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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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December 2018

Visitors to Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary will be able to let their imaginations run wild as they travel back in time with life-size animatronic dinosaurs along a half-mile...

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Cost: $20 presale; $25 at the door

Where:
OCCC
7777 S May
Oklahoma City, OK  73159
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Sponsor: RACE Dance Company
Telephone: 405.410.4978
Contact Name: Hui Poos
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Grab your family and friends for an incredible performance and reimagining of the classic holiday story! Follow Carlos on his hip hop journey to self-discovery through magical lands filled with...

Cost: $20 presale; $25 at the door

Where:
OCCC
7777 S May
Oklahoma City, OK  73159
View map »


Sponsor: RACE Dance Company
Telephone: 405.410.4978
Contact Name: Hui Poos
Website »

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Cost: $35

Where:
The Station at Central Park
700 S Broadway Avenue
Moore , OK  73160
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Sponsor: Project Princess
Telephone: 405.777.2411
Contact Name: Brooke Ashely
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Cost: Free

Where:
Crossings Community Church - OKC Campus
14600 North Portland
Oklahoma City, OK  73134
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Sponsor: Crossings Community Church
Telephone: 405.302.1258
Contact Name: Lori Bunyar
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The American Spirit Dance Company Presents Home for the Holidays Thursday, December 6, 8:00 PM, Kirkpatrick Theatre Friday, December 7, 8:00 PM, Kirkpatrick Theatre Saturday, December 8,...

Cost: $18.85 - $29.85

Where:
Oklahoma City University
2501 N. Blackwelder
Oklahoma City, OK  73106
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Sponsor: The American Spirit Dance Company
Telephone: 405.208.4955
Contact Name: Ryan Barrett
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Cost: Free

Where:
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
600 Museum Way
Bentonville, AR  72712
View map »


Telephone: 479.418.5700
Website »

More information

The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum is proud to host an exhibition by members of the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association (TCAA).   The Traditional Cowboy Arts Association...

Cost: 12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni Shrum
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Provided via email
Provided via email
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Visitors to Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary will be able to let their imaginations run wild as they travel back in time with life-size animatronic dinosaurs along a half-mile...

Where:
Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
1 Nature Place
McKinney, TX  75069
View map »


Sponsor: Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
Telephone: 972.562.5566
Contact Name: Stephanie Jennings
Website »

More information

The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum is proud to host an exhibition by members of the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association (TCAA).   The Traditional Cowboy Arts Association...

Cost: 12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni Shrum
Website »

More information

Don’t miss this timely exhibition charting the development of contemporary Indigenous art from the US and Canada. Presenting over 80 artworks including paintings, photography, video,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
600 Museum Way
Bentonville, AR  72712
View map »


Telephone: 479.418.5700
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Visitors to Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary will be able to let their imaginations run wild as they travel back in time with life-size animatronic dinosaurs along a half-mile...

Where:
Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
1 Nature Place
McKinney, TX  75069
View map »


Sponsor: Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
Telephone: 972.562.5566
Contact Name: Stephanie Jennings
Website »

More information

The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum is proud to host an exhibition by members of the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association (TCAA).   The Traditional Cowboy Arts Association...

Cost: 12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni Shrum
Website »

More information

Don’t miss this timely exhibition charting the development of contemporary Indigenous art from the US and Canada. Presenting over 80 artworks including paintings, photography, video,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
600 Museum Way
Bentonville, AR  72712
View map »


Telephone: 479.418.5700
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Visitors to Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary will be able to let their imaginations run wild as they travel back in time with life-size animatronic dinosaurs along a half-mile...

Where:
Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
1 Nature Place
McKinney, TX  75069
View map »


Sponsor: Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
Telephone: 972.562.5566
Contact Name: Stephanie Jennings
Website »

More information

Don’t miss this timely exhibition charting the development of contemporary Indigenous art from the US and Canada. Presenting over 80 artworks including paintings, photography, video,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
600 Museum Way
Bentonville, AR  72712
View map »


Telephone: 479.418.5700
Website »

More information

A pop-up shop village & Christmas tree lot in Midtown, OKC for the Holiday season. Shops rotate weekly!

Cost: Free

Where:
Holiday Pop-Up Shops
399 NW 10th St
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.514.5205
Contact Name: Cleo Rajon
Website »

More information

The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum is proud to host an exhibition by members of the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association (TCAA).   The Traditional Cowboy Arts Association...

Cost: 12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni Shrum
Website »

More information

A Comedy by Michael Hollinger No menu necessary at the world's greatest restaurant, the Café du Grand Boeuf in Paris. Why? "Because we have everything," headwaiter...

Cost: $5 to $25

Where:
Carpenter Square Theatre
800 W. Main
Oklahoma City, OK  73106
View map »


Sponsor: Carpenter Square Theatre
Telephone: 405.232.6500
Contact Name: Rhonda M. Clark
Website »

More information

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Visitors to Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary will be able to let their imaginations run wild as they travel back in time with life-size animatronic dinosaurs along a half-mile...

