the drinking bars are just too numerous to list, especially in the old quarter. What you need to remember is that, though they may be open by early or mid evening, they don’t start to buzz until midnight or even later. Many of them don’t close until 8 in the morning, in summer at least. Note that the measures are at least 3 to 5 times larger than what you are given in the UK. And that the waiter/waitress may not stop pouring until you say so.

The other thing to bear in mind is that, if you are in an establishment which calls itself a ‘Club’ and which has lights and décor which are predominantly pink, you are in a brothel. If this hasn’t dawned on you within the first five minutes of being there, this is definitely not the right place for you. One good external clue is to check whether the car park is surrounded by a fence whose purpose, one assumes, is to prevent passing spouses or journalists from identifying the cars. If you are actually looking for such an establishment, the stretch of the N550 between Pontevedra and Paredes (towards Vigo) would seem to be your best bet.

Many of the bars in the old quarter have a small dance area. As for real discos, the scene is in flux, as the older city-centre establishments (Equus, Shiva) sell out to the property developers and either disappear or re-emerge on the outskirts of town. Those remaining can be crudely categorised as follows. Lacking experience, I am indebted to my friends at the English Speaking Society for this information.:-
 Carabás: For the teenagers and posers. Near the top of Cobián Roffingnac
 Morocco: For the 20 and 30 year olds. In Benito Corbal near the junction with Daniel de la Sota
 Daniela: For those in their 30s and above. In Daniel de la Sota, near the junction with Benito Corbal
 La Latína: For middle-aged married couples. In Av. de Vigo. No, I have no idea what this designation really means either. But it sounds safe. Perhaps you can      hear yourselves talk there.

If it is just a coffee you are after, then again the choice is enormous. If you need to go to the post office [in c/ Oliva], then I recommend the Café del Gran Siglo, which is just across the road from it. This is a very comfortable place and one of the few which provides national as well as local newspapers. 

Wines

The areas north of Pontevedra (Salnés) and south of Vigo/Bayona (Condado and O Rosal) are home to the albariño grape. This is used to produce the dry, white wine of the same name. This is of a high quality but volumes are relatively low so prices are high by Spanish standards. There is a leaflet (in Spanish) available from the Turismo which gives suggested routes through these wine zones, plus details of the various bodegas. You can probably find the wine from one of these (Martin Codax , a local co-operative) in the UK, if you want to try it before you come. Unsurprisingly, this leaflet is entitled ‘Rías Baixas – Ruta del Vino de la D. O.’ Throughout the hinterland of Pontevedra, you will see signs telling you that you are on a ‘Ruta do Viño’. As far as I can tell, this is meaningless as I haven’t found anywhere which isn’t. There is an annual festival of albariño wine in Cambados, starting the first Sunday in August and lasting a week. Be  warned that it is more than usually dangerous to drive on nearby roads during this period.

Near Cambados, in Barrantes, is a bodega owned and run by Ángela Martín and her English husband, Andrew McCarthy. This is the Bodegas Castro Martín, which specialises in albariño wines and a house aguardiente. Andrew is happy to show people around but needs a call first on either 986 710202 or 986 710606. Opening hours are 09.00 to 16.00, Monday to Friday. Please note that during the harvesting period in September it may be hard to accommodate you. Andrew believes he is the only Brit involved in the wine trade in Galicia and who can doubt him? You can learn about the bodega from their web site - www.bodegascastromartin.com

Stretching from the river Miño near Tui up to Ourense lie the vineyards and bodegas of a second local white wine, ribeiro. This is considerably cheaper than albariño but most of it is perfectly palatable and the higher priced bottles excellent. The centre of this wine-growing area is Ribadavia, which naturally has an annual wine festival. Plus a small but preserved Jewish quarter, last occupied by members of this faith in 1492 or thereabouts. Beware the charming old lady in the Jewish bakery; she is amongst the world’s best salespersons. She may or may not be Jewish.

East of Ourense – in the magnificently scenic Ribera Sacra/Ribeira Sagrada – you will find the red amandi wine, said to have been produced first by the Romans, specially to drink with the lamprey from the river Sil. This is not as highly regarded as the reds of the Ribera del Douro and Rioja but is, nonetheless, a fine wine.

Occasionally, you will see signs for ‘vinos del pais’/‘viños do pais’. These can be black/purple/red or white but you are well advised to steer clear of them if you want to be able to taste anything else within the next 24 hours. Or live, even.

If you travel down into Portugal, you can enjoy both their albariño (‘albarinho’) wine and also the effervescent ‘vinho verde’ of Ponte de Lima, for example. This is a wonderful accompaniment to the river trout available in this very pretty little town.

There is a ‘wine musuem’ (‘O Museo do Viño) close to Sanxenxo, on the old road to Vilalonga and O Grove. I mention it here, rather than in the Museum section, because it is, in truth, little more than a glorified shop and restaurant. Its aim is to make you feel good, enjoy yourself and part with a little of your money - all very worthy, if not noble, ends.

