date of visit: Tuesday 23 October 2013
When I lived in Leeds I studied Spanish quite intensively through the Instituto Cervantes. For a year I went to two classes a week with a couple of guys from work. I wouldn’t like to say how proficient or otherwise any of us became (my workmates used to go to the pub both before and after class). Bar one long weekend in Barcelona, it’s a skill I’ve had very little opportunity to put into practice.
And now, I find myself in Spain on a flying visit to attend DWCC – the Digital Wine Communications Conference. The conference is being held in Logroño in Spain’s north but I managed to squeeze in an overnight in Madrid before heading to wine country.
Madrid is a very pretty city with an incredibly compact feel to it (this may have been helped by the fact my hotel was very centrally located!). The buildings are mostly beautiful and incredibly clean but you also don’t have to look too hard to find signs of the economic troubles that grip much of Europe at the moment. Even on my first afternoon, when skies were grey and it was raining, it felt a comfortable and welcoming place.
One of the things I noticed immediately (as in, in the bus on the way from the airport) was the huge number of shops selling ham. They are just everywhere. And porcine products are clearly something the Spanish take extremely seriously, and in which they take enormous pride. So it was obvious that dinner should be pig related.
I cheated and asked the internet where to go and it sounded like El Jamonal on Calle Jacometrezo would be a good starting point. Forewarned that the staff didn’t speak English I knew that my rusty Spanish would get a work out.
As always, the problem was not in communicating what I wanted, which was pretty simple, but in understanding the flurry of Spanish returned to me. After a little hand waving, helped along by me looking very disappointed when I was told the boquerones was a very large portion, I soon had in front of me a plate of ham, a plate of boquerones and a beer. A result all round, I’d say.
Boquerones appear to be something of a Spanish thing – I’ve yet to see them anywhere else, bar the time in Adelaide I paid $7 for the tiniest portion of them. They are fresh anchovies in vinegar. I daresay this sounds unappealing but combined with parsley, garlic and a bit of oil they are absolutely delicious. A lovely combination of fish, mouth puckering acidity and garlic: perhaps not for those who don’t like strong flavours but one of my favourite things in the world to eat!
My dinner set me back just 11,50€ – a very welcome change to airline food!
Calle Jacometrezo, 7
phone: +34 695 81 59 56