Where:
Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
1 Nature Place
McKinney, TX  75069
View map »


Sponsor: Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
Telephone: 972.562.5566
Contact Name: Stephanie Jennings
Website »

More information

The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum is proud to host an exhibition by members of the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association (TCAA).   The Traditional Cowboy Arts Association...

Cost: 12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni Shrum
Website »

More information

A pop-up shop village & Christmas tree lot in Midtown, OKC for the Holiday season. Shops rotate weekly!

Cost: Free

Where:
Holiday Pop-Up Shops
399 NW 10th St
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.514.5205
Contact Name: Cleo Rajon
Website »

More information

Don’t miss this timely exhibition charting the development of contemporary Indigenous art from the US and Canada. Presenting over 80 artworks including paintings, photography, video,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
600 Museum Way
Bentonville, AR  72712
View map »


Telephone: 479.418.5700
Website »

More information

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Cost: $19.95

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Andy Alligator's Fun Park
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Telephone: 405.321.7275
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Cost: $5 - $15

Where:
OKC Improv
1757 N.W. 16th St.
Oklahoma City, OK  73106
View map »


Sponsor: OKC Improv
Telephone: 405.456.9858
Contact Name: Kate McLain-Snipes
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Cost: $7.50 - $9.50

Where:
Rodeo Cinema
2221 Exchange Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73108
View map »


Sponsor: VHSANDCHILL
Telephone: 405.503.0050
Contact Name: Sean Peel
Website »

More information

A Comedy by Michael Hollinger No menu necessary at the world's greatest restaurant, the Café du Grand Boeuf in Paris. Why? "Because we have everything," headwaiter...

Cost: $5 to $25

Where:
Carpenter Square Theatre
800 W. Main
Oklahoma City, OK  73106
View map »


Sponsor: Carpenter Square Theatre
Telephone: 405.232.6500
Contact Name: Rhonda M. Clark
Website »

More information

Presented By OKC Ballet, with the OKC Philharmonic Tchaikovsky’s familiar score and Artistic Director Robert Mills’ delightful staging of The Nutcracker will fill your heart...

Where:
Civic Center Music Hall-Thelma Gaylord Theater
201 N Walker
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: OKC Ballet
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Visitors to Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary will be able to let their imaginations run wild as they travel back in time with life-size animatronic dinosaurs along a half-mile...

Where:
Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
1 Nature Place
McKinney, TX  75069
View map »


Sponsor: Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
Telephone: 972.562.5566
Contact Name: Stephanie Jennings
Website »

More information

Don’t miss this timely exhibition charting the development of contemporary Indigenous art from the US and Canada. Presenting over 80 artworks including paintings, photography, video,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
600 Museum Way
Bentonville, AR  72712
View map »


Telephone: 479.418.5700
Website »

More information

A pop-up shop village & Christmas tree lot in Midtown, OKC for the Holiday season. Shops rotate weekly!

Cost: Free

Where:
Holiday Pop-Up Shops
399 NW 10th St
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.514.5205
Contact Name: Cleo Rajon
Website »

More information

The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum is proud to host an exhibition by members of the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association (TCAA).   The Traditional Cowboy Arts Association...

Cost: 12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni Shrum
Website »

More information

Come enjoy live, local comedy in Oklahoma City's Plaza District. Shows are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m., and the 2nd Saturday of every month also has a family -friendly show...

Cost: $5 - $15

Where:
OKC Improv
1757 N.W. 16th St.
Oklahoma City, OK  73106
View map »


Sponsor: OKC Improv
Telephone: 405.456.9858
Contact Name: Kate McLain-Snipes
Website »

More information

With the original Die Hard quickly becoming one of the most popular Christmas films around, we knew that everybody around town would be showing it. So we figured you know what's better than Die...

Cost: $7.50 - $9.50

Where:
Rodeo Cinema
2221 Exchange Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73108
View map »


Sponsor: VHSANDCHILL
Telephone: 405.503.0050
Contact Name: Sean Peel
Website »

More information

Presented By OKC Ballet, with the OKC Philharmonic Tchaikovsky’s familiar score and Artistic Director Robert Mills’ delightful staging of The Nutcracker will fill your heart...

Where:
Civic Center Music Hall-Thelma Gaylord Theater
201 N Walker
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: OKC Ballet
Website »

More information

A Comedy by Michael Hollinger No menu necessary at the world's greatest restaurant, the Café du Grand Boeuf in Paris. Why? "Because we have everything," headwaiter...

Cost: $5 to $25

Where:
Carpenter Square Theatre
800 W. Main
Oklahoma City, OK  73106
View map »


Sponsor: Carpenter Square Theatre
Telephone: 405.232.6500
Contact Name: Rhonda M. Clark
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
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