The Yummiest Tortillas in Madrid

Craving a scrumptions tortilla? Good news! We’ve made a list of the yummiest tortillas in Madrid that are sure to hit the spot. Visit any of the following restaurants, and we’re sure you’ll leave a happy (and full) customer.

Yummiest Tortillas in Madrid - Madrid Food Tour

You can’t come to Spain without trying a tortilla, a deliciously simple dish, well-loved across the country. Those of you unfamiliar with Spanish cuisine may be picturing tacos, but a Spanish tortilla is a not a flatbread! You can’t use it to make a burrito (well, okay maybe you can, but it would get really messy).

The word tortilla means ‘little cake’ in Spanish, and is commonly referred to as a Spanish omelette in English. Traditionally tortillas are filled with sliced or cubed potatoes, which resembles a layer of cake.

Yummiest Tortillas in Madrid - Madrid Food Tour

A closer look at a traditional Spanish omelette.

Spaniards’ love of the tortilla can get intense, and has incited some online clashes. Diehard tortilla purists, known as Sin Cebollistas, insist that a true tortilla española (Spanish omelette) should only contain eggs and potatoes. Their opponents, the Cebollistas find this definition to be too narrow, and argue for the inclusion of onions in the dish.

Then there are the radical tortilla enthusiasts. They enjoy their tortillas with a variety of ingredients, including delicious Spanish peppers, tuna and eggplants. Though it should be noted they usually do not contain all these ingredients at once, because that would be just crazy!

Yummiest Tortillas in Madrid - Madrid Food Tour

These aren’t the type of tortillas you’ll find at these restaurants.

Hungry for a tortilla yet? Satisfy your cravings and stop by the following restaurants for the yummiest tortillas in Madrid.

Casa Dani

Though located in one of the poshest neighbourhoods of Madrid, Casa Dani is not at all pretentious, located in one of the city’s oldest markets, Mercado de la Paz. It’s tiny bar is always filled with both businessmen and blue collar workers. It’s a very popular spot largely because they serve authentic Spanish dishes at great prices.

Address: Calle de Ayala, 28, inside the Mercado de Paz

Bar Docamar

Bar Docamar is a family run business that has been in operation for over 50 years. Though they are primarily known for serving one of the best patatas bravas* in town, their tortillas are just as delicious! Enjoy your tortilla with a a bit of their their famous salsa brava drizzled on top.

*Patatas bravas is another very popular Spanish favorite. It consists of fried potato wedges served with salsa brava, a spicy paprika-based sauce.

Address: Calle Alcalá, 337

Bar Cerveriz

Yummiest Tortillas in Madrid - Bar  Cerveriz

Bar Cerveriz’s delicious tortilla

Compared to its neighboring establishment the polished Mercado de San Miguel, Bar Cerveriz is small and nondescript . But bigger is not always better, and looks are certainly deceiving in this case because the food served here is everything good Spanish cuisine should be. The man behind the magic is Carlos, the Galician owner and chef who lovingly prepares all dishes to perfection.

Dine on their signature dishes (including their tortilla) with us when we make a stop at this traditional restaurant on our Ultimate Spanish Cuisine Tour.

Address: Plaza San Miguel, 2

Txirimiri

Txirimiri (pronounced chi-ri-mi-ri) means ‘drizzling rain’ in Euskera, the native language in the Spanish province of Basque Country. Their menu reflects their heritage, offering modern Basque inspired cuisine like monkfish and prawn black lasaña served with coconut milk sauce. Opening their first restaurant in 2003, they have since opened at three more locations.

Be warned: Txirimiri is quite popular and can get very busy, however the wait is worth it!

Address: Calle Humilladero, 6 (La Latina Location)

Juana la Loca

This trendy tapas bar serves some truly creative dishes, so it isn’t surprising they’ve added a little twist to the classic tortilla. In addition to the two key ingredients, eggs and potatoes, their tortilla is filled with a wonderful confit of caramelized onions.

Address: Plaza Puerta de Moros, 4

Skylar

If you like your eggs runny, be sure to try the award winning tortilla at Skylar. They have yet to change their tortilla recipe since opening in 1970, and why would they? Their tortillas have won numerous contests and has been recognized by many as one of the best in the city.

Address: Espronceda 17, Madrid

Have you tried any of the tortillas at these restaurants? What did you think? Are we missing any other tasty tortillas? Tell us in the comments!

