Thursday, 17 July 2014

A Foodie's guide to Spain - Madrid, Toledo & Seville

Every time I think of Spain, the first picture that comes to my mind is a group of cheerful, vivacious people having a good time and enjoying some delicious food & Sangria. Food is one of the most important aspects of travel for me. Unless you try what the locals eat, the experience of the place is incomplete.

Tapas, I feel are synonymous to Spanish cuisine.They are referred to as pintxos  in the northern regionThey maybe small portions but they are big on taste. You can call them appetizers, starters or snacks, but for somebody who likes variety, a combination of different tapas can form a perfect meal. They can be cold or hot, cooked or uncooked, vegan or vegetarian. The list is long.

I traveled to a few cities in Spain and did not miss any opportunity to eat local spanish food.

The capital and the largest city in Spain. There is an indescribable energy to this city. The city is a beautiful mix of the old and the new.

Puerta de Sol
Located in the heart of the city, this famous square is lined with restaurants, bars, cafes, ham & cheese shops. Bustling with tourists, its charming and alive. The most fascinating are the cave bars each famous for a particular tapa and some also serve a variety.

TIP: Cave Hopping - Visit different caves and try their speciality with Sangria

Champiñòn al ajillo (Mushrooms with Garlic) at the Mesòn del Champiñòn

 Delectable mushrooms, served with a smile

                                                                                            Sangria is served in earthen jugs

The Men behind the delicious mushrooms and Sangria

    Pimientos de Padròn (Spicy peppers) - Another superstar from the caves
Fresh, salty, lemony, mild & absolutely delectable. 

    Jamòn Ibèrico (Ham from Acorn fed pigs)
Finest ham in the world. It has a delicious nutty flavor.

        In Sol, you will spot many ham shops. It is quite fascinating to see so many different varieties of  ham. 

TIP: Vacuum packed ham is an ideal thing to take back from Spain.

Mercado de San Miguel
The oldest and the most beautiful food markets in Madrid. Even if you don't want to buy anything, its a market which should be experienced, just for its lovely sights and smells.

Paella - The showstopper in Madrid
This stunning dish is a concoction of  vegetables, chicken and seafood. It can be customized as per one's choice.It is eaten with aioli (garlic mayonnaise). It can be eaten as whole meal or as a starter. Most tapas bars serve Paella as a tapa. Paella may have humble roots, but this wholesome dish is definitely the king of all dishes.

Paella at the L'Albufera restaurant at the Melià hotel

The city of 3 cultures - There was a time when muslims, jews and christians lived here in harmony. This timeless city is a UNESCO world heritage site. It is just an hours drive from Madrid. 

Spend some time strolling in the city. You will cross many souvenir shops selling medieval swords in all sizes. It is a great souvenir take back home. While walking you will spot many cafes and bars. Grab a seat and enjoy some local specialities.

Gambas al ajillo (Garlic Prawns)
The aroma was so heavenly, that I was in love with the them before eating them. Cooking with the shell elevates the taste. Slightly messy, but definitely worth it.

Patatas Bravas (Fried Potatoes with Spicy sauce)
 They are fried potatoes, served with a spicy tomato sauce called Brava. Also sometimes, accompanied by aioli (garlic mayonnaise).

A city so stunning, you will fall in love on first sight. The charm of the city lies in its architecture which is a unique combination of moorish, gothic and Renaissance styles. 

Just lose yourself  in the maze of alleys in the old quarter. There are many cafes and bars. Sample traditional dishes with some beer or Sangria.

TIP- To fully experience the old city, book a hotel around the cathedral.

Pisto Con Huevo (Spanish style Ratatouille)
Fresh vegetables stewed in tomato sauce served with egg. Delicoso!

Pimiento Rojo en aceite de oliva (Grilled Red Peppers in olive oil)
Smoky and sweet, served with tuna. Scrumptious!

Seville is a great city to wake up to. I suggest, walk up to the nearest cafe. Enjoy some Spanish breakfast before starting your day in this wonderful city.

                                 Cafè con Leche (Coffee with milk)
Start your day with a cup of frothy goodness.

Have some bread and jam or churros with chocolate sauce or just a croissant. 
Spain is a big country & there is still lots to eat. Until next time, Adios amigos.

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