Posts Tagged With: Lakasa Madrid

The 15 Best Things we Ate in Spain

Better late than never I suppose.   In order of the places visited…

Dry rice with pigeon at Lakasa (Madrid) – Starting with the best meal in Madrid and a challenge.  Hard to pick from a flawless meal with so many hits (Cecina, Hake, steak, clams), but this rice dish was the most memorable.  Tender, succulent bird, on top of flavor packed, socarrat filled rice.  First of many amazing rice dishes on this trip.

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Shrimp and Garlic La Casa del Abuelo (Madrid) – Years ago, Ramiro in Lisbon introduced us to the wonderful world of Shrimp swimming in sizzling garlic sauce, and we’ve been looking for this dish ever since.  La Casa del Abuelo is famous for it and I can see why.  The shrimp was plentiful and plump.  What they lacked in crispiness, they more than made up in flavor

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Cocochas de Merluza con Yema de Huevo at El Paraguas (Madrid) – This was exceptional although its not exactly clear what it was.  The restaurant translates it to “Hake’s Barbel in green sauce and egg yolk”.  Confusing because Barbel is a another fish, and Cocochas is the second chin or jaw of a fish which we had in Getaria some time later and it looked nothing like this.  Whatever it was, it was excellent. and I would go back just for this.

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Suckling Pig at Jose Maria (Segovia) – When in Segovia, a carnivore foodie experience like no other awaits.  From the theatrical presentation to the cutting with a plate, to the crispiness and juiciness of the meat.  A rather simple cooking process but the result is heavenly.  Thats because these guys got this thing down to a science.  From the weight of the pig, to the timing of the kill and what it had for breakfast on days 4 to 6.  And dont leave town without trying the Segovian beans.

Jose Maria in Action

Dessert Sampler at El Almacén (Avila) – Overlooking the dramatic walls of Avila is this mature gem producing splendid meats (although really on the rare side) and other creative dishes.  But it was the shockingly good dessert sampler that will make me come back.

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Farinato at Mesón Cervantes (Salamanca) – Salamanca, an underrated university town is not exactly known for its cuisine.  But one of the local specialties is Farinato, sausage made of lard, bread, and onions.  Its usually served with fried eggs and/or potatoes.  A local took us to this place on the main square for one of the best Farinato renditions in town.  I was also considering listing the Tostas (open sandwiches) at the uber local Taberna Dionisos

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Cachopo at Chigre El Antoju Sidrería (Llanes) – The formidable Cachopo can be criminally overlooked when researching Asturias.  How to describe this dish.  Its like a veal schnitzel gone horribly great.  Two mammoth fried veal fillets sandwiching ham, cheese, and whatever else in season.  And one of the best places to try it is this popular Sidrería in Llanes where you’ll be bathing in Sidra even if you didnt order it.

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Pitu de Caleya at El Molín de Mingo (Peruyes) – In the country side of Asturias, apparently there are these 7 feet chickens roaming around the area answering to the name Pitu.  Pitu Caleya Con Arroz, a rice dish made with those chickens is a local specialty and locals swear by El Molin de Mingo’s version.  Even local Michelin heavyweights try to replicate it’s exceptional depth.  Another must try is the Jabali Estofado, a slow roasted, super juicy wild boar that can be served with fried potato.  This place is well off the beaten path but well worth finding.

El Molín de Mingo Pitu

Fabada at Casa Marcial (Arriondas) – The Michelin crowned Casa Marcial produced one of the most memorable meals we ever had.  The set menu is a smart blend of inventive starters and perfected classic mains like the Fabada.  Calling it a bean stew doesnt feel right.  But it is. And you need to try it.  Other than the occasional showing at Despana, I havent seen it in NYC.

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Seafood Rice at Guernica (Luanco) – Once you step inside this local seafood mecca, there’s no mistaken its signature dish, as you see it served all over.  We opted for the Pixin (monkfish) and clam infused rice dish (there are choices) which was stellar and huge.  Its a good place for families and groups.  And I also wouldnt miss the best of the trip octopus, and scallops.

