Land of great products
The Spanish people like to enjoy the good things in life like food, wine and eating times, and their local dishes and wines are on top of the list. Many of the dishes are rice based (as the famous paella) and in Madrid, meat, vegetables, fruits and dairy products are varied and of high quality.
Fish and seafood are excellent and you can hear that Madrid “is the best seaport” of Spain because of the freshness of the sea products. Spanish people use olive oil in their daily diet, which is proven to be best way to cook in order to avoid serious health problems.
There are more than 3000 restaurants in Madrid. Spanish people enjoy eating out (restaurants and bars expenses are often first item in their budget). They are fond of traditional Spanish food, especially sea-food, but over the last years they have also learnt to appreciate new tastes. As a result, you will find restaurants of every variety and culture.
Spaniards have their own habits and eat much later than the rest of their European neighbours! At lunchtime, most of the restaurants open around 1.30 p.m. However, you hardly see people coming in before 2 or 2.30 p.m. In the evening, restaurants do not open their doors before 9 or 9.30, and most people start arriving at 10. Not to worry though, if these times do not fit well for you or seem a bit late…. there are many “tapas bars”, cafeterias and snack bars which serve food all day long.
One of the greatest things about being an expat in Spain is the discovery of wine. Although the language and terminology used in labelling can be a problem if you do not speak the language. Here is a quick reference to get you started with Spanish wine:
- “Crianza” wine bottled aged at least 6 months in an oak cask and cannot be marketed before the third year after picking the grape.
- “Reserva” this wine is aged a minimum of 12 months in an oak cask and cannot be marketed before the fourth year after the harvest. •“Gran Reserva” it must age more than 2 years in oak, plus 5 years in coops or bottles.
Castille is famous for its wine growing regions and the white, rosé and red wines are famous throughout Spain and Europe. More specifically, go to the north-eastern part of Castile for excellent “Rioja” wine or to the north-western part of Castile, for the also wonderful “Ribera del Duero” red wine. Both of these regions can be a day trip outside of Madrid or spend a weekend trying out the different vineyards.