Due to many recommendations from various sources, this food tour has seen us traipse literally across cities to try certain specialities from specific places. This taster doesn’t even have to be a whole dish. For example, in Valencia we crossed the city, walking for no less than twenty minutes to buy saladitos (a local speciality like a flat breadstick made with olive oil) ; in Granada we found a specific bar for migas (breadcrumbs) and then hopped (a giant four block hop) to the next which was famous for salmorejo (a thick tomato ased cold soup). Someone had also told me about a popular chocolate shop which was in a different area, so of course off we went! We stopped off for a few minutes to enjoy balsamic vinegar and saffron truffles and then continued on our way. This scenario is similar on each city stop and those who are aware of these adventures and efforts think we are mad.
However recently we took things to a whole new level…
… Since the very beginning of planning this journey back at Christmas time 2011, the dish I have been most excited about in Spain, avid meat eater that I am, is cochinillo (roast suckling pig). You can eat this succulent event of a dish in the Castilla region, however the crème de la crème finds itself in the enchanting town of Segovia. Obviously there was no doubt about stopping off here from the beginning. However, due to surprisingly difficult transport links, the only way we could go gave us just two hours in the town. Devastated that I might miss out on the most exciting part, we decided to go for it and just hop off for dinner on route.
Two hours for lunch does not seem all that bad, however you have to take in to consideration that we had to get from the train station into town, to then climb up the winding (yet stunning) cobbled streets, suitcases and all! With half an hour down, huffing and puffing away (3 months worth of belongings in hand!), we finally made it to the speciality restaurant José María and put in our order immediately. And my oh my was it worth it! We decided we needed to enjoy the meal so we put aside seeing the sites to take our time (as much as was possible) and savour the moment.
The waiter brought over the suckling pig, ear, hoof and all, and delicately poured over ladles of jus, whilst we sat gawking at what lay before us. The crackling was crispy, the thin layer of fat beneath melted in your mouth and the meat fell apart into the pool of perfectly salty and tasty jus. Eaten very slowly as we were savouring every mouthful, the dish was finished up with a rustic bread roll… No fussy sides; just good and hearty food!
After each being presented with a little terracotta pig (a gimmicky idea but very cute all the same), we dragged our suitcases back down the hill after a whirlwind peek at the beautiful buildings, on which the Walt Disney palaces are based. Oh if only it were that simple… The wheel of Gala’s suitcase decided to break at the very top of the hill, meaning that between us we had to carry all of her very heavy belongings down the tourist-busy streets. It was an extremely close call with the bus and we only managed to catch it because it was running late… Someone must be looking out for us, that’s all I can say!
Anyway, ever the optimists, we did not let this concluding episode tarnish our experience, as the meal was incredible! Though I definitely feel that we have earned some serious points for commitment and dedication to the regional speciality tour of Spain!! Onwards and upwards…