“Beer, if drunk in moderation, softens the temper, cheers the spirit and promotes health.” – Thomas Jefferson

This article will take you 1 minutes 22 seconds to read – written by Enzo Lauretta

What were we talking about last time?

In my latest article about Hop in the box I talked about

  1. Travel the world by tasting different beers from the comfort of home
  2. They will rang your door, it’s like Christmas but every month
  3. The excitement of a surprise box, which is priceless
  4. They spread the craft beer culture helping local producers to be distributed
  5. Being the coolest beers bottles collectors between friends.

In the last weeks I have heard and read about at least 5 different events-festivals-fairs totally dedicated to the amazing and exciting world of the beer.

Some were focused on a specific typology of cerveza, some others were totally involved in the growing trend of craft beer, letting tiny producers to speak out and meet their desired target.

I have to admit that in the end I’ve been only to one of these events, the more advertised and far from Madrid center, and it really disappointed me. Prices were too high both for beers and food, few varieties of cervezas and an awful space, desolation …

Probably the other events were great and I just pick the wrong one, but for sure this episode made me think about how much we do expect sometimes from a location and an event and how much we can be disappointed, hopefully in this case I didn’t had to pay for an entrance ticket.

Comfort is what I was thinking about.

hop in the box

So, after that I thought, why I should move from home to look for a craft beer store or to go for beer festivals when I can stay at home enjoying a box of beer?

I have to admit that it is always a pleasure to visit that kind of festivals, meet people, taste different beers from all over the world, or I don’t know, decide to go for a picnic with some friends and bring hop in the box with you, but sometimes you just need to stay at home spending more time with ourselves, a football and a beer, some beers, that knock on your door and with which you can make something to eat as i did it.

To make it even clearer we record a nice video on how you can enjoy the Hop in the Box experience, from the ring bell to the consume, drinking or cooking with the craft beer selection of every month.

This article will take you 1 minutes 55 seconds to read – written by Enzo Lauretta

Try to imagine a dinner with a great chef from a very special tavern in Madrid Retiro, a unique menu, an impressive location and a lovely blonde girl serving your favourite beer every time you sip the last drop.

It’s a true story that San Miguel made happen last week, organizing a dinner inside the Museo del Ferrocarril, discovering why the Selecta is the greatest beer.

I drank lots of different beers in my life, from several countries, but I do believe that you don’t need to be a beer specialist to understand and taste the difference of the San Miguel ingredients compared to all the other beers on the market.

And after that which was already an incredible once in a lifetime experience I also had the chance to meet David with a tiny group of friends on the occasion of a degustation of San Miguel Selecta in a very characteristic bar of Las Letras, called Kaixo.

I discovered that San Miguel comes from Manila, Philippines, which is a city I love and I have been to 4 times. It really surprised me.

And I learn a lot during these two events, because the only way to learn is to explore, to be in the front row enjoying the experience with all the senses.

Johann, who was our storyteller at the Exploratorium dinner, all his talk along the dinner was focused on the tastes (sweetness, sourness, bitterness, saltiness, umami or savoriness) and how Chef José Luis Martínez from Taberna y Media has developed the menu of the dinner in order to match the Selecta tastes with his premium quality food.

José Luis Martínez taberna y media

After a talk with Chef José Luis Martínez  I understood why San Miguel has chosen him. First of all for his passion, it really seems to me that I was full of joy when talking about the preparation of his creations, second because he’s an explorer so that this melting’ pot of different countries, tastes, ingredients and culture was crucial point of the dinner, mixing and matching top quality food with the exclusivity of San Miguel Selecta.

I mean it is not just a matter of matching food with beer, all the courses were cooked or marinated with San Miguel Selecta.

And you know you is a great fan of the beer foam for cooking?

Ferran Adria, one of the most famous chef in the world, a revolutionary man for the cuisine and restaurant world s widely credited with starting the trend of foam on food, always preferring beer or sparkling wines to the still once.

First Course

Fattened hen chicken pickled with foie and ras el hanout.

Roasted scallops with confit artichokes from Tudela.

Second Course

Roasted beef cheek and venezuelan cocoa.

Dessert

Chocolate mousse with gianduia.

