This will be the last regular post on the gastro tour, winding up the last of Madrid, and picking out a couple of interesting meals. At some point soon I’ll sit down and put together a video of the whole trip, but that will have to wait at least a couple of days. Back home in BA, and things to do to get back on track. We jump right back into dinners this week!
Pretty pictures from a couple of different daytime walks. And, we even took the teleférico, the aerial cable car that cuts across beautiful parkland to the west of the city. It gives some interesting views looking back at the city, though not much in the way of altitude to get a panorama or anything.
Having already laid waste to the two big gourmet markets, San Anton and San Miguel, I wanted to hit the more traditional city markets as well. Unfortunately, being August, and not being tourist destinations, I’d venture to say that somewhere around three-quarters of the stands and eating spots are closed up for vacation. Still, I took walks through the Mercado de la Cebada (first picture), Mercado de Anton Martin (second and third pictures), and Mercado de San Fernando (last picture). I’d love to come back and see this in full swing some time!
Couldn’t visit Madrid and not stop somewhere for chocolate and churros, and albeit a bit touristy, the Chocolatería San Gines, Pasadizo San Ginés, 5, right by our hotel, is considered one of the best spots. That’s not a cup of coffee, that’s a thick chocolate sauce for dipping.
Two standout Spanish meals during the rest of the time in Madrid (I’m leaving aside the home and restaurant cooking in Peruvian restaurants by Henry’s family – good as they were, they weren’t what I was there to explore). El Caldero, Calle Huertas 15, in the famed Barrio de las Letras (an author-centric zone, historically), turns out amazingly good, and traditional dishes of Murcia, on the southwest coast of Spain. Digging into amazingly good snails in a mint broth dappled with bits of a traditional Murciana sausage, and peeled tiny potatoes was only the start to a great lunch, followed up by a spectacular mixed seafood paella. And hey, we couldn’t pass up a pitcher of excellent sangria. When I saw people being served a little digestif at the end of their meal, I was hoping we’d be trying something really traditional from the region, but it turned out to be caramel infused vodka. A little too sweet, but I suppose, a substitute for dessert.
And, our last night out in town, we headed to another non-madrileño restaurant, this time Asturian cuisine, from the far northwest, at Sidrería El Escarpín, Calle de las Hileras, 17. Hearty bean based stews were the order of the day, and we couldn’t pick a winner between the white bean and clam or the green bean (not green-beans, just pale green colored beans, traditional from the region, called verdinas) with mixed shellfish. Then again, maybe it was the cabrales cheese, or the sea urchin and baby eel scramble, or perhaps the cider tart….
One note, which I didn’t find out until nearly the end of the trip. You might have noticed a few different tapas and other dishes with the baby eels, that I’ve mentioned. In Spain they call them gulas. But, here’s the thing, I kept expecting them to be really expensive, because traditional anguillitas, or elvers in English, tend to be caviar-level pricey, and also not plentiful. I finally asked, and found out that pretty much all the gulas you’re likely to see, at least at any kind of reasonable price, are fake – they’re make with surimi, the fish paste product that’s used to make fake crab legs. Explains a lot – although I enjoyed them, they didn’t have any kind of fatty, eel sort of flavor, nor, I’d started to notice, did they seem to have either eyes, nor innards, just thin white threads with a grey-brown stripe along one side. So, to the best of my knowledge, I’ve still never tried real baby eels….