Puerta del Sol then Prada a Tope for tapas. Is this Spain's best pulpo?
30 Noviembre 2016
One thing that surprises many new visitors to Spain are the restaurant hours. I don't know why this surprises. It is literally the first thing tourists complain about. Look up any forum about travel to Spain and you will see hundreds of complaints, queries, pleas for help about having to eat so late. Seriously people, 9pm isn't that late. Your kids will get used to it. Look at the pictures below of Brandy and Georgy. Okay, they are a little tired. But that is jet lag. Yes, I know I mentioned in a previous post that Brandy fell of his chair in a restaurant in Paris because he went to sleep. But they will acclimatise. Eventually. Hopefully. But 9 pm was hours away. We'd just finished lunch and picked up a few essentials for the apartment. We thought we should go for a stroll and look for pastries.
Puerta del Sol
Puerta del Sol is Kilometre Zero. The heart of Madrid. All distances to places in Spain are measured from this point. It is always busy. It is also where Madrid has stuck up their big communidad Christmas tree. It is a huge cone of lights. A not very traditional tree. Having said that we would only see one actual tree in place as community Christmas tree on this entire trip (Munich). Every other town had a cone of lights like Madrid. Only the colours and height were different.
Puerta del Sol is also chock full of Disney, or other animated, mascots. There are Pikachus and Super Mario Brothers and The Simpsons and... I haven't named any Disney characters yet have I? So there were Donalds and Mickeys and Minnies too. All touting for photos with tourists. If you did pose for a photo with them they'd then stick their hand out for a couple of euros. We tried to get through with the kids without, one, attracting attention of the mascots and, two, letting the kids see the mascots. I managed to wave off Pikachu with a "no gracias" but the damage was done. Georgia saw it and wanted to meet him. Later was the best we could come up with. We were on a mission to get sweet treats and pastries at La Mallorquina. A pastry shop on the edge of the plaza.
La Mallorquina was crowded. Apparently it is always crowded. Generally places close to, or on a main square, or in a touristy area can be described as, and this a very sweeping generalisation, quite shit. Not so with La Mallorquina. There was a reason there was almost a queue outside the door. By queue I mean a mass of people trying to get to the counter to order. All at once. The constant hubbub of gracias, por favor and si si si made me realise we were finally back in Spain after 10 years. With the kids. What is better than visiting Spain the first time? Coming back for the with your kids. I'd probably sell one of the kids for a good pastry though. These were good. We got enough to tide us over till dinner time.
Prada a Tope
Prada a Tope sounds like a bag company. It's actually a restaurant tapas bar and the place we chose to really kick off our tapas adventure. It wasn't far from our AirBnb. We stepped outside, walked down to the other end of Plaza de Santa Ana, turned left and walked 100 metres and there it was. Well, that is how it should have gone. In reality was sort of wandered around looking at places before settling on Prada a Tope which conveniently was the closest to home. I think you'd call the place rustic. Timber bars, hanging hams, noisy and full of life. Luckily we found a tiny table near the front entrance. A tiny table that wasn't much bigger than the tiny stools we sat on. But we hung our coats and scarves and perused the blackboard menu.
We ordered a few things because at those very cheap prices how big a serving could they be? We also got a couple of mixed plates so we could try a few things. I was expecting tiny tapas sized dishes. Holy mother of... maybe we should have waited till we saw what was coming out for other punters. The racciones, or larger servings, were huge. I don't know how much pig's blood goes into the morcilla, blood sausage, but I am sure more than one pig was involved. The ham hock or pork knuckle was enormous. The same with the pulpa, octopus, which was also the stand-out dish of the night. I am certain this particular octopus could have dragged down a small ship or a whale before it ended up on our plate. Every octopus we've had since have compared unfavourably to this one. It was outstanding. The kids loved it. I think it became their favourite after this.
We struggled to finish. The sleep fairy came in again and whacked Georgia and Brandon with down for the count wand. They had had enough and were nodding off at the table. We didn't really want a repeat of the previous night where Brandy had fallen off his chair. All there was to do now was finish this very long day. It would still take a little adjustment to Spanish eating hours. I'd forgotten we'd been up before dawn to get to Madrid as well. There was no need to wreck ourselves on our first day in Spain. So it was back to the flat and hope the Flamenco wouldn't keep us awake. It couldn't be bad as the talk back radio from the neighbours flat in Paris could it? Spoiler alert. No it wasn't.