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It’s June and… there’s a great desire of flying away in the air!
This month I will take you on a culinary journey in one of my favorite countries: Spain!
Why Spain? Because the weather is always nice, because there are so many cities to visit, because it’s close enough to allow yourself a weekend out of town, because the people are great and because… you eat well!
I’ll let Federica the pleasure to offer her to-do-list here (here), and I’ll take care of my personal to-eat-list, ranking my favorite Spanish “bad place” in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Malaga.
Beautiful in all seasons, Madrid is my favorite Spanish destination. I have been there 5 times in the last seven years, most recently in 2014. A place where I feel at home. Very clean and liveable, less cosmopolitan than Barcelona but always so happy!
1. Venta El Buscon: a stone’s throw from Porta Sol, over the years this pub / restaurant has kept its characteristics intact, and it has never disappointed me. Perfect for a quick lunch or conventional dinner: traditional Spanish food, from tapas to the more substantial raciones … you will always find something tasty to put under your teeth! Try the bread with anchovies, tortilla and potato, if you’re lucky, do not miss their chuleton de buey, 1 kg of happiness in the form of steak. While you’re waiting for your table, enjoy a beer at the bar or a glass of their revisited sangria, nibbling olives. Super competitive prices.
2. La Casa del Abuelo: crawfish lovers, this is your place! In the same street of Venta El Buscon, Casa del Abuelo still collects old madrileños who stop there to nibble something before dinner. Over the years it has increased a little its prices, but collects a dozen excellent shrimp based tapas, from those with fried garlic and chili, to those in batter or grilled. Obliged, a glass of sweet vino tinto. You eat standing and napkins and scraps go to ground. If you do not want to walk on a carpet of shrimp heads, go early. Although the place brings joy, a sign will remind you that it is forbidden to sing.
3. Market of San Miguel: before the advent of trendy food market, there was the San Miguel. A beautiful structure, full of gourmet surprises. Perfect for a lunch break, you will find from oysters to paella, from beer to wine with specks of gold, from churros to sweet glazed. Find out a place in the common areas and explore (perhaps in turns). The bench with the cold tapas is always the top. Prices vary according to your cleverness.
4. Museo del Jamon: four / five locations scattered at strategic locations throughout Madrid, and above all a short walk from the center and the main museums. You cannot go to Madrid without having scored the locations of various Jamon Museum on the map. You will recognize them by the array of hams hanging. Bocadillos (small sandwiches), jamon (ham), iberian and serrano, queso (cheese), as if there were no tomorrow. Perfect for a snack or a lunch between an attraction and the other, but also for the healthy gastronomic shopping (if you want a gourmet souvenirs, shop here). Also they need more complex dishes, including seafood, but I recommend you get settled at the bar (bar), order a clara (beer with lemonade) and have a chat with the bartender.
5. Pasticceria La Mallorquina: are you booking the hotel? Well, forget the breakfast, because in the middle of Porta Sòl exists La Mallorquina. The atmosphere seems to have stopped in the old-fashioned bar (and the clientele is not far behind), but what you will find will amaze you: choose among the thousands of croissants and pastries on display and order your cortado coffee at desk. Cheap prices. Excellent nougat, to take as a souvenir.
Although Madrid has a special place in my heart, Barcelona has something unique in the world. The last (and third) time I visited was in 2013, along with 5 friends on a memorable journey on the road. Its streets are colorful and full of life, and of course… is the capital of tapas!
1. Gothic Quarter: in my opinion the most charming district in Barcelona. Perfect in the evening, when its streets are filled and the countless local offer endless number of tapas to satisfy your tastes. For this, I do not feel to point a precise location: simply get lost and sample everything that inspires you!
