I just came back from a great lost weekend in Madrid. Left NY on a cold Thursday Night and returned in the midst of the blizzard Monday Eve. Upon settling in at a friends apartment we went out to the Prado for an hour or two. Had to get our culture fix out of the way. Otherwise it interfers w/the real reason I go to Madrid. Eating and drinking, not sleeping either. After the Prado we had a early afternoon Tapa @ O'Paso bar (in Barrio Retiro, a true gem of a neighborhood). A board of Pulpo Gallega and a bottle of the house Ribero. What a way to wake up. Then we went around the corner to TABERNA DEL PUERTO for lunch. Downstairs is a nice looking bar and upstairs is a decent (not great restaurant).Many places in this 'hood have both a seperate bar and restaurant. The best dishs were the Jamon Pata Negra (a day w/out Pata Negra is a crime)and dogfish cubes marinated in Adobe and deepfried. Then we hit another bar or two, who can remember before we took a siesta. Friday night we ate @ Combarro. Combarro is a great Gallego seafood place in Salamanca. Elegent,with perhaps the best fish arounf. We had Merluza(Hake) a Gallega (served in a casserole dish w/oil + Spanish paprika). Wow. Also, started w/2 different versions of Empanada, scallop and tuna. Their empanadas are made so they like like a strudel. Not crescents or full pies as in most places. The wine was the great Albarino Valdemor (sold here also) for $16.00 a bottle. In the stores in Ny it's at least $12-$16.00! It's my fave Albarino by far!
Saturday we all met up @ the food market on Lagasca in Salamanca. There we went to a nondecript bar where our pals knew everyone. This is the place here the food vendors go to unwind after a long day. We all had chatos of vino tinto and what seemed like endless amounts of tapas. All I can remember is 2 different types of tapas both made w/red + green peppers. Very nice.Then we went a couple blocks away to Centro Tiojano for lunch. This is of course a Rioja restaurant. The most outstanding thing there was the morcillia (blood sausage).It was made w/rice like someothers but it also has cinnamon in it! Tasty!Other starters included, fois grois in a dark Rioja(?) sauce, Jamon and...whoops the wine started to kick in. That night we hit 3-4 tapas bars and then some other bars and didnt get home until 5:00am. Viva Madrid!
Suday we started off @ a bar on Goya where we were served a plate consisting of little chunks of roast pork. Normally I dont eat pork (ham yes) but these were super tasty. I've misplaced the name of this bar but I think it's the cut of pork served. All around the bar there were many tasty looking dishes. Then we had lunch at my fave place in Madrid. Asador Fronton on Tirso de Molina for absolutely great, tasty and beefy steaks (chuelton d buey=ox chops). Starters included, Jamon, Hearts of lettuce w/ventrasca(filet of tuna),grilled peppers in olive oil and paprika. The wine was a 10 year old Grand Reserva Rioja Alta, two of them @ $29.00 per. After that some more drinks including Sidra (cider)at an Asturian bar in Retiro and some other places. Sunday night we ate at Arabia a place that specializes in pre reconquest Spanish/Moorish food. Nothing special, but it was open on a Sunday night, which is a tough night in Madrid. Some pointers, the Retiro neighborhood has a bunch of great bars w/good food that are off the tourist and main Tapas trail. Gallego, Asturian, La Mancha etc. It was a pleasure to be in a neighborhhod w/ordinary Madrilenos. Wine is a great value in Madrid, so do as we did, drink the country dry, fight the drys! Do not, Do not leave without trying the Jamon Pata Negra (aka Bellots, Iberico, Jabuego) this is the best ham in the world. Made from wild pigs who feed on acorns. The baove names can also signify different grades or if they are just free range. I still havent figured it all out. I think I'll have to return to do more research.