• Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.

Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
robert brown

Madrid Restaurants: Reviews & Recommendations

217 posts in this topic

Barcelona picks up where Madrid leaves off. In terms as broad as their “avenidas”, one is roughly to the other as Milan is to Rome. With its modernity, fashion, art scene, and after-hours living-it-up, Barcelona, like Milan, is for the traveler for whom lifestyle comes first. Madrid, the capital, on the other hand, is the heart and soul of Spain; Royal, historic Spain versus the upstart Spain that has taken shape since the end of the Franco era. Of course, there are exceptions such as Old Barcelona off the Ramblas and the best repository of 20th-century art in Spain, the Reina Sophia Museum in Madrid (where Picasso’s “Guernica”, the most famous work of art of the last century, resides). Nonetheless, despite other diversions, particularly the awesome Antonio Gaudi structures, Barcelona still lacks a great historic art museum to equal Madrid’s Museo del Prado. To be inside this extraordinary repository and stand mesmerized in front of two Hieronymous Bosch’s masterpieces, “Garden of Earthly Delights” and “Paradise & hell” or be surrounded by the large portraits by Velazquez of the Spanish Royal Family is one of the towering peaks of international museum-going, perhaps an experience only equaled at the Louvre for intensity. Ensconcing yourself in one of the several hotels across from the Prado puts you an easy walk away as well from the Reina Sofia and the marvelous museum that is a panorama of most of the history of Western Art, the Thyssen-Bornemisa Collection. This “Museum Quarter-Mile” can by itself chew up a three-day weekend.

As implied, I am partial to Madrid. It was the first piece of Europe I set my foot on when I  was just a teen-ager; it is the center of my brother’s distinguished career as an art historian; and it is where I was recently to partake in  the festivities around his crowning public achievement: the opening of the exhibition at the Prado that he curated with the highly-decorated British historian of Spain, Sir John Elliott, ”The Sale of the Century: Artistic Relations Between Spain and Great Britain,1604-1655”.

I thought this brief four-day sojourn would relegate gastronomy to a place behind the exhibition festivities. Not only did it not, but as it worked out, it permitted me to put together a string of dining that was a good cross-section of the underrated glories of Madrid gastronomy along with moments that were reminders of why Spain’s capital still takes a bad rap from the traveling gastronome. One reminder, different from the heavy cusine rap, came  in the form of a restaurant titled “Paradis”, of which there are two. I don’t know if I ate in what is the original Paradis, at Marques de Cubas, 14 near the Palace Hotel and the Thyssen Collection, as there is a second Paradis in the Casa America. All I know is that the Paradis I ate lunch in committed the original sin of restauration: not caring a whit.. How ironic it was that the restaurant itself, discreetly tucked away on a narrow street, was tastefully designed in a spare, modern fashion with an abundance of glass and chrome, walls paneled with expensive, if not exotic, wood, and rather pleasing Miro-inspired contemporary prints. Yet they knew they had a captive audience of local businessmen for lunch who have to not know or care about food. My squid salad had been overly refrigerated and a Norwegian Skrei fish that the restaurant made a big deal about by printing a special little brochure was ruined with a tasteless cream sauce. The lack of care and effort made me so incensed that I told the waiter what a terrible meal I had had. His answer was to shrug his shoulders, walk away, and say, “I’m sorry”.

Previous expeditions of Spanish bar-hopping for the purpose of eating Spain’s best-known food category, tapas, had always left me with the belief that the category was vastly overrated until by chance I walked past a classic circa 1900 bar that appeared both welcoming and, judging from the window display of foodstuffs, appetizing. Just a block up the street after making a right turn out of the main entrance of the Palace Hotel, this “taberna” named Cerverceria Cervantes at Plaza de Jesus, 7 provided me my first memorable tapas séance. Sidling up to the big “L”-shaped mahogany bar manned by half a dozen or so bartenders and tapas-preparers, I decided to make a dinner out of my visit as soon as I saw the most extensive tapas menu of my life; approximately 50 choices of shellfish, pates, “tostillas”, hams, anchovies, tortillas, potato dishes, and then some. I began with impeccably fresh baby shrimps served on a large piece of toast and covered with a rich, creamy sauce of garlic and parsley, followed by a slab of pheasant pate accompanied by several pieces of toasted bread. I ended up with a plate of perfect- textured and slightly saline  grilled octopus in olive oil. By the time I had finished, the Cervantes was jammed packed: a testament to the superior quality of its food.

