Madrid cuisine is a perfect synthesis of traditional dishes, anchored to the family-style menus by their simplicity and efficacy, and haute cuisine (national and international), as demanded by a public with strong acquisitive power and clear opinions, increasingly eager to innovate and experience new sensations. More than three thousand restaurants lay their tables every day in Madrid, offering choices to suit all tastes and all budgets. Beside the leaders, seven of them (Sergi Arola Gastro, Santceloni, Alboroque, La Terraza del Casino, El Chaflan, Zalacain, Zaranda and Club Allard) recipients of coveted Michelin stars, recent years have seen a number of new and original options spring up. The appeal of some of these is enhanced by their location - for example, the restaurants at the Teatro Real, Thyssen-Bornemisza museum and Reina Sofia museum - while others offer a new interpretation and understanding of gastronomy via the senses: taste, sight and smell, as might be expected, but also through touch and hearing..
Cocido madrileño, a single dish served in three courses (soup, chick peas, and meats and vegetables), heads up a long list of recipes "a la madrileña" - dishes served in typical Madrid style - and other specialities. These include potaje de vigilia, garlic and almond soups, callos (tripe) and caracoles a la madrileña (snails); lombarda (red cabbage), gallina en pepitoria (chicken fricassee), besugo or bacalao a la madrileña (sea bream and cod) and soldaditos de pavia (filleted cod wrapped in red pepper). A long tradition of confectionery, largely linked to the religious fiestas, includes roscon de reyes, a cake served at Twelfth Night, the Easter delicacies huesos del santo and torrijas (French toast), rosquillas 'listas' and 'tontas' (San Isidro), barquillos (wafers), bartolillos, and the deep fried pestiños and buñuelos de viento. And, of course, the list wouldn't be complete without the typical chocolate with churros or porras - thick hot chocolate with deep fried dough cakes eaten for breakfast year round.
In addition to Madrid's traditional white wines, usually made from malvar and albillo grapes, in recent years, high quality red and rosé wines have appeared on the scene from the three recognised brand areas of the Madrid region: Navalcarnero, San Martin and Arganda. Although it is traditional to drink Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Valdepeñas or Rueda wines accompanied by tapas there are more and more specialized wine bars opening which offer a wide choice of national and international wines.
Going for a drink in Madrid means going out for tapas - a drink and a small snack which usually comes free, although larger portions or more elaborate options may not be. The tapas habit is one of the defining customs for the people of Madrid and clearly illustrates the way the locals relate to others. Sol, Plaza Mayor, Santa Ana, Huertas, La Latina, Chueca and Malasaña are some of the most popular areas for tapas, but all round Madrid you can find places to enjoy the local gastronomic specialties - entresijos, callos, gallinejas (the offal-based dishes taste far better than they might sound!) - and others brought from across Spain, from pulpo a la gallega (Galician octopus), pescaditos a la andaluza (the deep fried fish speciality of Andalusia), to zarajos (another offal dish) from Cuenca and paella from Valencia - particularly popular on Sundays. Tapas can be found across Madrid in modern establishments, but there are also old inns such as Casa Alberto (dating from 1827, at Calle Huertas, 12), Antonio Sanchez (1830, at Meson de Paredes, 13) and Labra (1860, at Tetuan, 12) that maintain this culinary art form from the nineteenth century.
© 2000-2008, HOLA S.A., Madrid – Miguel Ángel, 1 – 28010 – Madrid (España)