You touch down in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and have exactly 36 hours to enjoy. What do you do?
My friends, you eat.
This is a nutrition blog, so you may expect to see a ton of pictures of Spanish salads and veggies, or perhaps you are thinking, Ha, this healthy girl is going to share her food tour of Madrid? Booooring.
Eating all over the world, ALL kinds of foods (desserts, meats, cheeses included) is one of my absolute favorite things to do.
It informs how I see food, how I interact with food, and ultimately how I take amazing care of myself. I marvel at how other cultures savor and respect their native foods. I admire and am so inspired by generations of families working in the same food business. I am eager and greedy to hear stories of food origin and experience food from the source.
This was my first time in Spain and with only 36 hours to play, Jordan and I took to the streets, hungry and ready to feast.
This was literally across the street from our hotel, and although it wasn't meant to be our first stop, we arrived (“to just check it out”, Jordan pleaded with me, “let's just check this place out first then we will go to your market”) and there were 2 seats open at the bar. Jordan beamed. I obliged.
So we ate.
David Munoz, the chef and owner of StreetXO, is doing incredible things with food. Incredible! He has earned three Michelin stars for his other Madrid restaurant DiverXO. (Madrid was a very last minute decision for us, getting a seat at DiverXO was out of the question.) StreetXO is a much more casual dining experience, open kitchen, a total of 8 bar seats, funky chefs with crazy mohawks whipping up delights, but the food was anything but “casual”. We were directed on how to consume each bite – use your fingers, swirl through the sauce, dip in this way, etc. Each bite was a marvel. Beautiful really. The middle photo below was my favorite bite in all of Madrid, smoked razor clams with charcoal and olive oil, ponzu of sishio, and coconut cream. This is not something I could ever recreate in my kitchen, it is a bite that I will dream about, crave.
Note to self: when craving razor clams- book flight to Madrid.
With full bellies and exploding hearts of joy we ventured on.
Next stop, and the real reason I wanted to come to Madrid: Mercado De San Miguel
Oh man, this place is amazing!
Its a large indoor market with food specialties that will make you drool. This is THE place to be when the sun sets, but in the afternoon, when we visited (on both days we were in Madrid), it's manageable, charming, and an excellent place to try a ton of food for very affordable prices.
I could have spent days exploring the market and trying new little bites of yum, but the city was waiting and I was itching to see it. (I was also irritatingly full from our “snack” at StreetXO)
Before you knew it, after much walking and exploring, it was time for another snack.
I became a pretty loyal fan to a small glass of sherry while in Spain. I'm not a huge drinker but I do enjoy experiencing cultures through both their food and their drinks. Yeah, ok… so I may happen to really enjoy a glass of wine from time to time 😉
Marcona almonds are so stinking delicious. They are super pricey here in the states so I was thrilled when I saw them as essentially my “bar snack”. I picked through that little bowl to find all the Marcona almonds, procured a sensible handful of the plump, juicy, salty gems. As it turns out they paired beautifully with sherry.
I am also an olive addict. Wouldn't you know it was super duper easy to find olives practically everywhere! Oh, and also sherry. You can find sherry anywhere!
Our sweet little hotel had a rooftop bar that overlooked the city. We sat here while the sun set, vowed to take a quick nap, and hit the streets for Madrid nightlife. Madrid is a late night town, most people eat dinner around 9-10pm. I couldn't wait to see the streets bustling, the music, the energy…
We woke from our little nap THE NEXT MORNING.
I sulked for a bit and then just resigned to the fact that we missed dinner, missed nightlife, missed the flamenco music, and only had about 10 hours left in the city. So we HAD to make the best of it.
Jordan declared that he hadn't had enough Jamon Iberico the previous day so he made it his JOB to consume enough of this delicacy to get him through till our next visit.
“The story of Jamón Ibérico ham is steeped in mystery and romance. The ancient oak pastures of Spain, the noble black Ibérico pig, the mountain air which caresses each ham as it magically is transformed into one of the world's most exquisite foods – all play a part in this uniquely Spanish phenomenon. Without each ingredient the recipe is disturbed. Greatness can only be achieved with patience, skill and adherence to traditional methods”
Essentially Iberico ham is made from the black hoofed Iberico pig, that is fed acorns and fairy dust and hailed as one of the most exquisite delicacies in the world.
It made my man happy, so I was happy.
Jordan loves his ham, I love my octopus, and as ubiquitous as Iberico is in Spain (we kept laughing at how many “ham museums” we passed) octopus is equally local and plentiful.
We had our final lunch at a little place called Pulperia, that specialized in octopus. I was in heaven. AND I must note, Jordan started with a soup that was filled with.. wait for it, wait for it…KALE! I didn't take a picture, but I swear it's true.
My octopus was simply grilled then finished with smoked paprika and fruity olive oil. I licked the plate clean.
After lunch we hit the Prado Museum, with a limited amount of time we used an excellent guide we found in the New York Times for a 45 minute tour of must see art in the Prado. It was incredible.
I wanted to come home with some “taste” of the city (and a thank you gift for my Sister and Mom who lovingly watched little Miss Penelope while we traveled), luck would have it we weren't very far from this adorable store.
La Conservera by Frinsa is a very tiny gourmet canned seafood store in the upscale Salamanca area of Madrid. Owned by Victor Frinsa, this gem is filled with delicacies from Galacia spain. I bought as much as I could fit in my carry on and gifted the entire loot to my family. You'll have to ask Mom and Sis if it is indeed delish 🙂
But wait… no visit to Madrid is complete without an obligatory indulgence in churros and chocolate. This may or may not have been how we actually started our day, but how inappropriate would it be if I had dessert for breakfast?
Well, now I know why spider man struggles with his waistline in Madrid
Still much to see, but the beauty of travel is knowing there is always more to see, more to experience, more to taste.
Can I Help You Meal Plan?
Enter your email below to download my free - one week - real food (mostly plants) meal plan. Grocery list, recipes, prep schedule, it's all there for you 🙂