Note: www.alreddedores.com lists the names, addresses, and telephone of well over 100 tapas bars in Madrid.

Second only to tapas as Madrid’s best-known food form is the “Cocido Madrileno”. In the tradition of hearty cold-weather traditional, heart dishes such as “bollito misto”, a “cocido” is a must-have dish in any survey of Madrid dining. I must admit I was uninformed about “cocido” until I mentioned to eGullet’s parapetetic Plotnicki that I was going to Madrid. He highly recommend a hotbed of “cocido”, Taberna de la Daniela (General Pardinas, 21) in the Salamanca section of Madrid, a rather gentrified and residential part of Madrid not far from the city center. A preliminary evening visit to Daniela for tapas revealed another old “cerverceria”, brightly-lit and with old decorative blue tiles and a dining section where should-be-hungry diners ate their lunchtime “cocido” every day. The tapas selection here is much smaller than at, say, Cervantes, sticking pretty much to shellfish and the wonderful fresh, unpreserved anchovies. Daniela is a friendly spot, but one that I wouldn’t recommend for tapas per se, although my “bomba” of roasted potatos covered with a spicy red peper sauce was hearty and delicious. When we returned a couple of days later for the “cocido”, for which one is well-advised to reserve ahead (91-575-23-29) as we were almost shut out reserving during our tapas visit, we made sure our stomachs were almost on empty as the owner of Daniela warned us on our first visit that we wouldn’t feel much like eating dinner after their mid-day “Cocido”.It turns out he was right, although it seemed to us that we exercised some restraint once we started in.

“Cocido” consists of three parts: a soup, a platter of vegetables, and another platter of beef and variations on a pig. Daniela passes out a history and general description of the dish to each customer. I was able to read enough of the Spanish to learn that “cocido” is several centuries old, has no religious bounds ( a couple of parts were very Jewish,: obviously all the pork stuff wasn’t) nor class bounds as well since rich and poor have always partaken of this creation.

Our waitress first brought a large bowl of chicken soup with thin noodles; nothing more and not for putting anything in it, unlike, say, with a cous-cous. It was agreeable, nothing special and not necessarily better than your grandmother’s version. Several minutes later the two platters arrived together. Chickpeas dominated the first and were accompanied by boiled potatoes, cabbage, carrots, and what I could only describe as “kishka”. When I asked our waitress to write down the ingredients of it, she wrote in Spanish what my brother translated as “stuffed balls”. The meat section was unstinting. My dining companion and I each were given a boiled chicken thigh;a ham hock; a beef bone with marrow; several slices of boiled beef; a small piece of “morsilla de Burgos”, which is a sausage of pig’ blood made with onion, butter and stuffed with and rice; a slab of pork fat; and some boiled pork from the same breed of pig that the “morsillade Burgos” was made from. With all of this were two thick sauces you put on everything, of which one is a natural tomato sauce and the other made from garlic and parsley.

There was no question that this “cocido” left me full, but whether it also left me full of enthusiasm is questionable. The experience is best characterized as “eating for the sake of eating”. As far as its ranking in the “unadorned, down-to-earth, multi-ingredient” food universe, it wasn’t near the top for me. I found the going rather bland, without as much the contrasting flavors and textures of, for example cous-cous or “bollito misto”. Cocido strikes me as a dish to have once or twice a year. Of course, I intend to try it again in another restaurant or in another variation or season. It is an integral part of dining in Madrid. These reservations aside, I am more enlightened for having lunched on one.

