Richard Gonzmart, 4th generation family member and president of the Columbia Restaurant Group, is a man of many passions – including the enjoyment of travel, food and wine.
Gonzmart is a devotee of Spanish food and wines. Here are his recommendations on what to eat, what to see and do, and where to stay while in select cities in Spain.
Should your travels take you to Amsterdam, here’s where Gonzmart recommends you stay:
Sofitel Legend The Grand
Address: Oudezijds Voorburgwal 197
1012 EX Amsterdam - The Netherlands
Phone: +31 (0)20 555 3 111
Live the Legend - A former 15th century convent is now a haven of hospitality, art and culture. When I recently was in Amsterdam visiting Ulele-featured artist Erik Renssen, I was privileged to stay in this luxurious five-star hotel. If you’re looking for a world-class experience, this is the place you want. This is always my go hotel when visiting Amsterdam.
Casa Paco, founded in 1933 (Reservations required)
Plaza Puerta Cerrada 11 - Known for their superlative steaks and seared in boiling oil before served on plates so hot that meat continues to cook, preserving the natural juices. Located in the Old Town, this two-story restaurant has three dining rooms. In addition to steak, you can enjoy fish soup, grilled sole, baby lamb, or try Casa Paco cocido, the house version of Madrid's famous chickpea and pork soup.
More info» http://www.casapaco1933.com/www.casapaco1933.com/
Address: Calle José Ortega y Gasset 75 - Seafood is the specialty here, with more than 30 kinds of fish served, all prominently displayed in a glass case.
More info» http://www.marisqueriaelpescador.net/
Mercado San Miguel
Address: Plaza de San Miguel - San Miguel Market is the most popular market in Madrid since it is located in the center of Madrid, within walking distance from Plaza Mayor. The market is not a traditional grocery market but a gourmet tapas market, with over 30 different vendors selling a wide variety of freshly prepared tapas, hams, olives, baked goods and other foods. Beer, wine and champagne are also available.
More info: http://www.mercadodesanmiguel.es/en/
Address: Calle de la Bola 5 - You’ll find a traditional atmosphere with gently polite waiters here, featuring grilled sole, filet of veal, and roast veal. Basque-style hake and grilled salmon are also excellent choices. The highlight: traditional Madrileño cocido, cooked in earthenware pots by wood fire. It is a chickpea-based stew, prepared with vegetables, potatoes and meat, and is a hearty and substantial fare, most popular during the winter, but served year-long in restaurants.
More info » http://www.labola.es/
Address: Chuchilleros 17 - According to the Guinness Book of Records, this is the oldest restaurant in the world, dating from 1725. Sample their house specialties that include cochinillo asado (roast suckling pig) and cordero asado (roast lamb).
More info » http://www.casabotin.com/?q=en
La TraineraAddress: Lagasca, 60 - Specializes in some of Madrid's best fresh fish and shellfish. Located in the glamorous shopping neighborhood of Serrano.
More info » http://www.latrainera.es/.
Address: Infanta Mercedes, 111 - This family business began in 1987 when founders Rosemarie and Hans Frind started smoking fish at their house. Restaurant Casa Juan is a very welcoming country house which feels like home. It is nicely decorated, surrounded by a lovely garden.
More info » http://casajuanrestaurante.es/
Ten Con Ten
Calle de Ayala, 6 - Ten Con Ten is a multifunctional space. A huge, rectangular bar is at the entrance, where you can enjoy a snack and exquisite cocktails. You can also taste our menu, where you will find succulent creations to try and share. Other areas (library, bistro, ...) offer an elegant and comfortable atmosphere, something more formal.
More info: http://restaurantetenconten.com/
The Westin Palace Hotel
Address: Plaza de las Cortes, 7 - The Palace Hotel was built in 1912, and enjoys a rather enviable situation in Madrid; it is in front of the Prado Museum, between the Thyssen Museum and the Parliament, right at the corner of Paseo la Castellana.
More info » http://www.starwoodhotels.com/westin/property/overview/index.html?propertyID=79
This luxurious hotel has been host to many celebrities from all over the world. Needless to say, the Westin Palace is aptly palatial.
Address: Paseo del Prado, 12-28014 - Artestilo is operated by Carlos Sanchez, one of Richard and Melanie's closest friends. This store sells hand-made items and other traditional Spanish articles. The store displays top quality items such as LLadro, Nao, Algora and Príncipe porcelain, Majorica pearls, ceramics from Talavera, Seville and Valencia, among others and bronze figures and sculptures. They accept all credit cards and currencies.http://www.artestilo.com/osc/
Calle Serrano (Serrano Street)
Calle Serrano is home to designer ships, art boutiques and everything in between. The best in up-market specialty shopping can be found on this popular street. The street of Serrano in the Salamanca district is known as Madrid's "Golden Mile" of shops. You will find Top designers Purificación García, Roberto Verino, Ermenegildo Zegna and Yves Saint Laurent. .
The one street you shouldn't miss is the Gran Via, a showcase of early 20th century architecture. This lively street is one of the city's most important shopping areas. What makes this street so special is the architectural design of many of the large buildings.
Puerta del Sol
The heart of Madrid's historic center. The plaza's name originates from the eastern city gate located in the 15th century. The gate was probably called after a sun drawn on it, hence the name Puerta del Sol or 'Sun Gate'
A grand arcaded square in the center of Madrid.
The Prado Museum contains the world's finest collection of Spanish paintings, including masterpieces by El Greco, Velázquez and Goya.
Address: Paseo del Prado s/n
More info » https://www.museodelprado.es/index.php?id=250&tx_indexedsearch[sword]=%20en%20ingles
Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum has a large selection of Italian Primitives. There are also excellent examples of German Renaissance and Dutch 17th century paintings and 19th century American paintings.
