el mono de la pila

this only opened up a couple of weeks ago on the first floor of the anton martin markert and i’ve been meaning to come here since it did. as anton martin is still a working market, despite all the new bars and restaurants, it closes reasonably early (at 9pm) and i’ve not been able to get my arse in gear early enough.
today me and my arse made it. in gear too. it’s a small place, maybe 3 or maybe 4 standup tables, the open kitchen and a fridge for beer and wine. very pleasant colombian fella who runs or owns it, or works there, asked me if i knew ceviche. silly question, of course i know ceviche…i’ve had it twice. here’s a picture of the menu…that’ll give you an idea

so, first you decide what size you want…i went for grande as i’m a growing lad….then a choice of wild corvina (sea bass), wild prawns or civilised octopus. i went for the civilised octopus. yourman then suggested that as i was already an expert, i’d have had the al tigre before and should try a different one. i went for the al coco…coconut milk, mango and avocado as well as the other usual ceviche things…red onion, weird crispy corn things…and yeah…the other stuff (?). he also asked me how spicy i’d like it and i explained i wasn’t spanish and so would like some flavour, but i’m a bit of a nonce too, so not too much. he was a bit surprised as i was wearing a uruguyan natonal footbal shirt..because i’d said i was english…not because uruguyans will never eat coconut milk. i told him i wasn’t uruguyan, i just liked the colour and didn’t see nationality. he said he didn’t see colour but he had loads of various different national football shirts too. so we bonded, the way men all over the world do..though maybe not in australia, north america or venezuela…but everywhere else.

ordered a beer. why not? aside from the fact that i might have epilepse and shouldn’t drink any beer ever. but come on! it’s a thursday and this homey don’t play by those rules. in a flash the food was ready. i suppose that’s the advantage of not actually cooking the food, but still i’d be amazed if i could toss a salad as quickly as this genius handed over a bole of ceviche. oh…i had quinoa in with the ceviche for an extra 0,60€. hey, i was hungry…i’d been at the gym, if i want to make it as a professional (or amateur) swimwear model, i’ve got to put the hours at the gym in. as my daddy, or roy castle (sometimes hard to diverentiate the one from the other) always said ‘If you want to be the best, if you want to beat the rest, dedication’s what you need’…they were wise men. or one of them was.

anyway, might only have been my third ceviche…but it was by far the best. in fact i’d go so far as to say it was the dog’s bollocks. the bollocks of the dog. if you’re not a brit, a paddy or an ausy, let me tell you…that’s really pretty jolly good.
so, total…2 beers (what? fuck off!), lovely ceviche with quinoa…12€

if you’re very lucky and you get to be here as the greengrocer is closing his stall, you get to see an old man’s arse crack as he closes all the shutters. phwoar! not that i objectify old men who run veg stalls. heaven forbid!

O barbas ©

Just as the Spanish are world famous for their mullets, the Portuguese are known for their moustaches. O barbas is known for not having a moustache, instead preferring a beard that gives him his name. As he is the only bearded man in Portugal he has managed to copyright his name and should the hipster ever find itself Portuguese he will have to talk with O barbas’ lawyers.
Hang on a condom packing minute, this is supposed to be “eating and drinking in Madrid”what’s all this Portuguese nonsense? Well,I make the rules init. I can have a picture of kim jong un all up in here if I want, man

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He not happy about that, man. Herro!
Anyway, my partner and I found ourselves in Lisbon for a baptism. Little amelie found herself accepted into the church of Catholics and we were there to mumble at the appropriate time in the ceremony. Pro-tip, keep your eye on older ladies ti know when to stand, when to sit and when to scream “wizard, you shall not pass!”
I was a massive lisbonian for many years so my partner was well impressed when i knew where to go when we were caught short. Clean, bog rule and kick on the door…what more would you need. Aside from a toilet seat. Overrated though inthey.
Went to beach in Costa init and decided to eat right on the seafront. I’ve never eaten well in Costa ago I decided to ask a friend who never goes there, he recommended O Barbas simply as it’s well known as being a restaurant in Costa. He had me at res.
As the restaurant is famous for beards what better way to start than with some clams?

