Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Meandering In Madrid

Well, this is my last full day in Madrid for now. Tomorrow I head to Barcelona, but I then return for one more full day here before heading home. I am looking forward to Barcelona, but I do like Madrid.

I have been mentioning the hams that hang all over and the little, torture-chamber like devices that they use to hold them while the are being carved. The just slice off little slices and serve it either on bread or with melon. It is really good, chewier and more flavorful than the prosciutto you find in must restaurants in the United States. It is a salt-cured, air-dried raw Italian ham that is pressed during processing makes to make firmer than other hams.

839) Canas y Tapas

Interestingly, this bar that had tapas in its name didn’t have much in the way of tapas. The bar was U shaped and had a white marble top and ornately patterned wooden sides. The short side closest to the double doors had four silver spigots, three of them pouring San Miguel and one pouring Zarro vermouth. The spigots were the fairly common type, tall with the faucet-like handles. These are mounted just behind the back edge of the bar above a metal drain. In front of the spigots and protruding onto the bar is a slightly elevated metal shelf with a little brass “fence” around it and a plastic shield in front that usually has the name of the bar etched onto it. This shelf is then filled with either glasses or mugs. This is seems to be the most common setup that you will find in bars.

The lights over the bar had flat black metal shades and hang from the ceiling from pulley-like contraptions. They appear to be decorative only but you might be able to lower the lights a bit. Two huge brown San Miguel beer tanks were suspended from the ceiling. Judging by the gauges and valves and the large hose coming out of them these were not for decoration.

The wall behind me had a large painted tile picture of a statue in a square. I think it is the same statue I saw all of the tourists traipsing by yesterday. The square, Plaza Mayor, is just a short distance away.

The walls were a combination of intrictely patterned tiles and mottled light yellow plaster. The floor was a combination of large orange and small blue tiles. Garlands of dried peppers decorated the wall behind the bar and there was a wooden framed blackboard listing the tapas they did offer (but no free ones). They also had several hams hanging on the wall back there.

I had a San Miquel

840) Los Galayos

The bar is kind of a zig-zag shaped thing with a black marble top, a reddish orange tiled front and a silver foot rest. I was presented with a small plate of little sausages. They only had one beer spigot so I had what it poured. A bright blue chalk board listed their tapas and wines. Wine bottles and clay jugs and pitchers on high shelves along with some woven baskets and a couple of grain sacks were behind the bar.

Signed pictures of The Beatles in full Sgt. Pepper dress plus a signed picture of Elvis framed with a reproduction of one of his gold records. There was also a signed picture of John and Yoko. The owner must be a real Beatles fan because that was what was playing on the sound system even though the small television was showing VH1 music videos.

There is one of those electronic slot machines that nobody ever seems to play by the door and that, along with the three wooden bar stools with green seats pretty much fill up the place. This is one of the number of bars surrounding the Plaza Mayor so they probably have chairs out there too. Most of the places do.

I had a Cruz Campo.

841 La Torre de Oro Bar Andalu

Great place if you like bull fighting and root for the bull. The walls were covered with pictures of bull fighters, but all in the process of being gored, being carried out of the arena, or in the hospital showing off their scars. There were also six mounted bull heads on the walls.

The bartender said even if the bull wins they kill it and cut off its head. These were all the heads of bulls that had ¨won. Each bull head had a little plaque giving his statistics, weight, date of birth, won-loss record (not really), and lineage. So, apparently, these are all the heads of victorious bulls.

There is just a narrow, standing room only narrow wooden bar in front of the tapas. The walls are elaborately decorated tiles but are largely obscured by the pictures, bull heads, hams, and shelves of wine bottles. A very friendly place. You can enter it either from the Plaza Mayor or, as I did, from one of the narrow passageways leading to it.

I had a glass or red wine and a plate of rice and peas..

842) Melon de Corregidor

Strange, you can go your whole life without being in a bar with a mounted bull’s head and then you hit two in a row. This place also had the heads of other animals, including a ferocious looking snarling boar, a large black goat, and a small elk mounted on the walls as well. The bar has kind of a hooked L shape with a dark wood top and a wooden front inlaid with ceramic tiles with fancy designs. They do have bar stools in here, something the last place had no room for.

I addition to the heads of dead animals they also had an old breastplate and a couple of swords hanging on the wall. There were also a few paintings, one of a pasture full of peaceful looking bulls. An archway separates this small place into two halves and it is plastered with foreign currencies. I am sad to say that the United States greenbacks are far and away the least colorful of them all.. A bunch of hams hang on the back wall and shelves of liquor are on the wall behind the bar. There is also a slot machine. These are getting to be so common, like the espresso machines, that I probably no longer mention them every time I see them. An old looking metal chandelier hangs from the ceiling.

I had a glass of red wine.

843) CafeeKe

CafeeKe means small cafe and this was small indeed. They also served only Belgian beers. The bartender, named Ximena, said everything in the place was shipped over from Belgium. When I heard the bartender’s name I guessed that she was from Mexico, and I was right. Bar Man scores a free beer.

Ximena, The Mexican Bartender In A Belgian Bar In Spain

There is just a narrow little bar but it was quite comfortable. I was told that the name of the place means “Small Café.” The bar has an orangey marble looking tile top. There were brass rails for both your arms and legs. The beer station here was the more traditionally shaped tee shaped affair with six spigots and the traditional, although unmarked, pull handles.

A couple of little English pug-nosed terriers seemed to pretty much have the run of the place, but they were friendly enough. The walls were mostly dark wood with a band of mustard colored plaster on one side up front and mirrors on the other side and a green chalkboard listing the beers opposite the bar. About waist-high on the wood part of the walls is a narrow ledge for glasses with bar stools win front. On top of the wooden section are narrow shelves displaying bottles of Belgian beer and some old metal signs advertising beer and cigarettes. Another place worth stopping into if you are in the neighborhood. It is right outside the Plaza Mayor.

I had a draft Te Deum, which is a Belgian beer, and a couple of meatballs.

844) Fosters Hollywood

I guess this might be a Madrid meets Hollywood kind of a place. There were lots of ketchup bottles, the first I have seen in Madrid, so I guess that means they serve what passes for American food, hamburgers and French fries. There is a rectangular shaped bar with a black textured top. The sides are made up of film and camera cases and there is a silver foot rail. Above and wrapped around the bar are what look like cameral booms. There is even a full sized mannequin of a camera-man riding a boom hanging over the stairway to the toilets marked, ever so cutely, Actor and Actress.

The lighting is metal industrial stuff like, I guess, you might find on a sound stage. Lots of movie posters cover the walls. It is a bit contrived for my taste, but the place was crowded so the gimmick must work. They really should have director’s chairs instead of bar stools though.

I had a draft Mahou and headed home, calling it a day.

Another six bar day making 844 for the year and leaving 156 to go. I will bid a fond, but temporary, adieu to Madrid tomorrow. A great place for bar hopping.


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