sábado, 6 de noviembre de 2010

4. tetuán day!

To be clear, Tetuán Day isn't a real day. It's something I made up. There is an actually day for the neighborhood, but it coincided with Gay Pride Week and the World Cup, and who knows what else. I was busy, or asleep. That being said, for a day that I made up, it was awesome. Adventure! Food! Free midday shots! The participants included myself and Sarah, also known as the usual suspects. It was a sunny day that started off with a soccer game in (you guessed it) the Tetuán league. After everyone asked declined to participate in the festivities, Sarah and I wandered off in search of a famed horchatería called la Fábrica Antigua. However, it was already closed for the season, but instead of this minor setback putting a damper on our civic spirit, we strolled toward a bakery near my house to preempt lunch with some pastries. I mean, really, it was still a little too early and we hadn't missed breakfast by that much. We settled for a pestaña, a fried dough creation covered in honey, and something golden and croissant-like that was filled with raspberry and ricotta. Surprising only to us, they were incredibly delicious, as things fried and covered with honey or stuffed with ricotta usually are. After a quick stop by my apartment for a shower, we headed to a chicken place that I have passed on my street for two years and not once entered. It's not as if it didn't smell enticing, but it's a bit intimidating to walk into somewhere that has no menu and serves an exclusively Dominican clientele. I already stick out like a sore thumb, and most of the time, I would like to not be stared at. That being said, this day was no ordinary day. This day was Tetuán Day, and on Tetuán Day, you can go anywhere shamelessly, head held high, proud to live in a barrio that no one wants to go to and makes people feel bad for you. So I have proclaimed. In we walked, and who did I see? The neighborhood barber who makes me feel super uncomfortable because whenever I walk by, he sticks his head out of his shop and makes comments that include: "You're going to give me a stroke," "You're precious," and "Come here," in addition to whistling. Did I mention the staring? Before I lost my nerve and told Sarah that we needed to run away, we were already seated and had ordered the only thing they had...Chicken! And, although I was stared at the entire meal, I totally enjoyed the chicken, yucca, avocado plate that was before me. We raved, I licked my fingers, and then we were invited to free shots. It was a true fiesta. Alas, for those unaccustomed to Tetuán, it was a little rough on the stomach. After early enthusiasm, Sarah was ready to crash, and she barely made it back to my apartment before collapsing from exhaustion. So much awesomeness in one day can really take its toll.

miércoles, 3 de noviembre de 2010

12. La Mucca, not just for drinks

Confession: It started with just drinks, but food was served and eaten, so it still counts. I mean, I very nearly licked the plate. Delicious. But I'm getting ahead of myself. It started with a meeting on the metro. Tara, coming from far, far away, flagged me down and we headed to the Malasaña neighborhood (it's too cool for school, trust me). La Mucca is right there in the heart of it, next to el Palentino, the legendary dive bar, on Calle Pez (I have yet to
see a fish). Since it was early, we grabbed a table outside and enjoyed one of the last days of warmth (although as I write this, it's bright and sunny outside and you could easily walk around in short sleeves). We breezed past the school gossip over our first round, a mojito and a "dirty" martini.Side note: If you are going to put "Dry Martini" as a drink option, do your research. The drink is a martini. Dry is one way of serving it. Dirty is another way of serving it. If i want a dirty martini instead of dry, do not look at me like I'm a crazy person. It's a real thing. Look it up, and stop giving me something different every time I order one. Immense, dramatic sigh. Anyway. After this round, another followed, and then we started to get a little hungry. And also, there's the "always eat dinner" rule to contend with (it's very inflexible). We decided on nachos and a salad, and shockingly, both were delicious. There was no weird surprises on the nachos (green mayonnaise, tomate frito, etc.) and the salad had ham and cheese and a bright dressing, and it was amazing. Then our friend Brian showed up, and we headed out, then Darwin called, I got a text from Sarah and Nuria...needless to say, I got home around five, smelling of smoke, exhausted, and nearly penniless, but with a full stomach.

domingo, 24 de octubre de 2010

bonus: salamanca!