With David few days after all the attention was on San Miguel Selecta, the history of San Miguel, the development of Selecta, taking into consideration all the ingredients with a five senses approach, from the hearing to the taste, analysing the smell of hops and of more complex tastes like chocolate, galleta and cinnamon.

We admired the color of the beer with the sight, and did a three tasting phases analysis on how different they were one between each other.

It was a blast. Stop thinking about everything else and just turn on the focus on what we were drinking and the sensations that we felt.

You can only reach excellence with knowledge and what’s better than exploring for accumulating more and more knowledge. This is the spirit and the vision of the Exploratorium project that we had the chance to live twice, first with the “mesa nomada” inside the Museo del Ferrocarril and than with the cata viajera at Kaixo in Las Letras.

There are lots of “mesas nomadas” you can participate, unfortunately not in Madrid, but that’s that’s an explorer challenge, to move forward.

When I see a designer, an architect or a chef that creates a dress, a building or a plate inspired by work of art from a famous or even an unknown artists I am really impressed.

A chef is an artist and doesn’t need to be inspired by painters or sculptors, everything he does is magic, combining food in new ways is always a work of art.

But there are some rare and unique occasion where the two disciplines can merge and give birth to a really special art menu.

This is the story of two young chefs that almost one and half year ago opened a restaurant in one of the most important contemporary art museums in the world, I am talking about the restaurant Arzabal and the Reina Sofia Museum, in Madrid of course.

The name Arzabal should sound famous because the Arzabal Museo history might be recent, but the Álvaro Castellanos and Iván Morales work ,as owners and chefs, is known from the Arzabal tavern in Retiro since 2009.

They have always worked with attention to details and creativity in all the possible senses, putting the client experience always at the center of the research.

Having a restaurant inside a Museum can be challenging sometimes but can also offer unique opportunities, like as the title of this blog post have spoilered a bit, a restaurant like Arzabal Museo can offer a unique menu and an exclusive visit to the closed Reina Sofia museum for a really once in a lifetime dinner.

Arzabal does Picasso from the 4th of April until the closing date (5th of September 2017) of the Reina Sofia exhibition dedicated to Pablo Picasso called “Pity and Terror, Picasso’s Path to Guernica”.

How Álvaro and Iván are doing Picasso?

Well, there are paintings that really seem to be perfect as food reinterpretations and there Pisacco is not easy, he is not an impressionist with fluid colours and he’s not Giuseppe Arcimboldo with a blaze of fruits.

There arere painting, like the Guernica, so deep and so dark such a strong political message and and lots of restlessness, that transforming them into something eatable is taught challenge.

But Picasso’s life have been a lot things, a lot of places, colours and stories so that the Arzabal team was able to develop two special offers dedicated to mr Pablo P.

Two offers for all the wallets, one on a daily basis, 32 euro and an easy menu that doesn’t need to be reserved (drinks excluded), and a second one with a special tour of the exhibition when the museum is closed and for more than 13 courses at 185 euro.

Lots of Pablo Picasso obsessions have been transformed by the Arzabal duo into an eatable experiences. For example his passion for horns and bulls have been reinterpreted with a very typical spanish speciality: the robo de toro.

Same thing on the drinking side, the wines can be for example from Malaga, where Picasso was born, of from France where he spent most of his life.

It’s really a matter of a unique experience because the exhibition with 150 exclusive pieces from all over the world is going to be a powerful message as the title states, and I guess walking along the rooms in a very tiny group of 20 people when the museum is closed will be hit the visitors with stronger feelings about Picasso state of mind, how he perceived the world and most of all how he ended up painting a masterpiece like the Guernica.

The art section of Madridiana has a quote on the top of it and it’s from Picasso, so you can just imagine how excited we can be about the exhibition and even more about these two menus, it is really like a once in a lifetime opportunity, never happen to me living in London or Milan, or travelling to Paris. A lot of restaurants that are connected with famous museums are inspired and might have dedicated menus to an artist or to an exhibition but the Arzabal initiative is something different and comes in two alternatives, one opened everyday for everyone, one for few people (only 20 seats every dinner) that needs to be reserved.

arzabal does picasso

Probably each of the 13 courses will let tablemates discover something new about Picasso, something that Álvaro Castellanos and Iván Morales have seen browsing between hundreds of paintings and thousands of lines about his story.

