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 Polonesa

Summer is long gone, so I’ve started feeling a bit ridiculous walking around with my enviable beach body. It’s getting bleedin’ chilly so I thought I needed to work on my draw dropping curves. What better way to do that than get some carbs down me. Now where can I find stodgy food aside from 98% of Spanish food? Something to put some meat on my bones and reduce this infernal cold..I know…northern european food, or better yet, eastern european food. A colleague told me about this Polish restaurant not far from the epicentre of Madrid. It’s in Pacifico/Menendez Palayo…a barrio I have previously mentioned as a hidden gem of a barrio for eating and drinking out…and only a 5 minute walk from Atocha.
I should mention my relationship with Poland. I’m from North Notts and we’ve had a large Polish population there since they came over to help the allies defeat fascism, and while Elizabeth II was practicing her zieg heils in the mirror while wearing some godaweful hat paid for by the tax payer, Poles living in Britain were either flying Spitfires in the Battle of Britain or they were mining coal to assist the war effort. I went to a catholic school so we were mainly Paddies or Poles. This is back in the day, before Rupert Murdoch and the Hitler supporting owner of the Daily Heil decided that they needed to demonise Poles while taking a short breath from making up stories about Islam. Not sure why they decided to demonise eastern europeans, but I suppose it’s the same as any target for these scumbags…less of them and easier to identify as they actually have skills, speak more than one language and are actually hard at work…unlike, say, your Nicholas Faräge type who has never done a proper day’s work in his life and has no obvious skill or talent. Also, if you can tell stupid people that they are being attacked by “others” they won’t notice the actual attacks to their way of life by the greedy priviliged natives…such as selling off the post office, the NHS, the land regestry, child protective services for fuck sake (which will be renamed “Child PRODUCTIVE servicing Inc” and a proportion of abused children will be sold off to a paedophile ring of British aristocrats. No…i definitely didn’t mention anyone whose name was Andrew Prince or anything similar)
Anyway, long and short of it. I grew up among British Poles and we lived quite happily together before they became enemies of the state. I went on a short holiday to Krakow when I was in my 20s…this was in the days before cheap air travel so I went by train as it was cheaper.
What I noticed about Poland as the train crossed over from germany into poland was that it seemed like we’d suddenly travelled back 50 years in time. The fields were suddenly being ploughed by oxen rather than tractors and there were far more carts going down the nearby street than 4b4s. The buffet car of the train suddenly had an actual stove and they were selling hot food rather than microwaived food or crisps….and you could afford it! and a beer!
The week or so I spent in Krakow, I generally ate in a mexican restuarant because i could afford to and it wasn’t something i could ever hope to do back in London, and in my head i liked mexican food. Also, they had really good looking waitresses in the Mexican restuarant….i think they were poles but at the time I’m not sure if i’d have noticed any difference between polish and mexican.

Fast forward to the present day and i can get by in Mexican and can order a beer in Polish (well, just by saying “beer” and holding the bottle up and moving it from one side to the other with my fingers and thumb to show that the glass bottle is empty). A colleague at work told me ages ago about this polish restaurant not far away from my gaff and recommended it. Today is a holiday in Madrid Capital (because of a statue of the Virgin Mary and Jesus that was found buried in the ground. No, don’t laugh…I don’t turn my nose up at a day off work, so keep your titters to yourself!) so i thought i’d try it out.
It’s called La Polonesa (The Polish) so i don’t suppose there are many polish restaurants in madrid to confuse with it.

http://restaurantelapolonesa.es/restaurante/menu-platos-principales-madrid

I thought I was ordering 2 starters…but the light was poor and I’m still not in the habit of taking my glasses out with me, because i very rarely need them. Turns out I ordered two main courses, which might explain why i was full up after the first and had to have 90% of the second to take away in a doggy bag. Because it was a holiday, there was no menu del dia. Hence my strange order and beer instead of wine. To be fair, i’d have more confidence in polish beer than polish wine….call me a rascist.
For my first main course i had the meat pierogi which are stuffed, steamed pies similar to dimsun but way bigger and fuller and came attop fried onions. They were really nice.

For my second main course, I ordered the bigos….which i remembered avoiding in Poland itself but had a bowl of it on the train between Krakow and Berlin, with a cold beer. And it was delicious. a hearty meat and smoked sausage stew with sauerkraut. 20 or 25 years later and in a (stationary) restaurant on the other side of europe, it was still delicious….but just way way way too much of it. If i hadn’t got it put in a doggy back, i’d still be there trying to get through it

wasn’t cheap as i was dining ala carte like Kanye might. two large main courses and two large (pint) bottles of Polish “okocim” beer…21€…though my lunch to take to work tomorrow is sorted too.

La Falda de Lavapiés

Ok, sorry about the ranting and the non-Madrid based eating and drinking. Back in my comfort zone now. You fuckers didn’t want to hear me sing my truth anyway.

Now…look at this photo and tell me what problem you see

I won’t insult your intelligence. If you know anything about how to live life and aren’t clinically insane (no shame in it) it’s more than obvious.
The salad was really nice…i’m not ashamed to tell you I really like quinoa and also everything else it came with was calm…cucumber, tomato, red onion, a touch of mint, crunchy bread crumbs. shitload too much salt in it, though. I’d never imagined or seen people put salt in salad until I came to Spain. Love of salt may explain why hypertension is so popular in Iberia. Can’t just be me making it cool.
For the seriously slow or those that just don’t know anything about how to live properly, what do you notice about the main course (beef-burger made of castrated male cow, I had it well done so i couldn’t hear the screams of the vanquished, tortured, humiliated and murdered cow. was nice)

Yeah obvious, wasn’t it, And you knew exactly what was going to happen from the first photo.
To be honest I’ve not really seen much negative about the gentrification of this barrio. I bought the DaveCave© before gentrification started here….and it has mainly meant that shitty bars/cafes have become nice bars or less shitty bars. La Falda was an odd local, as it was the first time that a shitty old man became a hipster place briefly before turning back into a shitty old man bar and recently became a fairly decent gastro-bar and has been getting a good reputation for platos, pinchos and tapas. I have heard that in Malasaña, where gentrification and hipsterification has really taken hold, that it almost impossible to get a menu del dia. I certainly don’t want Lavapies to suffer the same fate. I don’t really get this thing of just giving you one glass of wine for a 3 course menu. This is Spain and cheap wine is cheaper than cheep, it’s cheaper than tap water. How can you make one glass of wine last 3 courses? You could hide it, you could keep it on the other side of the building, you could maybe order a glass of wine that you really don’t like (but I’m not sure that exists…outside of the UK or parts of what used to be the Ottoman empire)…it’s just ridiculously tight and means I’m much less likely to return here. It’s not that I need a whole bottle of wine. But I want a whole bottle of wine. Or at least not have to sip a glass of wine so slowly that you’d think it was the only drinkable liquid I had and I was trapped on some sort of lifeboat in the middle of an ocean surrounded by dave eating sharks.
So, get it together yo
here is their facebook page if you want more actual information….like the address, or photos…the sort of stuff that I’m way to busy
https://www.facebook.com/La-falda-de-Lavapiés-626682344140720/

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

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!

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

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.

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)