Eel and augardente are perfectly paired in the town of Valga
The Eel Festival in the town of Valga is held towards the end of the summer, namely on the last weekend in August, to say goodbye to the month to the fullest. Three days to enjoy the different dishes and tapas prepared with this delicious fish, such as empanada (a kind of savoury pastry), stewed eel with potatoes, and fried, breaded or marinated eel.
Before this food event, there is a tapas contest where local bars and restaurants are encouraged to participate. Here, the winner is chosen among the finalists in a popular tasting.
Any good food event in Galicia is paired with a popular alcoholic beverage: in this case, the local augardente, popularly known in Galician as caña do país. Whereas one of the mentioned festivals pays tribute to the Ulla River, this one does the same with the traditional augardente, the home-made one. There was a time when the augardente makers used to go from parish to parish for the distillation. They used to sleep in sheds and stayed there until the potada (the distillation of augardente produced in one go in an alembic) was finished, that is, at least one week. They were taken in and fed by the people who had hired them.
Apart from the tapas contest, there is another one to choose the best augardente of each variety: blanca (clear and colourless), de herbas (yellowish, sweeter and made of augardente, sugar and herbs) and tostada (the same as caña de herbas but adding caramelised sugar). The contest and the tasting will take place on Friday and Saturday, and the prizes will be given on Sunday.
The "magical" queimada
Among the usual activities of the programme of the Mostra da Caña do País, it is included, on Saturday night, the preparation of one of the most popular and "magical" of the traditional Galician beverages: the queimada. In this demonstration, usually held at the witching hour, up to 300 litres of alcohol are sometimes burned. The tasting is free of charge.
The preparation of this beverage depends on the master of ceremonies' taste, and it can include many different ingredients from coffee beans to orange or lemon peel and even some pieces of fruits. However, the most popular one is the traditional queimada, only consisting of augardente and sugar.
If you have enough time, you can wander around the town to discover, for example, the Mina Mercedes Lagoon in Campaña. It was a man-made opencast mine, naturally converted into a lagoon.
If you want a longer walk, you can take the 17-km Cuntis-Valga Path (PRG-21). Another option would be visiting the different cascades, as the one in Parafita or in the Valga River.
Archaeology lovers can also go to Cordeiro to enjoy the Igrexa Vella archaeological site, among the most important ones in the region, including a necropolis of Gothic origin.