Frank Visits a Spanish Sidreria
Posted 05 Apr 2012 by Frank Mahon
Most Americans do not commonly associate cider with Spanish libations. In January, I was lucky enough to visit Spain and discovered that in much of northern Spain hard cider is traditionally more commonly consumed than grape wine. In Spain cider is called sidra and a bar that serves cider is a sidreria. While I was visiting Madrid a friend brought me to a sidreria called Casa Parrondo.
At Casa Parrondo we tried a cider from Austaria called Trabanco. The waiters at sidrerias traditionally pour the first glass of cider by holding the bottle in one hand as high as they can and holding the glass in the other hand as low as they can. The waiter then pours the cider into the glass so that it falls several feet. This is done to aerate the cider and enhance the flavor. Throughout his performance our waiter maintained an expression of deadly seriousness that could rival the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. For individuals less interested in ceremony, Casa Parronda also offers a special pump designed to replicate the pouring process.
In Spain, drinks are commonly paired with small servings of food called tapas. We enjoyed our cider with blue cheese and toasted bread. We also sampled boquerones, raw anchovies marinated in olive oil, garlic and lemon. Boquerones, like ceviche are made with raw fish, chemically cooked with acidic vinegar or citrus juice. Although, the idea of eating raw fish makes most Americans squeamish, I must admit that I became somewhat addicted to this raw meat treat.
One of my favorite parts of travel is expanding my frame of reference by discovering differences and similarities between cultures. Visiting a sidreria was one the most surprising and enjoyable parts of my trip because Spanish hard cider culture is virtually unknown in the United States. Of course, hard cider culture is not unknown in the United States. As I wandered from Casa Parrondo down the narrow streets of Madrid, I felt not only tipsy, but inspired to return to Berks County, Pennsylvania and brew up my own batch of hard cider. Next month, I will discuss creating your own hard cider culture!
Casa Parrondo is located at
Calle Trujillos, 4, 28013
Text by Frank McMahon
Photography by Chris Zang