Writing this from the home of Tempranillo, Garnacha and world-class cuisine, lovely and warm (both the people and the climate), Spain. We’re at Hotel Europa, 4th floor, with an electrifying balcony view of the constant maze of activity at Puerta del Sol.
My son, Scott, moved to Madrid in August 2013 and, unfortunately for us, is loving it. This picture is him teaching his brother and parents all about tapas in a lively, loud tapas bar.
What a wonderful concept! You either belly up to the bar or take a table and order a cerveza (Mahou is the most popular) or a red or white wine from anyone of the numerous wine regions in Spain. Places such as Rioja, Ribera, Rueda, Rias Baixas, Penedes, Toro, Jererz (for Sherry), etc.
Then, a custom with several establishments, they’ll bring out small samplers of a variety of foods at no charge. Octopus seasoned with paprika; coquettes (small fried balls of cheese, meats, or other delights); chopitos (fried squid); chorizo (Spanish sausage with numerous variations); empanadas only touch the delights available.
Mahou is a light beer in the sense that it is blond in color and not heavy like Guinness. But unlike Bud Lite, it has flavor and marries well with a wide selection of tapas.
At this level, you don’t order Vega Sicilia, Spain’s most expensive and prestigious wine. Rather, a simple Tempranillo that complements the food is better.
Scott then picked up his game and took his parents to Naia, in the La Latina district. There we dined on exquisite Steak Tartare, outstanding cod on a bed of quinoa, pumpkin butternut squash ravioli that melted in our mouths, and, my favorite, presa iberica (a variation on pork shoulder) with, of all things, guacamole. Naia had a small but serviceable wine list. We had a 2010 Bodega Muga that blended well with the food and also enhanced the overall experience. This was one of my best meals – ever. With these kind of temptations (not to mention the gorgeous senoritas), we may never see our son Scott in the USA again!