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May 4, 2006 06:40 PM

Spain: Toledo, Caceres, Segovia...what and where to at next week

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Nailing down last minute plans for these cities. We have one lunch booked at Hostal Cardenal in Toledo, would like options for the other meals. Worth going to parador for drink and dinner on the second night?

Spending two nights in Caceres (parador); probably will not visit Atrio as we want to emphasize regional fare rather than contemporary Spanish. A huge mistake to miss this Michelin-starred place??
In Segovia, where we have only one dinner, I cannot decide between Candido (too tourist-central?); Jose Maria; or Duque. We will be having lamb in Sepulveda (Tinin) and in Pedraza (El Yantar) so perhaps Segovia should be suckling pig/La Granja beans night. Where and what else to eat there?

I will be so grateful for any and all advice on eating/food/wine for these areas. I know the basics: partridge in Toledo, etc...but how...stewed, escabeche, (do I really need to try this?) what else... Any tapas to seek out in Toledo/Caceres/Segovia?

Planning on lashings of jamon Iberico in Extremadura and will hunt for torta del Casar and La Serena cheeses there as well. Tins of pimenton de la Vera/canned tuna/goodness knows what else will weigh down suitcase coming home.

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  1. Toledo: Don't know. Touristical hell. Beautiful city, but you may as
    well be at Epcot Center. All that's missing is the monorail.

    Caceres: El Figón de Eustaquio was nice. DO NOT EAT ON PLAZA MAYOR!
    Extremedura is one of the poorest and most rural remaining areas
    in Europe. Food is pretty basic; I think it would be a mistake to
    go to a Michelin starred restaurant there. The bar at the top of
    Calle de los Pintores was ok for a caña and tapas. Breakfast in the
    Parador is astoundingly overpriced for what you get, but what else
    can you do? The national dish of Extremadura is fried breadcrumbs.

    Segovia: Yay! Back to civilization! Of the three cities, Segovia is the
    least interesting historioarchitecturally, but is the best place
    to eat. Have the cochinillo at Meson de Jose Maria, just off the main plaza.

    Spain is totally the wrong place to go to be a foodie, to go to X place to
    eat Y thing. You will be bitterly disappointed and not get any actual
    sense of the country. In Extremadura, you're supposed to drink acorn
    liquor and eat giant Hershey Kiss shaped cheese. "just like the natives."
    Except they only produce this crap for the tourists. And the partridge
    thing in Toledo? Yeah, right. Just walk around, and when it's one of the
    six official times to eat something, wander into the nearest place that looks
    good and eat.

    Just my opinion, of course.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Jef

      While you're in Caceres, in the old town, eventually you'll stumble
      on the Convent of San Pablo. Go in, ring the little bell, and buy
      a box of yemas from the nun behind the revolving door. Awesome
      little sugary "yolks" from one of the oddest little candy stores on earth.

      1. re: Jef

        You can go to nearly any convent in Spain and buy some little cookie or candy from the turnabout... There's one just a few blocks from my apartment in the very center of Madrid that is known for its narajines (little orange cookies) and also has good mantecadas de yema and jerez, polvorones, and almond cookies.

        You ring the bell that says "monjas" (nuns) and they buzz you in and put your goodies in the turny-thing, the money goes the other way, and they send you on your way.

        Plaza del Conde de Miranda, 3

        There are a bunch of them in Toledo that make mazapán and other almond treats.

      2. re: Jef

        JEf..I love it!!! And guess what..I think there IS a monorail-type train in Toledo!!!!

        Anyway...will take your advice....looking forward to Jose Maria in Segovia. In Toledo, the whole partridge focus seems a bit suspect to me.... I am ignorant on game birds and it might well be delish but also might be a stewed-chicken-type dish. But the restaurant in our hotel sounds good..related to Botin in Madrid.

        Will scout around and see if I can find any chowish places. I've loved the food in other regions but this may be a bit more of a least I can stuff myself on the jamon Iberico! Thanks!

