Gofio – posh Canarian food

Yeah. I’ve sold out. I ain’t keepin’ it real no more
This is definitely not an old skool menu del dia restaurant. Quite the opposite. It’s like a restaurant from The Trip. There’s dishes that come with foam, there’s dishes that get injected in front of you, you get instructions with each course. and there are eight courses of tiny but delicious weird dishes.
We felt like we should be constantly doing impressions. But I find that gets a bit wearing when professional impressionists do it, so the fifth time a scrote like me says “No, Mister Bond, I expect you to die!” you’re actually wishing you could die. “What do you mean Flash Gordon approaching?”…impressions are even worse when you have to say who you are trying to be…”What’s that supposed to mean, Scott?” (Guy Pearce in Neighbours)

So, this restaurant is in Huertas (or if you prefer..Lavapies Alta Norte) and it ain’t cheap. But i’m assured by my brother that for this sort of high class food in the UK you’d be paying an arm and a leg for this sort of an experience. And as everybody there is on zero hour contracts, you’ll need those arms and legs…even though you’d still be considered fit for work and sent back to poundland without them.

this is going to be hard to write about as there were 8 courses and wasnt completly sure what any of them were…mainly when the male waiters brought them over and insisted on telling us about the dish in very difficult to understand English. The female waiters were quite happy to explain the dishes in their native tongue, which made them much easier to understand. I wasnt too worried about what the male weighters were rabbiting on about as they had checked for alergies beforehand (and i’m deathly alergic to all nuts and all dirty bombs. and killer sharks. and i can’t breath in space. not allergic but i dont like beer over 6 per cent. think i got everything covered there)
Basically you have 3 options…they are all tasting menus…menus degustation. you can have short menu of 6 plates/courses, 8 plates/courses or ten. we went for the middle one. 35euro. Bottle of white wine from Lanzarote

first course…now this is easy….chicken soup. I’m sure they’d done something else to it than just chicken soup. Was delicious. “We took a chicken and made it fight a bear. an angry bear like in that film with Leonard Di Capprio. Then we got the chicken to appear on celebrity big brother and get off with an ex-wag and come at least third. Then, and only then, did we turn him into soup. Enjoy!”

next course/plate was a scallop with a foam of something delicious…in a sauce of delicious.

next plate/course was a pie of something, goat maybe. and injected with rabbit salmorejo…which is not salmorejo you know, there’s not tomato in it. there was something about the green veg it was served on and we were warned that we would be shown the door if we didnt eat the greens. fair enough

really not sure what the next thing was. Was maybe pork inside a damson style thing. with a sauce made of super concentrated baby squid

absolutely no idea. was nice though. the crispy thing on top was made from corn. i think. oh the wee gobs of sauce were made from avacado

Octopus. with a sauce. very delicious.

meat

this was the last “salad” course….he meant “savoury”. think it was goat stew with something on top and a slice of strong sheep’s cheese to the side

Pudding one. Lemon mouse thing with mint

pudding two. mine was different to my partner’s. mine was sort of chocolaty. thing the other one had evil nuts in it

all in all, i cant see myself eating there regularly. 115euro for 8 courses for two people and two bottles of lanzarote wine (very nice by the way…sort of smokey and dry) but was definitely a positive experience which i highly recommend. just dont make sure you dont sit next to a pair of dicks doing crap impressions

Meson Valle del Jerte

I once met a woman, no bear with me. This woman said “I don’t like menu del dias!” which to me is a bit of a strange thing to say….i can imagine someone saying “i dont like cheese” and not liking cheese….but if you said “I don’t like lunch” that, to me, is a bit weird. I have a feeling she didnt really know what a menu del dia was and was just repeating something she’s heard someone say, as she kept asking questions like “how many courses do you get?” “do we really get all this for 10euro?”
As i have mentioned, the menu del dia and our very way of life is being eroded and there are some areas of Madrid where it’s nie on impossible to find a proper menu del dia. and even in a civilised place like lavapies-sur (embajadores) they aren’t all over the place at weekends. So when you’re hungry, thirsty, tired and it’s a saturday and the grain of sands left counting down the lunch window are disappearing, it great when you remember a proper Menu Del Dia place is just around the corner.
So i ended up in Meson Valle del Jerte just opposite Frangus just below the rastro. Jerte is a small town near Caceres but for some reason this restaurant has some connection with Portugal. They sell Sagres and Pasteis de Nata, but maybe it’s just because its opposite Frangus and they buy from there.

Look at that! That’s a site for thirsty eyes….not only a full bottle of wine for one person, but a large bottle of Casera to mix with it. To be honest, i generally find myself rationing Casera as much as wine.

hell of a lot of seafood paella. i wont be going thirsty or hungry

Baked Bream (Dorada), the fish being baked atop the spuds and veggies. Lovely

oh and pudding. chocolate tart. Didn’t bother taking photo of dessert. it’s just dessert.

Old Skool no frills home cooked Menu del Dia. 14 euro (well, it is a weekend). I was able to get myself home and onto the sofa to siesta till half past seven half listening to a hiphop spotify playlist. Tell me if you had a better saturday!

La Cabana Argentina

Was my partner’s birthday so I took them (non gender specific pronoun) for a steak. I’ve walked past this place a few times and did my due diligence and it had good reviews. Also, did a bit of extra research as I’m a nob. Turns out that the best cut of steak to order in argentina is bife de chorizo or strip steak for you angloholics…it’s a cut that is tender but has enough fat to make it tasty. Your tenderloin or solomillo is apparently like shagging a model…looks good from a distance but not really much to it. and is skinny, smokes and does charlie. If a barbecue joint does a good strip steak, apparently you know its a good place. So i thought that even if its a rubbish meal, we’ll at least leave knowledged up about this place.

