Will and I walked for many many days this summer on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain. For most of those many many days—33 days on the trail, only one of them a resting day during torrential downpours—many of our dinners consisted of the same menu del dia. Insalata mixta was invariably topped with canned tuna and that was more often than not followed by breaded fried pork or breaded fried merluzzo (fish).
I’ve only recently discovered that merluzzo is whiting fish, a “fish of the poor.” That makes perfect sense now since the menu del dia was almost always ONLY consumed by those of us pilgrims walking the camino, eating out every meal for over a month. We could hardly get very extravagant with each meal, so it seems fitting that we were eating the fish of the poor—at every dinner.
By the time Will and I arrived at Santiago, which was a veritable metropolis compared to towns of 30 or 50 we were sleeping in some nights, we were ready to eat something different—anything different. We asked a tour guide what Santiago restaurant she would recommend, and we went straight on to a tapas bar she named: A Taberna do Bispo.
We’d walked past it before and wondered about it. The gleaming bar full of all sorts of delicacies sounded a siren call to our poor (recently) impoverished gourmand senses. We ignored the warning that the bill can easily add up quite quickly (it did!), and we ordered probably some of the tastiest foods we had in all of our 5 weeks in Spain.
I’m not going to hold you in suspense very long. Probably our favorite items were the pimientos de padron, a deceptively simple preparation of small green Spanish peppers blistered in a pan and served with sea salt. Yum.
We also enjoyed brie cheese (on a stick) rolled in almonds and then deep fried, with a sweet and tangy sauce drizzled over a piece of baguette. They also served the same sauce with bacon wrapped around a date stuffed with cheese and then breaded and fried. Yes, we went for a lot of fried foods in Spain.
Including these shrimp—gambas.
And these baby sardines.
In another post, I will talk about some of the best Spanish foods we had during our walk itself, but it’s not dishonest to say that this tapas bar served some of our favorite foods!