Lady Madonna, because Sundays are made for brunching


As an ex-pat in Madrid there are a couple of things that I really miss from home. The M&S food hall (say no more). Boots – I mean who doesn’t love a decent 3 for 2 offer; and last but by no means least, a Sunday roast. So in lieu of Roast Beef and Yorkshire puddings, Sundays in Madrid are all about brunch, as opposed to lunch.

Lady Madonna restaurant by Naked Madrid

Lady Madonna has always been a firm favorite of mine (you can even read my review on the restaurant here). With its pretty little terraza, it’s an ideal spot for a post work drink, or a solid choice when you’re looking like a decent dinner that won’t break the bank.

Lady Madonna restaurant brunch spot by Naked Madrid

Little did I know that brunch was an option and this was no half baked attempt; they offer a set menu that will set you up for the day – I mean breakfast is supposed to be the most important meal of the day right?

Lady Madonna brunch spot by Naked Madrid

I opted for eggs benedict followed by carrot cake – both paired with coffee, juice and a mojito that proved to be quite the effective hair of the dog. But there were a good five savory options as well as deserts, and if mojitos aren’t your thing there’s also bloody mary’s and mimosas on offer.
Lady Madonna restaurant brunch spot by Naked Madrid

I arrived feeling slightly fragile from my Saturday night antics and left with my appetite having been satiated and feeling virtuous that I’d even enjoyed a little bit of sun all by midday. The best bit, the fixed brunch menu comes in at only 18 euros. Well, it would be rude not to indulge at such a snip.

Info

  • Facebook
  • @ladymadonna_restaurante
  • Address: Calle Orellana, 6
  • Metro: Alonso Martínez
  • Phone: 915 02 41 82



Nudista, not naughty but very, very nice


So I have a confession to make. I hardly ever read. Whilst this might sound like a somewhat dramatic claim, what I actually mean is, I hardly ever read books (unless you count what I devour annually whilst on a sun lounger and manage to bulldoze through in a day). I read the news, I read blogs and I read glossies, but it’s rare that I sit down and take the time to turn actual pages – this is made all the more shameful by my day job being the lead of English in a primary school. Somehow life gets in the way (or perhaps more accurately, Netflix does) and books wallow neglected on my shelves.

However, this summer I read a book called You are a Badass. Now I loath to admit that I read the occasional ‘self help’ book, but this one resonated with me in a way that’s not a particularly regular occurrence. It’s based on the notion that everyone is capable of ‘living our best life’. The premise is that we shouldn’t just tread water because we’re too scared to dive into the unknown; it’s about unapologetically jumping in headfirst and being brave.
Conservas Nudista by Naked Madrid
At this point I’m sure you’re wondering how on earth these ramblings link to a restaurant recommendation but bear with me. Someone who most definitely took the stabilizers off and took a leap of faith is Micky. The owner and creative clout behind Nudista; the restaurant that he affectionately calls his ‘fifth child’ – he’s a father of four. Having spent twenty years grafting away as a TV producer, he literally quit his day job to follow his dream – and from where I was sitting last Friday night, his dream has literally become a reality.

Nudista is the brainchild of Micky and the result of his lifelong love affair with gastronomy. The concept behind the restaurant is disarmingly simple but achingly cool. Nothing is cooked. There’s no kitchen. Everything is fresh. The food is either served from a jar or a tin without even a hint of a preservative or additive in sight. As the clean eating movement shows no signs of abating, Micky is striking while the iron is hot. The food is in a word – delicious, largely because you know exactly where your food is coming from (Navarra in most cases) and it’s simply seasoned with olive oil and salt.

Conservas Nudista by Naked Madrid

I ate leeks that literally melted in the mouth like butter (and as a Welsh girl, the bar for decent leeks is set pretty high but these were epic). Next I sampled some marvellous mackerel (I’m not one to shy away from some alliteration) and some zingy lentils that were lip smacking good. Served in tandem were two wonderful wines that were personally selected by Micky and partnered the food to perfection. What added further appeal to a place where I couldn’t have felt more relaxed, was that dessert was created by a friend of Micky’s – a moreish cheesecake served in a dinky little sardine can. I’m a sucker for attention to detail and this had me reaching for my iPhone to pap.