So obviously we ordered chicken nuggets and strawberry milk shakes. well done!
No… we ordered, well I ordered as I’m the alpha, 500g bife de chorizo en su punto (which is not rare or medium rare…it’s literally to the point…you’re saying…let the meat decide)
chips bien sur.
bottle of end of the world Malbec from Patagonia. a very nice drop yo.
Total was about 100euro for the two of us.

http://lacabanaargentina.com/contact

will definitely go back. but may take a year or so for all that meat to leave my intestines

Coffee in Madrid

I like my coffee like I like my men: hot, bald and slutty

Ok, that doesn’t make any sense. I’m probably just telling you that i drink cofee; I’m bald; I will most probably put out (I tend to let love rule) and in the right light, which is mainly a lack of light and no obvious exit, I could be considered attractive. Depending on how much you’ve drunk and what prescription your glasses that you’ve left somewhere else are.

I think the hipsters have moved on to artisinal beer these days, so I’m on safe ground to write something about coffee. Without being called a hipster, despite living in Lavapies and having a beard. Also, I’m too old to be considered a hipster. No tattoos, no kids, no dog. Guess that makes me a goth. or a hippy or whatever other clique is today’s counter cultural bête noire. I’m probably just a scruffy chav with sophisti-pop tendencies with a passion for Lovejoy, “Africa” by Toto, Soviet art and Come Dine with Me. Don’t think i’m exactly on the zeitgeist.

So, Coffee, Cawfy, CupaJoe,Java…what’s it all about, eh? As an ex-Englishman who became didlyeye culchie Oirish I grew up drinking a mug of tea more often than the jitter juice…but that changed in my early thirties when I left Istanbul and went to live in Lisbon. Fresh milk wasn’t a thing there at that time and nobody sane is going to put UHT milk in tea, are they? so i moved over to C8H10N4O2. Not a bad descicion to be honest, as it turns out that by the far the betterest coffee in the world is served in Portugal. A stint living in the south of Italy kept the coffee monkey on my back, so it was a bit of a shock when I moved to Madrid, 14 years ago now, and drank coffee here. Jesus, how do they make it so bloody aweful? Thankfully, some people are actually getting the hang of it and there are places you can find that serve half decent coffee.

Some basic rules:

  • This isn’t Italy, don’t feel confind by Italian rules of decorrum. You can have a coffee with milk after 10am if that’s your jam. Nobody is going to be reporting a dangerous maniac to the popo.
  • If you want your hot beverage to be more than tepid, you’ll have to make sure you ask for your milk to be muy caliente. Like my men….
  • If you want to be able to taste the coffee in your relaxing cafe con leche, ask for it to be largo de cafe.
  • Look for a sign showing they serve either Portuguese coffee (eg. Delta) or Italian Coffee (eg. Lavazza or Illy

Places that serve nice coffee in the centre of Madrid

Cafelito (near Plaza Agustin Lara)

Mercadillo Lisboa (in Lavapies market)

Go on…have a custard tart and a small glass of vinho do porto or a glass of Licor Beirão

Taberna Tirso de Molina

(Delta coffee)

Bar La Piola (Calle Leon) CLOSED DOWN

Mas Corazon (opposite Anton Martin Market)

if you’re Hank Marvin…order a pincho of their amazing tortilla…you get a fair old wack.

La Cana (on the way down towards Reina Sofia)

they do a lot of various (expensive) fruit juices too. Illy coffee.

*all the photos came off the old there internet, raining so i couldnt be going out and taking fotos myself. mianly from the locations own facebook or tripadvisor page

** new mac and new keyboard, got an english keyboard and so the punctuation has got me all a bit confused. so add in any necesarry punctuation using your own imagination.

La Chusquery

*i took the photos in this post, which would explain why they’re so shite.
two posts in the same day, i should have a lie down.
amazing how much time you find if you miss mass on a sunday and masturbate slightly less. or quicker, maybe. i joke…i haven’t been to mass in twenty years.

yesterday i went old skool and had lunch in SanBruno, like i’d never been away. same waiters, nice as always…litre and a half of wine, casera and glass with ice all without asking. and a free chupito of patxaran to digest. and west ‘am against arsenal on the telly.
today was like a special day? so went to a posh place. we’d tried to go before but they were having none of it…said they were full or some shit. so yesterday after lunch in bruno i waddled up and booked a table for today.
The maitre-di/waiter had decided that despite more than 25 years in madrid between us, and the fact that i’d bucked it in the old Castellano, that we could only be spoken to in hard-to-understand english and had to order from an english menu that was very hard to follow if you actually spoke english. i’m quite happy speaking to people in english if they want, in fact…most of the time i insist because i’m lazy as fuck….but sometimes, and almost always in a restuarant you just want to ask “¿podemos realizar esta operación en español, que sería más facil?”…which probably sounds like “koood wee perfume thos peration une spaggheti, eat wood bees moo oozy if i say it. i was just pissing by the door”

Anyway, this restuarant is like so hot right now. as in hip. and used to be a nice little local shop for old people just by Plaza de los Carros in La Latina. I remember i used to come in here for a can of beer to drink in the plaza on a monday as there was no popo there, like on a sunday. Not sure what the schtick is in the resturant…but there’s quite a few japanese things on the menu and there are some pictures of japanese style temples on the wall.

