Kiosk Fine Dining @Abastos 2.0, Santiago de Compostela

Santiago de Compostela is a magical city tucked within the autonomous community of Galicia in northwestern Spain, roughly 40 kilometers from the coast. It's mossy covered cobblestone (guijarro) buildings and walkways are riddled with history- Celtic roots before the Romans ever arrived on the continent- as well as brimming with charm, and luckily for me, a tope (overrun) with seafood. Many hold true that the best seafood in Spain hails from the rough and cold waters of the Atlantic to the west and the Bay of Biscay to the north of Galicia.

Additionally, this often rain drenched climate, is a holy land for pilgrims, as they make their way to the 11th century cathedral supposedly holding Saint James' remains, which by legend were carried here from Jerusalem. A symbol seen throughout the city and dotted along The Way of St James, or El Camino de Santiago, are scallop shells, marking the path along the most popular European pilgrimage to exist since the Middle Ages. While my last trip to Galicia was by no means rooted in my religious beliefs, it was of sort an homage to what I love about Galicia and the mollusk family. And so, Abastos 2.0 gave me a reason to follow the shells.
Like so many great partnerships, the friendship/culinary bond of Iago Pazos, the taberneiro and Marcos Cerqueiro, the chef, have created a successful and equilibrated enterprise. The two have transformed what was 6 market stalls in the Mercado de Abastos (Santiago's main farmer's market) into a space of 28 square meters, housing a long table and a small kitchen. Some are labeling it a "neotavern," a modern take on centuries-old food culture and the history and preservation of the region. They are possibly the kindest folks I've come across in the restaurant world thus far; concerned about their clientele, dedicated to what they do and hungry for more. Not only was I welcomed upon arrival, but they heightened my excitement with the anticipation of eating there days before my journey (getting in touch through Twitter), and then proceeded communication after the service - unbelievable! A toque profesional 2.0 unmatched elsewhere.

It has to be said, and maybe comes as no surprise that two young restaurateurs, a young staff, cool music, an unusual and conceptually different idea, technology, as well as lots of ambition, have created a unique dining experience. And these guys never stop. Abastos 2.0 is open almost whenever you feel hungry, they prepare fresh menus and ingredients for the following: breakfast, "vermouth session"- light snacking until 3pm, xantares meals by reservation after 3pm, a light dinner offering from 7-10pm, and finally hosting a porta pechada for private dinner/party reservations. The long interior table of the current site holds between 8-12 guests, while the outdoor tables and bar offer another 8 or so. There is talk however that they will be growing their space to accommodate a new gastro-experience.

Menus change daily according to what's available at the market, therefore refrigerators are absent in their kitchen. Abasto means supply, and the restaurant's proximity to the market supplies Marcos and Iago with a plethora of selection. They exclusively use Galician products. By now they are no secret, at last year's Madrid Fusion, an annual culinary who's who of international cuisine, they took away the "Most Imaginative and Interesting Establishment of 2010."

"Table for one please." I had the opportunity to sit at the chef's table - the outdoor bar stool that looks into the kitchen. Diners at Abastos 2.0 all receive personalized treatment from Iago, Marcos and their staff. Their passionate yet informal attitude assured that I was never missing anything, that all my questions were answered and quicker than I could see the fork go to my mouth, my wine glasses were filled with the pleasures of Ribeiro, Logroño and the Rías Baixas - particularly a lesser known grape variety known as Godello.

Please follow my pilgrimage through the Holy Land that is Abastos 2.0. Huge thanks to my savvy Generation Y knights, Marcos and Iago, and best of luck to them - their refreshing, new-age thinking serves as hope for a great culinary future.

Welcome dish of mussels in vinegar with crumbled pumpkin seeds "kikos". Perfect texture and that just from the sea sensation. 

Salmón "AfterEight." Salmon marinated in soy sauce for 8 hours, with a dash of wasabi. Just like Japan. 

One of my favorites of the day and also the most unique presentation of a sardine I have ever seen! Slow marinated in vinegar, served with a fresh yellow fig reduction. 

Galician whites. Godello wine at Abastos 2.0, Santiago de Compostela. 

Wakame + Berberechos. Cockles and wakame sea weed. A sweet and tender dish. 

Cho-qui-tos! Baby cuttlefish. Another favorite of mine served with a rich and creamy smoked garlic mayonnaise, prepared "a la plancha" on the griddle with a bit of sea salt. 

Berberechos al vapor espresso. Steamed cockles. A curious preparation by Iago and Marcos, in which for 5 seconds under the espresso machine's steam, they cook the cockles. 

Courtesy of the chef- thank you!- grilled octopus with kale. How could I come to Galicia for one day and not have pulpo??  Served on the side in a tin were mussels in a blend of rice, cider, apple & sherry vinegar. 

A moment of reflection between plates. The rain subsided and I breathed fresh Galician air. 

Merluza vs. Olivas. Steamed hake at 64º C with a manzanilla olive sauce. The acid and bitterness played so well with (IMHO) the generally tasteless hake fish, which was soft as butter. Interesting to note, no salt was added! Fijate.

Lubina 50º. Sea bass cooked at 122º F accompanied by an almond, tomato, red pepper and cilantro sauce.

Cochinillo 12h. 12 hour slow roasted suckling pig (female) with mini portobello mushrooms. 

Palate cleanser. Seasonal Galician "drunk" apples soaked in a blend of cinnamon, rum and citrus. 

Dark chocolate ice cream with an orange cream and Pop Rocks. Texture, nostalgia and chocolate - a fun dessert. 

Orujo. They insisted, I caved. Galician coffee liquor. 

Abastos 2.0
Rue Ameás C 13 C 18
Santiago de Compostela, Spain
Twitter: @abastos20
Phone: +34 981 576 145

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