Dinner worked itself out pretty easily, tapas on Plaza Mayor. It’s hard to choose a place there because the square is surrounded by so many restaurants and most of them have the same menu. But we found one with some interesting alternatives – breaded fried wild mushrooms, croquettes and what is probably the finest tapa ever – deep fried Iberico bacon rashers.
From there it’s short hop to Mercado San Miguel where we topped off dinner with a couple of glasses of wine and two servings of Ponche, that wonderful liquor-soaked-teeth-rotting dessert from Segovia. If there was no other reason to return to Spain, Ponche would always provide one. We love the Mercado but it’s a very hard place to settle in for a meal - many people grab a table from the woefully inadequate supply and hold on to it forever. But we found a spot at the wine bar and even though it meant standing at least we could enjoy our wine and dessert. As we were getting ready to leave a group of young Scotsman walked by so I sent MLW after them and offered our spot at the bar along with some wine recommendations. We visited for a few minutes and left them to it.
We took a spin down Calle Espejo and stopped at our favorite African restaurant, Ell Mandela. We have such a tradition there and we wanted to just say “hi” and let them know we’d be in for dinner. Jose the owner told us that they were busy tomorrow, but he booted someone off of our table at 8:30 so at least we have an idea where our next big meal is coming from.
And then it was a long stroll up Arenal, through Puerta del Sol and then down the hill to see of the Metropol building was done with its renovation. It wasn’t so once again my hopes for a night shot were dashed. Night-time Madrid is very different than the last three places we’ve been over these past weeks - much grittier, noisier and completely lacking the softness (for lack of a better word) than Sevilla, or even Barcelona. Even though we may see old folks walking arm in arm as we do, the place is really given over to a lot of young people with nefarious intents. We even saw a big group of African men running out of Puerta with their blankets full of counterfeit goods swung over their shoulders.
Up our amazingly busy street and home for the evening, we’ll see what tomorrow brings.