Almost smack bang in the centre of Spain is a charming ancient city perched on top of a hill called Toledo. It boasts some truly epic skylines, monumental Game of Thrones style architecture and winding streets to discover secrets in, but what makes Toledo truly worth a visit in our eyes, is the unique local food. In 2016 it was named Spain's Capital of Gastronomy thanks to its "creative combination of cultural and gastronomical heritage,” and we can confirm, it’s good eating in Toledo.
It's the Home of Marzipan
Marzipan, or mazapán, may be an Arabic treat but thanks to Toledo’s multi cultural (and religious) history, it’s perfectly at home in the Spanish city. In fact, it’s rumoured that nuns in the Convent of San Clemente in Toledo invented the variation of the Arabic almond confectionary!
Naturally you can find marzipan and marzipan flavoured sweets, cakes and nibbles all over the city, and even if you’re not a marzi-fan, it’s worth a try given the traditional methods they still use locally to make it today.
Game Meat Stew Central
Partridge, deer, venison… you name it, Toledo does it. Their speciality in cooking game meats may raise a few eyebrows when you’re translating the menu but we took the advice of our waiter and ordered an ox tail stew and deer soup and holy moly, we did not look back!
If you only want to try one hearty stew while you’re there, you can’t go past Carcamusas, a local dish of slow cooked pork, white wine and vegetables, that’s served with fresh bread and tastes like a big warm hug.
Manchego Cheese Heaven
If you’re a cheese lover (and specifically a sheep’s milk cheese lover), Toledo is going to knock the socks off your cheese loving heart. The famous Manchego cheese, so loved by Don Quixote, hails from Toledo and Cuenca provinces and has been produced in the area for a few hundred years.
You’ll find it on dishes all around the city, including the much-loved game stews. Locals ~really~ love it and will often grab a few slices to eat on some fresh crusty bread for lunch. It’s only right that you follow suit and pick up a wedge from one of the many local delicatessens.
Pro tip: Head down to the river to watch the world go by and enjoy your cheese coma.
Toledo takes saffron very seriously and is considered one of the best producers of the expensive spice in Spain. Saffron is how paella gets its beautiful red colours, and as one of the main growers and boasting a Denominación de Origen status (whatever that means), it’s little wonder the earthy flavour is so prevalent in the food here.
You’re probably already getting the gist of this, but if Toledo is famous for something, you’re going to find it EVERYWHERE. Dried saffron or saffron in its sweet original flower form can be bought in the markets and grocery stores. Of course you can always do as we did and just taste up a Saffron storm in the traditional dishes!