A gourmet menu in Spain's Heritage Cities
"Papas arrugás" (wrinkled potatoes) with mojo sauce, a typical dish in San Cristóbal de La Laguna
Madrid-style "Callos" (tripe), very popular in Alcalá de Henares
"A feira" octopus, typical in Santiago de Compostela
"Ensaimada", a typical sweet in Ibiza
We suggest you start with Iberian cured ham, gazpacho and Manchego cheese; then continue with dishes such as roast suckling pig served with fresh vegetables sautéed with olive oil, or some quality seafood. And for dessert, traditional sweets and tropical fruit. All accompanied by designation of origin wine. Sounds good, doesn't it? These are just examples of what you could be trying as you explore Spain's Heritage Cities. If you want to discover the rest of the menu, then keep reading. Exquisite gastronomy is yet another reason to visit one or more of these 15 cities.
UNESCO has given them a special distinction for their wealth of heritage and monuments. Here we suggest you also discover them through the diversity of their cuisine. Being spread throughout Spain, these cities offer a wide variety of gastronomy, representing the different specialities of each area. Why not discover them with a "gastronomic menu" that will ensure that your trip to Alcalá de Henares, Ávila, Cáceres, Cordoba, Cuenca, Ibiza, Mérida, Salamanca, San Cristóbal de La Laguna, Santiago de Compostela, Segovia, Tarragona, Toledo, Úbeda and Baeza leaves the finest of aftertastes.
To start off, there are a range of flavours depending on the city in question. In Santiago de Compostela, try "a feira" octopus as a starter. In San Cristóbal de La Laguna, there are the typical "papas arrugás" (wrinkled potatoes) with mojo sauce from the Canary Islands. In Cordoba, we would recommend "salmorejo" (type of gazpacho) and in Ávila, "patatas revolconas" (potatoes poached with onions and peppers). Something missing? Of course, one of Spain's most typical foods: ham, which has its own designation of origin in Salamanca (Guijuelo Ham) and in Mérida and Cáceres (Dehesa de Extremadura Ham).
The menu for starters is completed by all kinds of cured meats, mainly pork, and with designation of origin cheeses such as Mahón cheese, from Ibiza, and Manchego cheese, typical in Toledo and Cuenca. Not to be forgotten, of course, is the "pincho" (small portion) of potato omelette, very popular in the Region of Madrid, which is where Alcalá de Henares is situated. Pipirrana (a cold tomato dish) is typical of the Úbeda and Baeza area. Any variety of olive is also essential in these cities (green, black and ergot).
Meat has an important place on the "gastronomic menu" of Spain's Heritage Cities. In Castile-León, be sure to try Ávila T-bone steak, roast suckling pig in Segovia and fried kid in Salamanca. In Mérida and Cáceres we would recommend "migas extremeñas" (fried breadcrumb dish) and partridge.
In Spain's Heritage Cities you can also sample other meat dishes such as stewed bull's tail and "flamenquín" (fried serrano ham and cheese roll) in Cordoba; and pork shoulder with turnips, highly recommended in Santiago de Compostela. In Úbeda you can try delicious marinated partridge.
Other specialities not to be missed are: Madrid-style "cocido" (chick pea casserole) and "callos" (tripe) in Alcalá de Henares, garlic soup and La Mancha-style "pisto" (ratatouille) in Toledo, Armuña lentils in Salamanca, designation of origin beans in Ávila, and broad bean and chickpea casserole in Baeza.
Fish and shellfish
In Santiago de Compostela, Ibiza and Tarragona, the fruits of the sea take on special importance. In the first of the three you will find shellfish all year round. Scallops, barnacles, spider crabs… and local wines to accompany them. Santiago de Compostela has everything for a perfect seafood extravaganza.
Tarragona is outstanding for fish with its Tarragona Blue Fish designation of origin. To sample it, we would recommend "romesco de pescado" (a rich seafood casserole). In Ibiza, the menu has scorpion fish cooked with herbs, lobster casserole and Ibiza-style tuna, amongst others.
There is good fish to be had at cities inland, too. In Cuenca, trout is typical, and in Cáceres, fried tench. Even in Alcalá de Henares you can enjoy seafood dishes. Pickled sardines and garlic-fried prawns, for example. Baeza-style cod is a typical casserole in Baeza. This fish is usually added to "andrajos" stew in Úbeda.
And to finish off... varied, exquisite sweets. A few recommendations would be "ensaimada" (type of pastry) which you will find in Ibiza, Cordoba tart in Cordoba, "buñuelos" (fritters) in Mérida and Cáceres, sugar-coated almonds in Alcalá de Henares, "alajú" (with bread, almonds, walnuts and honey) in Cuenca, "yemas de Ávila" (made with egg-yolk and cinnamon), Santiago tart in Santiago de Compostela, marzipan in Toledo, "gachas dulces" (anise-flavoured sweet) in Úbeda, and "virolos" (puff pastry) in Baeza.
If fruit is more your thing, then don't leave Alcalá de Henares without trying strawberries from nearby Aranjuez; nor, of course, should you leave San Cristóbal without sampling the bananas and huge variety of tropical fruits to be found on the Canary Islands.
These are a few of the delights that await you in Spain's Heritage Cities, but there are many more. If you want more information on them, go to regional gastronomy, but if you want to sample them and do them justice, then come to Spain and discover another side of these cities' heritage: their gastronomy.