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Spain: Madrid for foodies

I think I ate my way across Madrid during a recent trip to Spain with travel journalists. We had meals that really were worth writing home about, but I’ll write about them here:

• Poncelet Cheese Bar, Calle de Jose Abascal, 61, is a relatively new establishment in a sleekly designed open interior space.

A variety of foods are prepared with cheese. Scores of cheeses are offered on a multipage menu, as well.

We sampled dishes, which included mushroom risotto, cod and pork, all with cheese as an ingredient. Of course, end-of-meal cheeses were offered, too.

• Teatriz Restaurant, Calle de Hermosilla, 15, is in an old theater

repurposed as an Italian eatery, with designs by Philippe Starck, for a fun place to look at.

We were on the former stage, which was a more casual setting than the area where the audiences sat. In the audience area, tables were set up with white tablecloths, much as in a club where people would come to eat, drink and watch a show.

On the stage beside us was a long bar with enticing food displays. We could also see what must have been balcony seating where a number of guests appeared to be partying around a piano.

I found online reviews praising this restaurant, but we did not find the food matched the decor. I don’t regret the experience, however.

• Sergi Arola’s Vi Cool, a tapas establishment at Calle de las Huertas, 12, is in Madrid’s Literary Quarter and my favorite of these spots.

The quarter is an artsy neighborhood that extends to the Prado Museum. In the opposite direction, the quarter abuts Madrid’s historic core, which dates from the ninth century when the Moors founded Madrid.

But this is about the food: Eating tapas, small servings of many foods, is a nifty way to sample what a restaurant offers.

We tasted about a dozen items over a long, late lunch. These nibbles included pork sausage slices in sherry, onion, peppers and cheese; scallops tartar, eaten wrapped in lettuce; chicken and pork cannelloni (really good!!), and ricotta mousse with berries and honey (also exceptional).

Madrid is awash in tapas eateries. One such site, BTW, is the recently refurbished San Miguel Market, a Beaux-Art ironwork structure just outside the Plaza Mayor in the city center.

However, I wasn’t in town long enough to make a dent in this subject.

Madrid, Spain, Cheese Bar

Peering through the front window into Madrid’s Cheese Bar.

Madrid, Spain, Cheese Bar

A sampling of cheeses on display in the Poncelet Cheese Bar in Madrid.

Madrid, Spain, Cheese Bar

High-ceilinged interior of the Vi Cool tapas restaurant in Madrid, facing the service area.

Madrid, Spain, Cheese Bar

Tapas of pork sausage in sherry, with onion, peppers and cheese, served at Vi Cool in Madrid.

Madrid, Spain, Cheese Bar

Madrid’s City Hall, and formerly the headquarters for Spain’s postal service, at Plaza de la Cibeles. This has nothing to do with food in Madrid — It is here just because I like the late-afternoon light in the photo.

This blog and its photos are by Nadine Godwin, editorial director and contributor to the trade newspaper, Travel Weekly. She also is the author of “Travia: The Ultimate Book of Travel Trivia,” which was published by The Intrepid Traveler; it can be purchased at