my boo started with half cheese plate. came with nuts. ewww. and cheese is basically death anyway, as human adults we’re not really supposed to eat it, the fact we aren’t lactos intolerant is a freak of our DNA in the north of europe.

i had the ceviche of a fish (no point giving us a menu with the fish written in english…we can’t afford to eat fish in the uk so we have no idea what they’re called in english)….was actually delicious….really delicious…almost as nice as the ceviche in anton martin market but 3 times the price.

we both went for whatever it was trying to say on the menu…but it seemed to be galician grass fed dead cow meat. so we ordered that. yum.
i made the mistake of wanting white wine with the meal, because i prefer white wine and red wine gives me a headake. The Alo-Alo style waiter was non too pleased and decided to leave without taking the wine order just so that we had time to have a think about just what we asked. luckily we managed to order a bottle of albariño from another waiter

the grass fed dead cow meat was wonderfully tender and the chips were served in a mini chip frier as they always are these days, everywhere…except, i imagine, in chip shops. the waiter had decided i was obviously just wrong or insane to order the cowmeat well done (it tends to be a better choice in spain…because rare means the cow meat is still running around and medium means the cow has just been stunned for a while)….but i have to give it to him, he was right.
even had pudding…which i didn’t bother to photograph, because who cares about pudding yo?
so…three courses and 2 bottles of albariño wine…was about 90-odd €…i suppose that’s ok if you’re going to insist on going to posh places.

Drinking Beer in Madrid

Well, my bit of Madrid, at least

*none of the photos taken in this post were taken by me
** all of the opinions are mine and “fluid” to say the least.

Hipsters love their beer, almost as much as their tattoos and their facial hair.
Hang on! thinking about it, all those blokes I grew up with were hipsters not North Notts Coal Miners*
(*sounds crazy to younger people…but in the past…britain made things and mined things, rather than running hedge funds, avoiding tax and buying everything from China)

When I came to live in Madrid, 12 years ago now, beer existed but only Mahou or other chemically altered nasty lager beers. and you could spit on the floor and throw anything you liked on the floor in a bar. and smoke at people, and shit on the floor or in the milk or anywhere you liked. They were simpler days.

Madrid is a better place since I came here. Obvs. The bread is still shite and people do still enjoy spitting on the floor and shitting in the milk, but…..but….real beer has arrived, and arrived hard. While having your beard trimmed by a lumbersexual you can look out of the window and see a bar selling artisinal beer from any angle. So here are some places to enjoy liquid bread if you happen to be in the people’s republic of Lavapiés

O.G! La buena pinta. Maybe the first beer shop/bar in Madrid. In Lavapiés market. Sells beer to take away with you or beer to put into yourself there and then. Generally has 4 good beers on tap (between 3,50€ and 5€ a pint). La buena pinta is also involved with 2 other bars close by….

the good one….Bar Casa Zoilo

..one of my favourite old skool bars, now even better as it has at least one IPA on tap and loads in bottles. Reasonably priced.

the not so good…El Pedal. a shame…cos it’s really near my house. Unfortunately, rather expensive (minimum 5€ a pint going up to 7€ or so) and not very comfortable. Staff aren’t particularly friendly either

couldn’t find a picture of the bar. i could probably take one from my balcony, but i’m still in my jim-jams and drinking a mug o’tea. give me a break.
Chinaski

18 different beers on tap from all over the place. Pint of pilsner erquel for 3,50€ if you fancy a decent lager beer. Do check how strong the beer you’re ordering is….i’m not a big fan of anything over 7percent and they have quite a few that are up to 10 or more. I’m still very manly of course.

Cafe Pavon
Next to Teatro Pavon. Was an always empty cafe bar until it became a hipster paradise. No proper beer on tap but they always have a few artisinal beers from madrid in bottles. terrible service, they can’t cope if there’s more than 3 people in the bar so you might be in for a long wait. Also, almost always full of ridiculously attractive people. They should really have a bouncer on the door so people like me aren’t allowed in. For bog lovers, the bogs aren’t great.

(course, make me look stupid googleimages, only have pictures of this bar farely empty)
there is a specialist beard barber opposite but you have to have a booking. and speak english i think, as the barber refused to speak spanish to me. which is his right.

el imparcial

Where I come from (Sherwood Forest, North Nottinghamshire, Lil’ol’England, Europe), a tree grows outside…so putting a tree inside, well that seems a bit radical. possibly cruel, possibly heretical. but fuck it eh?!
this is a bizarelly posh place next to a sex cinema in turso de molina….so if you want to do a shop in lidl (which is great, by the way), have a drink and piss in the square (also kind of great) and then go and watch a bit of porn in a cinema along with old men who enjoy the comradery of watching porn in a group situation with fellow minded men and who probably don’t know about the internet…and you would like to finish off your afternoon in a really posh restaurant that has a tree inside it…then this is the place for you.
I just went to the restaurant, not sure i have the energy for the others.
there is a menu del dia which is pretty steep at 16€ and only includes a glass of wine….which is silly for a three course meal…how can you possibly make a glass of wine last 3 courses unless you’re a camel. and there were no signs of any camels demanding a table.
posh places are a bit annoying. first, because they’re posh and make you feel uncomfortable, second because they charge too much and don’t deliver what you’ve given them in your hard earned chashish, third because they tend to employ waiters or waitresses that may look good but tend to be not very good at waiting or thinking…just looking good and fawning. fourth, ridiculous hydration policy, but i could probably link that in with the first point.
this had all of those things…but at the end of the day, the food was nice and there was a tree INSIDE.
I was there with my partner because it was a special day for us, being a friday and the temperature was nice and cool and there was just a chance of rain. heaven.
We went upstairs to the restaurant (there’s a bar downstairs) which was half empty and were asked if we had a reservation and then the main waiter seemed to make a bit of a deal about finding us a table in a half empty restaurant…should have gone the whole hog and asked us to stand outside the dining room and eat standing up outside the disabled toilet. at this point i should say that..the disabled toilet is great. especially if you’re disabled.
my partner, with usual intuitive good taste and penache asked the waiter if, to drink we could have water as part of the menu del dia and then a bottle of white wine which we’d pay for on top of the menu del dia…the waiter said that he couldn’t do that but we could have the water as part of the menu del dia and we could pay for the bottle of wine on top of the menu del dia. errr…ok. various wines were chosen but they didn’t have them before the waiter decided we’d be better having the only white wine they had that was actually cold. so we had that. we both chose the same starter and main course.

