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Travel - To truly taste MADRID.

Summary: Spain's most populated city and top tourist destination is world-renowned for delicious markets and fine dining for a reason. We discover the must-try eateries and uncover how to dine like a local no matter the budget. By Elizabeth Wentling

Whenpayingavisitto Madrid, it is standard procedure to experience the city in an unconventional manner; to sleep on an alternative schedule, to move at a different pace, and most importantly to dine in the form of a MadrileAaAaAeAeo (the term used to describe a native or inhabitant Madrid).

What does that scope entail? Eating dinner at midnight? It's not discouraged. Eating only tapas? It's an equally welcomed option. Mirroring the contagious vibrancy of the streets and the irrepressible spirit of the population, eating in Madrid is a true adventure to be embraced with open arms and an equally eager appetite.

Knowing where to start can be tricky, with a Museo del JamAaAaAeAen (Iberi Ham Museum) around every corner (but which one is the original?!) and endless tapas bars to choose from, getting caught in the tourist trap can be difficult to avoid.

Luckily all it takes is kickstarting your foodie tour through one of Europe's most delicious cosmopolitan capitals at the Mercado de San Miguel (The Market of San Miguel).

This open-air market originally built in 1916, and reopened in 2009 after six plus years of restoration is a revived institution, a watering hole, a gastronomic wonderland, and a culturally significant hub for the locals and tourists alike. The Mercado is multi-faceted, difficult to describe in a singular sentence, but by visiting, a condensed offering of Madrid is found throughout the 33 stalls all offering authentic treats.

Opt for the trolley teeming with fresh croquetas (fried dough stuffed with sinful ingredients including cheese, iberico ham, and tuna to name a few), or the shucked- to-order oyster bar nestled between plates of sea urchin, ceviche, and fried calamari -- a staple of Spanish cuisine.

All these savoury delicacies are only enhanced by the drinks to accompany them, including a grape bar devoted to regional varietals and Spanish hops on tap. Mocktails and cocktails such as Mojitos can be muddled with mango, blueberries, or kept classic. Saying salAaAaAeAe[bar]d is so ea here when sangria is served in a takeaway cup.

Before skipping over to the adjacent Plaza Mayor, a must-see square in the heart of the city, visitors of Mercado San Miguel should indulge at one of the heladarias (ice creamery) or taste deep fried churros soaked in silky dark chocolate. Dessert is not taken lightly in Spain, so visitors should abide by trying it all.

But markets like this span the city, and additional hotspots include Mercado de San Ildefonso, a laidback open-air market in the trendy neighborhood of Chueca, and Mercado de la Paz, the real deal - as it's arguably Madrid's oldest market - built in 1879 still offers both classics like salted cod, ibAaAaAeA@rico charcuterie, and old school cafAaAaAeA@s where pas the day people watching in Salamanca is a perfect option.

Immersing in the traditional dishes of Madrid is mandatory, yet in recent decades, as the population exponentially grew, the international community evolved equally, resulting in a richly diverse food scene.

There's no better way to experience this amalgamation of culinary culture than at fusion hotspot Kirei by Kabuki. A beautiful marriage of Japanese and Mediterranean techniques and ingredients, Kirei is chic yet devoid of pretentiousness. Beyond the clean, minimal dAaAaAeA@cor positioning t dishes as the star of the show, Kirei by Kabuki is a reflection of Madrid's modern mindset, focusing on both raw and organic products seen across the menu.

Bites like negi toro maki (fatty tuna belly) with shallots and unagi (fresh water eel) with avocado are offset by fresh tapas-style starters including lamb skewers with mint yogurt and Spanish-style hamburgers smothered in onion confit and delicate tomato spread, often found on another Spanish staple pan con tomate.

Nestled on the ground floor of the Double Tree by Hilton Madrid -- Prado, this beautiful boutique hotel is positioned between the world's most exceptional monuments. Just blocks away the manicured El Retiro Park and the esteemed Museo Del Prado (Prado Museum), making this sushi hot-spot a go-to for a casual lunch or a flavourful dinner when roaming through Madrid's most elegant quarter.

But the fusion found in Kirei by Kabuki doesn't end downtown. Over in Madrid's comparably illustrious OpAaAaAeA@ra neighborhood is Dos Ciel Madrid by Hermanos Torres. Michelin starred chefs Javier and Sergio Torres have successfully shifted from TV chef personalities to award-winning restaurateurs (the Madrid Dos Cielos has followed in the footsteps of its Barcelona counterpart).

The twin brothers have hit their stride once again, creating a harmonious menu of Mediterranean sourced ingredients from local farms (and oceans alike). Every dish at Dos Cielos is colourful, intricate and exquisite. Nothing embodies this more than the amuse bouche; a tiny pile of dried shrimp accompanied by a damp towel pre-rubbed with lime zest. This thoughtful pairing is designed to let the acidic fruit linger on each guest's fingertips, only to be tasted once the shrimp is picked up and consumed by hand. Recipes are subject to change depending on the seasons and what's brimming at the farmer's market that week, but celebrated menu mainstays like the cod should be tried.

Concepts such as Dos Cielos capture the glimmering gastronomic reputation Spain so rightfully deserves. Hidden in the pretty polished courtyard of Gran MAaAaAeA@lia Palacio de Los Duques, this five-star hotel is a convert convent oozing with charm and glamour, setting the scene for exceptional dining; half of the restaurant's interior features a rustic brick wall from the original frame dating back to mid-19th century. Deconstructed, industrial light fixtures blend with the clean glass panels, illuminating each polished course to exit the kitchen.

To taste Madrid is a fleeting excursion of flavours due to its endless evolution. An unstoppable gourmet force, the beauty in dining out is that MadrileAaAaAeAeos love to do so, across all types of eateries. Wheth at informal cafAaAaAeA@s or mercados, outside on a terrace or indoors at world-renowned eatery, Madrid is a mood captured by the spirit of tradition where quality of cuisine always comes first.


Mercado San Miguel: Plaza de San Miguel, s/n, 28005 Madrid, Spain, +34 915 42 49 36 Mercado de San Ildefonso: Calle de Fuencarral, 57, 28004 Madrid, Spain, +34 915 59 13 00 Mercado de la Paz: Centro Comercial La Paz, Calle de Ayala, 28, 28001 Madrid, Spain, +34 914 35 07 43 Kirei by Kabuki at Double Tree by Hilton Madrid - Prado: Avda de la Hispanidad, 28042 Madrid, Spain, +34 902 90 30 16 Dos Cielos Madrid by Hermanos Torres at Gran MeliAaAaAeAeAaAaAeA Palacios Los Duques: Cuesta Santo Domingo 28013 Madrid, Spain, +34 915 41 67 00

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Publication:BBC GoodFood Middle East
Geographic Code:4EUSP
Date:Nov 30, 2017
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