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!

Anton Martin Market 2nd Floor Restaurant

I was thinking about writing a new blog about the gentrification and hipsterization of Lavapies, gastrofication maybe. And I still might. We’re kind of lucky here at the moment as generally the gentrification hasn’t been overlly negative. Local people haven’t yet been forced to become financial migrants and leave the city centre, the new hipster cafe that charges 2,50 for a cortador opened up in a shop selling equipment for growing hydroponic weed, it didnt take the place of a much loved historic bar. So yeah, we’re not Malasana yet…but it’s bound to happen. We will become a theme park to our past, people will be coming to Lavapies to experience the ethnic mix we enjoy now even though the mix of ethnicities will have been forced out by high prices a long time previously.For the moment, I’m finding the choice to hipsterize or to normalize pretty dope. And the second floor of Anton Martin Market in Lavapies Alta is a striking example

I could go and have bowl of (quite frankly disgusting and weird looking) american sugar and cereal with milk and pay from 5euro for it….or i could go to the corner of the 2nd floor and have a 3 course menu del dia with a bottle of wine for 7. Hmmmm….tough choice

I went for the menu del dia

Full bottle of wine, ice and casera? Check!

1st course…patatas revolconos…I may have mentioned this before. Really? I have? Have I ever mentioned Lovejoy? Well, papayas revolconos are to spanish cuizine what Lovejoy is to UK TV….like only the best thing evarrr!!!Slightly mashed potato with paprika, topped with fresh pork scratchings. Yeah! Genius. Think it must be the only thing the Christians managed to do right

Second course, chicken with “sauce” and amazing-assed chips

Think I had ice cream for pudding.

My friends, we are living in the best of times. Enjoy it while we can. Before we’re forced to consume American cereal for lunch

SAD TO SAY. THIS RESTAURANT NOW DOESN’T EXIST. ITS AN ITALIAN NOW.

WE ARE BECOME MAlASANA

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.

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.

Lavapiés (Alta)

if you’ve spent any time at all in Madrid, you’ll be well aware that by far the best barrio to visit, have a drink in, shop, live and love in is Lavapies.

There are way too many bars, cafes and restaurants to do it justice in one blog post (unless i take a leave of absence from work) so be aware that this post is going to be even limper and more facile than its predecessors.
Also I’ve taken the decision to divide lavapies into two zones – alta and baja and i will cover them in two separate posts. The photos are even worse than usual too…i didn’t much fancy a drink and so didn’t go into any of them when i took the photos. so what i’m whispering into your ear as i gently nuzzle you is : don’t get your hopes up, darling!
i’m going warm you up next to my flat before finally climaxing on calle buenavista and taking sort of a circular route that will drive you wild. or no

El Pozo de Lugo

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The more eagle-eyed of you may have noticed a bearded man wearing a sash and a rather risque summer dress standing outside. For no apparent reason this bar has become a focal point for stag and hen parties, a must-do. Spanish hen/stag does are a relatively recent phonomenon, and resemble british ones aside from the absence of violence, vomit, dildos and police intervention. Aside from the stag-hens, you’ll find this a nice bar to sit and have a glass of wine and something to eat. One of the barmen is a wee galician fella with a love of 70s rock and atletico de madrid. i’d say he’s not adverse to the odd glass of wine either, as he seems less inscrutable as his almost interminable shift goes on. and his nose gets a bit more alex ferguson. reccomended here is the pincho of tortilla (you get a fair old whack of it accompianed by good galician bread) and the empanadas (tuna, bacalao with raisins or chorizo)

There are two bars under my flat, but i almost never go into them. one used to be a bookshop and became a bar with some books in it and plays amy winehouse all the time. i don’t go in there cos it’s expensive…2.70€ for a tercio…fuck off!

so, let’s walk up doctor fourquet instead. if your jonesing for a walk around a private art gallery, there’s about 10 on this fairly scruffy street. minus one, as a chinese fella who owned one has gone inside for money laundering, tax avoidance, human traffiking and extortion. the Spanish don’t like foreigners doing that. you shold at least be a paid up member of the PP.
La Caña

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I include la caña because it was probably the first of the shitty old man bars to get a makeover and become less shitty. and they do great coffee (Illy) and you can get any fruit juice you could imagine (i prefer to get my 5 a day via shower gel and air fresheners). good mix of people in there…tourists on their way to or from the reina sofia, students from the music conservatory or the medical school or the various media companies with offices around. cutting to the chase, yes…attractive women go in there sometimes. I only ever go in there for breakfast though, so you know how to avoid me easily.

