I am back from a 17 days trip to Spain. That is why I have been really quiet during the past weeks. The good thing is that I have tons of stories to share now. Thanks for your patience!
I knew I was going to like Spain but I was not expecting to be blown away only a few hours after landing in Madrid.
Since we were staying in the Centro, we started our exploration of the city around this neighborhood. After checking out Plaza Sol and the Plaza Mayor, we stumbled upon the Mercado San Miguel.
This particular place was on my “do not miss” list. The place was packed when we arrived since, without knowing it, we arrived in Madrid during a holiday weekend.
Well, we weren’t deterred by the amount of people and ended up entering. It didn’t take long to be enchanted by the hanging ham legs, the fresh seafood, the colorful tapas and the mouth watering pastries. Plus, everybody was having a blast. We had to join in one way or another.
This is the only iron market that has survived till these days. It started as an open air market but coverage was commissioned in 1911 and finished in 1916.
Nowadays, it is full of entrepreneurs aiming to provide only the finest offerings to the public.
Here are some reasons why this place holds a quite large place in our hearts.
This stall is run by a family that had been in the Iberic ham business for more than 120 years. Expect to get high quality hams, sausages and cold meats from them. They sell bellota Iberic ham (where the pigs are feed only acorns) by the kilo (in a paper cone). In addition, they sell a wide assortment of bocadillos (sandwiches made with crusty bread, ham and other cold meats).
La Casa del Bacalao (Codfish House)
You cannot imagine how exhilarated I was about this. In Puerto Rico (and in other places in the Caribbean), codfish plays a big role on the cuisine. I have not tried a proper codfish dish in years. In this stall, they serve stewed codfish, pickled herring, smoked salmon, octopus, bonito (tuna) and other seafood over a toasted piece of bread. Each little tapa costs only one Euro. We ate here every time we visited the Mercado. My favorite tapa was the cod topped with honey. My husband preferred the herring with dill mustard.
La Hora del Vermut
This business specializes in vermut (or vermouth, a fortified wine flavored with various botanicals). This type of wine is very popular in Spain and people tend to drink it in a social environment.
But, to be honest, that is not the reason why this place impressed me. They also own an olive stall in the market. Now, this is not your typical stall where different variations of olives are sold by the kilo. In here, they combine the olives with tons of other ingredients. There are so many variations that you cannot keep count of all they have.
They prepare little skewers (banderillas) of olives with ham, cheese, octopus, sundried tomatoes, cocktails onions, red peppers, chilies, anchovies, quail eggs and more. In addition, you can get stuffed artichoke hearts, dates filled with blue cheese and olives marinated in different sauces.
Looks like La Hora del Vermut also owns the dried fruits and nuts stall in the market.
I can’t believe I forgot the name of my favorite stall in the market! All I know is that this place has a huge array of seafood and shells brought to the capital from the Cantabrian Sea. The signs hanging over the fridges full of colorful delicacies said everything was prepared Galician style.
This is another place we hit every time we stopped by the market. We tried to taste something different (or new) during each visit.
We had the boquerones (white anchovies in vinegar and oil).
… and the razor clams
… and Pulpo Gallego (Galician style octopus)
Oh! And how to miss the Gambas al Ajillo (Garlic Shimp). All was a pure delight!
Ostras Daniel Sorlut
This business specializes in high quality oysters. They also serve caviar and champagne.
El Senor Martin
This is another surprising stall (at least for me). The variety of crustaceans and fish is outstanding. In here, I saw things I have never seen before: carabineros (big prawns with red shells), cigalas (Dublin Bay or Norway prawns), rape (monkfish), percebes (barnacles) and others. In addition, they have available fresh octopus, sea urchin, tuna and razor clams.
If you want to taste something , they serve fried boquerones, squid rings, squid legs or prawns in a cone.
This is the cheese stall of the market. It offers the visitor national and international cheeses from big and artisan producers. Pick something from the different tapas available or create your own cheese plate. We asked the lady attending the stall to select for us a plate consisting of Spanish cheeses. You can ask for the same, chose cheeses from another country or mix cheeses from different countries.
Que Bonito es Panama
This big business with ample counter space serves all sorts of drinks and cold tapas. We were attracted to it because of the hot plates that are prepared at the moment. We ordered the grilled sepia (cuttlefish) and we cannot stop dreaming about the dish. It was perfect because of its simplicity!
To me, this was one of the most creative stalls in the Mercado. All their tapas are made with burrata, ricotta or mozzarella. They use milk from Spanish cows to create their products.
Alevin Cocina Creativa
This stall specializes in gulas, which for what I have read, are an imitation of angulas (baby eels). Turns out real angulas can be really expensive. That is why certain business recreate the product using white fish and the surimi technique (same technique used to obtain imitation crab).
The gulas are seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic or olive oil and served over bread or on a plate.
Horno San Onofre
This bakery is a sweet’s lover paradise. It is impossible to describe everything they offer but I will say they have a big selection of cookies, tarts, meringues, pastries, macarons, éclairs and traditional Spanish sweets. Honestly, I wouldn’t leave the Mercado without trying something from here!
Café del Art
This is the coffee shop of the market. They serve traditional drinks as well as innovative coffee related products. In the stall, you can also find pastries and the famous pasteis de nata.
La Flor de San Miguel
Here you can find fresh produce. Look out for the exotic fruits, juices and cup filled with fruit pieces.
Carro de Caviar
This little cart serves caviar or fish roe over bread (tapas style) or blinis.
This stall is a spin off a restaurant with a history of over 170 years (one of the oldest in Madrid). In here, you will find dishes native to Madrid and other places in Spain. Their selection is wide and varied. Therefore, it presents a good opportunity to taste Spain in one place.
The Sherry Corner
Offer an opportunity to taste different types of sherry. They served the tastings on a tray (easy to move around the market).
This establishment offers a selection or gourmet ingredients and ready-to-eat offerings.
In here you can find, pastas, truffles, capers, pancetta, oil, spices and parmesan cheese. If you are hungry, you can select between pizza, turnovers, bocadillos or soup. They can heat your selection if you want.
- The Mercado San Miguel is located at the Plaza San Miguel (next to the Plaza Mayor).
- What I have presented here is only a sample of the stalls located in the market. They also offer paella, yogurt, pizza, sushi and more.
- The market can get really busy during lunch hours. When I say busy, I mean packed. It is not even possible to walk around the halls or order without competing with 20 people. Go early or late to enjoy a more serene ambience.
- Keep one of your purchase receipts if you want to use the restroom free of charge.
- The eating area is very small. Prepare to eat while standing.
- The market is open 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m. Sundays to Wednesdays and 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. Thursdays to Sundays.
- Find more information about Mercado San Miguel here: http://www.mercadodesanmiguel.es/
What would you like to try at this market?
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