Photo Credits: lokate366 on Flickr and David Boté Estrada on Flickr

Top Madrid Blogs in English

Looking to experience Madrid through a local’s perspective? Check out our round-up of seven of the top Madrid blogs in English, and find out what your guidebook isn’t telling you.

Top Madrid Blogs English

Madrid is constantly growing and changing. If you want an authentic experience in the city, forget about your outdated guidebook or you’ll be missing out. A guidebook can’t tell you about upcoming local concerts and markets, or where to find the latest pop-up shop. Relying on a guidebook means not knowing about the new organic bakery everyone loves, or the temporary exhibit that opened a few weeks ago.

How can you find out about the great things happening in this bustling city? One word: blogs! Visit the 7 best English blogs on Madrid below, and get all the insider tips you’ll need to make the most of your time in Madrid.

A Bit of Everything

Naked Madrid

Though it’s less than a year old, Naked Madrid has quickly become one of the best ‘go to’ blogs for the latest events going on in the city. You’ll find articles on restaurant and bar recommendations, information on day trips and other fun suggestions. Articles can also be divided by the various neighbourhoods of Madrid, a great feature for those who are new to the city.

Culinary Delights

Spanish Sabores

I hope you’re not too hungry because one visit to Spanish Sabores will have your mouth watering. Written by Lauren, an American expat in Madrid (and the founder of Madrid Food Tour!), Spanish Sabores features restaurants reviews from all over the city. If you’re looking for a delicious meal make sure to check out her recommendations, or even better, join us on one of our tours.

Best English Blogs about Madrid

Madrid Chow

Hop on over to Madrid Chow to learn more about Spanish cuisine culture. There, James explains some important things all Madrid visitors should know: how to order a tapas, what a menu del día is (and where to find one!) and how to tip in Madrid. After you’ve completed your reading, put it into practice and head over to one of James’ recommended establishments. James is also a partner with Madrid Food Tour and Devour Barcelona Food Tours and as an expert in Spanish history, he designed our ever popular Tapas, Taverns and History Tour!

Budget Friendly Options

Cheap in Madrid

A great resource for those on a budget, Cheap in Madrid provides articles on how to have fun in the city without breaking the bank. Topics covered include how to get into Madrid museums for free, free things to do during the holidays and information on the various markets in Madrid. Visiting Madrid during a weekend? Check out Cheap in Madrid’s weekend guide, a list of all the cool (and inexpensive) things happening in Madrid.

The Spanish Perspective

My Little Madrid

Written by a Madrid native, My Little Madrid is a wonderful resource for finding ways to enjoy the city besides eating your way through it. (Not that there is anything wrong with that!) While there are articles on restaurants, My Little Madrid offers much more than that. Peruse through her articles to learn about the best vintage shops, where to paint your own tableware and how to keep fit in Madrid.

Best English Blogs about Madrid

Madrid y Yo

Madrid y Yo translated means Madrid and I, which perfectly captures the aura of this bilingual blog. The articles read like a letter from a friend who has discovered some place wonderful, and can’t wait to share it with you. Madrid y Yo offers not only noteworthy recommendations, but also shares the stories of the people behind these unique finds .

The Expat Experience

¡Vaya Madrid!

Founded by Anna Bitanga in 2012, ¡Vaya Madrid! focuses on writing articles about the experiences and observances of foreigners in Madrid. This blog is aimed at foreigners who want to get off the sidelines, and immerse themselves in the Spanish way of life. Interjected between articles on topics like culture and style, you’ll find gorgeous photo essays depicting this wonderful city.

Do you have any insider tips about Madrid? Did we miss any awesome Madrid blogs in English? Tell us in the comments!

Photo Credit: Alejandro Pinto on Flickr and Miguel Diaz on Flickr

Wacky Spanish Christmas Traditions You Should Know

Many countries have their own special Christmas customs, and Spain is no exception. Perhaps you already know about the Three Kings that bring children presents or the special sweets eaten this time of year. However, there are a few wacky Spanish Christmas traditions that aren’t so well known. Read on to find out what they are!

Wacky Spanish Christmas Traditions

Santa Claus is Not Coming to Town

No, instead another strange man is on his way. Spanish children believe the Three Kings will bring their presents on the 6th of January, but some parts of Spain have an extra gift-giving figure that visits on Christmas Eve.