starter, salad with wind dried tuna. nice enough. bit salty. that could have been the wind dried tuna. or the lettus. iunno.

main course…sardene fillets on top of thin slices of arabic/pita bread with an aubergine puret. nice.
pudding…fruit cocktail or cheese cake. i double checked that there was no nuts in or around the cheesecake and was laughed off as though i was asking if the dirty old men from the porn cinema had jizzed all over the cheesecake before they served it. of course…the cheesecake came with pistachios around it…but luckily not on it (as i have a nut allergy that would kill three strong men, possibly 4). it was nice though. maybe due to the old man-batter sauce.

so…in the end 24€ each and certainly a place i’d lake a laydee if i was wanting to impress them chika-chika-bow-wow

Buns & Bones

Possibly the worst restaurant name i’ve ever come across, but i suppose it’s memorable. or not…i had to google it to write this.
Anyway, it’s a new restaurant on the outside of Anton Martin Market bottom corner if you were going to walk down to the Reina Sofia.

I suppose their shtick is that they get their ingrediants fresh from the market. the buns thing is, i think that half the menu contains bread and the bones bit is dead things that once had bones. i say half and half but there’s a large part of the menu that says “neither buns nor bones” and is given over to things that never had bones nor are served in bread.
We started off with Metze de Lavapies, the buns bit was pita pan and 3 things to put on to or into the pan…olive tapanard, hummus and guacamole. I thought that was a bit steep at 7.50, but to be fair…the waitresses were delightful, not that i’m ever swayed by a well turned ankle

I just got paid, so as a working class man, I am culturaly bound to spend it as quickly as possible. Not for the likes of I the more sensible deferred satisfaction, so i ordered a half a lobster. to eat. think i’d only ever had it once before. i felt all Kanye n’shit.

I should maybe have googled how to eat it properly because I fear I may have made a right pigs ear of it. Possibly why I’m not being considered for the new Bond.
My partner ordered the tandoori chicken, which was a brave thing to have on a menu in Lavapiés…bit like putting faggots & mushy peas on a menu in Nottingham, lot to live up to

My lobster was as nice as any i’ve ever had and the Tandoori chicken was apparently pukka. the roast potatoes that came with both were nice. Also, one of the lovely waitresses gave us a couple of beers free…I’d like to think that it was her way of being flortty-flortty, but it was probably because the chicken took a very long time and i’d finished stuffing my face with very recently murdered sea animal before my partner got the chicken.
Despite my rock star main course, the bill wasn’t too bad…21€ for two of us, a shared starter, lobster and 3 beers each

Terra mundi

I was celebrating today. 4 weeks in a leg brace and today the traumatologist told me i could finally walk like a man. I'd like to say that's the last time i'll jump out of a burning first floor apartment window, but you never know how you'll react when there's orphans to save. And i suppose selflessness and courage are just my default settings. So, long story short..i went to lunch in terra mundi on calle lope de vega, parralel to calle huertas.

I've been coming here for years but had forgotten about it. It's ostensibly a gallego restaurant and it has some distinct advantages.

  1. It's huge. So during the week you've a good chance of getting a table. Although i have had to wait on a sunday
  2. They serve til later than most. You can still get fed if you roll in at 4pm
  3. They put their daily menu on their website so you don't have to waste time hobbling there only to find there's nothing on the menu you fancy.
  4. The food is generally very good.

The owner often holidays is ballyconneely in co.galway and goes seal watching. Not that anybody reading this will care about that, but my family come from county galway and their surname is conneely…so, as bally just means village i suppose this is my family seat. And i have heard tell that we're silkies…mythical creatures who live as seals in the water and shed their skins to live on land. As humans they're conspicuous for their physical beauty…so that rings true. And you should see me balance a ball on my nose!

Anyway, i decided to be adventurous with my first course and ordered the chilled melon soup with a foam of margarita.

I thought it was pretty rank, to be honest. But then i don't really like melon very much…i was thinking of watermelon when i ordered. I was a bit worried leaving so much in case I offended the staff, and waitress did seem very concerned abd, after checking, which languages i could speak, offered to bring me another course. I declined the offer and explained i just found it too sweet. Which seemed to satisfy her. Second time i've ordered badly in as many weeks, first time I seem to have satisfied a lady.Lost my touch.