(Coming later: An institution for seafood, an Old Madrid restaurant, and the city’s Michelin two-star chef from El Bulli).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting comments on the relationship of Madrid to Barcelona, expecially in context of Rome and Milan. Those comparisons are never quite exact. I think Barcelona has more soul than Milan and is a much more relaxed and informal city. In terms of art, Madrid has the collections. Barcelona has a few highs, but it's museums are not at all competition for Madrid. In terms of architecture, I find Barcelona far more interesting, if only for it's twentieth century buildings. Of all the second cities (non-capitals) in Europe, Barcelona strikes me as the most interesting.

Spanish food did not have the immediate appeal of French cuisine for me and probably still doesn't on an overall basis, but lately I've been finding myself interested in many aspects of Spanish cooking. Thus I'm grateful for your post and disappointed that we don't have enough members who share my interest to carry on a good discussion yet. I've had mixed results eating in Madrid, although I haven't been there in years.

The description of your encounter with "cocido" illustrates one of the paradoxes of traveling on your stomach. The need to eat the local fare is not always the same as the need to eat well or pleasurably.

There was no question that this “cocido” left me full, but whether it also left me full of enthusiasm is questionable. The experience is best characterized as “eating for the sake of eating”. ... These reservations aside, I am more enlightened for having lunched on one.

I've had a number of conversations with tourists who regard eating as a need whose fulfillment robs them of the time needed to "see" the sights. My own interest in food and cooking, which I am happy to describe as an art from when well done, leaves me ill equiped to find a common dialog with these people. Nevertheless, all interest in food as high art aside, eating the local food is one of the best ways to experience a country and its culture. For me, being in foreign country is one level of involvement, but eating can give a traveler a much greater taste of the culture than most any other activity. I think you've hit the nail on the head regarding my feelings.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Robert-Your description of what was in the Cocida has left me hungry. But I also know that any of the boiled meat dishes, regardless of country of origin can be bland. It's the same problem here when you go to one of the noodle houses in Chinatown like New York Noodle Town or my favorite, Win Hop. On some days the chicken broth is bland, and on some days it smokes. It's like my father the butcher used to say when we would complain that meat he brought home wasn't up to par, "you can't creep into the meat." But your description still had my mouth watering, and knowing the feeling of needing a nap after a big lunch like that.

As for your comparison of Barcelona to Madrid/Rome to Milan, I can understand that completely. You can never get a true comparison because Barcelona is a port town and has a funky aspect to it which in some ways makes it a lot like Naples and Marseille. But it's artsy where Madrid is regal. And that Barcelona lacks a great art museum probably has to do more with there not being real wealth there. I don't mean there aren't any rich people. I mean institutional wealth, like a monarchy or a religion has. Is there a great art museum in Milan? I don't think so. And that's because there isn't real institutional wealth. Just private businessmen.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Bux and Steve for posting. Now I feel obliged to write the last part, something I was not going to do if I drew a goose egg on the thread. You are both perceptive and have rounded out my observations and brief experience of two weeks ago. I hope by the end of summer we have, along with others, elevated Spain to a significant factor on the site.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I hope by the end of summer we have, along with others, elevated Spain to a significant factor on the site.

Maybe I could help - living in Barcelona, I've discovered my inner foodie. Someone was asking about Comerç 24 a while ago (before I discovered this site) - yes, it's good. It's fun in an El Bulli kind of way, but unlike a lot of restaurants with Bulli alumni at the helm (and, yes, there are quite a few) the food is excellent rather than just interesting.

Can anyone tell me what the Gourmet magazine article about Barcelona said?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jennifer, aren't you lucky. Lizziee mentioned a restaurant in Barcelona she likes. I'll leave the honors to her. She had a good meal at El Racon con Fabes. Can you also fill us in if you have been there? I expect to go there between early April and the summer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

These are the notes that I sent to Robert. Hope they help.

