No pictures this post, but if you go to the site below for Adega do Carlos, you will meet the host of our favorite tapa/bar.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention the places we like to eat when we come to Galicia. Spain is a sociable place, and people love to meet at cafe bars for tapas and late night dinners at the many restaurants abounding in every town and good sized village. We are vegetarians, which initially was a challenge for us, since Gallegans love their meat and poultry. (A friend who visited told us the sausages are marvellous, and my husband read some food critic's article that claimed the best beef is to be found in Galicia.)
Luckily, we do eat eggs, fish, and seafood. Seafood is another Gallegan specialty, and the all time favorite of locals is pulpo, or octopus. (Sidenote: A neighbor in our village walked five miles to Escairon to the feria on market day because the ferias always offer pulpo, and she planned to have some.)
So: Where do WE eat? I mentioned the Parador in an earlier post. We actually go there a couple of times a trip mainly to have a glass of wine and split a cheese sandwich. (My husband has to watch his cholesterol, and the cheeses in Galicia are fantastic, especially Manchego. So he saves up for this experience, reining in his love of cheese during the year until we get here.)
Our all time favorite eatery in Monforte is Adega do Carlos , a popular tapa bar that is always packed. The owner, Carlos, is warm and jovial, with always a welcoming smile. He grew up in a neighboring village; our neighbors know him and say he's "Buena gente" -- "good people" -- which we knew the first time we met him. If you ever come to Monforte, definitely stop by and sample his menu. As for us: our favorites are: bunuelos bacalao (delicious cod croutons); pimientos de padron (fantastic little peppers sauteed in olive oil with salt); champillones (mushrooms stuffed with a garlic-parsley-white-wine paste and then grilled); and tortilla. A Spanish tortilla is not the cornmeal wrap we Californians are used to when we have enchiladas and tacos -- it's a potato/egg omelet that somehow rises to a thickness of a layer cake, and Adego do Carlos offers probably the best tortilla in Monforte. It's consistently wonderful.
Another place we like is the restaurant, O Bon Gusto, though I couldn't find a website for it. The owner spent many years in Switzerland, and she has a varied menu with French and Spanish omelets, every kind of salad you can think of, meat, fish, and other seafood entrees, and a variety of pizzas, as well as a good dessert menu.
Then there is Centro Do Vino, a unique combination of tapa bar, wine store, and wine museum. (I blogged about it last April, so you can read about it here: http://elizabethvaradansfourthwish.blogspot.com/2010/04/great-discovery.html )
There is another little tapa bar called Catanga, where we've had great smoked salmon and breaded mejillones baked on the half shell. Mmmmmmm, good.
In Escairon, the WiFi cafe where we hang out, Circulo do Savinao, offers only meat dishes, so we normally just have coffee or wine. But their cafe con leche is delicious. (I have never had a bad cup of coffee in Galicia.) Circulo Savinao is family owned, and one of the daughters also has a very successful school in Monforte where she teaches English. In addition, the cafe seems to be an art center. One room always has exhibits of local artists, and a couple of times DVDs about the cultural history of Escairon were for sale in the entryway.
Around the corner is a cafe-bar/restaurant called Avenida that serves probably the best salmon we've eaten anywhere. Also a wonderful dish of mejillones in a tomato broth. I couldn't find a website for them, either, but they are worth a visit.
Now, there are other great restaurants in both towns, and we've eaten at them and liked them. But these are places we return to each time we come to Galicia. We have favorite places in Lugo and Santiago as well, but since we aren't goint to either city on this trip, I'll save those for another time.
Meanwhile, aproveche, as the locals say. It literally means "take advantage", but they say it in the sense of "bon apetit". It's quite charming: If a total stranger in a cafe happens to catch glances with you, nearly every time he or she will say it, and it does enhance the meal wonderfully.