OK, so this entry isn’t exactly what you’d call a Barcelona foodie thing. But then again, my last week hasn’t been particularly Barcelona foodie either. I’ve been in Madrid, and since the AVE can now get you there in under 3 hours, I figure what better excuse for going than the opening of a new market.
The Mercado de Sant Miguel is located at the heart of old Madrid, a lovely neighbourhood of cobbled streets, ornate building façades and sweet little plazas. The original steel building was completed in 1916 and has been sympathetically restored, insetting huge plate glass windows between the columns to protect market-goers from the frigid Madrid winters.
It reopened last November, but what many didn’t know was that it was destined to become a place to eat food rather than somewhere to buy it. In its new state then, it’s not so much market, as giant, gourmet tapas bar, each stall doling out platefuls of its particular specialty to punters who roam around ad-hoc, stopping here and there for morsels of deliciousness, depositing their empty wine glasses on the counter tops as they go in a system that eschews conventional etiquette.
You don’t have to drink the Bordeaux white at the oyster stall if you prefer a lemony Rueda from the wine stand. You can take your own bottle of Albariño to have with giant, blood red garabineros at the seafood stand (suck their heads, the soupy brains within are the best bisque you’ll ever have). You can pair teaspoonfuls of organic, Riofrio caviar from Granada with Russian vodka, slivers of Guijuelo jamón with Vega Sicilia by the glass. Best of all you can do it all until midnight (2am Fridays and Saturdays). Now that’s a reason to go to the capital. Salut!