Archive for the Madrid Comunidad Category

Madrid – Street Art

Posted in Madrid, Madrid Comunidad, Spain on February 28, 2016 by gannet39

Not a real reflection at all, just what I saw when I was wandering around, mainly in La Latina and Malasaña.

If you want a better idea of what’s out there, check this Facebook group.

This was my favourite piece.














Madrid – Tapas Bars in Malasaña

Posted in Madrid, Madrid Comunidad, Malasaña (Universidad), Spain with tags , , on February 27, 2016 by gannet39

Malasaña is my next favourite barrio in Madrid, after Chueca. It’s more studenty and hipster whereas Chueca is a mix of avant garde and traditional.

The two neighbourhoods are separated by Calle de Fuencarral. At 78 Calle de Fuencarral you can see the stunning doorway of the Museo de Historia de Madrid,

Barrio map here, Madrid map here.


Here are a couple of my favourite places to eat and drink:

Ojalá (Intermediate A), 1 Calle San Andres,

This is my favourite in the small group of five La Musa hipster bars. I like it because the service is good and the food and drinks are great (fashionable ‘cocina creativa’), plus the basement has been turned into a beach! You can take your shoes off and feel the sand under your feet if that is your inclination.

I had the Banh Mi for €6 which was excellent (A+) even if it was nothing like the original Vietnamese/French fusion sandwich as it was made with soft Chinese-style dumpling dough rather than a baguette.


Like many trendy places in Spain they have an extensive G&T menu. I had the Seagram G&T for €7 and the Martin Miller G&T with cinnamon sticks (pictured) for €9, both excellent (A) and served in glasses the size of goldfish bowls.


Definitely somewhere I will return.

Musa Malasaña (Intermediate A), 18 Calle de Manuela Malasaña,

Another member of the hipster La Musa group, darker, quieter and more romantic than the bustling Ojalá, but still another good spot for ‘cocina creativa’.

To begin I had the Jabali con Alioli de Miel y Sobrasada, or wild boar with honey alioli and raw pork sausage, for €6. It was good (B) but if the website is correct, it’s longer on the menu, perhaps because it’s not particularly pretty to look at.


I was intrigued to know what the Empanadillas Japonesas were (€6) so I took the plunge only to discover that they were normal Gyozas (A) which are fried dumplings filled with pork mince and spring onion.


I also had Berenjas Fritas con Melaza, or deep fried slices of aubergine drizzled with molasses (€3.25) presented in a ceramic chip cone. Love the concept (A+).


I continued my exploration of their G&T menu with a Bulldog G&T for €8 and Tanqueray G&T for €9 (both B).

The soundtrack was a fine selection of House music (A). Service was pleasant again. I’d love to go again, preferably with some company.

Madrid – Chueca – Architecture

Posted in Justicia (Chueca), Madrid, Madrid Comunidad, Spain with tags , , , , on February 26, 2016 by gannet39

There’s not that much to see in terms of Modernisme architecture in Madrid, except for Palacio Longoria on the corner of Calle Fernando VI and Calle Pelayo in Chueca.

It was built in 1902 by the Catalán architect José Grases Riera.


Casa X

I’ve read that it’s the best example of Modernisme in Madrid, a movement more associated with Gaudi and Barcelona.


It currently houses the Spanish General Society of Authors and Editors. Sadly I don’t think it’s open to the public but you can see photos from inside by clicking on this link.

Wall motif

Another building I like is the Casa de los Lagartos at 1 Calle de Mejía Lequerica. On the ground floor it houses the Patrimonio Communal Olivarero olive oil shop mentioned in my Chueca -Food Shops post.


It’s called the Lizard House for obvious reasons. If you look at it from the side you’ll notice that the building is only five metres wide so there are only two flats per floor.


It was designed by Benito González and it’s a very rare example of the Wiener Secession, an Austrian art movement (Klimt was a member), which is characterised by geometric simplicity and symmetrical decoration.

A couple of streets along from Palacio Longoria is Calle San Tome which has some nice residential blocks.


20160514_154925And nearby Teatro Infanta Isabel at 24 Calle del Barquillo has quite an unusual facade.


On the same street on the corner with Calle del Almirante is a nice house with big windows know as ‘balcones cerrados’, or enclosed balconies.


