Monday, March 25, 2013

Madrid food tour

I am lucky enough to have the week off of work this week. I am even more lucky that I was able to book a last minute slot on the Madrid Food Tour's Ultimate Spanish Cuisine/Market and Tasting tour (we got two together because we are so lucky) I went this morning and it was fantastic!

First stop - Chocolate and Churros!

Even being married to a Spaniard and living here (in Madrid) for two years, I do not know a lot about Spanish food. I have had the desire to try more Spanish foods, but somehow I have never gotten around to it. I know that this is going to de mystify my life here in Spain, but I live a more "American" lifestyle then you would think. My schedule is still more or less American, I have to try very hard to practice Spanish every day, and I still cook Indian, Chinese, and Mexican dishes at home. Sure, some days I cook Spanish food here at home, or we go out and try different Spanish restaurants. But after a few months I had created a confort zone with Spanish food - only trying what I already knew.

Plaza Villa, where the cloistered nuns (building to the left) make the most amazing Spanish cookies.

Madrid, being the center of Spain (literally and figuratively), has representative foods from every region of Spain. On this tour I got to try an amazing assortment of foods. (I may never eat again I am so full.) I got to push out of my comfort zone and also to re-try some food and drinks that I had only tried once before and didn't like. Sometimes if you have a really bad experience with a food, you never want to try it again. The great thing about a food tour like this, is that your guide knows where to take you to get the good stuff. Sure there are some things that I tried that I still do not really like, but some of the things that I ened up liking were surprising. Like vermouth:

Madrid style vermouth
I had had vermouth before and I did not really like it. It was too sweet with an intense herby flavor. I never wanted to try it again. Today we want to an artisanal vermouth stand in Macado de San Miguel and I have to say, maybe it was the way that they served it, or that there was more care in the crafting of it, but it was like a whole different drink that I really enjoyed.

Pretty market bean photo
 I have a food allergy and my guide was amazingly sensitive to my needs. She was also willing to ask questions on my behalf about ingredients, which is a must for anyone with food allergies on a tour.

 My favorite new Spanish food find on the tour was, Cecina. To which our guide jokingly referred to as  "adult beef jerky". It is cured beef, thinly sliced and was given to us with some excellent olive oil on the top. It tasted like the best deli roast beef that I have ever had. It doesn't sound like much, but the taste was amazing!

Cecina and olive oil, it did not last long
 Olive bars, are of course, necessary for any Spanish food tasting. My favorite were some very green low sodium ones (you can see them at the back, click to enlarge). They were crisp and had a buttery-lemon flavor which I think I could have all day long.

Olive bar in an old marcado 
Beautiful fresh fish displays

This food tour took me through portions of Madrid's city center that I have never been too! Amazing, I have been here for almost two years now and there are places I still need to explore!

Birthplace of the bocadillo
This tour went beyond just food. When we were walking between places our guide would tell fun facts about the city to share with us too.

First terraza in Spain (and the end of the street)

I would take another one of their tours in a heartbeat. In fact, they have a Tapas and History tour....


  1. What a fabulous opportunity! That sounds like it was a delightful tour! What are Churros? I think I saw some of those in Cozumel last week, but didn't know what they were.

    1. Oh wow, churros have become such a big part of my life I never even thought to explain them. What a good question. They are long sticks of fried dough, like a doughnut. They are usually not glazed and are served freshly made and hot (with an exception of some stands that serve them cold and covered in chocolate). You have the option to add sugar to them. Most people always order them with Spanish style hot chocolate, which is basically a melted chocolate bar and enough milk for you to be able to spoon it.
      If you can get the two of them together I would try them,they are very good together.

  2. Kaystir... that's it... I'm going to learn to cook Spanish food so I can at least post about it and you can critique :) In fact, I LOVE these food tours of yours. I am *such* a foodie, and well, international cuisine is just something that interests me, yet I've got to break the 'cook Italian food' mold I've cast... nae, gotta cook Spanish !

    We have olive bars here.. how interesting. Our local "Whole Foods Market" has a huge olive bar right in the middle. Maybe I live more tapas than I realize. What food alergy do you have?
    Great post, do more food ! :)