Cocido Madrileño at La Bola (Madrid, Spain)

If there is one emblematic dish of Madrid, it’s cocido Madrileño. Cocido is a stew of garbanzo beans with various meats and vegetables, which is served in two courses. First the broth from the stew is served over vermicelli noodles, then the garbanzos, meats and vegetables are served with various condiments. Traditionally cocido is cooked in earthenware vessels over a wood fire. However most restaurants prepare cocido in standard cookware over gas stovetops. After inquiring with a local, I was recommended La Bola restaurant, which is one of the few restaurants in Madrid that prepare cocido in the traditional manner. We started our meal with some tasty olives and nice crusty bread. We ordered melón con jamón (melon with Spanish ham) to start, which was delicious. Then came the cocido. The server poured the broth over the noodles tableside and brought the condiments to the table. The condiments consisted of a red pepper & tomato sauce, spring onions and pickled Guindilla peppers. The broth was delicious with a nice meaty flavor. Once our soups were finished, our server plated the cocido for us tableside. This particular cocido included oxtail, pig’s foot, pork belly, chorizo and chicken. Our server also brought a plate of braised cabbage that was sautéed with garlic. He told us to mix the cabbage with the garbanzo beans. After adding some condiments we dug in to our feast. The cocido was delicious. It tasted like good home cooking. Cocido reminds me of French pot au feu and Italian bollito misto. All three are rustic country dishes served in two courses and with condiments. To drink we shared a half bottle of Rioja. We finished our meal with the house flan, which had a nice kick of orange and cinnamon. La Bola is a great place to come and have a traditional cocido Madrileño.
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Paella Valenciana at Casa Roberto (Valencia, Spain)

After swimming with sharks at the Valencia Aquarium, we headed over to Casa Roberto for a traditional paella Valenciana. Prior to our trip to Spain we saw a video of chef Roberto making his paella on a Spanish food show online, so we knew this was the place to come to for the original. For most people, a paella is seen as the national dish of Spain, consisting of bright yellow rice with a plethora of shellfish, chorizo and chicken. In Valencia there is only one true paella consisting of rabbit, chicken, snails, Romano beans, Lima beans and either favas or artichokes. Every other similar rice dish is called an “arroz”. We began our meal with some gambas a la plancha (seared prawns). Then came the paella Valenciana. In my excitement, I forgot to take a picture of the paella before we started serving it, sorry. The paella was delicious and reminded me of a dish I grew up eating called “arroz con pollo” (chicken with rice). The stars of the paella were the artichoke hearts and the Romano beans. The rice was cooked to perfection and was moist but not wet or soupy. To drink we grabbed a half bottle of red wine from Valencia and the fanciest bottled water I’ve ever seen. For dessert we ordered the classic flan and a tarta Santiago (almond tart). The desserts were good. On our way out I noticed chef Roberto in the kitchen cooking away and his daughter then invited us to the kitchen to meet the man himself. They also gave us a bag of the bomba rice they use in their paellas. An all around great experience at Casa Roberto.
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Taberna Postas Quince (Madrid, Spain)

It was getting late and we didn’t feel like venturing out too far for a bite to eat, so we wandered in to Taberna Postas Quince, which is located right next to our hotel. We ordered four media raciones and a pincho of tortilla Española. To drink my wife got a glass of sangria and I got a glass of Rioja.
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Olive tapa

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1/2 racion of croquetas de jamon (ham croquets)

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1/2 racion of morcilla de Burgos (blood sausage)

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1/2 racion of fried cuttlefish

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1/2 racion of patatas bravas

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Pincho of tortilla Española

Mercado de San Miguel (Madrid, Spain)

Today we decided to check out Madrid’s Mercado de San Miguel for a quick lunch. Though the Mercado was smaller than I anticipated, the quality and variety of food choices were great. At one vendor I picked up some seafood tostadas. At another I grabbed some montaditos and the best tortilla Española I’ve had yet. We also grabbed a couple of glasses of sangria. Everything was delicious, especially the gulas, which are the baby eels. Afterwards we grabbed some coffee and a couple of pastries. The almond tart I ordered was insanely good! It was sweet and salty with a nice crisp tart shell. The food in Madrid is quite impressive.
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La Abuela (Madrid, Spain)

After walking off the patatas bravas from earlier in the evening, we stopped by La Abuela tapas bar. I ordered a beer and my wife got a glass of the house sangria. With our drinks we were given tapas of chorizo & Manchego cheese and marinated olives. We ordered a racion of callos Madrilenos (stewed tripe), a racion of gambas al ajillo (shrimp sautéed in olive oil, garlic & chilies), a racion of pimientos de Padron and a pincho of tortilla Española (potato frittata). Everything was delicious. The callos were tender and rich with a nice hint of pimenton. The gambas were fresh and sweet and the garlicky olive oil they’re cooked in made a perfect dip for the bread they gave us. La Abuela is the perfect place to get an old-school tapas bar experience.
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Tapas

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Racion of callos

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Racion of gambas

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Racion of pimientos de Padron

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Pincho of tortilla Española

Taberna Malaspina (Madrid, Spain)

After a bumpy ride flying into Madrid, we checked into our hotel, then went on a tapas crawl. Taberna Malaspina had some good reviews online, so we went to check it out. I ordered a glass of Manzanilla Sherry and my wife ordered a mojito. Once the drinks were ordered the bartender brought us a tapa of peppers, cucumber, tomato and tuna dressed with olive oil and sherry vinegar. We then ordered a racion of patatas bravas. The patatas were delicious. They were crisp on the outside and the brava sauce was tangy with a nice smoky flavor from pimenton. The aioli had a nice garlic flavor. We didn’t order anything else this time around, but we plan on coming back.
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Tapa of peppers, cucumber, tomato & tuna

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Racion of patatas bravas

Tapas in Madrid, Spain

So what are tapas? Here in Madrid, a city known for its tapas culture, tapas are free. Yes, I said free. When you order a drink at a tapas bar, they bring you a tapa (small appetizer) to go with your drink. What they give you as a tapa is completely up to the bar. Now if you want to order something more substantial to eat then you order a racion. Typically tapas bars have a menu with their raciones offerings. Raciones are large appetizers and run between 4 to 10 euros. Some items on the raciones menu are available in smaller portions called either a pincho or media racion, depending on the item.
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These are tapas.

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This is a racion.