Friday, 11 November 2011

New Madrid Food Market

Main access to the food market
When I finish my KitchenVoyage blog, I know already that my next blog will be about Madrid, but by now I will stick with the food and travel subject and I am going to share our last experience in the brand new Chueca Fresh Food Market.  Its well known that in whole of  Spain the food markets are a culinary heaven. Madrid the capital have several of them, for me Las Ventas and Las Maravillas are the best. The old Market of San Miguel in the city centre is a tourist trap, with expensive fresh products (even though the quality is very good) and un-tasty tapas has moved away the locals so the market has lost  the atmosphere and the rhythm. San Miguel was a total failure of the local government to give a city and the tourists  a place like the worldwide famous market of La Boqueria in Barcelona.

Fruit & Vegetables in the Market
After a big delay finally the Market of San Anton located in the heart of the popular gay neighbourhood of Chueca has opened. All  these years that the market was closed due to the refurbishment the neighbours (including myself) were  afraid of the worst, first the new façade was just a awful brick wall. Then time to time we  heard just bad news. That they were going to build a lot of parking spaces bringing even more traffic to the tiny street of Chueca, a upper brand supermarket and not many food stalls. And after the opening of the mentioned San Miguel Market resignation was the mood between us.
But last month when I travelled to Madrid and with the Supermarket already open at it full capacity I have a great surprise, despite the exterior façade the interior is just a gem!
In the first level is the upper brand supermarket, now very welcome because at the same time the refurbishment was taking, another popular prices super- market has pop-up in the area, so now you have all the options where  5 years ago there weren´t  any.

Octavio spanish hams
In the second level are the food stalls or shops in this case. Few of the old shops have survived but the food display and the quality has really improved . Octavio, the ham shop always has offered great quality Spanish ham at very good price and I am very glad its still there. The fruit shops look fantastic and very appealing to consume fruit and vegetables. Special mention to the new beef burger shop with high Spanish and even Argentinian beef.  The fish shop offer live lobster and crabs with the best fish you can get in Spain like the rest fresh food market around the city.
Still in the same level you can find one of the best Sushi bars of the capital, fresh baked bread and stop in the wine bar with a short but very interesting wine menu and you must ask for some of the croquettes with several filling like a tapa.
Other gourmet shops are in the same level where you can have some snacks and tapas, even one was selling paella but don’t look very good. For good Paella in the area you can go to La Barraca or La Pella de la reina.

La Cocina de San Anton main room

Summer Salad

In the third level is the restaurant with terrace (on the terrace is allowed  smoking). We went twice and twice was full house,  you need to book for get a table, that for me is bit annoying and go against the market spirit.  The restaurant managed for the restaurant group 5 Jotas have a smart look, and great views from one side you have view over the Chueca tail roof, and for the interior to the whole market. The great thing is that you can choose your fish/meat or another product from the market and they cook for you. Also they offer to you an economic daily menu with starter, main and desert for 12 euros. The main menu have interesting ideas also, but unfortunately nothing taste really great, you can see they use some good product from the market but in the kitchen you can see is no much skills. For me the best dish was the summer salad, really fresh and a very good dressed. Then the croquettes were just bad, the steak totally ruined and the pork chop dry. Even worst was the dessert, the fruit salad I am 99% sure was canned.  Also we saw some another dishes rejected in another tables.  Is clear the management is not good and the waitress look  unhappy and with attitude (even this last thing is common in Madrid). I really hope that very soon they fix the issues because the 5 Jotas brand used to be good because at the moment a lot of people is coming in just for the restaurant location but I can see no other reason as to why the room was full.

Five things to do around the market.

Carlota Wine Shop (Above) La cabeza bien amueblada (Left)

1. Have a beer with snack in the Chueca Square.  Here is where the gay community meet to have a good time, but also is a space used by families and tourists.
2. Gourmet Shopping. If the market wasn’t enough for you, just in the corner Carlota a new wine shop has opened. In this tiny place you can find a good range of wine picked directly from exclusive winemakers, price and quality are guaranteed like good service. Also you can go to La Chinata oleoteca and buy the best olive oil you can get at the best prices for cooking or four yourself

