Rias de Galicia (Barcelona, Spain) – Reference Seafood
It’s sad to compare United States seafood to the rest of the world. The freshness is rarely noteworthy and the variety is downright limited, as evidenced by my surprise live sea urchin find months ago. On a stroll through a Spanish grocery store, there were six different kinds of prawns, all twitching, three different squids, countless clams and mussels, and endless varieties of fish. Presumably, the unadventurous American palette, combined with the treacherous American work week, has left little discriminatory demand for the tastiest food on the planet.
Rias de Galicia was billed as an “old school” seafood spot where a respected chef told me that I could expect to eat “reference” items (i.e., seafood that I would compare all others to.) After an earlier disaster that week at Combarro in Madrid (largely described similarly by others), I was apprehensive. But it was the last day of the trip and a bad seafood meal in Spain might be better than a good one here in the US.
Who would expect barnacles would be so tasty and so much fun to eat? Twist the claw-looking thing from the teflon-like tube enclosing the meat and try not to squirt barnacle juice everywhere. The meat has an excellent iodine inflection while being satisfyingly chewy. They are usually the most expensive item on the menus, aside from maybe langostine, but completely worth the price. Very Good.
Very fresh, a taste somewhere in between mussels and clams. The clam taste is muted with more of the iodine of a mussel. Very Good.
Grilled Baby Octopus (Pulpitas)
Not as refined as Etxebarri in San Sebastian but a delicious plate of grilled baby octopus. Good.
Octopus Galician Style
Stupendous – I’ve never had octopus this fresh. It was barely cooked, still oozing with slime, the pepper possibly a little heavy-handed but satisfyingly spicy. This will forever remain a reference item and, combined with Jaminisimo’s ham, a reason in itself to book a ticket to Barcelona. Excellent.
A tasty prawn that was marred by being overcooked. You can’t win them all. Ok.
It looks so deceptively simple but this meal was very good. If I lived in Barcelona, and my bank account held out, it would be a weekly affair. This meal wasn’t cheap – it ran 150 euros/person before wine (thank the percebes.) If you were to go in baby eel season, or order other fancy items like langostines, that bill could easily double. Regardless, it’s worth every penny for that octopus.