Nudista almost felt like going round to a friend’s house for dinner, albeit a friend’s house with excellent taste and an eagle eye for interiors. We stayed until the early hours, such was the relaxed ambience and given its proximity to the always buzzing Malasaña is quite the rare find. In a city where restaurants are often becoming carbon copies of each other (exposed brick, aperol spritz and steak tartare – you know the ones). Nudista is refreshing for its lack of pretension and originality. Twenty somethings sat beside the neighbourhood abuelas, proving that Micky and his team have spotted a niche where there’s something for everyone.

And the best bit, everything you’ve eaten is available to buy. I know what my fam will be getting for Christmas and I know what will be adorning my kitchen shelves. Despite the name, clothes are required but the stripped back charm of Nudista will keep you wanting to go back for more. Friends of mine know that when I like something, I go all in. I’m often zealous in terms of gushing about things/places/people but in the case of Nudista, it’s more than warranted. I can’t recommend the place highly enough, so to make sure that I’m not just all talk – you should take action. 

Nudista

  • Facebook
  • Telephone: +34 913.77.64.24
  • Address: Calle Luchana, 23, Madrid.



Bar Tomate – modest minimalism at its best


Eight years ago I took the plunge and upped sticks to move to Madrid (or Madders as I now affectionately refer to it). The city was in the midst of a financial crisis so bleak, that people went out for a solitary caña rather than cañas – or so it seemed and so I was told.

Fast forward to 2017 and the city feels as though it’s booming once again. Not a week passes by without a new opening, a Mercado of some sort throwing back its doors and the now oh-so-popular weekly After Brunch events.

So in such a crowded marketplace how do you stand out? Well, having the kudos of being part of the Grupo Tragaluz alumni doesn’t hurt, which is why Bar Tomate has proven to be one of my fail safe favourites over the years.

Bar Tomate by Naked Madrid

Located in the increasingly well-heeled and chic neighbourhood of Chamberí, which coincidently is one of my favourite Madrid barrios, Bar Tomate ticks all the boxes offering breakfast, lunch, dinner *a rare find in a city where siesta culture can result in a complete shutdown during certain hours – never ideal if you’re prone to getting hangry!

The vibe is rustic and Mediterranean with the emphasis on simple, fresh ingredients and classics cooked well.

Bar Tomate by Naked Madrid

I went along for dinner on a Friday night and chowed down like a Queen – decisive isn’t my strong point so what was sampled read like an A-Z of deliciousness; ranging from breaded asparagus, chicken tacos, jalapeño spiced shrimp and a burrata the size of my head because, quite frankly, what meal isn’t improved with the addition of cheese! This was naturally all chased down with an array of cocktails that made for an interesting walk home.

If simplicity is your thing I can’t recommend Bar Tomate enough. From the minimalist décor to the unfussiness and ease of the service, Bar Tomate’s strongpoint comes in its lack of pretentiousness when in reality, it has everything to shout about.

Ditch the flats for an evening, as when the DJ appears (as he does on both a Friday and Saturday night) you’re gonna want to get your groove on. Guys, I’ll leave that up to you.

Info

 

 

 




Keyaan's: A Taste of the Dominican Republic in Madrid


When it comes to restaurant reviews, the word “authentic” gets thrown around a lot. It’s become a buzzword for people seeking out genuine food and unique eating experiences, but all too often it’s used as a catchall adjective that doesn’t really mean much, a vague and perhaps inaccurate way to lure in customers looking for “the real deal.”

