As you might have spotted over on Twitter, I recently took a break from Norfolk and spent a few days in Madrid, where I saw the sights and escaped the daily grind.
Although I enjoyed ambling around the Prado Museum, meandering around Parco del Retiro and marvelling at the architecture of the Almeduna Cathedral, there was one experience that stood out above all others – Mercado San Miguel.
From the travel guide, I thought it was just a food market, but when I stepped inside I realised that it was so much more. Crammed from floor to rafters with stalls selling tasty tapas and delicious beverages, I was in heaven.
The wealth of foods on offer was astonishing. From manchego cheese to chorizo and sangria, the options blew me away. One of the gastronomic aims of my trip was to try bacalao (salted cod) which was easily fulfilled here. It isn’t entirely to my taste on its own, as it’s a little too salty and fishy (who’d have thought?!), but when it was combined with mashed potato and fried in the form a croquette (€1.50 each), I fell in love. The flavours are much more subtle and infinitely moreish.
In fact, the whole market seemed steeped in seafood, with monkfish (rape), anchovies, oysters, octopus (polpo) and calamari on nearly every stall. In spite of Madrid being quite some distance from the coast, the calamari I tried was very fresh and tender, if a little expensive at €13 a cone.
Disheartened by the queue at the cheese stall, my last stop was at a charcuterie with more types of cured meats and chorizo than I have ever seen. Filling up a cone with spicy little sausages, I wandered through the crowds, people watching and getting jaw ache. I felt like there was so much to see and try that I could have picked at small dishes all day.
Know a good Spanish restaurants in Norwich where I can get my tapas fix? Leave a comment and let me know!