Thursday, 23 October 2014

Tales of Caceres: El Pato

By: Mr Robot

Leaving Old Caceres on the western side, one passes through the Puerta de Estrella, gleefully translated by nerds everywhere as The Stargate.

Stepping through with an appropriate vwooosh sound, the childish traveller finds himself in Plaza Mayor: a fine colonnaded square (ok, rectangle) and the site of numerous restaurants that are probably the most tourist-trappy you'll find in the city, but also often crammed with locals so can't be that bad.

Plaza Mayor, Cacares. Not shot through The Stargate because physics

Thus we reasoned anyway, and resolved to try a few.

We originally headed towards a roasting house but were pounced on by a waitress seeking to drag us in (worrying sign) and who proudly held out a menu in (gasp!) English.

At this point Mrs R gently wigged out and we scurried next door: she has a morbid fear of translated menus believing them to be a step down the slippery slope that ends in El Breakfast Ingles.

Next door turns out to be El Pato (The Duck - no idea why) where we're greeted by a genial silver-haired gent and presented with, um, a translated menu. Oh well.

El Pato

We'd already sampled El Pato a day or two earlier when we'd spent some happy time propping up the bar and been pleased with both beer and tapas, so we cast aside any concerns and set to.

Tapas of light, soft cheese and paprika. Free with beer.

In any case, we were already seated and far too English to run away a second time.

The light of my life opted to start with Migas: fried breadcrumbs normally made using just a very little meat and veg for flavour rather than substance. It's quite a favourite here - no surprise since it's a humble dish of the rural poor and Extremadura, like much of central Spain, is a pretty humble rural area.

A fried slice by any other name...

She deemed it very tasty, though the salt pork they'd used was both a tad salty (duh) and served in whacking great chunks with unrendered fat that was just the wrong side of grim. Still, trimming that off was no great burden.

I went for revueltos: scrambled eggs. Quite how we came to lose our respect for scrambled eggs is beyond me, but the Spanish still revere them and have taught me to do the same so I get them at every opportunity. You will rarely go wrong, I submit, in any Spanish eatery that offers more than three varieties of revueltos.

Revueltos con Trigueros y Setas, or, Eggs a la Smelly Wee

These came with mushrooms and tiny but intense asparagus stalks, and were delicious. If anything there was a little too much asparagus but that is such a petulant complaint I won't demean myself to make it.

From there Mrs R went for rabbit stew and I believe enjoyed it greatly, but honestly I can't tell you anything more because I had this to contend with:

Cochinillo - roasted fat piglet

Yes, a whole leg of roast suckling pig, and it was immense - in every sense of the word.

Skin so crisp it was practically brulee and meat so soft it was, well ok, not creme but you get my drift. Simply served with fries and a comedy salad of half an iceberg and five quarters of tomato. But frankly with that pig headlining, who gives a damn about the support acts?

Crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside . . .

It shames me to say we declined puddings. Instead, as clouds started to roll in over the square (ok, rectangle) we girded our tums and waddled off to a much-needed siesta. I doubt El Pato will ever be accused of Fine Dining, but there's some mighty fine lunching to be had.

All images (c) PP Gettins

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