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It wouldn’t be a proper trip to Spain without a glass of chilled gazpacho and gorgeous plate of paella. But where do you go for the most authentic versions of these holiday favourites? And where you can discover new foodie treats? We guide you from southerly Andalucia to northerly Galicia for a slice of the real Spain.
Paella Valenciana, Valencia
As much a part of traditional Andalucian culture as flamenco dancing or bullfighting, this classic rice dish is infused with saffron and dotted with green beans. There’s also a luscious mix of meats including chicken, rabbit plus snails for a terrific taste of local life.
Top restaurants to try Paella Valenciana:
Salmorejo and gazpacho, Andalucia
There’s nothing more refreshing than a sip of chilled tomato soup in the heat of the midday sun. In Andalucia, you can take your pick of light and tangy gazpacho or luxurious and dense salmorejo. So grab your spoon and go!
Top restaurants to try Salmorejo and gazpacho:
Lechazo, Castilla y León
Fans of Sunday dinners are sure to enjoy Castilla y León’s traditional roast suckling lamb. Meat has to meet strict criterion to qualify for this classification. If it does, it is then roasted for about 4 hours in a wood-fired oven where a special earthenware container keeps it juicy.
Top restaurants to try Lechazo:
Pisto, La Mancha
A delicious take on ratatouille from La Mancha, pisto comes topped with a fried egg and bread to dip it into as well in. It’s so addictive that you can even wolf it it down as the filling for empanadas (pasties) too.
Top restaurants to try Pisto:
Jamón y Cecina, Castilla y León
Wherever you travel in Spain, you should definitely take any opportunity to sample jamón, dry-cured ham, and another delight called cecina. In Castilla y León, though, they have turned this simple food into an art form; they specialise in producing hams with a particularly intense flavour. Its unique salty and smoky taste has earned it legal protection and ensures you a succulent treat.
Top restaurants to try Jamón y Cecina:
Hard-core carnivores need look no further than this Asturian favourite. Here, a beef steak, a piece of ham and a slice of cheese are coated in breadcrumbs and fried up. The result is a vast slab of gooey goodness that is seriously tough to resist.
Top restaurants to try Cachopo:
Pulpo a la gallega, Galicia
Boiled octopus may not sound too appetising but this is, in fact, a classic from the northwest of Spain. Drizzle the tentacles with peppery oil and sprinkle spicy paprika for a surprisingly mouth-watering taste sensation that explains its cult following.
Top restaurants to try Pulpo a la gallega:
Asturian comfort food, fabada is a delicious stew that mixes white beans with pork or sausage; think Spanish-style baked beans or cassoulet. It’s excellent washed down with some of the local cider that Asturias is famous for too.
Top restaurants to try Fabada:
Leche frita, Castilla y León
Beyond-thick milk pudding, boasting a yieldingly soft centre but crispily fried coating – what’s not to love? After all, this is almost a doughnut-crème brulee hybrid. You might even pick up traces of cinnamon or lemon to complete the taste of perfection.
Top restaurants to try Leche frita:
Cocido madrileño, Madrid
A slow-cooked and super-hearty casserole, this is sure to fill even the hungriest of diners. Chickpeas are the star of the show, with pork and chicken plus lots of vegetables making fantastic complements. It even turns into two courses: a little broth is traditionally removed and served with noodles to start with and are followed by the gutsy flavours of the meat and vegetables.
Top restaurants to try Cocido madrileño:
Carrillera al vino tinto, Basque Country
Calf cheeks in red wine that melt as soon as your fork touches them are a speciality of this foodie heaven. You can head to one of the Michelin-starred restaurants in the town of San Sebastian for a cutting-edge interpretation, or grab a steaming bowl-full in one of the little pintxo (tapas) bars.
Top restaurants to try Carrillera al vino tinto:
Morcilla, Castilla y León
The Spanish equivalent of black pudding, you can find morcilla as a tapa or simmering away in a stew; either way, it’s well worth overcoming any reservations you have about trying it. Your reward is a burst of unforgettable spicy richness.