Saturday, September 1, 2012

Foodie Fun in Madrid

First day in the Capital of Spain, and at one time, capital of practically half the world. Much of the wealth sucked out of the Americas is still here in some form, in beautiful buildings, museums, and art. 

I spent some time matching the metro map with the map of the city. I'm staying with a lovely thirty-ish woman named Eva. She is a Madrilena, a native. We sat down for a little while last night,  she showed me all the great places to go. In the old elegant part of town, the Plaza Sol and the Plaza Mayor are the big gathering places, with massive numbers of shops and restaurants branching out in all directions. 

I took two metro lines to Plaza Sol and wandered around. I hadn't eaten breakfast at all, and it was already after noon. Tapas and a glass of wine seemed so romantic and Spanish. There was a small but crowded restaurant, called simply Cafe & Tapas, with outdoor seating in a deeply shaded patio. 

Tortilla Tapas & Vino
The Spanish make what they call a tortilla, but it's actually a potato pie. My Spanish teacher in Mexico, whose first husband was a Spaniard, showed me how to make it. Not something you want to try at home unless you have a fire extinguisher handy. It consists of small cubes of potatoes deep fried in olive oil until they are almost cooked, then egg is added to them and in a smooth (and practiced!) move, you flip the entire thing over in the pan to cook the other side. One wrong move and oil gets everywhere and can set the house on fire. 

At this little restaurant they had "pinchos" of different tapas, small servings, with a large hunk of bread. I ordered a sparkling rose and a pincho of tortilla. It was done to perfection, light potato flavor, almost crisp on both sides, and in a wedge shape. What a treat for my very first Spanish wine and tapas experience!!

Churros y chocolate
Another famous culinary sensation is a plate of freshly fried churros with a cup of thick rich chocolate. The most famous restaurant is the Chocolateria San Gines on Pasadiso San Gines 5. I'd heard it would be packed, but at 3pm it wasn't crowded at all. I paid E3.50, got my reciept and was met by a waiter who almost immediately brought the cup of warm thick pudding-like chocolate and a plate of churros. It was as "to-die-for" as anything ever recommended. I do believe they might have other things to eat there, but no one in the place was served anything different while I was there. 

Gelato artist and her rose creation!
As if the above weren't enough calories for a week, I wandered around up and down andadors (walking streets, cars get parked underground!) and came across a gelateria. The young lady inside fixed me a "small" cone in the shape of a rose, with as many kinds of icecream as I might like. If I'd known it was going to show up as a flower, I'd have picked other flavors that weren't brown, my choices were coffee and chocolate. Duh! But the rose was beautiful and the flavors exquisito together despite their lack of color contrast! 

More wandering about, visiting such oddities as the Ham Museum until I was exhausted, then I zoomed on back to the apartment on the Metro. I wasn't worried about getting lost. All I ever had to do was ask for the nearest Metro station, and I could figure out how to get back home once I know the name of that stop.  Madrid is going to be a fun experience for the next two weeks. But the food consumption has definitely got to slow WAY down!!

The morning run to the grocery, fruit, vegies, ham,
olives and coffee!

One of many displays at the Ham Museum! All
for sale along with cheap specials involving
a glass of beer and a sandwich.

Beautiful restaurant called the Cave.

Candies with embedded fruits and nuts!