At 2 Calle del General Castaños is the Parroquia de Santa Bárbara although you get a better view of the front from Calle Barbara de Braganza.


And that’s about it for nice architecture in this barrio. I’ll keep looking though.


Madrid – Chueca – Food Shopping

Posted in Centro, Justicia (Chueca), Madrid, Madrid Comunidad, Spain with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 25, 2016 by gannet39

I always like to take a full suitcase home with me and these are my favourite places to stock up on my Spanish ingredients…


The old Mercado de San Anton used to be really quiet with only a handful of unexciting vendors. Now there are several modern artisanal stalls including a fishmonger’s…

Eye eye

…a bacalao seller…

Salt Cod

…and a greengrocer’s.

Mushrooms & Tomatoes

And my favourite…

Octavio (Advanced A), Second Floor, Mercado de San Anton, Calle Augusto Figueroa 24, Tel. 91 593 0241,

They have fantastic Bellota (acorn fed) ham here, some of the best I’ve ever eaten (A+), along with some great Iberico (B), all vacuum packed (‘embassado’) and ready to travel.



From the same stall, I like to get a quarter wheel of Manchego Curado and some Membrillo (quince jelly) to go with it. A lot of other gourmet specialities are available too.

On the next level of the market there are several innovative tapas stalls which are filled with throngs of people every night, making it a great new place to go in the already vibrant Chuecan food scene.

Reserva y Cata, 13 Calle del Conde de Xiquena,

A wine shop specializing in top quality local wines. I’ve always found them very friendly and they’ll let you taste wines if there’s a bottle open.

I usually get a bottle of my favourite red; Juan Gil 12 meses, a Monastrell from the Jumilla DO.

Patrimonio Communal Olivarero, 1 Calle Mejia Lequerica,

A cooperative with a huge selection of olive oils from every region of Spain. Given that Spain is the biggest producer of olive oil in the world and produces more than second place Italy and third place Greece put together, there is a lot to choose from (over 150 brands).

A lot of the oil here is available in two or five litre cans but most of it comes in litre or half litre bottles, and there are also presentation packs with several varieties of strange shaped bottles which would make nice presents.

Most brands proclaim their oil is made using artisanal methods, in particular first cold pressed cold-extraction. Prices range from €3 to €30 for 500 ml.

The shelves in the shop correspond to the regions the oils are from, but you also need to know your olive varieties and which ones you like. Here are some of the most common types:

Arbequina is very common and is grown in Aragon and Catalonia. The olives are small and are also good for eating.
Cornicabra is from Toledo and makes up 12% of Spanish production.
Empeltre, grown in Aragon and the Balearics, is also good for eating.
Hojiblanca, my favourite, is from Cordoba and is famed for its slightly bitter taste.
Manzanillo or Manzanilla aka ‘little apples’, is from Seville. It’s a prolific bearer of larger fruit and is grown worldwide.
Picual from Jaen has strong but sweet fruit. It’s good for eating and is responsible for 50% of Spanish production and 20% worldwide.

I got some bitter cloudy (unfiltered) Hojiblanca ‘Cortijo la Muralla’ from Ruen in Cordoba which was delicious drizzled on good bread.

Cortijo la Muralla







The building it’s in is called the Casa de los Lagartos. If you look up at the roof you’ll see why. After you’ve seen this next place you could pop down the road to see Palacio Longoria on the corner of Calle Fernando VI and Calle Pelayo. Architecture post here.


La Duquesita, 2 Calle de Fernando VI,

This picturesque pasteleria is just a few doors down from the olive oil shop above.

La Duquesita shopfront


The Little Duchess

‘The Little Duchess’ has been selling great cakes and chocolates and other baked goods, since 1914.

La Duquesita display

The staff are very friendly and will let you take pictures inside when asked.

La Duquesita counter

Several scenes from Spanish period movies have been shot in here.

Horno San Onofre, 9 Calle de Hortaleza,

An old bakery famous for selling Roscón de Reyes, the traditional cake served on Epiphany (the twelfth day of Christmas.


Their window displays of unusual breads are quite photogenic.


La Vieja Castilla, 3 Calle Gravina,

A cool little deli where they often have food and wine samples for customers to try.