Yes, we went to El Raco de Can-Fabes. I do not have tasting notes so I can only give an overall description of the dinner. The decor is rustic, a wood-beamed former tavern. The service was perfect - I honestly can't remember each dish but almost all was perfect except for the last which my only comment in my notes is that it was unremarkable.

One surprising highlight was at a restaurant in Barcelona called Ca L'Isidre.The owner is Isidre Girones. We started with tiny whitebait deep fried. Every time they fry up a batch, they use fresh oil. Next an incredible gazpacho with clams and shrimp with a slight dollop of oil floating on the top. Next quickly sauteed squid in olive oil that were so tender they melted in your mouth. Then their speciality - roast baby goat with small onions and white wine.The owner's daughter, Naria, is the pastry chef. She did a wonderful dessert - in an egg shell she placed sabayon which represented egg yolk, white chocolate was the white of the egg and underneath all liquid dark chocolate.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm still saving up for El Raco de Can Fabes, but I've heard now is the time to go - they are apparently expanding it later this year (golf courses and worse). A closer alternative, in town, might be Abac. The chef trained at El Raco with Santi Santamaria, and is still a disciple (as well as being the darling of the Spanish press right now).

I haven't been to Ca l'Isidre, no, although others have recommended it. If you enjoyed that, you might like Gaig (actually anyone would like Gaig) - really wonderful, inventive cooking using simple combinations of top class ingredients. The tasting menu is a real treat, from the oysters in a creamy champagne sauce right through to the chocolate ganache rolled in crushed pink peppercorns and served with a floaty coconut foam. Certainly the best meal I've had here and probably the best meal I've had anywhere.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
"...it is the center of my brother’s distinguished career as an art historian; and it is where I was recently to partake in  the festivities around his crowning public achievement: the opening of the exhibition at the Prado that he curated with the highly-decorated British historian of Spain, Sir John Elliott, ”The Sale of the Century: Artistic Relations Between Spain and Great Britain,1604-1655”.

Wish I had read this post before I went to Madrid for Easter weekend...but alas, egullet was down every time I tried it for a few sad days there...

I tried to see that Prado exhibit (as I live in GB it would have been particularly relevant!) but the queue was too long on Easter Sunday (free entry) So I went to the Reina Sofia instead, and was really impressed by the collection as a whole, not just the Guernica.

I did not have a great food experience, but this is not Madrid's fault. It's too long a story involving cranky travelers, vegetarians, Easter closings, and the like. Anyway my highlights were tapas (no surprise there) and a cafe meal in the central park, with wonderful fresh granizado and a huge bocadillo. A low light was dinner at la Champaneria, a paella specialist that churned out perfunctory prix fixe set menus.

Another highlight were the bars, though, they really know how to mix some mean cocktails - and all the fresh juices make the drinks even better (and I am not even a mixed drink-er!)

Another thing I noticed - and perhaps someone who has spent more time there than I have (i.e. a grand total of about two months over the course of 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lizziee and Jennifer (and others of course) I wonder if you could speak to whatever sense that Spanish chefs have of international media interest in their cooking--and the extent that particularly the American food media is paying attention to them to a greater degree than any other destination?  Are they aware of the number of American chefs visiting Spain--and has that prompted them to think or work differently?


Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I couldn't really say - I was unaware of it myself (I'm British) until recently. Somehow I doubt it. Apart from Adrià, chefs here are quite catalanocentric - they seem happier talking to Catalan magazines than Spanish (although I guess that doesn't preclude their being aware of what's being said over the pond.) In the Basque Country it's maybe different. Chefs like Arzak need to look further afield to do what they do and survive - here, there are enough moneyed diners to keep them all afloat. These same moneyed diners, being Catalan, are happy to pay top dollar for yet another interpretation of crema catalana and other fiercely traditional dishes, which, going by the menus, suggests they are still very much the target audience.

