Friday, April 20, 2018

El Paraguas: Refined Asturian Cuisine in Madrid

Nestled in the heart of Madrid's elegant Salamanca district, El Paraguas is a cozy and sophisticated restaurant well known for its high-quality Asturian cuisine popular with old-guard Madrileños. Opened in 2004 by Sandro Silva and Marta Seco, with the aim of providing a new vision of Asturian gastronomy, which hails from northern Spain, El Parraguas in known for their rich stews, fabulous fresh seafood, and signature dishes by chef Silva including grilled sea urchin in its own shell, oxtail meatballs and stuffed colmenilla mushrooms with foie gras. Dark-tone lampshades, stained glass panels, and plush seats give the ground level dining room a warm European elegance, while copper pots add a whimsical country kitchen feel. Of the more than 100 wines available, most are tintos or reds from Rioja vineyards such as Valenciso and Ramon Bilbao. A delightfully elegant spot for lunch or dinner, El Paraguas has shaded outdoor tables in the summer, and number of small private dining rooms on the upper floor, perfect for enjoying a long leisurely Madrileño lunch.  

Marta Seco and chef Sandro Silva

Specializing in fabulous fish and seafood, the menu at El Paraguas is a pescatorian's dream

A bowl of warm lightly salted fried onions arrive as diners are seated

Spanish sparkling Cava to begin our lovely lunch

Seasonal Greens and Ham Hock Soup amuse-bouche

 Langostinos Rellenos de Espinacas: Spinach Filled Prawns

Zamburiñas Gratinadas: Scallops Gratin

Colmenillas Rellenas de Foie Gras: Morelles filled with Foie Gras

 San Pedro a la Ribereña: John Dory with Ribereña sauce

Merluza a la Sidra con Compota de Manzana: Hake with Apple Compote Cider

Cochinillo Confitado: Pork Confit

Tarta fina de manzana con helado de chocolate blanco: Apple Galette with white chocolate ice cream

Almond Tuiles

Thursday, April 19, 2018

O'Pazo: The Finest Galician Seafood in Madrid

Often named among the best seafood restaurants in Spain, O’Pazo is owned by Evaristo Garcia, who also runs Pescaderías Coruñesas, a prestigious seafood supplier established in 1911 by King Alfonso XIII, that provides the restaurant and royal household with the freshest wild fish from the Galician coast each and every day. Opened in 1969, it was one of the first restaurants in Madrid to be awarded a Michelin star. The dining room is sleek and stylish, with a slate-gray palette, wood panelled alcoves and discrete lighting with elegant table settings with pressed white linens and refined wine glasses and tableware. Great legs of Iberian Jamón hang from the ceiling of O'Pazo's open kitchen, and the days’ catch of seafood and shellfish is displayed on crushed ice like an immense shrine to the sea, bursting with a selection of baby eels, river cockles, spider crabs, king prawns, lobster, scallops, langoustines, oysters, octopus, goose barnacles and more. With an unmatched reputation for offering the finest seafood in Madrid, the menu is impressive, specializing in traditional Galician dishes designed to bring out the natural lightness and delicate texture of the fish, such as Grilled Sole from the Cantabrian Sea for two, Zarzuela de Moriscos — a classic Spanish fish and seafood soup — and a marvellous selection of tartares and ceviche that are hand cut and served at the table. 

The ultra modern entrance foyer to the restaurant

Spectacular selection of fish and seafood on ice greets guests as they enter O'Pazo

The sleek and stylish interior of O'Pazo in Madrid

Offering the finest fish and seafood in Madrid, the menu is whimsically designed 
with a fish scale motif and subtle embossed O'Pazo logo

O'Pazo's custom smoked salmon from Pescaderías Coruñesas

Chilled pan-cooked river cockles served with tiny silver pins to pull out the succulent meat

O'Pazo Champagne Cocktail with Grand Marnier and brown sugar cube

Our server arriving with our wine selection

Pazo San Mauro Spanish white wine from Rías Baixas 

Our table side wine bucket with bottled water and our San Mauro white Rías Baixas 

An extraordinary pair of prawn shell scissors set on the table for my first course

Enormous King prawns from Sanlúcar, absolutely delicious and perfectly cooked;
weighing in at an impressive 400 grams, were also the most expensive appetizer I've ever ordered 

Santoña anchovies

Grilled Wild Tubot from the Galician estuaries and Asturias coast

Grilled Sole from the Cantabrian Sea, specifically the port of Avilés

Thin, warm and crispy potato chips custom fried to order

Green Salad with spring onions

Jerez sherry to enjoy with the cheese course

O'Pazo cheese board with assorted Spanish cheeses

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Café Varela: Galician-Style Cuisine in Madrid