It's not on the list, but I didn't make any rules excluding activities. And honestly, this should have been on my list. Who wrote that, anyway?? Anyway, Salamanca is a small city, famous for its university, and it's only two and a half hours from Madrid. And after almost three years, I had never been, which borders on embarassing, to be frank. So, I did the responsible thing and I bought a bus ticket, booked a hotel, and woke up early to catch the 8 AM bus to Salamanca. This was another solo trip, but I needed some time outside the city on my own to wander aimlessly. I groggily left the bus station, left my bag at the hotel, and grabbed some toast and a coffee on my way to the Plaza Mayor. One of the most beautiful central squares in Spain, it was covered in red and gold and blaring techno music upon my arrival. Why? Because the Spanish National Team had come to Salamanca to play and the entire city was lining up in the plaza, chanting and playing games in inflatable bouncey houses. I can't say I was surprised. The arrival of la selección nacional is rivaled only by the second coming of Christ, and one could argue that not even that could top seeing Iniesta in the flesh. But after passing through the main square with the giant teletron, I started looking for the frog sitting on the skull. They say that if you see it, you'll have good luck in your studies. It's hidden on a the face of the university, which is filled with carvings. And of course, I left feeling lucky. I continued wandering, visiting the cathedral, the public library, and several university buildings, and after all that walking, I ate. Peas cooked with ham, pork chops, wine, chorizo, ham, and plenty of coffee...It was overall pretty delicious. Did I get a bit lonely? Let's just say I was ready to be back in Madrid, refueled and refreshed.

jueves, 14 de octubre de 2010

13. eat a menú del día

This is the third thing off the list! And all of them involve eating (I've taken up running in the morning to balance this out). So here we are, at Menú del día, my most favorite of madrileño traditions (tapas are right up there as well). To explain, a Menú del día is a special weekday event offered by almost all the restaurants in Spain. It's typically composed of a first plate, a second plate, dessert or coffee, bread, and wine or beer (or water, I guess), all for the extremely economic price of 8 to 13 euros. Sadly, this is only during the week, but I guess for my waistline, it could be a blessing in disguise. My partner in crime for this meal was Tara, who took a break from her work-a-holic schedule (only here can 25 hours seem overwhelming) and headed to the center to get some lunch. Side note: I only have friends with names that rhyme with "-ara." Sarah, Tara...I'm missing Kara and Lara to have a complete set. We wandered through La Latina, veto-ing restaurants left and right. After a ranking of the offerings, we settled down at La Musa in Plaza de la Paja, which is next to Delic (the cake place, as it is known among homesick Americans). Instantly we veered off in different directions, Tara going with salad and fish, and me choosing squash tortelini and beef cheek stew. They could have been pig cheeks; our waiter wasn't sure. And of course, some midday wine never hurts. Unfortunately, this wasn't one of the places that leaves the bottle at the table, but we made do. The pesto salad was incredible, and the squash ravioli was well worth the five mile run (I was preparing for Menú del día!!). Our second courses were nothing to sneeze at, either. Tara's fish was good, but a little plain for me, but the beef or pork stew was so tender and filling. Wow. We finished up with some espresso and split a dessert, which was the right move. There are only so many buttons I can pop without being cited for indecent exposure.