Before i forget, a word about the wine. Included in the menu is wine from galicia…not sure what type of wine it is..but it's wine. It comes in red, white and rosado. In my experience, ordering red or white will get you half a bottle…but if you order the rosado (which is dry and fruity) you always seem to get a full bottle. So that's what i ordered. Also, the bread is very good…big hunks of galician bread from the mueseo del pan gallego, which sells the best bread in the city, albeit with very little competition.

Spoilt for choice for the main course, i'd have had anything on there except the ever present lacon con grelos…a boiled ham hock with turnip tops…which brings back far too traumatic memories of irish food in the 1970s. Decided to go with the chicken marinated in greek yoghurt because i was seated near the serving hatch and i could see the food going out

Very nice indeed. Not sure what the sauce in the ramikin was, but i mopped it up with my hunky bread.

The coffee in here is awful, so i always order dessert. And usually the same thing…a tart of biscuits and chocolate called biscuit and chocolate tart. I didn't take a picture as i can't get excited about desserts. I feel about desserts how uncle monty feels about flowers. No wonder they're called tarts!

So that was it. 10.50€. Not bad, despite my disastrous choice of first course

 

La Caleta

WordPress gives you various information about visitors to your blog: which pages they read and which country they were in and if they came by way of a google search, what they were googling that led them to your blog. The other day someone found my blog by searching pie drinking porn. I imagine he or she must have been very disappointed with my recipe for oxtail shepherd's pie. And people looking for hot lesbian badgers are going to be equally disappointed with this post.

La Caleta has been around for qute a few years but recently moved up the hill from Calle Tres Peces to Calle Santa Isabel and into a huge space that used to be an Indian restaurant. Calle Tres Peces is undergoing quite a change these days…what used to be the most depressing old man bar el aperitivo has been done up nicely in the way these places are transformed by dimmed lighting, half decent music and decent free tapas. Opposite is la infinita….book shop cafe with wifi. Don't order the house white…i have a glass of it in my hand at the moment and it's ropey to say the least.

Back to La Caleta. It's a gaditana bar which means it's a Cadiz themed place. Massive picture of Camarón on the wall as you walk in. Videos of Camarón on big screen at the back. If you've never listened to La Leyenda del Tiempo then I beg you to do so.

Cadiz is also famous for battered and fried fish which is served in paper. Sound familiar? Battering was invented by the Phoenicians apparently and Cadiz was a Phoenician city. There you go. I'm not sure when the English got into battering.

 

I order a racion of the bienmesabe. This is chunks of cazón, a sort of flat shark (rock salmon in english..if you've ever heard of that) which is cut into chunks and battered. The batter definitely has a bit of cumin in it. Bienmesabe is one of those things that is great when done well, and appalling when, more often than not, fucked up. A bit like the way a pint of Guinness can be the best thing in the world, or quite the opposite. I ordered it as I assumed it would be ther stock in trade as a Cadiz style bar. Very nice.

Not cheap though, that racion and a doble of beer was 13€

Now….to cruise the internet for sexy young ferrets covered in gravy

 

Alma Lusa

Madrid doesn’t have many Portuguese restaurants, although Portugal is only next door. It may have something to do with their closely held belief that Portuguese food is just bacalhau (British food is just fish & chips; Italian food is just pizza & pasta; Turkish food is just döners.)

It doesn’t really help that 2 of the 3 Portuguese restaurants in this major european capital are bloody awful. There was a great one on a side street off the glorietta in Embajadores but it closed down a couple of years ago. Its location probably didn’t help business, as hordes of junkies are unlikely to be good for business…unless your business is heroin centred in some way, obviously.

I came upon Alma Lusa by chance. I walk to work and back, regularly changing my routes to throw off the CIA who might be planning some extreme rendition on my arse. Every time I’ve gone past it I’ve thought to myself “I must remember to go there,” and then almost immediately forgotten to ever go there. Not today though. I finally went there.

Forgetting to dispel any myths about Portuguese food at all, I ordered the bacalhau Zé Pipo. To be honest, even if it were true that Portuguese food was just bacalao, the fact there’s a couple of hundred different bacalhau recipes makes it a pointless dismissal of a national cuisine…you might as well just dismiss Spanish food as being 90% dead pig.

Ze Pipo is a loin of bacalhau fried, covered in an onion sauce and then, bizarrely, covered with mayonaisse. It usually comes served with mash, but they were out of it today.

My mate had a francesinha. A francesinha is a sandwich. In the same way that Dmitri Hvorostovsky singing The Death of Rodrigo from Verdi’s Don Carlo, is some bloke having a bit of a sing song

The bill was about 20€ each which included a bottle of vinho verde, sardine paste and bread, a dessert and two coffees. Only one waiter for whole place but he didn’t seemed flustered at all and we weren’t left waiting at any point. I assume he was Portuguese as he only spoke to me in (very good) English, which is what the Portuguese like to do.

Not bad at all. It’s on the edge of Chueca, parallel to Calle Barquillo and next to Plaza del Rey. There’s two really nice bars next to each other on Plaza del Rey if you fancy a drink before or after…one’s called Sifón and the other one is called….let’s just call it the bar next door to Sifón.

Here is the restuarant’s website…http://www.almalusa.es/

*The first picture of the interior is from the internet, I forgot to take a photo. The restaurant wasn’t empty, there was a large party of diners in that corner. The quote is written on the wall, it isn’t superimposed. That metal thing hanging on the wall isn’t an iron-age bra, it’s a cataplana (copper cooking pot from Portugal).

