An Ode to Mercado de San Miguel

It’s no secret that I’m a bit of a foodie, so when I decided to go to Marrakesh for the break between semesters, I also scheduled a day and a half in Madrid for a food break, since you can’t fly directly from Krakow to Marrakesh anyhow.

But first – a little aside. I went to the Katowice airport today in a very haphazard manner involving taxis, buses, me babbling in Polish, and me nearly having hysterics as I attempted to beat the clock to airport check-in (and made it by about 4 minutes. No joke.). As I exited Katowice, I noticed a restaurant called “City Rock Restaurant Diner”. What?! A diner? In Katowice? Is this for real? I think it warrants further investigation.

Anyway. Madrid happens to be home to what I’m pretty sure is the culinary love of my life – Mercado San Miguel, which is just off of Plaza Mayor. If I lived in Madrid, I’d probably eat there every day. No joke.

Plaza Mayor at night

It’s a happening place amongst the Madrilenos, and on a Friday night at around 10pm, there was hardly any space to move. What makes it so amazing? First, there is the fresh produce. After months of Polish produce, which is generally anything but beautiful, especially in the winter, my eyes could scarcely believe the colours and variety. I had to remind myself that buying large quantities of mushrooms would be absolutely useless to me in Spain and moved onto the food.

Produce! nom nom nom

One thing Poland is not known for is seafood, especially of the saltwater variety. For someone who grew up in a coastal area and thrived on fresh seafood, this was a difficult adjustment. Well, at Mercado San Miguel, there is no shortage of fish, both raw and cooked. I went straight for it, starting with the tapas and continuing onto the oysters and caviar.

Fish Tapas (and a buñuelo)

If I lived in Madrid, I seriously believe that I would dine here every day. The stalls range from the fish to meats and ham, to wine, to cheese, to olives, to desserts, to fresh pasta, to legumes, to fro-yo (which I am definitely going back for tomorrow because that’s something else I haven’t managed to locate amongst the lody in Poland). It really is a sight to behold. There have also been a few recent additions since I was last here in the form of places that grill, and, randomly, a caviar stall which also serves shots of Russkiy Standart.

Random caviar stall with Russkiy Standart

And I also stopped at a bakery called La Cure Gourmande, which is totally not Spanish, but really good. In addition to biscuits, they have nougat and “chocolate olives” and loads of other tasty confectionery. They also have really beautiful cookie tins, which, sadly, I could not take advantage of this trip because my goal is to keep the Polish apartment free from clutter (and things that will need to be shipped at the end of my residence abroad).

Biscuits at La Cure Gourmande

In short, if you are in Madrid and looking for food, check out the area around Plaza Mayor. It’s the best.

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