This is not the case at Keyaan’s. If there were ever an establishment that deserved the label of authenticity, it would be this place. Specializing in Dominican empanadas, traditional sides, and homemade desserts, the colorful café brings a true taste of the D.R. to the streets of Chamberí. After opening its doors only two months ago, it’s already accumulated a loyal clientele—and it only takes one bite to understand why.

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The story of Keyaan’s began with a simple craving. Around two years ago, just after her son Ilias was born, Zakiya Ramirez had a powerful longing for a good empanada. Her husband Aderly, who hails from the Dominican Republic, called up his mom and asked for her recipe. After a bit of tweaking and improvisation, he cooked up his very first batch of empanadas using nothing but a hot plate. Zakiya was floored; it seemed her husband had a hidden natural talent that not even he was aware of.

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Zakiya, Aderly, and Ilias Keyaan Ramirez

In the years since, Aderly’s recipe gradually evolved and improved until the couple decided it was time to share his skills with the world. They opened Keyaan’s in November, christening it with their son’s middle name, and it’s already gained a considerable—and well-deserved—reputation.

I recently dropped by to sample some of their signature offerings, with my friend and trusty taste-tester Sophia by my side. We were presented with dish after dish of Dominican delicacies, hitting as many of the menu’s high spots as possible before falling into a full-on food coma.

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First up: the empanadas. Aderly’s specialty is front and center at Keyaan’s, making up the bulk of the menu. You can choose from several fillings (beef, chicken, cheese, vegetables, tuna, and even pepperoni, in a variety of combinations) and two sizes (just one of the big ones will fill you up, but the mini empanadas are too cute to resist). Unlike some versions, these are chock full of the good stuff, meaning you won’t be biting into a pocket of air. The dough is made fresh each day, and every single empanada is hand-formed and fried to order. The result is crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and juicy without being greasy; a difficult balance to strike.

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As tempting as it may be to gorge yourself on nothing but empanadas, it would be a crime to leave without sampling the sides. The fritos (flattened and fried plantains, similar to tostones) and bollitos de yuca (fried balls of yucca stuffed with melty gouda cheese) also achieve an ideal equilibrium, indulgent and rich without being too heavy.

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Not to mention the quipes—fried balls of bulgur wheat dough stuffed with chicken, beef, or cheese—a classic dish that arrived in the Dominican Republic by way of the Arab world (you might have tried its Middle-Eastern cousin, kibbeh).

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Upon biting into one, Sophia’s first words were “I just wanna dive into it.” In fact, she named it her favorite of all the dishes she tried, which is certainly saying something. According to Zakiya, it’s a customer favorite as well; almost every Dominican who comes to Keyaan’s orders empanadas with a side of quipes, and they’re far from disappointed. One regular swore that their empanadas are even better than those of the most famous restaurant in Santo Domingo. Needless to say, authentic is an understatement.

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If you’ve managed to make it through the savory stuff without getting too full, you won’t be disappointed by dessert. There’s a wide selection of batidos in flavors ranging from the classics to irresistibly creative inventions. The fruitier options (strawberry, papaya, coconut, and mango) are made the Dominican way, with evaporated milk, while the richer varieties (chocolate, vanilla, Oreo, Kinder Bueno, Ferrero Rocher, galleta Biscoff, and magdalena) are made with ice cream for a more American-style milkshake. They’re served in enormous glasses and topped with whipped cream, ideal for sharing (or not). Not too sweet, perfectly rich, and deliciously creamy. You might be surprised at how fast you can finish one.

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Galleta Biscoff batido: “Like drinking a cookie”

Still hungry? Try one of the sweet empanadas, dreamed up as a way to combine Aderly’s talents with Zakiya’s passion for baking. The same perfectly fried dough, stuffed with apple pie, dulce de leche, nutella cheesecake, Oreo, white chocolate, strawberries, or pineapple… it’s clearly a match made in heaven.

All of the desserts are made entirely from scratch, and rumor has it that Zakiya’s cheesecake is the best in all of Spain. If you want to taste it in all its glory, you can order it by the slice as well as in empanada form. For something a bit more traditional, try the majarete or habichuelas con dulce, classic Dominican desserts made from corn and beans, respectively.

