Galicia Spain: Mussel Capital of the World (Almost)

By March 3, 2013Food, Spain, Wine Tours
Vin - Mussels and albariño in Galicia

Mussels and Albariño in Galicia

Many tourists, even Spainophiles, may not even know where Galicia is located, or what it’s famous for. Thanks to a recent familiarization tour offered to me by the Tourist Board of Galicia, I was able to fill in many gaps in my knowledge of the area, and also to reconfirm that this should be a destination of a future Wine Lovers Tour.

We base our tours on 3 objectives: wine, culture and cuisine. Galicia is a homerun on all of those. Its famous white wine, albariño, is a perfect match for its stellar fish and shellfish cuisine. Gourmets know about muscadet and oysters, but albariño and oysters- or mussels and scallops- is an equally divine combo.

Underwater view of the cultivation of shellfish in Galicia

Albariño the wine comes in a variety of tastes: from simple high acid to complex oak-aged full bodied versions. There is some red made in the region from the mencia grape but all the bottles I tried were rustic or light fruit oriented reds- pleasant but not earth-shattering.

Facade of "O Obradoiro", cathedral o...

Facade of “O Obradoiro”, cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, Santiago de Compostela, Galicia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Galician cuisine is predicated for the most part on the bounty of the ocean. This relatively tiny and unknown area of Spain actually is the #2 producer of mussels in the world, after China! I saw-and ate- shellfish I had never seen before, such as navaja (Spanish for razor) which have the shape of a ball point pen and delicious sweet meat akin to calamari.

As for culture, Santiago de Compostela, our home base for the tour, is world famous for the pilgrimage made by thousands of devout Catholics over hundreds of miles on foot, with the ultimate destination of the Cathedral of Santiago.

I encourage you to visit and to start your initiation into this new travel frontier.

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