The Mercado de San Miguel is a food market located close to the Plaza Mayor in Madrid. When I travel I like to visit these sorts of markets. I’ve been to some of the famous ones, like the St Lawrence Market in Toronto and of course Pike’s Place in Seattle. Up until now my favorite has been the Nachsmarkt in Vienna, but it’s now been dethroned by the Mercado de San Miguel.
There were many different vendors, and it seemed like each had its own specialty. This one, for example, specialized in seafood tapas. The ones on the left are topped with octopus and salmon, in the middle there’s various anchovy tapas, monkfish liver, and tuna tapas. I tried one with salmon and one with crab salad topped with caviar. In hindsight I should’ve just tried all of them, but I especially regret not trying the monkfish liver. I’ve heard it described as “foie gras of the sea” and seeing as how I like foie gras (and don’t get to eat it often since it’s banned in California) I definitely regret not trying that one.
There were also vendors dedicated to various beverages, like this one that had casks of different types of sherry, including a cask of amontillado (haha I wonder how many people would get that Edgar Allen Poe refernce…) I tried one glass of sherry (I forget which), one rebujito, which is a light sherry mixed with soda, and a glass of sangria. Each glass came with olives, which were the best tasting olives I’d ever had. I’d order drinks just to get the olives.
Speaking of olives, they even had a vendor that pretty much just sold olives. In hindsight I should have tried some of these, even though they seemed pretty expensive. On the other hand, paying for olives doesn’t seem like a hot deal when I can buy a drink and get olives for free…
There was paella, of course, but I decided not to try any, since our next stop would be Barcelona. I figured paella would be better there since it’s on the coast. And also I figured freshly made paella would be better.
These were probably my favorite. On the left is an octopus salad. It seemed pretty simple to make, I might have to try making it, if I can find somewhere to buy fresh octopus. It’s just boiled octopus with a bit of bell peppers and red onion, with a sprinkling of sea salt and a drizzling of olive oil. I think the difficulty for me would be in finding good fresh octopus and cooking it so that it’s tender. My other favorite was stuffed urchin. This I have no clue how to go about making. Next to the urchin is a tortilla espanola, which is basically a potato and egg frittata.
We ended up eating at the Mercado de San Miguel a few times in the couple of days we had in Madrid. It was definitely one of the biggest highlights of the trip for me.