I first got introduced to Chef Sara Kramer and Sarah Hymanson recipes last year through the Tasting Table. I made their falafel and the Cauliflower Salad with Spring Onions and Mint. I read that they were planning on opening a place in the LA area and was interested to see what they will come up with. They decided to start with a falafel shop in the Grand Central Market and when I read about their unique drinks, I knew we had to try it. Madcapra was the first place we tried after returning from Spain. We saw the two chefs in the kitchen and considering they had only been open a couple of weeks, things were running smoothly.
Iced Cardamom Coffee and Sumac-Beet Soda
This two drinks were the highlights of our meal. The cardamom coffee tasted like a light shake to me. Even though I am not a big fan of beets, I really loved the tart taste of the beet sumac soda.
Green Falafel Salad Cauliflower, Fennel, Labneh & Cilantro
I really enjoyed this spring-y salad. Marinated cauliflowers, fennel and other greens were my kind of salad. The falafel itself was good and I could taste the coriander, but it needed cumin to perk it up. I specially loved the labneh and could eat a bowl full of that.
Red Falafel Sandwich Tomato, Cabbage, Pickles, Tahini & Basil
My husband chose this one and he was not a happy camper. he felt the falafel needed more seasoning and found the tahini on the bitter side. He didn’t care for the pita either. He should have gone for the salad.
Thyssen-Bornemisza museum is a very unique museum. They like to involve every kind of audience in their cultural projects. They showcase art from the 13th century to the late 20th century. They represent anything from Renaissance to the experimental avant-garde movements of the early 20th century. We tried to go there on our first day, but since they closed at 7:00 PM we didn’t have enough time. The second time, it was our last day and we only had two hours to run around and see the magnificent works of art. Had we known how special this museum was, we would have allocated more time. We will never forget this very special museum.
El Fumador The Smoker
Mujer en la ventana Woman at the window
Positioning of Mobile Graphic Elements I, Frantisek Kupka, 1912-13
Study for the Language of Verticals, Frantisek Kupka, 1911
Picture with Three Spots, Wassily Kandinsky, 1914
Formation (Tri- Partition), Oskar Schlemmer, 1926
Harlequin with a Mirror, Pablo Picasso, 1923
33 Little Girls Set Out for the White Butterfly Hunt, 1958
Red Man with Moustache, Willem de Kooning, 1971
Brown and Silver I, Jackson Pollock, 1951
Wild Horses, Karel Appel, 1954
Portrait of Timothy Behrens, Michael Andrews, 1962
Armchair (Fautteuil no 2), Domenico Gnoli, 1967
Express, Robert Rauschenberg, 1963
Quappi in Pink Jumper, Max Beckmann, 1932-34
Group of Houses in Spring, Johannes Itten, 1916
Red Veil, Alexej von Jawlensky, 1912
Haff, Max Pechstein, 1909
Autumn Landscape in Oldenburg, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, 1907
Brickworks, Erich Heckel, 1907
Waterloo Bridge, Andre Derain, 1906
Swaying Dancer (Dancer in Green), Edgar Degas, 1877-79
The Stevedores in Arles, Vincent van Gogh, 1888
“Les Vessenots” in Auvers, Vincent van Gogh, 1890
Woman in Riding Habit, Fullface, Edouard Manet, 1882
Portrait of Millicent, Duchess of Sutherland, John Singer Sargent, 1904
The Harvesters, Pablo Picasso, 1907
House in Dangast (The White House), Erich Heckel, 1908
The Ludwigskirche in Munich, Wassily Kandinsky, 1908
The Penitent Saint Jerome, Jusepe de Ribera, 1634
DSTAgE was the first restaurant reservation I made for our trip to Spain and it was our last meal in Madrid. It makes me sad thinking about it. I wish I could go back in time and experience it all over again. I guess we left the best for last. I love the fact that many restaurants in Spain served the same menu at lunch time as they did dinner time. I know in NYC some restaurants offer that but in LA it is all about dinner.
