For those who think that Spanish gastronomy is restricted to tapas and paella, it is time to open your minds: Spanish cuisine is (I dare to say) almost as rich as Italian or French cuisine.
In a trip that I made to Spain, I had the pleasure to get to know Segovia, a beautiful small town that is just 30 minutes from Madrid via the high-speed train. I visited the city for one day and I had the opportunity to eat at the restaurant Jose Maria, which, according to a friend of mine that was born in Segovia, is the best place to eat the cochinillo - the suckling pig (the other restaurants are more touristy and not as good). The restaurant seems small from the outside, but as you get in, you realize that there is plenty of room for the whole family.
The cochinillo is a suckling pig slaughtered at a very early stage, when it's just a few weeks old (oh, dear, I can already feel the reader reprimanding me for the doing something that is ecologically incorrect...). Unfortunately (or fortunately), the weight in your conscience goes away when you taste the dish and feel the crunchiness on the outside and the softness and juiciness on the inside when you taste the dish. The meat is so soft that they cut the suckling pig with a plate to serve two people. The flavor is more subtle than other types of pork. For seasoning, nothing but salt and water. This is what differentiates the cochinillo of Segovia from the others prepared across the globe. The restaurant Jose Maria has its own farm and, therefore, they can assure that the taste of the meat is perfect and doesn't need any additional seasoning to disguise the pure flavor of the meat. One salad to balance the dish (after all, it IS heavy) and voilà: one of the tastiest meals I've had in Spain.
For the dessert, ask for the tarta de Segovia, which is light, has a very soft cream and comes with some ice cream (no guilty feelings now, you've already crossed the line). To finalize, un cafecito (a small coffee)… Otherwise, your trip will end there. The town has plenty of nice places to visit: a nice walk to help on the digestion won't be a burden.
For train tickets from Madrid to Segovia: http://www.raileurope.com/
Website of the restaurant: http://www.rtejosemaria.com/
A special thanks to my friend Cristina for being so patient on being my tourist guide and for having introduced me to the cochinillo.
key words: restaurant in Segovia; cochinillo; suckling pig; day trip to Segovia.