Address: Paseo del Prado, 8
More info » http://www.museothyssen.org/thyssen_ing/home.html
Segovia is Spain and Castile at its best-twisting alleyways, the highest concentration of Romanesque churches in all of Europe, pedestrian streets where no cars are allowed, all surrounded by the city's medieval wall, which itself is bordered by two rivers and an extensive green-belt park with miles of shaded walks.
Address: Cronista Lecea 11
This is one of Richard Gonzmart’s favorite restaurants in Spain. It has a traditional menu of dishes from the region. The roast suckling pig falls from the bone.
More info » http://www.rtejosemaria.com/
This centrally located bar and restaurant, 1 block east of the Plaza Mayor, serves quality regional cuisine in a rustic stucco-and-brick dining room. Before dinner, locals crowd in for tapas at the bar, and then move into the dining room for such Castilian specialties as roast suckling pig, rural-style conger eel, and freshly caught sea bream.
AttractionsOn the north-west extreme of the wall is the famous Alcázar castle, source of inspiration to Walt Disney, and where Queen Isabel promised Columbus the financial backing he needed to discover America.
On the south-east side of the wall is the world-renowned Roman Aqueduct, the largest and best preserved of its kind anywhere. It served as the mint mark on all coins struck in the city from 1455 to 1864.
Barcelona's culture is rich, stemming from the city's 2,000 years of history.
To a greater extent than the rest of Catalonia, where Catalonia's native Catalan is more dominant. Barcelona is a bilingual city: Catalan and Spanish are both official and widely spoken.
Address: Escudellers 14 - As you walk down Escudellers, you are drawn by the aroma of roasting chickens. This classic restaurant, founded in 1835, has them on an outside spit, on an open fire built into the side of the edifice and you enter through the main kitchen, with steaming posts and hot under the collar cooks. Inside it's a labyrinth; stairways lead to even more dining rooms and private, one-table nooks are hidden under stairs. The place oozes with atmosphere and the cuisine is Catalan comfort food.
More info » http://www.loscaracoles.es/
Address: C/ Quintana 5 - Founded in 1786, Can Culleretes is, according to The Guinness Book of Records, the oldest restaurant of Barcelona and the second oldest of Spain. You will be able to taste the typical food of the Catalan kitchen. It is located in the Gothic District of Barcelona, next to Las Rambles.
More info » http://www.culleretes.com/en/home
Address: Plaça des les Olles 8 - One of the most known Tapas restaurants and dining secrets of Barcelona, Cal Pep lies close to the Picasso Museum and is a slice of local life. It is generally packed and the food is some of the tastiest in the Old Town. You'll find the typical food of the Catalan kitchen.
More info » http://www.calpep.com/
(Flower Market) - Five separate street strung end to end, La Rambla (also called Las Ramblas) is a tree-lined pedestrian boulevard packed with buskers (a person who entertains people for money in public places); living statues, mimes and itinerant salespeople selling everything from lottery tickets to jewelry. The noisy bird market on the second block is worth a stop.
Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família
La Sagrada Familia is truly awe-inspiring. The life's work of Barcelona's favorite son, Antoni Guadí, the magnificent spires of the unfinished cathedral imprint themselves boldly against the sky with swelling outlines inspired by the holy mountain Montserrat. Gaudí died in 1926 before his masterwork was completed, and since then, controversy has continually dogged the building program. Nevertheless, the southwestern façade, with four more towers, is almost done, and the nave, begun in 1978, is progressing.
Address: Montcada, 15-23 - The museum of Picasso is Barcelona's most visited museum. It is housed in three strikingly beautiful stone mansions on the Carrer de Montcado, which was, in the medieval times, an approach to the port. The museum shows numerous works that trace the artists early years, and is especially strong on his Blue Period, and his early works from the 1890s.
More info » http://www.museupicasso.bcn.cat/en/
Hotel Le Meridian
Address: La Rambla 111 - Ideally situated on the famous Las Rambles, the iconic boulevard of leisure and entertainment in Barcelona. Le Meridian Hotel is often referred to as the 'stars hotel', as many world famous personalities have crossed the threshold.
More info » http://www.starwoodhotels.com/lemeridien/property/overview/index.html?propertyID=1931&EM=LM_LEMERIDIEN-BARCELONA.COM_1931
Toledo is a city and municipality located in central Spain, 40 miles south of Madrid. It is the capital of the province of Toledo and of the autonomous community of Castile-La Mancha. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986 for its extensive cultural and monumental heritage as one of the former capitals of the Spanish Empire and place of coexistence of Christian, Jewish and Moorish cultures.
Venta de AiresAddress: Paseo Circo Romano 35 – Venta de Aires is the only Centenary Restaurant in Castilla-La Mancha and in Toledo. Founded in 1891, with more than 120 years of serving guest the best food in the region. Famous for our stew partridge. Here you will experience an exquisite blend of historical flavors with the latest contemporary trends.
More info: http://www.ventadeaires.com/
Address: 6 Calle de la Granada - Spain's La Mancha region of Toledo brings to mind El Greco and Don Quixote, not usually world-class wine or food. Adolfo Muñoz is helping to change that at his restaurant, Adolfo. Mr. Muñoz, the influential chef and restaurateur, has a wine list with more than 40,000 bottles. What started life as an asador—a rustic place specializing in roasts—has evolved into one of the most sophisticated kitchens in Spain, highlighting regional ingredients such as olive oil, saffron, Manchego cheese and Alto Tajo truffles. The result is dishes such as delicate shrimp in a passion fruit vinaigrette or perfect raw oysters afloat in an intensely flavored tomato gelée. King Juan Carlos once declared Adolfo's partridge to be the best in Spain.
More info » http://www.adolforestaurante.com/