Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Madrid tapas walking lunch: Iberico bellota ham, grilled octopus, smoked salmon, oysters and anchovy

Blondine and I succumb to our gastronomic desires on our first day in Madrid.

We had late lunch at the Mercado de San Miguel. The gourmet market was packed, and I mean elbow to elbow PACKED while ordering during lunch period (12:00 – 16:00). It was a bit overwhelming for us because we visited the place in the morning and it was quite busy but the crowds were nowhere near the size as during lunch time.

What I loved about this place is it’s like a walking tapas fast food utopia. We hopped from one delicious food stand to another with our wines in our hands and we ate as we went along. I pigged out big time. See the shameful proof below:

For starters, we had grilled octopus on a toast and I had smoked salmon with almond on a toast as well. Blondine's other starter was a sardine (not in foto).

Paired with fresh special sorlut oysters and a glass of chilled chardonnay. Blondine had another toast with ham on top as well (not in foto).

Yours truly, the glutton.

We walked to the seafood stand and ordered a plate of grilled octopus sprinkled with paprika and sizzled with extra virgin olive oil. Blondine and I shared this.

After our chardonnays were done, we decided to go red. This time a Rioja.

We ordered the Rolls-Royce of all Spanish ham, the bellota. Here is the server busy carving our bellota ham.

Bellota means acorns because these select swines are only fed with it. This is just heaven. 100 grams costs almost 20 Euros. We shared this as well.

For my dessert, since I am not a sweet tooth type, I settled for an olive wrapped with an anchovy and topped with green pepper.

Verdict: 5 stars!

I am going back to Spain next week (but not Madrid though) so I can’t wait to eat tapas again, and perhaps bring home stuff as well =)

Travel Period: June 2011
Destination: Madrid, Spain

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Mercado de San Miguel: A gourmet paradise in Madrid

This gourmet market located beside Plaza Mayor is fairly new, recently renovated and re-opened in May 2009 replacing the old traditional marketplace. That is why I haven’t heard or seen anything about this foodie nirvana when I last visited the Spanish capital in 2006.

The idea is like the La Boqueria Mercado in Barcelona. I was here as well a few years back and pretty much enjoyed the experience which was spent taking fotos of fruits, vegetables, gourmet food, fish and meat. The explosion of bright colours in this marketplace was breathtaking. There is a difference though between the two. The La Boqueria Mercado is more a combination of a wet and farmer’s market + culinary cafés whereas the Mercado de San Miguel is more focused on becoming the new fastfood-culinary-cultural-café of Madrid. Tapas everywhere. I haven’t really seen much of fresh fish and raw meat on sale here except for the ready-to-eat ones.

And I would not be surprised if the Spaniards patterned the concept of market + dining-in from Ostermalm’s Salluhal in Stockholm that dates back to 1818. I actually had lunch here early this month when I was in the city visiting. I will soon blog about it. Ah, I just love, love, love gourmet places like these.

The Mercado de San Miguel is a MUST VISIT and a MUST EAT HERE when in Madrid. Truly pushing gastronomic heights to the next level!

In my next entry I will blog about our walking lunch inside the Mercado de San Miguel. I really pampered myself with all the foods that I want to eat. I am such a shameful glutton =)

Check out more YUMMY fotos below:

After seeing these heavenly gastronomic delights I am sure I have made you hungry. Ah, sorry ladies and gentlemen, there is more torment to come =)

Travel Period: June 2011
Destination: Madrid, Spain

Monday, August 29, 2011

El Toro (bull) heads in Madrid, Spain

The Spaniards will never ever become vegetarians. They love to adorn their restaurants and kitchens with real embalmed toro heads. Do you find it charming? A bull's head watching above your shoulders while you eat?

El Toro Bull Heads in Madrid, SpainEl Toro Bull Heads in Madrid, SpainThe Italians are worse, they hung hairy swine’s heads in their delicatessen shops. Fortunately though not in their restaurants. Now that would be insane. I am sure many people will just be so grossed out.

Um, why is it that pigs are more repelling than cows?

PETA and Partij voor de Dieren (Animal Party) stay away here! Just to let you know, there are actually real people in the Netherlands that vote for the rights of the animals. They even have a political party here, and even more, they have 2 seats in the lower house and 1 seat in the senate. 1 seat is equivalent to 60,000 (up to 65,000) votes. I am not joking.

I am still working on my Madrid photos but will soon post about food, and food and more food!

Travel Period: June 2011
Destination: Madrid, Spain

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Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

In Madrid: El Oso y el Madroño (The Bear and the Strawberry Tree)

Madrid’s coat of arms is a Bear sniffing the fruits of a strawberry tree.

The statue is located at the intersection of Puerta del Sol, in the heart of Madrid, the capital of Spain.

And I have two fotos of myself taken with this statue. The first one was in 2005 and the other one was in June, just two months ago. I have this odd feeling that the statue was moved, that it used to be standing right on the busy shopping street that intersects Puerto del Sol.

Foto on the left was taken during winter, February 2005 and on the right during summer, June 2011. Judging from the pictures I do not think I have changed much in 6 years.

For the history geeks, here is the history of the coat of arms (taken from Wikipedia) why Madrid City Council chose a bear sniffing fruits from a strawberry tree to use as its emblem:

‘When in 1212 took place the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa between Alfonso VIII of Castile and the Almohads, the council of Madrid sent a detachment in support of the Christian king. We know, by chronicles of the time, that these troops carried a flag or banner which identified them: a statant bear on a silver field. This is the first mention in history, of the shield of Madrid.

Soon after, in 1222, a fact took place that modified the shield of the town. The clergymen of the Madrilenian parishes confronted the Council for the use of the fodder in the fields and forests in the municipal jurisdiction. Those were important resources for both institutions, and both wanted the use of these lands. Due to the importance of both groups affected, a royal mediation was necessary. The sentence declared by Alfonso VIII determined that the fodder would belong to the clergymen, whereas the forests would pertain to the Council. This decision did not convince the clergymen, but satisfied the Council. In fact, the council was so satisfied, that it immediately modify the shield of the municipality, adding a tree as proof of its new possessions. The figure of the bear ceased to appear walking, to be over its back legs, eating fruits from the tree.’

More stories of Madrid soon!

Travel Period: June 2011
Destination: Madrid, Spain

Keep in touch and follow me on Facebook: Travel & Lifestyle Diaries by Dutched Pinay Travels
Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

Special order breakfast and a Filipino party in Sheffield, UK

On my last day in Sheffield, Queen Victoria made a special breakfast for me:

Bagels, bacon and omelette. And endless conversations.

In the afternoon they were invited to a Filipino children’s party so they tagged me along. It was the birthday of their friend’s daughter. The catering was done by a Filipino and food was mainly Filipino as well. I think my favourite there was the chicken lollipop.

Queen Victoria and her hubby are quite social people in comparison to Dutchman and I. We on the other hand prefer to be at home when we/I are not travelling. I also like my own company. Then there is my demanding career that is my baby that is taking most of my time. Most days I am on the road, having face-to-face meetings with business partners so at the end of the day I feel like I’ve had a very hectic social/work life and the only thing I want is to do is retreat back into my cave at home. So yeah, I am not really a socializing type at all but I can be when its needed (like at work).

Then it was time for goodbyes. They drove me all the way to Leeds for my flight. Thanks so much and bye-bye for now. I shall be back =)

Cute Aiden accompanying me at the backseat and wearing my sunglasses.

Plane taking off at Leeds-Bradford International Airport.

Up, up in the air with Leeds down below. Bye!

Travel Period: May 2011
Destination: Sheffield (South Yorkshire - England), United Kingdom

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