"It's not much but it's ours"

Monday, September 11, 2006

It wont come as any great surprise to anyone that we left Toledo without a heavy heart and with nary a glimpse in our rear view mirror.

It may have been the last day of our holiday, but what a day to look forward to. We were heading back to Madrid. Officially the spiritual home of Dos Hermanos. The greatest place on earth and etc etc etc. Regular blog readers will know that I was there only a fortnight ago and, although it was a splendid trip, nothing quite compares to a DH session in this finest of all God’s creations

First though, to deposit the car back at Barajas. Never quite as easy as one would hope as the motorways seem, I am sure, to morph and move every time you use them so you never approach, be it in hire car or taxi, the airport from the same direction twice.

Anyway, we just about got there and 2 hours after leaving Toledo, we were in our hotel, the Hotel Prado close to the er, Prado.

It was well into the 30’s by the time we pottered off for a bit of a stroll and I have to admit to almost fading. Just a few bars to see us through until the evening, the most notable being TXacoli ( named for the sparkling white wine from oop North ) which is a new-ish bar on Baja which offers up a slightly alarming looking selection of Nuevo Montadito for a young crowd. I was not entirely won over by the food but the wine proved a welcome refreshment.

By the time evening fell, we were both feeling a lot more like our usual selves ( who said “ one bald and one old?” bastards ) and went out for a proper final session of bar hoppage before our traditional last supper. Beginning of course, with a couple of sherries at the wonderful La Venencia which has been our regular port of call since the very first visit.

We must have tried about six or so other bars before ending up at the best of the lot. That is one of the myriad wonderful things about Madrid. However many times you go there, there is always a new area to explore and new bars to find. HP, of course had found Bar Bonar de Leon near the Plaza Espana. It was small and unpromising to look at but with our EU1.5 cana ( served beguilingly in a half pint pot ) came a lovely portion of fresh chicken wings, greasy and crunchy and all for free. Gotsto love Spain.

We were ready for the final assault now and headed to our favourite restaurant of all in Madrid. Restaurant DanXari on Venture De Rodriquez is an old school Basque restaurant that we have now visited four times and each time is as good as the last. The cooking is spot on and neither it, nor the service has any frills and frippery.

The first time we went, we were alarmed to see a translated menu. Now we now both the restaurant and Spain so much better, we know that it does not matter here. You can take Spain out of the menu, but you can’t take Spain out of the food or the restaurant.

As ever, sitting in our usual seat after an “eek they are all smoking” moment meant we had to swap seats, we ordered a round of croquettes to share. The perfect example of this fine food. Crisp and crunchy on the outside while the inside, filled with creamy béchamel run through with salt cod. Bliss.

To follow, HP always has the chiperones, small squid stuffed with their own tentacles ( ouch ) and cooked off with garlic and wine. For me, more stuffed peppers, this time with more of the sublime salt cod.

I always pick one of the fish specials and this time was no different, a meaty fillet of seabass served on a sweet onion and tomato base. For HP, Mollejas, sweetbreads. Both exemplary and served perfectly by an Albarino.

Puddings are about as good as you are ever likely to get in Spain. The Leche frita is, actually, very nice. I always order a concoction of puff pastry and custard and am never fully sure why.

With coffee/tea and a free chopito of Orujo, the bill just about tops EU100 which for one of the most enjoyable meals in Madrid, is a steal. Almost my ideal restaurant.

So, that was nearly it. We had to top it all off with one more night cap. Well, of course we did even though we knew we would regret it in the morning. But, who cares?

There are few better towns to have a good night out er, in and this was a very good night out, er, in Madrid.
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