Hello, this is Cookery Editor, Sue, and it seems appropriate that as the cookery feature in the current issue of Woman’s Weekly (2nd July) is “10 Tempting Recipes” that I can tell you a little about my short holiday to Madrid last weekend, where I got to try lots of genuine tapas. I was lucky enough to spend 5 nights at the superb Hotel Atlantico, which is on the Gran Via, one of the main streets in the city centre. It was in a great location which many good restaurants only a short way away. I’d read online before we left that there was a food court at the El Corte Ingles department store which is almost opposite the hotel, and when we arrived in the city my husband was starting to get grumpy and just wanted to eat quickly so we crossed the road and went to the “Gourmet Experience” (as they call it) and had Asian noodles! But from the next day onwards we made an effort to make sure we tried Spanish food.
We started off the day by visiting the Alambique cookstore where there was a cookery class taking place, and the chef had the logo of the World Chocolate Masters on his jacket, so we thought he would be a good person to ask about the patisserie shops in the city, and sure enough he was able to recommend a good one to us. Mama Framboise made a very pleasant afternoon break, and took a little finding as it was tucked away down a back street, but it was worth the search. And the world of patisserie is a small world – back in 2010 I was the Team President for the British Patisserie Team, and when the team competed in the European Pastry Championships in Paris I was one of the judges. There was a video playing in the shop of the production of their pastries and we immediately recognised the owner of the shop as being one of the members of the Spanish team who had produced the most amazing entries in the competition, so when we saw he was responsible for the desserts in the shop we knew they’d be good.
As the name of the tea-rooms was “framboise” I thought it only appropriate that I tried one of their raspberry tarts, which was delicious and was a crisp, rich pastry case filled with a light raspberry mousse and topped with fresh raspberries.
We asked the hotel to recommend a tapas bar and they suggested Mercado de la Reina and as soon as we sat down we were given a plate with some potato salad and green olives in a garlic marinade. Apparently the tradition in tapas bars is that you usually get one complimentary tapas for each alcoholic drink that you purchase, and these are usually selected for you, rather than you choosing them.
And the drink that I enjoyed at each restaurant we went to was Sangria. Whilst cocktails always seem to me to be expensive in Britain, over there, in most restaurants, it was cheaper to order a sangria than have a soft drink. I don’t think it was very alcoholic as it was very fruity, and served over ice, it was a very refreshing drink.
My favourite tapas was the fried calamri served in a mini baguette-shaped roll with garlic mayonnaise, so next time we publish a tapas feature I’m sure I’ll be experimenting to produce a version of this.
After having some tapas, the next meal out we wanted to have some Paella, so again we asked at the hotel for a recommendation for a restaurant to try (although the concierge did say that nowhere in Madrid makes paella as well as his mother does!) We chose the “mixed” paella, which had both fish and meat. I’m convinced that the meat was rabbit, although the waiter apparently said it was chicken. It was very nice, but I’m sure our Woman’s Weekly recipe for Paella is just as good!
On another day we went to the Mercado San Miguel which is a large food market where there were beautiful displays of fresh produce, and a huge number of hams, expecially the Iberico Ham, which is made from pigs which have been fed acorns.
There were also lots of fresh fruits, including cherries – which is what our cookery feature is going to be all about in Woman’s Weekly next week. I was almost tempted to bring home some cherries to cook some of next week’s recipes again, but we enjoyed them so much that we ate all the ones we bought while we were still over there.
Whilst in the market another thing that we wanted to try were the Churros, which are like a Spanish piped doughnut which is fried and then served with hot chocolate or chocoalte sauce. I think that they are something that need to be eaten as soon as they are cooked, which is what we could do in the market, and it gave us the energy to continue on to the next food stop (a few minutes later).
Now we’re home it’s time to plan the next food adventure!