Kardamon
The worst photo you’ll ever see of a bar or cafe…

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This place used to be a ladies’ hairdresser specializing in african barnets..but as a bald european man, I refused to give them my business on principle

It opened as a bar about a year and a half ago, and i predicted a quick demise as there was never anybody in it.but as summer arrived and they got a big screen and canal+ and goltv in, as well as a terraza, i was happy to consign my prediction of impending doom to the bin where i keep my Thierry Henry prediction (goal shy, he’ll never do anything at arsenal) and my backing of the mini-disc as the future of data storage.

lavapies is a demi-eden, a paradise…but it’s badly lacking in places to watch football…too cool for school sometimes, so kanela is a badly needed commodity here. also, they serve alhambra tercios and they’re cold to the point of freezing. run by two really nice colombian fellas, it’s a real barrio bar. must be something in the water in latinamerica…not only are the females dizzingly attractive, everyone i’ve met from there has been ridiculously pleasant and friendly. during the world cup i became a colombia fan and watched every game i could here.

Benteveo

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It might not have been the first, but maybe it’s the best example of a horrible old boys’ bar made good with minimal effort. This was a bar that made you contemplate your pointless existence and encouraged any latent thoughts you might have had to end it all. but some camp argentinians came in and turned the lights down, served decent beer with decent tapas, changed the furniture and made it into one of my favourite bars. and they have wifi
Vinicola Mentridana

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Probably not the best time for me to write about this place. Has been one of my favourite bars for years but tonight, while i was writing this, i was asked to give up my place and go and sit in the corner. i was on my own at a table and they wanted a group of 4 people to sit there. fair enough, you might think. but i was quite happily sitting there before these people came in, and wasn’t like i was nursing my drink (nursing a drink to me is not downing it straight from the barperson’s hand). i know it’s an unforgiveable sin to be on your own quite happily, but for fucksake. Not sure i’ll ever forgive them for this. shame, was a nice place.

How would you have felt?

El Corazon

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Did i say the benteveo had been the worst bar in the world? coulda been what was here before, but i never made it inside. too depressing even for me. now though…really nice bar opposite the anton martin market. coffee is portuguese (therefore a cut above the usual spanish shit they serve in this country). they have alhambra in bottles as well as la virgen. pincho of tortilla is very good value and they do the best thing ever…patatas revolconas…mashed potato with paprika, pork scratchings and a fried egg…forget me in a jacuzzi with Lucy Liu, Beyonce and Rachel Riley…give me mashed potatoes, pork scratchings and a fried egg any day of the week. I said “forget me in a jacuzzi”. Now!

immagunna post this and come back to it tomorrow…at ease

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

 

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

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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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

Los Chuchis

I was told about this place by Bryn from rastrobar/linguafranca…lucky he did as I never walk up that part of Calle Amparo and it would have gone unnoticed and untried.

It’s a great example of an old man bar that’s been done up with taste and passion…but there’s even better news….wait for it…

…wait for it….

The chef is English!!

You might be able to see from there that they have a couple of real ales in there…and a menu del dia at a very reasonable 9,50€ or 12€ at the weekends. Closed on mondays.

This was the menu today.

I went for the soup, which was very nice indeed.

And of course…sausages and mash…with onion gravy. The sausages were lush…i asked where they bout them from…but they said they imported them themselves.

I’m not a fan of hp sauce…but i took a photo of it anyway.

I had a coffee instead of a pudding…but it came with a biscuit and a hazelnut chocolate.