Cacao Sampaka, Calle Orellana,

This modern shop is a gourmet chocolateria with a big selection of flavor combinations that I find very difficult to resist. Their café is supposed to be good too according to Lonely Planet.

Poncelet, 27 Calle Argensola,

A cheese shop with more than 300 varieties of cheese, over 80 of which are Spanish. This is a rival for La Boulette in the Mercado de la Paz in Barrio Salamanca which also has over 300 cheeses in its range. Open from 10.30 Monday to Saturday.

Aldaba, 4 Calle Belén

A homewares shop with a big selection of kitchenalia. I always find something to add to my collection.

Isolée, 19 Calle Infantas,

This is a very cool deli, clothes and home wares shop. I have to stay away from here or I’ll blow all my wages.

Not food related I know but while we’re on clothes Calle Fuencarrel has lots of fashion stores. In particular I like Mercado de Fuencarrel, which has several great little shops stocking independent designers. I also drop in to Carhartt at 3 Calle Augusto Figueroa nearby.

Madrid – Chueca – International Restaurants

Posted in Centro, Justicia (Chueca), Madrid, Madrid Comunidad, Spain with tags , , , on February 24, 2016 by gannet39

Zara (Intermediate A), 8 Calle Barbieri,

This longstanding Cuban restaurant is another favourite of mine. It’s quite kitsch with gingham tablecloths and dated decor but don’t let this put you off, the food is great. The proprietor is a lovely woman who speaks some English and will give you good recommendations.

The three of us shared a plain avocado and raw onion salad to start, along with runner beans and ham (B+).

We had our starters with daiquiris, of which the plain and banana flavours were great (A), though not really the synthetic tasting strawberry (C+).

My roast pork with black beans and rice was really good as was my friend’s ‘ropa viejo’ (which translates as ‘old clothes’) aka shredded beef, also with beans and rice (both B+).

The winner however was the calves liver and onions (A).

Roast banana sounds like it could be dessert but it’s actually a side dish. It tasted really nice too (A).

Our Valdepenas red ‘Senorio de los Llanos’ (A) made a nice change from rioja.

The bill came to about €25 each, great value. You shouldn’t need to reserve if you get there early but it will be full by 10pm.

This review was written in 2011 at the old Calle Infantas address. I haven’t been to the new location on Calle Barbieri yet.


Al Jayma – Cocina del Desierto (Intermediate A-), 1 Calle Barbieri, Tel. 91 523 1142,

Very popular and good value-for-money Moroccan restaurant with a nice ambience. You can sit on floor cushions or around tray topped tables. The service is ok although the woman who runs it could try to smile a bit more.

To start we had an unmixed carrot and yogurt salad which was quite plain but very generous (B) and tabule (A) which was great.

There are several couscous dishes on the menu but we went for the tajin selection. My Tayin de Pollo con Limon was excellent (A) but my companion was a little disappointed with her Tayin de Cordero (B) which had too many prunes and no dried apricots.

The Montepardo Tempranillo red we had was also very good (B+) at only €8.40 a bottle.

Our bill came to a paltry €18 each. Perhaps for this reason they are always busy so make sure you reserve to avoid disappointment, or get there at exactly 8.30 when they open and you may be lucky.

Baco y Beto (Intermediate C), 24 Calle Pelayo,

Suggested by the Guardian for their internationally (Cuban, Costa Rican, Catalonian, Canarian and Italian) influenced cocina creativa, but I was sadly disappointed.

The recommended patacónes (green plantain puff pastry tarts filled with avocado and served with mashed beans and cheese) that had attracted me were no longer on the menu, at least when I went at lunchtime.

Media of Setas Rebozadas con Salsa de Trufa, breaded wild mushrooms with truffle sauce. The mushrooms were tasteless and the sauce did nothing for me (C).


Cordero Confitado Sobre con Patacón banado con una Crema de Cilantro y Curry, or confit of lamb with fried green plantain and ‘bathed’ with coriander and curry sauce, was equally uninspiring (C).


Glass of Ribera del Duero and one of Madrid brought it to €25.

Maybe I made bad choices, or maybe the kitchen had a bad day, either way I won’t be back.

Visited 2016, pics uploaded Feb 2017.

The Taj Mahal (Intermediate B), 12 Calle Belen

This Indian restaurant is okay if you really need a change, although I dislike the seeds they put in their papads, and their Chicken Madras lacks depth of flavour.

