A black pudding marker. That is what Guzmán Alameda Landa wanted to have put on when he started working in the family business 15 years ago. “One like the one they have in Madrid’s Taberna Pedraza to show how many tortillas they have sold. But my mother told me that it was better not to”, she recalls laughing. It is told by the grandson of the founders of Landa, an obligatory stop for those who travel the A-1 near Burgos and whose portion of eggs with blood sausage has become an icon of road gastronomy since it opened in 1959. “A my grandfather told him that no one would ask for that, but time ended up agreeing with him”, says Alameda.
“The recipe for our black pudding is kept almost under oath,” he says. “We order them from a lady we trust who makes them in a small company in a nearby town.” This star dish for which a large part of its clientele goes consists of two fried eggs accompanied by three pieces of blood sausage and costs 11 euros. They do not give figures of how many rations they sell per day, but they do share that 1,000 people can pass through their establishment in one day. Regarding the elaboration, Alameda confesses that there are no secrets: “It is a bit of common sense. We fry everything with a lot of oil and very hot. We remove the skin from the black pudding and, so that it is crispy and does not fall apart, it is very important that when it comes to cutting it into slices and throwing it into the pan it is cold from the fridge. We don’t add flour or other things,” she says.
One of Landa’s hallmarks is care for tradition. “Here we cannot change anything. When they suggest that I innovate and do, for example, gyoza of black pudding, I answer that it is better that someone else take care of it that will surely do it super well. If ours works, it’s better not to touch it”. In fact, many of the recipes that can be taken here today are from her great-aunt, Ángela Landa, who published a couple of classic cookbooks decades ago called To simmer and The pastry book. But they also recover some dishes from the house recipe book that they haven’t prepared for a long time. “Esteban is one of our chefs who has been with us for more than 30 years and I have sometimes asked him to rescue some from oblivion. It is a jewel to have someone like him in a business like this”, he says.
This is not just a beautiful roadside bar where the decoration is taken care of in detail and all the staff are uniformed according to their rank — “the youngest have to earn the red jacket, as happens in Harry’s Bar in Venice,” he points out. — . Landa is a place designed to rest for a while, a few hours or even days, as it has a 37-room hotel and a Gothic-inspired pool. “In my grandfather’s time, road trips from Madrid to the Basque Country were endless and he had the idea of putting something in the middle of the road so that people would make a stop. It was born as the roadside restaurant that we still are and of which we have kept everything original, such as the wood-fired oven. And from the year 1964 the extensions began: the bar and the hotel, ”he explains.
Outside there is a small temple that seems to await the arrival of the musicians and a 14th century tower that was brought stone by stone from Albillos (Burgos). “My grandfather wanted to make a kind of town with a square around it where there are currently tables to have a drink.” In that same outdoor space, for nine years, there has been a cute shop where they sell the products of the house. It’s hard to come away empty-handed from her. “The clientele demanded to be able to take something home with them, and since we had five people working in the pastry shop, we were able to start selling our classic pastries like the brioches, the palm trees or the reinosas, in addition to the black pudding”, says Landa. Later they added other products that could be enjoyed at the bar, such as pickles, and they were very well received. So much so that, although they have been suggested many times to set up a sales space in Madrid and they have always refused, a month ago they opened an online store, where they deliver their iconic products. The Landa black pudding is now the one that undertakes the journey, although eating it here is still an unforgettable experience.