Archive for the Caceres Category

Caceres – Barrio Nuevo

Posted in Barrio Nuevo, Caceres, Extremadura, Spain with tags on January 16, 2015 by gannet39

There’s no such area as Barrio Nuevo, this is just all the stuff I couldn’t get in the previous post about the old town.

El Figon de Eustaquio (Advanced B+) 12-14 Plaza San Juan, 927 244 362 elfigondeeustaquio.com

20131126_204540Recommended in ‘Where Chefs Eat’ and by Frommers, this formal but friendly spot near the old town is a great place to sample local cuisine. I got great service from Roberto who helped me pick out a few local specialities.

20131126_210104After a rather unpleasant, unidentifiable amuse bouche (C+), I had the simple shepherd’s dish of Migas Extremenas (in the first picture). The breadcrumbs were much finer than migas I’d had before. It was ok (B-).

20131126_214711The main was Cordero Asado, an excellent slab of lamb, finished with a white wine and oregano sauce with some fries (A). The local Basangus red was very enjoyable with it (B+).  The dessert of Biscuit de Higos Pajareros was good too (B).

20131126_215245The most unusual taste experience was the complementary glass of Licor de Bellota (recipe here) called Beso Extremeno that Roberto served me with dessert.

Licor de Bellota means ‘liquor of acorn’, and acorns are what farmers traditionally feed their Iberian pigs to create the very best kind of ham, Jamon Bellota. So this was an Extremaduran acorn liqueur, dangerous! It was interesting but one was enough (C). Definitely not something I’d like to be hungover on!

With a glass of Carlos III to finish things properly,  the bill came to just under €60 . Should you be on a budget there is a cheaper place called Meson San Juan just opposite El Figon in Plaza San Juan. I haven’t been but the nice chap on reception recommended it.

So as well as having heaps of history, Caceres is a fantastic foodie destination. Here are a few things they are famous for in these parts:

Jamon Iberico

Spanish cured ham is the best in the world, and in Spain the best ham comes from Extremadura, and in Caceres I was told the best place to get ham was Solano at 48 Avenida de la Plata jamonsolano.com  I got some Iberico and some Bellota and it was all indeed very good. They will vacuum pack it for you to take home. A good brand to keep an eye out for is Monteporrino.

Pimenton

It is said that Colombus brought peppers back on his second voyage and first served them to the king and queen while in Extremadura. The county of La Vera in Caceres province has a DOP for pimenton  (paprika) which is considered the best in Spain (although Murcia has a good rep too). I was told the best brand was La Dalia. There are 3 types; dulce (sweet or mild), agridulce (bittersweet) and hot (picante). I bought several tins of all three at Mostazo at 13 Gil de Cordero, www.mostazoespecialidades.es, It’s a more visually spectacular deli than Solano with lots of hams hanging from the ceiling and a much wider range of other goods.

Torta de Casar

A sheep’s milk cheese from the local town of Casar which has its own DOP. It’s eaten by slicing off the top of the cheese and scooping out the soft inside.

20131128_123219Patatera

As mentioned in previous post, this is a poor man’s sausage made with potato, paprika and the cheaper cuts of the pig.

Pitarra

A kind of strong artisanal wine made in earthenware jars. It’s not necessarily of the highest quality but it is homemade and without chemical additives. Several local towns hold competitions to see who makes the best stuff.

Habla

One of the most famous Extramaduran wine producers. I especially like their Tempranillo/Sauv Cab/Syrah  blend ‘Habla del Silencio’ which can be imported via Vinissimus for about £9 a bottle including shipping.

I stayed at the Hotel Barcelo Caceres V Centenario. I remember it being quite a strange design and not particularly attractive but the reception staff are truly excellent, very helpful and with a great sense of humour. It’s located in a bit of a bleak spot by a major road (turn left out of the hotel for the footbridge) and about 30 minutes’ walk from the old town, but I don’t mind a bit of exercise if there’s a good meal at the end of it.

