A few scenes from José Pizarro’s book launch party at the Cinco Jotas restaurant in Madrid. It was great to see José again, and also his mother who I’d met at the Spanish Embassy event in London last May. My friends Jeannie and Sam were there, and I also got to meet a few other people, so it was a fun night. Also excited to see – and taste – a special sherry Rare Solera PΔP VORS from Osborne which has been created especially for José, the first time in the brand’s history that they have done this. Good times.
So while I was away in Galicia I got an invitation to the Spanish book launch of my friend José Pizarro’s Andalucía, which is being held in Madrid on October 30th. You may recall I went to London in May for a event at the Spanish Embassy that included celebrating José’s 25 years as a chef and was also the launch for the English version of this book. But you know, I want to be there to support José and so I booked my train to Madrid and a hotel for a couple of nights, even though I can’t exactly afford to travel right now.
And THEN something amazing happened. Out of the blue I was asked by Decanter Magazine to write another city break travel piece for them… on Madrid! This is my third commission from Decanter in a year, and I am thrilled about that. But also, it will end up paying for my trip and I can use my time there to do research for the article. How perfect is that? 🙂
After an intense week of activities in Galicia it was nice to be able to get up at my leisure on Sunday morning. We had arrived in Madrid two hours later than scheduled on Saturday night, so didn’t actually get to the hotel until almost 11.00 pm. Luckily Andrew had recommended a nearby tapas bar, El Del Medio. I got in just before the kitchen closed and had time for a couple of tapas (hadn’t eaten since lunchtime!).
perfect smoked salmon on crispy toast with avocado, roasted vegetables
baked butifarra with mustard, mixed hot pickles, micro greens
On Sunday my train home was at 6.00 pm, so I made plans to have lunch at another place recommended by Andrew, Amano, which had just opened in August. When I went downstairs to have a bit of brekkie I ran into Rachel, who was leaving for Scotland that afternoon. After a couple hours chatting over coffee we checked out and then continued chatting for another couple of hours, this time over wine. It was great because although we’d been together for five solid days we hadn’t really had time to talk much. Anyhoo, by 2 pm we were both feeling a bit blurry so it was time to get our taxis, hers to the airport and mine to the train station.
Bag checked at Atocha, I made my way over to Amano for lunch. I was excited to try this place because Andrew had told me that it was run by Fran (former co-owner of Alabaster) and a chef that he’d partnered up with, so I was expecting good things. But I was still surprised by the amazing service. There was only bar space available when I got there, but I told them I lived in Sevilla and was used to sitting at the bar (Madrid is really more of a restaurant city). Then I asked for a glass of white wine and THIS happened…
On my way to ENBHIGA 2019, starting off in Madrid. The official “cocktail party” meet up at the hotel was scheduled for 9 pm, but I came into town at midday to meet pal Andrew @undertheflor and have lunch at La Retasca, the latest venture by chef Juanjo López.
It’s always fun meeting up with Andrew, and this was a place he’d been wanting to go to as well. I left my bag at the station and walked to La Retasca, somehow missed my turn off and arrived late, which was unfortunate because Andrew was on a tight schedule. So it was short and sweet, with the company way better than the food.
Then it was back to the station to collect my bag and taxi over to the Hotel Nuevo Madrid, which was way the hell out somewhere I’d never been before. Checked in and went down to meet the group that was to be my travelling companions over the next few days. I’m so not good at group stuff, especially meet and greets. Lovely to see Jorge & Anna again of course, and also Twitter pal Rachel @R_McCormack from Scotland, but l snuck away while desserts were being served because it was going to be an early morning and long (5 hour!) bus ride to Ourense in the morning.
Rachel, Jorge, Anna, Pepe
So… I loved this place. One of Madrid’s coolest new cocktail bars. Even though I’m not so big on cocktails, or alcoholic drinks other than wine. But during my last Madrid Getaway I ended up stopping in here two days in a row, early evening, for a cocktail. And it was lovely. Great ambiance, friendly staff, tasty drinks… looking forward to the opening party of their sister bar here in Sevilla in the Mercer Hotel.