Once in a blue moon, you come along a little slice of heaven. This is just what happened to me and two good friends yesterday. After a weekend full of food debauchery, sampling some of Madrid’s best tapas bars, we never thought it could end on a better note than it did. That is El Cisne Azul, easily discarded as a shabby bar in this vibrant neighborhood full of modern and beautiful bistros. You will be very sorry if you do, though. A true diamond in the rough, this little bar probably hasn’t changed its appearance in many, many years. You know what though, I am kind of glad. I much rather they keep spending their hard-earned money on quality ingredients rather than jazzing up the place. And this shows. Their specialty is wild mushrooms, proudly written on the front door, “Fresh Wild Mushrooms all year round”. You walk in, and it’s a small place, with only about 4 tables and 2 high tops, with a very large bar for standing room only. On one end of the room is a large refrigerator/display cabinet that holds the prized bounty, only the freshest wild mushrooms and vegetables.
We were lucky to grab a table, as 10 minutes passed the place was jam-packed with people waiting to eat their delicacies. One man was at the grill, proudly and rapidly serving up all the goodies.
The menu is quite extensive, you have your house specialties, sautéed mushrooms, Revueltos (scrambled or fried eggs) with mushrooms, Foie gras with mushrooms, and then some Chuleton. But we came for, yup, the mushrooms.
We started our bacchanal with some beautiful house wine and a plate of sautéed Amanita Caesarea, which is known as Caesar’s Mushrooms, because it apparently was a favorite of the Roman Emperor Claudius.
This mushroom has an orange cap and a white stem, with a slight nutty flavor. It can be eaten raw, like a carpaccio with some oil and parmesan shavings, but we decided on the sautéed version. Lightly salted, it was a fantastic started, since it really has a very delicate taste. Mind you, the servers know what they are doing, because they chose the order!
Next up was Zucchini Flowers sautéed with Truffle Oil.
This was very nice, but call me crazy. I prefer the Italian version, where they are stuffed with cheese and fried. Nonetheless, they were very, very good.
Our next dish was a Fried egg with Black Trumpet or Black Chanterelle mushroom.
I am sure you know my love for eggs, so there is nothing more delicious than a plate of eggs with wild mushrooms. Black Trumpets have a deeper, earthier taste. They can also be made in stews with beef or venison, since it really handles red meats very well. But, a risotto or pasta with them is equally delicious.
The star of the day, was the Porcini mushrooms with Torta del Casar Cheese.
Torta del Casar is a sheep’s milk cheese from Extremadura region in Spain. It is a nutty, slightly strong cheese, which is traditionally eaten from its rind, since it is quite creamy. We knew this had to be good, but it was a religious experience, really. The two combine so perfectly, and quite frankly, really balance each other out. I could eat this every day, but then I would also have to run a half marathon every day to compensate. I really don’t have words to describe how good this is, so I will just leave you to look at the picture and imagine it.
So, after this the server asked us if we wanted anything else, and we thought that we should leave a good thing be. But, he told us that to finish off our meal, we should try the “Majorero” cheese from the Canary Islands, that is grilled and served with onion marmalade. YES PLEASE!
This cheese is similar to Manchego, sheep’s milk, and can be cured, semi-cured and soft. I imagine this was the last variety, because of it’s ability to melt. This reminded me so much of our queso tierno in Colombia, which we also grill to get that beautiful crispy crust and gooey center. But props go to the boys at Cisne Azul, who paired it beautifully with the onion marmalade. We were crazy about this.
So, then the server asks us if we wanted dessert. We thought we had already had dessert, thinking the grilled cheese with jam was our last plate. So, we said no, we were fine. Then he told us that they had some house made Macarons, with Porcini cream custard filling. What the what? It was so odd sounding, we just had to try it.
Upon taking the first bite, we all looked at each other with this perplexed look on our faces. Our mind couldnt’ really process the incredibly weird combination of sweet porcini’s. But as we kept chewing, our faces started contorting in these orgasmic expressions. Why hasn’t anyone thought of this before? It is a spectacular flavor combination! I can’t get enough of these, and I will order them every time I go!
So folks, if you are in Madrid, you cannot afford to miss this place. Good service, authentically kitsch decor, exceptional quality food. Who could ask for anything more?
El Cisne Azul
Calle de Gravina 19,
Metro: Chueca Line
+34 915 21 37 99