Archive for the Toledo Province Category

Castile La Mancha – Quintanar de la Orden – Eating & Drinking

Posted in Castile - La Mancha, Quintanar de la Orden, Spain, Toledo Province with tags , , , , , on February 3, 2019 by gannet39

Don’t expect any culinary sensations in Quintanar. You can eat reasonably well here though. Here are my culinary experiences, not in any particular order. My map is here.

El Almirez (B+), 9 Calle San Juan,

This is the best place in town I reckon , one of two Guia Repsol recommendations. It’s modern and bright and they play relaxing music and the service is friendly and efficient.

Unfortunately it was closed on the two evenings I tried to go despite their website saying otherwise (perhaps because Real Madrid and Barcelona were playing in the Champions League on consecutive nights) but I did make it for lunch one day when I had a late start for work.

I had the Menu del Dia for €11 for which I got a hefty salad, a bowl of unnatractive but tasty squid ink black rice and a slice of pineapple, with water and coffee thrown in.

Everything was well prepared and cooked and I’d say it was a B+ experience overall.

Granero (Intermediate B-), 90 Calle San Fernando,

The second of the two Guia Repsol recommendations in the town, but the first place is better. It’s modern but a bit garish and scruffy. I was only in the tapas bar but they have a restaurant room (never open when I went) which might be nicer.

I came for lunch one day and had the plain and simple Menu del Dia; three courses for a paltry €9. First I opted for the Revuelto de Trighueros y Jamon (scrambled eggs with wild asparagus and ham) which was too salty (C).

Next, Calabacin (pumpkin) stuffed with meat which was quite nice (B).

Finally, a slice of Tarta Manzana (apple pie) which was good too (B).

So the food can be good here but the ambience doesn’t do anything for me, and it’s on the other side of town from the hotel.

I came back one evening but the staff were different and not very welcoming so I didn’t hang about.

Cafeteria Echegaray (Elementary B+), 9 Plaza Miguel Echegaray

A plain ordinary tapas bar in the central square. Not as busy as the bigger place below but the guy running it is nicer in my opinion. It was a good place for me to watch Napoli lose 3-1 at home to Real Madrid in the Champions League.

As I’d never heard of it, I tried a tapa of Carcamusa, a pork stew from Toledo (see coming post) which was okay but nothing amazing (B-).

I followed up with a Pincho Moruno, grilled lamb on a skewer, also good (B-).

Finally the young Queso Manchego with tomato bread was very good (B+) but there was too much of it so it was a bit pricey for me at €8.

Three glasses of the owner’s best local red, a 2013 Syrah called Finca Antigua (B), brought the bill to €27. A good no frills place, I’d go again.

Las Cuevas de Sancho (Elementary B), 1 Calle Princesa, off Plaza Miguel Echegaray

Another plain ordinary tapas bar on a street off the central square. It’s bigger that Cafeteria Echegaray which might explain why it’s busier but the welcome isn’t as friendly.

I had a hefty sandwich, the Especial #3 with pork loin, ham, cheese and grilled green peppers which was very good (B+).

The glass of local red was okay too (B).

I watched Barcelona win 6-1 against Paris Saint-Germain to go through 6-5 on aggregate in a truly amazing game, although the ref didn’t do the French any favours. I’ve never seen Castillians go so crazy for a Catalan win when the winning goal went it!

Hostal San Francisco (Intermediate B), 24 Calle San Francisco

I came here when most of the places were closed on a Monday night. I didn’t get the friendliest of welcomes but I have come to realise that it might be due to the shock of possibly having to speak English. They needn’t worry, I speak fluent restaurant Spanish.

I ate in the restaurant in the back which is relatively plush and modern. The music they played off the radio was terrible though. Everybody Dance Now!

I had the Ensalada Ventresca to begin. The belly tuna was excellent but the tomatoes had been picked a bit too early in the season to be good (A+C=B overall). Their bread was pretty good too (B).

The following croquettes were edible but overdone (C) and the following Chuletas de Cordero, lamb chops, were rather fatty (B) although the red pepper salsa with it was quite good (B+).

The local red given to me was once again Finca Antigua (B).

The proprietor slowly warmed to me when he realised he could communicate with me in Spanish but he positively loved me for asking for a glass of local Anis de la Asturiana to finish (B+) and he left the bottle on the table.

