Murcia is a province in the south of Spain that is rich in culinary history and authentic age-old Spanish recipes like the Caldero Rice or the Paparahote Lemon Dessert. El Caldero Restaurant in Madrid mirrors this Murcian style of cooking using the same recipes and ingredients. One of its most iconic dishes is the traditional Murcian style rice called Arroz al Caldero. When I first visited El Caldero restaurant, I was delighted to learn about this Caldero style rice. As one of my dinner companions put it, “It’s like Paella, but better” I agree.
After my dinner at El Caldero Restaurant, I was invited by the owner, along with other Madrid food bloggers, to go on a two-day trip to Murcia to see for ourselves from where he gets his ingredients and inspiration and meet some of the local suppliers. After all, the tagline of the restaurant is Murcia in Madrid. The trip was an unprecedented and priceless experience for me. I got to see and experience the beauty that is the South of Spain, eat many different exquisite cuisines, and meet the local fishmongers, farmers, and sommeliers. I have to say I am now a fan of El Caldero restaurant and a bigger fan of anything Murcia
El Caldero Restaurant
Like I mentioned earlier, Caldero restaurant sources its ingredients (fresh vegetables, fish, wine, whiskey, oils, coffee etc.) every week from Murcia. Every dish served in Caldero Restaurant has a touch of Murcia in it and it’s truly a cultural experience. We made a lot of stops on our trip and I’ve summarized these stops by product making sure to highlight the best experiences. I’m giving you a peep into the secrets behind el Caldero restaurant and why its tagline Murcia in Madrid couldn’t be more perfect. This is an education in El Caldero restaurant, Murcian cuisine, and Spanish enjoyment. Let’s go!
Pescaderia Cabe de Palos: Our first stop was the local fish monger – Pescados Cabo de Palo I. They supply El Caldero Restaurant all their fish fresh ever week. Murcia is three plus hours from Madrid and they make the trip every week. The pescaderia is located just 200 feet from the ocean where they do their fishing. How mesmerizing! Only in Spain, I tell you. They have been in business for over a hundred years and we got to meet the current owner, a 4th generation owner, and the fish mongers. We toured the facility and they served us cured caviar and some beer (because Spain). It was great but we were just getting started!
Our second stop was Coffee. As a self-acclaimed coffee aficionado, this was of great interest to me. Picture me, pen and paper in hand, camera ready, waiting to take it all in!
Café Perez-Campos: Cafe Perez-Campos has been in business since 1914, that’s over 100 years. They place a huge emphasis on quality and I could see it in their production process. We were given a tour of the manufacturing facility to see the equipment, storage, and tasting room. They have several warehouses spread over an expanse and from warehouse to warehouse I was left jaw dropped in amazement. Did someone say Coffee heaven?! At the Tasting room, we were treated to the different kinds of coffee beans in the form of craftily poured drip coffee, cappuccinos, and Lattes.
Café Asiatico: Another leg of our coffee stop was to the Café Asiatico tasting room. Café Asiatico is a type of coffee that dates back to the 20th century. Put simply, Café Asiatico is coffee with alcohol in it. It’s, however, more complex and interesting than that. The process of making café Asiatico involves an intentional and delicate process of mixing the coffee with condensed milk, cognac, Liquor 43 and then garnishing it with a dash of cinnamon, a shave of lemon rind and a couple of coffee beans. I love how the Spanish are very detailed and take pride in their gastronomy and Café Asiatico is a testament to that. The drink originated when sailors from Asia who stopped at Cartagena (South of Spain) would order their coffee with brandy in it. No surprise there.
From Left: Cafe Asiatico expert mixer and Perez Campo
Café Asiatico is mixed and served in a special glass made just for it that has markings on how the mixing should be done. Like I said, very detailed.
Our next stop was the Whiskey distillery, Destilerias Bernal. Destilerias Bernal has been around since 1889. They supply Caldero Restaurant their Brandy and have a standing relationship. We toured the facility and got to see their age-old machinery, majestic storage rooms and then we were treated to a private tasting. It’s some of the best Brandy I ever had and I could taste the history of the place with each sip.
Barahonda Winery was founded in 1925, located in the Yelca region also in the south of Spain, the winery stands tall in a modern style symmetrical building among other traditional style local manor houses. The juxtaposition of the modern style winery with the vast open landscape leaves you with an invigoration feeling.
The winemaker and director gave us a tour of the wine making facilities. After the tour, we headed upstairs to the restaurant where we did some wine tasting accompanied by gourmet dishes from the tasting menu by their in-house talented chef Christian Palacio.
We were joined at dinner by one of the owners Alfredo Candela. It was great to hear first-hand some history of Barahonda winery and also some personal stories about their products and process. Barahonda’s wines are critically acclaimed and have won several awards. El Caldero restaurant carries Barahonda wines in its Madrid restaurants so if you ever visit be sure to order one. Also, if you ever decide to take a trip to the south of Spain, make sure to stop by Barahonda winery.
In all, it was a very educational and beautiful trip. When Caldero Restaurant says it brings the south of Spain to Madrid it sure means it. I recommend El Caldero restaurant if you want to try delicious Spanish cuisines and have an authentic Spanish dining experience.
El CALDERO RESTAURANT: Calle de las Huertas, 15 (+34 91 429 50 44 )
THE TAVERN MURCIANA: Travesia de Tellez, 2 (+34 91 501 61 90)