Not sure if that answers your question.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wonder what percentage of Juan Mari Arzak's clients on any given service are locals just as I wondered if there was discussion in Spanish and Catalan press of outside influences and an awareness of how even the most local of cooking is being perceived more globally.  Arzak, to your point of looking further afield, is in New York City this very week cooking with Ducasse and Jacques Torres and a few other chefs.


Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I wonder what percentage of Juan Mari Arzak's clients on any given service are locals

Judging by the cars parked outside at least half the diners are French. The proximity of France and the relatively low prices make San Sebastian restaurants a gastronomic bargain for the wealthier French.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Let me add my name to the list of fans of both Basque and Catalan dining. Lunch at El Raco de Can Fabes was sensational, although I was unhappy to make the half hour drive back to Barcelona afterwards. The cooking is far less technical and much more traditional than at El Bulli, but it is a very sophisiticated cuisine and were it in France, it would still be three star cuisine. I've mentioned my pleasure at Ca L'Isidre and Can Majo in Barcelona in another thread devoted to that city. My only problem with Barcelona is that if you're tired and lazy and choose a restaurant at random in the central tourist area, you can eat very poorly. These days that's equally true of Paris and certainly of NY and the traveler who doesn't do his homework deserves what he gets. At anyrate it's served as a good lesson.

Steve, in partial answer to one of your questions, I know that Martin Berasategui was very aware of the number of American chefs dining at his restaurant a couple of years ago and very attentive to a couple of NYC cooks. On the whole I find the Spanish more insular than their French neighbors. The interest these chefs have in France, the U.S. and other countries is probably not typical of the interests of their local clientele.

Some time ago, I read an interesting article on Asturias in one of the glossies, but have seen little else about the area west of the Basque country. Galicia at the western end of the north coast has excellent seafood, but the with a few exceptions, the cooking is traditional. We got the sense that restaurants that are chef driven as in the US, France, Catalunya and the Basque country are just beginning to make themselves known with creative dishes or even those borrowed from other contemporary chefs outside the region. In any event I have this feeling of excitement about food across northern Spain right now.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just made my way from Madrid to Toledo, Granada, Ronda and Seville. Write to confirm that lunch at La Broche in Madrid was delicious, texture-obsessed and dumb gorgeous as the sunset. Went with a fellow who doesnt eat red or white meats. Once the folks at La Broche figured that out, all sorts of little delights appeared, including the fried leeks app we wanted but had forgone in the name of the baby squid with chanterelles (to die for) and baby tomato souffles, the tomatoes themselves poufed! with a shrimp/crab creme. Divine cod and sea bass ensued. Started with cava, which was not really that great, then moved to Albarino: delish. The mediocre cava was likely my fault as I did not order many bottles of wine, but stuck more with glasses.

Found the food in the Paradors dull, dinner and breakfasts both. We were also at the Reina Victoria in Madrid and the Alfonso XIII in Seville where breakfasts and coffees were no better. However the grimiest little tabacco shop and roadside pits have better cafe con leche than Starbucks, so one can't really complain in spite of my earnnest attempt.

The Hostal Cardenal in Toledo made us not want to leave to the point that our first pass at that town's ciglos y ciglos of architecture started just after sunset, but Gracias a Dios! we found a wine bar on the way up the hill (there's a huge elevator up the mountain side these days) with several Riojas, Riberas and others by the glass. The Hecate I quite liked.

I had read about the Cardenal's partridge, so ordered that for dinner but was not impressed. Fatty enuf for the big half btl of Ribera I got; half because it was all for just me, my friend still ill. (see below...) We did dig the dining room, built by a cardenal, old and cold and stone. Here for the last thousand years Moors and Jews and Catholics fought and triumphed and fell in love.

