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The Bag Pipers of Madrid (long)

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The Bag Pipers of Madrid (long)

MORE KASHA (Ivan Stoler) | Feb 24, 2005 08:02 PM

I spent Presidents day weekend in Madrid, Carousing w/pals. Here are the details of my lost weekend.

Friday Afternoon we met up @ the food market on c/Lagasca in Salamanca. Inside there's a little bar w/a back room. I've been there before and love noshing at the bar. This time we sat in the back and took our time. Started w/a great version of caldo Gallego. Rich, flavorful, lots of grelos(greens) and full of life. My main was a ventresca a la plancha/grilled. Ventrasca is a cut of tuna or a tuna steak, nice but nothing special, though the caldo was extra special. While the market closes in mid afternoon, the bar keeps serving.

That night, we stayed in barrio Retiro. A great barrio to eat and hang. No tourists, just locals. Started @ O'Grelo(c/menorca) a gallego seafood restaurant and had our required plate of Jamon Iberico Y Tinto. Then we hit Venta la Hidalgo(41 c/Menorca), a little place that sells food to go and functions as a low key wine bar. Next was O'Grove a neighborhood Gallego bar. Of course we had the pulpo and albarino. While not the best I've had (both) it's a nice neighborhoody sort of place. Also had some percebes(?). It gets kind of blurry here but I do know we finished off @ a bar I've been to before w/a name something like -------blues. They have a nice selction of good "foreign" beers. Whoops, forgot to mention, earlier in the day went to Sampako on c/Orellana 4 and picked up a bunch of chocolate. Haven't tried them yet though, a bar w/cardoman and a whole box of tablets w/different spices.

Saturday was the highlight of my quick romp. Stopped off @ Asquino Gallego bar off Plz mayor for a quick restorative plate of jamon asado and a glass of albarino.This is a nice little bar that surprised me w/how normal, ok and decent it is considering it's spitting distance from Mayor.
We have a tradition of lunch @ Asador Fronton. My fave steak house anywhere (including the overrated places in Buenos Aires + NY). Split a plate of jamon, then a salad w/ventresca(the great stuff in olive oil), and then a bowl of judios(beans not Jewish folks) w/morcillia. Our wine was Pesquera Grand Reserva 94 for about 27 Euros. Of course we all shared the chuleton, mmmmmmmmmmmmm. I love everything about Fronto, including the seedy ambiance in Tirso Molina. That night we met more pals @ an unremarkable bar in retiro then went to a newish restaurant/wine bar called Laredo on c/Menorca. The owner who looks like Roberto Begini had a hot spot called Mitullo that was too small. He closed that place and opened this. We all split some gambas blanca w/sea salt, fresh and tasty, wild mushroom cannelonis(!), and some small clams. All impecable. I had a version of pili pili, which I never had before. Though this was made w/the cheeks of the merluza/hake. The cheeks are a bit gelantinous. Interesting but I love merluza. The owner then picked new style Rioja that was just great, though I can't remember the name. Then we sat there drinking aquadientes. That's why the night before is somewhat of a blur as we had some at the end of Friday night as well. This time I stuck to the clear version while 1 pal had the mountain dew colored version. We finished at least 1 bottle (between 3) and then hit the boracco(drunk)barand closed that.

Sunday we met @ Los Terreznos on Goya in salamanca. This place is a bright, modern, Horn + Hardert style stand up bar. Not a place to go for great, great tapa but very good nontheless. Shared between us was a slice of good tortilla and then the torrezno special, roasted pork chunks. MMMMMM. We walked back to retiro to have a sidra/cider at the Astuian Sideria El Tartiere. Packed to the gils w/madrielinos enjoying their fabes/beans. Of course had the cider and our barman barely missed a dropped while he poured from on high and didn't look at the glass. One day I'm gonna buys lots of rounds for the bartender just so I can get him drunk and then dare him to pour straight! An Asturiano bagpiper entertained us while we consumed. We didn't have the bollos prenados/breaded sausage but they sure looked good as well as all the cabrales they kept passing before our face.

That night we went to La Burbu que Rie, another Asturiano sidera, this time in La Latina. Here they don't do the pouring trick, though they have live bagpipers on Sat + Fri nights. The food is good, filling and inexpensive. Starters were sausages cooked in cider, then french fries w/melted cabrales. We split a big bowl of fabes w/clams,mmmmmmmmmmmm. Oh, there are at least two versions of cider. We always got the natural version at about 6% alcohol. It goes real well w/the cuisine, as it should. Que Rie is popular w/students and families.

If anyone cares, I didn't see another gringo at any of the places we ate or drank.

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