Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Camino de Santiago in 10 foods

Here's a foodie blog I have just written (and sampled!) at after a recent trip to the Camino de Santiago along the French Way, I hope you like it:

The many routes of the Camino de Santiago cross different regions (in some cases countries), each with its own traditions, culture and food. If you are walking the Camino de Santiago along the French Way, from the French border, here are some classic dishes and traditional produce you will be able to taste.

This is our Camino de Santiago in 10 dishes (feel free to suggest your favourites!):

1-White Asparagus
camino-food-casasabinaNavarra’s white asparagus are the most famous in Spain. They are delicious with just a dollop of mayonnaise sauce. Another Navarrese speciality is ‘pochas’, a regional type of bean, stewed with Serrano ham cubes. Here’s a picture of Helena from Casa Sabina in Roncesvalles, serving her delicious ‘pochas’.

2-Chilindrón sauce
Chilindrón is a traditional sauce from Navarra, Basque Country and Aragón regions, made with red vegetables, mainly tomatoes and red peppers.
You will likely find meats such as lamb or chicken cooked ‘al chilindrón’, in ‘chilindrón’ sauce.

3-Potatoes Rioja style
tapas-caminowaysFrom La Rioja region of course, famous for its red wine, you will find a variety of dishes cooked ‘a la Riojana’, ‘Rioja-style’, including potatoes. This is more than just a potato dish, the potatoes are stewed in a clear broth with chorizo sausage.

4-Ice cream in Logroño
Marzipan, goats cheese with blueberries, cherry and orange sorbets, Ferrero Rocher… any ice cream flavour you might imagine you will find it in Logroño, capital of La Rioja and famous for its wine but also a city with a deep ice-making tradition.

5-Tapas in Burgos
Burgos has been selected the country’s gastronomic capital for 2013, an important accolade, reflecting the quality of the food you will find in the city of El Cid. Go for tapas in the many bars, offering a wide variety of flavours and combinations so you can taste as many different dishes as possible.

cured-meats-caminoways6-Cured meats in León
As you get into Castilla-León, cured meats become even more prominent in restaurant menus. Cecina, smoked beef, is a local specialty and cured meats (embutidos) from this region are of exceptional quality.
chocolate-caminoways7-Cakes and Chocolate from Astorga
Astorga had at one stage up to 64 chocolate factories – we where assured by Camino, the shop assistant, at the Alonso Mantecados shop in the Plaza de España. As good an excuse as any to stop and taste some of the artisan chocolate made locally. Don’t forget to try the famous ‘mantecados’ (little buttery cakes) and ‘hojaldres’ (super sweet sticky puffy pastries). There is also a chocolate museum in town.

8-Botillo in El Bierzo
You will cross El Bierzo on sections 6 and 7 of the French Way, its capital being Ponferrada. The most famous dish of this region is ‘botillo’. It is a dish where various parts of the pig chopped, seasoned, spiced and stuffed together to be cured and smoked for a few days. It gets cooked and sliced before serving and can also be eaten in stews. El Bierzo is also famous for its cherries so make sure to try them if you are travelling in Summer, you will see them in orchards along the walk and in every supermarket.

octopus-caminoways9-Octopus ‘market fair style’ in Melide
Galicia’s most traditional dish is octopus, eaten traditionally on market days, hence its name in Galego (pulpo á feira – octopus market day style). Stop for a ‘ración’ (portion) at a real ‘pulpería’, a bar or restaurant specialised in cooking octopus, where the octopus is simply boiled and served with a sprinkle of sea salt and smoked paprika. A Garnacha in Melide is a popular stop on the last section of the French Way.

10-Arzúa cheese
arzua-caminowaysFurther along the way, before you get to Santiago, you will pass the market town of Arzúa, where you can get a picture taken with the statue of the humble woman selling cheese in the main square. Explore the small shops in town to get a taste of the local cheese, for example at the old school butcher shop of father and son Luís and Luís, also known as ‘Carnicería Tarazona’. They will milk the cow for fresh milk on the spot and they sell the traditional Arzúa cheese, as well as their meats. The family has been running the establishment for over 100 years.

Buen Camino and Buen Provecho! We have previously shared our list of the best Galician dishes not to miss if you are walking the Camino de Santiago.

This blog was originally posted at:

Monday, June 10, 2013

Ah the good weather!

Ah, the good weather! A whole week of uninterrupted sunshine and balmy temperatures tuned Ireland and residents to holiday mode. Out came the sandals and the flowery dresses,the BBQs, the coconut lotions and, of course, the fake tans. The whole nation poured outdoors and rightly so! it has been a while since the last time we had seen Mister Sunshine in such glorious conditions.

Having moved to Dublin recently, I sure missed the long strands of County Wexford this week! We finally hit the beach on Sunday and chose to head out to Portmarnock mainly beacuse it was handy and accessible by public transport (driving to the beach on a sunny Sunday in Ireland is mission impossible). So far so good. The train was packed with teenagers high on hormones and sunshine. It was amusing enough but we chose to head to the middle of the beach to leave the crowds at either end. It was just pure heaven. That's what a Summer Sunday afternoon should be all about!

The far end of the beach, closer to the village, looked chockablock. But the most shocking part was seeing the amount of rubbish being scattered about the place, totally without a care or concern for people around, let alone the environment. A woman with her toddler and baby unwrapped her kid's icecream and proceed to bury the wrapper under the sand, not a worry in the world. Groups drinking cans on the grass were too busy having a good time to worry about binning their empty cans. Piles of empty glass and plastic bottles accummulated in the dunes, on the sand and the grass. Wrapping paper, leftover food and all sorts of litter dotted the place. Dogs were having a fun day at the beach too, but many owners chose to ignore their pets' poo, waiting for a bare foot to land on it. By 7 o'clock, once the tide was out and the main crowds had left, the vision was truly appalling.

It strikes me as strange that people are so keen to get out and make the most of the sunshine and the coast, while having no respect whatsoever for the space and the nature they've come to enjoy. Surely they'll expect to find the beach still there, clean and tidy next time they come... maybe we can put it to the side effects of sunshine, or call it mass national sunstroke... maybe we should just blame a lack of manners and of civil duty. And hope next time Mr Sunshine comes, we've all cooled down a bit and are more prepared to deal with our natural spaces responsibly.

Weather is due a change this week, rain will be back in Ireland. A bit of normality. I hope Summer does visit again this year.