The Parador in Ronda was the most fun, on the precipice of the gorge. We took breakfast on our balcony, Coconut Danones and sliced pear. The orange pink light and sense that Romans, Moors and Revolutionaries had all stompted thru made for high notes that outranked food. Seemingly thousands of Brits live here. We had driven down the coast, Granada to Motril to Marbella and north, stopping only for a lunch of grilled fish and salad on the beach. Bullfighting was invented at Ronda's ring in 1800 or so.

The Alfonso XIII, built for Seville's Ibero-American fair of 1929, echoes the Alcazar Real: a Moorish royal palace down the road, built some thousand years before. It was certainly spendy, but felt like what a Moorish Poet King's room might have. Plus it put us right next to Seville's Santa Cruz barrio, where four glasses of wine and a tapas cost 8eu. At the moment that's $8.5ish, which means a night of three or four bars and probably one glass too many for two costs $25.

In Santa Cruz, grilled artichokes with a bit of pesto drew us back to the same place twice. As did several bars 170-200 years old with azuelos, blue tiles, and copious bullfighters' pictures. Bocerones are the flash fried fresh anchovies that come in a mound. Don't you think flash makes it sound less evil? My tummy and thighs will all remember the dish from Seville as well as Bocaito in Madrid; and Cunina in Granada. Grilled fish and salad are to my mind ideal meals: it's just a matter of not eating them ALL: but what am i but a wasteful selfindulgent american. Saturday the 15th Seville's streets teemed with people protesting war.

But I wonder: are all dry white Amontillados fortified wine? They make some people sleepy early on, but I seemed okay. Those lil glasses cut the fry thing in half straight away. By the time evening began, at 12ish, I switched to tinto, red, or sangria, which must be a native Sevilliana :Een on Valentines Day the orange trees were filled with fruit. Luckily in Seville nights don't end til morning.

Unfortunate was a dinner in Madrid. After the third place we tried one night (we were likely still too early for dinner at 10) we happened upon a vegetarian restaurant. My almond soup and crudites were good, but my friend ordered a French onion soup (it had been 14 years, he said) and a veggie burger, and was sick all that night and in bed for the next two days.

No importa: Espana me encanta hasta siempre. :rolleyes:


Edited by lissome (log)

Drinking when we are not thirsty and making love at all seasons: That is all there is to distinguish us from the other Animals.

-Beaumarchais

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for a very interesting report. I don't know what it is about breakfast coffee in hotels, but it rarely approaches the quality of a good coffee at a cafe or bar. I suppose that in general, even at the best hotels, it's brewed in a big pot rather than an espresso machine. The trick we've learned is to ask for an espresso with milk if you want a cafe con leche that matches what you will get in a bar or cafe. You'll get a lot less coffee, but it will be better. I happen to favor cafe solo but my wife prefers cafe con leche. We both agree that the coffee in Spain has been about the best we've enjoyed. The best has a rich chocolate undertone that I can't really match here in NY. Starbucks can only boast that they've taught a nation that never loved rich coffee to begin with to drink hot milk drinks.

I've not had enough experience eating in restaurants in paradors to say too much about them as a group, but I suspect from what I've seen that too many of them suffer from being hotel restaurants catering to a wide range of tastes and to a transient clientele often not appreciative of the local food. Dull Spanish food can be very dull. In spite of my newly found enthusiasm for Spanish cuisine, I would never argue that it can't be dull, especially perhaps in certain regions. I've found it takes some research, some tuning of one's taste buds and finally some luck, but as you've discovered you can positively eat your way thru the country. I can say that from experience in the north and hope to be able to say that from the same vantage point about the south in due course.

I'm particularly interested in hearing more of the specialties in any area as well as the names of restaurants you enjoyed in Spain.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Paradors in my experience tend to have much better restaurants than other hotels. The menu tends to be representative of the cuisine found in the area where the parador is situated, so they are often very good places to sample local dishes as well as local wines

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Over a year ago, Penelope Casa had an article in the Sunday NY Times Travel Section about dining in Paradores. Some of them are apparently quite good. Theoretically, they are all supposed to offering representative regional food.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Paradors in my experience tend to have much better restaurants than other hotels. The menu tends to be representative of the cuisine found in the area where the parador is situated, so they are often very good places to sample local dishes as well as local wines

Paradors are supposed to serve the cuisine of their region. I've stayed in a fair few though, and I've generally found them to really, really awful. Apparently, the kitchen staff are funcionarios, or civil servants employed by the state. This means that they can only be sacked for very serious reasons, i.e. not for being bad cooks.