**sometimes I’m writing bacalao in Espaneesh, sometimes I’m writing bacalhau in Portugeish. I’m mixed up. I’m not going to write Salt-cod because I don’t call it that myself and don’t know anybody who calls it anything other than bacalao/bacalhau. I tend to always pronounce it in my comedy Portuguese accent anyway. Which is probably only comedic to me. Possibly deeply offensive to anybody Portuguese, though they’d probably assume I was trying to do a Dutch accent.

 

DAVE’S KISS OF DEATH:THIS RESTAURANT IS NOW CLOSED. BOOOH!

Casa Revuelta

la revuelta (1 of 1)This place is about as old skool Madrid as you could find. You’ll never find it empty but if you’re lucky you might be able to squeeze yourself into a space at the bar.

To drink? Why, vermut of course!

Casa Revuelta is most famous for its battered loins of bacalao, which cost you about a euro and change, and are worth at least twice that. As regards free tapa with your drink, Casa Revuelto can toy with your emotions…on one visit you’re euphoric when given a plate of thick pork scratchings…the next you’re slapped in the face with a plate of the worst imaginable tapa, peanuts in their shells. Did I say slapped, I should’ve said head-butted. I make much the same face as my neighbour’s cat made at me the time I accidentally closed the door on his tail (a mixture of pain, betrayal,heartbreak and confusion.)

I used to live around the corner and came here more regularly, generally on my day off and just before having a menú del día. After a hiatus of maybe one or two years, I went back and yourman behind the bar smiled and said “vermut con casera?”

Here’s a google map for it. It’s in Puerta Cerrada, just down from Plaza Mayor. Casa Revuelto

While you’re there, don’t miss the chance to have another vermut in Bodega Ricla

Washoku

In the San Fernando market in The people’s republic of Lavapiés you’ll find Wasoku sushi, which also sells Japanese products and hosts Japanese cultural events…they had a demonstration showing you how to wear a kimono last week.

You can order to takeaway or just so it’s ready when you arrive via whatsapp or sms on 672883139

I’d only ever had sushi and maki before I came here for the first time last month and randomly ordered the “picnic” menu box which was 3 onigiris (balls of rice filled with fish and a bit of seaweed around it and seeds on the outside…that is maybe the worst description ever…because I don’t think I’d ever had anything so tasty before) and 2 Inaris (pockets of…something…filled with tofu and seaweed…bloody lovely)…after missing my flight to Lisbon the other week, I went back to get a takeaway version for the 9 hour bus journey. Yeah…why take a 50 minute flight, when you can enjoy a 540 minute bus ride instead? Did almost make it worthwhile as I tucked into my tea in the car park of a service station on the outskirts of Badajoz at 12am

The other thing I should mention is that they’re really friendly in there and I was on first name terms with the half-spanish half-japanese woman who runs the place. Ok…obviously I should rephrase that, she knew my name and called me by it while I only registered her ethnicity and gender.

Went there today with a friend, who’s no stranger to Japan & Japanese food. He was impressed. 26€ between us. And complimentary saki after we finished eating.

There’s not many seats at the bar there, so while they prepared our food (15 minutes more or less) we nipped 15 metres away and had a pint of czech beer from the market’s beer shop/bar…for 2€. No…that’s not a typo…pint bottles of czech beer for less than the price of a 33cl of spanish beer in even the grottiest of old man’s bars.

I can’t recommend this place enough

La Otra Casa

This restaurant has been open for quite a while now, but this was my first time here. Principally that’s because they don’t open for lunch on a tuesday, and tuesday is my day off and the only day I regularly eat out. I should have told them this.

First of all, it looks like it’d be a good idea to book a table as they take lunch bookings and the place was full.

15€ for 3 courses, 17.50€ for 3 courses and pudding…wine NOT included. So, we’re talking a larger investment in lunch than almost everybody I know, or is worth knowing, would care to make. But, being a flash cabron with fistfuls of extra cash that needs to be spent before the taxman cometh, I steeled myself and continued on my sacred quest for a nice lunch in Madrid.

The waitress explained that there were 3 courses (excluding dessert) but not to worry because each serving was small. (She obviously didn’t make the same mistake so many make and take the bulging nature of my midriff for a belly, rather than what it actually is…a 6 pack so well defined it sort of bulges over my belt a bit. Or she thought I was pregnant)

First course….octopus in oil infused with rocket. Absolutely delicious. I’m not sure what the rocket oil actually brought to the party, but the octopus was perfectly cooked and tasty as eff.

Second course…potatoes stuffed with black pudding

( i realised after almost finishing that the black pudding contained pine nuts. I’ve never been sure if I was allergic to pine nuts – i’m allergic to most nuts – or not, so have just avoided them. But i’m still alive so, i must be o

3rd course. Oxtail lasagne

Must say, all the food was delicious and a nice amount too…I didn’t have to be rolled home to siesta as so often happens. My ma would think I needed psychological treatment or an exorcism if I told her there were restaurants I don’t go to because they give you too much.

Now…the painful part.

Look away if you’re of a sensitive nature.

Another point I should mention is….the menu is printed rather than chalked onto a black board like most places…and doesn’t change on a daily basis like most places. In fact, I don’t think it has changed since it opened. So if you go three times you’ll have had everything they serve.

No complimentary digestif either

Taberna J.Blanco

Seemed to me that I’d been flirting for a while too long with restaurants that fancied themselves as high class. It was time for me to return to my first love, the comforting bosom of an old-skool castizo menú del día. The Taberna J.Blanco fits the bill to a tee.