In Galicia, a north western province in Spain, a mythical coal miner named El Apalpador feels children’s bellies to see if they’ve been eating well. Children deemed undernourished are given small, yummy treats, such as chestnuts. He may also leave a little present behind instead of food.

Olentzero brings the gifts on Christmas Eve in the Spanish provinces of Navarre and Basque Country. He is often depicted as being an overweight peasant, wearing farmer’s clothing and smoking a pipe. He leaves gifts for children, and only asks for some food and alcohol in return.

Wacky Spanish Christmas Traditions: Olentzero

Children in Basque Country eagerly await Olentzero who brings them gifts on the 24th of December.

It’s the Most Wonderful-ly Fun Time of the Year

In many parts of Spain, children participate in El Aguinaldo. On Christmas day, children visit their neighbours or relatives and sing Christmas carols. In exchange for their beautiful songs, they are given sweet treats or a little bit of money.

Spain’s version of April Fools Day falls on the 28th of December, and is called El Día de los Inocentes (the Day of the Innocents). Pranks are generally harmless; the most popular prank is to stick a drawing of a stick figure on someone’s back.

In the beachside city of Cádiz, Spanish children take part in El Arrastre (The Drag) on the 5th of January, the day before the Three Kings are due to stop by. Children take empty cans and string them along a piece of rope. They then drag the cans around, making as much noise as possible. This custom is meant to call the attention of the Three Kings, so that they remember to leave the children presents that night.

Rockin’ Around the Christmas Log

In the Spanish east coast province of Catalonia, children receive presents from a pooping log. Known as Tió de Nadal, or Christmas Log, this smiling figure becomes part of the family during the holiday season.

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, Catalonian families feed Tió de Nadal little treats every day, and cover him with a blanket each night to keep him warm. On Christmas Eve, children beat Tió de Nadal with sticks to help him poop out presents. Instead of individual presents, he usually poops out small treats, like nuts and candies, that are meant to be shared by everyone.

Wacky Spanish Christmas Traditions: Tio Nadal

Various Tio Nadals on display at a Christmas Market.

Catalonia is the birthplace of another pooping Christmas character, El Caganer or The Crapper. He is often shown as a peasant, squatting down over a large pile of poop. El Caganer is usually placed in the Belen, an elaborate Nativity scene that most Spanish households display.

There are various explanations for his inclusion in the otherwise holy scene, but the most widely accepted reason is simply that it’s funny. In modern times, the figure can be made to look like politicians, famous actors or other pop culture icons.

Wacky Spanish Christmas Traditions: El Caganer

Contemporary Caganers include political figures, popular characters and professional athletes.

Which wacky Spanish Christmas traditions are the weirdest to you? Do you have any strange Christmas customs in your country?

Photo Credits: Valerie Hinojosa on Flickr, Igotz Ziarreta on Flickr, OK Apartment on Flickr

A Guide to Ordering Coffee in Spain

Most people are particular about how they enjoy their coffee, but ordering coffee in Spain can be difficult without knowing the local lingo. Read this guide on how to order coffee in Spain and get the cup of coffee that’s right for you.

Ordering Coffee in Spain

At some point during your time in Spain you will want to order a cup of coffee. Simply asking for un café (a coffee) won’t cut it, you must be more specific.

The first thing to know is that coffee in Spain is usually prepared using the espresso brewing method. This method forces extremely hot, pressurized water through finely ground coffee beans. This results in a stronger flavour in a smaller amount of coffee. A cup of coffee brewed in this manner is often referred to as espresso.

Coffee orders in Spain involve taking a cup of espresso and then adding as much (or as little) milk as you prefer. The barista won’t add any sugar, instead you will receive packets of sugar to add to your coffee yourself.

Coffees Served with Little or No Milk

Café Solo
A café solo is a small cup of strong, black espresso. Order this if you need a some energy during a fun day of sightseeing around Madrid.

Ordering Coffee in Spain: A cafe solo

Café Americano
If the intensity of a café solo is a bit much, try a café americano. This coffee contains the same amount of caffeine as a café solo but with more water, resulting in a milder flavour.

Café Cortado
A café cortado is small cup of espresso with just a tiny touch of milk. Other regions in Spain may refer to this drink as café manchado which means stained coffee– but sometimes a manchado will mean a glass of milk stained with coffee, so be sure to specify!