Pomme Sucre

MagaSabd Sandwich Shop

3. Walking around the Chueca Street is a great way to have a good time.  Even you have plenty of places for where to walk maybe the easiest to not get lost but not less attractive is Barquillo Street. Once named the sound street for the quantity of  music sound shop and after a little dark era now is becoming a nice street to listen music, have a cocktail, buy one of my favourite t-shirt brand, going to the theatre, buy expensive clothes or have a coffee with delicious cakes at Pomme Sucre, desert designers. Yes all of that in 4 street long without mention the architecture.
4. Have lunch or dinner. Outside the market still plenty of option to have a good meal. In the area you will find a lot of Mexican restaurants with good quality, (Madrid is the European city with most Mexican restaurant in Europe). Then Bazaar has become a classic since they have opened. An attractive two level restaurant with Asian Mediterranean food a very good price. For wine with tapas the Vinoteca franchise still a good option.
5. Get a haircut. Yes! Chueca is a trendy upper neighbourhood and have plenty of very good hairdressers that really can change your style. I recommend La cabeza bien amueblada where Noe is a magician with the scissors and always going to get the more fashionable look, but also Ivan is going to help you with your home decoration and show you exclusive clothes from unique Spanish designers, here is everything for change or refresh your look. When you finish just ask them to point you to MagaSand a place where you can get the best sandwich in whole Madrid (I really mean it) at the same time you can read your favourite magazines.

Where to Stay.

Views from the Ada Palace Hotel
Oscar Hotel
Situated in Cheuca area of Madrid this is a relatively new contemporary hotel.
It has a cool funky lobby and the design carries through to the dining room and the bedrooms.
Bedrooms are uncluttered and minimalist but let down by the rather pokey bathrooms.
On the plus side the hotel has an amazing roof terrace with bar and swimming pool and is one of The places to be seen in Madrid

Ada Palace
Just off Gran Via at the Cheuca end this is a new 4 star hotel converted from a turn of the 20th century building.
The reception area  reached by a staircase from street level is on the small side as is the lift to the bedroom floors but this is due to the design of the original building..
However this is a well appointed hotel with a stunning dining room, bar and terrace looking out over Gran Via.
Some bedrooms at the front  have balconies but these rooms by virtue of the fact that they are on a busy  road can be noisy as was the air conditioning in our room but overall this is a pleasant and central and well priced venue.


Monday, 7 November 2011

Cooking celebrity chef recipes on a rainy day (III)

Supper 9 PM Pea ham Soup by Heston Blumenthal 

I use: 800g frozen green peas – 20g mint leaves – 50 ml groundnut oil – 65g unsalted butter – 75g shallots (sliced)  - 1 clove garlic (chopped) – 160g streaky bacon (cut into strips) – 750 ml vegetable stock – 150g ham hock.  Bowl of iced water

Sieve is not a easy job

Pea and ham soup

1.       Defrost the peas over kitchen paper.
2.       Bring a pan of water to boil and drop the mint leaves for 20 seconds. Remove and submerge in the ice. Remove the mint and dry with kitchen paper.  Put the oil and the mint leaves in a liquidiser and blitz for 15 seconds. Strain the oil through a sieve and reserve apart.
3.       Melt just 25g of the butter in a saucepan at medium low heat; add the shallots, garlic and bacon. Cook for 5 minutes, until soft. Avoid any browning.
4.       Add the stock and simmer for another 5 minutes. Add the peas (reserving 75 g apart) and the rest of the butter and remove from the heat. Liquidise the mixture.
5.       Strain through a sieve to a clean pan, pressing through all the solid you can.
6.       Reheat the soup very gently and season. With a hand-held blender, blitz the soup until foamy.
7.       Serve in soup bowl, sparkling over the ham and some reaming peas. Drizzle the reserved mint oil.

I follow this recipe from the free Waitrose Weekend magazine where Heston is involved. Like you can see, you need to work out a bit in this soup, but what you expect coming from Heston Blumenthal, but at the end is really worth it even is a quite heavy in kcal (almost 600) is very tasty and full of flavour with a sweetness touch. Notice I have changed some of the quantities because some of the Waitrose recipes published are base in quantities that you need to buy always an extra package. For example generally the pea bag are 800g and in the recipe you need to use 907g.