lunes, 4 de octubre de 2010

2. chicken and cider

When asked what I wanted to do for my birthday, the only thing I could think of was chicken and cider. Mostly because of the deliciousness of both chicken and cider on their own merits, and then together! Qué emoción! So, following the picnic, two coffees, and a quick costume change (it's my birthday and I will dirty as many clothes as I wish), I headed to Casa Mingo, a very traditional madrileño tavern featuring, you guessed it, roast chicken and cider. Casa Mingo is on the list because it's a classic and also, I may have mentioned this before, delicious. It's located near the Manzanares river (that's what they call the stream that runs through Madrid) and the San Antonio de la Florida Hermitage, home of a beautiful Goya fresco. Now that we're situated, let's eat some chicken. Sarah, Tara, Brian, Nuria, and Darwin all came to join in the festivities, and they were all pretty game. Although it's a traditional madrileño tavern, it's got an Asturian influence, so there wasplenty of sausage, cabrales (a typical cheese from the north of Spain), and meat on the menu. We had a good laugh about the translations, and then ordered some hard pork (sausage) and cheese, among other things (namely, chicken). As we munched and laughed between English and Spanish, I opened a couple presents (Bitelchus!!), we paid, and headed out, mainly to have some gin-tonics. Overall, an excellent way to turn 24.

viernes, 1 de octubre de 2010

9. picnic in the retiro

Here it is, the first thing off the list! A positively historic occasion! One down, 19 more to go. I'm glad this was the first thing to cross off my list. The Retiro is a special place in Madrid. It's always a stop on the tour around the city, whether it's freezing cold or blazingly hot. I have shown people to the Crystal Palace, rowed people around the pond, strolled through the African drum circle, and flopped down in the grass for a picnic. Goya would be proud to see me participating in the age-old tradition of spreading my blanket and munching away on some bread and wine. Of all of these activities, the picnic is my absolute favorite. It combines being outside and eating. Who doesn't like that? (Kacie, and I quote: "But then you have the tupperware, and you have to take it with you, and blah, blah, blah.") So, for a birthday picnic, I took a trip to the market, and rounded up salad fixings, some bread, and of course, the ever-present ham. Add in a whirlwind of activity, and off I go, picnic bag in hand. The day was perfect, and since it was a Tuesday, the park was calm (not too many Spanish teenagers playing bad techno from their cell phones or drinking calimotxos). And then Sarah and I arrived. We spread our blanket on the ground, opened the wine, and started to eat. And I don't want to brag about my salad-making skills, but you can never go wrong with roasted squash, caramelized onions, beets, walnuts, and goat cheese (I work part-time. I've got a lot of time to think). The wine, even out of a plastic water bottle, was delicious. And don't forget the ham. Following all that, we had rasperries and macaroons...incredible. I could have laid in that park for hours. But alas, I had a class and one more thing to cross off my To-Do Madrid list.

domingo, 12 de septiembre de 2010

so this is it, then

Well. Here I am, back in Madrid. I have received a lot of questions, such as, What? Why? What are you doing? It's a valid question, since I myself am not entirely sure. I'm figuring things out, and how better to get a grip on life than with the help of ham? And while I am fully committed to the planning of life, I can't spend all day, everyday doing just that. I'll go crazy! So, I've made a list of things that I want to accomplish before I leave this city. You may notice that almost all of them are food-drink related. It's not really a surprise.

1. Sunday in La Latina

2. Chicken and cider!

3. A night at Charada, finishing with breakfast (preferably churros)

4. Tetuán Day!

5. Go to a game in Santiago Bernebeu

6. La Chata for their pimientos rellenos

7. One more time on the tapa route

8. Melo's en Lavapies for their million calorie sandwich and their croquetas.

9. Picnic in the Retiro and perhaps row a boat

10. Go to Amsterdam to see Leo (ok...so that's not in Madrid. It's close)

11. Go to Naples with Sarah to eat pizza

12. La Mucca, not just for drinks.

13. Eat a Menú del Día

14. Eat cochinillo (suckling pig), maybe even in Segovia

15. Casa Lucío, for their huevos estrellados

16. Dance the night away at Zombie (yes, I do pronounce it with a th).

17. Of course, go to the Big Three: El Prado, El Thyssen, y La Reina Sofía (not to be confused with the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa María).

18. A night in Malasaña

19. Go to Morocco

20. Ham tour.

Any suggestions? I'm going to be a busy girl.