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#16 hollywood

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Posted 02 June 2004 - 05:46 PM

One thirst-provoking specialty is the cabrales blended with cider, which I think I mentioned before.

A spicy blue cheese blended with cider? What's the consistency?

Then that happened.

 

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#17 LML

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Posted 02 June 2004 - 05:59 PM

Never mind.
A dress is neither a tragedy nor a painting it is a charming and ephemeral creation, not an everlasting work of art. Fashion should die and die quickly in order that commerce may survive.


Food or frock?

#18 Wilfrid1

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Posted 03 June 2004 - 01:30 PM

It´s a spreadable paste, hollywood - not much different from the original consistency of cabrales, which is quite a soft, spreadable blue.

I should mention the dinner I had on my last night in Madrid, which was at an ordinary, sidestreet, family run restaurant - small, unpretentious, and clearly unchanged in many years. I was drawn in by the mention of judias (green beans) cooked with ham on the menu. I started with alubias, another kind of bean, stewed in a cassoulet style with chunks of pork. Then the judias, a lighter, sauteed dish. Followed this with some pieces of tender, long-cooked oxtail, with a few fried potatoes, then - after a pause to recuperate - a slice of flan. The absolutely simple type of restaurant cooking which doesn´t seem to exist outside France, Spain and Italy. A bottle of Pata Negra helped it go down, and to my question how long he had run the restaurant, the patron, clasping his brow, could only sigh "Muchos, muchos anos".
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#19 Wilfrid1

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Posted 10 June 2004 - 03:10 PM

Final twitchings of the trip. Having snacked heartily in Grenada while awaiting the Madrid train, I took no comestibles aboard, with the result that, on my arrival late on Sunday evening, I was compelled to stuff elements of a BK Double Whopper into my gob (see junk food thread). I resolved to serve myself better the following day, and after a pilgrimage to the Reina Sofia art center, I took notice of the very large number of sandwich and tapas bars along the main street leading towards the Center and the big Atocha station, and the sidestreets just off. I hadn't noticed the sheer quantity and appeal of these bars before. It was hard to choose, but I ended up in a barn of a place called Bar Brillante, of considerable vintage.

One entrance opens onto that main street (probably C. Atocha, but I don't have a map right here), and the other onto the square in front of the Reina Sofia centre. Two levels, with several different bars offering food alone, or food with booze. I stopped inside the door at the food bar, enticed by a sign mentioning artisanal empanadas. In Madrid, they like to cook a big tray of empanada, a filling sandwiched between two thick but moist slices of shortcrust pastry, then cut and serve squares of the resulting pie. I took a thick piece of bonito empanada, stuffed with tuna, peppers and onion, over to the bar, where on ordering a beer I also received a tapa of sardines and olives. I followed up with a pincho de Burgos; I expect a pincho to be a tiny morsel, but this showed up as half a large sandwich, stuffed with thick slices of Burgos morcilla.

A few doors along, I stopped at a food boutique to load up on non-airline food for the journey home. I chose morcilla de lengua - blood tongue (pretty much the same as you can find at good German sausage shops in New York) - and butafarra Catalana - the white slicing sausage of Catalonia. I cut these into big bocadillos the next morning, and was able to wave aside US Airways' plaintive offer of "chicken or pasta" with a smug grin on my chops.

Couple of final observations. Do avoid the slick, modern wine bars which are opening up in the traditional tapas bar areas; they are popular with tourists, and with smart young locals, offering what appears to be a smarter, cleaner, more user-friendly setting than the old holes in the wall. Just say no. Service is uniformed and young, but that's it, and the prices are through the roof. Also, while the Museo del Jamon chain provides good eating, I am a little disturbed by their proliferation - in some cases the Museo sign has just been abruptly tacked up over the still-visible original name of the bar it has replaced. Homogenization, and ultimately therefore to be resisted, not that there's anything wrong with the ham.

That's it, except for the Monday night La Broche write up, coming this afternoon.
Elect-a-lujah

***Every Monday***At the Sign of the Pink Pig.

If the author could go around the place hitting random readers with a rubber hammer, the Pink Pig would still be worth a visit.

