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I love herrings either Pickled grilled fried in oats soused or smoked.
The best place to enjoy them is in the Baltic States Sweden and Denmark.
Some years ago I was traveling through a Swedish airport and was very taken by the goods on sale in the duty free area The, best china and even furniture ,all impeccable Swedish design ,none of the usual airport goods I was really impressed.
Sweden Is well known for its design prowess also for Volvo and of course Abba, and now the richest man in the world, pushing Bill gates into second place the CEO of Ikea bringing Swedish design to the masses.
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Whenever possible escape to foreign climes is at the top of my list of things to do`! Driven of course by food and culture.
My favorite place is Japan just for the shear dedication and fanaticism of the chefs and restaurants to produce sublime food with an eye for detail and quality unrivaled anywhere else in the world.
I have been reaffirming my theory that Spain is the culinary giant of europe, great produce and a new breed of chefs cooking innovative and original food alongside the old guard.
San Sebastian is still a culinary oasis on the edge of France, a gentle poke in the eye for the French with their long culinary heritage.
That is not to say that I still love french food and the french and find myself there at every opportunity
Spain for the British is beer chips sea and sand, but for me one of the great cuisines of the world, hams, Iberico in particular is regarded the best of the best, and I can affirm the fact even expensive in the country of origin .

The rise of Spanish cuisine and what seems to be the slow decay of French food in general keeps pulling me back to Spain.
A visit to the capital city Madrid was in order. I managed to find a hostel in the sol area at a great rate, leaving the extra money for dining at Madrid’s many restaurants and tapas bars.

Madrid has a good metro system so getting around is no problem ,getting my bearings took somewhat longer, being my first visit to the city and the intake of sherry and tapas during the day.

The complex musings and mixings of the worlds chefs trying to reinvent the wheel with foams, ionized cucumber and pan European Asiatic influenced confusion food is thankfully not so easy to find in Madrid ( not that I search it out).

The robust simple good quality products shine through they can be seen in their raw and perfect state in Madrid’s many local markets.

Baby lamb and suckling pig are firm favorites of the locals in fact the oldest restaurant in Europe Bottin specialize in sucking pig and they have been roasting it to perfection for three hundred years.
On my visit what appears to be a tourist-based restaurant actually shines with good service hospitality and perfectly executed food, crisp skinned suckling pig hot from the wood fired ovens , Elvers for those that can afford them iberico ham sliced to order in front of you and a bustling atmosphere topped with an interesting and thanks to the euro pound exchange rate affordable great wines.
Sunday lunch at
Taberna de la Daniela should be Cocido the local stew made with chick peas black pudding pork fat ham and chorizo sausage.
Firstly you are served a broth from the pot with the addition of vermicelli noodles
Then comes the main course of the drained contents heaped upon the serving dish and accompanied by two sauces made with red pepper garlic and paprika .
Hearty best describes this dish and you will need a strong resolve to finish a full portion.

Some walking after lunch was in order so off to the Prado museum was on the agenda to see Picassos Gurnica an expressive and impressive work , more so close up and on canvas. The Prado is free on Sundays and a large building and easy to spend a day in so some research on what you want to see will pay dividends.


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Madrid is a long way from the sea but seafood is still a passion here, and I was treated to one of the best meals I have eaten anywhere Casa de Troya hidden away in a residential area not easy to find but well worth it there is a family connection the hostess has a brother who is a fisherman on the coast and only the freshest and best makes it to the restaurant , it is cooked with finite skill and simplicity, while here I enjoyed oysters, octopus cooked with paprika and olive oil so meltingly wonderful it is difficult to find words, and then turbot cooked with capers and potatoes.


Followed by flan or crème caramel.

No visit to Spain would be complete without the bullfight and my visit coincided with one of the major corridas of the year. Working for a farmer and believing in good Animal husbandry this spectacle goes against the grain a humiliating death for a noble animal.
But putting politics aside the Spanish would describe it differently a noble art man pitted against a roaring snorting beast in the hot afternoon sun ,a skilled dance between the two ending with a flash of well aimed steel bringing the bull to its final end ,25,000 people cheering and clapping in unison as a celebration for the performance of bull and man.

The dining in Madrid does not get into full swing till later in the evening 9 pm is the earliest booking that time found me back in Sol on my way to an old style restaurant
White jacketed waiters, a bar at the front serving Tapas leading through to the restaurant paintings by local artists and hearty local foo.
Gazpacho followed by roasted baby lamb and a glass of red wine perfect for the time and place.

La broche 2 Michelin stars and a starry chef 5 years with el bulli now with his own restaurant.
I was hoping for inspired cooking of the old school with a modern twist but this is a new style altogether

not one disappointedly I find easy to accept, food as art, I prefer my art to be sculptural or painted two dimensional or three dimensional.

Food is more complicated when you include taste and texture more opptunities to get it wrong.
The room is a minimalists dream white walls white net curtains blanking out the city bleached oak flooring and whisper quiet wait staff, an 70s vision of the 21st century.
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