Café Varela is one of the most famous and historic cafés in Madrid, dating back to 1884 when it was 'the place to be' during the golden age of literary cafés and literary salons, gathering great Spanish intellectuals and illustrious personalities from the Madrid social scene such as Miguel de Unamuno, Emilio Carrere, León Felipe, Rafael Alberti and the Machado brothers. These days, the refined and elegant restaurant owned by Melquiades Álvarez located in the Hotel Clarión Preciados, is celebrated for chef Ramón Castellano's Galician-style Mediterranean cuisine, with dishes such as sinfully delicious Seafood Croquettes, delicate Santoña Anchovies, iconic Jamón ibérico de Bellota, wonderfully tender Galician-style octopus, fabulous fresh grilled fish, a wide range of tempting pinchos and tapas plus an extensive selection of Spanish and international wines as well as wines by the glass. Arriving for a leisurely lunch on a rainy afternoon after exploring Antigua Casa Talavera, Madrid's oldest ceramics shop, we nestled into our lovely table overlooking Plaza Santo Domingo and enjoyed some lovely Galican-style appetizers with a glass or two of wine, waiting for the sun to peak out through the clouds.

The elegant interior of Café Varela which dates back to 1884

Monogrammed linen napkins offer an elegant touch to this landmark restaurant

Warm homemade bread

Glass of Spanish Albarino white wine

A Spanish Ribeiro

Croquetas de Marisco, delicious seafood croquettes with patatas bravas

Galician-Style Octopus

Grated Spanish cheese

Fettuccine Bolognese

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Vinoteca Moratín in Madrid with Chef Marcus Gil

A small intimate bistro in the centre of Madrid's Golden Triangle, chef and owner Marcos Gil opened Vinoteca Moratin in 2012 following his passion for “buen vino” and great food. Marcos is the heart and soul of the Vinoteca and it shows. With an exquisite, limited menu Gil only serves the freshest produce obtained each day from the Mercado Anton Martín. He's passionate about the dishes on the menu: dishes such as the artichokes with cured meat salt and confit leeks and steak tartar, which Gil cuts with a knife and seasons to suit diners’ tastes. "For me, feeding is a way to love", but with just 6 or 8 tables, it's often difficult to get a table. Marcos wanted the wines to have a prominent place in his restaurant and chose a long list of over forty white wines, from Albariños to Ruedas and Rieslings to over 50 different red ones from Rioja, Ribera del Duero and Jumilla, in addition to French wines from Loire and Burgundy, and some Portuguese from Alentejo. There are also around 20 selections by the glass too. Gil stocks no more than a couple of bottles of each wine because he is lucky to have his provider Vinoteca Trigo, just around the corner, delivering twice a day. Also, as befits a dedicated gourmand with the heart of a sommelier, there is no lack of Spanish and French cheeses. From vases of fresh flowers to the glow of flickering candle light, the rustic-modern style of Moratín’s tiny interior oozes charm in every detail. With outstanding service, delicious food, fabulous wines and lovely ambiance combined with chef Gil's genuine warmth, charm and enthusiasm, it’s no wonder Vinoteca Moratín is one of Barrio de Las Letras’ best places to dine. 

The exquisite candlelit interior of Vinoteca Morton tucked away in Madrid's Barrio de las Tetras, 
has just 12 tables

Wine bucket full of fabulous Spanish wines by the glass

Complimentary warm Paprika Potatoes

Gorgeous flavourful fresh squishy bread is bought daily from Mercado Anton Martin

Bottle of organic Spanish cava

A sparkling start to a sensational evening of great wine, delicious food and faultless service

Baby artichokes with sal de cecina

Leek Confit with Romesco Sauce

One of Bistro Moratin's lovely Spanish white wines by the glass,
a delicious San Clo Dio Ribeiro

Free Range Chicken with Albarino Sauce and roast potatoes

Spanish Sea Bass cooked whole in rock salt and served filleted with braised eggplant

A complimentary glass of Jerez Sherry was served to accompany our selection of Spanish cheeses

A fortified wine made from white grapes that are grown near the city of Jerez de la Frontera in Andalusia, the sherry was semi sweet, dark and quite delicious

Moratin's selection of Spanish cheeses

La Peral is a pasteurized blue cheese made in the Asturias in northern Spain

Majorero is a firm goat milk cheese similar to Manchego, with a milky, nutty flavour 

Pata de Molo, a raw sheep's milk cheese from León

Mahón cheese is a soft to hard white cheese made from cow's milk, named after the natural port of Mahón on the island of Menorca off the Mediterranean coast of Spain

The charming and talented Chef Marcus Gil