DSTAgE means “Days to Smell Taste Amaze Grow & Enjoy”. Chef Diego Guerrero left the two Michelin star restaurant, El Club Allard in 2013 to open up this restaurant last summer. In less than one year they earned their first Michelin star. The restaurant looked industrial with exposed brick and hardwood floor. I guess he wanted the emphasis to be on the food. Upon entering the restaurant a staff member checks your name on the list and invites you to seat at the bar area. You can have a drink and they serve you the first course . You are then taken to the open kitchen area where one of the chefs prepares your next course. After that, you are seated in the dining room. They have two tasting menus: DTASTE, with 10 creations, for 88 Euros, and DSTAgE, with 13 creations, for 118 Euros. We went for the shorter one and it was plenty of food. This must have been the most interactive restaurant experience we have ever had. A couple of the dishes with many steps were prepared in front of you. The servers/cooks were friendly and spoke English but at times we smiled when our waitress introduced every dish with, “I made this and that”. As I made an eye contact with Chef Diego Guerrero, he came over and I thanked him for the wonderful experience we had. He seemed very friendly and humble.
Sea Urchin & Citric Dashi
As soon as I saw this dish, I knew we were in for a treat. I love uni and this was not only visually stunning, but tasted great also. The only problem was you wanted more of it, much more.
King Prawn Ceviche
This was like having a personal chef preparing an amazing dish for you. Every time I wanted to snap a picture, he added more ingredients to the dish. He first mixed the king prawn on the top of a himalayan salt slab. He then placed it on a strip of banana leaf and added all kind of garnishes. You were instructed to hold it like a cigar and drop it in your mouth like an oyster.
This was a full body cava.
I don’t remember what this dish was and it is not listed on their menu, but I know it was very delicate and tasty. It looked beautiful too.
Interesting fusion of Latin and Asian.
When our waitress mentioned quinoa bread, I was like What? Of Course I wanted to try it. I have never had quinoa bread before and found it nutty and dense. Now I have to find a recipe and make my own. How creative of them to come up with that.
Tuna, Toffee & “Foiesabi”
This was a surf and turf dish. Tuna and foie gras plus toffee for sweetness and crunch. A nice dish.
Octopus roasted with “Tomatillo”
We love octopus and enjoyed this dish.
Tolosa Bean Ravioli with Cabbage Broth
This dish was amazing. Who knew beans could taste so heavenly. The cabbage broth almost tasted like dashi.
From Winter to Spring
As you can see there was a big production for this dish and was very interactive. Torching and mixing all kind of exotic ingredients from around the globe. It tasted sensational.
Red Mullet braised with Saffron Sauce and Crispy Scales
A nice light dish.
“The Butcher’s Cut”
This must have been the first beef dish we had in Spain because we all know how much Spanish love their pork. Not only the presentation was original and imaginative, the beef tasted out of this world.
After that heavenly beef this was a nice refreshing treat.
Popcorn with Strawberries and Sweet Egg Yolk
I liked the strawberries more than the popcorn and loved the presentation.
A meringue filled with black garlic cream was a nice ending to a wonderful lunch.
Now, I have to go and wipe off my tears!!
After visiting Palacio Real de Madrid we stopped here and it was much more interesting that we expected. Catedral de La Almudena is the Catholic cathedral in Madrid and the seat of Archdiocese of Madrid. We specially loved the beautiful mosaic work of the artist Fr. Marko Ivan Rupnik and we couldn’t keep our eyes off. We climbed all the way up to the roof area for an amazing view of the city.
Monday is not a good day for sightseeing in Madrid because many of the sites are closed. One of the few places that was supposed to be open was the Royal Palace of Madrid. On a very unusually hot day we came to visit the palace and guess what? They were closed that day to the public. We were not the only disappointed people, there were a lot of people sitting around in the heat and didn’t know what to do. The problem was, both the nearby Almudena Cathedral and San Antonio de la Florida were closed also. The next day we returned to visit the palace and since it was our last day in Madrid, we were hoping for the best. As we stood in line, we started talking with people in front of us. They told us the same thing happened to them two days prior. So the palace was closed to visitors two days in a row. The moral of the story is if you are visiting the palace, you are at the mercy of their special visits and such.
The gardens of the palace were beautiful and there were a lot of great sculptures to look at. Once inside, you could only take pictures of the exterior. That meant you could not take any pictures of the magnificent art, sculptures, tapestry, jewelry and artifacts. Every room was unique and very grand. There was a Stradivarius violin collection and a porcelain room. Also the Royal Armory was interesting.
