On our recent trip to Spain, we flew into Madrid and barely had twenty-four hours before heading south to Seville. I wasn't going to pass through town without visiting it's premier market, Mercado de San Miguel.
Mercado de San Miguel is a gourmet indoor market in the center of old Madrid, steps from the Plaza Mayor. It's not where one goes to get groceries, but to have a snack, a drink, or pick up specialty items.
Our first stop was for a drink at the vermouth stall. Vermouth is a very common aperitif in the north of Spain. It's typical to order a vermut de grifo--literally draft vermouth or house vermouth.
I know it seems odd to drink vermouth straight since we don't have that practice in the States, but it quickly became a favorite.
It easily pairs with strong flavored tapas such as the assortment of olives--olives stuffed with tuna, olives stuffed with anchovy, olives with cheese or cured meats or sun-dried tomato. The list goes on.
A drink and olives (and several slices of queso manchego for Viv) sustained us through a quick tour of the very crowded market . . .
monkfish at the fresh seafood counter . . .
boiled Galician barnacles, a delicacy. . .
a stall devoted to fresh oysters and champagne . . .
large grilled red shrimp . . .
angulas, or baby eels, on bread . . .
the burrata trend is alive in Madrid as well . . .
a section devoted to the prized Iberian ham . . .
chorizo and chicharrones (crispy pig skin),
and then a beer and some chorizo bites before heading to our next stop.