Blog Travel Series

Let’s Go Exploring! Madrid, the Food or Food Poisoning Capital of the World?


FIRECracker is a world-travelling early retiree. She used to reside in one of the costliest cities in Canada, but as an alternative of drowning in debt, she rejected residence possession. What resulted was a 7-figure portfolio, which has allowed her and her husband to retire at 31 and travel the world. Their story has been featured on CBC, the Huffington Publish, CNBC, BNN, Business Insider, and Yahoo Finance. Up to now, it’s the most shared story in CBC history and their viral video on CBC’s On the Money has garnered 4.5 Million views.

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I closed my eyes, resting my face on the chilly toilet tiles. The tremors in my abdomen had briefly subsided, but the room was nonetheless spinning. Oh God, why oh why did I order that silly seafood tower?

After what felt like hours, I knelt on the toilet flooring shivering and coated in cold sweat. Oh crap, I assumed, as one other wave of nausea hit me. With shaky arms, I crawled over to the rest room and began puking once more.

So how did we end up here?

Let me back up a bit.

Before we got here to Madrid, we have been each huge fans of seafood. Particularly uncooked seafood—oysters, sashimi, and clams–principally anything that smelled like the ocean. Provided that Spain had some of the world’s most famous seafood dishes, we thought we have been in for a deal with. And once we came upon about the “tower of seafood” provided by the fashionable local restaurant advisable by our Airbnb host, we have been ecstatic.

Having eaten at meals stalls all-over Southeast Asia, Mexico, and Central America, meals poisoning by no means even crossed my mind. And now that we have been in Spain, I utterly dropped my guard—in any case, some of the greatest costliest Michelin restaurants are in Madrid. What might probably go improper?

Turns out so much. But I’ll get to that in a second.

Luckily, at the starting of the week, we principally stuck to cooked tapas, churros, and jamón. Madrid gave us some of the most memorable food experiences we’ve ever had in all of Europe:

Chocolate Con Churros

When you’re ever having a nasty day, order a plate of chocolate con churros. Trust me, the mixture of deep-fried fitters coated with cinnamon and dipped in thick melted darkish chocolate will brighten even the darkest day. I inhaled the entire thing in 5 seconds flat and then upended the cup to get the last drops of darkish chocolate into my mouth. Sadly, the waiter took away our dishes earlier than I might embarrass myself by licking the entire cup clear. Oh nicely.

For the greatest CCC (that’s what the cool youngsters call it lately) in all of Madrid, head to “San Gines”. PROTIP: there’s all the time an extended line up however in case you maintain strolling previous it, via the tunnel, you’ll see another café referred to as “La Escondida de San Gines”. It’s the similar cafe with the very same menu but individuals don’t understand that, so you’ll already be seated and eating your churros while all the other tourists are distracted by the long line.

All Tapas, all the time

foie gras tapas–my favourite!Salmon, crab, and cream cheese tapas. Yum!Assorted seafood tapas

Yow will discover delicious tapas all over the city, but our favorite spot was Puturru De Foie in the Mercado de San Antón. That they had the greatest foie gras tapas for €4 each! (Provided that foie gras units you again at the least $20 for a tiny appetizer, I do not know how they earn money, however I’m glad they found a method) I can truthfully say this was one of the greatest issues I’ve ever put in my mouth.

The preferred mercado in Madrid is San Miguel, however we found it to be overrated and approach too crowded. I might advocate checking it out for the structure—a stunning ornate historic constructing with iron pillars and floor-to-ceiling glass—however I assumed the food was simply so-so.

Consumer: (WT-shared) Aiko99ann at wts wikivoyage [CC BY-SA (]

One other place that served up great tapas with a unbelievable view is the rooftop meals courtroom in the El Corte Ingles at Plaza Callao. It’s fairly properly hidden and full of locals, but tourists do not know the place it is, so that you’ll get this gem to your self.

I wasn’t a huge fan of tapas in other elements of Spain (pay extra for less food and SHARE it with other individuals, say what?) however in Madrid the tapas have been exceptional. I might go back to Madrid in a heartbeat just for that.

Jamón Ibérico—my newfound love

The Spaniards are critical about their jamón—or ham—a lot in order that savouring paper-thin slices of the glistening cured pork is a Spanish rite of passage.

Before coming to Madrid, we didn’t even know the distinction between Jamon Serrano and Jamon Iberico (tragic, I do know). And the phrases “Pata Negra” didn’t even register in my brain.

Since then I’ve been educated on the distinction between Serrano and Ibérico and why you hadn’t lived till you’ve devoured a slice of “Bellota Pata Negra” shaved ever-so-carefully from a severed pig leg hanging from the ceiling, hoof nonetheless hooked up.

You see, Serrano ham comes from the widespread white pig raised on a farm and fed a traditional weight-reduction plan of cereals. Ibérico ham, on the other hand, comes from a one of a sort black-hoofed pig that is raised on a special eating regimen of acorns and left to run wild on oak-filled pastures, their backs “caressed by mountain air” (the Spaniards could be a tad melodramatic).

