One of Madrid’s culinary highlights is tapas. In fact, you can’t properly say you’ve done right by this city until you’ve gone out on a tapas crawl, eschewing a proper dinner for a series of small plates (and glasses of beer) at a handful of tapas bars. In the Barrio de las Letras I discovered a string of respectable looking joints lined up as if for just such an exercise, starting with Los Gatos, where the beer came accompanied by a plate of camaron and the salmon and goat cheese canapes were served with potato chips freshly fried in olive oil. I quickly – if just a little too late – learned an important lesson of the tapas experience:Â pace yourself, these are nibbles. If four sandwiches and a plate of ham is your starting off point, you probably won’t last very long.Â And I didn’t. Moving next door to La Dolores that salient fact hit me when the man behind the counter asked why I stopped digging into a plate of Galician-style octopus. Was there something wrong with the food?Â No, I tried to explain more through gesture than words, it’s me. I’m full, I said patting an imagined Santa belly. He looked at me like the amateur I was. Filling up on tapas, I later found out, is tantamount to eating all the wasabi peas.