I feel like every time I visit a city I discover something new. Maybe we just see things with a new eye when sharing with friends. I arrived in Madrid alone to visit friends and explore restaurants with 2 women friends from Italy and one of their daughters that will attend college in Madrid for the fall.
I tried a new hotel, Catalonia Plaza Mayor, Atocha 36. Great location in the old part of Madrid surrounded by good tapas bars and plenty of shopping within a couple of blocks. The hotel had suites, rooms 601 and 603, for under $200.00 a night. Large clean rooms with huge bathrooms and walk in showers. Room 601 even had a stationary bike in the bathroom and the living room was big enough for a crowd.
My friend Maria Llamas owns a great cooking store and cooking school and always a must visit, Alambique is one block off the hop on hop off bus route by the Kings palace. That evening we were guests of Maria and her family so were spoiled and of course had the perfect gazpacho with tomatoes from their garden.
Up early to walk the neighborhoods met up with friends and enjoyed good paella at “Arroceria Gala” on Moratin 22 a few blocks from the Prado. Try the ink squid paella. After a short rest, quick glass of wine and a few olives we joined friends for the flamenco show at Casa Patas. This is a good show for first time visiters. It is only a couple blocks from the hotel, the 1 1/2 hour show starts at 9 pm so time for dinner after. They do a dinner in the attached restaurant but quite heavy traditional food.
Plaza Santa Ana was only a couple of blocks from the hotel so we tried several of the tapas bars around the square. A simple one that you can just sit in the square and watch the people is called Lateral, they had very good small plates. Another more upscale one that we went to after the flamenco show is called La Bardemcilla on the corner of Augusto figueroa 47.
Sunday we took the fast train to the city of Toledo. this is about 35 minutes from Madrid and a great town on a hill top, the old Capital of Spain. We walked the winding streets visited the Jewish museum and the large cathedral in the center of the city. Lunch was on the top of our list since the cathedral did not open to the public until 1pm on Sunday. We had lunch at Coleccion, a wine bar and restaurant owned by Adolfo, the famous chef of the restaurant Adolfo. since we did not have the time or reservations we could not dine with him. His reataurant is a must, but plan ahead restaura@adolfo-toledo.
Back to the city for a quick rest before the shops reopen. One of the trends in Madrid for parties and weddings is the wearing of fascinators, small hats worn by women most often by Princess Kate and friends. I found two of them, hand made by a your woman Laura Del Cid at her shop “Les Jardines” in plaza del Angel 4 Bis, www.lesjardines.es.
Dinner was at El Abrozo de Vergara, Calle Vergara 10, we had great samll plates that we shared. You will enjoy this small, clean restraunt with creative seasonal dishes, not expensive and a good wine list.
You will find several markets that are being redone in Madrid and each with its own touch. We took a cab to a new unique one “Mercado de San Anton” located on Augusto Figueroa 24. When you enter on the main floor is a market where you can buy fish or meat then proceed to the 3rd floor at a restaurant called “La Cocina de San Anton”, give them your fish or meat and they will cook it for you and serve it with the sides you choose from their menu. Don’t make the same mistake we did by also buying cheese thinking we could enjoy it with the fish, we were told we could not eat it in their restaurant only on the second floor. later we saw the second floor area that has a selection of specialty tapas type bars and seating where you could enjoy the cheese. One of the places had a full selections of small plates all made using Foie Gras. Back to the hotel for a rest from the heat with a stop at a few shops along the way.
Dinner was thrilling, our friend Maria made us reservations at a new hot spot, soon to get hotter. ” La Tasquita de Enfrente” 915-32-54-49 is a small restaurant located in the red light district of the old city. A couple of weeks ago this chef/owner’s restaurant was reviewed in the Sunday NY times, so if you plan on going make reservations ahead. On Monday nights the chef owner, Juanjo Lopez, cooks for his friends so we were only a few people. Juanjo created a special 5 course meal for us where each dish was more exciting than the next. The perfect grilled fig with an anchovie draped over the top, 3 slim slices of tuna poached in simmering water with a bit of butter. The next table was Jose Andres and his friends sharing a steak that they said was 14 years old. They gave us a taste and it was amazingly tender and the flavor was what you dream a great piece of beef would taste like. The article was all true, visit his web site, Tasquito@yahoo.es.
The next day we felt we needed to have culture, so we bought tickets for a private tour of the Prado. Next we ventured on the hop on hop off bus to see parts of the city that we had not explored. I have done this several times in cities and always learn something new. Of course by now it was time for lunch.
Since we love the opportunity to eat food created by Alolfo in Toledo we wanted to try his new venture into the Madrid restaurant world. Last year Adolfo opened an amazing new place in the old post office in Plaza Cibeles. The restaurant is on the 6th floor overlooking the roundabout. Adolfo’s son, Javier is at the helm and his passion for food is as great as his fathers. Palacio Cibeles offers outside dining and a beautiful restaurant indoors. There is also a huge bar on the deck that is hopping on summer evenings. We ate lunch here two days in a row. I have never had the opportunity to eat Spanish ham the way his master slicer presents each piece. The attention to every detail makes you want to try more dishes. The tempura zucchini flowers were like air and with just a dusting of salt. When the grilled duck liver arrived I thought I could not eat another bite but finished the whole piece and had to save room for their version of breadpudding. firstname.lastname@example.org
If you go to Madrid or Spain just remember if you have dinner before 10 pm you will be the only people in the restaurant. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.