So, the capital of Spain, an energetic and vibrant city of Almodovar, where every day is a party and people of all ages come together to celebrate life. Madrid also offers a wealth of cuisine from all areas of Spain, so you can quite easily do a tour of Spain without actually leaving the city. However, considering that we are doing the real thing and actually visiting each region in Spain to taste these various specialities, we decided that trying them for the first time in Madrid would be foolish (although we are aware that you can eat extremely well here.) I also have been to Madrid before and dined in such restaurants as Sobrino de Botin, the oldest restaurant in the world specialising in cochinillo (roast suckling pig). Eating here is really one of those one off experiences and going again would be greedy…
So, as we were staying with a madrileño (our university friend, Beto), we decided to take a break from trying regional delicacies and instead have a typical madrileño experience, chain restaurants and all! Obviously, like any capital, Madrid has an immense variety in lifestyle thus I shall not try to generalise our Madrid experience as that which everyone has, particularly as we ended up at a guest list only event with Spanish celebrities… But here is where we found ourselves…
Lateral: A very upmarket tapas restaurant where we turned up straight from the bus thus feeling a bit out of place, our friend being the only male who wasn’t wearing a shirt. However the food was great (solomillo, stuffed green peppers and croquetas) and it was very reasonably priced for the capital city.
Giangrossi: As soon as we arrived and asked for something sweet, Beto got extremely excited about THE place to go to for dulce de leche ice cream. Gala and I are big fans of ice cream, and even more so of the dulce de leche variety, so we had high expectations. Which, I am glad to say, were definitely lived up to. We were very impressed: thick, creamy and full of flavour, unlike some dulce de leche attempts with only a swirl. We loved it!
100 Montaditos: A Spanish chain restaurant with, as it’s name suggests, one hundred fillings in the Spanish mini sandwich. Being a Wednesday it was ‘a pound a piece’… or rather a euro each, therefore we stuffed ourselves for nothing! The only thing we could think of was how on earth England has not taken on this concept… it would go down a storm!
Our second evening we were very privileged to be put on the guest list of the 15th Anniversary Celebration of a very upmarket club ‘Fortuny’. Therefore we had to rustle up some black-tie-suitable outfits from our suitcases (I had to borrow my friend’s mum’s heels!) and we ended up looking rather presentable, if I say so myself! Instead of going out for a gourmet meal in a swanky restaurant we stopped off at quite the opposite… Beto’s after school haunt from his childhood days. This took the form of a tapas bar in a retail park, neon lights and highway in the background. A guy in a suit with a girl in heels either side walking into this kind of place is a rare occasion, so we got some interesting looks. However we had a great, if surreal, time and ate very well. We even tried something new… Gulas. Beto did a wonderful job of describing them as ‘noodles made out of fish paste’ … Delicious! They are actually mock baby eels (the very expensive angulas) made out of pollock fish. Despite our sceptical expectations they were absolutely delicious and I really recommend trying them!
Now for the final meal in Madrid… the main event… one that we will remember forever… we went to the one, the only, delicious and very traditional Spanish… McDonalds! No, surely not?! A gastronomic tour of Spain and you went to McDonalds?! Yes! Now let me explain… In the end, Madrid lay host to the latter part of our food and wine tour… the wine part… or rather, the spirit part! With an open bar at the party, suffice to say we were feeling very sorry for ourselves the following day and the only thing that we were craving was fried chicken. So our friend took us to McDonalds (we never even go in England!) and, always ones to make the most out of an experience, took it up a hill to eat under the stars, a view of the whole of Madrid below us… Yum!
So, a very interesting stop on the gastronomic tour, but we don’t regret one single bit and we had the most wonderful time! Now, back on track to Segovia for roast suckling piglet and then on to the North… I can’t wait! Thank you so much Beto, madrileño party animal through and through!