2. La Boqueria: bring me in a food market is like bringing a child to the amusement park. Over time, I developed a small menu / tour: if you want rely me do immediately groped by paper cones filled with samples of chorizo and jamon you’ll find at the entrance. Once past the stalls of fruit, bearing slightly right of the main entrance, you will find a small bench full of empanadas, tacos, tortillas. Then follow the smell of fish, as long as you will not find a bank that will offer you skewers of shrimp and tiny fried calamaritos: a delight. Now head to the opposite end of the market, always the entrance, you will find Mas, its cheese cones and delicious pata negra. Finally, return to the entrance (and, please, feel free to look bad the ones who order a slice of pizza) and close with a nice smoothie. My favorite is coconut and pitahaya (or dragon fruit, a pink fruit with white flesh dotted): it is almost like drinking a milkshake! So, you will have spent about ten euro, tasting a bit of everything, in just over an hour and a half.
3. Marina Moncho’s (or Marina Bay): I usually try to flee to the restaurants of the tourist areas, looking for most charming and defiladed ones. Instead I changed my mind about this place in Barceloneta: I have not yet tasted a good paella like their. There are also excellent shrimp. The tapas are perfect to share as an appetizer. If you plan to dine there, book a table on their terrace: the view and the atmosphere are wonderful. The quality / price / atmosphere is great (about 30 euro), although the sangria, virtually compulsory, raises a little the price.
4. Casa Gracia: This is not a restaurant, but a great hostel a short walk from Casa Batlló. The photos speak for themselves! The breakfasts are plentiful and almost every evening organize theme nights, with great food, on their charming terrace. I recommend it!
The small town of Malaga is perfect for a weekend hit and run (or as I did last year, for a bachelorette party!): You can visit the various attractions such as the Alcazaba, stroll through the streets of downtown, enjoy some sun on the beach and lose yourself in its gastronomic surprises in just over two days!
1. El Pimpi: this tasty restaurant is an institution of Malaga. Maybe a little touristy, but full of really tasty offerings such as an assortment of bocadillos and lots of fresh fish. You can choose between the picturesque interior rooms (it is almost a labyrinth), the terrace or the square. In the evening, it’s bettere to book, during the day, with a little patience, you can find a place even at the last.
2. Antigua Casa de Guardia: a really bad place, but full of history. Home of the ancient prison, its walls now house a series of casks of wine to choose from whom to get served. You drinks standing, screaming to the host which wine you choose, and the bill is scribbled directly on the counter with a piece of chalk. Bring a lot of nickels. An unmissable experience.
3. El Trillo – La Campana – El Piyayo: I grouped together these three bar to offer you a mini tour of tapas, in true Spanish style. They are close enough to each other, and offer you three different atmospheres. Sit outside El Trillo and let them lead their croquettes, along with a sangria. Then go on and reach La Campana, and sample their calamaritos: sensational, largely along with a good beer. Or the cake of shrimp. Finally, go to El Piyayo (right in front): sample their fried eggplant with honey, and if you want to go with something more substantial, their seafood zarzuela (but you must love garlic!).
4. Ciringuito Picasso: right on the Malagueta beach, this chiringuito offer you all the beach facilities, plus a tasty restaurant. The fish is fresh, cooked on the grill on the typical boats adapted for use. Try the sardine s, they are excellent. As well as the ubiquitous fried calamaritos or their larger bros, but grilled. With all these proposals, you will spend more time at lunch than under the sun…
Among the Spanish cities Valencia also has definitely its reasons and was another stop on my road trip of 2013. The sea is not close to the center than in Malaga or Barcelona, but the complex of the City of Arts and Science of Calatrava and the old town are worth a weekend, without a doubt!
1. Cerveceria 100 Montaditos: it is true, we are talking about a chain of pubs. But the home of 100 Montadidos in the Plaza de la Reina in Valencia has left an indelible place in my heart. I do not know whether it’s the spirit of Valencia or the times that we were there, if only for a beer and a single montaditos, or when both the beer that the montaditos were more than one, but between all locations (which I visited in different Spanish cities), this is the best.
Are you dreaming to leave, direction Spain? And above all, what is your favorite Spanish city? You know, I cannot wait to book my next weekend!