#20 Elissa

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Posted 20 September 2004 - 05:31 PM

Inaki Camba, the charming chef at the Basque restaurant Arce, has quite a unique way of preparing meals. He himself comes to the table and asks forty questions about what you like and might want to try, about your preferences for ingredients, preparations and wines. Among the 18 courses he served us, we most fondly recall a foie with a 2001 Sauternes, Chateau Lamonte Violet. Very little if anything had been done to it: a bit of salt and a drizzle of oil. Hake cheeks also stood out as did the lovely flashfried sweet green chilis - pimientas de pedran de Galicia - that were just last week still in season. A bite of quail reminded us of ortolan; a tad too-sweet melon soup with Serrano left us cold. Maybe we'd been too fond of the Agush Taello Mata Reserva Brut cava - of which they poured us about 4 glasses each - to remember much else unassisted and unfortunately copious notes took were in a notebook we unfortunately lost. Why we never have trouble recalling wines remains a mystery: we enjoyed both a 98 Guigal Condrieu and a 94 Dapmau Reserva Rioja, though neither matched the food all that well. CQ recommends a visit; 50 Euros each for lunch seemed a deal.

Arce, Augusto Figueroa 32, 91-522-59-13

Even Keith McNally would be hardpressed to recreate the ancient, authentic, smoke-stained vibe of Madrid's La Venencia. A bar that serves neither beer nor vodka, La Venencia's singular beverage available is unlabeled Sherry and by god is it delicious. We love to drink fine fino in Spain, but haven't been convinced that it travels well as in our experience it's never quite potable here. Sherry, English for Jerez, is of course the Andalucian town where sherry's made. But it was only in the throes of its embrace at La Venencia that we learned that sherry (and Jerez) have their etymological roots in the originally Iraqui / Iranian or Mespotamian grape, Shiraz. We'd strongly advise visitors not to miss La Vanencia's incredible lomo, cured pork loin, but the mojama, cured tuna, seemed a bit salty. Next stop, same block: Los Gabrieles for about more sherries and canas, or beers. You can then head out to the Kingston, Sweet, the Factory and Bamboo (were there others?) well past dawn.

Madrid's literary cafe El Gijon, should you drop by, is fine for drinks but we'd not recommend the food. Tis however just a short jaunt to Bardemcilla, where though he's not likely to appear, you can bet the owner, Spain's sexiest actor Javier Bardem has cooled a spell or two.

The one restaurant we really loved this trip was Taberna Cazorla on General Pardinas, an Andalucian tavern run by 3 brothers who send gorgeous tapas out with each drink. First arrived a chistorra, chorizo-like fat lil sausages with yet more of the delicious green peppers - pimientas de pedran de Galicia. Used to be these were a Russian roulette of sorts as most are sweet but occassionally a hot one strikes. They've become more highly bred and it's less common these days to get the spicy ones. Two of us shared a mixed fry of the world's freshest fishies, lightly battered and fried in gorgeous, fresh, clean olive oil that arrived so light and thin we wouldn't have been suprised to see them fly. The three kinds of squid on our plate include calamare, chipirones and chopitos; also, cigalas and baby clams as well as baby dover sole. A delicious steak served on a toast smeared with evoo and tomato guts drew high marks all around. This is the place I'd eat daily if I were to move to Madrid. 30 Euros for all of us, food and drinks included seemed a steal.
i find it wildly amusing because i'm mildly drunk. -helena

#21 Wilfrid1

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Posted 20 September 2004 - 05:36 PM

Thanks for adding to our Madrid list. The tavern sounds wonderful.
Elect-a-lujah

***Every Monday***At the Sign of the Pink Pig.

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#22 lxt

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Posted 20 September 2004 - 09:10 PM

Thank you for posting, which is quite timely for us, as we are leaving for San Sebastian and Madrid tomorrow. Is reservation required to Arce and, if yes, how long in advance?

#23 Elissa

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Posted 20 September 2004 - 09:19 PM

we dropped in for lunch unannounced at 3 but you might want to call.

if money's not an issue you might want to check the restaurant called zalacain, basque-du-moment in madrid, which my chums assured me would be 200 euros pp.

regardless, i hope you have a great time.
i find it wildly amusing because i'm mildly drunk. -helena

#24 Wilfrid1

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Posted 06 September 2005 - 07:27 PM

I may as well post thoughts from the recent trip on this thread. Interesting to re-read Elissa's post from almost a year ago. pimientos de padron. Ah, yes. I ordered a plate of those to nibble while drinking a nice rose on a terrace. Generally speaking, I find you eat about ten mild, savory, salty peppers to one very hot one - the Russian roulette effect to which Elissa refers. But there was one on this plate which I truly believe was the hottest thing I have ever eaten in my life. And I have been to Thailand. About fifteen minutes of considerable pain (and a bit of a reprise when expelling the thing the morning after: Padron's revenge). Ouch.

