The food to be found in most of the areas around Madrid owes much to Castilian tradition with roast meats such as cochinillo (suckling pig) and cordero (roast lamb) providing the signature dishes in many restaurants. Cooked to perfection so the meat is deliciously tender and falling off the bone (in some restaurants they even cut the cochinillo with plates), meals are served with almost no side dishes, bar the odd chip or potato.

But one of the chief pleasures of eating in the areas around the Spanish capital is that local specialities still remain. In Toledo, for example, many of the more traditional restaurants offer carcamusa – a meat in a spicy tomato sauce, and game such as partridge (perdiz), pheasant (faisán) and quail (cordoniz). In Segovia Castilian roasts are to the fore, while in nearby La Granja the rather healthier judiones (large white beans) are on offer. Like La Granja, Ávila is also renowned for its beans, this time haricot beans with sausage (judias del barco), as well as its delicious, and massive, T-bone steaks (chuletón de Ávila), and for the most sickly sweet of desserts, the yemas de Santa Teresa (candied egg yolks). If all that proves too much, head for the oasis of Aranjuez where vegetables (in particular asparagus) and fresh strawberries are the local speciality.

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