20131126_230442Finally here are a few more scraps of architecture from around town. This is the old theatre on Calle Parras.

20131128_124443I love this tiled building which I think was on Calle Pintores, or its continuation. Please click on the picture to see the beautiful patterns on the ceramics properly.

20131128_124345Nearby is this rather spooky statue of two pilgrims, paying homage to the fact that Caceres is a major stop on the camino to Santiago de Compestela.

I wish I could have spent a day or two longer in Caceres but I had to fly home after two days. I’m definitely going back one day though.

 

 

Caceres – Ciudad Monumental

Posted in Caceres, Ciudad Monumental, Extremadura, Spain with tags on January 14, 2015 by gannet39

My second stop in Extremadura in November 2013 was Caceres, a city of 100,000 and capital of its own province.

The old town has been declared a UNESCO heritage site due to its mix of Roman, Moorish, Gothic and Renaissance architecture. The medieval walls and their twelve towers are still standing and in a good state of preservation. They were mainly built by the Moors although some Roman fortifications remain. Please click on these photos to see them in full detail.

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The main entrance to the historical centre is via the 18th century Arco de Estrella in Plaza Major. Its unusual angular shape presumably allowed carriages to access the narrow side street.

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Many of the buildings here are quite austere as they were originally built as fortified houses in the 15th century and then later converted to palaces during the Renaissance. Some conquistadores from South America also returned and built new palaces during this period.

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Coats of arms decorate walls and doors at every turn. You can apparently see over 1,300 coats of arms around the town.

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And as elsewhere in Spain, they know how to do a good door! No ones getting through one of these in a hurry.

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Only residents cars are allowed in this area, so it’s a great place to walk around, just breathing in the history.

You probably need a couple of hours to do this, more if you want to see the insides of buildings. I could quite happily have spent much longer wandering around but unfortunately I only had one morning to do it.

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As you’d imagine with such a touristy area, there are plenty of places to eat. A friend of a friend had recommended La Cacharreria at 1 Calle Orellana for large tapas portions at a good price in cosy surroundings. However as it was my last day I felt like a bit more of a treat and was sorely tempted to go high end and eat 13 courses for €119 at Atrio restauranteatrio.com which is generally considered the best place in town. Fortunately for my wallet, I reigned myself in and compromised with…

Parador de Caceres (Advanced B+), 6 Calle Ancha, www.parador.es/en/paradores/parador-de-caceres

In Spain many old castles and historical buildings are owned and run by the government as hotels, as is the case with this beautiful Renaissance palace. For some reason however the food at these places can sometimes be quite poor but this particular one had been recommended by a colleague who was taken here by a local manager who knows his stuff when it comes to eating well.

It’s certainly a nice spot with the dining room looking out over a leafy courtyard garden, which has an old well in one corner.

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The service was friendly and attentive too, and they dealt with all my foodie questions with a smile.

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I had the Menu Parador for €31, starting with some pate and a local sausage called Patatera. Traditionally this was poor man’s food, made with potato, the famous local paprika and the cheapest cuts from the pig (B).

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I also enjoyed the Caldereta de Setas, wild mushroom soup, that followed (B).

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For the main course it had to be the Solomillo pork loin as the region is famed in Spain for pig breeding. It was pretty good (B+).

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To finish the house speciality, Tarta de Queso con Frutillas del Bosque, or cheese cake with fruits of the forest, which was fine too.

 

To finish the local dessert and house speciality, Tecula Mecula, made with egg yolks, almonds, pork lard and cinnamon, and apparently acorns sometimes too. It was my favourite part of the meal (A).

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To drink a half bottle Tempranillo crianza called De Payva from nearby Badajoz (B)…

20131128_134748…and a glass of Graham’s tawny port (B+), which they would seem to prefer in Extremadura to Andalucian sherry. Total cost €55, All was fine and dandy so by all means come here.

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Here’s my Google map to help you find the places mentioned. To make my this post more manageable I’ve divided it into two, the old and new(er) parts of town. Please see the next post for everything else.

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