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Madrid trip report

Very informative post.
If all of your blog is like this, I know where I will prepare my next trip to the US.

1 day ago
hblnk in Spain/Portugal

Berlin - Prenzlauer Berg - Mitte 5 Days end of July

Rutz is great, but the OP mentioned Prenzlauer Berg, not Mitte. But those borders are fluid as well of course.

Jun 28, 2015
hblnk in Europe

one-day visits to Salzburg, Vienna and Bratislava--recommendations?

Bratislava is not all that great in my experience. At least nothing I would want to maximize.
Salzburg is easy: Esszimmer for dinner and the Korean place inside the Mozarteum for lunch.
Vienna. Pilgramgasse is very central and it is Naschmarkt, with many places - far too many - open on sundays. (I leave this to other people to elaborate, but none of the food stalls on Naschmarkt merit your attention, if you are interested in fine food.)
Near Pilgramgasse is a rather good Chinese, open on sundays, called ON in Wehrgasse.

Jun 28, 2015
hblnk in Europe

Madrid short trip July 2015--please critique

Well, it has been so hot the last few days in Madrid that I hardly can make myself think of eating. (I mainly stay home and eat fruit or thai style chilled sea food salads.)

You could consider Arzabal and if things cool down a bit and you are in the mood for serious red wine El Quinto Vino. (Quite north of the city, but your taxi ride is rewarded by more than reasonable price policy on top reds.)

Jun 28, 2015
hblnk in Spain/Portugal

Madrid dinning

Ten con Ten is part of a chain. It is carefully designed for a certain clientele that have not yet had their expense accounts reviewed. And in the affluent Serrano/Castelana area. You know this is a rip off, when you walk in. It also has terrible music.

My surprise at Pescador is that these seem private people, families, paying for their own meals, queuing up to part with at least 60 to 70 euro per head. Crisis, what crisis, in Spain?

For business entertaining at the expense of my tax benefit or my employer I lately have been going to Alabaster. That too is seafood only, but less expensive than Pescador and far superior service and wine list.

Keep posting.

Jun 21, 2015
hblnk in Spain/Portugal

Madrid dinning

Dear zin1953,

I agree with many of your recommendations, but not with all.

Please explain what you like about El Pescador? Yes, the quality of the products is sensational, but all other aspects of the restaurant are wrong.

It is extremely overpriced, service is indifferent at best, but hostile to tourists and non-spanish speakers in general, wines by the glass are very expensive, they do not serve vegetables or salads, waiting times are erratic, dishes are dumped on your table, and I could go on.

On my last visit we paid for four cigalas, half a portion of almejas and a medium size crab over 140 euro, drinking one small beer and one glass of house wine each. No bread, no salads, no desert, no coffee.

In Osaka or Kobe you can eat the full 6 to 7 course tasting menu in a one star restaurant for that amount of money. And service would be friendly and helpful.

Jun 20, 2015
hblnk in Spain/Portugal

Berlin - Prenzlauer Berg - Mitte 5 Days end of July

Prenzlauer Berg is hardly the foodie zone of Berlin, but you are very near the city's best Japanese - Sasaya - in Lychenerstrasse, north of Helmholzplatz. Must book and carefully check opening times.

Jun 20, 2015
hblnk in Europe

Best restaurants in Prague

Sansho! Just a little over your budget.

Jun 18, 2015
hblnk in Europe

Postcard from Salamanca, Spain

please check a place called iPan e iVino.

Jun 18, 2015
hblnk in Spain/Portugal

Champions league final in Madrid ?

By the time you read this it is either too late, or you are in Madrid already.

JuanDoe list is perfect, especially his advice on the places in calle Dr Castelo and Menorca. Very insider stuff I usually not give to visitors as the culture shock can be great.

Do not go to Estado puro.

Football wise, I checked the locals but nothing new. A typical sports bar near Bernabeu - Irish Rover - is planning a bang.

Jun 05, 2015
hblnk in Spain/Portugal

Madrid Locals Tips

I followed this recommendation and must thank CH butterfly for her discovery.

