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ALAMY, GETTY IMAGES


EAME


CITY FOCUS


from every region to be distributed,” explains Mateo. “We say you’ll fi nd the best produce in Madrid because everything passes through here.” Madrid was the fi rst city in Spain to boast a three-star restaurant in the Michelin guide. Zalacaín achieved the status in 1987 – it subsequently lost the stars and closed its doors defi nitively last year but carried the culinary mantle for Madrid for years. However, the city has


"People here are open minded and they want to see restaurants with its own strong identity, and they will always give you a chance to show what youoffer"


launch in his own region, he decided to bring the concept to the capital city. “We were doing well and we wanted to bring Galician cuisine to Madrid diners,” he says. His seafood restaurant Nado has been received very well by the local dining population. “I think people here are open minded and they want to see restaurants with their own strong identity, and they will always give you a chance to show what you off er,” he says.


Clockwise from left: The stunning Plaza Mayor is lined with cafes and restaurants; Mercado de San Miguel is a destination for food


lovers; suckling pig is the specialty at Botín, the world's oldest restaurant; artisan bakery Ciento Treinta (see box right)


All roads lead to Madrid A map of Spain shows the important logistical position of the city – motorways emerge from the city to every region of the country. “Madrid was traditionally a market city, all the fi sh and produce arrived


not always been the focus of international attention. Other regions boast more robust culinary heritages and cultures. The Basque Country in the north, a prime destination for foodies, and Catalonia, etched on the map by Albert and Ferrán Adriá who captured the attention of the world with their pioneering restaurant, the now closed El Bulli. Madrid was largely overlooked in serious gastronomic circles. Today, while the Basque Country remains a major gastronomic destination, it lacks the diversity of Madrid and Catalonia has been aff ected by events in recent years. In 2017 Barcelona, for


so many years the focus of attention in Spain and beyond for its gastronomy scene, suff ered a jihadist terrorist attack and experienced violent protests in the wake of a campaign for independence. Both events hit the city – so reliant on tourism – hard. Since 2020, Covid-19 has hampered any eff ort to bounce back. Strict closures followed


by curfews and restrictions on occupancy have had huge impact on hospitality and


85 ACCEPTING ARTISANAL ACCEPTING ARTISANAL


Alberto Miragoli who founded the artisan bakery Ciento Treinta Grados with his brother Guido in 2017, is part of the vanguard bringing different flavors to the Madrid market. After years gaining experience and honing his craft in bakeries in Europe and the US, Alberto returned to his hometown and opened his own bakery with his brother Guido who has taken charge of the coffee roastery, also on site. Last year they received the prize


for the best bread in Madrid. “Unlike other parts of the Europe and the US, Spain does not have a strong movement in baking,” says Alberto. “It is not considered a craft and while there are many family bakeries, until recently people didn’t consider buying sourdough bread.” As artisanal baking becomes more


professional and investments grow, the sector is making steady progress in the city. And the locals are starting to embrace the new products. At the start customers would enter the shop and question the higher price or ask for “normal bread”. “I do think that it is harder for people here to get used to new things and to change than in it is in a city like London. The market is more complicated here, we are generally more conservative but there is an international trend of trying new flavors, our palate is adapting to new flavors,” says Miragoli. “We have made real efforts in communicating to customers what we sell; people are openminded, but they still need to be educated.”


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