October 17, 2012

Madrid and Tapas Culture

We arrived in Madrid on a warm fall day. The sun was shining and the sky was clear. After checking into our hotel and taking a brief siesta, we hit the streets. Our hotel is near Puerto del Sol in the Old City and we began our exploration there. From there we walked along Calle Gran Via admiring the architecture and window shopping. It was a Saturday afternoon and the streets were packed with people - walking, sitting at cafes, enjoying the city of Madrid.

After a while dinnertime brought us indoors for tapas. Guided by my two of my husband, Jonathan's, fraternity brothers who live in Madrid, we began at an unassuming local cafe on Calle del Carmen. Inside groups of people were relaxing and talking over small plates of food. There we tried some of the classics - patatas bravas, tortilla, fried calamari, and jamon - all served with wine from Rioja. The tapas and wine were very good and we enjoyed the atmosphere. Tables all around us where filled with MadrileƱos eating tapas with friends and family.

From there we crossed Plaza del Sol and entered the maze of streets on the other side. This neighborhood is tightly packed with small tapas bars and cafes serving traditional tapas and often focusing on a single speciality. We went to Museo del Vino for pulpo (octopus) served with potatoes and paprika, tripe, and Spanish wine (of course). From there we continued to La Casa del Abuelo, a tiny (standing room only) serving various shrimp tapas and their own wine.

We ended the evening with churros con chocolat at Chocolateria San Gines. To eat this treat you dip the cruncky churros in the extremely thick hot chocolate. This dessert is rich and delicious beyond explanation...

My first impressions of Madrid are that the people are friendly and vibrant. The atmosphere is relaxed - this is a place where the experience is important. And the food and wine are delicious - yes, Spain is all about the food!


Bethany Miller said...

Sounds amazing- you have the best travel plans. I love great tapas...or in this case, a great tapas story.

Jessica said...

Thanks Beth!