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Cooked with garlic and wine. The clams, not the beard. Bottle of very good vinho Verde, naturally and some chicken samosas as an aperitif.
Main course was a monkfish stew served in a cataplana. I think monkfish must now be a protected species after the amount we shoved in our gullets. Was amazing and i was quite surprised that there was an element of either cream or coconut milk in their. Lots of cilantro of course. Peppers, onions, prawns, wine. Perfect

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Ended the meal with a glass of port, naturalment. About 20€ each with a second bottle of wine and a coffee each.
Managed to waddle to the beach half a metre away where I fell asleep and proceeded to sleep and snore loudly for an hour. Well, it keeps the sea pigeons away (or whatever they’re called…massive Fuckers)

Doing this on my phone…not sure what I do now. Help

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

Los Porfiados

This is the 2nd time i’ve been to los porfiados but the first time i was with someone so astonishgly beautiful that i forgot to take photos of the food. This time i was with my partner, so I didn’t forget.
Los Porfiados is run by a group of very pleasant Argentinians and the decor is really nice too, if you notice that kind of thing. You’ll find it on Calle Buena Vista between anton martin (which i tend to call Alta Lavapies) and Lavapies (baja). I learned from the astonishingly beautiful one that a porfiado was a type of children’s toy that just kept swinging around…i’m not sure what we’d call it in ingrish.
It’s closed on mondays, but then where isn’t? we went for lunch on a sunday and to be on the safe side i booked a table for 2 people at 3pm, like a proper adult.

obviously, today that looked like it wasn’t necesary. we had an aperetif (fizzy warter for me, Vic Millington!) in Bar Benteveo and the family that were having a massive barny in their walked into Los Porfiados minutes after we walked in. Doh!

We ordered a bottle of the house white. a nice drop from catalunya for 12€

We both ordered the ensalada lisboa to start with, which was various green things, some yellow things (can’t remember what we call them in english…garbanzos in spanish. no, i’m not taking the piss…brain haemmorhage innit…still having problems with the odd words. well, words that aren’t sweary at least.), and some red things, wee tomatoes and langustinos. nice bit of coriander and very subtle amount of mint. very refreshing for a haat day like today.

main course i had a ceviche with salmon and langustinos and grapefruit. served with pita bread…or pita pan in spanish, which never fails to make me smile. i love to smile. and making love in the cape. in the rain. with a crepe.

my partner had fish & chips. obviously as a part-englishman, i was preparing to go mental and fuck the place up if it wasn’t excellent. rrrraaaahhhh….”i bruddy get you Gawy Winnekar!!!!” turn tables over, the full mental shit. you get me?
luckily it was lovely so i didn’t have to strain myself

my beach body is just like so amazin’ that i didn’t need to worry about a couple of calories for pudding. so i had the cheese cake. not all of it yo. just a slice. which was only one calory anyway. that’s how calories work…one calory is one piece of cake, so if there’s 6 pieces of cake, that’s 6 calories. innit.

So, in total…3 courses and a bottle of decent wine 22€ each. and a tip, so 23€ each.
highly recomend it. fashionistas will be asking who i was wearing…well, i was wearing mansfield town away shurt, springfield shorts, adidas trainers and my hair was done by Mohammed. No, another one.

