Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tasty Tuesday: Chocolatería San Ginés

It would be remiss of me to write about the culinary offerings of Madrid without mentioning the famous Chocolatería San Ginés...

Chocolate y churros are a popular breakfast and snack here in Spain. Churros are a kind of...thin pastry, I'd say, that's basically a crispy stick of fried dough that is slightly chewy in the middle (on the left side of the plate, pictured above). They are made to be dipped into hot chocolate (see picture below). They are pretty much nothing like the kind that can be found in Costcos all over North America because the real thing is just incomparable in its texture. :P

The Spanish version of hot chocolate is not for the faint of heart - it is super rich and extra thick, almost like a thin chocolate sauce. The idea is that it's supposed to be thick enough to cling to churros and create a nice coating for them once they're dipped.

Typically, people (well, mainly those who don't have to work) go to their local taberna to enjoy chocolate y churros in the morning while engaging in leisurely conversation and/or catching up on the latest gossip. Because many chocolaterías close very late or open very early in the day, chocolate y churros are also a very popular post-clubbing snack.

However, what's less well-known but just as popular with locals are porras. Porras are just thicker versions of churros (on the right side of the plate in the picture above). They're quite similar to Chinese fried breadsticks, 油炸鬼, except the Chinese variety is salty, more delicate, less doughy, with more holes in them - when made well, anyway.

And the most famous chocolatería in Madrid is the Chocolatería San Ginés, right in the heart of the city just west of the Puerta del Sol. It's been around since 1894 and this restaurant even has its own Wikipedia page! It's been featured in almost every Spain/Madrid travel guide and travel site I've seen, and I did my fair share of research before coming.

The humble entrance with its forest green door frame isn't very eye-catching, but the interior is quite ornate, with nostalgic décor, marble table-tops and a bar that winds around the side and part of the back of the restaurant. In the summertime, tables and chairs are set up outdoors all around the side of the building so that people can eat and people-watch at the same time.

Having said all this, I must say that I don't love their chocolate. (By the way, this will be one of the very rare times that I'll recommend something I don't absolutely adore.) Their churros are out of this world, but the chocolate has this...almost sort of spicy, nutmeggy taste that I'm not fond of. I like my chocolate pure and refined. Additionally, I prefer the churros over the porras because the porras are too dense and bread-like for me; they remind me of poorly-made 油炸鬼, and the fact that they're sweet throws me.

But since chocolate y churros are Spain must-trys and the Chocolatería San Ginés is the most famous place that serves them, I'd recommend that you give this place a try when you're in town...then perhaps compare the experience with that of a local taberna!

Chocolatería San Ginés
Pasadizo de San Ginés, 5
28013 Madrid

913 656 546

1 comment:

Stace said...

Churros con chocolate!
YUM I love how you posted mid-eating/post-dip for us!!