However, the staff at this place is ill prepared for adventurous non-chinese walking in and asking for advice. Probably the one daughter of the family that learned enough Spanish has to deal with all foreigners. (including the ones that do not speak Spanish...)

Outstanding dishes were fried chicken, beef strips with celery in a sweet-dark soy sauce and water spinach stir fry with garlic.

Surprisingly tea and rice of rather mediocre quality

Must go back soon!

Jun 05, 2015
hblnk in Spain/Portugal

Champions league final in Madrid ?

That is not my area, sorry.
The day after tomorrow is a public holiday, so I will check one more option.
There might be a public open air viewing area near Sol.

Jun 02, 2015
hblnk in Spain/Portugal

Madrid short trip July 2015--please critique

Good list, really.

If you have Dstage, hats off to you.

I would just invert La castela for tapas and Laredo for dining in the restaurant. Better book now for that last one. Very good and totally different is Moratin.

Venencia is just for drinks, sherry and such.

If you could add Alabaster for a dinner, you would have pretty much the best I think. Assuming you did not aim for price and reputation (Ramon Freixa or Club Allard) I think you will thoroughly enjoy this trip.

Jun 01, 2015
hblnk in Spain/Portugal

Champions league final in Madrid ?

Difficult.

The best projector and screen are imho at Hidria (calle Jesus) but they serve cocktails and beer only. Intimate place with football aficionados. Not a food destination, but plenty very good places around there.

O´Neills in calle Principe is hard to beat for atmosphere, or vibe as you say. Food is improved pub fair. Several screens, large and small.

Large screen and great food, I am not sure.

Jun 01, 2015
hblnk in Spain/Portugal

Madrid: where to buy Thai vegetables and herbs?

Thank you.

This morning I went to Mostenses but no lemongrass. My cultural diversity skills are not yet to the point where the shop keepers will consider special requests. Some of the shop staff really dislike the world.

No, I did not post about Chinese restaurants, but I will check your discovery.

You know, Spanish food is wonderful but every once in a while I need a chili-garlic-lime-galangal-cilantro kick from a tom yam kung, somtam salad or green curry made by hand in a mortar and pestle.

Keep posting

May 30, 2015
hblnk in Spain/Portugal

Is there a "quick" bolognese sauce?

Yes, there is. You need a top quality pressure cooker.

Sweat finely diced onions and carrot in the pressure cooker. Use a generous puddle of butter but take care not to let it get too hot. Only after onion and carrots are coloured, add celery. Sweat this till well coloured.
In a separate wide pan brown the meat, using a little olive oil, adding a touch of salt. When the meat is well coloured, add it to the pressure cooker. Add cloves and one bay leaf, both ground to powder. Stir.
Now add full fat milk to almost come 2/3 level with the meat. Let this reduce to almost no milk.
Now add half a glass of some high quality white wine.
Close the pan and let it come to pressure. Lower the flame and keep full pressure for 10 minutes.

Now gently bring the pressurized pan to the sink and position the faucet to let a small stream of luke warm water run over the lid. This cools the pan. Do this slowly and gently. After all pressure drops, open the pan. Beware, the contents are hot.

Then add tomatoes, a weight equal to the amount of meat. (Please try to use fresh ripe tomatoes, skinned and emptied of water. Remember, you are winning two hours.) Taste for salt.

Close the pressure cooker and give it another 10 minutes gentle pressure.
Let the pan cool naturally.
Open and check for salt.

It is important to not overdo the amount of liquid in the first phase of pressure cooking.

No garlic and no pepper! Beef ground fairly thick is best, but replacing 1/3 of it by pork or diced chicken liver can be wonderful as well.

I use Kuhn Rikon pans.

May 30, 2015
hblnk in Home Cooking

Seeking restaurants near the Brussels Marriott

Hmm,

strange that nobody is posting replies.

