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

Friday, September 21, 2007


Well the danger on the rocks is surely past
Still I remain tied to the mast

So the journey ends where it began in one DH's favourite cities, Madrid. It's one of the few places the nearer we get the more excited we get. After alighting at Atocha I started walking up the street to my hotel. Although my bag was heavy, the daytime temperature about 30 and I was walking up a hill I did the mile walk in record time. Bags dumped then off to one of DH's favourite areas in our favourite cities, Calle Ponzano.

Some say there are more bars on this street and its offshoots than in all of Scandinavia. Well, I wouldn't know about that but there are a hell of a lot. Restaurants too. The first time we visited we peaked too early and we were only about a quarter of the way up the road by the time we had drunk our fill. This time I was a bit more selective and visited some of our old haunts for some tasty nibbles. At Fide, which specialises in canned fish, a baby squid stuffed with its own tentacles and skewered with an anchovy. At El Doble a small canape of Bacalao liver on toast, at Alboran, an Andalusian fish restaurant, a plate of bacalao croquetas and a glass of manzanilla to remind me of where I had just come from. Apart from that sherry I kept to the Mahou, served cold and correct with a frothy head and a tapita, the best of which was a omelette made with setas and a small plate of torreznos. Then back to the hotel for a little shut-eye.

For the evening shift a little bit more of the tried and tested. The big bar on Plaza Opera which was home base for many of DH's visits where they always try and serve us dobles instead of canas but which we always return to for a mid-afternoon chupito of pacharan or orujo. The tapita here a big plate of pungent olives. A glass of cider, just for a change, with some paella and finally one of DH favourite tapas bars, Bonar de Leon. Luckily they had run out of paella. Lucky not in the sense that it's not good - I sure it is - but lucky in the sense that I got a big plate of allitas. No knives, no forks, just get stuck in and get your hands greasy. Was it down with a bigger than normal cana and hand over the dosh about 1 point something euros. I needed a little walk after that little lot and before the final food of the evening at DH's favourite restaurant Dantxari.

We've blogged about this place before but we enjoy it so much (as does Madrid it appears given that every table was taken) I make no apology about blogging about it again. The service is spot on and the food, simple tasty Basque cooking but done with a light hand. No culinary fireworks but food you'd want to eat at least once a week. Dishes such as Cogollos de Tudela (Lettuce Hearts from Tudela in Navarra) served simply dressed with some peppers and bonito. Chipirones encebollados, baby squid and onions cooked until the squid is very tender and the onions a sweet melting mass and Mollejas con setas, a butch composition of sweetbreads and mushrooms.

I couldn't have managed Leche Frita (they do it very well here) so instead it was a bowl of PX and raisin ice cream. The house insisted I have coffee and a shot of orujo blanco to help it all down. Honest.

A very good end to a very good trip. So good in fact that I could easily do it all over again. Now where was that asador...

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