Last year, on a whim, I hopped a train to Segovia. I wandered around, saw the sights, took pictures of the aqueduct and made some new friends. But: Because I am a moron who can't read a train schedule, I had to leave early and ended up missing the ONE thing I went there to try: Cochinillo.
Cochinillo is a roast suckling pig that is rumored to be so tender, you can cut it with a plate. In fact, that's what they do when the pig is brought to your table. Whenever I told someone about my visit to Segovia, they would close their eyes, sigh, and say: “Ohhhhhh, did you eat Cochinillo!?” My eyes would narrow, my vision would go red Kill Bill style and I would grudgingly confess that I never got the chance to eat this famed dish [that apparently tastes of angel wings, seasoned with unicorn tears].
Somehow I had displeased the Culinary Gods and they were letting me know. I don’t know what made me angrier: that Cochinillo had managed to elude me or that everyone I encountered had tasted it. They all knew something I didn’t, and that is simply UN- ACCEPTABLE. I lived with my defeat for a while and continued with the year with one promise: I would go back to Segovia, I would find a good restaurant, and Cochinillo would meet. Its. DOOM.
What? I never said I wasn't dramatic.
Last week, I decided to leave Madrid to enjoy my long weekend. After postponing a trip to Toledo, I settled on the most obvious location: Segovia. It was finally time to treat myself to Cochinillo. I didn't know where I should go, so I asked a few people for information. A student pointed me to El Fogón Sefardi and it was one of the best recommendations I've gotten since I moved to Spain.
El Fogón Sefardi is located in the old Jewish Quarter of the city. My friends Marcos, Patricia, and I walked in right off the street and found ourselves at a bar. Hmmm... we were confused until the bartender told us to go upstairs. We obeyed and found ourselves in a beautifully decorated restaurant, with white tablecloths and servers who were actually happy to see us! They immediately showed us to a table and handed us menus. Marcos and I knew what we wanted, so we ordered the menu with Cochinillo, and Patricia ordered an alternate menu.
Our meal consisted of a starter dish – a choice between the ensalada mixta (a beautiful salad with sundried tomatoes, eggs, tuna, and diced pickles) or Sopa Castellana (a garlic and broth heavy soup with chunks of bread, ham, eggs, and a buuuunch of paprika to add color to the dish). The second dish was the Cochinillo, followed by Ponche de Segovia (vanilla cake filled with light cream, drizzled with almond marzipan) for dessert. Marcos decided to start with the soup, and I chose the salad. Patricia's menu started with a veggie pureé and fried eggplant sticks drizzled with honey. The entree was a puff pastry stuffed with cod, spinach, and other roasted veggies. Dessert was a baked apple served with caramel sauce.
The portions were extremely generous and we were also served a jarra (big ol' jar) of wine for the table. My salad was enormous and Marcos' soup was pretty big as well. Patricia's eggplant and honey was basic but tasty, and she liked them much more than her puree. Then...after much ado... it finally came: Cochinillo. After all this fuss, it was time. Folks, believe me when I tell you: Dear sweet LORD, It was worth the wait!
The skin of the pig was crisp and tasty. The meat was so tender, it melted in your mouth. I had a knife, but there was no need for it. Everything was perfectly seasoned and every bite was heaven. I tried to eat as much as I could, but ended up taking the rest of the Cochinillo to go. There was no way I was leaving that behind! The Ponche de Segovia was also amazing, and I made myself finish every bite.
We left full and happy as clams. The prices were great (about 23.00€ per person), and the staff was attentive and wonderful. I highly recommend El Fogón Sephardi to anyone who gets the chance to visit, and I look forward to returning. If you find yourself hungry and in Segovia, be sure to pay them a visit!
Address: Calle la Judería Vieja, 17, 40001 Segovia, España
Phone:+34 921 46 62 50
Have you ever tried Cochinillo? Where would you recommend?
Khephra is a New Orleans native, who re-located to Madrid, Spain at the absolute end of 2013. Some of her favorite things are: food, Theatre, yoga, tinto de verano, and traveling through the country she's only seen in dreams. She can usually be found wandering through the streets of Madrid [because she's lost... again], or at an intercambio. When she's not accidentally cursing at old ladies in Castellano, or wading neck-deep into the dreaded dating pool, she spends her free time working to be a better writer, teacher, and dancer.