Café con Hielo
This summer time favourite is literally coffee with ice. The barista will give you a cup of black espresso, and another cup containing ice cubes. Pour your coffee over the ice, and enjoy.

Carajillo
The coffee order doesn’t have a drop of milk, instead it has alcohol! A carajillo is coffee served by taking a cup of espresso and adding rum, whisky or brandy.

Coffees Served with a Lot of Milk

Café con Leche
A café con leche is coffee served with equal parts espresso and milk. Sometimes when you order this, the waiter may ask if you want hot or cold milk. If you’re in a bit of a hurry and can’t wait for the steamed milk to cool, ask for cold milk (leche fría o leche del tiempo).

coffee_cafe_con_leche

Leche Manchada
This drink, which means stained milk, is made by taking a cup of steamed milk and adding a drop of espresso.

Café Bombon
A café bombon is coffee made from espresso and sweetened condensed milk. Those of you with a sweet tooth must try it, you won’t be disappointed. If you prefer to eat your sweets, make sure to check out the 7 best pastry shops in Madrid.

Decaffeinated Coffees

Fresh decaffeinated coffee isn’t very popular in Spain, and many cafes may only have it in instant form. If you order a café descafeinado de sobre, you will be served a cup of hot milk and given a packet of instant decaffeinated coffee.

If you’re lucky, the cafe may have machine brewed decaffeinated coffee or descafeinado de maquina. If so, decide how you would like your coffee served and then clarify that you’d like it made with decaffeinated coffee.

For example, if you want a decaffeinated café americano, simply say: “Querría un café americano descafeinado.”

Enjoy Coffee the Spanish Way

Now that you’ve got ordering coffee in Spain down, the last thing to note is that most Spaniards do not take their coffees ‘to go’. Instead they sit down to enjoy their drinks with friends or family. Do as the Spaniards do, drink your coffee in a beautiful public square or a quaint cafe, and take a short respite from exploring the city.

How do you like your coffee served?

Photo Credits: 55Laney69 on Flickr, Michelle Tribe on Flickr and Edsel Little on Flickr. 

My Madrid – Estrella of Estrella Explores

Welcome back to My Madrid, a series here on the Madrid Food Tour blog in which bloggers from Madrid and all around Spain tell us a little bit about what Madrid means to them. We love hearing about other people’s Madrid favorites, and who better to ask than a bunch of adventurous bloggers?

Today’s post comes from Estrella, a twentysomething Canadian who moved in Madrid in 2012. Since then she has learned some of the language, enjoyed most of the food and fell in love with a Spaniard. Estrella is also the current blogging intern here at Madrid Food Tour!

You can read more about her adventures on her blog Estrella Explores, and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

MM_Estrella

Tell us about your history with Madrid.

I first came to Madrid in 2007 while holidaying in Europe. Though I only stayed in Madrid for a few days, I had a great time and knew I wanted to come back at some point. Four years later I found an opportunity to teach English with the Spanish Ministry of Education and jumped at the chance. Now, Madrid is my second home and I can’t imagine living anywhere else for the foreseeable future.

What was your first impression of Madrid?

When I first visited in 2007, I remember commenting on the fact that the city was so walkable. Coming from a suburb just outside Toronto, I was used to having to drive to get anywhere. When the weather is nice, I still love taking a stroll through the different neighborhoods in the centre and discovering new shops or cafés.

One thing you wouldn’t leave Madrid without doing?

I wouldn’t leave Madrid without visiting the Sorolla Museum again. Sorolla is my favorite Spanish painter, and this museum was once his residence and studio. It’s quite exciting to know that you are walking around the same rooms as this great painter once did. I would probably also do all the touristy things, like row a boat in Retiro and have a cafe con leche in Plaza Mayor.

MM_Estrella_Sorolla

Do you have a favorite Madrid experience?

I’m very family oriented, so being away from my entire family can be difficult at times. Luckily, I’ve been welcomed with open arms into my boyfriend’s family, who invite me to various family get togethers like birthday parties and Sunday lunches. My favorite experience in Madrid is being a part of this wonderful Spanish family and immersing myself into Spanish culture through them.

Favorite meal in Madrid?

