Food, wine, travel, music
It’s hard to beat being shown around by someone who has lived in a city for years. A visit to Madrid in May of last year to visit my friend Maria Antonia Fernandez Daza revealed a few spots worth sharing. A wine consultant, she was good company for a round of tapas and good wines, but she know exactly what’s what when it comes to food too. It was late May and the streets were littered with life sized shoes to emphasize the new Sunday shopping facility. Brightly coloured, they were works of art, stylish, exciting and photogenic. In the sunshine the city was alive and pulsating, yet with little traffic noise. It was difficult to believe the country was in any from of recession with the buzz of chatting in small streets echoing up and over the rooftops. As usual the city comes alive after 10pm. Only the tourists want to eat earlier. And as usual the tapas bars are filled with mixes of all ages. Black is still the style colour for the young and beautiful, with glints of gold and silver in jewellery.
“The San Miguel market is expensive now,” she said. It was obvious that the tourism industry built up around this wonderful collection of local foods had overpriced itself for discerning locals who instead now go to the more contemporary, clean line designs of Mercado de San Anton at Calle Augusta Figueroa. It’s central, located near Chueca underground station. Go there to buy food to take away and sit in one of Madrid’s many fine parks. From a huge selection of local fish which includes sardines, monkfish, salted cod (bacalau), squid and various blue fin fish. You can even buy Irish oysters. Sushi filled with local fish, sit along local tale-away specialities including a huge selection of tapas and larger pinchos, empanadas (filled pastries) and fresh pasta. Buy meat on the first floor of the market at La Finca de Jiménez Barbero. All meat sourced from the farm (finca) 30 minutes from the city – they welcome visitors. You can buy their meat on line too.
Go upstairs to the first floor and dine indoors or out at #La Cocina de San Anton Cinco Jotas 913 300294. You need to book well in advance. Indoors you can overlook the market, or outdoors enjoy the cityscape and some sun.
Upstairs in the restaurant overlooking the streets food is fresh and interesting. On the table was a spray container of liquid salt – a first for me. A quick squirt gives a light saltiness instead of chunks. I bought a bottle of it downstairs at one of the stalls – at €13 not cheap.
Fresh fish was delicious, vegetables sparkling and so good that once I had taken a few photographs, I relaxed and sloughed off any interest in making copious notes and lived for the moment. All I can say is, go there, and be sure to book ahead.
La Manduca de Azagra Sagata 14 tel 91 591 01 12 www.lamanducadeazagra.com. Run by Juan Miguel Sola, this is s stylish restaurant with smart décor and lots of business people with unlimited budgets treated to wines which hit expensive heights. The food is reasonable to upper price range, and included plenty of local specialities such as croquettes, fried fresh anchovies, truffled goat cheese with honey oil, caramelised foie with Pedro Ximénez sherry sauce (superb), apple and salmon pastry , scrambled eggs with garlic, mushrooms and liver, Cardo (thistle, a typical vegetable from Navarra) , and stewed broad beans . The fish was delicious with a choice which included sea bream, monkfish, sea bass, hake , and there were excellent steaks which I had a taste of, baby lamb chops, suckling pig. Desserts (postres) highlights were an iced Turron ( with Pedro Ximénez Sauce and chocolate soufflé with ice cream the highlights. Closed on Sundays and every August
Another night was spent in a wonderfully traditional tapas bar. Casa Patas has great food and a flamenco show which has to be booked in advance. A good range of wine is reasonably priced. Calle Cañizares, 10, Tel: 34 913 690 496 firstname.lastname@example.org.
The obvious galleries to visit are Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, The Prado, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Museo Sorolla, Museo Panteón de Goya and for anyone with an interest in the sea, The naval museum is worth a visit.
Maria Antonia leads tailor-made food and wine tours around Madrid. Contact her at email@example.com.