On your year abroad it is imperative that you immerse yourself fully in the language, history and culture and, of course, say yes to everything. What better way to live the true Madrid life than surf from market to market, experiencing the classic Spanish customs of tapas and copas. Más Sangria? Si Señor!
My favourite venue on the Madrid market scene is the vibrant and relatively new Mercado San Ildefonso, tucked away on the corner of Calle Fuencarral in the heart of edgy Malasaña.
San Ildefonso is 3 floors, 18 stands, 3 bars and 2 terraces of super-charged market combining the ambiance of Mercado San Anton's rooftop bar and the gastronomic quality of Mercado San Miguel's food hall. Come for early evening tapas and stay all night for wine, cocktails and beer.
The Taninos Vinacoteca stall has a decent list of very reasonably priced Spanish wine and cava. Alternatively the San Ildefonso bar serves a refreshing and zappy sangria, for just €3.
The market is always busy in the evening, so you'll have to fight for a table, bar edge or stool. A polite tussle for a table will sharpen your appetite, and Cro Qué's artisan croquettes are the perfect reward. We ordered some of the Setas y foie de pato and Rabo de toro croquettes (mushroom and duck pâté, oxtail) - bite-size puffs of earthy warmth and richness.
Mi Taco offers a selection of Mexican snacks. Their generous nacho bowl is perfect for sharing, packed with fresh and creamy guacamole, smokey cheese and ferocious jalapeños.
Next we dug our little spoons into a rich bowl of paella. It was velvety smooth, gently peppered with spice and saffron and pork melting off the bone. The rice with truffled mushrooms was heady and tempting. It did not disappoint.
For the best patatas bravas you must try Ciento Ochenta Grados. The perfect crisp skin, cloudy soft inside with a punch of garlic from the alioi and a smack of chilli from the deep tomato sauce.
Do say yes to everything. Don't miss out!
I am an amateur cook blogging about the food I eat and cook, and my travels along the way.