For this reason the value of Ibérico ham is 10-20 occasions costlier than Serrano ham.

So is it value it? Being the skeptic that I’m, I made a decision to seek out out for myself.

At €165 ($185 USD) per kg, the Bellota Pata Negra (acorn-fed black-hoofed pig) was the costliest ham in the whole retailer and I half expected a loud alarm to blare the minute the butcher took it off its hook.

Here’s what it appeared like sliced.

As quickly as I put it in my mouth, it virtually melted on my tongue. I tasted an earthy, nutty, virtually sweet flavour that resembled nothing of the Serrano hams I’d had before. Serrano hams tastes like being punched in the mouth with a fistful of salt, but Ibérico ham was so beautiful I didn’t need to destroy it by clobbering the taste with any bread.

So, now it’s formally. I’m a total ham snob. And for those who go to Madrid to attempt Ibérico ham, you’ll be one too.

World class museums that includes Picasso and Dali

I’m not even into artwork museums, but I liked the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, the Museo
Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, and the Museo Nacional del Prado.

In the event you go to Madrid, you need to hit up these three, as they are referred to as the “golden triangle
of art” and listed in the prime 10 greatest art museums in the world.

I went there principally to see Picasso and Dali’s items, but I also ended up discovering Francisco Goya, who made one of the most annoying paintings ever, entitled “Saturn Devouring His Son”

Soerfm [CC BY-SA three.0 (]

Yeah, Spanish artists might be dark. And speaking of dark…

Bull preventing

Now, this one is a controversial one. Notice how I stated “memorable”, not essentially “best or most fun” at the beginning of this listing.

Bull preventing has been a Spanish custom for a whole lot of years, but in recent times, the sport has been banned in Barcelona as a result of of its cruelty in the direction of bulls. I didn’t know this but the matador stabs and kills the bull at the end of each struggle. He even takes residence the severed ears and head as a trophy! So understandably, some see this tradition as barbaric and have petitioned for it to be banned.

You possibly can go to the Museo Taurino to seek out out about the art of bullfighting and all the casualties that got here from collaborating in such a harmful sport. Warning: this isn’t for the faint of coronary heart.

So now that I’ve advised you the whole lot I really like about Madrid, let me inform you about the one thing I didn’t love. Specifically getting food poisoned within an inch of our lives.

All we heard was “seafood tower” from our Airbnb host and we headed straight to “Ribeira do Miño”, the in style local restaurant to eat our fill.

Six hours later, I ended up with my head in the rest room, swearing to by no means eat seafood again.

Little did I do know, Spain has been dubbed “the food poison capital of the world” in accordance with a survey of 2000 holidaymakers. And just lately, there’s even been an outbreak of food poisoning which result in a demise in a Michelin star restaurant! Yikes!.

I can truthfully say I didn’t need to take a look at a single oyster or shrimp after that ordeal and it’ll be a very long time earlier than I may even take into consideration raw oysters with out freaking out again.

Luckily, our dangerous experience was made up by the undeniable fact that our Airbnb host was good enough to let us stay for two nights without spending a dime, and we didn’t should catch a flight the next day.

For sure, we discovered from that have and shall be super cautious any more.

You’d assume that entire food poisoning thing would sour my expertise on Madrid, but I nonetheless assume it’s one of my favourite cities that we go to in Europe—principally because of the fantastic food and world class museums. Simply watch out with seafood and ensure to avoid Ribeira do Miño like the plague.

We ended up spending extra in Madrid (mostly on food) than many different elements of Europe, nevertheless it was value it:

Class Value in USD/couple Value in CAD/couple Notes Accommodations: $46 USD $71 CAD Although it was costlier than locations like Japanese Europe, lodging in Madrid have been still quite affordable for an enormous metropolis. Our Airbnb was tiny but nicely laid out and near main points of interest. Food: $56 USD $73 CAD ($47 for eating out, $26 for groceries) We ate out in Madrid greater than some other metropolis in Europe and it exhibits. I remorse virtually nothing except the seafood tower which set us again 45 Euros and destroyed us afterwards. Be additional careful with raw seafood–particularly in Spain. Transportation: $15 USD/day $20 CAD/day Transportation to Madrid from Malta was 68 Euros every by way of Ryanair. Getting round Madrid by way of subway was straightforward and comparatively inexpensive. We have been also in the center of the motion so we might walk to most points of interest. Leisure: $1.70 USD/day $2.30 CAD/day One of the things I really like about Madrid is the museums which are actually free to visit on certain days. The draw back is the long strains, but whenever you’re retire, who cares about strains ;). We ended saving a ton of money because we scheduled our time round free museum days. Complete: $128 USD/couple/day $166 CAD/couple/day Madrid was one of the costlier locations we go to in Europe but still one of our favourites. Even with the food poisoning, I’d still advocate it.

What do you assume? Are you courageous sufficient to go to the meals/food poisoning capital of the world?

Word: Shout out to Chautauquans A&D for the tip on utilizing the Rick Steves app for road excursions. For these of you who wish to travel in Europe, be sure to download the Ricks Steves journey app. It’s utterly free and super useful.