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White chocolate caramel cheesecake

To wash it all down, you can choose from a variety of espresso drinks made with Dominican Café Santo Domingo (“Even the coffee is amazing,” according to Sophia), including bulletproof coffee and affogato. Or give into temptation and go for Zakiya’s signature Nutella hot chocolate, or the Dominican specialty morir soñando (orange or passion fruit juice mixed with evaporated milk). If you want something a bit lighter, there are also several kinds of natural juices.

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Keyaan’s offers weekly specials and events that draw a crowd of expats and locals alike. If you want to sample as many empanada flavors as possible, you’ll appreciate Lunes de Locura, when mini empanadas are available for just €1 each (and larger ones for €2.50). There are also monthly language exchanges, giveaways, and much more on the horizon. Zakiya has big dreams for Keyaan’s, hoping to one day turn it into an international chain with locations in London, Santo Domingo, and the United States. Her customers are already begging her to expand, so they can feed their newly formed empanada addictions no matter where in the world they may be.

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For now, though, we’ll have to be satisfied with this cozy café and its incredible power to transport us from the center of Madrid to the middle of the Caribbean. Keyaan’s is unquestionably authentic, but it’s so much more than that: it’s a place where real homemade food takes center stage, giving us a taste not only of Dominican culture but also of the genuine tradition, dedication, and love that’s folded into each and every empanada. No wonder we keep coming back for more.

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Professional taste-tester Sophia enjoying Keyaan’s specialties

Info

  • Facebook & Instagram
  • Address: Calle Blasco de Garay, 10
  • Metro: Argüelles and San Bernardo
  • Phone: 915 99 38 76



Cervezas Madriz: Craft beer with Vietnamese treats in Chamberí


There is no doubt that Madrid has a long-standing relationship with beer, but the city’s newly thriving craft beer scene is revitalizing the bars of its diverse neighborhoods. Cervezas Madriz Hop Republic attracts those in search of a damn good craft beer and does not disappoint. Each week, their eight taps rotate to include their own artisanal beers as well as a selection of other local and craft beers.

Cervezas Madrid by Naked Madrid

Cervezas Madriz exemplifies the balance-and-blend authenticity of Madrid from the heart of Chamberí on Calle Cardenal Cisneros. The chic bar draws inspiration from the city itself by naming its craft beers after barrios (including their very own Chamberí) while adding a unique spin to the menu by featuring Vietnamese-inspired tapas. The cat, symbol of Madrid residents, can be seen throughout the bar on every label and menu.

Cervezas Madrid by Naked Madrid

It was Thursday night; my friend Annette and I were seated on the last pair of bar stools except for those in the back corner. The lively atmosphere was amplified by the sounds of chatter and laughter while the bartender, Javi, gave us an overview of the beer list and suggested we try a tasting flight of some of the most popular.

And so we did.

Cervezas Madrid by Naked Madrid

Bar-goers are invited to educate themselves while they enjoy themselves at Cervezas Madriz. The menus feature profiles on selected brews and enumerate the proper way to taste beer.

Cervezas Madrid by Naked Madrid

Following the steps, Annette and I tried the four beers on our flights. While my favorite was the Chamberí and hers was the blonde Arapíles, they all were perfectly paired with our tapas of dumplings and spring rolls.

Find your new favorite artisanal brew? Not to worry, Cervezas Madriz can bottle it for you take bring home.

Madriz offers a fresh, new atmosphere where craft beer connoisseurs can taste the spirit of Madrid.