There aren’t many tables in there, so i’m imagining that when word gets out that there’s an English chef plying his trade in the ‘hood there’ll be people fighting over tables.

mercado san fernando

Following the recent trend for doing up markets in the city, like the san miguel in austrias and san anton in chueca, the people’s republic of lavapiès has done the same with the mercado san fernando. I get the impression that this new incarnation has been…incarnated…without what might be left from taxes after the PP has creamed off their cut.

As well as a host of new stalls and bars, they’ve got new opening hours…no more closing for a couple of hours in the afternoon and it’s even open on saturdays and sundays.

Lavapiès seems to be at the forefront of the new “real ale” movement…well, not exactly real ale…widening horizons from mahou and….err…mahou sin alcohol…to…other beers. There’s a bar on calle argumosa called el pedal which claims to carry 200+ beers…and in the mercado there’s a shop selling all sorts of beers…german wheat beers to british IPAs…if you can’t wait to get your new beer purchase home, you can drink it there. Big bottles of german weizenbier are about 2,50€

There’s all your normal market stalls such as fishmongers and greengrocers…as well as delis selling weird foreign products

…like mint sauce, apple sauce and dijon mustard. Looking at the price he’s selling his coleman’s for…i’d guess he won’t be open that long. He does lemon curd too.

There’s a place that sells ready made greek food and greek products. There’s also a bar that sells wine by the litre from large vats

As well as the new places, there’s still the traditional old boy bars

…cañas in all the traditional bars seem to be 1,20€ including a tapita.

Just another place that adds to Lavapiès’ reputation as “the best barrio in madrid”

La Alhambra

Despite being a people who are instinctual anarchists, the spanish are ultra-conservative when it comes to food. Not just what you eat…it has to be Spanish cuisine, preferably cooked by your mother or grandmother; contain no herbs other than parsley; certainly no spices….but also when you eat, there is a definite window of opportunity when it comes to mealtimes, miss that window and you’ll have to forage for yourself. Luckily there is an oasis in this parochial gastronomic desert…and that oasis is….The People’s Republic of Lavapiès.

On Calle Tribulete, for example, there is La Alhambra. The kitchen is open all day and friendly waiters serve Moroccan cuisine at more than reasonable prices.

I tend to come here if the window of opportunity for lunch has snapped shut before i’ve managed to fill my belly…or on the odd evening i’m not working till an unearthly hour and I fancy an affordable meal that I haven’t cooked myself.

Today I had stewed lamb with chips and rice. You can’t ever overdo the carbs.

(Unless you’re on the Atkins’ diet)

I should point out that for cultural or religious reasons…this restaurant is dry…so you wash your food down with a jug of water.

Finish it off with a glass of hot, sweet mint tea. (Very good at combatting wind, is mint tea..should you suffer from it)

Casa Zoilo

Somehow Casa Zoilo has managed to elude me for the last 9 years…not many bars in my barrio can say that. Possibly this is because you’d have no reason to walk along Calle de la Huerta del Bayo…unless you lived there..or, like me, you were on a Yelp-inspired wild goose chase and looking for a non-existent portuguese restaurant called Casa Janes on that street.

It certainly puts the old in old-skool. A friendly old couple run it. There’s a massive old fridge…from the 1930s or so i’d say in behind the second part of the bar…and you can buy various things to take away…litres or cans of beer, soda water, litre bottles of wine or sherry.

Very little to say about it. It has no pretensions…there’s a telly in the corner of the back bar, there’s the ubiquitous slot machine in the corner, music doesn’t come from a computer or a disc jockey (who could tell the difference anyway) but a radio sitting behind the bar.

I got a caña for 1,20€ and it came with a small bowl of patatas revolconas…mashed potatoes mixed with paprika and topped with fresh pork scratchings. A work of genius that combines two of humankind’s greatest achievements: a) mashed potato b) pork scratchings.

There’s no comedor so if your wee tapa isn’t going to satisfy you, you’ll have to make do with raciones of cold meats or cheese….or bocadillos filled with..cold meats and/or cheese. The bocadillos ranged from 2,50 to 3,50€.

