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Acquiring a Taste for Spain

Explore the delicious wonders of the Cáceres region



The main square of Cáceres is a popular gathering place.

  

If you’ve ever fantasized about living in another age, you may have been brought up short by considering the disadvantages. Fortunately, there are places to indulge your dreams without depriving yourself of modern comforts. Cáceres, Spain, is one of those spots.

With roots going back to Paleolithic times, the historic center of the city has Roman foundations upon which Moors built from the 10th through 13th centuries, and is topped off with construction from the Christian Re-Conquest through the Renaissance. Pick your period – they’re all here.

Around the old, walled town – A UNESCO World Heritage Site – modern Cáceres and the province of the same name spill over the rolling landscape of Extremadura, one of Spain’s 17 autonomous regions. It’s an area of scenic beauty and varied attractions, but our group was here for one reason: Cáceres was named Gastronomic Capital of Spain for 2015.

Degusta San Juan on the Calle Pintores east of the Plaza Mayor carries a wide variety of local specialties. Notice the hams hanging from the ceiling.

Gourmet Paradise: The city of Cáceres is the capital of the province of Cáceres, home to a number of products identified by the European Union as unique and labeled with a Protected Destination of Origin or Protected Geographical Indication designed to promote and protect names of quality agricultural products and foodstuffs. These include Torta del Casar cheese, Ibores cheese, Gata-Hurdes olive oil, La Vera paprika, Jerte cherries, Villuercas-Ibores honey, Ribera del Guadiana wine, Dehesa de Extremadura Iberian ham and Extremadura lamb and beef.
    
Our group visited a cheese museum in nearby Casar de Cáceres before touring: Quesos del Casar, a modern cheese factory. While the company makes several types of local cheese, the Torta is the star. It’s a pungent, super soft, sheep’s-milk cheese with a taste somewhat like a combination of brie and gorgonzola. To serve, the top rind is sliced off the cake-shaped cheese, and the rest of the rind makes the serving bowl. It’s an acquired taste I quickly acquired. Only small amounts of the cheese are made – it’s not available year round – and it’s expensive. Surprisingly, I found some at Forward Foods in Norman. It’s worth seeking out.

On this trip, we spent six to seven hours a day eating … not a regimen I’d recommend for general travel. But we found wonderful restaurants and amazing dishes.
    
One of my favorites at Eustaquio Blanco in modern Cáceres would be surprisingly easy to duplicate. It was a combination of boiled shrimp, fresh asparagus and scrambled eggs with a little onion, garlic and olive oil.
    
We visited the Cayena Kitchen Club and watched Chef Iván Hernández prepare salmorejo – a cold soup of tomatoes, bread, garlic, olive oil and salt, which he kicked up by adding a scoop of melon ice and ham shavings. I’m a big fan of salmorejo and was delighted to find it on the menu in Iberia business class on my flight home.

Chef Iván’s lamb stew was also delicious, and he finished with crispy shells with ice cream and honey. The school is associated with the restaurant next door, so if you aren’t interested in taking a class, you can at least try these wonderful items in the café.

At Atrio (two Michelin stars) in historic Cáceres, we sampled the highest of haute cuisine with a 13-course, three-hour tasting lunch. The dishes here were a combination of creativity, art, taste and even humor. One dessert featured a rich custard, yogurt ice cream and coconut foam looking a lot like a fried egg.
    
The Atrio wine list is one of the best in Spain and the architecturally unique cellar is a treat to tour. The collection of Chateau d’Yquem has its own special room and includes an 1806 bottle of the Bordeaux, one of only three in the world. No, you can’t order that one.
    
We tried more traditional foods at our parador, which are government-owned accommodations in historic structures or particularly scenic locations, each offering area specialties.


Chef Iván Hernández shows off one of his desserts at the Cayena Kitchen Club demonstration kitchen.


The appetizers in Cáceres featured the famous Iberian ham in several guises: on toast, with deviled quail eggs, thinly sliced with melon balls, served in a cone with cream cheese and more. The meal ended with an artful arrangement of small bites of regional sweets on a chocolate tree.
    
The culinary legacy of Cáceres includes Christian, Jewish and Muslim influences married with traditional Spanish and Portuguese favorites. Not only can you experience the tastes of the past, but innovative chefs are constantly bringing new ideas to the cuisine.

More Than Merely a Meal: Parador de Cáceres is housed in two medieval palaces complete with suits of armor and regal banners. The rooms are strictly 21st-century, and the bathrooms have more amenities than you’re likely to use. We also checked out the Atrio Hotel: super-modern, but like its restaurant, artfully ensconced in ancient stone walls.

For a rural getaway, Quinta la Encarnación just outside the city is a delightful little inn with five comfortable rooms, a charming courtyard, pool, spa and gracious hosts Arturo Gonzalez Calzada and Victoria Bazaga.
    