There must be somewhere better for spice lovers…

More Chueca restaurants:

Traditional Madrileno restaurants here.

Traditional Spanish regional restaurants here.

Modern Spanish restaurants here.

Bars and cafes here.

Food shops here.

Google map with everything on here.

Madrid – Chueca – modern Spanish restaurants

Posted in Centro, Justicia (Chueca), Madrid, Madrid Comunidad, Spain with tags , , , , , , , on February 23, 2016 by gannet39

cociAs you’d expect in trendy Chueca, there are plenty of modern Spanish restaurants.

Olé Lola (Intermediate A), 28 Calle San Mateo,

This is the kind of place I’d open myself if I had the money.

The décor is best described as modern baroque. The vibe is classy meets casual. I love the dark reds used for the lightbox and the comfy velvet sofas. I have another existence as a party promoter and I use the same colours for my décor.

The soundtrack was pretty cool too; from Young Disciples to Purple Rain.

The service I received was friendly and efficient and the food was modern and tasty ‘cocina creativa’.

Their ‘Huerto Brasa’ grilled veg was very good (B+).


And I enjoyed their sliders, especially the Chicken and Foie in a black bun (A) but also the Wagyu beef burger in the white bun (B+), both of which tasted great when dipped in the German mustard dotted on the slate.


They even had one of my favourite Spanish reds; Habla del Silencio (A). It was as it they’d seen me coming.


A bit expensive (€3.50 for the glass of wine) but definitely a place I’d love to return to.

Gastromaquia (Intermediate A), 8 Calle Pelayo, Tel.91 522 64 13,

This is a great little place with bright modern decor and efficient service. The food is especially good value at lunch times.


For the €13.90 Menu del Dia I had the wonderful Sopa Fria de Remalacha (chilled beetroot soup) (A+)…

Chilled Beetroot soup

…followed by Tigres (mussel shells stuffed with breadcrumbs and fried) (A).


The final dessert option, Crema de Curry con Espuma de Chocolate y Helado de Vanilla, was vanilla ice cream with a swirl of chocolate mousse and a sauce of egg yolk and curry spices; inspiring and delicious (A+).

Paxaran & de & dessert

To drink I had two glasses of lovely Verdejo and a Patxaran with lots of ice with the dessert. Bliss.

On another occasion in the evening I had Papas (baby potatoes on skewers with a chilli dipping sauce), Ensalada di Entresca (belly tuna on a bed of radicchio and other salad dressed with a balsamic reduction) (A+) and Pincho de Secreto (a spit of small chunks of marinated pork) (B), three glasses wine and a dessert (forgotten!) for €33.35.

This is slightly pricey for tapas but their ideas are innovative and interesting and have very tasty results. Definitely somewhere to check out on a regular basis.

Celso y Manolo (Intermediate B+), 1 Calle Libertad,

A new place (in 2016) that gets lots of rave reviews. Ethel and I enjoyed it but felt it didn’t quite live up to the hype.

The table we we had reserved was quite small and generally the place felt a bit cramped when it was busy. Our service was a bit dim and not particularly friendly. Refreshingly though they open at 19.30  every evening. Video here.

If I remember correctly the standout was the Arroz Campero (A).


A dish they are very proud of is the Chuleton de Tomate de Huesca con 6 Cosas Ricas, or beefsteak tomatoes from Huesca with with six nice things (avocado, mango, papaya, cucumber, red onion, coriander) and olive oil (B+).


The Croquetas de Bacalao, cod croquettes with pine nuts and raisins are fine (B).



Another star dish is their Taquitos de Venado con Salsa de Frambuesas y Arándanos; discs of venison loin served with a raspberry and cranberry sauce and a potato puree which made a nice change (B+). The recipe is at 6.59 in this video.


To drink; the Ribera del Duero from Hacienda Solano was okay (B).


€60 for two was fair enough. Modern, bright, innovative. I’d go again.

La Cocina de San Antón (Intermediate B), 24 Calle Augusto Figeroa,

This is a restaurant on the top floor of Mercado de San Antón, the refurbished market in Chueca. It’s a good location with lots of seating inside and a coveted terrace overlooking the street.
I had the Menu del Dia for €14 which involved a spinach, orange and pork salad starter (B)…


… followed by some more pork steaks with potatoes (B).