Hearing them talking about Picasso is fascinating, because it really seem that they know him, talking like if they really understand his feelings. It’s like the work of a curator, but instead of collecting and organizing works of art, the two chefs are organizing a special menu.

For more information and reservation: Arzabal Museo.

It’s hard to fully explain the experience of the new barra at Benares Madrid.

It’s hard mainly because it’s the first time we see the reinterpretation of the most famous Spanish tapas by an Indian chef, and he is a star chef, he is Atul Kochhar, the owner of two Michelin stars and the reputation of having completely changed the way we enjoy the Indian cuisine.

It’s hard to explain how the bocata de calamares was edited in Benares Indian way, but as you try it, and we have tried it, everything is clear, taste the different but also the similarities.

Each Spanish tapa can easily match with one if the new cocktails. Each cocktail has been realized by Santiago Dorado, the official bartender of the new barra at Benares.

Each cocktail represent a city in India, following the naming of the Restaurant tradition, because Benares is the name of the most sacred Indian city.

And the new menu is a like a travel diary with strong leather cover and soft white papers in the inside.

It’a a challenge but we’ll try to bring you in India without exciting Madrid, tasting known food in a different and innovative way, and new cocktails that we’ll bring you to the very heart of India, passing through Jaipur, Old Dehli and Kochi.

Let’s start from the cocktail Benares and the tapa “patatas bravas”.

benares barra madrid

Benares, also known as Varanasi, is rightly called the religious capital of India. This cocktail, that takes its names from one of the world’s oldest living cities. It’s made from gin, homemade lemon grass, cordial, green cardamom and a touch of wine. We accompanied the Benares cocktail with a reinterpretation of a typical spanish dish, the “patatas bravas”, with crunchy bananas, chutney of mango with indian canela, tomato sauce, and spicy yogurt.

Now it’s time for the main course: paella, the spanish queen of the comida can be matched with the City (and cocktail) Old Delhi.
From Benares we move to Old Delhi, and we step across the Old Delhi’s ancient silver market with its different aroma types. Finally we arrive to the Red Fort and its gardens.

Vodka, beetroot “rubidus” juice, homemade chutney with just a hint of spice, lima sour, silver dust, accompanied by aromas of Delhi’s market and a jelly from the gardens of the Red Fort, is the composition of this cocktail Old Delhi.

While puffed rice, fondo de pescado al azafrán and macerated shrimps makes the unique “La paella” of the Benares’s barra.


Last but not least the “buñuelos de bacalao” really transformed into a work of art, which is again a musically food, because the silver fried skin of the bacalao is super crunchy, that your can ear that noise, like for the paella crispy sound.

benares barra madrid

They call them Bacalao en texturas instead of“Buñuelos de bacalao” because the base of fried balacalo has a completely different texture than the fried skin, the base really melts in the month, it’s delicious.

The “barra” experience ends with a very particular cocktail called Kochi, a non-alcoholic cocktail served is a cocoa dusted glass.
Considered as the Queen of the Arabian Sea, Kochi was an important spice trade center on the coast of the Arabian Sea from the 14th century. The cocktail is composed of passion fruit juice, natural pineapple juice, fresh squeezed lime juice, white chocolate syrup and homemade spicy syrup.

We have really appreciated how the Chef and its team have tried to surprise us with spanish tapas twisted in creative revisitation inspired by tale of a Thousand and One Nights.

More information: Benares Madrid.

 

“He was a wise man who invented beer.” – Unknown

This article will take you 1 minutes 35 seconds to read – written by Enzo Lauretta

“It was a dark and stormy night. Suddenly, a shot rang out! A door slammed.” Actually, It was a friday night, Friday 17th March 2017, considered by many as one of the unluckiest days of the year, but not by me because I received my Hop in the Box with a selection of estonian craft beers. It was also Saint Patrick’s Day, so what a better time to receive a box of beers?

What is Hop in the Box and what does this have to do with estonian craft beer?

Hop in the Box is a craft beer club that sends a monthly selection of awesome beers to its members. March was dedicated to Tanker, a refreshingly different estonian craft beer produced in small village 20 km outside Tallinn.

hop in the box espana

When I was leaving in Milan I had my craft beer trusted pub, which was one of my favourite place to hang out with friends, but here in Madrid I still haven’t found a similar place. Generally speaking my ideal craft beer consumption should be at home, but I don’t have a trusted shop and I know it’s not the same with supermarket beers.

