Updated: Dec 29, 2019
In this week's feature (he says overconfidently in the first ever edition) we will be asking one of Spain's most divisive culinary questions, the answer to which can end relationships, separate families and ruin lives. Prepare yourself as we bite into the crunchy exterior and expose the deliciousness within – 'which croqueta....is better?'
Excuse me sir, what is a croqueta?
You poor, brave child. Has your tongue not known such pleasure? A croqueta or as we say in English Croquette (which is actually French) is a small, let's say 'ball' of deep-fried breadcrumbs that make up the exterior, filled with a variety of different things the base of which is bechemel. Filled with cheeses, ham, seafood, vegetables, you name it...and perfectly accompanied by a glass of red.
With an authentic maña (girl from Zaragoza) hired for the evening, I hit the streets of Zaragoza to explore the local competition.
La croqueta de mi madre/mujer/novia - the croquette at my Nan's/girlfriends/'insert matriarch' house
Ok, ok. I know. This ain't no restaurant, but let's get this 'out of the way' first. Walk down any street in Spain, grab a passing Spaniard and ask them 'which croqueta...is better?' and before you know it you're sat at his dinner table while his wife, mother or grandmother prepares you too much food. Maybe 'my (grand)mother's are the best' is a phrase taught at school, but it's one that is used with impunity and they're right. Spanish home cooking is really really good.
What Creoquete lacks in size it more than makes up for in taste. A little boutique style outlet, which
focuses on take away croquetas so you can burn them at home yourself. OR you can have them cooked for you there and then, like I did, here's what I tried:
Cecina y queso de cabra (cured meat and goats cheese) – a personal favourite, but this was 'the dogs bollocks.' Crunchy exterior and the filling was a thicker consistency (some can be too runny) and bloody delicious.
Tarta de queso y fresa con galletas (Strawberry cheesecake and biscuit) – this actually surprised and delighted me. I have never seen or tried a 'sweet' croqueta. It was worth the wait, absolutely divine.
Roscón (cream cake of San Valero) – another sweet one and the maña went WILD. This cake, traditional in January, is her favourite. Neither of us had experienced it smashed up inside a croqueta, we were surprised by the ingenuity and honestly, it tasted exactly like it was supposed to.
Really bloody good.
Great service, fantastic range of interesting flavours (16 varieties) with a touch of that essential 'home cooked' feel. A cosy and friendly atmosphere full of really tasty croquetas.
The maña says - “pues muy bien. The roscón is very surprised.”
Bringing croquetas into the wine bar scene and doing it well. This place is just a little bit cool and with it's location on Coso, very accessible. In warmer weather, it's actually a great spot to sit out front and watch the trams rumbling past as you stuff your face. They have definitely embraced the power of the croqueta with a modern spirit. Here's what I munched:
Ternasco al chilindron (lamb with peppers and tomato) – meaty and just delicious. If you're not that hungry one of these will probably do the job. A little cheeky pinch of spice, very very satisfying. The maña went quiet for a whole five minutes, which is incredibly positive.
Pollo al caramelo (caramelised chicken) – if you like meat in your croquetas, these two are a perfect combo. Savoury with just a hint of sweetness, gone in sixty seconds.
The croquetas here are bigger, which is great for two reasons – there's more of their deliciousness and it works out cheaper. You can buy them to take away by the KILO with prices ranging from €12.90 - €17.90 per kilo. Individual croquetas €2 a piece.
The maña says - “mmmm, I love this croqueta!” (ternasco al chilindron)
Possibly one of the oldest croqueta bars in Zaragoza, this is the first recommendation you receive from locals and with good reason. Located in the centre of the Tubo tapas district, they have recently opened a second bar inside the Cinegia food emporium. It's reputation is well deserved, from their good range of croquetas including the adventurous Gallina y chocolate (Rooster and chocolate) and a long history in the heart of zaragoza's culinary community. I smashed:
Cabrales con manzana (blue cheese and apple) – seriously powerful stuff. I almost travelled through time after eating this, do not underestimate its FLAVOUR. Like a tasty brick to the face.
A little expensive, but for all its history they know how to make a good croqueta. It can get pretty damn busy, so get there early.
The maña says - “If I told my mother I paid €2.40 for a croqueta...bfff...it's better you pay.”
Just go here. The main attraction for me is the 10-12 taps containing the beer the owner brews himself.
Not only is it local produce, which rocks, it's amongst the best beer I have tried in Spain. But we're here to talk about croquetas! The owners come from the small town of Blesa in Teruel, where they brew their wonderful beer. It's also the home of their croquetas, provided by a small local outlet. It doesn't get much closer to that 'my mother's are the best' taste. I've seen men go weak as they fight the temptation to admit they might be....better.
I demolished these:
Longaniza (sausage) – longaniza is good enough on it's own, but when entombed in one of these bad boys it transcends into a new dimension of flavour. Goes so well with one of their beers, clever.
Chistorra (sausage with paprika) – giant chunks of sausage inside a massive croqueta – the maña describes chistorra as 'skinny chorizo' although the chunks in these croquetas are HUGE.
Just try it. And get another beer while you're up.
Cocido y rulo de cabra (Broth and goats cheese) –
again, sounds weird in English but is an absolute culinary delight. Not overpowering like some goat's cheese can be, really tasty without blowing your face off. Oh and, don't forget that beer.
The maña says - “I think your next article should be about the best cake in Zaragoza and if you want...I will help you.”
These are just a handful of the places to enjoy croquetas in this fine city. I'll be bringing you the best of the rest soon. If you have any recommendations or you'd like to invite me to try your mum's then email us at Bulldog studios.
Follow the 'croqueta crawl' yourself using the map - share you photos with the Bulldog team