I had glasses of the Señorío del Cid Roble for €3 and the Viña Monty Crianza €3.20 both of which were fine (B).

The bar manager and bartender outside find it hard to crack a smile but the rest of the staff were nice enough. Notwithstanding the average food and mediocre service, the terrace is a good spot to come on a sunny day or a warm evening.

Mercado San Ildefonso (Elementary B), 57 Calle Fuencarral,

This ‘street market’ is actually a trendy food court which is currently becoming the fashion in the UK as well. Basically there are about a dozen vendors in small stalls around a central area with tables and a bar at one end. The bar charges €3 for a doble of Mahou which is about average.

At La Croquetterie I tried the Langostino, Queso, Jamon and Pollo croquettes which were all fine if unexciting (B). However the Boletus was excellent (A) and this is now my favourite filling. Really need to learn how to make these. I paid €8 for six croquettes.


At Bovinus I had an excellent steak (B+) which was sliced up tagliata style. The vendor told me the meat was from the north of Italy rather than Spain, which is interesting because at the time of writing the UK is going mad for aged beef from Galicia. The grass is always greener…


And a place to avoid:

Bazaar (Intermediate C), 21 Calle Libertad, Tel. 91 523 1505,

A nice looking place that’s amazingly cheap but best avoided if you like good grub. I have eaten here and was impressed by how low the bill was but not the food. I still remember finding an alien item in one mouthful, which impresssed me in the wrong way. The same applies here as in my review for La Finca de Susana, another member of the same chain, in my Plaza de Canalejas post.

More Chueca restaurants:

Traditional Madrileño restaurants here.

Traditional Spanish regional restaurants here.

International restaurants here.

Tapas bars and cervecerias here.

Food shops here.

Google map with everything on here.

Photos from April 2011 and February 2016.

Madrid – Chueca – traditional regional restaurants

Posted in Centro, Justicia (Chueca), Madrid, Madrid Comunidad, Spain with tags , , , on February 22, 2016 by gannet39

As befits a capital city, there are heaps of great regional restaurants in Madrid, particularly in Chueca. This first one is my favourite.

Ribeira do Miño (Intermediate A+), 1 Calle Santa Brigada, Tel. 91 521 9854, Metro Tribunal, GEM ALERT!

If you only go to one of my recommendations, make it this Galician marisqueira, a superlative seafood experience I try not to miss whenever I’m in town. It’s very popular so it’s best to book ahead (specify the back room).

First impressions might not be good as it’s located on a dodgy-looking graffiti-daubed side street, which only makes the experience even more special as far as I’m concerned.

Walk through the heaving tapas bar at the front, past the bustling kitchen serving hatches and you’ll find more rooms at the back.

The walls are simply decorated with nets and floats on a nautical theme. Signs prohibit singing (‘prohibo cantar!’).

The first thing you will notice are the large silver trays of seafood being ferried around by the friendly, welcoming waiters. The biggest trays carry the house signature dish, the Mariscada Especial.


This involves several kinds of seafood stacked up high on top of each other. First there’s a top layer of langoustines followed by two kinds of prawns, both large and small varieties.

Also percebes (goose barnacles, an acquired taste for Brits but very tasty when persevered with) and two kinds of crab. The crab claws have been dismembered for you and so are easily dealt with using a nutcracker. However the head shells, filled with a murky soup of brawn, are only for the brave!

You can get the mariscada in two sizes, for two or four people, at a cost of around €15 per head. I like to order the smaller size even if there’s four of us, and then get an extra order of prawns as well.

Rack em up

On the table there is also a big bowl of allioli, lemon quarters and half a loaf of good white bread cut into hunks. I’m half Norwegian on my mum’s side and my family eat prawns with similar accompaniments.

Another good side dish is Almejas al Vapor. They also offer them ‘a la marinera’ (sailor’s style with onion, garlic, paprika and parsley) but I don’t think they’re quite as nice. The clams should be sucked straight from the shells and the delicious broth dabbed up with bread.


Other good side orders are their grilled Pimientos de Padron, smoky grilled green peppers which are famous all over Spain but are particularly good here. They’re usually quite mild although watch out for the odd spicy renegade!

