Back to Menus in Spain, Part 2A (Ponferrada)

To restart my search for menus in Spanish and studying them I started in Ponferrada just coincidentally. In all my previous work on this project the larger cities, often also the ones popular with tourists, have the most raw material, but several towns along the Camino are more interesting, i.e. Logroño and now Ponferrada.

I recently happened to see another story about the Camino and also about Ponferrada and that rekindled my interest. I did some quick searching and it seemed like Ponferrada would have interesting material. Many of the people who do the Camino for the tourism value, not the original religious pilgrimage, start in Ponferrada, often in escorted tours, and just do the last 206kms. Frankly, from my virtual tour this makes sense to me because: a) it’s really the prettiest part (much of Camino would be like walking the Cowboy Trail in western Nebraska, dry, hot, boring, treeless and brown), and, b) it’s much greener and then mostly into Galicia which has the best food since Navara (and even there the Camino Frances doesn’t hit the Basque Country culinary hotspots).

So I did the usual thing, an initial Google search which either yields direct results or a link to Trip Advisor which has been a reliable guide (even if I don’t buy their ratings) to all/most of the restaurants in a given area. I could use this as starting point to then find websites for some of the listed restaurants, or as I’ll do in this series of posts, just some photos (either on Trip Advisor or back on Google Maps) to get raw material.

Now, the “top” (as rated per Trip Advisor) restaurants in Ponferrada are not particular Spanish and I’ve found this to be in other cities in Spain. Usually European, even “Italian” oriented restaurants get the highest ratings, also often with the highest prices, which probably just indicates a bias from tourist reviews instead of locals. And frankly, the highly touted tourist places don’t interest me (either for this project or to actually visit) since I can find equally good restaurants closer to home. If I’m in Spain, I want a Spain culinary experience. Perhaps I’m a bit more confident about that as I could struggle through ordering and eating with my newly learned Spanish, but really it’s just closer to the original point of this project.

So, after my usual excessively long preface, I looked at Trip Advisor’s top 30 restaurants and, disappointingly, found few online menus, in fact, only one as a document (a few others as photos). But one restaurant did have an appealing website even without a menu AND it triggered an idea.

 

After doing some of what I intended in this post it was getting long (big surprise) I’ve decided to split discussion of the first restaurant I’m looking at in Ponferrada into three sub-parts. In the second sub-part I’ll discuss a couple of words from one restaurant that Google didn’t know and do have any real translation. Then I’ll cover the rest of the language about that restaurant in the third part, and who knows I may have to split that because there are two restaurants at the same website.

 

Also I know I wander a lot in these posts but that’s actually what I find interesting. Little did I know when I started this I’d end up looking at la gastronomía berciana and Botillo del Bierzo (check out part 2B).

 

Normally I have a rule not to use someone else’s picture from the web, but a free picture from a guest on a free website that support the restaurant I’ll be talking about in the next part, here goes:

 

5 thoughts on “Back to Menus in Spain, Part 2A (Ponferrada)

  1. I’ve been to Ponferrada and Logrono, but ate largely in the small hotel where we stayed for the duration of the Road Race World Championships as the home cooked menu was excellent. Can I just say, I never ever use Trip Advisor. Far better to use something like Guide Michelin.

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    • re guides: Interesting about Michelin, haven’t used those since European trip decades ago. Mostly use what is easy to find online. I am not very trusting of any rating service, not that they’re wrong, but their standards might be very different than mine (i.e. theirs may be “conventional” and mine is eclectic, not somewhat “better”). Trip Advisor is good for my purpose because it makes it easy for me to quickly scan the restaurants as to whether they have websites which is what I’m looking for. If I were actually choosing a place for dining I might trust most personal recommendations.

      While I had a number of cookbooks for Spain food I never tried too many of the dishes and there are few places with “authentic” around here (the one tapas place failed). So my study has led me to better understanding and especially in smaller and traditional places it seems Spanish food is unimpressive (perhaps interesting to traveler). So the whole modernist gastronomy which I associate a lot with Spain El Bulli might be so impressive because it started from relatively bland Spanish food and went really far toward modernizing. But for classic and “great” food it seems a toss up between France and Italy and thus as Spain has so many European tourists (or expats) it seems the highest rated restaurants, at least in bigger cities, are more focused on the more popular European dishes than Spanish.

      Some random pig parts shoved into a pig’s intestine (e.g. botillo) might have local fame and D.O. but if I were in Ponferrada I might easily decide to skip it.

      btw: Just from reading menus and other material it looks like Logrono is better, possibly due to the influence of nearby La Rioja (kinda like Napa Valley’s influence on San Francisco area). Ponferrada looks like a bit more Leon influence than Galicia.

      I really wish I could make such statements from experience rather than just reading. You are so fortunate to have closer access. Even though I’ve shifted a bit more toward Mexico now none of the Spanish speaking countries are a likely destination soon, even in 2021. We’re in the sufficiently vulnerable group (to COVID) we can’t take the risk of a long trip, especially where our insurance coverage might not be helpful. But I still dream and maybe someday I can write posts like you do where the pictures are mine and the stories are real.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have to say that I love the food in Spain and have never, ever had a bad meal whether I’m eating a local menu of the day in a Michelin starred restaurant or a neighborhood one. Sadly, thanks to Covid, none of us are straying far from home. But as some one who’s been to both Ponferrada and Logrono, the good in one area isn’t necessarily better, it’s different based on geographical location and available local produce.

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