What a crazy hot Madrid it was last Tuesday. The time was already past 7.30PM, yet the sun was still up and high. I would have wanted to stay at home, away from the city´s feverish temperature.
But, I had to go out. Earlier that day, I was at Principe de Vergara, feeling accomplished after I had gone through a process that would hopefully help secure an endeavored goal. In high spirits over the possible bright prospects, I decided that it’s tapa time!
Well, I wasn’t having some tapa just to celebrate a foreseen positive result from a just-concluded effort, but also to stave off a relentless post-lunch hunger, and gather more content for the list-of-tapas article I’m working on.
But first, I needed to check if I had enough. I reached into my pants’ pockets and got a crumpled 5 euro bill and a good fistful of coins, some 11.50 euros upon counting. I had 16.50 euros in total. Yes, more than enough, I assured myself.
So, began my hunt for a cafe that serves pulpo a la gallega, that Spanish octopus dish I’ve wanted to try for the longest time.
From Principe de Vergara, I took the Metro line to Columbia station, then transferred to Circular Linea 6 and got off at Nuevos Ministerios. From there, I walked through the department store of El Corte Ingles at Paseo de Castellana (but not without first going to the Aseos), and then finally to Calle Orense. The vicinity around this street is a hotspot for those in search of fine cafes to hang around.
I decided to walk further to Calle del General Moscardo, a street parallel to Orense, and checked the cafes on both sides, one after another, scanning their menus, until I chanced upon Capri 8. It had a number of boards displayed on its front wall, with various dishes and drinks written on them in white and red-colored chalk. One board had on it written pulpo de la gallega, priced at 6.80 euro. It was a surprise, knowing the dish is expensive, with prices ranging from 14 to 20 euros.
It was an easy decision – my next tapa is at Capri 8. Finally, I will get to taste pulpo a la gallega and have it added to my list.
I went in and was greeted by the waiter at the bar
“We are not ready till 8PM. The chef is still out,” the man at the bar said in Spanish, and gestured at the clock that showed 7.35. So, that’s why the place was low-lit. But, I was already there and didn’t mind waiting. Anyway the 149 parada was right in front, and so it would be easy for me to catch a ride home.
“Voy a esperar aqui, puede amigo? Dame cola cola. Zero, por favor,” I replied haltingly while approaching the table pressed beside the cafe’s panoramic window. He nodded, handed a menu, and took the used quarter-filled copa on top of the table. I was relieved, not because he agreed to serve me but because he understood my babbling in Spanish.
I continued with my order, and said I’d be having pulpo a la gallega. He interrupted me and explained that what they have is a la brasa, and proceeded to show me the menu. I could have sworn I read a la gallega.
“Darn it, I can’t include this in my tapa article,” I mumbled to myself.
What I wanted is the pulpo tapa that is Galician in origin, and said be one of the best ways an octopus is prepared. Why did I read differently? My eyesight is failing me, that’s for sure – sign of an advancing age.
Feigning indifference, I said it’s okay, and will have whatever octopus dish they serve. I also ordered some chorizo – to further beef up an entirely new article, having decided that I would just write about the cafe instead.
Service was fast. I was quickly served my cola and aperetivo
I looked at my aperetivo and wished other cafes would be as generous. But I guess mine was a different case, since I would have to wait for more than half an hour to get my order. My cola came with chips and pincho ensaladila – and not just one, but two pinchos. They were delicious, so I had a clean plate in record time.
The waiter asked if I still wanted more chips, to which I said no and just proceeded to focus on my mobile. The password of the bar’s WIFI is written in the menu board at the bar, so I might as well make use of it. This while I checked the clock from time to time. The last I looked, it was 7.50. Still, no chef coming in.
The waiter must have sensed the massive boredom in me, and so he served yet another aperitivo
Sheepishly, I asked, “Gratis?”
He replied, “Por supuesto,” and then profusely apologized for my having had to wait too long, and assured that the chef was on his way. That’s more or less what I could make of what he said.
It was not the most appealing dish visually to be honest, and normally, I am wary about eating something the ingredients of which I don’t know or couldn’t recognize. At any rate, I took some, and what do you know? It tasted great. It wasn’t salty like I thought it would be since I presumed the dark color was caused by soy sauce (Poor soy sauce. It gets the blame, even in European Spain!). It was obvious the presence of meat (chicken and pork, perhaps) infused some great flavors to an otherwise bland ingredient like rice. It was a delicious aperitivo, and a unique one at that, I must say.
Finally, the chef arrived. He went straight to the kitchen with his grocery stroller in tow. The waiter followed, presumably to give him my order. I was lucky no new diners had come in. And so as expected, within minutes my food was served, one after the other.
The dish had some spicy red sauce and mustard to dip it in. The chorizo itself was spicy enough, although I wished I had some German curry ketchup (of the Hela Brand, what else?) to make it a delectable dish. Nothing fancy about the taste here – it’s just like any other chorizo that I had before. (Price: 3.80)
The Pulpo a la brasa
I read comments about the octopus and their kind, that they shouldn’t be overcooked. The Capri 8 chef must have cooked my pulpo the best way possible to make it come out really tender. Mine had some parts charred dark and crispy, with the rest of the skin glowing pink. What mattered was the meat inside, which was moist and succulent. Drenching it in ali oli sauce even made everything more delicious.
The tentacles were easy to cut through even with just the side of a fork prong. Forget what they say about octopus meat being rubbery or tough. Capri 8’s is nothing like that. If I were to score, I’d give it a 5 out of 5. C’est delicieux! (Price: 6.80 euros)
Capri 8 is one of those cozy, average-sized, unassuming bar-restaurantes in Madrid, but this bar in particular is worth your time, money, and effort to go out on a hot summer day. I really appreciate the great service; and I am sure the same is rendered to every customer that comes in. Check out their menu and you’ll see a number of interesting Brazilian dishes. Typical Spanish tapas are also available. Its pulpo a la brasa? A tapa to die for. A must-try!
Address: Calle del General Moscardo, 8, Madrid