Monday, 29 August 2016

Spain, Galicia: exploring the fishing industry in and around Vigo

Porto de Vigo

Spain is well known for its fish and seafood industry, and Vigo is the biggest fishing port in Spain.  The port is divided into many different sections of products that arrive or are transported via the sea along the coast.

A visit to the fish and seafood port early in the morning was a very insightful experience of the seamen's life and how it all works. It's an intense, tough labour. This part of the harbour is open twenty-four hours, seven days a week.  The pick of the action happens between 4 a.m. and 9 a.m. when the fishermen come to shore with their produce to be sold or auctioned to the local industry and beyond. Some fishes come from other ports to be sold here too.   The fish and seafood are divided in artisanal, small fishing boats; big catches and seafood.
Porto de Vigo

Some factories have containers on the site where they start the process of cleaning, packing and then moving the feedstock inland to be distributed fresh or to carry on to be frozen or canned.

The canning industry in Spain is huge and is considered one of the best in quality. There is a good variety of canned fish and seafood in the market, some preserved in brine, olive oil, tomato sauce and other salsas. The process of canning in some smaller scaled factories are all made by hand and with much care, making them a gourmet product for the luxury market. They pride themselves on making it all in-house, including the recipes for the sauces.  Their system allows for traceability from fisherman to consumer.

Some of the fish and seafood products include sea urchin, razor clams, clams, mussels, oysters, octopus, baby squid and small sardines as well as the usual sardines, tuna and mackerel. 
Bateas, Galician mussel farm platforms
Bateas, Galician mussel farm platforms, are rafts made of wood with hanging ropes for cultivating typical Galician molluscs. They can be spotted along Vigo estuary, arranged neatly along the coast.

Mussels and oysters from the Vigo estuary are safe to eat as they go through a very strict process to reach your plate with optimal freshness and quality. The best place to taste mussels and oyster is in Calle de las Ostras in the Old Town in Vigo.

I visited a couple of gourmet canning factories and tasted some of the fish and seafood offerings. The presentation of the products is aesthetically pleasing to the eye; as for the taste, they were surprisingly better than most canned fish and seafood around on supermarket shelves.  They make an excellent addition to the store cupboard. They make a quick snack or accompaniments to an aperitif. There is also a trend to use these products as ingredients in cooking and baking, using the oil or salsas to enrich the recipes.  Some high profile chefs go as far as to make foam and elaborate sauces for their dishes.  It is all about the introduction of new concepts using innovative processes and always using high quality material for their creations.

A Visit to Real Conservera Española

Tasting time: Real Conservera Española

Conservas La Brujula, they sell their sardines at Brindisa in London

History of Canning


The method of Nicolas Appert (1810) which secured the stability of food through the tightness of the container and the sterilisation of the product was improved by the Englishman Peter Durand, incorporating the metal container.

England, France, and the United States had quickly set up preserve factories since before 1820 to make food portable and available to the armies, both for the battlefield and for the famous expeditions into unknown territories. At the same time, the emerging global conserve industry began its journey on the path of innovation, making progress in canning, in technological science and the specialisation of its products.

The French started setting up small canning factories specialising in fried sardines in oil, the celebrated sardines Nantes, which dominated the market until the great sardine crisis which ravaged the French coast in 1880-1887 and the start of the fish canning industry in Galicia, Vigo.

I learned a lot about fish and seafood  on this trip. A very educational  look at behind the scenes where and how food is produced and processed.

Ideas of dishes using canned fish and seafood

Sardine in potato salad

Empanada de Bacallau (cod)  and uva pasas (raisins) - Galician way

Aperitif  for cocktail hour, place the can  on ice for 10 minutes  for better taste and texture for mussels, razor clams and clams.

White tuna was added as topping on a tomato soup (Salmorejo), mussels as topping for canapes,  Guacamole and cockle dish, layered potato salad with mayo and white tuna - suggestions by Spanish blogger Carmen of Guisandome La Vida

I also visited Marfrio, a leading producer and processors and marketers of frozen seafood in Europe
Polpo alla Gallega - paprika and olive oil  - this was a gigant octopus from Peru - Frozen and sold in Spain



A photo posted by Rosana | London 🍾🍷🍽🍸✈️🌶🇧🇷 (@rosana_mcphee) on
A photo posted by Rosana | London 🍾🍷🍽🍸✈️🌶🇧🇷 (@rosana_mcphee) on
A photo posted by Rosana | London 🍾🍷🍽🍸✈️🌶🇧🇷 (@rosana_mcphee) on
A photo posted by Rosana | London 🍾🍷🍽🍸✈️🌶🇧🇷 (@rosana_mcphee) on

Disclosure: I was a guest of Anfaco-CECOPESCA on this trip. All views are my own.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Sunday lunch at The Punchbowl

Having a roast lunch or roast dinner is a must when in Britain. It is one of the long-standing British traditions. My latest roast dinner took place at The Punchbowl.

