Rambling in Iberia
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Rambling in Iberia

Vilalba

January 24, 2022

On returning from Oviedo we had a 3 hour drive to Santiago and had thought to stop at a beach along the way. Asturias has a great highway but it is separated and generally elevated so you don’t see the beaches, country or sea. Somehow we got a late start and missed the late morning beer and ended up already in the region of Galicia when lunchtime came around. Gloria did a quick look and we found a restaurant, Meson del Campo, on the way in a little town called Vilalba. It was not so little we found because it was home to a Parador that we didn’t have time or energy to check out as most of our effort was finding where we could park amid the renovation and construction going on all over the place. We found a place and then had the same meandering search for the Meson. We found it and there under its humble innocuous name was an eclectic restaurant that had once had a Michelin star. We entered what would normally be a brightly lit bar with a dining room in the back but here was a cozy interior with fireplace and high tables and regular tables mixed and a collection of wines along the walls — the dining room was upstairs. The music was fantastic indie-folk mixed with classic jazz, even some Paolo Contes from Italy. The service was the kind from modern Spain — young, attentive, trained and accommodating. We had a beer while they prepared our table. The place was hip and the colors and light were modern. We had come in slightly early (1:45) and were the only ones in the place. Actually the time shouldn’t have made a difference but I guess between being a Monday, Covid and January the clientele had dropped — but even so, it was a bit odd, Gloria thought it might be the time of the year that the whole town went off to the warmth of the Canary Islands.

They brought us upstairs to the dining room, eclectic in a good way and we sat down with our beers and took in the place and the views through the windows of the street and square outside, good stuff, and a space that had space which I barely know what I mean. We ordered Vieras (prawns) to start us off and though we love the traditional Viera with onion sauce sitting in the shell, this had a Mexican lentil sauce with a serrated Viera and pepper, not mayonnaise topping. Ok, I’m not a food critic or describer but it was wonderful. Now the wine had come out and we went with an old love — Pago de Carroviejas from the Ribera del Duero region, at the lowest level of priceyness. I won’t describe the rest of the meal cause I’m in danger of turning this into a travel blog of restaurants and whatever but we had a great time taking in the out-of-the-blue experience and the light banter we could have with the waiter and maybe manager. I think the proprietor came later and seated some family with kids, the only other guests — a shame, but it was a Monday.

Now everywhere has special spots and the nice thing is to raise the chances of encountering. I can’t say Galicia raises the probability but it’s a good high and pleasant when you find it — as anywhere. I have said I am not enjoying a future life, I’m enjoying today, just another breath of an old thought long lost, long interchanged, many times forgot, many times just lost in the bustle. I had costilletas of deer I believe, crisp, meaty and fatty all at the same time — delicious with red wine.

John and Gloria travel the peninsula by car from their home in Santiago de Compostela on weekend trips to show the wonder and beauty of the Iberian peoples and towns through their daily habits and cultural values.

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John Knauer

John Knauer

I live in Spain, near Portugal and drive out each weekend with my wife, Gloria, to have fun. I mix travel writing with general comments, thoughts – and photos!

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