Recession Spain: a fantastic food and wine destination

by mary on November 30, 2012

Such a lovely trip to Spain! So much great food and wine! That bustling, loud, yet warm and inviting atmosphere still prevails in Madrid bars and restaurants, despite the persistently grim economic news. It’s been sad to see some old favorites succumb to hard times, but new, exciting projects are everywhere and the amount of food options at all price points remains abundant and inspiring. I also travelled to Barcelona and Catalan wine country on this trip and also found the food exciting and so different with its focus on regional sauces and seasonal vegetables. Overall value for money is fantastic and Spain remains a great destination and wonderful source of inspiration in difficult times.

Spanish wines have never been better and tough competition has trimmed the prices of all but the most iconic wines. Also many top wineries in the more expensive regions have come out with second, more affordable wines that are often excellent value. Lesser known regions still offer great value and often offer unique wines in atypical styles. Overall the variety of styles in both whites and reds is growing, only adding to the quality on offer. Value really is unbeatable, the quality of wines you can get between 10 and 20 euros is just unbelievable!

In Madrid, the tapas are getting more sophisticated in the new trendy hotspots, but luckily the classics are still being preserved in the majority of bars. The classic joints remain outstanding value but even the higher end spots surprised me at bill time….it really helps when the markup on wine is so low!

Still popular in Madrid and with more projects underway is the market/tapas concept which was so brilliantly started by the Mercado de San Miguel, near Plaza Mayor. Another slightly different concept, but just as fun, and just as crowded, is the Mercado de San Anton, in the neighborhood of Chueca. Both combine food market, tapas, and drinking all day and until very late! Love the concept and wish someone could do something similar in NYC or Washington DC.

It really bothers me that the only images of Spain you see in the media these days are ones of economic poverty and hardship. There is no doubt that many people are suffering and times are extremely difficult. Even my friends who are doing ok are not as well off as there were. But one of the many strengths of the Spanish people is their ability to live in the now, to try and escape a sometimes difficult reality and enjoy a moment with their friends and family. The streets, shops and bars are full, no doubt people are spending less, but the atmosphere is still supremely social, joyous and festive. This is the Spain I remember and miss and it is the Spain that no recession can extinguish.

I have lots of great places and even more wines I’m excited to write about so stay tuned as I digest all my adventures of the last weeks!




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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Genevieve December 6, 2012 at 9:26 am

Looks like a great trip! What were your favorite wines in Priorat?


mary December 6, 2012 at 3:29 pm

It was amazing! So many favorites among the Priorat wines but new and surprising for me was the white Kyrie from Clos de l’Obac, one of the few bottles I carried back. Another special new find was the Portal de Priorat, amazing wines by Alfredo Arribes. He makes basic blends, single vineyard wines and top notch single varietal wines at all price ranges…very impressive all around! Just starting to get the recognition he deserves outside Priorat, so unfortunately his wines haven’t reached the US yet.


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