The Punch Bowl is a very well known Mayfair pub in London. It became a favourite of the rich and famous after falling into the hands of Guy Richie and Madonna in 2008. At the time it was popular with Royalties, celebrities, stars with Hollywood pedigree. It was sold in 2013, but it hasn't lost its charm.

Nowadays, the 300-year-old  Georgian pub, a hidden gem tucked away on a small street in Mayfair still with the same façade and historic interior to match. The real traditional pub is something hard to find in Central London, so I was happy to visit and try their food too.

As you enter the place, you instantly feel the warmth and friendless of the staff. The Georgian decor makes you feel you have step back in time. The bar is on your right as you enter it and the pub dining area is right at the back with a range of tables,  a bar with high chairs,  and  three booths for a more private dining experience.

We started with a sample of three beers from the Ale menu.  You then settled for a pint of Punchbowl very own ale .

The artisan sourdough with Jersey butter, as expected they were delicious.

Smoked duck breast, green beans, pomegranate, almonds drizzled with vintage port  dressing - It was juicy duck and delectable dressing

deep fried squid, green salad and avocado  - very appetising

A succulent 350g dry aged Ribeye steak (28 days hung from South Devon), truffle chips, watercress & shallot salad and classic béarnaise sauce

Sunday roast - I chose beef with all the trimmings. A tender and medium rare roasted meat, roast potato, the most unusual Yorkshire pudding - it looked like a muffin, and it was a bit like 'soft bread';  lovely vegetables and a very flavoursome gravy.  They cater for vegetarians too.

Amazing Rolo chocolate and blood orange fondant, honeycomb ice cream topped sugared almonds   - a dish full of textures, the fondant was set by the time I cut into it still very palatable.

trio of ice cream
We drunk Malbec, Chumayo, 2015, Argentina @£28/bottle with our main meal

All in all we had a good time, the place was quiet when we arrived at 1pm but it was very busy by the time we left. A meal with aperitif, wine and  3 very substantial courses will set back around £50+/per person.

They also have an express menu during the week:
Monday -Friday 12pm- 3:30pm | 5:30pm-7pm
1 course £13.50 | 2 courses £17.50 | 3 courses £21.50

The Pub also serves nibbles and sandwiches at reasonable prices.

41 Farm Street, Mayfair, London, W1J 5RP
T: 0207 493 6841

Mon - Sat: Noon to 11.00PM
Sun: Noon to 10.30PM
(Bar Snacks served all day)

Mon - Fri: LUNCH (Noon to 3.30PM); DINNER (5.30PM to 10.00PM)
Sat: All Day (Noon - 10:00pm)
Sun: Noon to 9.00PM (last order)

Disclosure: I was provided with a complimentary meal for two for review purposes. All views are my own. 

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Cream Tea Cruise on the Thames

While in London, you can enjoy an afternoon tea cream tea in style this summer with the new ‘cream tea cruise’ from London’s leading river bus service MBNA Thames Clippers.

At the moment the Thames Clippers is running daily special mini cruises and serving a traditional cream tea complete with a glass of Champagne or glass of orange juice while basking in the glorious weather and stunning London views.

Cream tea is a smaller and lighter  affair than the traditional British Afternoon Tea.  It consists in tea, scones, jam and  clotted cream.

It's a covered boat, so you are safe from inclement London weather.   They also have an outside area for those must 'selfies'. The day I experience the cream tea cruise, it was humid and a little overcast, but that didn't matter, the dramatic weather just added another layer of interest to the proceedings.

This is an experience like no other as while taking in the city's sights including the Houses of Parliament,  The Big Ben, Tower Bridge and The London Eye and many other iconic buildings with spellbinding past.

A blue badge guide provided a lively and fun commentary during the sailing while pointing out interesting landmarks from the river Thames and highlighting key dates and events from the capital’s history. 

It was a lovely way to spend an afternoon on the Thames, eat, drink and get to know London a bit better. Such a great city!  It last 1 hour so enough for a break in the afternoon - a really special treat!

The Tea


2 scones, jam, cream, tea and 1 glass of bubbles
Anything else is extra including water. They cater for special dietary requirements.

Cream Tea prices:
Standard: £16.90
With Champagne: £21.55
With Orange Juice: £18.50

The cream tea cruise departs from London Bridge City Pier at 15:30 and lasts for one hour.  The  London Bridge City Pier is located just off Hays Galleria on the Southbank. Nearest Underground: London Bridge

For further information and to book, please visit

Disclosure: I was provided with a complimentary cream tea for review purposes. All views are my own.  Hot&Chilli  believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.
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