So thanks to Hop in the Box I had the chance to know more about the story of these guys who like to break the rules of tradition and experiment with different raw materials, sourcing the freshest ingredients from farmers to create new and interesting flavors, since they started they have produced more than 60 different beers.

I was really impressed by the labels of the beers, they are all well designed with different graphics but as a writer I know that you should never judge a book buy the cover, so the same rule is for beers and labels.

Now, since the most important step in experiencing craft beer is tasting it, let taste it!

hop in the box espana

8 bottles, 4 tastes, all completely different. I enjoyed pairing the beer with my home cooking, or just tasting a refreshing pale ale from the fridge without a tapa.

Sweet or Bitter? Crispy or Fruit? Blonde or Dark? Sometimes, it is all a matter of taste, isn’t it?

I want to focus on my favourite, it was like meeting the love of your life and you know you can stay together just for two days, until the next love at first sip, probably in the next Hop in the Box, from now on Hop(e) in the Box. If you are curious my very favourite between the 4 tastes was “Taiskuu”, a white IPA beer, 6,5 % ABV, thanks to the Belgian Esters and fruity sweet aroma that you can immediately notice.

My own 5 reasons why I think Hop in the Box is a good (the greatest) idea:

  1. Travel the world by tasting different beers from the comfort of home
  2. They will rang your door, it’s like Christmas but every month
  3. The excitement of a surprise box, which is priceless
  4. They spread the craft beer culture helping local producers to be distributed
  5. Being the coolest beers bottles collectors between friends.

hop in the box espana

Diurno Madrid

After I’ve heard a couple of friends celebrating Saint Valentine’s day at Diurno restaurant in Chueca I was waiting my turn to try this well known foodie mecca.

I went there on a Saturday lunch time. The menu was divided into three main part, an ad hoc special menu, the brunch menu and the à la carte choice. I went for the third choice and asked directly the chef what he would have suggested me.

diurno madrid

They suggested me, and I’d suggest you the three rices special chef, but I didn’t go for it becaus one of the rice’s sauce was with mushroom and I am not a huge fan of them.

 

Even before start choosing and ordering a delicious bread with a sort of basil hummus was ready to be tasted as starter on my table.

It was really good, I never tried an hummus with basil, and really seems like italian pesto with the texture of chickpeas.

I ordered my Casimiro Mahou special edition beer and started eating my fried aubergine with brown sugar honey. I really love, when I can, eating with my hands, because in this case the aubergines were not too hot and too fried. Adding the touching experience with the raw surface due to the sugar it’s an added value to the tasting experience.

diurno madrid

Before the arrival of the main course, the bonito tataki, I’ve tried the special chicken fried gyozas dumplings. Visually they were really special, I tired them and I was really glad because the frying process is very light and the consistency in the end is so crunchy that you cannot compare them with any other asian dumplings.

Here comes the tataki with fresh cucumber, a rice base, tobiko and sesame seeds top.

diurno madrid diurno madrid

Tataki is one of my favourite japanese dish and I usually get the tuna one, so this was the first time trying a bonito version. I think the combo with the tiny cucumber slice, rice and the tobiko and sesame toppings is perfect, because different texture, different tastes and none of them covering the protagonist of the plate.

I really have to admit that I was really impressed by the menu, both meat and fish main courses were a special balance of different ingredients, that I am already planning a second date with Diurno.

 

I didn’t get any of the cocktails to end my lunch even if the choice was interesting and the bloody mary at the closest table had a really buena pinta. I just ended as always with a suggested dessert, that in this case with the flan de la abuela which means flan of the granma, and it looks and tastes awesome. The pistachio crispy toppings is the final touch and the perfect match on your spoon full of flan. A great homemade dessert, as all the other choices, casero casero.

diurno madrid

The real end of my lunch, after days having in mind my favourite liquor, my italian pride, the Limoncello. There is nothing better than ending a lunch or a dinner with a Limoncello.

 

Thanks Diurno, see you soon!

For more information: Diurno – Calle San Marcos 37

I’ve never been in Brazil but I really love the taste of Brazilian food as I can state from Brazilian Restaurant I’ve tried so far.