Best Indian in Madrid – Moharaj

People often ask me, “dave, how many persons are there in god?” And i tend to say to them, “well if you’re asking about your christian god rather than the true gods of old..i’d have to say, in your new puny god there are three divine Persons…the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. You see, unaided by divine revelation, the human mind could not know the existence of big daddy, jc & the spook because it is a supernatural mystery.” Other people ask me “Dave, what’s the best curry house in Lavapiés?” and i tell them “the Moharaj”. Now this might not be as simple an answer as you might think. Much like the christian idea of the theoretical three, the moharaj is not just one curry house, nor two either but three, like the bee-gees or the musketeers, if you ignore D’Artanon. Much like the theologists of old or fans of the bee-gees…i’m not sure which Moharaj is the best or even if any of them are the true “best curry house in Lavapiés”…you could just say that my belief that the Moharaj on Calle Ave Maria 18, is the one true good curry house is just an article of faith. but i believe in the Moharaj on Calle Ave Maria 18 and it has not let me down yet.moharaj (2 of 6) In all three Moharajas you’ll find disciples devoted to each, but then lots of people don’t know their arses from their elbows. The (1st) moharaj on Calle Buenavista just off Calle de la Fé (the street of the faith) once burned the garlic in my dopiaza and charges too much for their beer. The (2nd) Moharaj on Calle Ave Maria,26 also charges too much for its beer and has generally gone down hill since the chef and original part-owner had a falling out with Moharaj Calle Ave Maria 26 and went to open his own restaurant on Calle Ave Maria, 18 and called it “moharaj”. Personally, i’d have started my new venture with a new name…but maybe it’s like a boat and it’s bad luck to change the name, or maybe he went off with a few hundredweight of menus he was owed.moharaj (3 of 6) Truth is, if you go for a Chinese meal, you generally expect good food if the majority of customers are chinese…much the same with Indian food, you know it’s going to be good if the majority of diners are Brits. Although you might find Brit heretics in Moharaj 1 & 2 too. But they are all arseholes. Moharaj3 is about as close as you’ll get to a real British curry-house outside the sceptered isle. Soon as you’ve sat down you’ll be presented with papadoms and onions and sauces, you’re home. moharaj (1 of 6) I’m not a massive fan of very hot food, but I’m assured by real men that the vindaloo is pukka. Can’t think of any curry i’ve wanted to order that hasn’t been on the menu, plus there’s no worries about mancky lamb meat, it’s always pukka too and he fries it before adding to the sauce, which makes it nice and tender.

moharaj (4 of 6)Last time i was there i had a lamb rogan josh (on the left there) with rice and a naan. the naan is great.

moharaj (5 of 6)the last two photos i forgot to take until we’d already started eating…so maybe they could be a little better. Maybe.

the last thing i’d say about Moharaj3 is that you get free chupitos without asking, to digest. i’ve even been given a bottle of whiskey to put on the table (although i don’t drink it)…and the owner has even invited me in for a beer on a sunday when i’ve been walking past (which i’ve declined as i don’t drink:( and i’m way too busy for socializing)

moharaj (6 of 6)In summary, there might be better indians in Madrid, or there might not…but whenever i’ve tried a different indian, i’ve been disappointed. Moharaj3 is a proper pukka, british indian which never disappoints, the service is good and friendly, there’s some free booze and it’s not too far from my house. what more could you need, unless you don’t live with me or near me. Your loss

Bolero Meatballs

You know how Tina Turner made millions of american dolari by registering the phrase “simply the best©”, well I thought I’d already copyrighted the phrase that Bolero has proudly hanging from their wall

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probably an oversight on my part, but if this eatery starts asking patrons if they’d like “a big ball-sack®” to take away, then they will have to speak to my lawyers!

There’s a new thing called “street-food” apparently. It’s all making me a bit dizzy, what with the invention of “after-work” and “slow food” how can a food hipster like myself keep on top of these weird new fads?! Well, Bolero Meatballs make life a bit easier by basically just serving meatballs…and who doesn’t like some meaty balls in their mush?balls (1 of 12)If there’s ever an award for photographs, like the oscars for films, or match of the day’s goal of the week for goals, then I don’t think anybody should put money on me winning it ever. I can’t even see the menu there myself. As far as i remember they do 3 sorts of meaty balls…grandmother style (i assume it jumps the queue in the supermarket and for the bus and is quite happily and unashamedly racist. made with beef. and doesn’t quite make sense from one idea to the next. i’m channeling my grandmother…but then i never met her); asian style made with pork meat; and another one that’s made with chicken meat and has parmesan on it or in it.