Prior to moving to Madrid, I rarely ate garbanzo beans. Now, I eat them all the time. I especially love them when they’re in the traditional Madrileño dish, cocido. I don’t really like eggs, but since living here I’ve learned to enjoy a good tortilla española and sometimes find myself craving one.

What would be your ideal night out in Madrid?

It would begin with a delicious dinner, preferably on a patio in the summertime. After dinner, we would have some drinks in the vibrant neighborhood of Malasaña where I used to live. The last stop, energy permitting, would be a late night snack of churros con chocolate before heading home.

What about your favorite day trip from Madrid?

My favorite day trip from Madrid is to picturesque Cuenca. It isn’t as popular as other day trips from Madrid, so it’s not as overrun with tourists. Cuenca is home to the Hanging Houses, 15th century homes built on the rock above the Huecar River. The site of these homes takes my breathe away and is well worth a trip to the city.

Hanging Houses Cuenca

Thank you so much Estrella! We can’t wait to see more of your insider tips and articles on the Madrid Food Tour blog!

Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth: 5 Best Bakeries in Madrid

When you think of Spanish cuisine, what comes to mind? Do you think of bread, cookies or ensaimadas? If not, you’re missing out. Madrid is home to many bakeries serving deliciously indulgent goodies. If you haven’t already, you must visit the 5 Best Bakeries in Madrid and find out what you’re missing!

Best bakeries in Madrid

1. Pastelería La Mallorquina

The public hasn’t been able to get enough of the baked goods at La Mallorquina since first opening in 1894. A favorite of Spaniards and tourists alike, this bakery is known for its napolitana de chocolate, a chocolate filled pastry sure to satisfy any sweet tooth. It also offers a wide selection of seasonal Spanish pastries, and is always on the list of best bakeries in Madrid for holiday specialties like turrón and mazapan. If you´re on a tight sightseeing schedule, enjoy your pastries by the bar or take them to go. For a more leisurely experience, head upstairs to the salon and savor every bite of your delicious treat.

Visit La Mallorquina at Plaza de la Puerta del Sol, 8

best pastries in Madrid

The tempting window display at La Mallorquina

2. Formentor

Situated in the ritzy Salamanca neighbourhood of Madrid, Formentor is known across the city for its appetizing ensaimadas. These spiral shaped pastries originated in the Balearic Islands, but have become a Madrid favourite thanks in part to this bakery. Formentor is also famous for its Roscon de Reyes, a sweet Spanish bread served at Christmastime. During the holidays, it’s not uncommon to see patrons lined up around the block, waiting to get their sweet fill.

Visit Formentor at Calle del General Díaz Porlier, 7

best bakeries in madrid

Yummy Formentor ensaimadas

3. El Riojano

Opened by a former pastry chef to the Spanish royal family, El Riojano is one of the oldest bakeries in Madrid. All of the cakes, cookies and pastries served here are baked on-site daily. When you find yourself sitting at a table in their salón de té, don’t forget to order a few pastas de consejo, small lemon flavored cookies that were once served to King Alfonso XIII. Learn more about El Riojano on our Ultimate Spanish Cuisine Tour when we make a stop at this 19th century establishment.

Visit El Riojano at Calle Mayor, 10

best chocolate in madrid

Trying the famous chocolate on our Ultimate Spanish Cuisine Tour!

4. Panic

Panic opened its doors just 12 months ago and has already gained quite the following. This bakery puts an emphasis on organic, homemade breads which are made by hand at the shop. While waiting to place your order, take a moment to watch these master bakers in action. Through a large class window you can gaze into the kitchen, where they are hard at work mixing, proofing, and sorting the fresh baked breads.

Visit Panic at Calle de Conde Duque, 13

best bread in Madrid

The homemade bread at Panic is the city’s best

5. Fonty

Fonty is the place to go for French inspired pastries in Madrid. Founder, and head pâtissiere, Marie Valdez trained at the illustrious L’Ecole Ferrandi before bringing her creativity and vast talent to the Spanish capital. When you stop by her beautiful bakery make sure to try the tartaleta de limón, a sweet and tangy lemon meringue pie served year round. Located a short walk away from Madrid’s Retiro Park, it’s the perfect place to reenergize after a stroll through the beautiful gardens.

Visit Fonty at Calle Castelló, 12

best bakeries in madrid

Our favorite lemon pie in all of Madrid

What’s your favorite buy at a Spanish bakery? 