All in all, a taberna muy castiza

Bodegas lo maximo, lavapiès

Shining example of an old man’s bar taken over by people without enough money to fuck it up. Zinc bar. Half decent music. Armchairs. Disco-ball. As well as your usual beer, wine and (bottled) vermouth…they also do Negroni…which is gin, vermouth and campari served in an old-fashioned glass…and is strong…to say the least. On a campari tip, they also do Spritz…white wine, campari, soda, ice n’a slice…try asking for that in a north nottinghamshire pit village. Having escaped such a mileiu…i was happy to order one

Too much campari in this one…end of bottle…i had to have it topped up with white wine

You can’t see glitterball here..but it’s above these chairs which are on a raised platform. Ideal if you want to be the centre of attention.

Sundays they do paella. Normally there’s tostas and salmorejo.

Achuri

I’ve been coming to this bar for years. I always refer to it as the communist bar…of course that’s not in the least bit pejorative coming from me..quite the reverse. I called it that because you can read diagonal here..which is about the most leftist newspaper we have in Spain…although it’s only printed weekly..and the posters decorating the bar express good left-wing sympathies. Truth be told, it’s a bit perroflauta (crusty/bongobonghi/dancingfool)…but don’t let that put you off…staff are friendly enough..tercios are cold and the food is good and cheap. Free tapas with your drink are a bit on the stingy side though..almost always olives or crisps or the dreaded bowl of peanuts

That’s not the full menu…and they do do a menu del dia during the day.

What i’ve had here:

  • Bocadillo (large bread roll…well..half a baguette) of sausages and mojo picòn (spicy canarian sauce…which i’ve since discovered tends to have almonds in it…but i didn’t die, so i assume theirs doesn’t
  • Bocadillo of bernabè…minced meat, spices and peppers. Bocadillos are 3,50€…so it’s often an option for me if i’ve missed my tea and can’t go to bed after work on a growling stomach
  • Papas arrugadas…a canarian speciality…small potatoes cooked in their skins in very salty water..drained and then they are put back on the heat to get rid of any excess moisture…so the skins wrinkle a bit and are covered with a fine white salt dust…then you put mojo picòn on them..or the more coriandery mojo verde
  • Croquetas of lacòn. Gammon croquettes.
  • My ex, whose name i do not care to remember, had the leeks au gratin and thought they were great.

It’s only 10pm on a friday night..that’s why the eating section is empty. Actually, i think the only people inside the bar at the moment are me, the waiters and a handful of people who are hoping that some people who have tables out on the terraza leave soon…it’s september and still balmy.

Lingua Franca

http://www.rastrobar.com/

Great bar, just off the rastro. Run by Bryn (either a scouser or a woolyback not sure) and Guadalupe (not a scouser, from Seville…(i’ve often thought that there was a decent correlation between Liverpool and Seville…sense of humour and general economic status))

Full english breakfasts for 7,50€…that’s with your orange juice and your tea and coffee. And the sausages….the sausages…well…they’re more than nice.

There’s books there in english..two seperate rooms. If you want to practice your ingles, i’d say it’s a great place to go…and if you don’t..same applies

Maybe one of the newest bars in the barrio. I’m hoping it takes off

Playa Lavapiés

Calle Argumosa is blessed with 30 bars. I thought we’d hit critical mass at 29…but oh no.

La Playa opened up last summer and originally had sand on the floor for that beach feel. Luckily, elf & safety made them get rid of the sand every other week and replace it with fresh sand, and they soon got bored of doing that and elbowed the sand idea. Good. I ‘ate sand.

Not a bad place for a drink…alhambra on tap and in tercios, decent range of wine. No vermouth on tap 😦

In terms of food…dunno…never eaten here. They do toasted sandwiches, nachos, guacamole…that sort of affair.

Spanish coffee is, to put it mildly, a bit wank…luckily La Playa is one of the four or five places in the barrio that have italian Illy coffee

(you might find this blog a bit Lavapiés-centric…but i live here…and it is the best barrio in Madriz)