That area is literally full with restaurants of all types and price categories. You are near Chinatown and many eateries cater to people visiting the rock and pop venues nearby.
Most restaurants are for my taste a bit low in quality. You will have no problem staying within budget, however do not expect top food. Fresh seafood and fish cost considerably more.

In walking distance are the following spots I like.

Resto Henri. Make sure to book for top quality local specialties.
Little Asia. Better than most Vietnamese with top service and great wine list.
Belle maraichere is a top class fish place but way over 50 bucks.

May 29, 2015
hblnk in Europe

Madrid: where to buy Thai vegetables and herbs?

Hola Madrid Hounds,

peace upon you and eternal life to these hallowed blogs!

Where can I buy thai vegetables in Madrid, please? What I need is fresh - very fresh, not vacuum packed frozen - lemongrass, galangal, kafir limes and leaves, coriander root, holy basil, peasize aubergines, and so on.

Tried the chinatown shops on General Margallo but no luck. One shop had poor quality frozen items. The Maravillas market is a goldmine for Mexican produce, but no thai. The Mostoles and Barcelo markets have some exotic produce but no Thai.

Thank you for helping with info.

May 29, 2015
hblnk in Spain/Portugal

Madrid dinner at 6-630pm possible? Any recommendation?

All very sound advice, except that we should never send a fellow Hound to a tourist trap like San Miguel. Estado puro I find unpleasant, cramped was seating, noise.
The idea of late lunch is best, alternatively buy sandwiches and fruit to on the train.

May 25, 2015
hblnk in Spain/Portugal

Madrid dinner at 6-630pm possible? Any recommendation?

No real good solutions worthy of a foodies blog.

What train are you travelling on? If you go first class (AVE preferente) to Barcelona you will get a quite generous snack. Have that and eat properly in Barcelona when you get there. The train will arrive at 22:20. Perfectly normal dinner time :-)

Some places around the Atocha station are virtually open 24/7 but I cannot recommend them. And at 6 pm it is just too hot for a meal.

May 24, 2015
hblnk in Spain/Portugal

Madrid miscellaneous questions

Dont go to StreetXO.
I posted elsewhere on the site my comments.

May 03, 2015
hblnk in Spain/Portugal

Looking for great traditional and modern food in Madrid

Just my idea about Street XO...
A very very long wait in the queue without a chance to sit down.
During that time expensive long drinks and cocktails are pushed on you.
Music at obscene loudness preventing any type of humane conversation.
Open kitchen makes it look spectacular, but many things go wrong, items burned, others manipulated to and from cutting boards and vessels used minutes before for other ingredients.
Some dishes fine, others mostly with promising sounding descriptions but poorly executed.
Food hygiene a real problem: the three of us had serious stomach and bowel infections for two days following.

And considering that for 60% of this bill we ate at places like Alabaster or Moratin, we will never go back.

If you see no problem with the StreetXO price level try Marcano. (make sure to note they moved recently to Dr Castelo 31). Book well in advance.

Smaller places and tapas, hmmm. Tapas is more the attitude and atmosphere than the actual food, I find.

For me always a pleasure are a beer with some cooked shrimp at La Castella, one more beer with some grilled mussels at La Monteira, and then maybe another beer or two at some place you will see by accident, and back to la Monteira for their oxtail. You get the idea, I am sure.

May 03, 2015
hblnk in Spain/Portugal

Dining in Brussels Belgium

As far as I can tell none of these are near where you plan to stay, still.

Cygne, Bruneau and Comme chez soi were once, long ago, the top references: two and three stars. They live of this reputation and make you pay for this. If you are willing to pay 150 euro per person and drink modest wine, why not. (Business insiders tell me Comme chez soi is back on track.)

Ogenblik can be fine ocassionally.
As I said in my earlier post - Belgian specialties and good value for money, Resto Henri.

May 03, 2015
hblnk in Europe

6 days planned in Madrid

Euro-knick,

no smoking anywhere, regardless whether food is served or not.

