Spanish breakfast is brilliant! Have you ever stopped and asked yourself why it is so? Most of us are used to the “real” breakfast. You know, the heavy, greasy stuff; bacon, pancakes, sausages, etc. That too has its merits but there is something about a small Spanish breakfast that seems to do the job. To be able to appreciate it to the fullest, it is imperative that you do it right. The choices for a Spanish breakfast are very few — bread, pastry, coffee, tea, cola cao and orange juice as an extra. The price is also fantastically reasonable. A “full” breakfast can set you back between 2.50€ and 4.00€. So, what is the secret to enjoying this light meal affair.
The first and foremost important thing is to choose a place that offers good quality bread and pastries. As these are the most important parts of the breakfast, bad quality bread and pastry will spoil the whole thing. It would be like having a Greek moussaka with spoilt aubergines (eggplant), that of course, would nullify the moussaka. If you order bread, it is usually served with grated tomato and olive oil. If the these grated tomatoes look orange, run away. Personally, I look for a good red colour and also some evidence that this was once a tomato, for example seeds. This signifies freshness and not some tinned tomato. If it is served with jam, good quality jam would be perfect and in some places, homemade jam is offered which is even better. For the pastries, in particular the croissant, shape and texture is important. In my experience, a sugar glazed croissant usually signals stodgy, not flakey. The better the quality of the bread, pastry and accompaniment, the more the enjoyable the Spanish breakfast becomes. I find that in these cases, I take time to savour the flavours and enjoy the food. Although it is small, the more I savour it, the more satisfying it becomes.
The Spanish Breakfast Offering
Next would be to choose a place that offers good quality beverages. On the coffee front, bitter tasting, cheap coffee just tends to change Spanish breakfast into an unenjoyable, subsistence only meal. This can be done at home for free, so don’t hurt yourself. I have usually found that the coffee machine and the grinder in use usually tell much about the coffee also. The best tell tell sign I have seen is the use of a Marzocco coffee machine. Few and far between but not inexistent. Next, if orange juice is on offer, then at the very least freshly squeezed or a very good brand. Sadly, cola cao will always be cola cao. It’ll come as is. The more attention the proprietors pay to every element of their offering, then the more legitimate the meal will be. As my own rule of thumb, if I see serviettes scrunched up and thrown on the floor, this is a good side that the breakfast will be humdrum and that I’d be better off taking my 2.50€ somewhere else or breakfasting with my cornflakes at home.
Having said all of this, I will not now expect you to go around looking for the good breakfast tell tell signs. In my few years here, I have come across excellent places that I repeat every time and sometimes even make me wake up craving a Spanish breakfast. For me these places are great, too for introducing my visiting friends to the whole new world of the Spanish breakfast. They surely are worth visiting even if you leave far.
Ie Sanna – Av. de Bruselas, 54, Madrid
Ie Sanna is my neighbourhood jewel bakery. I love their breakfast. I usually have whole grain bread with tomato and olive. They, however, go the extra mile. The breakfast is also served with an olive pate which gives us all that extra dose of flavour. For those with gluten intolerances, they also have bread with spelt flour, which I hear bodes well with some coeliacs. The coffee too makes a great compliment to the affair. Most of the bread is baked in the kitchen within the facility and the rest is brought in from a good supplier. If you love bread, be sure to buy some to take away as the bread is excellent.
Le Mimé Le Mime – Calle de Padilla, 41, 28, Madrid
Le Mimé falls in the category of good coffee on every corner. It is a cute bakery offering freshly made pastries and cakes. They have a kitchen in their basement where everything is made. The cakes and pastries are delicious. I have always loved their chocolate cake. The coffee is fantastic. Although they are a small neighbourhood cafe, they opted to have an expensive Marzocco coffee machine. Nestled between Barrio Salamanca’s super posh side and the reasonable end, it is a great place to know to keep the Spanish breakfast flame alive.
Pan Comido (cover image) Pan Comido – Calle de Zurbano, 50, Madrid
Fun fact, “es pan comido” is a Spanish expression that can be translated “it’s a piece of cake” in English. Not sure what this has to do with the bakery, but it surely makes my Spanish breakfast list. They are predominantly focused on selling good quality bread and pastries. They serve this with great quality jams, butter and honey. The cafe has a cool rustic feel to it. I love the design of it as they had good architects to get this part done. Again here, you have to appreciate the bread and jam as they are noteworthy. All bread is made in-house. The coffee is not wow, it is borderline normalito, but I have returned time and again for the warm toasted bread served with butter and peach jam.
These are my top 3 for now. I am super curious to know your thoughts on the Spanish breakfast situation. Leave a comment below with thoughts. But, do not knock it as most of us do from the beginning, let’s embrace it as it is; just do it right and love it