As an indecisive person who likes most food that isn’t cauliflower, I love to able to choose between just two options rather than five or six. First course..soup or scrambled eggs with garlic stalks; second course…roast leg of lamb or a fish we English speakers have never heard of in a tomato based sauce. (I know what it is…I’ve eaten it…no idea what it is in English, so I looked it up…Toothfish or zoologically speaking Trachinotus Goodei…told you you’d never heard of it.)

Front of house and the maître d’

Pre-lunch table

View to the left

Soup came in a tureen. Chickpeas and spinach cooked in the stock from a cocido madrileño (madrid stew. Don’t ask. You don’t want to know. Basically every form of meat and chickpeas cooked in a stew).

Very nice. I couldn’t finish whole tureen. Not sure if I was supposed to. Scoffed two bowls though.

Roast leg of lamb and chips. Lamb perfectly cooked. Tender as eff and falling away from the bone.

I’m not a big fan of pudding, but if I have a coffee I can’t siesta…and they had leche frita..fried milk! Well, milk with egg yolk, flour, sugar and cinammon. So I had that.

Delicious.

Three courses with bread and a carafe of wine for 9€. Not bad

Badila

Aside from Atlètico’s storming season, there’s not much good news coming out of Madrid. It’s cold and raining for one thing. I also heard something about massive unemployment, price and tax hikes, wage cuts, banks throwing thousands of families out of their homes and corrupt, immoral elected and unelected politicians.

Still, there is a ray of light…..Lavapiés doesn’t rest on the laurels of its reputation as best barrio in Madrid, rather it continues to strengthen this claim. Speaking of immoral, corrupt politicians….the last two ex-mayors of Madrid claimed they came to Lavapiés as students for cañas. Sure. And David Cameron and Michael Gove supplemented their meagre student grants as bare-knuckle fighters and drum n’bass dj’s.

Badila is one of the many nondescript old places that has been rejuvenated, by people who give a fuck. Strange how often this is happening in this corner of Madrid, while in others, nondescript old places seem to simply become parts of chains like 100 montaditos. Somehow, I can’t imagine a 100 montaditos opening up in Lavapiés. Though, like all bars and cafès here, I bet it’d still be packed most of the time.

Starters…sorry, you can’t see that very well…on offer was…cocido soup; bacalao croquettes; rocket salad with mozarella; pumpkin something…and what i had…spagghetini with speck, grated tomato and herbs

My jug of wine came with a plate of migas so I didn’t starve while they prepared my first course.

Migas is typical of Castilla-La Mancha. It’s all they eat there. I should know, there was a time I spent almost every weekend in a village the name of which I choose not to recall. Ok, Escalona. It’s of the fine tradition of peasant food made from stale bread and has pork products like bacon and chorizo mixed in there. It’s much nicer than it sounds.

Second course I was in two minds about. So I said to the waiter “I’m in two minds about the second course…the meatballs in saffron sauce or the eel stew with squid…what do you think?” He didn’t speak a word of English so was stumped. I shouted “for gawdsake!” Threw a glass at the wall, sat down, smoothed down my unruly barnet and simply asked the same question again, but in Spanish this time. He recommended the eel stew. So that’s what I had.

Absolutely bloody delicious…and so much I had trouble finishing it.

Dessert was the usual suspects…rice pudding, flan, fruit. I was too full anyway and plumped for a coffee.

At 13,50€ for a weekday menu, it’s obviously not the cheapest option…but i’d say it’s definitely worth it in terms of quality. And quantity. Decent amount of wine with it too…these posh looking places can often just give you a glass…which is difficult to stretch out over three courses.

I asked and they also do a menu at the weekend for 15,50€

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Le petit bistrot

Voulez vous!

I’m not sure what that actually means. I was in remedial french at school…sat with the kids that couldn’t read English never mind a second language. I was even threatened with suspension because the head of year told me I had deliberately failed the exam that was to stream us into levels after a couple of weeks of repeating the days of the week and some numbers. If only they’d tried to teach us how to say woodland animals in French, I’d probably have gone on to do a masters at the Sorbonne.

Despite this trauma, I’m decidedly a francophile. I’ve even met upwards of half a dozen French people and liked all of them. A croque monsieur is preferable to an english toasted cheese sandwich, a portuguese tosta mixta or a catalan bikini. However, I’ve never spent more than five days in Paris (where i was forced to share a bed with a young Matt Briggs, now of the South Yorkshire Fire Service. If ever I was destined to be bi-curious, having to share a bed with an excessively flatulent yorkshireman put the kybosh on that) and only two day trips to Calais. 50% of those trips are just a blur though.

Coincidentally, two unconnected friends had told me how good this restaurant was (i mean…two friends who don’t know each other. I’m not contrasting them with my connected mafia friends) AND I happened to get into a conversation just yesterday about french onion soup. As you do. So it seemed like fate when my friend/son Andy suggested we go there for lunch today.

It’s a bit pricey at the weekends, 17,50€ for the set 3 course menu…with a glass of wine…and the menu del día is replete with dishes that require a 3€, 4€ addition to this set price. There were 4 of us drinking wine, so the waiter left the bottle.

I went for onion soup. I just deleted the word french from that…because you wouldn’t say you had an italian pizza in a trattoria, would you?

I’ve never had onion soup before, i realised. And certainly not french style with bread and cheese on top. Tasty enough. I wouldn’t mind experimenting myself with this.

Main course, with my sophisticated pallet i opted for the hachis parmentier…oui, tres chic, non?

