08 Feb Discovering A Luxury Chef’s Table Tour In Magical Madrid – Part One
A long weekend is an ideal length of time to explore and enjoy everything this luxury chef’s table tour has to offer. I’ve always had great affection for Madrid and it has been a number of years since I last visited this fabulous city. Needless to say, I was super excited at being reacquainted with this fine destination once again.
My flight from London was approximately two hours, and before I knew it, I was in sunny Madrid. This was followed by a swift and efficient transfer to my hotel from the airport which was seamless. It reminded me again of Madrid and its elegance, from graceful boulevards, wide manicured gardens, great architecture and chic designer stores, it felt good to be back in this magical metropolis.
I was staying at the prestigious Villa Magna which is a Superior Luxury Five Star Hotel located in the Golden Mile, which is Madrid’s most expensive area.
The hotel boasts 150 rooms and suites, four gastronomic spaces, a wellness area and a gym to name but a few attractions. It’s also blessed with a prime location for those guests wishing to take the short walk to visit Paseo de la Castellana or the fashionable Serrano Street.
This gorgeous outpost is spacious, radiant and adorned with contemporary furnishings such as Empire chairs, Bauhaus concepts and Chinese screens that work well together to create a welcoming and palatial atmosphere.
For the next few days, my home is a Grand Prestige room which is situated on the fifth floor. This handsome looking room oozes class and sophistication with a warm and welcoming ambience. The ample sized room furnished in a mahogany wood finish came complete with a comfortable king sized bed, a sitting area with a work desk, walk-in wardrobes, 37′ flat screen TV, Wi-Fi, and a fully stocked mini bar to name but a few delights. A light and airy marble bathroom with both a bathtub and a rain shower to choose from, finished off this relaxing room perfectly.
My Chef’s Table Tour expedition began with a trip to San Anton Market which is situated in the trendy neighbourhood of Chueca which is one of the most vibrant and energetic areas of Madrid. This uber cool district is famed for its small boutique designer shops, colourful facades, laid-back restaurants and bars. The ultramodern San Anton market offers a variety of high-quality seasonal products across three levels.
I really enjoyed meandering around this notable building looking and sampling the different ingredients I would need to cook a tasty Fideuà later, (a seafood dish originally from the coast of Valencia) think paella, and even more similar to arròs a banda, but with noodles instead of rice.
The main ingredients I would need from the market for this enticing fish dish would be pasta noodles and a variety of shellfish, shrimps, crayfish and squid. Plus, I would be preparing a traditional Paella with Ribs and Presca Iberica, Sobrasada Toast and Bacalao al Ajorriero, so I was also on the lookout for some bomba rice, chicken broth, Iberia pork ribs, a sliced baguette and some unsalted cold too.
This really was a fun way of learning and experiencing Spanish food culture and I highly recommend that all foodies go and visit San Anton market which is nothing short of an urban produce paradise.
My shopping trip to San Anton market had certainly worked up an appetite and I was really looking forward to lunch now.
For those who enjoy the art of cooking, you’ll love this part of the Chef’s Table Tour, as not only do you get the chance to learn about key ingredients, what they are and where they come from, but you’ll also get the opportunity to create something special in the kitchen via the deluxe cooking workshop.
This divine cooking class took place at A Punto which is a cooking school that specialises in gastronomy and wine. It’s spread over two floors and consists of a bookshop, a tasting room and two fully functional open kitchens. Ready with my apron, cooking utensils and fine ingredients, I began to create my lunch which was a very therapeutic experience, supervised by the professional Master Chefs on hand.
Lunch was duly served and I was impressed and satisfied with the outcome of my efforts in the kitchen, but I would certainly recommend guests to indulge in a light breakfast beforehand in order to make room for the hearty lunch that you will prepare.
After lunch, I visited El Corte Ingles based on Castellana Avenue which is Spain and Portugal’s largest retail group and prides itself as a world-class luxury shopping destination.
The store houses high-end international brands such as Celine, Hermes and Chanel. Even though, the focus on this opulent store is the shopping, the men’s store is the home to the dazzling rooftop restaurant, StreetXO which is spearheaded by the three-starred Michelin Spanish Chef, David Munoz.
The Chef’s Table Tour offers an exclusive luxury shopping experience at El Corte Ingles which comes equipped with your own personal shopper to guide you through your own luxury retail experience. Thereafter, a Champagne reception awaits those amongst the quiet surroundings of the private fitting room, away from the hustle and bustle of the frenetic shop floor.
Within this oasis of calm, shoppers get the opportunity to try on their items, drink champagne, feast on tapas, sweet treats and even have a private car ready to drive them home after their serious dose of retail therapy.
By now, the day had turned to night and I was looking forward to this part of the Chef’s Table Tour as the next instalment of this thrilling journey presented the opportunity for a private sitting at the acclaimed Ramon Freixa restaurant.
Located in the beautiful Hotel Único, it’s a 19th-century mansion which has been converted into a luxury boutique hotel in the exclusive Salamanca district. A suave and sophisticated dining space awaits with rich interiors and overlooks pristinely manicured gardens, making this is one of Madrid’s most swanky eateries. The restaurant caters for 25 covers with a tranquil private dining room that can accommodate 12 guests comfortably.
Ramon was present at the restaurant to meet and greet his guests for the evening before he disappeared to create a marvellous tasting menu for myself and a few lucky diners.
I began with several bites of which the Baby Prawns cones and the Spanish Churro with Iberian ham and caviar made a delicious first impression.
Ramon’s father’s hand-made bread served with Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Castillo de Canena, Mediterranean Salt and butter from Isigny (Normandia). It’s a must try and you’ll be forgiven for requesting more, it tastes that good.
The main courses as you would expect were flavoursome and well presented, however, the standout dishes for me had to be the Pumpkin millefeuille with scallops, Iberian ham stock and shallot which was blissful. Not to be outshone, the Red King prawn cooked to the flame and royale, fregola Sarda with tamarindo and bimi cooked in Pu Erh tea was simply exquisite.
By now, I had just enough room for dessert which was simply titled ‘American Trip’. This bright, colourful and ravishing dish consisted of five countries with a sweet treat attached to them; Canada: Maple Leaf, USA: Lemon Pie, Mexico: Spicy Tequila Chocolate, Brasil: Coconut, Lime and rum jelly and Argentina: Dulce de Leche Pizza.
This really was a fine dining experience like no other and I thoroughly enjoyed this outstanding culinary journey from start to finish. Ramon Freixa refers to his restaurant as “a place of happiness” and I couldn’t agree more with that statement.
The menu was a perfect blend of traditional and progressive dishes that jumped off the plate and certainly made my taste buds run wild with joy and excitement. It was a truly fabulous gastronomic experience and well deserving of its two Michelin stars.