TRUE LOVE

Why we’re mad about Madrid!

Elle (Canada) - - Front Page - By Noreen Flanagan

It’s not un­usual for guides to speak fondly of their home­towns, but Pe­dro Jesús Jiménez has a re­la­tion­ship with Madrid that’s truly en­vi­able. “It’s very spe­cial,” he told me as we were walk­ing up Gran Via, the city’s cen­tral street. “I’m not ob­jec­tive. I have lived in Barcelona, Lon­don and San Francisco, but Madrid is home.” I sug­gested that per­haps the other places had merely ro­manced him but he found his true love here. “Yes, ex­actly,” he said, smil­ing. “I am in love with this city.”

I think Madrid be­gan to se­duce me the minute I tasted my first cro­que­tas de jamón at the resto at Dear Ho­tel. By the time I’d had the “Gourmet Ex­pe­ri­ence” at the El Corte Inglés store on Ser­rano Street, I was smit­ten. Af­ter try­ing the “de­con­structed” club sand­wich from David Muñoz’s StreetXO, the in­sanely ad­dic­tive gua­camole from Roberto Ruiz’s Salón Cas­ca­bel and the chocolate ice cream topped with cot­ton candy from Jordi Roca’s Ro­cam­bo­lesc, I un­der­stood why th­ese chefs are all mem­bers of the Miche­lin club. I also learned that there’s more to Span­ish im­bib­ing than cava and san­gria. At Ta­tel, a new hot spot whose own­ers in­clude ten­nis champ Rafael Nadal and pop star En­rique Igle­sias, I tried the smoke-in­fused Coco Chanel cock­tail. This vodka-based sip­per had notes of rhubarb, ly­chee and straw­berry and was topped with a rose pe­tal. The other cock­tail that seemed to be hav­ing a mo­ment in this city was the clas­sic G and T. Af­ter try­ing one of the tum­bler-size ver­sions at the rooftop ter­race at the Prin­ci­pal Madrid Ho­tel, I was re­lieved I was only an el­e­va­tor ride away from my dis­creetly posh room.

But I didn’t just eat and drink! My other in­dul­gences in­cluded shop­ping trips through the tony Sala­manca neigh­bour­hood to check out the lat­est Gaudí-esque col­lec­tion from Delpozo, the Malasaña dis­trict for its hip­ster-fash­ion shops, like Rughara, and the pop­u­lar street-food-in­spired Mer­cado San Ilde­fonso. “This was sup­posed to be a place where peo­ple grabbed a quick bite,” ex­plained Es­ther de la Cruz, who han­dles the PR. “But no­body wants to leave.” When I asked for the Wi-Fi pass­word, she laughed. “The owner won’t ever have it. He wants peo­ple to talk to the peo­ple they’re with.” No won­der Jiménez fell so hard for this city. n

The luxe Prin­ci­pal Madrid Ho­tel; tapas em­po­rium Platea Madrid (be­low, left)

Clock­wise: Head to Ta­tel for cock­tails, Ja­mon­ería Lopez Pas­cual for jamón Ibérico, El Corte Inglés for the “Gourmet Ex­pe­ri­ence” and Mer­cado de la Reina for tapas and soup.

Spain’s fa­mous Camper shoes

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