Experiencing the center of Spain, Madrid.
It’s the third day into what has become a fairly challenging shoot, and I’m just emerging bleary eyed from Banco de España metro station at 6am, to catch an early morning shot of the Edifico Metropolis building in the Gran Via area of Madrid. A few spots of rain as I walk up the steps has me thinking this might turn into the wash out of two nights earlier, I was in need of an underwater housing that night. On the plus side, an excuse for another coffee break, becoming a common theme on this trip dodging another heavy shower to the sound of street hawkers shouting ‘Paraguas’ (umbrella) for anyone unfortunate to think that Spain be rain free. The camera never lies as the saying goes, I was telling plenty, picking my moments, working around the fact that everyone around me was wrapped up for Christmas, huddled underneath any sort of shelter. It was an understatement to say that Madrid was un-characteristically cold for the time of year.
It was my second shoot in a row that I’m photographing mainly food and restaurants (how did that happen), Incredible Madrid Tapas from the well-known Estado Puro and its contemporary take on a Spanish tradition. The small and very friendly bar of La Dichosa in trendy Conde Duque area where I receive an education in the history of Tapas from owner Eva, and who’s menu even includes black pudding that I only thought existed on the fried breakfast plates of the British. Bearing the bars namesake this variety is made in the north of Spain with rice instead of onion, although the wince inducing pig blood ingredient remains.
Motha was on my shot list as a restaurant but felt more like a cosy café, proudly Spanish, all the wonderful food on the menu is from Spain and/or made on the premises. Motha’s owner Sylviana’s hospitality is second to none, fuelling me constantly with espresso and homemade lemonade, and with her not speaking a word of English together with my appalling Spanish and being too British to refuse I left with my heart beating faster than a racehorse after the Grand National.
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Last stop was at the very swank restaurant of Michelin Star chef Ramon Freixa set in the 5 star Hotel Único. The first time I had set foot in a Michelin Starred establishment, let alone photographed at one, Ramon graciously prepared some incredible looking dishes and for once the overcast weather was helping to create some nice subtle light to photograph it.
In spite of the temperamental weather, Madrid is a stunning place to explore, intricate winding streets opening out onto great plazas and city vistas up there with the best of Europe. Tapas bars line the streets where it’s common to hop from place to place, eating, drinking the night away.