I ate and drank very well during my time in Tomelloso (Google map here).
This first restaurant was especially good…
La Antigua (High Intermediate A-), 112 Calle Don Victor Penasco, www.facebook.com
This beautiful restaurant and tapas bar in a recently renovated old town house is a new addition to my list of favourite restaurants.
On my first visit I sat downstairs in the back room with its beautifully tiled floor. Before I had ordered any food, a couple of free tapas landed on my table alongside my glass of wine. This Croqueta de Mariscos was to die for (A+).
And this Pincho Moruno was really good too (B+).
I knew this restaurant would be an excellent place to try local wines so armed with research from the internet and with some help from my helpful waiter I tried several of Tomelloso’s more famous wines. To drink I began with a glass of Anil (B) which was recommended by Ana at the bodega I had visited that afternoon.
Next a glass of sparkling Verum Gran Cueva (B+).
The Laminas de Salmon pressed all the right buttons in terms of flavour and presentation (A).
The Verum Airen was okay (B).
But the Verum Malvasia was stunning (A). It had a wonderfully fragrant nose which lingered on, as did the flavours on the palate.
The Foie Frio was okay (B).
The Laya Monastrell I had with it was really good (B+). I later ordered 30 bottles of it for my pop-up restaurant. With tax and delivery charges, it came to under €10 a bottle.
The Allozo Verdejo had an excellent nose (A).
The Tacos de Atun, while being very visually attractive, had no flavour except of some rather overbearing citrus (C).
After eating I went through to the bar for a brandy, my favourite Spanish digestif. Tomelloso produces some of the best Holandas (distilled wines) for the production of brandy in the world and the waiters told me that many of them are sent down the road to be bottled in Jerez (my favourite Spanish wine town). However, there are two famous local names; Brandy Casajuana and Brandy Peinado, both of which mature their brandies in oak barrels using the Solera System.
In the bar I attracted the attention of Patrick, a friendly French guy who turned out to be a professional hunter. He waxed lyrical about the restaurant, the town, and the excellent game that was to be found in the surrounding countryside. Here’s his website showing what he gets up to. We discovered we had a mutual love of Spanish brandy and he encouraged me to try a few chupitos (shots) of different brandies. I had the local Peinado 20 year old (B)…
…Fundador (B) and Fundador Exclusivo (B+).
I’d love to try the Peinador 100 year old, which they had, but a bottle costs £175 and they were charging €20 for a glass!
With the brandies, all of this only came to €43; great value given the level of enjoyment I’d had.
Of course I was back at the first opportunity, this time for lunch upstairs.
They have an interesting gallery of old photos and prints running around the walls up here, including this Picasso print.
This time I tried their cheese selection; three kinds of Manchego cured using different methods. I preferred the Aciete (cured in olive oil) but the Manteca (cured in lard) and the Romano (?) (cured in paprika) were good too. (A, B+ and B respectively). Also a plate of Jamon de Bellota which was top notch (A).
The waiter again recommended the local Laya red wine (B+) to go with the cheese.
To finish a glass of the posher variety of local Casa Juana brandy. It has a very particular flavour but I’m not a fan sadly (C).
Marquinetti (High Intermediate A-), 47 Avenida D. Antonio Huertas, www.marquinetti.com
This pizzeria is considered one of the best in Spain if not the best. It was the most reviewed restaurant in Tomelloso on TripAdvisor when I was there in March 2017, which to me is a more important indicator than its #1 position, and it also received glowing reviews from the locals I spoke to. It has also achieved fame in 2011 for producing the world’s longest pizza but lost that title in 2015.
There were as many staff as customers when I went, about fifteen of each as it was early, but the number of chefs and overseers might be because it also doubles as a pizza making school; the Escuela de Pizzeros Asesoramiento.
The pizzas are all excellent and use inspiring combinations of ingredients. As a pizza purist I’d usually go for a simple Margherita but I decided to push the boat out and had the Nicoletta, made with mozzarella, burrata, San Daniele ham, tomatoes and olive oil. It was really good (B+) but the crust was harder than I was used to and was consistent all the way through, whereas in Naples (see my Home of the Real Pizza post) it would be hard around the rim and soggy with cheese and tomato juices in the middle, which tends to be how I like it.
In Naples a pizza would cost a few euros but I forked out €19 for this and it was one of the cheaper ones, hence the minus in the A- rating.
On the plus side, glasses of Torre de Gazate (B) were only €2…
…and the cheaper version of Casajuana brandy only €3. As with the pricier version, I’m really not a fan as it tastes like they put vanilla in it, not pleasant (C-).
The Marquinetti experience was worth the walk from town but I won’t be spending that much on a pizza again any time soon.
Orbe Kitchenbar (Intermediate B), 148 Calle de Doña Crisanta
This gastro bar was recommended by local teacher for modern Spanish cuisine. I enjoyed it and would happily go again.
I had the colourful house salad which was fine (B).
Their croquettes come in three flavours; Chiperones (baby squid), Jamon (cured ham) and Idiazabal (Basque cheese). They all scored B.
I tried a couple of wines suggested by the school owner I worked with. The Brincho Alba had a great nose (B+) but fell down on flavour (B).
The Allozo Flor was okay (B).
The Verum Roble was very good though (B+). They were my favourite bodega while I was here.
I was more than happy to pay €21.40 for this lunch.
Cervecería Horno de Oro (Intermediate B), 2 Calle Bruselas
A bright, modern, popular place that specialises in roasting meat in a wood fired oven. I had the Codillo al Horno con Patates (roast suckling piglet with potatoes) which pushed all the right buttons (B).
The Torre Gazate Crianza red wine went well with it (B) but beer is more their thing. Total cost €14.20.
Off to Manzanares next!