October 3, 2018
Miguel Ángel de la Cruz
It has been years since the pharmacy in Matapozuelos stopped making magistral preparations for the inhabitants of this village of barely a thousand inhabitants who, in search of medicine, would go to this establishment that went on to become, firstly, a Castilian grill house, and then – still continuing to be one – a place of a culinary worship. Miguel Ángel’s cuisine is closely linked to the surrounding rural environment and its abundant pine forests, a plateau of fertile vegetable gardens irrigated by the waters of the Adaja and Eresma rivers, and in the middle of the Land of Wine (and chickpeas).
There are two generations of cooks (father and son), with very different jobs, at La Botica de Matapozuelos. First, there is Teodoro who, for over 15 years has tended the fire and stoked it with wood to gently roast suckling lambs of the Churra breed, which earned the place its fame.
Then, there is Miguel Ángel, but he was not satisfied with that. He wanted more. Guided by his creative flair and innovative spirit, and without having previously worked in any other kitchen (we are in the presence of someone who is self-taught), he decided to observe and seek inspiration in the surroundings, whispering to the pine forests on his walks. It was then that he began experimenting with what nature so generously offered him: humble plants, in most cases.
Who would have thought that green pine cones could be used like fruit? He discovered that pine cones at that stage of their development have organoleptic properties that are worthy of being served at the table. He also discovered that the white Iberian pine nut, the wild fruit of the stone pine, is a veritable caviar of the land. Extracting them in the most rudimentary way, he throws the pine cones on the ground so that they open, thus avoiding mechanical methods that could harm their natural qualities.
A cook of landscapes, he is contemporary, researches and is committed to values such as ecology and sustainability. His most recent endeavours involve searching for the resources and possibilities offered by lamb, using every single part of it to modernize his recipes, making use of new cuts and new presentations. His cuisine is totally dictated by the Region of Castile and León, its forests, its rivers and its other natural resources, and his intention is for diners to leave satisfied, confident that they have enjoyed eating local produce and tasted wines made at nearby wineries. Those that Alberto, his brother, who is the sommelier and front-of-house manager, has painstakingly chosen. To your health!
By Eufrasio Sánchez