I know of no places that serve good food and do public viewing of the games. The two places I can recommend to watch the games, are O'NEILLS in Calle Principe (with food best avoided) and HIDRIA in Calle Jesus (no food, but very good mojito's).

For the very popular, widely publicized luxury places in the upper price bracket - DStage, Allard, Ramon Freixa - you are probably too late to book now. Worth checking are Alabaster, Moratin, Marcano and Laredo, where you will likely find free tables still, if no football.

Enjoy and report back

Apr 27, 2015
hblnk in Spain/Portugal

Madrid miscellaneous questions

20:00 is a clever choice if you want to avoid crowds and disappointments.
Very popular high class places like Laredo or Arzabal still have space at 20:00. One hour later you might not even get room enough to put your drink on the counter.

If you buy top class jamon in a supermarket, it is packed in vacuum. Avoiding heat these will keep unopened for several days. Look for e.g. packs from Cinco Jotas or Joselito in the Corte Ingles Gourmet shops.
Or buy a complete ham!

Apr 27, 2015
hblnk in Spain/Portugal

Need 1 more Rome restaurant

For a modern twist on Roman ingredients, try Osteria Glass.

For the most down to earth trattoria with outstanding classics try booking at da Felice in Testaccio. (Booking in this case means going there in person with someone who speaks Italian. They don't answer mails nor phone calls.)

Between those two is an option that combines the luxury of one and the tradition of the other - Arcangelo Dandini.

Enjoy and report back

Apr 21, 2015
hblnk in Italy

Madrid Locals Tips

If you like markets, go everywhere except San Miguel, tourist trap spelled in big big letters.

Instead go to Mercado Chamartin in Calle Bolivia for the best produce in the higher price bracket,

go to Mercado La Paz in calle Lagasca for a good idea of what regular quality can be like (and lunch at Danni's) and

go to Mercado Antonio Martin in calle Atocha. (Have lunch there at Yokaloka, one of Madrid's only two genuine japanese operations. This market is in walking distance from your hotel. Has a splendid if untypical Mexican street food stand.

You might even download the iPhone app mercados madrid to get an idea of local things happening in selected markets. Not kidding you: mercado Barceló has a tango and samba demonstration and master class happening inside the market next saturday.

Sitting down and enjoying very good wine in a place near your hotel sounds like Moratin in Calle Moratin, 38, but better book now.

Do not eat paella in Madrid, but keep that for Valencia or Alicante.

Enjoy and please report back.

Apr 09, 2015
hblnk in Spain/Portugal
1

Madrid Locals Tips

Do not go there!

Apr 09, 2015
hblnk in Spain/Portugal

Dress code issues

sophielu,

Rather han the wardrobe issue, please explain how you got a reservation at Nakahigashi. Enviable privilege!

Just regular day to day clothes, smart casual, are fine. What does upset the chefs more than how you dress, is heavy perfume.

But then, eating lunch AND dinner at the places you list in one day, will make you explode, even from your most comfy clothes.

Enjoy and report back, specially on Nakahigashi.

Apr 09, 2015
hblnk in Japan

High-End Restaurants: Taking Leftovers? (Tokyo)

Likkuid,

do not ask for leftovers. Eat what you are given and say when you are full.
Sharing from other peoples plate is OK. Use the backside of your chopsticks to transfer food between plates.

Never take sushi leftovers with you. They spoil easily.

However. Under some circumstances you will be given leftovers. These you must take.

In the Kinki area - Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto, Nara - a typical multicourse meal is closed by rice. This is a special preparation, where the rice is mixed with vegetables and just the right amount of liquid to absorb it, cooked in a heavy clay pot.
You will typically be served two small helpings of this rice.

The leftovers might be packed in a box and given to you, still warm, to take with you. Do not refuse this.

The next morning this rice is a breakfast from heaven.

Many years ago when leaving a Kyoto Gion restaurant, the owner handing me the packed rice - with takonoko bamboo shoots - told me 'Hotel doorman will try to take this from you, do not give him'.

Apr 05, 2015
hblnk in Japan