Category Archives: food

Morcilla de Burgos

Just found this great post (also on a wordpress blog) about one of my favourite tapas dishes – Morcilla. The blog also has a good page on tapas bars in central Madrid.

I do recommend you try Morcilla de Burgos – even if you think you don’t like black pudding. It’s delish and goes well with a cold beer.

Mahou versus Cruzcampo

Madrid’s own beer is called Mahou – and it’s bloody brilliant. At least, one form of it is, as there are three basic types and a shandy version:

Mahou Clásica – the original version lager, which is cheap and horrible
Mahou Negra – which is a dark ale
Mahou Mixta – a lemony shandy, only recently introduced to the market
Mahou 5 Estrellas (5 Stars – pictured below) – a 5.5%abv lager

Now, your beer snobs will tell you that Mahou is just a basic pilsner and will use pejoratives like “inoffensive – bland – gassy – insipid” etc., but that’s because beer snobs are fat, North European losers who only mix with other people at CAMRA conventions. To really appreciate the brilliance of Mahou you need to drink it in ice cold cans on a typical sunny Madrid day with your mates. Then its true genius comes out, because it goes well with tapas, friends and lots of talk, which as any self respecting Spaniard will tell you is the whole point of life.

I love Mahou and Mahou loves me. It never gets me horribly drunk but it does get me lovely and tipsy. I can drink it all day and still party all night. It’s refreshing, has a hint of maltiness both at beginning and end notes, it’s available everywhere and IT’S GOT 5 BLOODY STARS ON THE TIN, so there. And as an added benefit, by drinking Mahou you get automatic membership into the cult of madrilenismo.

In the city, Mahou has but one competitor. Yes, you can find the odd San Miguel and sometimes people will drink a Corona or two, maybe an Amstel or Heineken, but the only other beer with any wide distribution is Cruzcampo. Below is a picture of the Cruzcampo mascot. He’s called Gambrinus.


A pilsner at 5% abv, Cruzcampo comes from Seville and isn’t bad at all. I drink it when there isn’t any Mahou, and as there is almost always Mahou, that means I drink it rarely. But it is Spain’s biggest selling beer and like I say, it isn’t bad at all, especially when sold as draught.

I am an (Asturian) Cider Drinker

I am a cider drinker
I drinks it all of the day
I am a cider drinker
It soothes all my troubles away

– The Wurzels

This weekend we went Asturian. Specifically, we went to Casa Parrondo (C/. Trujillos, 4) a Sidreria / restaurant located close to metro Callao down in the city centre. The set up is very Asturian with a classic wooden bar worn smooth by the elbows of drinkers down the ages and piled high with tapas, lots of pictures of Sporting Gijon (the owner is fan) and sawdust on the floor.

Casa Parrondo

Casa Parrondo

For anyone who is unaware maybe I should briefly explain that Asturias, up in the North-West of the country, is where Spain’s best cider comes from (although the Basques dispute this – but then they dispute everything)  and the place where you go to drink it is called the Sidreria (Sidra = cider). Also, there is a time-honoured technique for pouring the stuff. Look at the photo left and you can see a chap in funny hat with a bottle in one hand held high above his head and a tipped glass in the other hand at his hip. The idea is you pour from the bottle in this way so that when it splashes into your glass you oxygenate it which makes it taste better (and probably does something for the alcohol as well – I’m no expert).

It’s quite a tricky process and that’s the reason for all the sawdust – it soaks up all the cider that gets spilt by enthusiastic madrileño beginners. Madrid Uno is proud to say he got the hang of things quite quickly and only spilt a few drops. Well,  perhaps it was  closer to half a pint but after three or four bottles things got quite hazy. Whilst the cider isn’t strong (about 4 per cent or so) it does seem to have more of a kick than say lager or ale.

We also had some excellent Asturian cheese and and some ‘Patatas al cabrales’ to soak it up. Very fun atmosphere and nobody minds too much if you splash them – as long as you’re making an effort not to.

Eating Madrileño Style

Regional and international specialist restaurants abound in this city. I’ve seen everything from Armenian (Restaurante Sayat Nova – calle de Costa Rica, 13) to Nordic (Restaurante Olsen – calle del Prado, 15 – has over 40 different types of vodka!), but if you want to taste the local cuisine, here’s a list of some of the best places offering classic Madrileño cooking.

  • Casa Alberto – C/ Huertas, 18 (Metro: Anton Martín)
  • Casa Carola – C/ Padilla, 54 (Metro: Lista)
  • Casa Domingo 1920 – C/ Alcalá, 99 (Metro: Retiro)
  • Casa Lucio – C/ Cava Baja, 35 (Metro: La Latina)
  • Ciriaco – Calle Mayor, 84 (Metro: Opera)
  • El Viejo Madrid – C/ Cava Baja 32 (Metro: La Latina) – same management as Casa Lucio
  • El Landó – Plaza Gabriel Miró, 8 (Metro: La Latina)
  • Esteban – C/ Cava Baja, 36 (Metro: La Latina)
  • La Gran Tasca – C/ Santa Engracia, 161 (Metro: Cuatro Caminos)
  • Lhardy – Carrera de San Jerónimo, 8 (Metro: Sol)
  • Malacatín – C/ Ruda 5 (Metro: La Latina)
  • Taberna La Bola – C/ Bola, 5 (Metro: Santo Domingo)
  • Taberna de la Daniela – C/ General Pardiñas, 21 (Metro: Goya)
  • Taberna del Toro H.v. – C/ Alcalá, 105 (Metro: Retiro)
  • Despite being located in the centre of the peninsula and many hours from the coasts, the locals are bonkers about fish and seafood and a classic sunday morning snack is the bocadillo de calamares, usually washed down with a caña or two (followed by a snooze in the park). Nonetheless, the two dishes most associated with the city take their main ingredients from the land.

    callosThe first is Callos a la Madrileña (pictured) – Sliced ox tripe and snout in a tomato / paprika sauce. It tastes a lot better than it sounds I assure you. The trick is to forget about what part of the cow it came from.

    The second dish is cocido (a meat, potato and chickpea stew), the mere mention of which can send a castizo Madrileño into a trance-like state – I’ve even seen them dribble just at the thought of it. There’s an important ritual with Madrid cocido, as it should be eaten in three stages. First up, you get a noodle soup made from the broth. Then come the chickpeas and vegetables accompanied by a fried tomato paste / sauce. Finally, you get to tuck into the meat: chicken, cured ham, roast pork, bacon and sausage plus the marrow bones. The proper gastronome will usually spread the marrow on toast. After all that you eat nothing but lettuce for a week, but hey, what a feed!