We ventured to the Salamanca residential district one morning, and had the taxi drop us off at Calle Ayala. The primary objective was to visit the Mercado de la Paz, a wonderful yet substantial neighborhood market that was clearly frequented by locals. Upscale, but real. A modest pasilyo or passageway from the street led the way to a flower shop, two jamon purveyors and the entrance to the market. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but as soon as we got inside, I had a big smile on my face…
We were there fairly early on a Saturday morning, so things were just beginning to stir. But there were enough vendors open to whet one’s appetite, and to realize, had we had access to a kitchen while in Madrid, we would have eaten even more wonderful food than we had already managed to stuff into ourselves over the past week!
The market was extremely well organized and the breadth of offerings from produce to seafood to charcuterie and cheese, etc. was just amazing. Gosh, I could live in this neighborhood, definitely.
The jamon stall out front was amazing, offering some 15+ types of hams, with the prized jamon iberico de bellota alone coming in 4 or 5 different qualities and from different manufacturers. The pate, sausages, etc. were incredible…
The seafood vendor had a better selection than the one at the Mercado de San Miguel, and you could make a seafood paella with a visit to just this one stall. Volume of turnover must be high on a daily basis, judging from the volume of goods on offer.
Many of the items on offer were still alive and seeing crabs still crawling or capable of crawling was an unusual site for these inner city markets in large cities in Europe…
The vegetable and produce sellers had a wonderful selection of greens and veggies on offer…
…olive oil, sherry vinegar, and other bottled goodies were so tempting, if not for restrictive baggage allowances.
Chilled display cases had everything from caviar to smoked fish, pate, pickles, etc.
The market was as clean and comfortable as a mall, but with authentic food vendors within.
One vendor only offered different types and qualities of hamburger patties, ready to cook (!?)
The mother lode of olives.
Capons and all manner of fowl.
Dressed rabbits, all ready for a stew or to be included in an authentic Valencian paella.
Customers were clearly regulars, with an occasional tourist snapping photos here and there. Mrs. MM and I were the only obvious tourists in the hour that we spent there, as opposed to the Mercado de San Miguel that is practically a tourist destination in the guidebooks!
Legumes and rice, here the arroz bomba for roughly Euro6 a kilo or PHP400 a kilo, not cheap! I found a cheaper quality of Spanish paella rice (not Bomba) at Terry’s the other day at PHP220 a kilo… :)
A price list of Jamon. The finest they had on offer, Euro 64 per kilo for a bone-in ham. If you purchased an 8 kilo leg, that would run roughly Euro500+ or PHP35,000!
Bacalao or salt cod in several forms.
And finally, figs and kumatos. Never heard of a kumato? Neither had we, read more about it here. In an ideal world, we would have a few hours at this market with an unlimited budget before being whisked off by car to the airport to return home to Manila with an unlimited baggage allotment on our airline. I would easily be able to fill several coolers with food to be leisurely enjoyed with friends and family back at home. :) You can daydream every once in a while, no?