Once you’ve decided which balls you want in your mouth, you’ve got more options, dagnabit. do you want them as the gods intended them or do you want them in a sandwich? now the idea of a meatball sandwich seems like just a bad idea to me…like a food accident just waiting to happen…but, despite what my passport says (and what I say whenever it suits me), I am a British, and we britishes love us some sandwich whenever we can make something into one…i know someone who loves nothing more than a condensed milk sandwich and a mate of my brother’s who invented the pie-sandwich..i had a quinoa and piripiri sauce sandwich just last night…so, genetically not easy to order something other than the Bocadillo option. Now, do you want it with chips or with white rice. Derr, no brainer!balls (12 of 12)I went for the 3 ball granny option rather than 4 (three ball granny is the title of my new band, by the way). and a 0.0% beer (bite me!). Nice enough and a quick and easy lunch option (it’s open until 1130pm,so it could be a tea option too…or brunch..depending on what time you get up and what time you want to go to bed) though at €8.70 for 3 granny ball sandwich and (very nice but a bit salty) chips with a tercio of sin-beer (to be fair, in Spain beer without alcohol is always the same price as beer with delicious, delicious alcohol…not that i’m bitter!) i thought it was a bit on the expensive side. Course, i still left a tip because the waitress was really nice and very very attractive…I imagine that 0.10€ really impressed her…this player’s got game! don’t be a hater,yo!

(my brain still not 100%, so blame any spelling errors, lack of punctuation or general shite on my brain hemorrhage…i imagine it’s a relief for thatcher spending eternity in hel to have me blame something other than her on)

Frangus

My postes are like busses, they both shmell of pish after 11pm on a Friday.

I was feeling a bit of a PIG and with so few options that weren’t S in Madrid, it was a stroke of genius that i remembered Frangus and that it had fairly recently opened a restaurantEuro_Pigs_Fly.

As you may know, portuguese food is one of the most underated quizines around…except in portugal, where they rave about it…the same as the spanish rave about spanish food and the mexican texans rave about texmex…you’ll even find the english raving about english food, but the english tend to have the good grace not to boste. One thing that really makes me feel at home is a chicken cooked in the brasa with piripiri sauce close by. I’m not sure if the king of chicken is still around in the centre of Lisbon, but that king made a monacist of me.

Frangus is a take away place. You buy your portuguese style chicken and take it away and eat at home…hence “takeaway”… The spanish invented take-away when nobody bothered to learn how to cook and their mothers’ became too frail to do it for them. Obviously grandad was no help, he’d be lucky to find the chicken and get his breastfuck of a morning. It’s a bit like when the disgusting smelling christians got rid of the sweatly fragrenced mures and suddenly realsed they had no idea how to grow crops, how not to stink to high heaven/jannah, how to right poetry and how to count something that is less than one. A portuguese chicken is spatchcocked and cooked on hot coals.IMG_20150218_143256

The problem with franguses restaurant bit is that, while it looks very nice and pleasant, they serve the chicken with chips that are a bit fastfood-style and come with salt. I’d prefer my chicken to come portuguese style…with chips and rice and salad…not just one section of the triumverate.IMG_20150218_142709

The first course was a bit of a lie as it was supposedly rissois with rice, but there was only one rissole alongside a bachalao croquete. I like bachalao croquetes don’t get me wrong, but what if i’d made plans?IMG_20150218_141851

Portuguese custard tarts are the new black, so that was the pudding option…and a bloody good one it was…nce and crispy and maybe the best portuguese custard tarts i’ve had in the seven thousand portuguese custard tart shops that now exist in madrid.IMG_20150218_145324

Despite my moans, it wasn’t a bad option for 10€ for 3 course lunch with water (what has my life become!) and great portuguese bread.Oh and you’ll find it between Embajadores and Puerte de Toledo, on Ribera de Curtidora, 28 IMG_20150218_141658

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

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!

Bacalhau à Braga

bacalhau à braga (1 of 4)Strictly speaking this should have it’s own name because it’s not exactly exactly Bacalhau à Braga, but I figured the Portuguese wouldn’t thank me for yet another saltcod dish in the lexicon…and it’s close enough. It’s also very easy and not labour intensive at all

There’s 3 stages to the dish. Sauce/Spuds/Fish. The sauce is the one you’ll want to start first.

