Aside from Tapas, there is more to Spanish cuisine. I’ve put together a brief guide on our eating adventures to showcase the exquisite food that we had in Madrid.
#1. El Rincon de Esteban
After our mild hangover from the first night in Madrid, we slept in the next day, only to emerge from our hotel room at about 2pm – the magical hour for lunch for most Spaniards.
Headed for some early lunch at El Rincon de Esteban which is famed for its family style ambience and typical Castilian cuisine. Many famed faces have passed through its doors including Tom Cruise and Tennis superstar – Roger Federer.
For starters, we had the complimentary amuse bouche which was the traditional Spanish tortilla – an egg omelette stuffed with fried potatoes. I wasn’t feeling too hungry, the pounding headache was enough for me to deal with. So, we ordered the Spanish omelette with pine nuts and blood pudding. A little funky but I kinda enjoyed it for it was very savory, just what I needed to get my taste-buds in order.
Before our mains come, we were served with this iced-berry sorbet that was laced with strong alcohol that I could smell when it was placed in front of me. Oh, I really can’t do this right now, but we didn’t want to appear to be rude so I took a modest spoonful of the sorbet.
The Man was famished (as usual) so he ordered himself a hearty steak, while I went with a Seafood soup that tasted rather Asian (kinda Assam – tangy) with bits of assorted fish and clams in it.
After his steak, the Man proudly declared that he has gotten over in mild hangover. While yours truly was still clutching my temples, wondering what went wrong the night before. An order of the super-sweet Apple pie sure didn’t jolt me out of hangover-dom, but that mint tea did do wonders.
A lovely lunch combined with very friendly and attentive service. I just wished that I was in a better mood to enjoy more of the menu offerings.
El Rincon de Esteban
Address: 3 Santa Catalina, Madrid, Spain
Telephone: 91 429 92 89
#2. Restaurant La Paella
Me thinks that our trip to Spain would not be complete without having a taste of Jamón ibérico ham and Paella. This home-styled restaurant, recommended by our affable concierge host, is just a stone-throw’s away from our hotel. Location was of course ideal for our famished and growling tummies that needed to refuel before our shopping adventure.
There are three widely-known types of paella: Valencian paella, Seafood paella (Spanish: paella de marisco) and Mixed paella. Valencian paella consists of white rice, green vegetables, meat (rabbit, chicken, duck), land snails, beans and seasoning. Seafood paella replaces meat and snails with seafood and omits beans and green vegetables. Mixed paella is a free-style combination of meat, seafood, vegetables and sometimes beans. Other key ingredients include saffron and olive oil.
As soon as the hot pan of Seafood paella was put before us, we tucked in and polished off the yummy dish. No words were exchanged, just need to fill our tummies fast with the delicious saffron rice and the accompanying seafood plus generous servings of chunk-sized chicken bits. Indeed, a very satisfying lunch that put us in a very good mood.
Restaurante La Paella
Address: 39 Calle De La Reina, 28004 Madrid
Telephone: 91 531 18 85
#3. La Bola Taberna
A recommendation from Time Out magazine and the Walking Madrid guide, we decided to try a different sort of Castilian cuisine. La Bola Taberna is a classic Madrid restaurant is considered by many to be the home of Cocido Madrileños, the huge and hearty stew beloved of Madrileños.
It’s bright red exterior greeted us and a quick look at its door included accolades from the Michelin Guide, I guess we’re in the right place then. La Bola is still run by the same family that founded it in the 19th century, and the Cocido (which is only served at lunchtime) is still cooked traditionally in earthenware pots on a wood fire.
Interestingly, the cocido madrileno is eaten in two parts: first, a warm noodle soup, followed by chickpeas with vegetables, meat and cured meats.
The chick-peas I enjoyed very much for it reminded me of Kachang Puteh (Roasted and salted or sweetened peas, peanuts and other beans or nuts eaten as snacks, traditionally sold wrapped in paper cones). A simple taste that evoked memories of home.
Come by and try the famed speciality – Cocido Madrileños – at least once during your stay in Madrid. Best enjoyed on a cold day.
La Bola Taberna
Address: Caella Bola 5, 28013 Madrid
Telephone: 91 547 69 30