Dessert: Peach Melba by   Jason Atherton

I use: 170g raspberries – 200ml white wine – 1 tbsp sugar – 2 tbsp honey – 1 tsp vanilla extract – 4 halved peaches  (I use canned) – Vanilla ice cream. Flaked almonds and mint to top.

1.       Halve the raspberries and set aside in a bowl
2.       In a sauce pan mix, the wine, sugar, honey, vanilla and 200ml of fresh water. Bring to boil. Stirring time to time. Add the peaches and simmer for 5 minutes. If you are using fresh peaches wait until the peach are tender. When finishes remove the peaches and let to cool. Keep the rest of the liquor in the pan
3.       Spoon 4 tbsp of the liquor from the pan over the raspberries. Mix.
4.       Put 2 peaches halves by plate. Top one half with  ice-cream scoop. Scatter over the raspberries, some flaked almonds and mint and finally pour over some liquor.

For finish a great day cooking like  a professional chef I choose this refreshing  peach melba  desert from the gourmet food book of the also Michelin Star Jason Atherton

11:00 Pm. Still raining


Cooking celebrity chef recipes on a rainy day (II)

12:00. Lunch time Moorish Kebab (traditional)

Arabian gardens in Cordoba (Spain)
I use:  500g lamb neck fillet (cubed in 2-3 cm) – 3 tbsp dry sherry – 4 tbsp olive oil – 1tsp hot paprika – 1 tsp mild paprika (pimenton dulce) -  ½ tsp ground cumin.

1.       In a bowl combine the olive oil with the spices and sherry. Put in the neck fillet chunks, season with salt and pepper and mix very well. Marinate for at least 2 hours.
2.       Then remove the meat chunks and put them in kebab skewers. Before that check your skewers are the correct size for your pan.
3.       Then spread 1 tbsp of olive oil all over the pan, heat in a medium low heat and when the pan is hot put your lamb skewers in the pan. Don’t overcrowd.  Turning several times until is the side are brown. The cooking time can vary but for medium rare take about 7 minutes in my case.
Moorish Kebab or Pincho moruno in Spanish
This is a typical Spanish Arab culinary legacy dish, easy to find at any tapas bar. Some of them add green pepper or onion to the skewers. The three spices work very well together and are so rich in flavour that you can have it with that strong character wine from Castilla. Even was already a week without almost any meat in my diet I decided to boil some greens beans for greener the dish.


Cooking celebrity chef recipes on a rainy day (I)

8:00 Am Breakfast. Ricotta Pancakes by Sophie Dahl

I use:  135 ml semi-skimmed milk - 235g ricotta cheese –  80g Spelt flour – 1tsp Baking powder -2 eggs (separated) – Half lemon zest (grated) –  1 tsp. sunflower or vegetable oil – To serve raspberries and  Agave nectar , maple syrup or honey.

1.       In a large bowl I combine the ricotta, milk and egg yolks. Stir in the flour and baking power until you have a batter.
2.       In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until foamy. Take a while so I turn on the news meanwhile I am whisking.  The European market like my eggs needs to improve.
3.       Once you have foamy white eggs (don’t need to be stiff) mix them in the bowl with the ricotta batter. Add the lemon zest and 1 tbsp agave nectar and stir very well.
4.       Put the oil in a frying pan and grease the pan with a kitchen towel. Now turn on the heat to medium. When the pan is hot, drop with a ladful (or similar) a dollop of batter. I like the pancakes about 10cm diameter and almost half centimetres tall. But is after you.
5.       Cook 2 -3 minutes each side, for cook trough the exterior need to be a bit brown.
6.       Serve with raspberries and extra agave nectar or similar.

Even is not easy get up and go straight to the pans this a great breakfast for cheer up the rest of the family in a rainy day. And also an excuse for use my leftover ricotta and the more digestive spelt flour that Waitrose delivery bring me for instead of strong-flour for make my Friday night pizza. And lucky this year I remembered I had frozen some raspberries that are becoming very handy. Also we have a new coffee machine that is making very good coffee and today the Guatemala coffee that I bought yesterday in Thornes the new gourmet shop in Brighton was just the perfect combination for the agave nectar.

Recipe by Sophie Dahl

11:00 Still raining heavily and is very dark and I finished to watering my herbs, that what they really need is sun. Time for a snack, a walnut cream cheese sandwich.