Hotel Castellano (Low Intermediate C), 24 Calle San Francisco,

A basic hotel but essentially ok, except for the thin walls, vibrating pipes and the occasional beetle in the bathtub! Breakfast in the hotel’s bar consists of a coffee and a Madalena cake in a plastic packet (C-). The people running it are okay and the WiFi works. It’s slightly out of town, the central square is about twenty minutes’ walk, but it is next door to a chocolate factory which could be a bonus!

One day I was working in the next village, Miguel Estaban, and one of the teachers kindly drove me back to Quintanar via a supermarket. With the advice of the supermarket manager I got a bottle of (fairly local) 2009 Valdepenas ‘Pata Negra’ which was very good (B+).

So these were my food and drink experiences in Quintanar. Nothing great but not too bad either. Off to neighbouring Manzanares next where I fared slightly better.


Castile La Mancha – Quintanar de la Orden – Stuff to See

Posted in Castile - La Mancha, Quintanar de la Orden, Spain, Toledo Province with tags , , on February 2, 2019 by gannet39

Quintanar de la Orden is a fair-sized town of just over ten thousand souls, about ninety minutes’ drive south of Madrid in Castile La Mancha. “Quintanar” derives from the Latin word Quintana which means ‘one fifth’. This may refer to a tax paid at the local market or the fact that it was five miles from an important place. “Orden” refers to the Order of Santiago who had dominion over La Mancha after the Reconquista.

There is virtually nothing to see or do here so I was fairly thankful to leave after staying four nights. The lack of entertainment was made worse by the fact that two of those nights were a Sunday and a Monday when many places are closed but I did my best to nose out the best aspects of the town.

Here’s my Google map with all these places plotted on.

The oldest buildings I came across were the main church Parroquia de Santiago de la Espada in Plaza del Grano…

…and a couple of pretty little chapels.

There was also Casa de Piedra at 6 Calle Reina Amalia which has some nice stone carvings above and around the door.

It’s also the local museum so it could be worth checking what’s on there. Opening hours were 12.00 till 14.00 and 18.30 to 21.00 Wednesday to Saturday and 12.00 till 14.00 on Sunday.

In Plaza Echegaray, the central square, you’ll find the attractive Casa Pic, built in a Modernist style.

The square is also known as Plaza de los Carros due to some association with carriages, hence the statue in the middle.

In terms of local products the most well-known is probably the local aniseed spirit, Anís de la Asturiana, made by Hijos de Francisco Serrano S.A.

I quite like the clean lines of their Modernista factory building at 56 Calle Valencia which you pass when you walk into town from the Hotel Castellano. You get a powerful whiff of aniseed when you pass in front of their big doors.

The company was founded in 1895 by Francisco Serrano López-Brea, a Quintanar native who moved to Oviedo so that his business could take advantage of the better quality of infrastructure in Asturias.

Later, in order to increase their business, the company decided to leave Asturias and return to their origins. Quintanar is only 120 kilometers from Madrid, and relocating there opened up a significant potential market. The new distillery and factory opened in 1916.

I didn’t have time but I wanted to go to their office and ask if they might be able to arrange a tour. I found this video about their factory which will give you an idea of what it looks like inside.

Places to eat in Quintanar de la Orden next!

Talavera de la Reina

Posted in Castile - La Mancha, Spain, Talavera de la Reina, Toledo Province with tags , , on September 18, 2010 by gannet39

Although it may look like one big council estate, there is an old centre in Talavera, although I didn’t see much of it as it was the other end of town from the hotel, and the better restaurants.  I was working at Compania de Maria (one of the best schools in La Mancha) where the nuns gave me a tour of the 500-year-old building. The town is on a large river which I was told would be a good place for a run but I never made it due to an attack of lazyitis.

The Hotel Roma is pretty bog standard, wi-fi (wee fee) in the rooms but you have to sit on the end of the bed to reach the desk, no room for the chair. Basic brekky (coffee, toast, cake in a packet) but I wouldn’t advise having your evening meal there. The meat is good in the area (especially the game apparently) so my pork chops were ok (B) but the chips were swimming in grease (C) and the fried eggs looked like an offering from Eyjafjalljoekull (D).

