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  • Walking central Madrid is always a journey through the tantalizing aromas of pork and lamb grilling on open fires, bakeries with fresh empanadas and tortas, ancient candle scented taverns and the pleasant smells from the wine and cheese cellars under the many plaza walls of the city.

    We can always wett our appetites by walking through the Mercado de San Miguel admiring fresh fish, produce, pasta and meat.

    Street food in the plazas from early afternoon through the evening hours include grilled meats with smokey onions and peppers, and fresh Tejas y Barquillos.

    Walking the southwest steps from the Plaza Mayor down through the Arco de Cuchilleros, we are met by a 19th century costumed doorman who invites us to Las Cuevas de Luis Candelas (the Caves of Luis Candelas).

    We enter, going directly through a narrow archway, to sit at a low wooden bench and table in the first cavern just past the bar, and order Sangria and raciones - individual plates of cured ham, cheese, and Gambas al ajillo and setas al ajillo - prawns with garlic and mushrooms with garlic

    A steady stream of costumed waiters pass by us into the inner caverns with roasted suckling pig and lamb - slow cooked in a wood-fired oven, we get hungrier by the second.

    Next comes ‘cocido madrileño’ - Madrid’s traditional three course stew, oven-roasted hake ‘a la cazuela’, tripe, and finally traditional Madrid desserts pass - Rosquillas tontas y listas, Buñuelos rellenos. That’s it, gotta go.

    We leave the caves to walk the Palacio Real de Madrid gardens and then return to ME by Melia to freshen up. Time for another short walk to Le Michaela Restaurante and Bar Le Tapas for more wine and you guessed it, a very sophisticated, conversational cuisine . . . . . Tapas.

    We do not sit for a full traditional meal on this trip, in Madrid, Toledo, Salou, Tarragona, Bacelona, Brussels, The Vaals, Aachen, Cologne, Amsterdam, or Florence. We reserve that right for Harry’s American in Venice, but that’s another story, another day. Ciao.
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