In Milan my favourite was a rodizio restaurant, quite far from the center, close to the airport. The quality of food and especially of quality of thier meats was so excellent and so cheap if compared for example to all the argentinian restaurants.

Last week I had the chance to discover my official brazilian restaurant in Madrid, and of course a rodizio restaurant, it is called Vila Brasil.

vila brasil madrid

I went there for lunch, during the week, when the prices are really great, you have the buffet and seven types of different meats for 13,95€ (only for lunch). On Saturday and Sunday for lunch it’s 17,95€ but with fourteen different types of meat. For dinner you always have the the complete rodizio option (fourteen meats) at 22,95€ during the week and the weekends.

I was not surprised when I discovered that lots of footballers, not only the brazilians, are trusted clients of Vila Brasil. You just enter and see some of the most famous footballer t-shirts signed.

If you don’t know what a rodizio brasileno is I can explain it as a of sort of sward filled with meat that is served right at the table (as in the picture).

In Vila Brasil everyone has as a semaphore card that can be turned on the green side if you want more meat or on the red side if you want to stop, or just have some rest.

The buffet is really great too, lots of salads and a great variety of starters. The typical black beans and white rice from Brazil is the unmissable plate. I thought it was a vegetarian alternative to rodizio but it is not because the soup is made with pork.

As I am a pineapple lover I also tried the rodizio with pineapple, hot pineapple, because it is cooked in the same way as for the meats, but with cinnamon instead of spices.

The brazilian beers which I have never tried before turned to be really great and perfect for me because the taste was not so strong as most of the artisanal beers I know.

Last but not least you can’t leave Vila Brasil without trying one of their caipirinha because the exotic fruits taste can really transport everyone to the Brazilian culture and vibe, a sip of their caipirinha is more effective than a virtual reality pair of glasses.

I’ve tried the mango one, which is my favourite from all the time and it was great, as I think the coconut one which is the preferred in Vila Brazil.

Another thing that really impressed me was the “pan de queso” which is a tiny rounded bread made with special cheese. The consistency is so different the the normal bread and the taste was so good that I can not compared it with any others kind of bread I’ve ever tried.

The desserts are great too, I suggest all the tropical fruits tastes, like the mousse de maracuja, because I think are much more typical than the classic desserts you can find in other restaurants.

If you reserve from the website there is a special -20% discount. You can see also the full menu and prices, more pictures and maybe get the chance to meet Marcelo from Real Madrid.

More info here: Vila Brasil.

erre que erre latina madrid

La Latina is supposed to be my second barrio, because I live right in the middle of Rastro and Tirso de Molina. Some people say it is Lavapies, others call it just Rastro, and then there are all others that state it is La Latina.

Everyone knows that La Latina it is supposed to be the tapas barrio, where you can find a great variety of tapas bar and enjoy a good caña bien tirada y muy fría.

Well, since I’ve moved from Malasaña to La Latina, I am looking for the ultimate tapas bar that can satisfy that 7 o’clock need of a very fresh beer.

The problem is that in Malasaña I was used to the perfect spanish tavern with old style barra and great tapas to order, while here in La Latina I think I’ve tried the wrong places.

After several months I didn’t have a trusted tapas bar, or I mean I know a couple but around 7 p.m. they are always so full of people that I don’t want to be squeezed in that way.

This article is to finally announce that I found the one, my trusted tapas bar in La Latina, with great food, enough seats, lovely windows, and most of all fresh cerveza and tinto de verano.

erre que erre latina madrid

As you might have guessed, the place is called Erre que Erre and it’s right in the middle of calle cava baja, the official tapas street of Madrid.

So just entering calle cava baja you can already feel that tapas feeling, it’s all restaurants and bar with sort of pr asking to enter and try their food.

It is very touristic for sure, but it is also a very typical place for Spaniards.

erre que erre latina madrid

Well let’s talk about Erre que Erre, that from the outside already catches the attentions of people walking along cava baja. All the walls are full of the most iconic Madrid monument, the furniture and the design is very modern, and most of all the barra is super visible, so that you could almost order pinchos from the outside.

