Tapas Fair 2012

After seven successful installations, the Tapas Fair has returned to Madrid. Starting tomorrow, Thursday June 21st, the Palacio de Deportes (metro: Goya) will convert itself into a giant bar of sorts where you can sample some of Madrid’s best tapas accompanied by a caña of Mahou.

Thirty-eight different bars and restaurants will participate in this year’s feria, each with their own small stand offering a few of their signature dishes from madrileño classics to inventive new plates.

Each tapa will cost €1,20 and each caña will also cost €1,20. There also non-alcoholic drinks available at the stands. In past years, these transactions have taken places using fichas – small commemorative coins that you must purchase in advance at the Palacio de Deportes ticket window or at special stands within the event, so keep that in mind as you rush in with an empty stomach!

This year’s Tapas Fair runs from Thursday, June 21st to Sunday, June 24th, with a split timetable of 1200-430pm and again at 8pm-midnight. Entrance to the event is free.

The way to Madrid’s heart…

…is through your stomach.

Lauren, founder and tour guide. Photo by Cassandra Gambill

I would like to introduce you all, faithful guiris, to Lauren Aloise’s Madrid Food Tour. This tour provides a custom assortment of Madrid’s finest cuisine, hand-picked by one very passionate guiri.

Lauren is an expat from Massachusetts who has lived in Granada, Sevilla, Cádiz, and Madrid. Her already existing passion for food increased immensely after living in Spain, marrying her very own Spaniard, and meeting her suegra, Antonia. Thanks to time abroad and the lessons learned from her mother-in-law, Lauren has learned a great deal about Spanish cuisine and has found a way to share it with the world! In addition to running Madrid Food Tour, Lauren writes both Spanish Sabores (in English) and Recetas Americanas (in Spanish), two excellent resources for anyone interested in Spanish or American cuisine.

Madrid Food Tour’s “signature tour” includes samples of various Spanish treats widely available in Madrid at both popular and unique stops around the city. The tour typically takes from three to four hours during off-peak times so that those on the tour can see Madrid in a way that most tour groups don’t typically get to experience. Not only does the tour hit all the general flavor groups–sweet, savory, and everything in between–Lauren shares some history and information about every plate sampled. Want to know what’s in what you’re eating? Where it comes from? Just ask!

Does the signature tour not sound like what you’re looking for? Want to try something a bit more off-beat or specific to your tastes? Do you have the most discerning of palates? Again… just ask! The best part of these tours is that they are almost entirely customizable based on what you like, so if Andrew Zimmern’s bizarre tastes inspire you to try something completely new and different, let Lauren know!

The Madrid Food Tour website can be found here, and tours are available now! Tell them Guiri Guide sent you, and then let us know how much you loved it!

De Tapas Por Madrid 2012

We’ve told you about many Tapas crawls and food opportunities in Madrid, but this one bears mentioning for the next week in particular: until May 20th, De Tapas Por Madrid is an enormous tapas crawl with no less than 4 routes, each boasting between 15 and 30 spots in bars and restaurants.

Organized by La Viña, a business organization for restaurants in Madrid, and sponsored by Cruzcampo, the route makes ordering simple: each restaurant has one featured tapa, which comes with a mini-bottle of Cruzcampo beer (some restaurants offer both with and without alcohol), for €2.40.

If you are adventurous, I recommend just picking an area of the city that you like and finding a bar with a sign for “De Tapas Por Madrid” outside, and then going from bar to bar in that area. Inside, you’ll find maps of that particular route (there are four, based in different neighborhoods of the city). The maps have good quality photos and descriptions of the tapa offered in each area as well, so if you have dietary restrictions or just want to know what you are eating before you order it, you can pick and choose from the tapas suggested.

My first route this year has been the yellow route, where I visited three spots: Lhardy (an old and classily furnished delicatessen-type spot), Majaderitos Café (a more modern bar/restaurant on bustling calle Cádiz), and Grazie Mille Kitchen Bar (a cute and cozy Italian restaurant). I ate a salmon tartar dish, which I didn’t expect to like, but which was really savory and flavorful, a fried fish-in-sauce tapa, and (believe it or not) the signature spaghetti of Grazie Mille, packaged in a ball of tinfoil, no less. Do not expect large portions; while you may luck out with some of the tapas being generous, the ones I tried were reasonably small and packed more flavor than they filled me up.

After getting a tapa, you will be given a flyer with a code on it that you can use to vote for your favorite tapa on the route and also to enter a raffle for iPads and Cruzcampo products. After you try some out, post your favorite stops on the route in the comments of this GuiriGuide entry!

De Tapas Por Madrid


Tapas Weekend in Logrono

Last week I posted about the spectacular wineries I visited during my trip to La Rioja earlier this month. I wanted to expand on that post this week and dedicate some well-deserved space to one of the other highlights of our trip – the 24 hours we spent in Logroño, the capital of La Rioja.

The scene on Calle Laurel early Friday afternoon

We arrived at this small but lively city of 150,000 early on a Friday afternoon. My last minute Google research in the car indicated that the city had a street famous for tapas (Calle Laurel), so we decided to head there for lunch. To our surprise, it was absolutely crammed with people spilling out of the more than 40 bars that are on this tiny, pedestrian street. We strolled down the length of the calle (it only takes about a minute, to be honest) and quickly deduced how it worked – each bar has its own specialty tapa, which is advertised on the outside of the bar. Since trying the local specialty everywhere I go is one of my favorite pastimes, Raul and I went from bar to bar trying the advertised “especialidad de la casa” accompanied by a small copa de vino (Rioja of course).
The specialties in this tapas paradise included such things as patatas bravas, roasted garlic mushrooms on bread (this was the highlight for me), matrimonios (small sandwiches with anchovies and grilled peppers), zapatillas (a hunk of bread with olive oil, tomato and jamón serrano), and sepia. They ranged in price from about €1-3, making for some cheap meals. In fact, we had such a great time and enjoyed the food at lunch so much that we went there for dinner the same day. The wine was also easy on the wallet, making for arguably some of the best and most enjoyable eating and drinking I have ever done in Spain (which says a lot).

The glorious "champis" at Bar Soriano

Our time in Logroño was such a pleasant surprise. While we were there tapeando our hearts out, we were already planning our next trip. The combination of the architecture of the wineries, the wine itself and the tapas of Logroño made this a weekend I will never forget!