On a recent winter short break to the wonderful Spanish city of Madrid I may have narrowly missed out on going to a Real Madrid football match but instead got to immerse myself in the seasonal festivities and culinary treats on offer.

Who would have thought that nearly 2 months later we would be experiencing a vegetable shortage due to adverse weather conditions in the Spanish growing regions of lettuce, spinach, cherry tomatoes and even broccoli!

Staying very central it’s a great city to get around and partake in the great food, wine and atmosphere (and shops..) on offer.  It’s known for its tapas and good and very reasonably priced wine but I loved the food markets there – as like in other Spanish cities – they are a treasure trove of discoveries for a foodie like me.  I went to the smaller quieter market Mercado de Antón Martín the day after their public holiday and equivalent of our “shopping day” of 8 December so it was a pleasure to walk around it and take in the fabulous, colourful fruit & vegetable stalls and sumptuous olives selection.  Only for the fact that I was after a hearty fantastic Mexican breakfast (yes I did write Mexican) I would have given into temptation on those olives.

Mexican breakfast – beans, guacamole, egg, rice -protein rich



The green, very delicious Pimientos de Padrón (Padrón peppers) – luckily I didn’t taste any fiery hot specimen.

Olives with various fillings & toppings

Pimientos – Pick up a pepper!

Gorgeous spring onions and greens

The bigger and more touristy popular market Mercado de San Miguel is worth a visit but has a very different vibe and is more of an epicurean stop on a busy sightseeing mission.  The day I was there it was so packed there was very little wiggle room for a relaxing pit-stop so it was a flying visit to soak up the holiday atmosphere and admire the wrought iron and glass facade and interior of the market.

Olives  (full of healthy monounsaturated fats), ripe tomatoes and Spanish omelette or tortilla tapas to be savoured and loving the Spanish garlic ♥.. buy it in your local supermarket (or farmers market) when you see it, it has way more flavour and less air miles than Chinese garlic (which appears in most supermarkets in Cork).  Not all supermarkets seem to stock it (apart from the recent vegetable shortage Tesco do usually have it..)

Some  tempting tortilla recipes:


Smoked paprika bought in the market – perfect for stir fries, in an omelette mix or as a marinade ingredient