Photo Credits: Nikolas Moya on Flickr

Madrid at Christmas

Spending Christmas in Madrid and not sure what to do? We’ve got you covered with our Madrid Christmas guide!

MADRID at christmas

1. Shop til you drop (then drink hot chocolate)

Madrid is a shopper’s paradise come December and everyone knows it. Try shopping during the week to avoid the enormous crowds that take over the city center on weekends, or simply go with the flow and enjoy the Christmas spirit in the air!

When you’ve tired of the shops head straight for El Riojano, one of the city’s best and oldest pastry shops and our all time favorite for hot chocolate in Madrid!

best chocolate in madrid

The famous chocolate from El Riojano

2. Go see the Christmas lights (then eat some churros)

Madrid’s Christmas lights are a lot of fun to see and taking an evening stroll through the main streets is the best way to get into the Christmas spirit. When you’ve seen enough, definitely head back to the Puerta del Sol area after for piping hot churros at San Gines. It’s a Christmas tradition you simply have to take part in!

christmas lights in madrid

Shopping for Christmas gifts in Madrid

3. Check out the Christmas markets (and buy a hat)!

Madrid has a variety of Christmas markets that pop up throughout the month, and if you check out the traditional ones in the Plaza Mayor area you’ll see that many booths are selling funky hats and wigs. This bizarre Madrid Christmas tradition may not make much sense, but wearing a hat is always fun!

madrid at christmas

Christmas market at Jacinto Benavente Square

4. Hop a train and visit a village (then eat your way around town!)

As much as we adore the big city, there’s something special about the nearby towns and villages around the holidays. Taking a day trip from Madrid is always a good way to spend the day, and when there’s food involved it’s even better!

Marzipan in Madrid

Sweet homemade marzipan typical of Toledo, Spain

5. Eat like a king (or a queen!)

Madrid has excellent food all year round (we were just showered with new Michelin stars!), but around the holidays things get even better! Pastry shops turn out seasonal treats, and restaurants offer special holiday menus filled with extra special delights.

best pastry shops in Madrid

Have you visited Madrid at Christmas? What was your favorite thing to see?

Don’t forget to check out our food tours as the perfect Christmas gift or activity. We’d love to eat our way around with you!

5 Spanish Food Idioms and How to Use Them

Do you know why you should hurry up if you’re told they’ll give you the grapes? Or why telling someone to go fry asparagus is not a cooking suggestion?  Read this list of 5 Spanish Food Idioms to find out!

Spanish Food Idioms

In Spanish culture, food plays a starring role both on the table and in the language. There are countless idioms involving food in the Spanish language. Spanish food idioms can be used to describe a situation, to compliment or insult, and even to express shock. Below are 5 Spanish food idioms and how to use them.

Darte las uvas

grapes

Literally it means give you the grapes and comes from the beloved Spanish New Year’s Eve tradition of eating 12 grapes at midnight. Darte las uvas is used to hurry someone along if he is late or if she is taking too long to complete a task. Use this expression with friends who are taking too long to admire Picasso pieces at the Reina Sofia.

¡Ostras!

Oysters

In English we don’t yell Oysters! when we are caught off guard, but its Spanish translation is perfectly acceptable in Spain. This expression is used when one feels shocked or surprised. Feel free to use ¡Ostras! while you’re looking at a restaurant menu in Spain and realize that a glass of exquisite Spanish wine costs less than $5!

Ser pan comido

loaf of bread

Literally translated it means to be eaten bread. Ser pan comido is an idiom used to describe a task that is very easy to complete or do. This expression can be used to describe how difficult it is to get lost along the winding streets of old Madrid.

¡Vete a freír a espárragos!

asparagus

Literally translated to go fry asparagus! This imperative isn’t a cooking suggestion. Spaniards use it to tell someone to go away because they are being very annoying. Use ¡Vete a freír a espárragos! when your travel companion has convinced themselves they would make a great flamenco dancer and are practicing in your hotel room.

No todo el monte es orégano

oregano

This expressions translates into not every hill is oregano and comes from the rural custom of going up a hill to pick herbs. Not every plant picked is an herb, some are weeds or other non-edible plants. No todo el monte es orégano is a reality check; sometimes things are not always as great as you expect them to be. Spanish cuisine is scrumptious, but not every restaurant in Madrid lives up to the standard. Use this expression if you ever find yourself served a subpar meal.

