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Churros with Chocolate - Madrid

There was more than met the eye when we went to Madrid. A lively fun city with a little of something from all over Spain..and a lot of food!

Madrid was a city where I wasn't sure what to expect. There are not any world famous attractions. It has famous art galleries, a palace and is the capital but compared to the other locations we had been to in Spain it didn't have an attraction like the Alhambra or the Sagrada Família that it was known for. We arrived and the place was buzzing with people everywhere. It was straight off to find lunch at the local Tabernea called Pompeyana. I opted for the lentil stew and Lewis the croquettes. The stew came out in a huge urn. I am pretty sure at this point my eyes nearly popped out. Even with Lewis help we only got halfway through it. It was deliciously rich with brown lentils, ham, pork and chorizo. The flavour was rich and meaty with a hint of herbs.

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The croquettes were firm, crunchy and full of ham. We knew we still had one more plate to come. .. the empanadas. We were both a little worried we weren't going to be able to finish them but the light crispy crust filed with subtly spiced meat and egg was delicious. There was no way we were leaving them behind. We continued to explore walking the Gran Via and surrounding streets. Everything was covered in lights for Christmas...I couldn't wait for the sun to go down!

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We explored the beautiful streets in the central city, lit up with numerous lights and markets as soon as it was dark enough. It was beautiful and made it felt like it really was beginning to look a lot like Christmas. We opted for Churros and hot chocolate for dinner as we were still so full from our massive lunch at Chocolat Madrid.

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The cafe only sells churros and chocolate and is known for it’s not to sweet thick chocolate mixture. The churros were great, in Granada porra's were considered churros…this was confusing when we arrived but the thin little rods of deep-fried dough were delicious. Especially when they were dunked in the thick rich dark chocolate mixture.
We continued to wander around admiring the lights and stumbled across Te Koe, a tea shop which had numerous different types of green tea. It was a relaxed setting and we came daily to escape from the manic city centre.
I managed to convince Lewis to re-try a free walking tour after our debacle in Prague. We went with Ogo Tours. Tatiana our guide was excellent, just like me she was a foodie so had a few suggestions along the way.

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We started in Puerta del Sol ….the name comes from this being where the gate was and it had a sun painted on it…it was the gate of the sun and even now this is how it is known. We saw the area in the square where one of the presidents was assassinated and of course the Madrid Bear statue. This with the strawberry tree is the city’s logo. We continued walking down stopping in Plaza Mayor where executions use to happen (some were still happening in the 1970’s!!!). The plaza used to be a market space as it was close to the gate of the city without being inside, people didn’t want to sell things inside the city walls as they had to pay taxes. It also use to be the site where the bakery and butchery unions were located. Our free walking tour definitely got some perks. Chocolatería San Ginés is world famous for it’s churros and chocolate. A big thing considering that Madrid is the home of churros. On our tour one of the waiters brought out a hot chocolate and churros. Delicious! It was a thinner and sweeter version compared to what we had had the night before but still dark and luscious. You could see why it was famous and has been open for over 100 years!

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We continued on seeing numerous old stores and plaques out front celebrating that the store had been open for over 100 years. Our next stop was to the worlds oldest restaurant, Sobrino de Botín. The restaurant still uses the original oven and is famous for their suckling pig and lamb. The restaurant was gorgeous and we had a full tour seeing the old oven, the upstairs including where Ernest Hemingway use to sit and the best part, the old wine cellar. It was stunning down there. The wine was covered in dirt and grime. It was an amazing place to look around.

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We continued on to see more old squares and learn more history. We saw the city cathedral that took 100 years to build and is not to original design. We saw the palace which had to be rebuilt and has nearly 3000 rooms after it burnt down in the 1700's. The royal family does not officially live there but it is still used for royal functions and events. Our last stop was Plaza de España with its massive statue. The statue was made to show how Spain was prospering, but unfortunately it was not the case at the time. The recession has definitely had an impact on Spain, more so in the provinces than cities. We headed to San Ginés after our tour for more amazing churros and porras. The porras were amazing and more doughy than what we had in Granada. I now understand why Madrid is the home of Churros. They will never taste as good as they do here.

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Our final day was a food tour with James, a fellow kiwi that runs Madrid Food Tours. It was an amazing tour. We started with more chocolate, a delicious potato frittata and got to get cookies from the nuns. We both learnt a lot through the tour. How going to the Americas changed Spanish cuisine…think chocolate, tomatoes and peppers (these are all massive in Spain) and how the Moorish influence affected the food cuisine by pickling things…fish, vegetables, olives. We had learnt numerous tid-bits along the way and saw a lot of Madrid cuisine has come in from other areas. The reason being that immigrants came from other parts of Spain to Madrid to make their fortune. It is unusual to find a third generation Madrilenian apparently.
I was sad when our tour ended as it was interesting and everything we tasted was delicious.

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It was home for a siesta with our food comas. That evening it was more tea then off for the empanadas we had on the first day. I had been thinking about the crisp thin pastry with the spiced meat mixture frequently…I couldn’t leave without saying goodbye. They were just as good as I remembered.
We left Madrid early the next morning. I have to say I feel like there is more of Madrid to explore than what we did and definitely need to explore more of the area. I can’t wait to go back.

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Posted by chellebelle 09:01 Archived in Spain Tagged food chocolate restaurant lights old years nuns churros 100 cookies oldest underrated Comments (0)

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