Friday, 5 November 2010

Madrid Restaurant: Al Mounia

One of the most disappointing things about Andulucian food is that after 700 years of Moorish occupation there is not so much as a single cumin seed or cinammon stick to be seen.  That's not to say its bad - great hams, olive oils and a general abundance of top produce create a good rustic cuisine, its just that if they'd kept some of the North African influence it could be so much more exciting.  Look at their buildings, brilliant.  Oh well.  If you do want North African food these days by far the best option is to travel North to Madrid and go to the excellent Al Mounia, a fantastic Moroccan restaurant in the Barrio Salamanca.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Segovia Restaurant: Candido

Restaurants that have been around forever, in touristy locations, frequented by tourists are not things that inspire confidence.  Think Angus Steak Houses, Hard Rock Cafe's at the extreme end.  Some are better, there's Simpsons in London as well, which isn't terrible.  At best though they tend to be happy to revel in their reputations and charge a fortune to those that can't find a better recommendation whilst serving up mediocre food.  As our names were taken down by a waiter at Candido and put on a list for twenty minutes later a la Planet Hollywood it seemed this would be the case.  Things didn't improve when on returning at the allotted time we had to wait in a scrum of people for our names to be called out.  So it was with suprise and delight that we started eating and found out the food was really excellent.

Madrid Reastaurant: Abuelo

There's something to be said for places that do one thing really, really well and Abuelo is certainly one of those.  Abuelo, not to be confused with Abuela around the corner, is one of those and specialises in gambas al ajillo, or prawns and garlic in hot oil.  There are a few of these in Madrid now, but the original and best is in the old town and has been since 1906.  It's definitely worth a stop on a tapas tour if your in this part of the city.

Madrid Restaurants: Pan De Lujo

There is no restaurant in London that would serve a dish of exceptionally high quality tomatoes, drizzled with olive oil and good sea salt as a starter in its own right.  People probably wouldn't order it.  But that dish typifies what is great about the food culture of Spain.  Never dislocated from traditional foods and produce in the way Britain was by the industrial revolution Spain mantains a genuine appreciation for quality and seasonality of ingredients that we are only just rediscovering.  That's why a trendy, modern Madrid restaurant unafraid of innovation can serve a delicious plate of tomatoes without it seeming strange.  This focus on the quality of ingredients underpins the cooking at Pan De Lujo.  The produce is sometimes presented simply or with a great deal of invention, it all depends on what is most suitable.  This approach, complimented by a stylish contemporary interior and good service all adds up to an excellent dining experience.