Many, many years ago, I read in a French guidebook to Paris that there was a Galician restaurant on the Boulevard Richard Lenoir near where I lived in the 11th arrondissement. My roommate and I had our doubts, having never seen any restaurant at all on that boulevard, but we marched over there to investigate. At the address indicated, we found a huge, empty retail space with no lights on inside. Peering through the plate-glass windows, we saw some activity and light far in the back, so we tried the door and found it open. Proceeding cautiously through the dark space, we came to a small bar where a few men were drinking. We made a left turn and suddenly found ourselves in another huge space, this one brightly lit and full of chattering families seated at tables, apparently celebrating a first communion, judging by the frilly Sunday-best dresses worn by the little girls. We felt a bit like intruders in a foreign world, but we were soon seated and happily scarfing down Galician tapas.
That was A Nosa Casa Galicia, and my roommate and I became faithful customers until we moved away. When I returned some time later, it was gone.
Fast-forward to last fall. Some musician friends had been performing at the Jardin de Recherches Musicales, a yearly open-air radio art festival on Paris’s Petite Ceinture (disused belt railway). Afterward, as some of us wandered the neighborhood looking for a café to hang out in, the sharp-eyed Fiona noticed a very nondescript-looking restaurant and noted its name for future reference: A Nosa Casa Galicia. Our curiosity aroused, Perry and I were gung-ho about returning there for dinner with her. A chat with one of the waiters soon confirmed my suspicion that it was the same place I used to frequent in the 11th, transposed to a much smaller space in the 18th. Run by an association, it is open only on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from noon to 10:30pm (5 PM on Sunday).
Hispanophile Perry lives not far away and has become a regular since that first joyous meal there. When I went back with him the other evening, we ordered all of our favorites and more.
The meal started with pimientos de Padrón, pointy little green peppers from the town of Padrón in Galicia, perfectly blistered in hot oil, seasoned with coarse salt and served piping hot. Just pop them in your mouth, bite off the stem and succumb to addiction.
That was followed by more peppers, this time in the form of pimientos rellenos de Morcilla de Burgos, red peppers stuffed with black pudding. Not for everybody, but we loved this plump, unctuous meat-and-veg combo in tomato sauce.
The tortilla here is a model of the genre. Steaming hot, nicely browned on the outside, slightly runny on the inside and full of flavor.
Then we went off-piste and ordered oreja racïon (pig’s ear). It did not sound appealing in any way, but I was hoping that it would be disguised by a tasty sauce. I was also following my rule of trying everything once. We each had a couple of bites of the boiled appendages, but they tasted too much like what they were, so chewy and full of raw barnyard flavor, although they were quite nicely spiced. Our friendly waiter was disappointed with us and left the plate on the table till the very end of the meal, perhaps hoping we would break down and finish them.
Then came a dish of very fresh cockles, simply and beautifully cooked in a winey sauce and, like everything else, served nice and hot.
We finished up with some lovely Manchego cheese, served in the traditional way, with quince paste, a truly felicitous combination.
Galicia, an autonomous community of Spain, is located on the northwest corner of the Iberian Peninsula, just above Portugal. The region has a rich history, and its people, of Celtic origin, have their own language, Galician, which is closer to Portuguese than Spanish. As A Nosa Casa Galicia demonstrates, the Galacian ex-pats in Paris remain closely attached to their homeland and its culture.
Today, A Nosa Casa Galicia seems much less family-oriented, but it is still full of happy Galicians communing with their roots through authentic tapas from their homeland. Don’t expect gourmet food here, but do expect fresh, delicious dishes and a lively – if sometimes very loud – atmosphere. Reservations recommended.
See our Favorite Restaurants by Arrondissement page to find a good restaurant in the neighborhood where you want to eat.Favorite