Southern Spain – November 2012 – Day 1 (Madrid)

Friday November 16, 2012

La Gabinoteca
Fernandez de la Hoz 53
Madrid, Spain
http://www.lagabinoteca.es/

Spain is known for its tapas culture. Most of the 300,000 bars have an old world style of cooking. La Gabinoteca is on the other end of the spectrum, part of an adventurous group doing modern small plates and was featured in Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations: Madrid episode.

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La Gabinoteca, Madrid, Spain

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La Gabinoteca, Madrid, Spain

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La Gabinoteca, Madrid, Spain

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Kitchen – La Gabinoteca, Madrid, Spain

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Bread – La Gabinoteca, Madrid, Spain

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Shrimp fritters 5/10 – La Gabinoteca, Madrid, Spain

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Tortilla with cod brandade 4/10 – La Gabinoteca, Madrid, Spain

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Scallops and cream on baguette 9/10 – La Gabinoteca, Madrid, Spain

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Foie gras with pineapple crust 7/10 – La Gabinoteca, Madrid, Spain

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El potito 6/10 – La Gabinoteca, Madrid, Spain

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Veal hotdog with pedigree 4/10 – La Gabinoteca, Madrid, Spain

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Carne roja gallega con sal inglesa 5/10 – La Gabinoteca, Madrid, Spain

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Call button – La Gabinoteca, Madrid, Spain

We went into this meal with great expectations; unfortunately the sole highlight was the scallop on baguette.  The mutual feeling was that there was a lot of creativity that lacked prominent flavor combinations.  The tortilla with cod brandade was flat, el potito had the ubiquitous truffle and egg, and the hotdog lacked tenderness.  I would still recommend this place for visitors because it has a trendy atmosphere with a lot of energy, we just expected more from the food perspective.

Bodega de la Ardosa
Calle de Colón, 13
28004 Madrid
http://www.laardosa.com

I can remember the first time I heard of tapas cuisine, I overheard a co-worker who had just come back from Chicago talk about all the tapas bars there were.  And I just thought she was kind of a prude, I couldn’t see her frequenting topless bars.  But, who was I to judge.

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Bodega de la Ardosa, Madrid, Spain

Now let’s head over to that old world tapas style.  Ardosa opened in 1892, but it wasn’t until the 1970’s that the family perfected its renowned tortilla de patatas recipe.  Basically a fluffy potato and onion omelet, their version is served at room temperature.  The only other version we had was at Julian Serrano in Las Vegas and this blew it away.  Hard to describe, but I get the impression you would have to cook this a thousand times to prefect the consistency and fluffiness of the omelet.  You’d have to have a few drinks not to notice how dull the rest of the dishes were.

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Bar area – Bodega de la Ardosa, Madrid, Spain

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Anchovy with olives and a pickle 5/10 – Bodega de la Ardosa, Madrid, Spain

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Anchovy with olives and a pickle 5/10 – Bodega de la Ardosa, Madrid, Spain

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Pork empanada 3/10 – Bodega de la Ardosa, Madrid, Spain

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Tortilla de patatas 8/10 – Bodega de la Ardosa, Madrid, Spain

Chocolatería San Ginés
Pasadizo de San Gines 11
28013 Madrid
http://www.chocolateriasangines.com/Chocolateria_San_Gines/Bienvenidos_a_San_Gines.html

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Chocolatería San Ginés, Madrid, Spain

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Chocolatería San Ginés, Madrid, Spain

Opened since 1894, Chocolatería San Ginés has been the go-to spot for tourist.  In 2010, it even opened a Tokyo location.  We headed here around 1AM and I was a little worried we would get a old batch that had been sitting around.  But every order was relayed to the kitchen for a fresh dip in the fryer.  Overall, they were decent , but could have benefited from some powdered sugar on top. Note: They do have sugar packets on the counter where you place your order, but we didn’t notice them until we were leaving.  Personally, we both preferred the churros at Alameda Swap Meet in Los Angeles. At 2AM, we were ready for a quick walk back to the hotel to get a few hours of sleep before for our first full day of sightseeing.

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Porras (foreground) and churros (background) – Chocolatería San Ginés, Madrid, Spain

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Churros 6/10 (top) and porras 5/10 (bottom) – Chocolatería San Ginés, Madrid, Spain

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Hot chocolate 8/10 – Chocolatería San Ginés, Madrid, Spain

Hotel de las Letras
Gran Via 11
28013 Madrid
http://www.hoteldelasletras.com/en/

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Centrally located, about a 3 minute walk to the Gran Via subway station, this boutique hotel fit the bill and was only about $100/night.  The staff spoke English and was very accommodating, the only downside that I noticed was the queen beds were actually two twins pushed together on wheels. As you were sleeping at night they would roll away from each other and for that reason I suggest going for a more Americanized hotel.

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