Info

Facebook & Web

Address: Calle Cardinal Cisneros 21




El Patio del Fisgón in Plaza de Chamberí


The post about the original El Patio del Fisgón was subtitled “Feel like you’ve discovered Narnia.” If the Barrio de Salamanca location seemed to be a turn-off for those who prefer galavanting around Malasaña and Chueca, my very own neighborhood, Chamberí (which is becoming more and more de moda by the minute) has its very own Patio del Fisgón to enjoy. If the location was a caveat in the original location, the Chamberí locale has an unbeatable one: on the very Plaza de Chamberí. This castiza plaza is not as big as nearby Olavide, but its strategic location equidistant from Bilbao, Alonso Martínez, Ponzano, and Rubén Darío makes it a great place to be when the weather gets warmer.

Daphne and I made our way there one early Sunday afternoon in the dead of winter, and we imagined how satisfying it will be to sit outside on the outdoor furniture they have set up right on the plaza once it’s finally terraza weather. We found ourselves very lucky to be able to get a table without a reservation (this was at about 1:30 PM) as the crowds started to pour in about 20 minutes after we sat down.

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Much like in the original, the interior transports you to days with better weather, like the back wall with its lush greenery that makes you feel like you’re in a garden rather than in one of the city’s residential hubs.

Each place-setting is unique with whimsical furniture, from the chairs, the tiles on top of some of the tables, and the choice of placemats.

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So now that the wonderful ambience is covered, let’s get to the menu. There’s a great variety, so if you watch very carefully what you eat (like me), this is a perfect place to go where it won’t be painstakingly difficult to find something you’ll love and be satisfied afterwards. During the week, there’s a special menu depurativo with a choice of salad or gazpacho and then a tortilla francesa or grilled chicken. This will definitely come in handy once Operación Bikini preparations come into high gear.

The first thing that made me fall in love with this place was the fact that gazpacho was on the menu all year round.

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I must have been andaluza in a past life because my love for gazpacho knows no bounds

It was a perfectly-sized cazuela that was a great way to kick off the meal. The texture was just the way I liked it; I probably could have slurped it in a glass had I been given the option. As my next option, I went with the huevos rotos sobre alcachofas y butifarra negra. I have to admit that I’m a sucker for eggs on Sundays and I’m also really into artichokes. These were some of the best artichokes I’ve ever had.

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They were grilled instead of fried, preserving the softness from a cooked artichoke and not too heavy. The addition of the butifarra added for an extra flavor element, but there was definitely more egg and artichoke (just the way I wanted it). I savored every single bite and I’m dreaming of the next time I’m going to be able to order it.

As for Daphne, her milhojas de berenjena y queso de cabra were amazing.

Just on presentation alone they look out of this world...

Just on presentation alone they look out of this world…

The tomato sauce was perfect and the eggplant and goat cheese was perfectly balanced. This dish is on the Para Compartir section of the menu, but the portion size was definitely satisfying for one. When you come here, you MUST get the milhojas. You will not regret it. The rest of the menu has a lot of variety, giving you options for any mood. From Wednesday to Saturday, the kitchen always stays open during the day, which makes it ideal if you’re in the neighborhood, hungry, and everywhere else isn’t able to make you something.

If you’re coming for dinner, definitely make a reservation, and follow Cat’s advice from the last post and try to make the reservation later so you have more time to savor your time on the Patio del Fisgón.

Info

El Patio del Fisgón Chamberí
Where: Plaza de Chamberí, 2
Phone: +34 914 10 94 45
Website & Facebook
Email: chamberi@elpatiodelfisgon.com
Metro: Iglesia (Line 1), Bilbao (Lines 1 and 4), Rubén Darío (Line 5), Alonso Martínez (Lines 4, 5, and 10)

Also check out our post on the original Patio del Fisgón in Barrio Salamanca!




