It happened again this week. Whilst walking about and carrying on with my usual life schedule, I stumbled upon an epic find of culinary delight. Really, it was around 19:30 hours and I was close enough to my house to just wait but starving enough to know I had to pick up something small to eat, else I’d faint. I walked passed a Museo de Jamon and didn’t even consider it. Next was a Faborit which I kindly walked past. Then I saw Granier. My feet were about to turn to go inside and just feast on those 3 for 1€ croissants. But I thought, “nah man, you’re better than this.” I had almost given up hope when I saw a place called Kprichos Argentinos. I’d never heard of it and really, I shouldn’t even have gone in. My general rule of thumb is, when hungry, don’t try new things, stick to the devil you know. But, I was about to faint so I thought, “what the heck, it won’t kill me.”
I walked into this tiny store dedicated solely to the Argentinian empanadilla cause and a few dulces from the country. The store was simply decorated in a way that made you feel like “buy an empanadilla and bounce homie, we got nothing else.” So, I asked the guy in the store for a meaty recommendation and he pointed me to the carne con cilantro option. He heated it up for me and a few moments later, I was out of the store and on my way. One bite later, I was blown away. If someone had been there, I would have wanted them to capture the moment of my mind being blown. The empanadilla was hot, with steam pipping through the meat. It was packed with flavour. The fresh onion and cilantro (coriander) were noticeable and added to the delightfulness of the whole thing. Most of all, the pastry was just right, enough to be tasted but not heavy and doughy like empanadas we have gotten used to (mmhhmm). From all this, it was clear, I just had to go back the next day for more.
The following day, I met the store manager who told me that an Argentinian woman going by the name Miriam is behind all the magic of the empanadillas. He suggested I go to the “hub” where all the magic happens. As this particular shop was on Calle Alcala, I had to walk about 7/8 minutes to get to Mercado de Torrijos on Goya. On the first floor of this market, I met Miriam in her natural environment. I tell you what, she was the warmest person I’d met in a while. I just wanted to hug her. She is full of life, passion for her job and loves a good joke. She explained to me that she had developed every empanadilla herself. Her ethos is “make it for me and for the clients to love it and take extreme care with the flavour.” Although every empanadilla is made to her precise recipe instructions, she says she always tastes them to be sure they’re just right. Miriam explained to me that she loves her empanadillas and must must must be involved in the entire process. So her dreams are endearingly simply – keep to what I know and don’t grow. She assures me they will never be a chain of Kprichos Argentinos because that would mean mechanising the production process and losing the artisan element of these delicious pieces of Argentina.
Why so serious about never expanding exponentially? Well, as it turns out, each empanadilla is closed by hand and each particular flavour has its own special closing pattern. This is referred to in Argentina as the “repulgue” and is designed to identify each empanadilla. The designs on Miriam’s empanadillas are typical of those found in Argentina but with her special touches of creativity, fun and love. Therefore, expanding would just take away from a) what she loves doing and b) the loving touch each empanadilla gets.
When Kprichos Argentinos opened in 2010, Miriam said she had only 12 varieties of empanadillas. This has slowly grown to a strong 22 varieties. She has made sure to get a good balance between meat ones and vegetarian ones, so everyone is well catered to. Word has it, a vegan one will be joining the pack soon! I highly recommend you visit this place asap and lose yourself the flavour bursts of ginger, cilantro, curry, pear, raisins and much more. The possibilities are endless.
This experience really reminded me of why I love blogging with MuchBites. It’s not about the hip and happening places that everyone seems to be talking about, it’s about real people bringing real food to their customers. For me, Miriam is real person bringing excellent food to all of us, not a mean marketing machine backed by inexhaustible funds for publicity!
Address: Mercado de Torrijos, Calle de Hermosilla, 82, Madrid
Calle Alcala, 179, Madrid
Telephone: 91 576 02 39