Plaza Mayor, Madrid
When you come to Madrid you will finally understand why Madrid is the center of Spain. The Puerta del Sol Gate of the Sun is a busy square located in the middle of the city. This is exactly 0 kilometers of the network of Spanish roads. In fact, there is actually a plaque on the square that symbolizes the 0 starting point. It is in Madrid where we start our journey of discovering Spanish food and wine.
Just a few minutes walking distance southwest of the square is another famous structure called Plaza Mayor. Finished in 1619, the impressive sized Plaza is about 420 x 300 ft, surrounded by residential buildings. The Plaza's name has changed several times but finally after the Spanish Civil War, the plaza's name was set in place as Plaza Mayor. The nine entrance ways fashioned with high arches lead you to small side streets to other old parts of Madrid. At each of the entrance ways, you will find cafes that serve food right on the Plaza and small bakeries that make churros. The most famous Churreria is the oldest one that opened in 1894 called San Gines. It is located in a small alley next to Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol
San Miguel Market
Another surprise find just outside the Plaza Mayor is Mercado de San Miguel. This indoor market is located inside a historic building, one of the last remaining iron market hall in Madrid. This place offers a gastronomic taste of the best of Madrid has to offer. Small shops offer fresh, seasonal and traditional foods in a casual setting. Many tourists and locals alike find their way to Mercado de San Miguel for a quick bite or to share gastronomic experiences together. From the typical 1 Euro tapas like salmon with parsley sauce on toast, to baked sea urchin and mini sausages to go, there is something for everyone here. Wet your appetite with some sausage cones, olive skewer with salmon, goat cheese or sardines. Then order a tortilla espana (Spanish omelet) and a glass of Spanish beer which you can enjoy your little feast on a counter. For those a little bit more adventurous, try raw oysters with caviar and Cava (Spanish's Sparkling Wine).
Traditionally, tapas are snacks that are served at bars with a drink as a pre-meal bite or as a casual quick bite over a social conversation. Typically you would order tapas at a busy bar, along with Spanish beer and local wine. They are commonly eaten standing up at the counter, over up turned barrels or small tables. The atmosphere is lively and noisy, often crowded. Tapas can be as simple as a bowl of mixed olives to warm bread with sliced ham or cheese.
Olive Skewer with Manchego Cheese
Pork To Go
Tapa means lid. Which referenced small plates that were used to cover up drinks to keep dust out of drinks. It was a custom for agricultural workers to eat small quantities of food to maintain stamina until the main meal of the day. Of course modern day tapas have evolved into gastronomic creations such as the ones found at Mercado de San Miguel. Common dishes are cod fish, seafood, pork, paella, tuna, calamares and Manchego cheese.Jamon or cured ham that is salted or wind dried is the most common ingredient. It is savoury, buttery and has great flavor and texture. The best type of jamon is the acorn-fed black pigs. Another good tapa dish to order are croquetas. They are bite sized and typically filled with shrimp or cheese, rolled into small balls, breaded with crumbs and fried to a crisp. Another favorite dish is pulpo gallega (octopus), which is flavored with sweet paprika, a specialtiy of Galicia on the Spain's norther west coast. They are often served with soft potatoes, olive oil and finely chopped garlic.
After some tasty delights, take a walk back to the Gran Via, which is the busiest streets in Madrid, filled with shops and locals walking to and from their daily routes. You will see most of the hotels located on Gran Via, however to stay some place a little bit quiet and yet still be close to attractions, we suggest Only You Hotel and Lounge located in the Chueca District. Contemporary setting in an old renovated building adds charm to the hotel, not to mention attention to detail and design. Chueca has many boutique shops on Calle de Fuencarral, a pedestrian walkway that breaks off from Gran Via.
Hopefully this blog has inspired you to visit Spain in the future or to check out some of our Spanish wines.