To minimize the chances of having a bad meal in Madrid, join us on one of our food experiences such as the Ultimate Spanish Cuisine Tour.

What is the weirdest idiom you’ve ever heard?

Photo Credits: Bernal Saborio on Flickr, Roberto Verzo on Flickr, Elliot on Flickrjeffreyw on FlickrRebecca Siegel on Flickr and Roman Plessl on Flickr

30 Ideas for Awesome Christmas Gifts from Madrid

As Christmas draws closer the shopping season springs to life in the Spanish capital, and Madrid is home to its fair share of great Spanish gifts. Here are our top picks for the best Christmas gifts from Madrid, perfect for taking home to friends and family!

 

Christmas gifts from Madrid

FOOD & DRINK

Did you expect any less from us? We’ve already compiled a great list of foodie souvenirs from Madrid, but for quick reference here are some of our favorite food gifts from Madrid!

 

gifts from Madrid

1. Violet candies from La Violeta

2. Turrón from Casa Mira or Turrons Vicens

3. Cava from La Cava de la Villa

4. Spices and teas from Spicy Yuli

5. Sweet wine from El Anciano Rey de los Vinos

6. Embutidos (think jamón, chorizo, and all that is pork) from Ferpal

7. A bottle of vermouth from La Hora del Vermut (try Casa Mariol if they have it!)

8. Rabitos Royales (chocolate covered figs) from Mantequería A Cabello

9. Extra Virgin Olive Oil and other gourmet products from Dónde Sanchez

 

LEATHER GOODS

Shoes, purses, briefcases, gloves…

Spain is all about leather so here are some great places to buy leather goods in Madrid.

 

where to buy leather in Madrid

10. Taller Puntera for handmade leather goods in Madrid

11. Aplauso shoe stores for Made in Spain leather shoes

12. Guantes Luque for exquisite handmade Spanish gloves

 

SPANISH CERAMICS

Yes, ceramics are a quintessential gift from Spain but that’s because they’re beautiful! Madrid is quite close to Talavera de la Reina, one of the country’s most important towns for ceramic goods. You can find ceramics at select shops in the city, here are three of our recommendations.

 

where to buy ceramics in Madrid

13. For incredible ceramic art in a shop that should be a museum, check out Antigua Casa Talavera

14. For ceramic souvenirs from all over Spain at great prices try San Miguel Artensania

15. For a trip back in time visit Amparo at her tiny ceramics shop La Cacharrería on Calle Echegaray– she’s been there since she was a child and her parents owned it since the 1940s!

SPANISH COOKWARE

Once you’ve sampled all the delicious food Spain has to offer (hop on one of our Madrid food tours if you don’t know what we’re talking about!), you need to be able to replicate these delicious dishes in your own kitchen. Here are some shops that have you covered.

 

paella pan in Madrid

Pick up a pan for a Christmas paella!

16. Mini Cooking: All the supplies you need, and in mini form too!

17. Alambique: One of Madrid’s most famous cooking shops, you’ll find paella pans, mortar and pestles and much more!

 

SPANISH COOKBOOKS

There’s no point in having great Spanish cookware without the Spanish cookbooks! Here are our favorite Spanish cookbooks, which you can easily purchase on Amazon (making a little more room in your suitcase!).

 

best Spanish cook books

18. Delicioso! The Regional Cooking of Spain

19. 1080 Recipes

20. La Cocina de Mama: The Great Home Cooking of Spain

21. The Food of Spain

 

Tip: You can also pick up fun Spanish cookbooks at the La Central bookshop and café in the center of Madrid.

MADE IN SPAIN

Madrid is filled with markets and boutiques selling handmade goods, and what a better way to support the Spanish economy than by buying something local! These gifts from Madrid are sure to be unique, so no worries about having to return them.

 

christmas markets in madrid

22. Casa Hernanz: For custom fitted espadrilles (this place supposedly invented the espadrille!).

23. Codo 3: Hidden away on the quaint Calle Codo (steps away from the Plaza Mayor) you find a lovely jewelry shop that specializes in Spanish made jewelry.

24. El Rastro Flea Market: The main drag is filled with souvenirs but on the side streets you can find unique art, clothes and antique items.

