A trip to Fisterra, or Finisterre to BBC Radio Shipping Broadcast enthusiasts, on Galicia’s treacherous Costa da Morte or Death Coast would never be complete without experiencing what is, without any shadow of a doubt, one of the finest fish and seafood restaurants in all Spain, A Tira do Cordel. This restaurant’s excellent reputation is known far and wide and Julio Iglesias has been known to land his helicopter on the langosteira beach in front of the restaurant for a quick seafood fix. The speciality of the hotel is pescados a la brasa, or grilled whole fish. Whilst Lubina or Sea Bass is the star dish, there are other excellent species on offer such as Escarapota, a local variety of Scorpion-fish, similar to the French Rascasse.
The live stuff is kept in large oxygenated tanks out back called pozos, though these are not visible to customers, unlike the grill area, which you pass on the way to the dining room at the back. Whilst there I tried the excellent value menú de degustación or sampling menu at 35€, and was served percebes, or goose barnacles, almejas a la brasa, or grilled clams, longueiróns or local razor clams, a half kilo Sea Bass, croca con patatas, a very succulent rare fillet of beef with chips, flan casera or home made crème caramel, coffee and licor café casero, the very potent home brewed coffee liqueur. I ordered a bottle of the excellent Albariño Don Pedro de Soutomaior, which wasn’t included in the price of the menu.
The restaurant owner Pepe is a real character and regaled me with lots of stories about the Death Coast. One of the things that amazed me most about the place was the fact that Pepe’s son and some of the other cooks go out at night in small boats with rods and actually catch Sea Bass from secret locations along the nearby coast, proudly showing me the equipment they used. The fish they catch is served up along with the rest of the stuff that Pepe gets from a select group of trusted suppliers. He assured me that the fish still have to be practically ‘breathing’ when they arrive in his cold storage area, where everything is then packed on ice to keep it in tip- top condition. I loved the place so much that I broke my golden rule of never going back to the same place twice during the same visit, but who could blame me? A life changing experience.