You need to see them closer in order to realize that they are huge and tastes are very particular, not the ordinary pinchos.

erre que erre latina madrid

I decided to try the salmon one and I was positively surprised that the bread was not the usual bread, but a kind of sweet bread with raisin on it.

The tabla de quesos and the tartar de atun were great. The presentation was really amazing and very curated with tiny flowers all over it which is a particular I really love and do not expect in a tapas restaurant.

erre que erre latina madrid

I really wanted to try the tiramisù which is my favourite dessert and the Erre que erre version with strawberries is so good, but the portion of the tartar and the tabla de quesos were really huge that I could not eat more.

The restaurant is quite big at the time I was living and totally full, both the barra and the tables, some were tourists, others were madrileños that knows well the place, the owner and the waitresses.

And this is exactly what I was looking for, a familiar place where I could go any day to have great food and great tinto de verano.

erre que erre latina madrid

lavaca afterwork madrid

When I heard about the launch of LAVACA AFTERWORK I completely forgot that I knew another LAVACA restaurant where during the Christmas holidays I went with a couple of friends visiting Madrid. At that time I clearly remember I had a great Argentinian meat shared with my friends and a basket of delicious fried aubergines. I mean I am an aubergine fan and I always order them but these were sensational. I don’t know why I didn’t took any picture, probably my phone was dead or I was too hungry.

I learned lately that LAVACA is more than two restaurants, it’s a group of restaurants, and appear to be an historic location for Madrid meat lovers, born as an Argentinian special destination.

There are six LAVACA restaurants in Madrid: LAVACA Castellana (Paseo de la Castellana, 214), LAVACA AZCA (Paseo de la Castellana, 87), LAVACA Arturo Soria (Torrecilla del Puerto, 5), LAVACA Las Rozas (Carretera de La Coruña, km 18,3), LAVACA López de Hoyos (López de Hoyos, 42), LAVACA Rosales (Paseo del Pintor Rosales, 52).

lavaca afterwork madrid

I’ve been at the AFTERWORK of LAVACA López de Hoyos, where the following pictures comes from. The first night and the barra area was completely full, thanks also to the very good music from the resident dj.

The new concept they have just developed is the so called “barra non stop” which means more space for the bar and more time for the typical Spanish “disfrutar” without forgetting the food, the new menu full of special gastronomy excellence lake the Wagyu carpaccio or the famous parrilla. This new concept of “barra non stop” is exclusively available in half of LAVACA restaurants: LAVACA López de Hoyos, LAVACA Castellana and LAVACA Arturo Soria.

lavaca afterwork madrid

I can’t wait be at LAVACA again, because I really enjoyed the atmosphere of the restaurant and the bar of course which has also a new cocktail menu. Trust me, when you try their meat, even if just an appetizer like the one in the picture above, you really understand the difference between all the other type of meat.

For more information: LAVACA.

 

 

barcelò torre madrid

Weeks ago I was going to the see an Italian movie in the Cinema close to Plaza de Espana. There was a sort of Italian Film Festival and they were screening “Jeeg Robot D’accaio” that had a tremendous success in Italy.

While walking through the continuation of Gran Via over Plaza de Espana, I discovered this huge building that seems to be a very modern hotel going to open soon.

I have Always loved the restaurants and cocktails bar inside the hotels in Milan, with Bulgari and Diana Sharaton, and here in Madrid too. Only You Atocha is a great example of a innovative concept, or all the Room Mate, Oscar for sure with his Amazing terrace.

All these examples of great hotels have that je-ne-sais-quoi that can differentiate their offer between all the Others.

Barceló Torre de Madrid really strenght it’s uniqueness with an incredible architecture from the outside and a great design on the inside.

The view is reserved at the higher floors for the hotel accommodations and the spa. The cocktail bar, that you can see in these pictures, is on the ground floor, the restaurant named Somos garra is on the first floor, which is even enough to enjoy the view of the Gran Via rising and Plaza de Espana shining through the fountains water.

I loved the atmosphere of the bar and service was perfect. I mean. if you bring me nuts and candies I’ll be in love with you forever.

My cocktail is sin alcohol, don’t remember the name, I was so impressed by the menu design, looking like a Pantone palette, but gold.

More information here: Barcelò Torre de Madrid barcelò torre madrid barcelò torre madrid barcelò torre madrid barcelò torre madridbarcelò torre madrid