        1. re: erica

          I don't really agree with Jef... Virtually every town and region in Spain really does have specialties that you should try. This is a very diverse country, geographically, culturally and otherwise. Sure some of it is tourist schtick (mainly when it comes to sweets), but most of it isn't. And even a lot of the tourist schtick has been around longer than the US has been a country, so es otra cosa.

          About the partridge... many won't like it. It's gamey with a capital G. I've really enjoyed my meals at Hierbabuena in Toledo. If partridge isn't your thing (and it isn't mine, so you'll get no judgement here!), go for another wild game like jabalí (wild boar) or ciervo (deer).

          Paradors are pretty, but not known for their good food.

          I love both queso de la serena and torta del casar. And soon the cherries from the Valle del Jerte will be coming.

          And Toledo like Epcot--I'm sorry, but the presence of tourists doesn't negate the over 2000 years of unbelievably fascinating history of the place. That's like saying that the Alhambra is like Knott's Berry Farm. You'll get out of it what you put into it, I guess.

          **Incidentally, the castle in the Magic Kingdom was based on the Alcázar in Segovia! There are some really beautiful plateresque buildings and romanesque churches surrounding the town, and a not-so-shabby, fully-intact 2000 year old aqueduct going straight through.

          1. re: butterfly

            Butterfly, I was hoping you might read and respond to my query. I always enjoy reading your informative postings about Spain. I have always had great food experiences there and have high hopes here as well....especially the lechazo. I am sure I will find far too many things to try than will be good for me! I read your post about Hierbabuena on another board and will likely give that a try on our second night in Toledo. Thanks for the tip about the partridge. Will the javali be gamey? Give me your recs for Hierbabuena if you return to this thread, please.

            Any favorite in Segovia? ...I ate in Candido years and years ago and wondered if it was really a tourist place or if that is my best bet...on another site, a Spanish poster raved about Jose Maria.

            The cherries....I am hoping and hoping they will be ready next week.
            And am quite excited about the torta del Casar. I think Jef might be confusing that with tetilla. No worries, I will try any and everything...please post any and all tips for me if you get a chance again. Many thanks.

            1. re: butterfly

              Yeah, you're right. Toledo is one of the great treasures of western
              civilization and I suppose if I have problems with it, they're my problems
              not Toledo's. It's not the presence of tourists that's my issue -- I've
              only been there in the dead of winter and had the place to myself -- it's
              the, the, well ... you'll see. Many people enjoy it, and the church is
              pretty awesome even if you do have to pay 5 euros to get in.

              And I certainly agree that Spain has regional specialties which should
              be sought out. It would be silly to go to Asturias and not have some
              sidra, cabrales, and a big pot of fabada. But I also think it would be
              silly to go there specifically to have them at Casa Fermin, rather than at
              any one of the hundreds of other restaurants with lesser PR agents.

              There's that typical American thing where we have the "Original
              Whatever" restaurant, and every other place serving Whatever is
              somehow considered inferior and true Whatever aficionados must
              flock to the Original. And while somehow that works well for us, it
              doesn't translate into Spanish. The reason something becomes a
              regional specialty is because everyone in the region makes it, and the
              people who don't make it well went out of business centuries ago.

              So it doesn't matter at all which place in Segovia to eat in. I'm sure
              there are differences in pig roasting among the top three restaurants.
              But I'm also sure that those differences are far too subtle to be
              discerned by a non-spanish palate.

              The best roast pig I've had in Spain, by the way, was not in Segovia
              but was in a random little bar/restaurant in Madrid. El Meson del
              Paisano, on the corner of Alburquerque and Cardenal Cisneros. The
              owner, apparently, comes from Segovia. It's one of a half dozen
              restaurants on a two block stretch in a residential area off Fuencarral
              near Quevedo. It was almost by accident that we discovered the
              pig after many visits eating our way through piles of sepia and
              mollejas and ham. Highly recommended, if you find yourself in the

        2. I would definitely recommend going to the Parador in Toledo. The food is not amazing, but the views are spectacular! And, it is a wonderful place to have a drink, have some tapas and take in the amazing scenery of Toledo. We spent two weeks in Spain on our honeymoon, and the Parador in Toledo was one of our favorite spots.