Anyway, pleased to report an even more enjoyable meal on my second visit to Botin, reputedly the oldest restaurant in Europe. My first dinner was solo, but this time there were three of us, hungry, and that's the best way to enjoy this place. In fact, it occurred to me for the first time how much Botin - in its menu and presentation - reminds me of St John. Okay, a Spanish St John - but if you want bits of a high quality young animal, simply cooked and presented, this is your place.

Now can anyone tell me why a portion of angulas should be so expensive. On the menu at 100E! I have eaten these little eels in Spain before, both at tapas bars, and at the fine restaurant Ca' d'Isidre in Barcelona, and never at that price. One can even buy them in Chinatown. When I mentioned the latter to the waiter, he insisted that these would be fabricated angulas, not the real thing. :lol: Maybe it's something to do with the particular provenance of the specimens Botin was offering.

So, passing up that temptation, my Beloved ordered a big dish of soup made with fresh seafood, which was commandeered by the Munchkin, preferring it to her perfectly nice croquetas. If you ever wondered what happens to the little feet of the countless suckling pigs served here, look for manitas on the appetizer list. They end up poached, then deep friend, and I was just enjoying a stack of the sticky delicacies when the Munchkin, having swum a few lengths in the soup, plunged in. I cannot tell you how proud I am to have a four and half year old daughter who expertly eats the feet of suckling pigs.

I tried the roast piggy last time, although the sight of the portions sporting little crispy tails strongly tempted me. Instead, I ate a little leg of milk-fed lamb, garnished with a couple of small roast potatoes. Munchkin devastated half a roast chicken. I can't remember the third entree, but it was fine too: at which point my family started putting away ice creams, while I tried to choke down some rice pudding. Nice choices on the wine list, as ever in Spain exhibiting very little mark-up from the stores. We had a modest bottle of Luis Canas Rioja for something under 30E.

...more to follow...
Elect-a-lujah

***Every Monday***At the Sign of the Pink Pig.

If the author could go around the place hitting random readers with a rubber hammer, the Pink Pig would still be worth a visit.

#25 Silly Disciple

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Posted 08 September 2005 - 02:45 AM

Now can anyone tell me why a portion of angulas should be so expensive.  On the menu at 100E!  I have eaten these little eels in Spain before, both at tapas bars, and at the fine restaurant Ca' d'Isidre in Barcelona, and never at that price.  One can even buy them in Chinatown.  When I mentioned the latter to the waiter, he insisted that these would be fabricated angulas, not the real thing.  :o  Maybe it's something to do with the particular provenance of the specimens Botin was offering.

Indeed the Angula is the freshwater baby eel, which is expensive as hell, due to production issues I think.
The surimi based Gula, on the other hand, is made out of I think grouper (Abadejo) meat, and it's a much cheaper product you find in supermarkets and such here in Spain.
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#26 Elissa

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Posted 08 September 2005 - 02:52 AM

A Beeb story from several months back on reputedly aphrodisiac baby eels caught in France, not Spain. Under threat of depletion, they now sell all but exclusively from France to Japan and China at 7-800 Euros or US$900-1000 per kilo.
i find it wildly amusing because i'm mildly drunk. -helena

#27 Wilfrid1

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Posted 08 September 2005 - 02:51 PM

Amazing.

So what are those little critters I am buying down in Chinatown? They have spines (edible) and eyes. I cannot believe they are reconstituted.

I served some to some Mouthfuls members a few months back.
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***Every Monday***At the Sign of the Pink Pig.

If the author could go around the place hitting random readers with a rubber hammer, the Pink Pig would still be worth a visit.