Local concoctions

There is a vast range of  mouth-stripping liqueurs, or aguardientes. For the local speciality of Queimada, the base liqueur is mixed with sugar, fruit and coffee grains and then set alight. Even if you can’t get to drink this, you can buy (in various sizes) the earthenware bowl in which it is (reputedly) made and the cups from which one (reputedly) drinks it.

In Praza de Verdura there is a bar – the Os Maristas – which is said to retail a particularly powerful brew known as Tumba Dios (‘God falls down’). I think may have drunk it but can’t now recall anything of the experience.

Finally, here's a translation of most of the food items/terms you're likely to come across:-

A la Gallega - Done in a paprika sauce
A la Navarra - Stuffed with ham
A la parrilla - Grilled
A la pepitoria - In a sauce with egg and almonds
A la plancha - Grilled
A la Romana - Fried in batter
Abadejo - Pollack [fish]
Aceite - Oil
Aceitunas -Olives
Acelga - Chard
Adobo - Marinade
Ajada [Allada] - Sauce made with oil, garlic, vinegar and paprika
Ajo -Garlic
Al ajillo - In garlic
Al espetón -Roasted on a spit/skewer; kebab
Al horno - Baked, roasted
Al natural - Without added ingredients
Al vapor - Steamed
Albaricoques - Apricots
Albóndigas - Meat balls
Alcachofas - Artichokes
Alioli - With garlic mayonnaise
Almejas - Clams
Almíbar - Syrup
Almuerzo - Lunch
Anca - Rump; haunch
Anchoas - Anchovies (fresh)
Anguila/Angulas - Eel/elvers
Arroz - Rice
Arroz a la Cubana - Rice with fried egg and tomato sauce
Arroz con mariscos - Rice with seafood
Asado - Roasted
Atún - Tuna
Avellana - Hazel nut
Azúcar - Sugar
Bacalao - Cod (often salted)
Batata - Sweet potato
Berberechos - Cockles
Berenjenas - Aubergine/eggplant
Besugo - Red sea bream
Bizcocho - Sponge cake
Bonito - Tuna
Boquerones - Anchovies
Botella - Bottle
Budin  = Pudin - Pudding
Buen hecho - Well done
Buey - Bullock; beef older than veal
Buñuelo - Fritter
Butifarra - Type of sausage
Cabello de ángel - Sweet pumpkin
Cabrito - Kid
Cacheira - Pork (from the face)
Calabacín - Courgette
Calabaza  - Pumpkin
Calamares (en su tinta) - Squid (in ink)
Caldeira (en) - Stewed (in)
Caldillo - Clear fish soup
Caldo - Broth
Caldo verde/gallego - Thick cabbage-based broth
Callos - Tripe
Camarón - Prawn. Really a small crayfish/lobster
Capón  - Capon (chicken)
Caracol de mar - Winkle
Caracoles - Snails
Carne en salsa - Meat in (usually tomato) sauce
Carta - Menu
Casero - Home-made
Castaña  - Chestnut
Cazón  - Dogfish
Cazuela - Stew
Cebado - Fattened
Cebollas - Onions
Cena - Dinner
Centeno - Rye
Centollo - Spider crab
Cerdo - Pork
Cerezas - Cherries
Champiñones - Mushrooms
Chanquetes - Whitebait
Chicharrones - Pork scratchings
Chipirones - Baby squid
Chirimoyas - Custard apples
Choco - Cuttlefish
Chorizo - Spiced sausage
Chuletas - Chops
Churrasco - Barbecued
Cigalas - King prawns
Ciruelas - Plums, prunes
Cochinillo - Suckling pig
Cocido -Stew
Codorniz -Quail
Coliflor -Cauliflower
Comedor -Dining room
Conchas finas -Large scallops
Conejo -Rabbit
Confitura  -Jam
Congrio -Conger eel
Cordero -Lamb
Corzo  -Roe deer
Costilla  -Chop
Crudo -Raw
Cuajada -Curd, junket
Cuchara -Spoon
Cuchillo -Knife
Cuenta - The bill
Dátiles - Dates
Desayuno - Breakfast
Empanada/Empanadilla - Filled pastry (little)
En salsa - In (usually) tomato sauce
Encebollado  - Cooked with onions
Ensalada (mixta/verde) - Salad (mixed/green)
Ensaladilla - Russian salad – diced vegetables in mayonnaise
Escabeche - Pickled; soused
Escalibada - Aubergine and peppers salad
Escalope - Escalope
Esparragos - Asparagus
Espinacas - Spinach
Estofado -Stewed
Fabada - Hotpot with butter beans, pork, black pudding, etc.
Filloa - Crepe, pancake
Flan - Spanish version of crème caramel
Fresa  - Strawberry
Frito - Fried
Gallega - In a paprika sauce
Gambas - Prawns/shrimps
Garbanzos - Chick-peas
Gazpacho - Cold tomato and cucumber soup
Granada - Pomegranate
Grelos - Parsnip/turnip tops
Guinda - Glacé cherry
Guisado - Beef stew; casserole