There is food culture to be found however, you just have to look carefully. All the below came up on Trip Advisor and were further recommended by a local teacher. The first two places are located on the edge of an estate that looks forbidding (graffiti everywhere, some broken glass) but is probably no different from elsewhere in town. With local unemployment running at 25 to 30% however, it might be prudent to be security conscious especially after dark. Bear in mind though living on an estate in Spain doesn’t have the same negative connotations as in the UK and everyone I spoke to was relaxed and friendly.

Taberna Mingote, (Intermediate A?), Plaza Federico Garcia Lorca, Tel. 925 825 633
This place is a bit hard to find but worth the effort. On the other side of the estate from El Esturion (below), it’s on the ground floor (round the back) of the block that runs parallel with Avenida de Juan Carlos 1 which might be the best direction to access it from, although the locals on the estate that I asked were very helpful. It has brown awnings and you can sit outside, under, on and looking at concrete. The interior feels much warmer with lots of wood and small barrels of Vermouth, Cognac, Mistella (punch) and hams hanging behind the bar. The well-dressed clientele chat to an accompaniment of light jazz. I had two chunks of Morcilla de Burgos (black pudding) pinned to toast and scattered with tiny crunchy slithers of fried potato, with two piquant and chubby Pimientos de Padron on the same plate, and a glass of red (all A) for about €5 euro. This might well be a good place for a proper meal but I was only in town for two nights. Wish there was somewhere similar on the estate I live on.

Morcilla de Burgos

El Esturion (Intermediate B), 7 C/Miguel Heranandez, Tel. 925 824 638

A semi-formal place quite near the hotel on the edge of an estate, which although tiled, is quite brash and modern with tacky decor and dodgy objet’s de art on a nautical theme. The piped soundtrack was also rather bizarre with Tijuana brass being followed by melancholic strings, just a bit too loudly. There are two areas, a tapas bar and the restaurant, which was quiet at 9 but rowdy by 10. A sourpuss older waiter treated me like an alien at first (which I suppose I was) but his young counterpart lightened up when I spoke a bit of Spanish. I had Esparragos a la Plancha with a small curl of smoked salmon on the side (B). Thankfully the salt came in a bowl on the side so I could grind it onto my food with my fingers. I’m not fond of the Spanish habit of sprinkling big crunchy chunks onto lettuce hearts and anything grilled. The lamb chops, Chuletillas de Lechal were great (A). I should perhaps have had a red to go with it but pursued my obsession with Spanish rose and got a bottle of ‘Fontal’ 2008, a Merlot/Syrah blend (B). The Tarta de Queso de Idiazabal con Membrillo cheesecake was fine (B). I paid €45.50 but got two complimentary orujos on the house. Would go again but would try other places first.

Restaurante La Rotisserie (Intermediate A/C), 58 Angel Alacazar, 925 801 550,

Located in a more salubrious part of town than the places below, it can have a great atmosphere if you go early. I first came here for tapas before going to El Esturion. The front bar is intimate and everyone knows each other so the place fell silent when I came in with my English accent. Everyone is friendly though and I had a couple of exchanges with my limited personal Esperanto. I had two beers and some delicious tapas of marinated red pepper on toast and tuna in oil with tomato and onion for only €5. The air was heavy with perfume and cohiba smoke and the telly was showing the bullfighting as part of the San Isidro celebrations. It was mostly ignored until a picador narrowly escaped a goring by hanging on to the bulls horns, which had the local Del boys off their seats watching the replays.

I came back the next day to eat in the restaurant which was disappointingly quiet compared to my previous visit, but perhaps everyone was partied out from the previous night. The atmosphere is nicer than El Esturion but I didn’t eat or drink quite as well. The soundtrack is better, 80’s female vocalists, and not quite as loud. Things didn’t start too well with a corked bottle of ‘Pata Negre’ red from the local Valdepenas DOC. The next bottle was ok and went well with the complimentary Camembert, Roquefort and ‘fresh cheese’, although I wasn’t fond of the other dish of macerated tuna mixed with a reddish sauce (C). I love Esparragos a la Plancha so had to have it again. This time the smoked salmon (a local habit?) was laid over it but the combination didn’t impress me much (B-). The main Cochinillo con Salsa (not on the menu) was fantastic (A) if rather heavy. The final complimentary Vodka Caramelo made an interesting change (B) but I couldn’t eat the bizarre liquorish-flavoured heart-shaped shortbread (D). Total cost €35. In short, a strange place, with some great food, but some dodgy dishes too, or maybe I was just unlucky.

Written May 2010

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