Slice 3 onions and bung in pot with plenty of olive oil. Salt. A sliced red pepper, a sliced green pepper. Lid on and cook slowly until the onions and peppers are soft. A couple of teeth of garlic. A bay leaf or two.A dash of white wine or cider vinegar. I put some honey in there too. I also added some fresh oregano from my garden (well, balcony) and a dash of piripiri. Add a tin of chopped tomatoes, or chop a mature tomato or two. Cook down a bit and then cover and leave with lid on.

Slice some spuds. Stick them in abundant vegetable oil on a medium heat. When the spuds are soft in middle, turn up the heat.

Boil some water in pan. Take off the heat and put your bacalhau loins in the water for a bit. Dry the cod with kitchen paper. Salt & pepper. Fry the fish in olive oil with a bay leave and some garlic.

bacalhau à braga (2 of 4)Serve. Sauce over the fish

bacalhau à braga (4 of 4)Job done! é do caralho

Bom apetite

La Dominga

ladominga (6 of 6)I found myself wandering around Malasaña on a Wednesday afternoon and the window of lunching opportunity was about to close so I picked La Dominga almost at random. What I liked was that there was a choice of two first courses and two main courses, so I’m less likely to be racked by regret and the feeling I’ve made a terrible error.

ladominga (4 of 6)1st course: cream of beetroot,carrot and leek soup with a touch of goat cheese or prawn gyosas served on aubergines done in spicy honey

2nd course: beef stew with tomato and rice or crunchy fishburger with provenzal style chips.

ladominga (1 of 6)I asked for the prawn gyozas and told them to make them blurry.

Nice. I’d only ever had gyozas fried before, but these were boiled. Nice. The aubergines weren’t particularly spicy or honey-y but nice all the same.

ladominga (2 of 6)Crunchy fish burger for main course. Nice and crunchy. Looks like in Provençal they put some chopped parsley on their chips.

I had cuajada (milk curd) with honey for pudding. Didn’t take a photo, it’s only a dessert. Not worth my time.

ladominga (3 of 6)The food was good and not too much of it and it’s a nice enough place (quite dark, so ideal for dates if you’re ugly) but there is a caveat. Instead of the traditional jug/bottle/carafe of wine they just give you a glass, and it’s impossible to make one glass of wine last 3 courses and the waiting time between ordering and the courses…well, maybe not impossible per se, but not very enjoyable or even natural…and they charge you for any subsequent glasses which drives up the price of your lunch quite significantly. So bear that in mind if you’re thinking of investing in lunch here.

La Dominga

Torero’s pie

rabo de toro (1 of 3)I’ve decided to add recipes. I’ll tag them “eating in”

I wouldn’t describe myself as a gourmand but I know my way around a kitchen and enjoy cooking. I’m a gastrosexual like most British blokes around my age. Cookbooks are our Razzle, Nigel Slater our Linda Lusardi.

I’m always giving recipes to friends and colleagues, so I thought I might as well add some here. And it’ll be an outlet for my food porn pictures.

Torero’s Pie (Rabo de toro/Oxtail shepherd’s pie)

Neither British nor Spanish food has much of a reputation outside their own borders, so I thought as a British-ish man-cook who has lived in Spain for the last decade, I should marry two average cuisines and create something great. So here is my first attempt at Anglo-hispanic fusion food.

First you need to dust the bits of oxtail in flour and brown them in hot oil. Then remove them from the pot.

Chop onions, green & red pepper, a leek, some carrots, a wee stick of celery and soften in the pot, add salt and pepper and a couple of bay leaves

rabo de toro (2 of 3)When they’re suitable softened, add a couple of chopped and seeded tomatoes and cook for a bit longer.

Pour in about half a bottle of red wine and a mug of beef or veg stock. Over a high heat, reduce the liquid by about a thrid, then cover and turn the heat right down to the lowest it can go.

rabo de toro (3 of 3)Now it’s going to cook for about 5 hours. You can do it in the oven if yours is big enough…mine isn’t so I did it on the hob.

Now take the bits of tail out of the pot.

The next stage is up to you if you want to do it or not. Personally, I find it much tastier…but up to you. Take out the bay leaves and using a hand blender blitz the sauce.

