I had not heard of the Mercado San Miguel Food Market in Madrid until the Hotel receptionist Davide told me about it, he not knowing of my interest in food. Compared to the TimeOut Market in Lisbon, the Madrid market is smaller, has less seating, but its food is more beautifully presented.
In summary, the TimeOut Market in Lisbon has standard branding of its 25 restaurants, a few bars, some florists, and a merchandise shop, and uses top Lisbon chefs to attract customers to the Market, locals as well as tourists. It stays open until midnight and a number of aspects are standardised, with a central plate clearing and table cleaning service shared for all the restaurant tables, and all restaurants using the same tray and TimeOut tray paper ‘cloth’. Each stall highlights its short menu on its stand. It has a venue at least twice the size of the Mercado de San Miguel, and far more tables and seating in the centre of the venue. I did not see the timers calling clients when the dish is prepared as I did in Lisbon, most of the dishes being pre-prepared at the San Miguel Market.
The Mercado de San Miguel website seems at first to be very video-driven, but then one gets the hang of it. In its introduction it explains that the Market is located in the original fruit and vegetable wholesale market of Madrid, established over 100 years ago. It is described in the website as one of the ‘world’s main gastronomic markets’. I am not sure where this accolade derives from. It adds that visitors can experience the ‘essence and most significant flavors of every corner of Spain’, including Galician fish and shellfish, Mediterranean rice dishes, and cheeses from Castile, Asturias, and the Basque country. The Market is described as being committed to ‘high quality tapas and pub fare’.
# Mozheart, a stand with Tapas made with mozzarella as its base, as rolls, on bread, looking like cream in some instances, definitely an attraction at the Market. I had a tapa of the mozzarella rolled with rocket, and topped with tomato jam and sesame seeds, attractive and good to eat too, except there is no cutlery, everything is eaten by hand. They use 30 styles of Fior di Latte mozzarella in the preparation of their dishes, including Bocconcino, nodino, rolls, stracciatella, and burrata. Some of the mozzarella cheeses are imported from Bari in Italy.
# El Señor Martin was my favourite in appearance, cleverly displaying in cone holders their fried shrimps, calamari, squid heads, and anchovies. They offer other fish varieties too, including prawns, hake, wild turbot, monkfish, barnacles, mussels, and clams.
# Daniel Sorlut, offering four types of oyster, including a green oyster, and a Spéciale Daniel Sorlut oyster, as well as caviar.
# Pinkleton & Wine, offering more than 200 wines and champagnes by the glass. Sherry has recently been added to their wine menu.
# Tacos, Margaritas Y Punto, a concept developed by Chef Roberto Ruiz, the first Michelin Star in Europe awarded to Punto MX restaurant in serving Mexican Food. Tacos are filled with Iberian pork, guacamole, and other delicacies.
# Amaiketako as a word means ‘the one at 11h00’, explains the website, a mid-morning snack, but also being served as a starter. I think that it was from this stand that I had a tomato and avocado sandwich, sprinkled with sesame seeds, but it was difficult to eat, the toppings falling off the sandwich as I bit into it.
# Felixia offers fruit to buy to take away, as well as fruit kebabs, salads, juices, and more.
# La Casa Del Bacalao, a stand offering Norwegian Salmon, Danish herring, tinned Galician seafood, anchovies, and dishes offered include octopus, smoked salmon, and cod foie gras!
# John Barrita Market, offering quality breads with fillings such as pastrami, steak tartare, hot dogs, mixed Spring salad, and more.
# Brochetas, offers kebabs of unique combinations and ingredients, for example shrimp and spring onion, zucchini and quail egg, and artichoke, beef, chicken, and octopus.
# El 19 de San Miguel, offering the finest Spanish wines. Wine tastings led by Sommelier Maria José Huertas are hosted regularly.
# Raza Nostra, working only with finest Angus and Wagyu beef, and they serve steaks, hamburgers, kebabs, oxtail, tripe, and more.
#. Crab, crab, crab, a stand offering king crab.
#. MAS Gourmets/Carracci/ Ibéricos, offer meat products made from their own pasture-raised Iberian pigs. They also offer charcuterie and chorizo,
#. Arzábal Croquetería sells croquets wit Iberian ham, cheeses, porcini mushrooms, and cod.
#. Paella by Rodrigo de la Calle, owned by the Chef of a one Michelin star restaurant, makes paella and other rice-based dishes using traditional recipes but adding his own touch. I saw a black rice paella at his stall, the recipe being uniquely his. He is a student of the late great Chef Joël Robuchon.
#. I am sorry that I missed the stand Rocambolesc of Chef Jordi Roca, the Pastry Chef of Celler de Can Roca, a recent number one in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants List. His stall offers natural and artisanal ice creams, and his stand is described as a ‘monument to desserts’. It seems that I did photograph some of its wares, and was particularly attracted to its Churros.
#. Ahumados Domínguez specialises in smoked salmon, smoking it, using traditional methods and a secret smoking method, offering fifteen dishes of salmon in bagels, burgers, tartare, and this beautiful ceviche tapa.
#. Ronda sells traditional Italian pizza, signaling quality in its products, an international brand.
#. Café Negro offers excellent coffees made by professional baristas, and slices of cake, including carrot and marble cake.
On my second visit to the Market on the same day, I found a seat and shared my section of the table with Australians Katherine and Geoff, and meeting two young Italians sharing with us too, one of my lovely endings to the day. Food lovers visiting Madrid should not miss this unique food and beverage collaboration in the city.
Mercado de San Miguel, off Calle Mayor, Madrid, Spain. Tel +34 915 42 49 36 www.mercadodesanmiguel.es Twitter: @MercSanMiguel Instagram: @mercadosanmiguel
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Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein Instagram: @Chrissy_Ulmenstein