Gueyu Mar – A Tinned Fish Pilgrimage

Elite troops have landed! In November, we received our first shipment from an artisan cannery Yelena and I have been attempting to partner with for several years. Conservas Gueyumar, located in Playa de Vega in Northern Spain, creates unique and artful tins from the same kitchen as their restaurant of the same name, Gueyu Mar.

In July of 2023 we finally made the pilgrimage to restaurant AND cannery, Gueyu Mar. After an elaborate 10 hour lunch, our poor kids were spent, but Yelena and I were left with a deeply profound experience. Spiritual I could say. Life only offers a handful of meals as impactful as this was for us.

Abel Alvarez knows all the fishermen that supply his restaurant with the catch of the day. When we first met, he and his right hand man (Andre) were walking to the restaurant carrying baskets overflowing with fresh fish and crabs. Restaurants everywhere try to create the impression they source like this, but <1% actually do. Gueyu Mar walks the walk.

Abel says he is not a chef, but an “asador,” or grill master. With years of experience on his custom grill, his charcoal kiss is transcendent.

I ate so much I was worried I might die, but these rare and special dishes couldn’t be refused. A truly unique fish, El Rey, was presented in the 5th hour, on our 12th course. With a diet consisting almost entirely of shellfish and crustaceans, this 200 year old specimen typically costs $80 per kilo, raw. As painful as it was to finish every bite, I couldn’t say “too full” after hearing (and tasting) that!

Most of their specialties are prepared in tinned form at the restaurant. The cannery is right inside!

About half the dishes Abel serves in the restaurant use seafood directly from his tins. He doesn’t tell patrons which are fresh and which are tinned, and we found it impossible to tell. These Espardenas (sea cucumbers)? Tinned. The sauce was an emulsion of the oil from the tin, frothed and served with a masterfully fried egg. It was one of the most delicious dishes I’ve ever had, and infinitely better than other times I’ve tried the same.

They have recently opened a larger space for more comfortable canning, but every tin still features the daily catches chargrilled by Abel or Andre. The duo spend their first shift at the cannery before beginning lunch service at the restaurant, so the tins always contain the freshest of the day.

There is a huge difference between factory made tins and those made by artisans who have dedicated their lives. Gueyu Mar embodies and reminds us of the proper definition of “artisan.”

When the call came from our warehouse that our first shipment had finally arrived, I screamed like a maniac and ran straight out to see for myself. After so many years of admiration and work, Yelena and I are honored to be the importers of Gueyu Mar’s tins. This is why we do what we do! Now who wants to join us at the restaurant next time!?

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