Sleep at Paradors by all means, but avoid meals whenever possible.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've also stayed in several Paradores and state owned hotels, mainly in the north of Spain. Some of them are beautiful buildings in lovely settings but the food in their restaurants has never lived up to the setting. They seem to cater for a clientele who are not really interested in food. Much more exciting eating is to be had elsewhere even if its only in the cheap local restaurant down the road.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sleep at Paradors by all means, but avoid meals whenever possible.

that sounds correct


Drinking when we are not thirsty and making love at all seasons: That is all there is to distinguish us from the other Animals.

-Beaumarchais

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Did the Brits picked up fish and chips from the ancient iberians who colonized Cornwall or when the Brits under Moore and later Wellington arrived to Conquer in 1809?


Drinking when we are not thirsty and making love at all seasons: That is all there is to distinguish us from the other Animals.

-Beaumarchais

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Who knows, but the Cornish Pasty is almost certainly a more recent Spanish loan-dish.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lissome--thank you for your report and for this line:

"that lunch at La Broche in Madrid was delicious, texture-obsessed and dumb gorgeous as the sunset."

It's one of the most disarming food writing turns of phrase I've read on this site in a while. La Broche has two Michelin stars and from what I've read the chef has been influenced by Ferran Adria. Did you detect this supposed influence--as in it caused you to disengage from the meal itself--or were you so focused on enjoying the good food in front of you that this "analysis" remained in the back of your mind? I wonder if you'd be willing to comment a bit about how your lunch there fit into the context of the Michelin star ranking based on other places you've dined, how expensive it was and whether it seemed appropriately priced?

Perhaps you'd be willing to explain this a bit more "the tomatoes themselves poufed! with a shrimp/crab creme?" Were several espumas involved? How was this presented to you? Did you eat it with a spoon?

In other threads on eGullet--a very interesting hypothesis has been raised--distilled to its essence it is that an increasing number of Spanish chefs and their higher end cooking in Spain are morphing Adria-like into unexpected directions--away from the supposed connection to place and local traditions, dishes, ingredients--in order to meet the desires of trendy tourist gourmets now coming to Spain in search of this new "style." Not simply based on an innate desire to do good, creative, interesting work. I don't know the answer to this but sense an opportunity to get your feedback on this. Did you get the sense that the cooking at La Broche was gussied up for tourists because tourists in some sense expected this?


Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Perhaps you'd be willing to explain this a bit more "the tomatoes themselves poufed! with a shrimp/crab creme?"  Were several espumas involved? How was this presented to you?  Did you eat it with a spoon?

the tomatoes were served solo, one or two small ones to a plate. i guess they were baked really to be poufy, with lil dollops of shrimp/crab creme, which collapsed a bit just as they were brought to the table, though i couldnt tell you what the name for that technique might be.

they came out just before transcendental mini mousse ham soups with nut creme. when my dear vegetarian friend didnt eat that, the fried onions - neither leeks nor scallions but something akin - were sent out.

certainly we did not need desert, but had petitfours served on a japanese rock garden plate that encluded a melon w/coco soup and dark choc covered tangerines.

the decor is white muslin with wide white leather seats, unadorned walls, orchids. here you find as much attention to textures as in the food. the word alacrity comes to mind

the lot - lunch mind you - cost 150, with three or four glasses of wine.

indeed you can call this trendy but perhaps more simply great.


Drinking when we are not thirsty and making love at all seasons: That is all there is to distinguish us from the other Animals.

-Beaumarchais

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.