All posts by Ryan Opaz

Vinoteca Barbechera

So the other day it was sunny, and warm,
and basically another perfect day to sit outside in the sun and do nothing at
all, except drink wine that is! With plans to meet up with friends at a later
time, my wife and I decided to head over to Plaza Santa Ana (map), for a
glass of wine and a pincho or two. Located on the eastern end of the plaza sits
Vinoteca Barbechera, a franchised bar that serves tapas, raciones, wine and
much more. It is known as a wine bar first and foremost, I suggest you keep
this in mind when you visit.

Wanting a quick snack, we ordered a couple glasses
of white wine and a few tapas. Looking at the menu you are not left without
plenty of choices, basically the same tapas you’d find at every other bar you
might visit in
Madrid. Yet what makes it worth going to, is the quality. Incredible! For
those of you who like to go out and blow a 100 Euros on dinner and have small
tastes presented in front of you of various delicacies, this is a great place
for you. For an average of 3 euros each,
you can taste your way through a plethora of small culinary treats.

Today we tried three treats:

Solomillo con Cebolla Caramelizado (Beef tenderloin
with Caramelized Onions)

Crisp toast
drizzled with good olive oil works to hold this concoction as you raise it to
your lips. As you bite into it your mouth is rewarded with tender fillet,
lightly seasoned and garnished with a candy-like caramelized onion. The best part of this dish is that any one
part would be overwhelmingly rich by itself, but as a whole, they work together
to balance each other out. As you finish you know you’ve just has a small bite
of heaven. 

Trucha ahumada con Puré de tomate y tapenada
(Smoked trout with puree of tomatoes and an olive tapenade)

Though not my
favorite today, this dish will appeal to anyone out there who is a lover of
smoked fish.

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Food and Wine Tours of Madrid

Tour Update and Notice

As Alun has
mentioned early in my introduction, we hope in the near future to offer guided
tours of some of
Madrid’s culinary treasures. Highlighting
both well-known monuments to food and more importantly, those little known
treasures – we hope to offer a unique perspective on the food scene in
Madrid. To start with, we will be offering
2 formats for you to choose from based on your specific interests:

A Cook’s Tour
For anyone who likes to buy treats to bring
back home, or for those of you who might have a kitchen in the room you are
staying in, this is the tour for you. We will take you to 4 different shops in
Madrid, where you will have the chance to
buy some of the finest food and wine
Spain has to offer.

First, a wine shop
where we will get a chance to taste some wine while learning a little about
where it comes from and how it is made. Second, ever think that Manchego was
Spain had to offer as far as cheese? Well, we’ll
prove that theory wrong as we walk up the street to a cathedral of all things
. Walls lined with every type of fermented milk you can imagine.  Following this, we will move on to a chocolate
whose reliquary holds some of the finest chocolates available to mortals! To round it all off, how about a stop at a Market
where you can have the chance to buy fresh ham, ripe vegetables, myriad fish, not
to mention much more.  All in all, this
3 hour tour will show you some of the finer gourmet treats
Madrid has to offer.
Cost: TBA

Tapas, Wine and Fun
Come stroll with us down Madrid’s streets stopping in at a select
few bars to try a variety of the typical flavors of
Spain. During each stop you will have a choice
of wines all of which come accompanied by tapas.  During this time you will learn something of
the history of tapas; have a chance to gather some recipes; and also learn something
about the wine regions that abound in

While we
are in the process of setting up the dates, times and prices for these tours weI
want to make sure that no one is left out. If you are going to be in town in
the next month or are already here send us a note! We’ll work something out and
make sure that you don’t miss anything during your stay here in

contact us at alunjohn (at) with
any questions, or suggestions, that you might have.

Till soon,
Ryan Opaz

Tapas Review: Cien Vinos (100 Wines)

Cienvinos1_1Taberna Cien Vinos
C/ Nuncio 17, Madrid

Metro: La Latina

Tapas- What are they and how do you get
A topic I hope to cover in depth in future articles for Mad about
Madrid. For the
most part, a tourist in
Madrid is faced with a crap shoot as far as what tapas to expect when
ordering a glass of wine. One bar may put down a plate of stale potato chips,
while the place next door sets you up with a mini feast. How to know what is
coming takes time and patience but we hope that with a little guidance from us it
will become a bit easier. One thing is for sure, you can always order tapas,
and if you know where to go, you can be treated to something exciting and new.

This brings me to Cien Vinos or, in English, 100
. Located in the La Latina area of
Madrid, where all
the tapas fiends know to go, Cien Vinos is a small, cozy den of gastronomic
decadence. It’s a bit hard to find; and if it were not for the bronze plaque
outside the front door, you might mistake it for someone’s apartment building. This
all changes as you step inside where you are greeted by warm lighting,
literally hundreds of wines, and a friendly atmosphere. What makes this place
so neat is the way they set up the menu and wine list. Two black boards list the food and wine
available for the night. On average, they have 8 pinchos and 8 raciones to
choose from. Pinchos being a small bite made for one person, while raciones tend
to be a larger portion made to share with a group or as a meal for one. On the
wine board on an average night you should run into about 7 reds, 2 whites, 1
sherry, 1 rose, 3 sweet (dessert wines), and one cava, all priced between
1.75-3 euros.

Feel free to choose a table or just stand
at the bar and order. When it’s busy, the tables tend to be reserved for
raciones only, but if you find a few tables still free you might be able to
talk them into letting you ordering a few pinchos instead. I prefer getting
several pinchos and splitting it with a friend, as it makes a fun way to
explore all the various flavors they offer.

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Trocha Pub – “Place of the Caipirinha”

Twelve years ago, I had my first Caipirinha. I was hanging out with some friends at the beach in a small town on the coast of southern Brasil. It wasn’t a great experience, I can tell you!

Today I sit at a bar in Madrid called Trocha Pub. A small cozy space with lots of pillows, bright colors and mellow jazz playing over the stereo. Taking a sip of the Caipirinha that sits in front of me now makes me glad that I was first introduced to them. You see, Trocha Pub makes itself known as the "Place of the Caipirinha" and for good reason. In the bar, they have two wooden presses to help make your drink. These handy wood presses crush the limes in the glass releasing the tart juices. By the way, if you do stop in here some night, know that you can order almost any mixed drink you want, but why bother?

These guys know what they are doing when it comes to caipirinhas and can make a drink that will help transport anyone to a far away place. Half limes and half lemons, a healthy dose of sugar, a generous topper of Cachaça (Brasilian rum distilled from sugar cane) and a sprinkling of crushed ice. Taking a sip your mouth encounters both sweet and sour mingled with an exotic breeze that makes you stop and think for a moment before you dive back in for another sip. Who can think of a better way to start off a night than with a Caipirinha!

As a contributor to this blog I hope to take you with me around Madrid and Spain as I try to taste a bit of the world while learning something along the way. Stayed tuned, more to come!

Till soon, Ryan

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