November 26, 2014 - Posted by Erin in Food and wine, Madrid, Spain

If you’ve followed my blog at all, then you probably know that experiencing travel via food is kind of my religion. Sure there are museums and monuments and castles and bla, bla, bla. But then there’s food and wine!

Lauren, a fellow blogger at Spanish Sabores, feels the same. A couple of years back, she founded Madrid Food Tour. A brilliant idea, really, because there is truly no better way to get to know this country – or probably most any country — than via its flavors.

Around that time, Lauren mentioned I should come along on one of their tours sometime. I said, yeah, maybe, let’s see. But the thing is, I figured I was an expert on Spanish food and plus I was busy having a kid and all, so ya know, the timing wasn’t right no matter how hungry I was and always am for Spanish food.

But a couple of weeks back I finally joined one of her (growing) company’s tours. With a nice chap named Luke (chap because he’s English) as our leader, we spent four generous hours exploring Madrid’s historic center, largely with our taste buds as our guides. Hope you’re not hungry, because here’s a little look at some (yes, just some!) of the foods we sampled.


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Our first stop was El Riojano, an over-century-year-old café, where I tried their speciality, the soletilla, a ladyfinger-like pastry that is meant to be dunked in hot chocolate. Though I knew the place, I did not know the soletilla, a treat I wisely plan to get to know better during many future visits.


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At Mercado de San Miguel, I savored an early-morning glass of fresh-from-the-tap vermouth as I snacked on my olives, called Campo Real. Somehow I failed to realize until this tour that these olives only come from Madrid — all the more reason to love them!

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This rabo de toro, or oxtail, came wrapped in crispy dough and topped by pimiento del piquillo, and served with a glass of wine. It was magical.

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Fresh-from-the-oven empanadillas filled with egg and tuna are never a bad idea.

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At Bar Cerveriz, I tried a new tortilla (!!), acclaimed as one of the city’s best. My top tortillas in Madrid still stand, but this particular one was pretty darn good too!


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No Spanish food tour would be complete without trying jamón. In this case, we contemplated the curious differences between jamón serrano, jamón ibérico de recebo, and jamón ibérico de bellota – a side-by-side comparison that I’ve never done before (and really think I should repeat more often, because jamón).
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Our last nibbles of the tour included a fat sandwich of fried calamari, a very typical Madrid treat, followed by a Spanish holiday favorite — and a personal year-round favorite — turrón (an almond-y, nougat-like sweet whose soft version can most closely be compared to peanut butter, and is therefore amazing). I savored every last bite.

So what was my tour take-away apart from a very full and satisfied stomach? Well, truth be told, I was wrong: there was so much more for me to taste in Madrid. Indeed, not only did I taste the city in a way that I didn’t know possible, but I learned new things about it — beyond just the food — and experienced it with new eyes. What I especially appreciated about the excursion was that it really focused on the Madrid specialities that tell the city and country’s culinary story. And my tummy was very happy to listen.

*Full disclosure: Madrid Food Tour generously invited me along as a guest. I was quite skeptical, so trust me when I say that I was completely won over by the experience and that my rave reviews are legit. 

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7 comments

7 Responses to “Tasting Madrid”

  1. Alyson Says:

    Looks pretty good to me! I’m a food/travel nut too. We’ve been invited on the London food tour but I keep putting it off, really should do it.

  2. Erin Says:

    Yes, you should! I so enjoyed experiencing a city I *thought* I knew so well, via new flavors and facts. Highly recommended!

  3. Cat of Sunshine and Siestas Says:

    I miss having Lauren in Seville to cook for our guiri parties – she’s not only a food nut, but an awesome cook and host! I was lucky to go one her tour to years ago and still recommend it to people!

  4. Meseidy Says:

    Ugh! I want to visit Spain so bad! I have made it very clear to my husband that I expect a trip to Spain for my 40th birthday. 🙂 I just posted a recipe on my blog is Spanish hot chocolate and churros! I will be following you adventures.

  5. Maria Says:

    OMG! All the food looks delicious!! It is so different (even though it shouldn’t) from the Spanish food I’ve tasted in my country!! The “rabo de toro” looks really really good! Do you have by any chance any recipe for any of them?? That would be lovely hehehe Great article!!! 🙂

  6. saffron flynn Says:

    loved your blog! Gawd, the photos were spectac. Just got back. Going back in January for a year. My thing is giving vent to my impressions of a country I’ve come to think of as my own. A bit literary and maybe not what the average blog reader wants to see, but I like it. What a time I’m having with WordPress. Ugh!

  7. Erin Says:

    Took a look at your blog – it’s great! WordPress is a pain, but don’t be discouraged!

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