Guernica Rice Dish

Seafood Soup at Adolfo (Comillas) – Sometimes its the unplanned spur of the moment finds that are most memorable.  After we finished admiring El Capricho, one of Gaudi’s only works outside of Barcelona, we found Adolfo where seafood reigns supreme.  For us four it was a mega bowl of soup with heaps of fresh seafood, and quite cheaper than anticipated.  And the squid wasnt too shabby either.

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Turbot at Elkano (Getaria) – A fish experience like no other.  Tourists take expensive taxi rides from San Sebastian to eat here, while we just rolled from our hotel/winery nearby (The brilliant Gaintza).  The grilled Turbot dominates the entire fishing village, but at Elkano, they perfected it.  The owner, if around, will present the fish and explain the various textures and flavors from its parts.  This is also a good place to try Kokotxas (fish cheeks)

Elkano Turbot

Bonito at Mayflower (Getaria) – It was tough to choose from this fisheria featuring one of the most sought after terraces in town.  We’ve had two great meals here and we tried most of the menu pretty much.  So I turned to Mrs Ziggy on this one, and she fondly remembers the Bonito del Norte, the Tuna of the North that is essentially the best canned albacore you’ll ever eat.  The peppers and Galician octopus need to be ordered as well.

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Wild mushrooms with Foie and egg yolk at Araneta (Zestoa) –  This is a simple looking Asador up on the mountains, very popular with locals.  About 20 minute drive from Getaria.  Here you can get a fantastic Ribeye, and an even better wild mushrooms with Foie and egg.  When you have a group of mushroom haters (the rest of my family) wipe a mushroom plate clean you know you got something very special.

Araneta Mushroom Foie

Steak at Néstor Bar (San Sebastian) – How to describe Néstor Bar?  Imagine a dimly lit, romantic room.  Soothing, easy listening in the background, mixed with the occasional laughter of a young loving couple celebrating their 5th anniversary.  And a waiter that makes you feel comfortable and welcomed.  Now imagine the opposite of that and you have Néstor Bar.  Wait for your “table” in chaos, until you get standing room counter for the 4 of you, but can only fit two and half.  But once you taste the steak, with tomato salad, and green peppers, you go “F$&ck Romance”

Néstor Bar Steak

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Categories: Spain | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

3 Days in Madrid

A word of advice:  Lakasa!  That’s it.  Just one word as promised.  Thats the most important takeaway from this post, and if its the only takeaway, my job is kinda done here.  In other words, if you only giving this post your valuable morning bathroom break, just go straight to the Lakasa section and read the rest if you have more time.  There are other important tips here, including where not to eat, and where we planned to eat but didnt eat.  So maybe make it a longer bathroom or a work vaping break, to read the rest.

Talking about “takeaway”, my biggest struggle in Spain was requesting Coffee To Go in Spanish.  I know this is not exactly a coffee to go culture, but I needed it on occasion especially while driving.  I had to do it especially in the North where English was almost non existent.  “Para Llevar, Para Llevar, Para Llevar”.  I practiced, and listened and practiced some more.  I went from “Pull the Lever Please!” to “Para Levar” to “Para Yevar” and they would continue to nod and smile and serve it in a small coffee mug on a plate to stay.  Wife sometimes would come back from shopping to see me sipping on the coffee cup going, “couldnt pull the lever again, couldn’t you?”.  Nope!

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The most surprising thing about Madrid’s food scene was the large amount of American chains scattered all over the center.  There were moments when I was looking for something interesting to eat, and it was easier to find a Burger King then a local shop of some sorts.  But the site that surprised me the most was my first International “Five Guys”.  Turns out, there are 4 more outside the center.  Well done Guys!  All 5 of you.

