In reality, Spain’s Galicia region is like any other when it comes to gastronomy. To understand Galician fare, one must understand the land.
Described as the “Celtic fringe of Spain,” Galicia is wet, misty and green, a place where hills and pastures meet the Atlantic Ocean. Its “terroir,” to borrow a word from the French, accommodates the growing of mouthwatering vegetables and fruits; an abundance of beef, pork and lamb; the crafting of artisan cheeses; and, of course, a bounty of fresh seafood.
It is the gifts of the ocean for which Galicia is best known. Because the seafood is so fresh, it requires very simple ingredients and flavor enhancements to achieve what many consider perfection on a plate.
Among the more popular dishes are caldeiradas (fish stews) that are layered with onions, potatoes and vinegar. And then there’s pulpo gallego — octopus that’s boiled and seasoned with olive oil, cayenne and paprika. With each dish, one of the fine white wines of Rias Braixas, most of which are made with Albarino grapes, would be an ideal pairing partner.
The abundance and mix of seafood is truly impressive in Galicia. On any given day, diners can select from fresh mussels, clams, oysters, shrimp, crab, lobster, tuna, monkfish, turbot, sea bass, sole and sardines.
Scallops are another tasty treat. They’re typically baked and eaten right out of their shells. When they’re prepared in this fashion, Sauvignon Blanc makes a sublime companion.
Another delicacy: percebes — barnacles that cling tightly to the rocks below the ocean’s surface. Divers retrieve the barnacles at great personal risk, which accounts for their high price at the local restaurants and bars. Because of their saltiness, barnacles are best enjoyed with a glass of sparkling wine.
Yes, there are red wines to pair with the local meats, but when the seafood is so fresh and delicious, it’s hard to resist a meat-free dining expedition.
– – – – –
You can read more about Galicia and pick up helpful trip-planning tips by visiting the Ideal Spain website (http://www.idealspain.com/Pages/Food/galiciawine.htm).
And if you’ve had experience with Spanish food and wine, we’d love to hear about it. Share your story, or perhaps your favorite food-and-wine pairing, in the comments box below.