Fermented apple juice. Is that really something to get excited about? In Spain, sí! On our recent trip to Madrid, we explored and savored Spanish cider. Join us on our sidra adventure in Madrid, Spain!
A Brief Background on Spanish Cider
Hard cider took its roots in Spain many years ago. Spanish history shows that cider was enjoyed in the country as early as the first century and was reportedly consumed by early Roman settlers. Spanish hard cider is typically produced in Spain’s rainy northern regions of Asturias and Basque. Those in Asturias call the hard cider sidra whereas those in the Basque region call it sagardoa. In the north, the Spanish cider apples are harvested in late fall, and produced and bottled between January and mid-Spring.
The Taste of Spanish cider differs from the sweet and bubbly ciders of English and Ireland. Spanish cider is more tart, mildly musty, and dry. It is also naturally fermented and typically does not have any extra sugar added. But don’t let this description scare you as the taste is actually extremely tasty and enjoyable especially on a hot Spanish day. Spanish cider is typically served in small, narrow glass, and is uniquely poured into the glass at a height of about three feet. This is called “throwing” cider which is done to aerate the liquid. Bartenders in sidrerías, cider bars, are usually happy to perform this feat and generate amazed patron reaction.
While in Madrid, we had the pleasure of sampling ciders at different establishments. The two that stood out for us were El Ñeru and Taberna Sidrería El Fontán Canalejas. Both sidrerías are located in the central part of the city called Centro.
The Asturian restaurant and sidrería, El Ñeru was recommended to us by a restaurant insider. El Ñeru is located north of Plaza Mayor on Calle de Bordadores, few blocks from Puerta del Sol. The establishment offers a tapas bar on the main floor and restaurant located downstairs. We opted to experience El Ñeru’s tapas bar for a lively experience and it did not disappoint. A soccer match was on the television, groups of locals enjoyed each other’s company, tourists meandered in and out, and we practiced our Spanish with the friendly bartender. After a few rounds of delicious Cortina cider poured from the top of the bartender’s reach, a complementary dish of tapas was served to us.
We ordered a few more tapas including the most delectable Pulpo Gallego, a Galician squid and potato dish. As the night went on, every so often another complimentary tapa would appear in front of us.
Taberna Sidrería el Fontán Canalejas
We also stopped in at Taberna Sidrería el Fontán Canalejas for an afternoon’s worth of cider. Sidreria El Fontán is located close to the Puerta del Sol near the intersection of Calle Mayor and Calle de Sevilla. While we had passed by this lively establishment the night prior, the afternoon vibe was very mellow and welcoming. We opted for their cider, which coincidentally was Cortina as well, served in the traditional narrow glass after being thrown by the bartender. The cider was extremely tasty and refreshing which was enhanced by the gracious service. The cider was served with a small dish of the most delicious Spanish olives I had ever tasted. After I inhaled the first dish, the kind server provided me with a second. While we did not opt for additional food, Sidrería el Fontán does offer an array of Spanish, Austrian and Galician fare.
There are many other amazing sidrerías in Madrid that we hope to explore on our next trip. We hope that on your next trip to Spain, you will be able to experience the delicious Spanish cider whether in Madrid, Oviedo or Barcelona. Until then, check out the international gourmand offerings on RudiGourmand.com.