Now pick the meat off the tail bones…it should falling off the bone by now. Shred it into bits using your hand or two forks. Make sure there’s no lumps of fat in there (unless you like lumps of fat). Put the shredded meat back into the sauce. If the sauce isn’t as thick as you’d like, turn up the heat until it is. You can keep the oxtail bones for stock if that’s how you roll.

Make mashed potatoes in the time-honoured way. When you’re happy with it…add some smoked paprika and a spoon or two of red pepper paste (it’s called carne de pimiento in spain, I believe in the UK you can get Chargrilled Red Pepper Paste in Sainsbury’s). Mix these into the mash.

Pour the meat sauce into a baking dish so the sauce is no more than half way up. or a bit more than halfway actually.

Start to cover the meat sauce with the mash. Easiest way is, using a spoon start at a corner and scrape the spoonful of mash on top then do another one next to it and work around the dish that way. Then fill in the middle. With a fork, lightly go round all of the topping making lines in it so that it looks like a ploud field and the mash is spread equally enough.

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Brush and egg white over the top. Bung in the oven for 20-30 minutes so that the top is crispy and some sauce has bubbled out and made a mess of your oven. (don’t worry…the wonderful Elena cleaned my oven. I’d have just sold it and bought another one)

IMG_1197

y voilá

TORERO BLANCANIEVES

Pastel de Torero/Torero’s Pie

Beyti

beyti (1 of 1)This dish sort of brings me round full circle.

When I was growing up my mum cooked everything at home. Nothing pre-processed passed my lips unless it was school dinners or when being fed by somebody that wasn’t my ma. She even baked the bread, biscuits or scones that we’d eat. Unfortunately, when I became an adult and left home at 18 I turned my back on all this and embraced preservatives, e-numbers, trans-fats and high-fructose corn syrups and lived off cook-in sauces and frozen food. Cooking was browning mince or chicken breasts and pouring over some mother’s pride or sharwood’s sauce. What a rebel! Arriving in Istanbul to live as a twentysomething came as a bit of a shock when it came to cooking...instead of jars and packets of chemically produced gloop, the supermarkets were just full of vegetables, meat, fish, vegetables and spices. What are you supposed to do with them?

While Turkish food is amazing, it was my first time outside the British Isles for any length of time and I began to miss British/Irish food. So, I had to learn how to cook them as 99.9% of the restaurants in Istanbul at the time served the Osman Mutfak (the Ottoman Kitchen) only.

Fast forward 17 years and you’ll hear me whinging that despite Madrid being a major European capital, there’s only one Turkish restaurant…and that’s on the outskirts of the city (well, up near the santiago bernabeu…but as far as I’m concerned Madrid ends at Gregorio Marañón.) There was a great one on Cava Alta years ago, but that closed down to be replaced by a Spanish place. Then there was an amazing one on Santa Engracia which only lasted a year before becoming a Spanish place…because we were in desperate need of another Spanish restaurant.

It suddenly occurred to me that if I missed my favourite Turkish dishes then I should cook them myself. Suddenly meaning “after about 5 years.” Yes, I can be a bit thick. So, here it is…Beyti!

Lamb mince is extremely difficult to come by in Spain and Portugal, so I used beef mince. Into the mince add as much crushed garlic as you like and then add a little more. Throw in some ground coriander and cumin, salt and pepper and maybe some chili powder or piri-piri if you like. I think I might have put some chopped fresh parsley in there too. Mix the mince together and then roll into balls the size of plums (ahem)…put a metal skewer (or a wet wooden one) through the middle of the ball and then massage it so it looks like a fat cigar along the skewer. Then grill or barbecue or fry…I did it on the plancha.

beyti123 (1 of 3)

Put some lightly oiled peppers and onions on there too, you can add them to the dish when you serve it.

