Friday, November 25, 2011
I was just looking through my recent posts and see I haven’t written up a recipe in a while. There’s a reason for that. I haven’t really been home and cooking that much lately. After a week in Florence, updating Eat Florence, this past weekend we headed to Madrid, to visit my daughter Emma who’s living there this year.
Even though Sophie (the one in London) is definitely the ‘foodie daughter’, Emma like to eat too. But while Sophie will cook and seek out new restaurants on her own, Emma takes the back seat and is happy to have me find the best places to dine, (even if she is the one living in Madrid)
Not knowing a thing about where to go, I sent out various fb and twitter queries. A few people, including my friend Sienna, suggested La Casa del Abuelo. In fact, it was Sienna’s claim “the best shrimp EVER” that made me head there.
But even though I looked it up online, I was a bit confused. They seemed to have three different locations, and I couldn’t quite figure out if it was a stand up tapas place, or a sit down restaurant. Turns out they are both.
Their original place is located on Calle Victoria. We could smell the garlicky shrimp a block away, which is no wonder since they’ve got a mini kitchen set up just for the garlic shrimp right in the window. Even though the tiny terracotta dishes, sizzling with garlic, oil and shrimp looked mighty tempting, the place was jammed, we were tired, and really wanted to sit down somewhere. When I asked a waiter if they had any tables, he said ‘Claro!”
And then took us by the arm and proceed to walk us out the door, down the street and around the corner to what turns out to be their restaurant. They still have the famous gambas, but also quite a few other dishes, all served at rough wooden tables where you can actually sit down.
Of course we ordered the gambas alla plancha. Incredibly fresh shrimp, still in their shells, quickly flipped on the griddle and topped with crunchy fleur de sel. Just as good (according to Emma, even better) were the squid. Again, barely cooked, with lots of salt, oil, parsley and just a squeeze of lemon.
Since we were all craving vegetables we got a plate of setas alla plancha as well as pimientos de padron. I don’t know if these are considered specialties, but they should be.
I think that it’s a law in Madrid that you can’t enter a restaurant without ordering croquettas, so we did. But these were of course gambas heavy, with big chunks of shrimp instead of the more pedestrian jamon.
And because it’s also a law that Domenico has to order tripe if it’s on the menu, we also got a darling little terracotta pot full of steaming callos a la madrilena. Served in a rich tomatoey sauce, made all the better by huge rounds of smoky chorizio.
By the time we finished we had gone through about forty of the incredibly cute, but totally useless paper napkins embossed with the restaurants logo. But I managed to keep one clean, as a memento and a reminder to make sure I come back next time I’m in Madrid.
La Casa del Abuelo
Calle Victoria 12 (this is the stand up only tapas bar in the photo above.)
Calle Nunez de Arce, 5 (this is the restaurant, just around the corner)
(There is also a second tapas type place, across the street from the first, on Calle Victoria, but it's a bit modern looking for my taste. )