Identità Expo

The restaurant serving pinecones, mushrooms and herbs

In the meseta close to Valladolid an out-of-the-way yet surprising place. Worth the trip


Miguel Ángel de la Cruz us the talented Spanish chef at La Botica de Matapozuelos (Plaza Mayor 2, Matapozuelos - Valladolid. Tel: +34.983.832942)

Studying the evolution of a restaurant from one generation to the other is always interesting. I’m referring to the dialectics in the Vivalda family – father and son – to Antica Corona Reale in Cervere. To the gradual handover between the Santini’s at Al Pescatore in Canneto sull’Oglio. Or, in Spain, to the work of the Morán family in Casa Gerardo, we wrote about it here. It is exactly in Spain that we went – though a little further south – to taste once again the cooking of La Botica de Matapozuelos. We had first been there some time ago, to discover the style of Miguel Ángel de la Cruz, born in 1976, a chef many Spanish critics praise.

A pinecone to be squeezed to season mushrooms preserved in vinegar
A pinecone to be squeezed to season mushrooms preserved in vinegar
In order to do so, you need to reach the small town of Matapozuelos, in the meseta between Valladolid, Salamanca and Segovia. Over here, the often steppe-like landscape of Central Spain leaves space to large forests, the game territory of de la Cruz. Just to be clear: he is not a meat-fanatic chef, in fact his cooking has a clear vegetarian approach that seems to make him closer to Sergio Bastard – speaker at the latest edition of Identità Milano – than to his father Teodoro, a man who spent 40 years cooking (he still does: the menu has two different natures) whole quarters of lamb in the wood oven. A great asador, that is to say.

So at Botica the generational confrontation is solved by relying on the choices made by the client: traditional menu or 2.0? We choose the second one, discovering at least three emblematic ingredients for the chef: mushrooms, aromatic herbs and pinecones. The latter are collected and frozen: when frozen, they can be grated on the dish, to add woody and balsamic notes. Or once they are back at room temperature, they become as soft as an orange and can be squeezed on the food, thus freeing their inner juices.

In our case, they were used to season some spring mushrooms preserved in vinegar, before a series of entrées that have launched the culinary expedition which then was developed thanks to dishes full of captivating intensity and “natural” elegance: Baby onions with summer truffle and green pinecone gelatine; a delicious Roasted endive with chicory juice, baby onions and oregano, a recipe that is both archetypical and very modern; a spectacular fake egg – the solid egg white is made with thickened sheep milk, the creamy real egg yolk is prepared with mushrooms and leak and cardoon broth.

The fake egg by de la Cruz: sheep milk egg white, real egg yolk
The fake egg by de la Cruz: sheep milk egg white, real egg yolk

Speaking of trompe-l'œil preparations, we had already tasted the Fake madrileña tripe last year: it is made with two types of mushrooms, Sparassis crispa and Tremella fuciformis, that have a seaweed texture. The first has a delicate sweet aroma and hazelnut hints, the second is almost tasteless, yet they add texture to the dish and make it very similar to the honeycomb texture of veal tripe. These scents are then added to the mushrooms by pouring a broth made with veal tripe on top of them. Today this preparation is further improved, thanks to the addition of a local sweet onion.

On top of the tasting menu, there were the Lamb sweetbreads with black porcini and grated green pinecone: a great dish. The closing was also of the highest quality: Carob ice cream with mint and lemon balm infusion.

Everything was beautiful and good, and the same goes for the wines selected by Miguel Ángel’s younger brother Alberto.

Rubriche - Carlo Mangio

An outdoor trip or a journey to the other side of the planet?
One thing is for sure: the destination is delicious, by Carlo Passera


Carlo Passera

journalist born in 1974, for many years he has covered politics, mostly, and food in his free time. Today he does exactly the opposite and this makes him very happy. As soon as he can, he dives into travels and good food. An early member of Identità Golose