As soon as I knew we were going to Spain I tried for a reservation at DiverXO, David Muñoz’s three Michelin star restaurant in Madrid. Unfortunately even at more than three months ahead, they were all booked. Well, as much as I was disappointed, I knew they had a casual Asian street food style restaurant on the top floor of El Corte Ingles. The night before our lunch we had sorbet from Rocambolesc in the area called, gourmet experience in order to make sure StreetXO will be open the following day. They start their lunch service at 1:30 pm and since they don’t take reservation, you have to line up and wait to be seated. You had a choice of a seating at the counter facing the open kitchen or you could have sat outside. Of Course we chose to seat inside in front of all the smoke, heat and action. At first you might get bothered by all the smoke, but you get used to it. You ordered at the counter directly from the kitchen staff and as soon as the food was ready, they placed it in front of you. The only complain I have was the pace of the food. It was too fast. They had plenty of interesting and original Asian fusion tapa dishes and it was hard to make a choice. Everything we had was packed with flavor and this was my husband’s favorite restaurant of the trip. The guy with the mohawk took care of us and spoke perfect English.
I just read that they will open a restaurant in London this summer and NYC next year.
“Singapore Laksa” with ring prawns cooked over Japanese robata grill coconut cream, shiitake mushrooms and pasta shells
As soon as I saw them grilling these beautiful prawns, I looked at the menu and had to order this dish. The prawns were cooked beautifully and the broth was amazing. The shiitake added earthiness to this dish.
Miso charcoal small cuttlefish Korean kimchi sauce and fried egg, extra crunchy Japanese mini sardines
My husband picked this dish and besides the prawns this was our other favorite. We could eat this dish everyday. The smoky cuttlefish combined with the rich egg and kimchi sent your taste buds to heaven.
We didn’t order this dish, but since it was sitting in front of us, I took a picture of it.
“Chili crab” paprika, chipotle peppers, palo cortado sherry, mantou
I have heard so much about this dish and had to order it. It was a light dish. Sweet crab meat was sitting on mantou, a Chinese steamed bun and had a heat from chipotle and paprika and necessary richness from the eggs.
Grilled Iberian pork pancetta “Saam” marinated mussel condiment, pickled shiitake mushrooms, sriracha and tartar “XO” sauce
At this point I was full and probably didn’t enjoy this dish as much as I could have. I am not the biggest fan of pork belly, but since this was an Iberian belly it was very flavorful. The dish itself was good, but nothing original with the exception of the marinated mussel. I guess they wanted to cover umami from the land, the sea and the earth.
We stopped at this wonderful chocolate shop/cafe twice and had no idea how close it was to our hotel. They opened at 10 am and that is standard for most chocolate shops but a little late for most tourists who are looking for breakfast before starting their day. In our first stop, we had our first proper breakfast in Madrid. The second time we picked up a box of chocolate, a chocolate tart and breakfast for the following day before heading out to the airport. Service was friendly, they spoke good English and they were helpful with making our chocolate selection.
Look at this beautiful cappuccino. My husband was in heaven.
Chocolate Azteca Thick Hot Chocolate (80% cocoa and spices)
Thankfully I finally had an amazing dark hot chocolate. So rich and comforting, every sip was joyful. Mamá Framboise should take a note.
Cruasan Mixto Ham and Cheese Croissant
We love our ham and cheese croissant and this one did not disappoint. The croissant itself was not as perfect as the one from Oriol Balaguer, but it was a close second. The cold version the next day was as good as the fresh warm one.
Tarta de Chocolate Chocolate Tart
This was our last treat the night before we left and it had a deep chocolate taste. I could use one right about now!!
Their chocolate came in Fruit, Truffles, Innovations, Single Bean Origins, Dried Fruit and Nuts, Spices, Flowers and Herbs and Liqueur collections.
I really enjoyed the Wasabi, Peanuts and specially the Balsamic Vinegar. We also enjoyed Cassis, Coffee and Raspberry. From the single bean origins we liked the Venezuela.
Jordi Roca of the Three Michelin star restaurant, El Celler de Can Roca, was the creator of this ice cream and sorbet shop in Girona’s city center. In 2014 he opened a place inside El Corte Inglés Gourmet Experience in Madrid.
Coconut and Violet Sorbet with strawberry and baked apple
My husband had this and enjoyed it. It was like being on a tropical vacation and smelling the violet.
White Asparagus and Truffle Sorbet
The asparagus sorbet had a very intense grassy flavor and was topped with truffles and truffle juice and salt. An interesting savory treat, but I could have skipped the salt.