MUTA Smoking Club...Barbecue a lo Ponzano


Calle Ponzano has been getting a lot of love not only on Naked Madrid, but in other Spanish press as well. I have the fortune of being a Chamberí resident, with Ponzano literally around the corner from my apartment, so a quick tomar algo is always another excuse to go ponzaning. I have been to Bar Lambuzo, La Contraseña, and of course, my all-time favorite Sala de Despiece, (other restaurants on calle Ponzano featured in Naked include Taberna Alipio Ramos, Casa Picsa and Toque de Sal) but I had always passed by MUTA Smoking Club without ever trying to get in. Then there was Blanca Suárez’s blog post for Vogue that mentioned MUTA; the headline said si queréis flipar. I casually added it to my list of neighborhood joints to try and was waiting for an excuse to go. It was much to my surprise that on a Saturday night at 9 PM I was able to get in before going to a party in Embajadores.

MUTA, the brainchild of Javier Bonet (who owns Sala de Despiece and the Academia del Despiece), changes its concept every few months. That’s where the name comes from. There was one point where it served food from Baleares, but now, as a smoking club, everything is barbecue, aka smoked meat. Walking in takes you away from Madrid and instead transports you to a barbecue joint somewhere in America, at the very least like those barbecue places they always show on Man vs. Food, the fire episode of Michael Pollan’s Cooked on Netflix, or the season of American Top Chef when they were in Texas.

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The menu is varied, with appetizers, a variety of meats you can order to share, and more. We first decided to share a take on croquetas with cornbread and potato that had tzatziki sauce on top. The greens that came on top were also top-notch. They were definitely worth the extra amount of exercise I needed to do the next day to make up for it.

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Next up was the meat and the green salad. The green salad was fantastic; the dressing was light enough to make sure the flavor reached all of the greens, but the dressing doesn’t overpower the palate-cleansing attributes you look for in a salad. To go with the salad, we couldn’t go to a barbecue place without consuming some meat.

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Like the carnivore’s paradise that is its sister restaurant, MUTA Smoking Club is the perfect place for carnivores (like me). There are different types of meats you can choose from in trays to share: there’s beef tongue, brisket, salmon, or even hamburgers. There is also a mixed tray that you can get to share with different kinds of meat to try (this is ideal for larger groups looking for a true picoteo). Since we weren’t that hungry, we stuck with one meat, and I decided to go with pulled pork. I am not the biggest pork fan if it’s not in the form of jamón or fuet because cooked pork tends to be very dry (too dry for my taste), but when I took that first bite of pulled pork into my mouth, I was sold.

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It comes with classic potato rolls reminiscent of summertime family cookouts and mustard, so you can either make your own sandwich or just dip the meat into the mustard and eat it. I decided to go with some by itself, some as a sandwich, and then have the rest along with the salad.

While we didn’t take the next step and get dessert, the tray they passed around looked absolutely to die for. Fortunately, when you live around the corner from there, there’s always a reason to go back (and also to try the mixed meat tray because that looked absolutely incredible) and have some more barbecue a lo Ponzano.

Info

Where: Calle de Ponzano, 10
Phone: +34 912 50 98 97
Website Facebook
Metro: Alonso Cano (Line 7) or Iglesia (Line 1)

More gems on Calle Ponzano:




Perrachica, Prioritize A Pow Wow Here Now


Chamberi isn’t an area that’s necessarily on everyone’s radar. Once you battle through the sea of yummy mummies pushing bugaboos you might not have the ‘ganas’ to locate somewhere for your weekend brunch. But all that’s changed with the arrival of the shiny, new (quite frankly beautiful) Perrachica.

Meaning 5 pesetas, Perrachica is pretty hard to miss. Stumbled upon when getting my weekly mani, it’s a glamorous (fairly cavernous) bar/cafe/restaurant that doesn’t quite look as though it belongs on the humble looking Calle Eloy Gonzalo but I for one am chuffed to bits that there’s somewhere so swish within walking distance of my flat.

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Photo from Facebook

Heralding from the super successful Larrumba group, (which also boasts Juanita Cruz, Frida and the like) Perrachica feels like you walked into the rather glam home of a friend who makes you feel like you live in a hovel.

