Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Northern Spain Wrap Up: Madrid

Trip date: November 2015

Northern Spain Trip Day 10

The four-hour drive from Lograño to Madrid was pleasantly uneventful. We made a quick stop about 1/2 way at a highway rest stop; in Europe these have restaurants, shops, gas, etc. 

Our driver Antonio calculated that we had driven 3000 kilometers/ 1864 miles over the course of the 10-day trip! He was really the best!

We checked into the NH Madrid Paseo Prado which is in an excellent location but needs to update their rooms. Judy and my room was large with a sunken living room and shag carpet, and black marble bathroom! Chica-bow!

We loaded in our van for one last ride as Antonio dropped us off at Botin for lunch and we said our goodbyes to him. 

Botin is known as one of the oldest continuously running restaurants in the world (and of course Hemingway ate there). They are also known for their suckling pig. This was my 3rd time eating at Botin, every time has been fun and the pig is always good. I had better wine at this meal however!

After lunch we walked through the main streets of Madrid, most of our group hadn't been before and they would only have this day. Judy and I were staying an extra night and had our own plans for the following days so we happily followed along. 

Gerry took us into Lhardy, which is a really traditional old-school restaurant. He showed us how in the front room you can just stop in for a little break, serve yourself from the collections of wine, port, sherry, etc. and also serve yourself some hot broth from the gorgeous silver urn. There's also a little shop with lots of delicious items to take home. I've gotta stop back in here on my next trip!

That evening, Judy and I went and had big delicious gintonics at the Hotel Urban before meeting the group. The service has gone down a bit since I was last here but the bartender still made us delicious and gorgeous drinks and treated us to a few little apero snacks.

We then met everyone for drinks and beautiful appetizers on the rooftop bar at the Palacio de Cibeles where the chef sat with us and chatted about food, drinks, and Madrid. It was a super fun and lively way to start the evening. And it is an absolutely beautiful building with great views.  

For our last dinner as a group we walked over to Casa Lucio for an old school dinner of jamon, boquerones, padron peppers, mushrooms with raw egg yolks, a Spanish style scampi, and an absolutely delicious rice pudding. And wine. And pacharan. As we do. 
The owner, Lucio Blázquez, was the star of his own show, greeting tables of regulars as well as those he had never met, making everyone feel as if they had all know each other for ages. It was a very fun last dinner. 

The next morning, Beth & John left to catch their flights home while Judy, George, Anne, Sheldon, Robin and I had a private tour of the Prado that Gerry arranged. It was so great to have such a passionate guide show us some of the highlights of this massive museum. 

Photos aren't allowed in the Prado so I can't point out all the sexy things going on in The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch, or how time is taking its toll on a large equestrian painting and you can now see a shadow of where the horse's leg was originally painted, or the nightmare inducing effects of Goya's Satan Devouring His Child. So you'll just have to go and get a private guide yourself!

Now it was time for Judy and I to say goodbye to the others. We spent the rest of our afternoon lazily enjoying lunch and wine in Plaza Santa Ana, window shopping for capes, actually shopping for jamon at Enrique Tomas, and just generally wandering around. 

That evening we stopped into Le Venencia for sherry as the locals do. It's old school and inexpensive, and there are always a few characters bellied up to the bar to talk to. 

From here we made our way to Mercato San Miguel to have dinner by grazing the assortment of market stalls. The food we had didn't seem to be as high of quality as in the past but I was greeted by this mobile wine merchant so it wasn't a complete loss!

And don't get me wrong, we had some nice bites as well!
We decided that dessert was to be churros and chocolate at the very famous San Gines. Thankfully this place still rocks!
And we wrapped up our excellent day with gintonics at our hotel bar.

Day 11 for Judy and I, our own private tour if you will, started out with more chocolate and churros at Chocolat. I mean, why not? It was our last day!

And it was an absolutely gorgeous November day so we took advantage of the weather and walked all over Retiro Park. There were boaters, buskers, and even a beer in the sunshine for me. Such a great way to spend an afternoon!

For lunch Judy and I had reservations at Malacatin, recommended to me by one of my chef friends. This tavern dating from 1895 is known for their Cocido, or chickpea stew. 

We arrived and were seated in a big wooden booth, walls crowded with photos of matadors all around us. Then the stew, consisting of 14 individual items, started to arrive. Holy hell this meal was amazing! Luckily they warned us not to eat too much in the beginning!

From their website (English translations) here is what you get: Noodle Soup, Fatty Salt Pork for dipping, The Mercy of the Cabbage and Dried Ham Broth, Dried Ham Casserole, The Charm of the Castilian Chickpea, The Brave Hen Plucked to the Pot, The Serious Boiled Potato, The Spicy Chillies, The Juicy Pieces of Shank of Beef, The Gherkins in Vinegar, The Bizarre Chorizo of León, The Tasty Spring Onions, The Extreme Black Pudding of Extremadura, The Lack of Water from Lozoya. 
Hysterical! Delicious! I couldn't even get it all in my photo!

We then took the advice from another chef friend of mine and rolled to a hammam for a long soak, scrub, and massage. Ahhhhhhhh!

On our stroll the day before we had come across the Palace Hotel and their beautiful Rotunda Room. We decided to have a cocktail in the bar just off the room, the 1912 Museo Bar. Home to a collection of historical photos and curios from famous clients (Hemingway drank here! ha!) the bar feels very exclusive. We ordered gintonics for 25Euro each which came with no garnish! One and done!

Still pretty full from our epic lunch we decided to have a small bite at Taberna La Dolores in Plaza Jesus. This was an excellent neighborhood spot, we were the only foreigners, and we had house vermouth, jamon, matrimonials (cured and uncured anchovies), and chips. Perfect.

One last gintonic nightcap in our hotel bar, some sitting on the suitcase kind of packing, and the next morning we shared a 30-minute taxi to the airport for 30Euros. 

If you are interested in tours like this please take a look at my friend's Facebook Page for upcoming itineries. I guarantee they will always be delicious!

All Madrid photos here
Other posts on this trip:
Northern Spain Food & Wine Tour
Shellfish & Grapes in Galicia
On the Move in Galicia
Shooting Sidra in Asturias
Beef and Basque

Seafood All Around San Sebastian
One Night Only, Logroño!

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