Thursday, December 05, 2013

Mercado San Anton, Madrid

Mercado San Anton
Sure, like every other tourist in Madrid you've visited and possibly had a relaxing cup of cafe con leche in Plaza Mayor, and afterwards jostled fellow tourists for space at the food counters of the neighboring foodie paradise Mercado San Miguel, or waited interminably for your turn to order those mouth-watering jamon iberico sandwiches, or duck foie gras tapas.

And therein lies my lament with Mercado San Miguel. It is a great place to hang out in and stuff yourself with somewhat pricey Spanish food items, but it is somewhat small to begin with, and with the daily onslaught of hungry tourists eager to sample Spanish cuisine, the cramped atmosphere can become wearisome.

Luckily, another refurbished market is situated not far from Madrid's center - the multi-level Mercado San Anton in Chueca (the metro station is a block away). Spread out over four floors, this spacious market has food vendors (some are the same as Mercado San Miguel's), restaurants, and even a supermarket on the ground level.

Fortunately for myself, Mercado San Anton was only a few minutes walk from my hostal on Avenida Fuencarral, thus I had a couple of opportunities to visit. I marveled at the sheer size of the market, magnified by the low foot traffic during the morning hours. During peak hours, I'm sure Mercado San Anton will attract numerous locals and tourists alike, but there's more room to accommodate everyone.

On both occasions, I had breakfast consisting of a cafe con leche accompanied by a croissant and pan de chocolate which satisfied both my stomach and sweet tooth, and afterwards, I was ready to shop!

Since I was headed back to the States soon, I went over to Casa de Bacalao to stock up on canned navajas (razor clams) and the superb Bocarte anchoas (anchovies) in olive oil - they are quite expensive but are quite intense and flavorful, and the cheap stuff can't compare. I love putting the anchovies on top of Brie, with a zesty, refreshing albarino or godello on hand for imbibing. Definitely a treat.

And of course - how about some jamon iberico de bellota? Although now available in NYC, the king of Spanish hams is often sold at stratospheric prices.

The pre-sliced packages at La Charcuteria de Octavio broke down whatever weak resistance I offered, and despite warnings from friends that passengers are not allowed to bring jamon past Customs, I picked up some of the fatty pork to savor, relish, and get me through the winter, risks be damned.

No comments: