The art of living with the right amount of delight comes down, ultimately, to the cultivation of affections, sensations and happy memories. For this reason we long to return, every now and then, to those wonderful places which at some stage shaped us with their light – maybe with their bustle – and which are now part of our emotional memory. That’s why one cannot visit Bodeguilla de Santa Marta just to grab a bite or a drink but, primarily, to seek emotions and, in the end, to feel, to deepen into the arcanes of pleasure, and therefore to lighten up the happiest fruits of human sensibility.
The Bodeguilla de Santa Marta, both intimate and busy, just as a big house ought to be, defines a territory of shared words and an atmosphere of wisdom where thoughts flow and, sometimes, even hide themselves in surrealistic disguises. Quite often, time passes by in heated debates, contrived around a glass of wine where the topic doesn’t really matter. It is just for the pure pleasure of dialectics, and demonstrating that one is still alive, and that intellectual agility stays well-oiled. Only when the boasting is over, a respectful silence descends, delicate and cordial too. The last sip of the merrily shared drink is reserved for that precise moment…
The aspects that transform the Bodeguilla into a legendary establishment are flashes revealing a new kind of epiphany: the lively bustle of its clientèle, the cheerful rosary in each glass of wine, the friendly glances where eyes meet, smells and tastes, the baroque reflection made up from lucid words…
And therefore, over time, each customer ends up composing a fascinating memory linked to the Bodeguilla de Santa Marta. Their memories are populated with the men and women who shared life and chat there, who are now unforgettable, just as some of the most sublime experiences ever are. This universe is not less exquisite than biting a bundle of intensely red cherries during the blissful and bright days of June…
To venture into the Bodeguilla de Santa Marta is like entering the arcanes of all that is wondrous, of all that holds the fundamental quality to fascinate us. It is like seeking refuge within some sort of restless paradise – using Bachelard’s terminology – where life seethes and one feels protected against the erosion and ignominy that life brings. Later on, it will be time to go back, transformed but also unscathed, to daily routine.
Go out into the streets as those who once visited this tavern did: wiser and also brighter – which is what Juan Benet would say. Do so as those who return from a journey that somehow transformed them. Then, face the silver line of light scratching the disjointed roofs of the city of Compostela. Lose yourself in the labyrinth of shadows – the essence of this fantasy settlement – knowing that the Bodeguilla, that vast dream of pleasure, the subtle power of enchantment, remains untouched in the quarter of Santa Marta, on the other side from the flow of days, hazards and rain.
One day in the Autumn of 1986, San Roque (St. Roch) in person, perpetual vagabond and friend of a long-tailed wee dog, arrived at the gates of Compostela’s old town. The Saint was weary of tramping exotic geographies and enduring the inclement ways. He found shelter, food and rest at the tavern called La Bodeguilla, which at that time was but a recently opened bar in the very same Compostela quarter named after the pilgrim Saint.
Later on, when Roque went out into the magically luminous Compostela streets, he felt so comforted and happy that, while stroking his canine mate, he wished long days of prosperity to such a gentle canteen. Moreover, he even yielded his very own name for the establishment’s sign. Since then, this singular emblem of Compostela’s catering is named Bodeguilla de San Roque.
This tavern is proudly located amidst the noble stones of Compostela, in the likewise stony vicinity of the Galician Centre for Contemporary Art, the monastery of Santa Clara and the Costa das Rodas. Here its patrons will find a gastronomic window from which they can gaze out at territories inhabited by beautiful and pleasurable dreams: the emporium of traditional cuisine, Iberian hams and cheese, fine seasonal products, in addition to the most delightful and appeasing wines. Nonetheless, the greatest wealth of the Bodeguilla de San Roque is built upon cordial dialogue among friends during times that, in the end, are the kindest for human existence. Whoever visits this tavern forever holds the memory of the magnificent beauty of this country which lies, more than anything else, in the fascination for the palate’s pleasure.
The Bodeguilla de San Lázaro opened its doors in 2005 in the Compostela quarter of San Lázaro, right where the ancient way of Saint James takes a happy turn into Santiago in order to end its journey. Since then, this tavern has become part of Compostela’s primeval landscape, welcoming pilgrims and granting them some well-deserved amusement, so the end of the journey does not dissolve into nothingness, even if it is the Road to Santiago that brought them here.
Inside this chapel of epicurean cult mingles a motley crowd, from congress staff and attendants to worn out pilgrims recovering from the rigours of the walk, lively students looking for fun, and civil servants seeking to break away from daily routine.
The Bodeguilla de San Lázaro is the perfect place to enjoy a traditional and simple cuisine that is, however, always tinged with fine and subtle avant-garde touches. In addition, the customer is regaled with a broad and carefully selected wine list.
The Bodeguilla de San Lázaro boasts a tasting room, a genuine centre of wisdom devoted to reach a magical mixture of pleasure and erudition. This is where scholar praise and sacramental tasting are celebrated, an exquisite feast of wines, oils, liquors and chocolates.
Eating and drinking, hand in hand with people searching for the complicity of a smile and a friendly conversation, forms the emotional memory of this establishment. It is for this reason that visitors commend the Bodeguilla de San Lázaro, always in great numbers, always dreamy and faithful.