I needed to attend a business meeting in Madrid midweek, so Robin decided to join me on the Thursday for a weekend getaway. Unlike other weekend trips where we’ve focused on museums and other sights, we decided to make this a weekend centered around food.
Our base of operations was the Petit Palace Santa Barbara, which we found to be convenient to the city center. I moved to the Petit Palace on Thursday afternoon after my meetings were done and Robin joined me there around 5:00 pm. We decided to go for a walk along the Gran Via to stretch our legs before getting something to eat. We had some wine and tapas at Makkila which was a short distance from the hotel.
On Friday, I worked from the hotel in the morning. For lunch, we walked back into the city center. A colleague of mine who took a couple of days holiday around the business meeting we both attend mentioned the Gourmet Experience at El Cortes Ingles as a good place to eat and Robin and I happened upon it at the right time. I had a fried calamari sandwich (it is to Madrid what the cheesesteak is to Philadelphia) while Robin had a gourmet hotdog. We washed it down with La Virgen beer while sitting outside on the 9th floor patio, enjoying the unusually warm weather. I worked the rest of the afternoon, and at 6:45 pm, we headed out for the first of our two big eating events: a tapas tour of Madrid. Put on by Devour Madrid Food Tours, the Tapas, Taverns and History tour took us and seven others to five different restaurants to sample the local food and wine. We ate some amazing jamon ibericio de bellota (as seen above), grilled mushrooms and freshly-fried garlic and chili shrimp. Our fellow “tourists” were a lot of fun and our guide, Joy, definitely went out of her way to make the evening an eventful and enjoyable one. As befits Spain, we finished the tour at 12:30 am and only made it back to the hotel at 1:00 am.
After a good long sleep and a late (and small) breakfast, we decided to go for a walk to the Parque de El Retiro. We had visited here some nine years ago when we were last in Madrid. It was good to stretch our legs and get some fresh area as we were scheduled for the second of the two big food events at 2:00 pm: a visit to the one-Michelin-star restaurant, La Cabra. We took the 14-course tasting menu with matching wines and had a spectacular meal covering cuisines such as China, Thailand, Hungary, France, Peru and Mongolia. Definitely recommended if you’re in Madrid. Returning to the hotel, we had a quiet evening, watching a few movies on Netflix.
Sunday, we once again arose, had a small breakfast and headed out for one final walk through the city. Returning to the old part of the city, we retraced some of our steps around the tapas tour, visited the grounds of the royal palace and just took things easy. For lunch, we once again returned to the Gourmet Experience at El Cortes Ingles on the Gran Via. This time we had Mexican, nachos and carnitas with Sol beer, a tasty way to end the week.
Looks like the only thing we missed eating on this trip was the outstanding churros at Chocolateria San Gines. Maybe on our next trip to Madrid.