Category Archives: jamon

Tapa of the Week #14 – Octopus – Pulpo a la Gallega

Pulpo a la gallega
One of the more difficult dishes for me to convince visitors to Spain to try is octopus. I have given many tapas tours and it’s a rare occasion that someone says “YES, I’d love to try octopus!” Maybe its the texture, maybe its the shape, maybe because its not chicken, but I suppose its fine if people don’t want to take the chance and actually have to feel the shape of a sucker on their tongue. It means more for the rest of us! Octopus are caught off the north and east coasts of Spain, and although they are diminishing in numers they are still an important component of the Galician diet, and one of the most popular dishes in Galician restaurants. Both pictures are examples of “Pulpo a la Gallega” – Galician style octopus. The octopus is boiled and served with boiled potatoes and sprinkled with olive oil, paprika and sea salt.

Pulpo a la gallega

In Madrid, there are several places to try octopus. Usually you can’t go wrong at a Galician or Asturian restaurant. Around the Plaza Mayor octopus is usually present on the menu but I find those places to be expensive for the quality of food generally served.

One of my favorite Galician restaurants in Madrid is Maceiras on Calle Huertas. I like its informality, wooden chairs and tables, handwritten menus, the sounds of Galician, Celtic influenced music, and even the gruff yet efficient wait staff. Don’t expect lots of smiles, patience or overt friendliness, but they are quick. The food is simple, traditional, inexpensive and most importantly, good! There is a nice selection of red and white Galician wines which you will drink in the traditional way, in white ceramic bowls. The decoration with nets, barrels, reminds you of the rural fishing communities found in Galicia. Notice the “Nunca Mais” flag on the wall and at the back the sign that warns “NO hay Coca-cola” – There is no Coke. So don’t ask. No problem, we will settle for a nice Albariño. As far as food, besides the pulpo, try the clams, mussles, empanadas, pimientos de padron, Galician sheeps-milk cheeses, patatas bravas. Finish your meal with an almond cake which tastes just like a Galician grandmother would make, the “Tarta de Santiago.”

Maceiras Restaurant

Maceiras is immensely popular so if you go for dinner on a weekend do not even think of arriving after 9pm unless you don’t mind waiting over an hour for a table. There is a waiting list, but no pre-reservations are accepted.

Maceiras in Calle de las Huertas, 66 and around the corner on Calle Jesus.
Huertas is a popular street with several bars so you won’t have to look far to find some nightlife. Its not far from the Prado Museum, and just a few blocks downhill from the outdoor caf’és and bars of Plaza Santa Ana.

Address: Calle de las Huertas 66, 28014 Madrid, Spain – +34 914 295 818

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Filed under Food, jamon, Madrid, Restaurants, Spain

Tapa of the Week #13 – Lomo from Guijuelo, Salamanca

Lomo Embuchado

One my favorite “embutidos” or cured meats in Spain is Lomo Embuchado, or cured pork loin. Don’t tell anyone but I like lomo almost more than cured iberian ham, or jamon. If I have both sitting in front of me the lomo dissappears a bit faster.  A few months ago when I was with my boyfriend visiting his parents in northern Spain they served lomo along with an apertif before lunch. They announced that this “lomo” was from the Denominacion de Origin of Guijuelo, which is acclaimed around the world for its highest of quality Iberian hams. The lomo was exquisite, and as I enjoyed the compelx flavors of this beautifully marbled iberian lomo I soon managed to have everyone laughing at me when I attempted to pronounce Guijuelo. Its supposed to be “Gee-HWAY-low” but I forgot that and said something like “Gwee-hell-ow”. You try it!  I am constantly reminded of this slip and my good-natured Spanish family has now taken to prouncing it my way. They have made such a joke of it, now I sometimes forget which way was right. But least I know what to look for at the market!

Guijuelo, known locally as the “cradle of Iberian ham,” is a town of around 10,000 people, located in the southeast of the province of Salamanca, about 3 hours west of Madrid. It is the center of the Denminacion de Origen of Guijuelo and its producers are prize winners known for their excellent quality and the artisinal nature in which the hams are produced. At one thousand meters above sea level, the climate is optimal for the curing of hams during the cold winters and mild summers. Guijuelo’s most famous resident producer, Joselito, who has recieved nothing but the highest of worldwide critical acclaim, simply announces that their hams are “The Best Jamon in the World.” Try it and you will most likely agree. Austrialians can now rejoice for it has been announced that Joselito hams have received approval for import. I have not been able to find any information about the current status of if any Guijuelo hams are avaliable in the US. (might be a good time to make a trip to Spain!)

If you visit the town of Guijuelo one of my Madrileno friends highly recommends eating at an award-winning Guijuelo restaurant, La Barbacoa de la Amistad. The logo, a friendly pig with the body of a prawn, claims that you will be served the best “seafood” from the pigsty.

Barbacoa La Amistad / Calle Tedo de la Feria, 8 / Guijuelo (Salamanca) 37770/ Tel. 923580402 / GPS coordinates +40° 33′ 35.87″, -5° 39′ 59.69″

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Filed under cured meats, Food, Guijuelo, Ham, jamon, lomo, Spain, Tapas