Although the trip was food focused, there’s so much more in Cáceres and vicinity. Touring historic buildings, shops, museums, browsing local arts and crafts and just wandering through the maze of narrow streets is sure to keep you busy.
    
And it’s just a short drive to one of the country’s most scenic areas, the Natural Monument of the Barruecos: an area of little lakes, giant boulders and great birding with one of the largest stork colonies in Europe. The Vostell Malpartida Museum, an art gallery featuring works by members of the Fluxus movement, is also located in the park.

With its history, art, architecture and cuisine, Cáceres seamlessly blends the charm of the old world with the best of the new. Altogether, it’s an out-of-this-world experience.


► Getting There

For general information | spain.info | turismo.ayto-caceres.es/en

For paradors | parador.es/en

To get to Cáceres
Cáceres is about 3.5 hours west of Madrid by car or train; by bus, about four or five hours. Technically, you can’t drive in the historic part of the city, and you wouldn’t want or need to. (You can drive to the parador parking lot.) To really see the countryside, a car is the best means of transportation. The main highways in Spain are excellent.

To get to Madrid
There are no direct flights from Oklahoma City but several choices for one-stop flights. My favorite: American to Chicago then partner airline Iberia, the flagship airline of Spain, to Madrid. It’s a great way to get a head start on your Spanish experience.

Did You Know?
Free online language lessons are available through the Metropolitan Library System so you can hablar a little español.

 

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June 2019

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Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Toni Hopper
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James Bailey from Missoula, Montana, is ARTSPACE at Untitled's visiting Artist in Residence; his exhibition, Map-ify, is on view May 9th through July 6th.  "My work examines...

Cost: Free

Where:
ARTSPACE at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Telephone: 405.815.9995
Website »

More information

"Sandy Magrath: Dogs of the Southwest" art exhibit will be open May 1 - June 30, 2019, at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. A meet the artist reception will be 3:30 -...

Cost: $6 adults

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Stacy Moore
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

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USAO Nesbitt Gallery
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Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

James Bailey from Missoula, Montana, is ARTSPACE at Untitled's visiting Artist in Residence; his exhibition, Map-ify, is on view May 9th through July 6th.  "My work examines...

Cost: Free

Where:
ARTSPACE at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Telephone: 405.815.9995
Website »

More information

"Sandy Magrath: Dogs of the Southwest" art exhibit will be open May 1 - June 30, 2019, at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. A meet the artist reception will be 3:30 -...

Cost: $6 adults

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Stacy Moore
Website »

More information

A nationally touring exhibit “Bison: Ancient. Massive. Wild.” will open May 24 at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. This exhibit explores the significance of...

Cost: $4 - $6

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Toni Hopper
Website »

More information

The University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma’s Nesbitt Gallery will feature painter William Stoehr’s powerful portraits in “Victims, Witnesses, and Survivors.” The gallery...

Cost: Free

Where:
USAO Nesbitt Gallery
1727 W. Alabama Ave.
Chickasha, OK  73018
View map »


Sponsor: Nesbitt Gallery
Telephone: 405.574.1374
Contact Name: Layne Thrift
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Cost: Free

Where:
ARTSPACE at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Telephone: 405.815.9995
Website »

More information

A nationally touring exhibit “Bison: Ancient. Massive. Wild.” will open May 24 at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. This exhibit explores the significance of...

Cost: $4 - $6

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Toni Hopper
Website »

More information

Featuring more than 70 works by French and European masters such as Degas, Manet, Monet, Rousseau and Van Gogh, this exhibition celebrates Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon’s extraordinary gift of...

Cost: $15

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Drive
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

"Sandy Magrath: Dogs of the Southwest" art exhibit will be open May 1 - June 30, 2019, at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. A meet the artist reception will be 3:30 -...

Cost: $6 adults

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Stacy Moore
Website »

More information

The University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma’s Nesbitt Gallery will feature painter William Stoehr’s powerful portraits in “Victims, Witnesses, and Survivors.” The gallery...

Cost: Free

Where:
USAO Nesbitt Gallery
1727 W. Alabama Ave.
Chickasha, OK  73018
View map »


Sponsor: Nesbitt Gallery
Telephone: 405.574.1374
Contact Name: Layne Thrift
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Featuring more than 70 works by French and European masters such as Degas, Manet, Monet, Rousseau and Van Gogh, this exhibition celebrates Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon’s extraordinary gift of...

Cost: $15

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Drive
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

James Bailey from Missoula, Montana, is ARTSPACE at Untitled's visiting Artist in Residence; his exhibition, Map-ify, is on view May 9th through July 6th.  "My work examines...