Here’s a rundown of the places we ate.  You can read between the lines

El Paraguas – This was strongly recommended by our host and I can see why.  A room, make it rooms, including an outdoor patio, packed with locals, including families and grandpas who lunch.  All on a Friday afternoon.  And you need to dress up a notch for this one.  The cuisine is Asturian but the menu reads like a bible.  Madrid doesnt really have its own regional cuisine.  It draws its inspirations from all over Spain, especially the north (I can be corrected here).  The standout here was a mystery dish.  “Cocochas de Merluza con Yema de Huevo” on the Spanish menu translated to “Hake’s Barbel in green sauce and egg yolk” on the English menu.  Confusing because Barbel is a another fish, and Cocochas is the second chin or jaw of a fish which we had in Getaria some time later and it looked nothing like this.  Whatever it was, it was excellent. and I would go back just for this.IMG_8467

Cervecería Cervantes – This is where you will have that “We are finally in Spain” moment.  Surrounded by locals, and eating things we couldn’t get enough of the rest of the trip.  We came for the Galician Octopus which was good indeed, but we totally devoured the shrimp in garlic and Padron peppers.  And we started hearing angels singing when we tried the fried calamari.  Even though the singing was mostly in latin, I understood most of it… “Remember all that fried Calamari you’ve been eating in New York all your life? Lalalalalalala!  Its crap!  This is what it supposed to taste like”

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Lakasa (bottom)- Madrid is loaded with some incredible talent doing elevated traditional dishes and Avant-garde.  But its hard for me to imagine many better experiences in this price range.  This was flawless from start to finish.  From the house white to the waiter eerily popping a little device on the table where little wet wipes peep out one by one, much to our delight.  It doesnt take much to amuse us.  silky smooth Cecina (cured cow meat) from Astorga.  A mind blowing grilled Hake (better than the Alfonsino special).  Dried rice with pigeon, a house specialty, was a standout.  One of the better cooked steaks of a Spain trip loaded with great meats.  Clams in garlic, and fried eggs with truffles we couldnt get enough of.  One of the best meals we ever had in Spain

La Casa del Abuelo – Shrimp and Garlic!  We’ve been obsessing and dreaming about the shrimp in Garlic months prior to the trip.  Portugal did this to us!  Ramiro in Lisbon if I can point fingers.  In Madrid all indications pointed to the undisputed Shrimp and Garlic champ, La Casa del Abuelo.  Not to be confused with Abuela (grandma) on the same street.  You want Grandpa’s cooking, not Grandma in this case.  Really enjoyed the crustaceans here. They were plump and flavorful albeit on the softer side.  We also enjoyed the large Fideo with squid and its ink.

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Ochenta Grados – This was the only place open on Sunday night that was walking distance from our apartment.  We were surprised at how many close on Sundays here (some open for lunch).  Ochenta Grados felt like a place more for teen girls so it was sort of perfect because I came with two of those.  But at the same time it was cheap, inventive fun, and shockingly good value.  Clever “Tapas” like plates around 4 euros each.  We pretty much tried the entire menu for 70 euros.  A marginal endorsement for the foodies out there

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San Miguel Market – This is the one I dont quite get.  What exactly is the attraction here?  Is it the concept or the food?  Coming from the land of food markets (NYC) this was shockingly disappointing.  We settled initially on some overpriced, mediocre toasts with cheese.  Then we circled a few more times and nothing stood out.  Extremely crowded and expensive for Spain (11 euros for a small portion of fried calamari).  The whole thing felt like a giant tourist trap.  I cant imagine many locals go here.

A word on Tapas – One thing I learned in Madrid is that Tapas is more of a way of life, rather than a concept or simply small plates.  Its a social gathering where you move from place to place eating and drinking what the establishments specialize in, while standing.   Tapas is a lifestyle, that is not meant to be forced, and therefore difficult for visitors to mimic.  When you are spending a full day sightseeing, your planned Tapas crawl may not fit as you’ll be craving a seat and a drink somewhere relaxing instead.  But if you must, Calle del Dr. Castelo near Retiro park is loaded with some popular eateries like Laredo, La Castela, Castelados, and La Raquetista

Other places I wanted to visit but didnt have a chance:  La Manduca de Azagra, AskuaBarra, Glass Mar

 

Categories: Spain | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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