25. Mercado de Motores: This funky market is help a couple times a month at Madrid’s railway museum. You’ll find everything from customized baby booties to a leather wine sack!

26. Mercado Central de Diseño: This cool market only happens every few months, but when it’s in town it’s definitely worth a visit for the selection of handmade art, clothing, shoes, and accessories.

27. The Hovse: 2014′s most famous Madrid pop up market is called The Hovse. It features over 80 designers so you’ll be ensured a unique gift.

FLAMENCO GEAR

While most people won’t be in the market for a €300+ flamenco dress, flamenco accessories and knock off gowns make great gifts for future Halloween costumes and kids’ dress-up ensembles. My niece adored her 9€ flamenco dress (so much that on my last trip home I bought her a 100€ “big girl’s” version. You can also find castanets, Spanish fans, flamenco aprons and flamenco music, and if you are staying in Madrid for the holidays the city is home to some of the best live flamenco shows in the world!

 

flamenco gifts in madrid

28. Grab cheap flamenco souvenirs at Objetos de Arte Toledano on Paseo de Prado

29. For quality flamenco gear (still starting at very low prices) check out Disfraces Maty

30. Check out the flamenco show at Cardamomo or Cafetín la Quimera, and the flamenco jazz at Off de la Latina.

 

Are we missing anything?! What are your favorite Christmas gifts from Madrid? And if you could get only one item on the list, what would it be?

6 Truly Upsetting Crimes Against Spanish Food

They may sound innocent enough to uninitiated ears, but these pseudo Spanish dishes have been twisted to the point of no return, resulting in a cringeworthy and totally bizarre culinary concoction that probably tastes pretty funky too.

bad Spanish foods

As an expat in Spain myself, I don’t mind a little culinary license when it comes to a dish (I slather the alioli on my calamari sandwiches and adore tapas with a twist when done with finesse) but these renditions of my beloved Spanish cuisine have simply gone too far.

The jury is in and these Spanish food crimes are guilty– no contest!

1. The paella sandwich

Paella purists are always up in arms about the atrocities that pass for paella around the world, but the sandwich version of Valencia’s signature dish was truly the final straw. We heard that Valencia held a day of mourning the day that UK supermarket Tesco unleashed this beast– called one of the world’s worst sandwiches on The Daily Edge.

paella sandwich

2. Calamari pizza

Okay, I’ll admit– it actually sounds kind of fantastic. But that doesn’t make it right! Pizza is delicious, calamari is delicious, why mix the two? Spanish food is renowned for its simplicity, and this is definitely far too complicated.

calamari pizza

3. Reduced carb sangria

What’s the point?! Seriously– what is the point? Any drink that calls for Crystal Light should be banned anyway. Not much more to say about it.

bad sangria

4. Whipped cream and oreo montadito

Anyone who’s ever lived in Spain can tell you about the simple pleasure of a good montadito– a miniature sandwich stuffed with Spanish ingredients– cheese, ham, anchovies, the list goes on and on. And while Spaniards are known for their sweet tooth (with traditional snacks that include the chocolate bar sandwich), the whipped cream and Oreo sandwich offered at the US locations of the popular Spanish fast food chain 100 Montaditos has gone a step too far.

oreo sandwich

5. Any gazpacho that looks like this

Gazpacho in Spain is generally served in a glass and definitely not chunky. And it most certainly does not include a mound of sour cream on top. This plate below looks like a cross between a Bloody Mary, Mexican style salsa and a Middle Eastern salad. No offense to the chef, but let’s just keep the word gazpacho out of things, okay?

Bad gazpacho

6. This freakish paella

There are enough crimes committed against paella to create a whole other post– but for now, I’ll leave you with this beauty. It seems that this is a Basque creation (for what purpose I can only imagine) and between the hard boiled egg mice with M&M ears and the unidentifiable tails I would really love to meet the crazy people at this party. Any Basques reading? What do the hard boiled egg letters say?

bad paella

Have you ever witnessed a Spanish food crime? Share it with us in the comments! Luckily there are no signs of crime on any of our food tours, so sign up for the real deal!

Photo credits: Cameron Nordholm on Flickr CC, Debbie Does DiningMichael Dunn on Flickr CC, The World Through Athen on Flickr CC, Hungry Dudes on Flickr CC, sangutxujai on Flickr CC