“Did you try cochinillo?!”
This is THE question you’ll be asked if you ever mention visiting Segovia, a small city about an hour-and-a-half’s drive north of Madrid. Segovia is best known for the stunning remains of the Roman aqueduct running through the city. They also have an awe-inspiring cathedral that towers over their Plaza Mayor, and the Alcázar, a castle on the edge of the small city that will make you feel like you stepped into a fairytale. It even has a moat. Yeah. Segovia is a perfect day trip from Madrid, which is exactly what Danielle and I did one chilly Sunday in November. And yes, we did try cochinillo.
Those with a weak stomach – and/or a big heart – may want to skip these next few paragraphs. Cochinillo (“co-chee-nee-yo”) is roasted suckling pig, traditionally served whole… as in the head is still attached (see my other post about Botín for pictures). I’ll admit I didn’t know the definition of “suckling” until I took this trip, so for those of you who also don’t know – it means that the piglet consumed solely it’s mother’s milk for the entirety of its 2 to 6-week life before it was…well, you know.
The meat is exceptionally tender and flavorful thanks to the slow roasting process, and because the piglet is so young you can eat the skin too – in fact, it becomes deliciously golden and crispy, just slightly thicker than that little piece of turkey skin you indulge in on Thanksgiving. Bear in mind it’s not a very lean cut of meat and sits heavy in your stomach (we only ordered this small piece to share). But if you can get past the little hoof on your plate and roasting cute baby piglets doesn’t bother you, it’s quite delicious!
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Our first course was another food Segovia is known for: Judiones de la Granja. These are the biggest beans I’ve ever laid eyes on at about an inch long. They are served in a humble Segovian stew punctuated by pieces of chorizo and cured ham (what else?).
And of course, it wouldn’t be Spanish to forgo the third course, postre, or “dessert.” Ponche Segoviano, the city’s namesake pastry, was the obvious choice. It is layers of sponge cake and cream wrapped in a thin sheet of marizpan. We went to the most well-known pastry shop in Segovia to get some, Limon y Menta (“Lemon and Mint”).
As we were still quite full from lunch and needed to catch our train back to Madrid, we had some wrapped to-go. Unfortunately, we never got to eat them…
As I was taking pictures of the treat, to my horror, I found a long, thick, black hair BAKED right in to the Ponche. You can actually see it go in through the mazapan on one side and come out the other. Ugh. Thoroughly disgusting and absolutely unacceptable.
Thank God I have this blog otherwise I probably would’ve taken a huge bite instead of taking cross-sections and close-up shots! On the bright side, I saved some calories and to be honest, if a dessert doesn’t involve chocolate how great could it be anyway 😉 ?
Up next on the Weekender Series: Asturias, a northwest region of Spain known for it’s hearty meals to keep you warm despite the rainy climate.