Madrid offers a great variety for every diner; ranging from Spanish tapas to international meals.
In an exclusive interview, ROOSTERGNN spoke to Wesley Much, creator of MuchBites, a blog dedicated to food and restaurants in the Spanish capital. Wesley is an English chef writing about his passion: cooking. He studied International Business in London, and now writes to share his culinary experiences with his growing readership.
´Can you name three of your favorite restaurants in Madrid?
Wesley Much: The toughest question is always to name a favourite restaurant. The answer always depends on so many factors, not least of which, mood. For the last few weeks and months, I would say my favourite restaurants are Picsa, Los Montes de Galicia and Kitchen 154.
Picsa is a Argentian Pizza joint located on Calle Ponzano. I love their approach to pizza which mixes the traditional Argentian style which has a thick dough; the Italian approach with good quality and quantity mozzarella; and of course local tastes with toppings of Mediterranean influence. They have an excellent selection of European wines and the ambiance is fresh and inviting, making it an excellent choice for informal dining experience.
Los Montes de Galicia is everything I look for in a restaurant. They have a fantastically decorated space with gentle hints of blues and greys – all perfect for the modern diner. Apart from this, the food on offer is exquisite. They prepare Galician food with traditional favourites such a pulpo a la gallega, buñuelos de bacalao and filloas. This place is great to visit for anyone who wants the authentic taste of Spanish cuisine without the typical taberna/tapas bar feel.
Kitchen 154 caters for all spicy food lovers. I absolutely love the informal feel of the space. It is located at Mercado de Vallehermoso, they offer many spicy dishes and are mostly influenced by Asian continent. You can find dumplings Japanese style, ribs Korean BBQ style and pig cheeks Indian vindaloo style. In a few words, Kitchen 154 is the place to go to resuscitate your taste buds and give them a run for their money.
Can you name three of your favorite tapas bars in Madrid?
El Escaldon on Calle Nuncio is one of my favourite tapas bars. They serve excellent Canarian tapas. It is the best place to go to get authentic Canarian cuisine. I love their papas arrugadas (sea salt-boiled potatoes) served with the typical mojo picon and mojo verde and their baked goats cheese with rum-caramelised onions. The owner tells me that their recipes are derived from her grandmother’s cooking and all ingredients are sourced from the Canary Islands.
On the basis of eating with the locals away from the tourist hotspots, I absolutely love Bar La Manduca on Avenida Donostiarra. For me they have the best patatas bravas in Madrid which they make themselves everyday in house. It is also the best place to try local favourites made in the typical way such as orejas de cerdo (pigs’ ears) and the Spanish favourite: huevos rotos con jam´ón. The canapés with the likes of smoked cod, brie and solomillo are the perfect dish to share over some tintos de verano and beer with friends.
My 3rd favourite tapas bar is Le Qualite Tasca on Calle Ponzano (again). I just love their selection of seasonal dishes. The few times I’ve been there, I’ve enjoyed some grilled octopus with potatoes, pesto stuffed beef tomato and the mash of their deconstructed tortilla de patata. It is a very small space with a French bistro feel to it. Even more appealing is the huge selection of Spanish wines served by the class. So, you can have a different wine per type as they recommend you the best choice to match the dish! Just fantastic.
What are the three must-try dishes for young travelers coming to Madrid? Where should they try them?
Must try dishes would be Croquetas, Cocido Madrileño and Arroz con bogavante. These dishes a quite popular in Spain and can be found in many places. But, they can be very mediocre in the majority of places I have found. These places have not steered me wrong so far.
Croquetas at the Croqueta y Presumida Restaurant
Cocido Madrileno in Naturbier on Plaza Santa Ana
Arroz con bogavante in Tarbena Maceiras on Calle de las Huertas
Have you gotten any perks as a result of your writing (free meals, etc)?
As a result of my writing, the biggest perks have been getting free meals at restaurants. Some restaurants sent me an email asking me to come and try their food. However, as I never want to put stuff on my blog because it is free, I usual make it explicit that I will only write and talk about them if I like the food and I think my readers will too. That way, I keep the quality of my recommendations high and the readers do not get disappointed from following MuchBites.
Recently, the best perk I got was getting invited to the World Class award ceremony for the best bars and mixologists in Spain. The winner of this event would go on to compete with winners from all over the world in Miami. So, it was quite exciting to get the opportunity to go and take part in the event.
What advice do you have for young journalists and bloggers who want to write about food?
There are so many young people taking up blogging at the moment. You have to be sure that your reason for taking up blogging is not to live a glamorous life and get many free things. Your blogging about food must be spurred by your love of food and your desire to bring something different to your readers. In doing so, you will be able to distinguish yourself from the plethora of other writers out there. Also, make it your aim to outreach to other writers to find out what they are doing so as to learn how to bring your best writing to the world. Lastly, use social media from the beginning, giving great content often and nonstop.