Every country in the world has a bar culture in some form, even the ones that don’t allow alcohol have places where people meet to socialise in a relaxed atmosphere. In my country, we call it liming. Whether you’re at a favourite lounge, club, restaurant or someone’s home, the only requirements are good food, good drink and good company. All these make for a night to remember. In Spain, they do it on a whole other level. In this episode of From Spain With Love, Annie Sibonney embarks on an all-night gastronomic escapade to show viewers how they do liming all night long in that nation’s capital. She started out solo at 7:05 pm, in the Mercado de San Miguel. In just over two hours, she ate and drank an impressive amount. I dare say it was far more than we would see in an entire episode, but this was just the first segment.
At Mas Gourmets De L’Embotit, she had hand-sliced ham with red wine. Then it was off to Mariscos Morris Conservas y Moluscos, for Percebes(Goose Barnacles) and cava (sparkling wine like champagne). Annie was joined by the market’s resident Chef Javier who showed her the little kitchen where they prepared meals for 2,000 people that day. The first of three dishes Javier prepared for her was his take on the Mexican dish Cochinita Pibil (Slow Roasted Pork with Mandarin). Then, he made Roasted Octopus with Mushrooms while Annie explained finer notes on the very fresh ingredients.
Finally, he pan cooked fresh Razor Clams with Arbequina Olive Oil and Albariño Wine. They finally got out of the kitchen to enjoy some Pan Tumaca, which was crystal bread topped with tomato and an anchovy. The perfect drink to complement this meal was cana (draft beer). Javier was very talented and his broken English didn’t stop him from making a delightful appearance in this episode. Annie’s last stop before leaving the market was to introduce us to her favourite aperitivo, red vermouth and olives at a little bar dedicated olives with mussels, cheese and a variety of other ingredients. As a fan of savoury flavours, I found this very interesting.
You can’t have an episode about after hour activities in Madrid without a Tapas Spree. Annie met up with a couple friends to have Jamón Ibérico, followed by Bocata de Calamares (Calamari Sandwich) with beer. Almost three and a half hours after she began, they went to a dance club (Club Musée?) to burn off some calories. At this point, I was starting to wonder if Annie’s really a Canadian French-Moroccan because she sure was partying through the night like a West Indian!
It was almost midnight when the trio arrived at El Fogón de Trifón, to meet its owner/Chef Trifón Jorge Esteban, a most amiable dude. Together they prepared a salad of Raff tomatoes, Ventresca de Bonito (Bonito Belly Tuna), onions and roasted peppers. Next, they prepared his Estofado De Rabo De Toro (Bull’s Tail Stew) which Annie called “the best stew in Madrid.” This is one dish that was all about ingredients, ingredients, ingredients. Their meal was topped off by his Cheesecake with Olive Glaze, a creamy smooth dessert that was minimally garnished with a balsamic kiwi reduction.
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Chef Trifón was quite a character. Although he spoke very little English, this Chef has clearly mastered the international language of food. I was most impressed with the care he took preparing his ingredients like a choricero pepper purée and beef/chicken bones that had been oven roasted into a near viscous form. Amiable, cheerful and a bit romantic, he was a treat to see with his easygoing charm. His tiny restaurant will be a must for foodies, not only in search of a great meal but just to meet the man himself.
The trio, now a quartet since Chef Trifón tagged long, headed off into the night for their last taste of Madrid, at a Chocolateria Churreria. They feasted on Churros and Spanish Hot Chocolate before saying goodbye. The episode ended with Annie atop a high building, just as dawn was about to break. They had eaten, drank and partied through Madrid at a frenetic pace. Annie’s quiet monologue was a fitting ending to a superb episode. Anyone thinking or even dreaming about visiting Madrid should watch or keep this episode. It’s the little things they show us, that makes this series special. Coming soon, a review for Preserves: Keeping The Flavor Alive.