#28 Wilfrid1

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Posted 08 September 2005 - 03:13 PM

A second dinner at Santceloni, Santi Santamaria's Madrid outpost, was enjoyable if imperfect. We were a little unfortunate to be seated near enough to friends of the house to observe the dishes being prepared specially for them, one of which was ortolan. :o

But, tempted by the esperdenas and roast kid on the carte, we opted for the (surprise) Grand Menu. Improvised by the kitchen, so not available in writing: my account will therefore be impressionistic and out of order.

Hits:

The sweet and tasty flesh of buey de mar, a relation of the lobster (Balic explained all this once) served in an open raviolo, with two sauces - one pumpkin, one sherry (although I think I tasted foie in there two). Great sweet/savory contrast in the sauces; perfect temperature; delicious.

Sauteed setas with soft-boiled quail's eggs. Simple, just right.

Foie gras with an exquisite strawberry sauce. A hunk of fresh foie gras (is it cheap in Spain for some reason? Huge servings everywhere) - fully flavored, cooked just right.

The cheese table. And it is a vast wooden table which the waiters heft around the dining room. An excess of French cheeses, I thought, but the quality and ripeness was impeccable. One of my favorite cheese courses (despite the somewhat irritating "Shall I make a selection for you?" offer). A crustily aged St Nectaire was outstanding, and it was wonderful to eat a true unpasteurised Brie de Meaux in good condition.

Three sorbets - one of the same beautiful strawberries which were a theme of the meal, one of blood orange, and one of an orange fruit described as unique to the region and which I need to investigate. :o

The main dessert was more of those strawberries, served in a sweet little bee-hive shaped pot, over delicate cool custard. Petitis fours and chocolates were all in order.

Acceptable:

The canapes were a bit dull. The air of having been sitting around for a while. Canapes in the traditional sense - little bits of things on "crackers". Good diced tomato with basil. Nice pork rillettes. Gougeres no more than okay.

A cooling gazpacho with a neat dollop of tomato confit. I am just not a big gazpacho fan, so I am not sure how good this was - seemed fine.

Not good:

We are having a bad run with the rectangle of white fish course (sea bass). Only a few weeks ago we sent it back at Bayard's in New York - a salt bomb. Same thing here. No question about it - inedible. To my taste, it was also undercooked - just on the rubbery side. Removed and replaced graciously with still salty but acceptable, and more fully cooked, specimens. On the plus side, each attempt boasted a really good sauce - first time around, a sticky sauce based on finely diced, braise tripe (which I admit I thoroughly sucked up before sending the fish back :o ). Second time, similar concept - a savory sepia (cuttlefish) sauce. Shame about the seasoning.

Caviar, onion cream, blinis. Oh, isn't is a shame when the caviar isn't up to scratch. This was bitter. :( The onion cream, served alongside, was rather good, with little dashes of caramelised onion.

Thanks to the exchange rate, a sturdy check - not helped, I admit, by the silky 1989 Vega Sicilia Unico which stretched it legs as we ate. I do enjoy the food at La Broche more, although I am finding the service at Santceloni to be better - very good, in fact.

Note: The munchkin was disapproved by the Madrid two stars, but with a certain ironic inevitably, my Beloved came across a childhood friend from Santo Domingo mending the electrics in the El Brillante bar opposite Reina Sofia: babysitting solved. :o
Elect-a-lujah

***Every Monday***At the Sign of the Pink Pig.

If the author could go around the place hitting random readers with a rubber hammer, the Pink Pig would still be worth a visit.

#29 Wilfrid1

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Posted 15 September 2005 - 04:40 PM

Frustrating: I also wanted to post about a splendid, spacious, two-level wine store I found, with a staggering, region-by-region selection of Spanish wines, as well as some foreign stuff. I know I brought their card home with me, but can I find it?

All is not lost. It's on Calle Jose Oretga y Gasset in the fancy Salamanca district, and it's on the same side of the street as Giorgio Armani, and very nearby - which is how I stumbled across it. Shouldn't be hard to track down. Yes, the name has the word "Vin" in it :o
Elect-a-lujah

***Every Monday***At the Sign of the Pink Pig.

If the author could go around the place hitting random readers with a rubber hammer, the Pink Pig would still be worth a visit.

#30 yvonne johnson

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Posted 15 September 2005 - 05:04 PM

The meal at Santceloni sounds very good. I do like the sound of the desserts and cheeses. Was there not a meat course? No kid? By the way, what are esperdenas?
It was not a new dish, as I recognised my tooth marks. Wilfrid