Guisantes   -Peas
Habas - Broad/fava beans
Hamburguesa - Hamburger
Hígado - Liver
Higos - Figs
Hojaldre  -Puff pastry
Huevo cocido - Hard-boiled egg
Huevos - Eggs
Jabalí - Wild boar
Jalea - Jelly
Jamón - Serrano Dried ham (Parma ham)
Jamón York - Ordinary ham
Jarrete - Back of the knee
Jijona - Soft nougat; turron
Judías blancas - Haricot beans
Judías verdes, rojas, negras - Beans – green, red, black
Jurel/jureles/jurelitos - Little fried fish, eaten whole. Horse mackerel.
Lacón - Shoulder of pork, some say
Lacón - Ham from the foreleg, others say
Lacón con grelos - Pig’s trotter with turnips
Lamprea - Lamprey fish
Langosta - Lobster
Langostino - King prawn
Lechuga - Lettuce
Legumbre - Pulse
Lengua - Tongue
Lenguado - Sole
Lentejas - Lentils
Liebre - Hare
Limón - Lemon
Lomo - Loin (of pork)
Longazina - Spicy pork sausage
Lubina - Sea bass
Maiz - Sweet corn
Mandarina - Mandarin
Manteca  - Lard
Mantecado - Christmas sweet made from manteca
Mantequilla - Butter
Manzanas - Apples
Masa - Dough
Mejillones - Mussels
Melocotón - Peach
Melón - Melon
Membrillo - Quince
Menestra de verduras - Mixed vegetables
Menú del cubierto - Dish of the day; fixed price, set meal
Menú del dia - Dish of the day; fixed price, set meal
Merengue - Meringue
Merluza - Hake
Mermelada - Jam, marmalade
Mero - Perch; grouper
Mezcla - Mixture
Miel - Honey
Mora - Blackberry
Morcilla - Black pudding
Mujel/mujol [muxe] - Gray mullet
Nabos - Turnips
Naranjas - Oranges
Nata - Cream
Natilla - Custard
Navajas - Razor clams
Nécora - Sea crab
Nectarinas - Nectarines
Nueces - Walnut
O caldeiro - With garlic, paprika, hot pepper and olive oil
Orejas - Ears, of a pig usually
Ossobuco - Osso buco. Stew made with the back of the knee
Ostras - Oysters
Paella - Rice. Chicken, seafood, etc.
Pan - Bread
Panache de verduras - Mixed vegetables
Pasas - Raisins
Patatas (fritas) - Potatoes (fried)
Patatas bravas - Spicy potatoes
Pato - Duck
Pavo - Turkey
Pechuga - Breast
Pepino - Cucumber
Peras - Pears
Percebes - Goose barnacles
Perdiz - Partridge
Pescadilla - Young hake
Pescadito - Generic term for ‘little fish’
Pez  espada - Swordfish
Pica-pica - Hot; spicy; chilli
Pimiento - Pepper (not hot)
Pimientos rellenos - Stuffed peppers
Piña - Pineapple
Pincho -  Small portion
Pincho moruno - Kebab
Pisto manchego - Ratatouille
Plato del día - Dish of the day; fixed price, set meal
Plátana - Banana
Platija - Plaice
Plato combinado - Mixed plate
Poco hecho - Rare
Pollo - Chicken
Polvorones - Floury sweet made with almonds
Pomelo - Grapefruit
Potaje - Vegetable stew/soup ( usually with pulses)
Pudin - Rice pudding or blancmange
Puerros - Leeks
Pulpo - Octopus
Puré - Purée
Rábano - Horseradish
Rape - Monkfish
Raxo (= Lomo) - Loin of pork
Raya - Ray. Skate
Rebozado - Battered
Rehogado - Baked
Relleno - Filled or stuffed
Repollo - Cabbage
Repostería - Confectionery
Requesón - Curd cheese
Riñones - Kidneys
Rodaballo - Turbot
Ron y pasas - Rum & raisins
Rosquilla - Ring-shaped pastry; doughnut
Sábalo - Shad
Sabor - Flavour
Sal - Salt
Salchichón - Sausage
Salmonete - Mullet
Salpicón - Seafood salad
Salteado - Sautéed; sauté
Sandía - Watermelon
Sardinas - Sardines 
Se adobo - Seasoned
Se rocio - Sprinkled
Sepia - Cuttlefish
Setas - Mushrooms
Show-oobas [pronunciation of Xoubas] Little fish, deep-fried
Solomillo - Tenderloin/sirloin steak
Sopa de ajo - Garlic soup
Sopa de cocido - Meat soup
Sopa de gallina Chicken soup
Sopa de mariscos - Seafood soup
Sopa de pasta (fideos) - Noodle soup
Sopa de pescado - Fish soup
Tenedor - Fork
Ternera - Veal; young beef
Tocino - Pork fat
Tomate - Tomato
Toronja - Grapefruit
Tortilla - Omelette
Trucha - Trout
Trufa - truffle
Uvas - Grapes
Vaso - Glass
Verduras con patatas - Boiled potatoes with greens
Vieiras - Scallops
Vinagre - Vinegar
Xoubas [pronounced ‘show-oobas’] - Little fish, deep-fried
Zamburinas - Little scallops
Zanahoria - Carrot
Zarza - Pieces of slightly spicy pork kebab
Zarzula de mariscos -  Seafood casserole