However, aside from the envy inducing decor the food is equally great and the prices won’t leave your eyes watering – in fact, they may leave you bemused. With a recent choice of French toast costing a grand total of (drumroll please…) €3.50.

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Photo from Facebook

The biggest challenge though isn’t making your menu selection – it’s getting in. Each time I’ve walked past it’s been full to the rafters with madrileños clearly making the pilgrimage from barrios afar. Waiting lists allegedly exist having been told that the chance of a Saturday reso was slim to none until the end of February.

So I advise making like the Harrod’s sale and just camping out – or failing that just take your chances early morning and take advantage of the relative calm. Come 7ish a DJ (quite literally) pops out of the wall and dancing shoes may be required.

From dawn to dusk, Perrachica is set to be an undisputed crowd pleaser *and the perfect place to take out of towners who you’re keen to impress (whilst spending less). Sorry, couldn’t resist a rhyme.

Info

Dirección:C/ Eloy Gonzalo 10, 28010 Madrid.
Telf: (+34) 91 737 77 75
Email: reservas@perrachica.com
Web & Facebook




The Hovse 2015: Christmas Calling, and better than ever


It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere you go! The wind in the air and the need for big coats further emphasize the fact that the holidays are indeed upon us. This means that the days are being counted down to vacations or trips to various destinations with our families.
The Hovse Madrid
The Hovse Madrid Pop-up by Naked Madrid
The Hovse
Last year I discovered The Hovse, the pop-up Christmas market from Better Pop-Ups located in a vacant mansion mere minutes from my apartment in Chamberí.
 The Hovse Madrid
The Hovse Madrid Pop-up by Naked Madrid with La Vermutería and Better es Mejor
  The Hovse Madrid
After making weekly pilgrimages to the house throughout most of the holiday season, I managed to touch down in New York with amazing original Chrismukkah presents for the family, my ride-or-dies, and for myself as well (spread out for Hanukkah, Christmas, and one to open for Reyes just so I don’t feel left out while jet-lagged on January 6th). I went on my first scouting mission of many to The Hovse of the year, and here’s my report back:
  The Hovse Madrid
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  The Hovse Madrid
In what looks just like any typical Chamberí mansion, you walk into this three-story house and are transported into a spacious holiday area with lots of different vendors, greeted by holiday lights and papers reminiscent of snow. Many of last year’s vendors are back for another round (including Helena Rohner, Ouibyou, Mr. Boho, and our beloved Mr. Wonderful), but there are lots of newbies as well.
  The Hovse Madrid

Here are the lists of the first-floor and second-floor vendors:

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   The Hovse Madrid

But there’s more…

You’ll also find Mercado de Motores‘ mainstays La Mantika in case you need to get a blanket for your apartment to deal with the cold, Katie Leamon stationery, and lots of leather goods in case you want a perfect Made in Spain leather bag, pouch, or wallet. And below is a photo of handmade jewellery by Helena Rohner, a Madrid-based jeweller whose store in La Latina I wrote about in a previous post.
   The Hovse Madrid

Helena Rohner

There are even some really cool aprons (I think I may have just given a spoiler alert about somebody’s present, but sorry not sorry)
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   The Hovse Madrid

This year, the biggest innovations come in two forms:

Innovation #1: The Food

As always, The Hovse has dining spaces where hip eateries set up shop and you get the benefit of trying eats from these places without having to fight with all of Madrid to grab a table. Two of this year’s players are in Salesas, aka the area behind Calle de Génova and the Plaza de Santa Bárbara in between Alonso Martínez and Chueca that’s becoming Madrid’s Soho: Olivia Te Cuida, known for it’s healthy offerings (as the restaurant’s name implies), and MEAT, acclaimed and written about all over town for its burgers (MEAT’s space is up on the terrace).
The Hovse Madrid Pop-up by Naked Madrid
If juicing or health food is more your style, you’ll also find a temporary outpost of Fit Food – where you can try a big selection of the juices on offer (and perhaps tempt you to try a Detox treatment in January so you can fit into clothes you buy during rebajas).
   The Hovse Madrid

Innovation #2: Sybilla Atelier

This year’s Premio Nacional de Moda winner, Sybilla, has taken over the entire top floor of The Hovse with a temporary atelier. You’re transported deep inside her world, with samples of all of her different cuts with colors. The clothes look absolutely dreamy, as well as the collaboration with a French accessories label.
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   The Hovse Madrid

And the best part?

