Pedraza is a walled, medieval town located in the province of Segovia, about 200 kilometers from Valladolid, Spain. Rick and I took a day trip there recently. The town is located atop a high hill with a commanding view of the surrounding valley.
There’s only one entrance into the town and everyone is directed to a parking area near the castle in order to limit the amount of traffic on the streets.
We arrived shortly before 2 pm when the castle closed for siesta. So we took the time to get to learn the town. There has been a considerable amount of restoration to the medieval villas and many are available for rent. There are also several inns. Pedraza would be an interesting spot for a destination wedding!
On the day we went it was brisk and windy, but the sun was warm. We saw several families pushing strollers (and nearly tipping when a wheel got caught in the cobblestones!), young lovers walking hand in hand (stiletto heels? really?) and older couples like Rick and me out for a day of sightseeing.
Walking up and down the cobble stoned streets built a healthy thirst and appetite. Luckily there were plenty of bars and restaurants to choose from. We stopped for a glass of wine, served from spigots set into the wall and ordered croquettes and some potatoes to eat. Our bodies were warmed by the sun, but the air was still cool enough to see our breath. When the food arrived, I enjoyed the best potatoes I’ve ever had. They were seasoned with smoky paprika, chorizo and cayenne pepper, some mountain air and exercise. You’ll find my version at the end of the post.
We were told the castle was built on the remains of an old Roman fort which was later used by the Moors. The castle has been rebuilt several times. The first restoration dates to the 15th Century. The castle itself has been reduced to walls and the keep. The tower holds a museum dedicated to the works of portrait artist Ignacio Zuloaga, who bought the castle and lived there for many years.
While walking around on what was left of the battlements I kept finding myself thinking about the Outlander Series of books by Diana Gabaldon (affiliate link). Here I was in Spain, but my mind was filling in details of Castle Leoch. (Rick gave me a weird look when I told him about it.) In the 1920’s when Ignacio Zuloaga bought the castle in order to capture the beauty of Segovia, life in the village would have been bucolic and extremely isolated. Even today, Pedraza is dependent upon food brought from the outside. I can’t imagine living there during a full blown winter.
It was a pleasant trip, full of beautiful views, deep purple wine and a romantic medieval village I won’t soon forget.
Here is my attempt to recreate the potatoes we had in Pedraza. I was pretty close in the flavor and color. The only thing missing is the crisp mountain air! I used chicken broth but I imagine the restaurant used broth made from the lamb or pork they cook everyday.
This made enough for four people as a side dish. Rick and I ate it with some crusty bread, some olives and, of course, a glass of wine. Add a fried egg and a small salad if you’d like a delicious light meal.
In keeping with this month’s focus on flexitarian eating, I want to point out the chorizo and chicken broth are used to add flavor instead of functioning as a main component of the dish.
- 5 small potatoes (fist sized), peeled and diced
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 1 oz chorizo, chopped into small pieces
- 2 bay leaves
- red paper flakes or a small cayenne pod (less is more)
- 1 teaspoon smoky paprika (AKA pimentón de la vera)
- salt to taste
- Place the potatoes, chorizo, red pepper and bay leaf into a dutch oven or similar sized pot.
- Cover with enough broth to barely cover the pototoes, it’s OK if some tips peek out. Use water if necessary to increase the volume of the broth.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are very soft.
- Stir in the paprika and salt before serving and use the the spoon to break up the potatoes as desired.