Cost: Free

Where:
ARTSPACE at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Telephone: 405.815.9995
Website »

More information

A nationally touring exhibit “Bison: Ancient. Massive. Wild.” will open May 24 at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. This exhibit explores the significance of...

Cost: $4 - $6

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Toni Hopper
Website »

More information

"Sandy Magrath: Dogs of the Southwest" art exhibit will be open May 1 - June 30, 2019, at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. A meet the artist reception will be 3:30 -...

Cost: $6 adults

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Stacy Moore
Website »

More information

The University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma’s Nesbitt Gallery will feature painter William Stoehr’s powerful portraits in “Victims, Witnesses, and Survivors.” The gallery...

Cost: Free

Where:
USAO Nesbitt Gallery
1727 W. Alabama Ave.
Chickasha, OK  73018
View map »


Sponsor: Nesbitt Gallery
Telephone: 405.574.1374
Contact Name: Layne Thrift
Website »

More information

Show More...
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Featuring more than 70 works by French and European masters such as Degas, Manet, Monet, Rousseau and Van Gogh, this exhibition celebrates Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon’s extraordinary gift of...

Cost: $15

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Drive
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

James Bailey from Missoula, Montana, is ARTSPACE at Untitled's visiting Artist in Residence; his exhibition, Map-ify, is on view May 9th through July 6th.  "My work examines...

Cost: Free

Where:
ARTSPACE at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Telephone: 405.815.9995
Website »

More information

A nationally touring exhibit “Bison: Ancient. Massive. Wild.” will open May 24 at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. This exhibit explores the significance of...

Cost: $4 - $6

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Toni Hopper
Website »

More information

"Sandy Magrath: Dogs of the Southwest" art exhibit will be open May 1 - June 30, 2019, at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. A meet the artist reception will be 3:30 -...

Cost: $6 adults

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Stacy Moore
Website »

More information

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Cost: Adult: $20 Seniors and Children: $15

Where:
Regatta Park Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd
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View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma River Cruises
Telephone: 405-702-7755
Contact Name: Che Loessberg
Website »

More information

The University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma’s Nesbitt Gallery will feature painter William Stoehr’s powerful portraits in “Victims, Witnesses, and Survivors.” The gallery...

Cost: Free

Where:
USAO Nesbitt Gallery
1727 W. Alabama Ave.
Chickasha, OK  73018
View map »


Sponsor: Nesbitt Gallery
Telephone: 405.574.1374
Contact Name: Layne Thrift
Website »

More information

The evening Cocktail Cruise offers stunning views of the downtown skyline, the Boathouse District & Finish Line Tower, the Wheeler Ferris Wheel, and quite possibly an amazing Oklahoma...

Cost: Adults $20; Seniors and Children $15

Where:
Regatta Park Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd
Oklahoma City, OK  73119
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma River Cruises
Telephone: 405-702-7755
Contact Name: Che Loessberg
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

A nationally touring exhibit “Bison: Ancient. Massive. Wild.” will open May 24 at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. This exhibit explores the significance of...

Cost: $4 - $6

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Toni Hopper
Website »

More information

"Sandy Magrath: Dogs of the Southwest" art exhibit will be open May 1 - June 30, 2019, at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. A meet the artist reception will be 3:30 -...

Cost: $6 adults

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Stacy Moore
Website »

More information

James Bailey from Missoula, Montana, is ARTSPACE at Untitled's visiting Artist in Residence; his exhibition, Map-ify, is on view May 9th through July 6th.  "My work examines...

Cost: Free

Where:
ARTSPACE at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Telephone: 405.815.9995
Website »

More information

Featuring more than 70 works by French and European masters such as Degas, Manet, Monet, Rousseau and Van Gogh, this exhibition celebrates Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon’s extraordinary gift of...

Cost: $15

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Drive
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

America’s largest interactive comedy murder mystery dinner show is now playing at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel. At The Dinner Detective, you’ll tackle a challenging crime while you...

Cost: $59.95

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View map »


Sponsor: The Dinner Detective
Telephone: 866.496.0535
Website »

More information

The evening Cocktail Cruise offers stunning views of the downtown skyline, the Boathouse District & Finish Line Tower, the Wheeler Ferris wheel and, quite possibly, an amazing...

Cost: Adult: $20 Seniors and Children: $15

Where:
Regatta Park Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd
Oklahoma City, OK  73119
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma River Cruises
Telephone: 405-702-7755
Contact Name: Che Loessberg
Website »

More information

The evening Cocktail Cruise offers stunning views of the downtown skyline, the Boathouse District & Finish Line Tower, the Wheeler Ferris Wheel, and quite possibly an amazing Oklahoma...

Cost: Adults $20; Seniors and Children $15

Where:
Regatta Park Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd
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View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma River Cruises
Telephone: 405-702-7755
Contact Name: Che Loessberg
Website »

More information

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