It’s week 4 of the fact-stranger-than-fiction reality series, “Livin’ la Vida Lockdown: Madrid”.
While I really miss just the simple pleasures of eating tapas and drinking vino after work with friends — and I can’t believe I actually miss the noisy Madrid streets — I’ve been making the most of this downtime as a kind of soul vacation.
While my day job as a journalist requires me to read the news non-stop, I’ve thankfully been able to bookmark some much-needed time to get back to old good habits and cultivate new ones. I’ve started to meditate again, read the books on my growing bedside pile, cooked Julia Child’s beef bourguignon for the first time, baked banana bread, dusted off my mosaic sets and started gluing the tesserae, even ordered seeds and soil to start a vegetable garden in my balcony:
I had time to make my Lonely Planet deadlines (you can read some of my Lonely Planet restaurant reviews here and here for when Madrid opens up again).
So as I was cleaning out my photo inbox, I realized that there were some amazing restaurant photographs taken by my favorite “Foodografa” Jane Mitchell that didn’t get published, as well as some videos I took that hadn’t been shared either. Those visual tidbits came with some great food memories, so I wanted to share them here in a mini curated gastro- gallery:
The 16th century cellar under the world’s oldest restaurant:
So these photos were taken in the cellar of El Sobrino de Botín, listed by the Guinness World Records as the oldest restaurant in the world, where the likes of Hemingway and Francisco Goya frequented. This was for my Lonely Planet article about Madrid’s historic “centenarios” or restaurants, taverns and bars that are over a hundred years old. Just check out the dust on those wine bottles dating back to the 16th century!
And you thought you had a big oven…
This has become one of my favourite show pieces while giving informal tours to visiting friends in Madrid. It’s a majestic wood fire oven at the heart of Posada de la Villa that is still serving up the house specialty of roast lamb after more than 3 centuries!
The more things change, the more these restaurants stay the same:
More incredible photos showing some of Madrid’s oldest restaurants frozen in time. Some of the gilded fixtures and furniture remain after over a century! These were taken at Lhardy, Taberna de Antonio Sánchez and Casa Alberto.
Melting with you…
These were taken in one of my favourite Madrid restaurants that likes to experiment with fresh seafood and classic Spanish dishes, Fismuler.
Choose your own gastro adventure
Another great dinner day with friends — these were taken in Basque restaurant Restaurante Arce where Chef Iñaki goes from table to table to ask every customer, “Hunger, craving or pleasure?” and thereafter creates a bespoke dinner according to your culinary wishes.
Fire in the belly
Finally, these saliva-inducing shots were taken at one of my top Madrid restaurants Sala de Despiece on Calle Ponzano (Barrio Chamberí), actually just across the street from where I live. The concept there is the worship of the freshest produce, cooked, plated and presented to you personally by the chef/wait staff.
A final word – help save Madrid’s restaurant industry
These photos were taken at better times, when we were sharing pan instead of a pandemic. Needless to say, the Covid-19 crisis has been cataclysmic for the Spanish hospitality industry. I’ve spoken personally to three restaurant owners (who have been mentioned in my blog in the past) who are extremely worried they are not going to make it through the crisis post-lockdown, and might even need to close.
There is a way we can help them out at this time. El Tenedor launched an online campaign, Salvemos Nuestros Restaurantes (Save Our Restaurants) where you can help your favourite restaurants, many of which are small businesses, by purchasing “bonos” or credits that you can claim in the future when the madness is over. I’ve just bought one to help out the incredibleTrikki New Orleans Cuisine.
In the meantime, I wish everyone health and safety. Remember to wash your hands! Here’s to better days in a shared table ahead.