Valladolid, the old capital of the new tapas!
Not too many people know that the City of Valladolid was the capital of Spain from 1601 to 1606. However, many do know that this city has become the Tapas capital of the world, thanks to the resounding success of the National and International Tapas competition, which takes place concurrently in November of every year. I invite you to discover with us the cultural and culinary secrets of this City.
1 The cradle of Kings and suckling lamb
Valladolid is the birthplace of three Spanish kings. It is said that when the Emperor Felipe II was born in Valladolid he was kidnapped and taken out of a window of the Pimentel Palace to get baptized at the nearby exceptional church of Saint Paul. A couple blocks away from the Royal Palace you will find Don Bacalao, a well-known restaurant and tapas bar that specializes in bacalao (codfish). Here, you can find creative tapas like the carpaccio of codfish sprinkled with pimentón de la Vera and drizzled with local extra virgin olive oil or the winning tapa of the National Tapas competition a few years ago, a blend of two cultures, a roll made stuffed with the traditional roasted suckling lamb of Valladolid with a blend of Indian spices and Masala pearls. You can pair either tapa with the excellent rose wines from Cigales, one of the five wine appellations surrounding Valladolid and probably the most recognized area for rose wines in the country.
2 Saint Benedict Monastery and the market
After visiting the old octagonal bullring of the city, walk down the San Ignacio Street that leads to the Monastery of Saint Benito and the old Mercado del Val, a restored old market from the 19th century that shows a wide variety of fresh products. Both sides of the market host nice tapas places. Montellén is one of the best options. The beef and the Iberico ham used for their elaborations come straight from the property that the manager family owns in the area of Salamanca, Beef from the local morucha race or authentic ham from the Guijuelo appellation area. Just on the other side of the market you can find a very interesting place, Jamonería Sarmiento. This charcuterie shop during the day converts into a tapas bar at night. Two tapas, the jabuguito and the miguelito are both a good example of a tasty mix of fresh charcuterie products and vegetables served on a toast.
3 From the Rose Garden to the Plaza Mayor
Walking out of the market area to the Pisuerga River, you will discover a very special place, one of those that visitors give more credit than the locals. It is the Rosaleda Garden, a very romantic place right on the edge of the river, a place full of beautiful roses. This is the best place to take a short break before continuing with our tapas tour.
On the way to the Plaza mayor we will cross the Plaza Poniente, where we will find Poniente Brasserie, another good option for those who love Ibérico ham. Just around the corner we have another tapas bar, Vino Tinto. In the basement you have a traditional bar with a new modern format. On the street level you can get great tapas. Do not miss the wonderful local cecina – air-cured and smoked beef-.
4 Plaza Mayor Area
Entering the Plaza Mayor of Valladolid will surprise you. It is truly the city center, a big square painted in red colors that concentrates all the life of the city. For the lovers of sweets you have two good options, the modern pastry shop of the Arranz Family, a third generation of pastry chefs that offer an exquisite variety of pastries and cookies. Right on the opposite corner of the plaza, you will find Cubero pastry shop. A traditional coffee place with a unique museum where you can find replicas of the most important buildings of the city made entirely of sugar.
A few meters from this place is one of the most awarded tapas bars of the city, Los Zagales. They offer a great option of really creative tapas. You will be thrilled eating the baguetina, including the “plastic bag” in which it is encased and you will be haunted by the smell of the white smoke coming out of another tapa appropriately named Aroma or digging with your spoon in one of their most celebrated tapa named Obama in the White House.
After this tour of modern creativity and flavours, only a couple blocks away you can find La Criolla, well known restaurant with a great mix of tradition and new creations. You can taste seasonal local mushrooms or asparagus as well as an egg that has nothing to do with a real egg besides that looks like an egg. Just crossing the street we can finish our tour at Villaparamesa, one of the most successful tapas bars in the city and melting pot of flavors and creativity. The smoked squid, the fascinating k2 (a sardine ceviche served in a seaweed boat), the outstanding pork cheek in liquorice sauce or the unique canto al vino (desert that reproduces all the aromas of a good aged red wine), they all fit perfectly with a local Ribera del Duero wine. Ribera de Duero produces some of the most impressive wines in the country, a nice range of full body wines that match perfect with the suggested tapas.
Valladolid is a safe cozy city only 50 minutes away by train from Madrid. Any time of the year is good to enjoy. The Easter Week is one of the most important in the country so in case you are planning a visit be aware of that. But November has become a great time for food lovers from all around the world. Every year the City Hall of Valladolid organizes the International and National Tapas Competition. This is by far the most important tapas event in the world. The fact that restaurants from all around the country and young chefs from all around the world come every year to compete while are hosted by the local restaurants has had a big impact in the evolution of the city and its amazing gastronomy offer.