The team at the Atelier will take your measurements and you can get something custom-made. Talk about something TRULY made just for you!
So run over to The Hovse and get the coolest Madrid holiday gifts for everyone on your list –from family, friends, ride-or-dies, and anyone else who you may find special.

The Hovse

Info

  • Web: The Hovse by Better
  • Address: Calle General Arrando 40
  • Metro: Alonso Martínez, Rubén Darío, Iglesia
  • Hours: open every day from 11 AM to 9 PM until December 24th (Christmas Eve)

The Hovse

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Casa Picsa, another gem on Calle Ponzano


Calle Ponzano is one of the city’s most treasured local hangout spots. Situated in Chamberí, it belongs to a handful of Madrid streets that are lined with great bars and restaurants, together with La Cava Baja, Corredera Bajo de San Pablo and La Calle Pez, just to name a few. In addition to the old-school bars de toda la vida, it seems as though a new eatery opens up on Calle Ponzano every week, and I’m slowly making my way through all of them! So far I’ve been to Sala la Despiece, Bar Lambuzo and Taberna Alipio Ramos. Plus Naked contributor, Kate, has also just written about restaurant Toque de Sal.

Casa Picsa on Calle Ponzano by Naked Madrid

Now here comes Naked’s fifth discovery along Ponzano: Casa Picsa, an Argentine restaurant specializing in pizzas made in a wood-fired oven with local and seasonal ingredients. I went with my friends Vanessa (who writes Las mesas de Vanessaanother foodie blog you’ve got to follow), Juan and James.

In true Ponzano form, Casa Picsa has a down-to-earth and comfortable ambience. I’d say it’s on the pricier side, but they serve some of the best pizzas I’ve had in Madrid, with high quality ingredients and great service, too. The décor is modern and simple, with a spacious bar and a small seating area.

Casa Picsa on Calle Ponzano by Naked Madrid

To start, Casa Picsa offers small appetizers to share: mezzos from around the world with a Porteño touch, as stated on their menu. They’re only meant to whet your appetite, as the real deal is the pizza. As we were a party of four, the waiters recommended we order just a few mezzos and save room for the main attraction. So we went with their homemade Paté Picsa and Porotos en vinagre (organic beans in a vinaigrette). Both were delicious.

The pizza menu is separated into two sections: “old school” and “new school.” They cost €20-25 each and are meant to be shared between two people; and trust me, they’re big enough. Each pie has eight slices, or “servings of happiness,” overflowing with succulent ingredients. Plus you can order two kinds per pie; that way you get to try two in one! *You can also order gluten-free pizzas made with a chickpea based dough.

We followed our waiter’s advice and ordered two pies and four different kinds of pizza. We had the Papada de cerdo ibérico y alcachofas (Iberian ham and artichokes); Pato e higos (duck and fig); Butifarra negra (Catalan black sausage) and Chorizo criollo y grills (Creole chorizo with turnip greens). My favorite was the ham and artichoke one; the rest of the table said the winner went to the butifarra. They were all delicious, though. And as we walked out of the restaurant and looked at the mouthwatering pies on other patrons’ tables, we knew we’d have to go back to try the rest!

After our main course, we were contentedly stuffed and more than happy to end our night sans sweets. But the waiter managed to convince us to get dessert and we gave in to the Chocolate cake with dulce de leche ice cream. How could you possibly resist that? It was insanely good (sorry we forgot to take a photo of it!)

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  • Address: Calle Ponzano, 76
  • Price: €20-25 per person