Just back from a wonderful 10 day trip to various locations in Spain. Per our itinerary we ate our way through some very good food. Below are some brief observations and recommendations based on what we liked.
1) Malacatin (cocido Madrileno, Madrid)
We started in Madrid and eased our way into some cocido Madrileno at Malacatin: www.malacatin.com while everyone has their favorite, oldest, best cocido restaurant for us Malacatin is a perfect combination of charm, service, and just some delicious (albeit abundant) food.
2) Sasha (Spanish bistro, Madrid)
Sasha is a neighborhood bistro but one that puts out exceptional comfort food that is executed to perfection. The menu changes regularly but a staple of said menu is their incredible bone marrow which is served in a rich dark jus with a side of beautifully marbled beef. All dishes we tried here were simple but soul satisfyingly good.
We headed out of town to visit some vineyards north of Madrid in Toro and stopped for lunch outside of Valladolid in Tudelo del Duero.
TUDELO DEL DUERO
1) Zurita (Asador, Tudelo del Duero)
Restaurante Zurita is an asador or roaster which specializes in lechazo or baby lamb (http://asadorzurita.com) All of the ingredients are locally sourced including the incredible white asparagus which were in prime season. On our visit we arrived promptly for our 2pm reservation and of course were the only ones in the dining room until it filled at 3:30pm. No matter we had a fantastic meal and the simply prepared ingredients (only adorned with salt and very fresh very green olive oil) were as good as could be.
1) If you have the time and want to see an old bodega make your way to Toro and visit A. Velasco E Hijos. We sampled 3 of their red offerings, all Tinto de Toro (Tempranillo) and enjoyed them very much. One of the proprietors gave us a tour of their “wine museum” which up until 1998 was where they made all of their wine until they modernized their process and started distributing throughout Spain and New York. www.bodegasvelascoehijos.com/
After a few more days in Madrid we headed north to Pais Vasco and San Sebastian. We had decided not to go for the Michelin stars but rather go on our own camino of Txikiteo.
1) Cuchara San Telmo (Pintxos, San Sebastian – Parte Vieja)
We were a little worried when the older Danish couple in matching windbreakers and guidebooks were a few paces ahead of us and looking for the same place. Alas the place was packed with locals and tourists alike in this convivial spot. We learned quickly that unlike in Madrid in San Sebastian to go out for Pintxos or Tapas can be a full contact sport. In this way Madrid seemed more genteel though slightly boring in comparison. We ordered and ate very well here: puplo, queso de cabra, the best scallop of my life, and many other all washed down by canas and txakoli.
2) After we went to Borda Berri, also pretty good and Fuego Negro. Fuego Negro was a lot of fun and a totally unique experience compared to the rest of SS pintxos. http://www.afuegonegro.com/
We spent a day in the beautiful town west of SS, Getaria.
1) Elkano (Seafood, Getaria)
Without hyperbole this is by far the best seafood I have ever had (this includes NYC trips to Le Bernadin, Marea, etc.) The restaurant is known for serving whole turbot (rodaballo) which allows the diner to try all parts of the fish and taste their unique characteristics. It was unreal how good the fish was – and the simplicity of the preparation (over charcoal grill) tells you just how special their ingredients are and what good relationships they must have with their fish guys. In addition to the turbot we had the cocochas, and a few other stellar items but the star undoubtedly is the rodaballo.
We took another day trip to Hondarribia, another pretty seaside town for lunch
1) La Hermandad de Pescadores (Seafood, Hondarribia)
A fun communal table seafood place. Sort of a step up from a fish shack with serviceable food. http://www.hermandadpescadores.com/