While they are cooking you can make the bulgur wheat and the spicy tomato sauce. If you’re not used to cooking bulgur, it’s much like coucous in that it soaks up the liquid you add to it. I had softened some of the onion and red pepper then added the bulgur and then some hot stock and cooked it down. The sauce was just a tin of tomatoes mixed with some harissa and probably a splash of white wine (it’s practically impossible to cook without using some form of alcohol. unless you’re cooking breakfast). You could use rice if you prefer, but I much prefer bulgur wheat…if it’s not readily available in your local shops you could try one of these health-food shops they have nowadays.

beyti123 (2 of 3)

Now, get a thin tortilla or dürüm..lightly brush it with olive oil on both sides and roll it around your kebab. Then, using a sharp knife cut them into sections.

beyti123 (3 of 3)Put them in a heated oven for a few minutes

beyti (1 of 1)Now serve along with the bülgür wheat and a dollop of greek former-ottoman-empire yoghurt. I put a slice of the onion and pepper in between they beyti and  spoon over the spicy tomato sauce. I was going for a crescent shape, with the bulgur being the star..and hey presto! a turkish flag! with a white yoghurt stain on it

beyti (1 of 1)

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

Taberna Griega

Maybe it’s a sense of solidarity with a nation even more royally fucked than the Spanish are currently (i say nation, but obviously I’m not including the rich in either country as in both they’re popping the Cristal like never before), but Greek food seems to be all the rage in Madrid at the moment. There’s two swanky Greek delicatessens in Malasaña, a Greek food stall selling Greek wine, olives, cheese and Greek dishes to take away by the ración in Lavapiés market, and in Chueca (a barrio which embraces greek style with a passion) there’s three Restuarants of a Catalan based Greek food franchise…these restaurants seem to pay more attention to decor than the food as they’re, frankly, disappointing and I don’t think I’d bother going back.

I was surprised to come across a Greek place in Pacifico, a far less fashionable barrio than Lavapiés, Malasaña or Chueca…and even more encouraged by the fact that it seemed to be a barrio-style place rather than an upmarket, chic, pretentious place…because it’s rare to eat well in such places.

Having said that, it isn’t cheap cheap with a menu del día weighing in at 17€ for 3 courses with wine. But, I reasoned to myself, it’s the price you pay in a city where any dish that isn’t resolutely Spanish is met with fear and loathing, or indifference at best.

I started with the prawn saganaki…prawns in a tomato sauce. Nice enough and plenty of prawns.

The wine was from Crete, which I must admit worried me slightly as I’ve not had positive experiences with wine from any erstwhile part of the Ottoman Empire…but it was actually really nice. Dry but fruity.

Main course, I had the beef suvlaki…mainly to see how it compared with mine, which I made a couple of times over summer. The photo…well, and the plate itself looks pedestrian to say the least, but the meat was tasty and obviously good quality. I got the impression it might have been marinaded in yoghurt as well as the usual souvlaki marinade…which was interesting…i shall try that myself. The chips were perfect too, and you can’t beat a perfectly cooked chip.

Pudding was a choice of things with nuts or almonds in, which would have had the unfortunate effect of killing me dead. I had one eye on a siesta…falling asleep on the sofa while listening to the most glamorous fixture of the day’s football fixtures, doncaster rovers against nottingham forest…so I persuaded the waiter to bring me a dessert that wouldn’t kill me, rather than a coffee which would have made a siesta impossible. He brought me a bowl of greek yoghurt with honey. Can’t complain about that

All in all, I’m glad I went and I will return. Also handy for pre-lunch vermouth in the celebrated Bodegas Casas

http://www.tabernagriega.info/

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

Bodegas Casas

The barrio of Pacifico is an undiscovered gem, a gold mine, the milk. To mix the metaphorical. And the languages.

Bodegas Casas was founded in 1923 by Don Gregorio. His father was a shepherd who, for some reason, had a large collection of clay pots, which can be seen around the bodega. But not in this photo. What with me being rubbish with a camera.

The wee iron fence there serves the purpose of separating the gentlemen from the ladies. Hard to tell if this is enforced still, as I was there on my todd.

Possibly the best vermouth you’ll have in Madrid. Or anywhere I’ve been, at least…which is a…handful…of places.

The vermut used to be homemade until PC “has the world gone mad” came in and ruined everything. I’m not even allowed to beat my wife anymore. Or own slaves

You can buy a litre bottle to take away with you for €5,20.

I was tempted