Pimientos  de Guernika

The tuna salad and the patatas fritas are good choices too.

To drink, the Galician Albariño white is the natural choice to go with seafood. I recommend the wonderful Vina Sobreira from the Rias Baixas DO.

David and Nicky

A spectacular end to the meal is the Quiemada, where a brass cauldron filled with burning Orujo (a Galician liquor made from pomace, like grappa) is placed on the table and you are given a metal ladle to stir in a big scoop of sugar.


The waiters can show you how to ladle the flaming liquid from on high so the blue flames shoot through the air on the way back to the bowl, only slightly singeing the table cloths if they splash over the edge. Couldn’t imagine Health & Safety allowing this in the UK!

Fire Guy

After several minutes of ladling, a waiter pours a kettle of coffee into the bowl, the flames slowly go out and the concoction is ready to drink.

If you still have space, the assorted cream cake selection is the natural choice for a group but a good option for one, if your co-diners are wimping out, is the pancakes flambéed in orujo. Generally though the desserts are nice but not amazing.

You’ll also receive a complementary glass of Orujo des Hierbas, a tasty yellow herbal version of the aguardente, to go with your sweet.


Anyway, rest assured, you’re not going anywhere fast after this lot. Good food in a great atmosphere, please don’t miss it!

Extremadura (Intermediate A-), 13 Calle Libertad, Tel. 91 531 82 22

Being overexcited on my first night in Spain for a while, I made the mistake of having a plate of pork and dairy products elsewhere before I came here, so sadly I was too full to appreciate the good food properly.


After a complementary amuse bouche of duck pate with a tasty salad of cabbage, spring onion and oregano (oh why did I do it), I had the starter proper, Migas de Pastor, a dish invented by shepherds for using up old bread.

Here it’s a combination of breadcrumbs, capsicums and small chunks of chorizo, garnished with grape halves. Unfortunately, while the dish was totally delicious (B+) it would have fed several shepherds and was way too much for me.


For my main I had Sollomillo de Cerdo Iberico a la Torta del Cesar (fillet of acorn-fed pork with a small grilled sheep’s cheese) which again was way too much for me and I couldn’t make much headway.


The wine was great though, a 2009 Tempranillo/Syrah/Cabernet Sauvignon blend called ‘Habla del Silencio’ from Bodegas Habla.

Habla del Silencio

I was also given an acorn schnapps which had an interesting acorny taste but wasn’t something you’d want to drink a lot of.

Acorn schnapps

The service was good. Ana the friendly sommelier even gave me some tickets to ‘Salón de Gourmets’ a food trade show at the Feria de Madrid. I also had a pleasant chat with the piano player who spoke English quite well.

I’d definitely go again but with an empty stomach next time.

Bocaito (Intermediate B), 6 Calle Libertad, Tel. 915 321 219,

A famous (since 1966) formal Andalucian restaurant mentioned in many guides and with a heavily bestickered front door (Michelin, Rough Guide etc).

The decor is quaint with lots of ceramics, bull fighting pictures and other trappings from Andalusia. The tapas bar is particularly attractive.


I had the Escalope de Ternera (veal a la Milanaise, or Wiener schnitzel depending on your affiliation), with chips.


To drink a Crianza Rioja called Añares.


For dessert a tasty flan (caramel pud).


And a glass of ‘Los Raigones’ Pedro Ximenez dessert wine.


The service was efficient but humourless, despite my strenuous attempts to get a smile out of them.

The food and drink was fine but I don’t think it’s good value for money. Nearby Casa Salvador is cheaper and more atmospheric (see previous post).

La Paella de la Reina, 39 Calle de la Reina, Tel. 91 531 1885,

‘The best place for authentic Paella Valenciana’ according to a travel guide that I’d read when I first came to Madrid in 2001. It’s still going so I’m sure its reputation is deserved.

I recall that the rabbit and snail version I had was very good but again too much for one, you really need to take a companion to help you.

Rabbit and snail was the original paella recipe as it used ingredients readily at hand for the workers in the rice fields.

More Chueca restaurants:

Traditional Madrileño restaurants here.

Modern Spanish restaurants here.

International restaurants here.

Bars and cafes here.

Food shops here.

Google map with everything on here.

Photos from April 2011.

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