Tapas restaurant to join Sawmill Market offerings - Albuquerque Journal

Tapas restaurant to join Sawmill Market offerings

From left, Sawmill Market General Manager Trevor Randall and chef Christian Monchâtre go over the blueprints at Little Madrid. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)

Take a turn in Sawmill Market, and you’ll find a vision of Mercado San Miguel — in miniature.

Little Madrid, a tapas restaurant which opens next month, is modeled off of the Madrilenian market, with a menu featuring paella and charcuterie.

“What we are actually doing with Little Madrid is bringing Spain to New Mexico,” said chef Christian Monchâtre, vice president of culinary operations at Sawmill Market.

Monchâtre, who is originally from France, worked in San Sebastián, Spain, for several years. Although many people know what tapas are, he said, many aren’t aware of how the Spanish small plates are eaten in Spain.

“It’s like bar hopping here,” Monchâtre said.

A paella from the Little Madrid menu. (Courtesy of Sawmill Market)

He explained that in Spain, tapas restaurants generally have a speciality. Spaniards, he said, will visit several tapas restaurants in one night, order a drink and a plate — or two — then move onto the next spot.

In contrast, Little Madrid will have a bit of everything, with rotating hot and cold charcuterie, three different paellas, with a fourth seafood paella available on the weekend and Basque cheesecake, also known as queso quemado or “burnt cheese.” The restaurant will also offer imported pata negra, a type of Iberian ham made from — and named for — black pigs that are raised free range and forage on acorns. It’s a fattier cut than the well-known serrano ham, and will be sold by the ounce at the restaurant.

The Basque cheesecake from the Little Madrid menu. (Courtesy of Sawmill Market)

For drinks, there will be a variety of Spanish wines and beers.

For Monchâtre, although Little Madrid brings new flavors to the state, it also reflects the long culinary history between New Mexico and Spain.

“It’s going to be a correlation of your knowledge of things you have learned in history,” Monchâtre said. “And now you can taste it.”

Little Madrid opens Feb. 10. It will be open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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