…..it’s basically shepherd’s pie…and what could be better than that. Good to see that British food so impresses the french they have their own versions. Mind you, the french did more for British culture than any other invader of the land…so I think it’s right that we pay them back with delicious food. In the background is Andy’s burger with goat’s cheese. Never sure where to put that apostrophe to make the possessive…how many goats are involved in the making of cheese? And not like it’s theirs anyway…they’d not be able to spread it on their baguette, what with their impractical cloven hooves.

For pudding, once again the French looked to their former subjects for inspiration…rice pudding with nutmeg.

Nice experience and a pleasant place. I think I would have preferred a surly waiter in a wine stained vest and a gauloise hanging from his lip rather than a reasonably polite and attentive fella. Bit more than I would normally spend on a lunch. But at the end of the day…sommes comme un coq en pâte

(Thanks to the lovely Caroline for the second photo…as i managed to delete mine from my phone after stuffing the shepherd’s pie hachis parmentier into my gut)

Tumi: restaurante peruano

I’ve never had peruvian food…and as we waited patiently for the waiter to take our order…and as our patience wore thinner and thinner…I thought I never would.

This restaurant opened last summer on the soon to be newly refurbished Calle Santa Isabel. I think this particular local has changed purpose, name and cuisine every year I’ve lived here. At the moment it is Tumi Restaurante Turístico Peruano.

I hadn’t realised that Peruvian food had the reputation as being one of the best cuisines in Latin America. I also read later that Peruvian food was the fad de jour in London (last year it was Spanish food, I believe). Another surprise was the culinary influence of the many Chinese immigrants to Peru over the years.

Tumi is brightly lit and decorated with pictures of famous Peruvians. Well, I assume they’re famous…I couldn’t think of any apart from Ivan Zamorano. And it turned out he was Chilean.

It was a weekend and the menu del día was 13€ for 3 courses with a glass of wine or a beer.

I ordered fish ceviche as I’ve never had it. You might say all ceviche is fish…but I’d stop you there with a waving finger and a tut-tut…apparently they do prawn ceviche too.

It’s thinly sliced white fish which is “cooked” in Tiger”s milk..lemon juice, lime juice..not sure really..there might be some CharlieSheenMilk in there too. Served on lettuce with red onion…some weird sort of alien corn on the side and a slice of sweet potato/yam. Nae bad.

We waited another good while for second course. I had the feeling the waiter and the woman behind the bar…and the cook…were all the same person and the waiter was having to do some sort of elaborate Inspector Clouseau quick change routine…for some obscure reason.

Finally main courses arrived…but the food we’d ordered wasn’t the food which arrived and had been destined for a different table. Another quick change…a bit of cooking…a change back into the waiter disguise..and we received our main courses twenty minutes later. Mine was a beef stew with beans served with enough rice to feed a hungry unit of the Shining Path after a hard day’s class war.

It was tasty enough. Slightly…cool…but, but to be honest, I spent enough lunchtimes eating tepid food in lokantalar in Istanbul that the heat of a dish doesn’t bother me in the slightest.

Pudding was a peruvian version of flan. Which was just flan really, except maybe a bit bigger than you’d generally get in Spain.

Three courses in almost three hours. Not that it makes much difference to me, I have a sad empty life (hence this blog)…but if you fancy giving this restaurant a go, you might have to pencil it in for a whole afternoon. Of course, they could have just been having a bad day…maybe short of staff….a waiter might have called in sick with a sore thumb which meant he couldn’t comfortably hold a pen….like a teacher in a certain institution did recently.

THIS RESTAURANT HAS SINCE CLOSED. SORRY

San Bruno – stalwart

Second day running I’ve not been able to get a table at Los Chuchis, so we turned around walked up the hill (with a brief stop in Lo Maximo for a spritz, which is a manly drink…only for them to be out of campari…which is equally manly on its own. you heard it here first) into the welcoming arms of the Taberna San Bruno.
I’ve been a regular in here since moving to Madrid….well, since my second year in Madrid, in my first year I was working for an international academy (which will remain nameless) who prefer to keep teachers on starvation wages to keep them lean and hungry for a spot of teaching.

San Bruno has even entered my spanish lexicon as a verb…

¿Dave, qué estás haciendo?¡Estoy sanbruniando!

While there’s always a friendly welcome and a vermouth while they prepare my table, the food can be hit and miss. It’s almost never actually bad but it can occasionally be pedestrian. The litre carafe of wine and post lunch digestif of patxaran sort of makes up for this occasional slip. Just as occasionally though, they outdo themselves. Today started with a bit of a miss.

The revuelto de marisco (scrambled eggs with prawns) was a bit so-so…and i didn’t fancy much else on the first course menu.

The roast leg of lamb for the main course, however, was a triumph. Very meaty and tender and bloody tasty. Served with sliced spuds cooked in stock

Homemade flan to finish, which was lovely although possibly difficult to eat while driving or parachuting…if only they could invent some sort of mobile flan for such occasions.

(That’s a film reference btw…)

I forgot to take a photo of it though.

As it was almost xmas, Willy the cuban waiter (who speaks german as well as he speaks english..which is very well) gaves us two free glasses of patxaran.

Weekends and fiestas the menu is 15€ and during the week it’s 10. Was 7,00€ when i first started coming here. During the war

Place up the road has just put its weekend menu up from 15€ to 20 in one fell swoop. Thank god for the 1% pay rise i got for the last three years

¡Hoy he estado sanbruniando!