It has been awhile since we've blogged. Before we get any grief, I'm just going to say a lot has happened and we will share details all in good time! In the meantime, some notes about our recent trip to Spain starting with Madrid...
Getting up at 4am to catch a FlyAway shuttle to LAX so we could catch our 7am flight to Miami, and then a 3 hour layover in the airport followed by a 8.5 hr red-eye flight to Madrid and a 45-min train ride during the morning-rush hour was not exactly the best start to our trip. The beautiful sunrise from our plane window, however, prefaced wonderful things to come.
The first thing we did after dropping off our bags at the hostal was to grab some grub at the local supermarket. I'm sure it was a regular old supermarket to the Spaniards, but to us it was glorious! Row upon row of every variety of cured meats, as far as the eye could see.
We came back with a bounty of jamon, machego, olives (0.59 euros! for a pack), sardines, cornichons, marinated tuna, a fresh baguette (1 euro), and some really fresh sweet grapes. I couldn't (and didn't) wait to dig in. This unadorned supermarket food was better than anything of the sorts we've had in the States.
After an 8-hr nap, we were ready to explore Madrid. We left the hostal around 9pm, just as the Spaniards were getting ready to eat dinner. Since it was a food trip, we more or less made a bee-line for La Latina, Madrid's home of tapas. We walked up and down the entirety of Calle de la Cava Baja before deciding on Taverna Tempranillo, a relatively modern but somehow still divey tapas bar. The tapas we ate were more like pintxos (small bites on bread)
A semi-cured cod with raw tomato and raw pepper, sauteed baby squid with caramelized onions and aioli, duck procuitto with a warm tomato sauce. All on crusty slices of a country loaf, aka Loretta bread! Everything, especially the super-tender perfectly caramelized squid, was punchy and flavorful. We washed everything down with 2 euro glasses of local wines and thanked our lucky stars we were in Spain.
The next morning we rose early to take our daily breakfast of cafe con leche (it's the milk that makes it so delicious!) and tortilla de patata (how does it get so flavorful and dense?) and made our way to Parque del Buen Retiro. Given that our budget was super tight and reserved only for food expenditures, we took our time at this very pretty and very free park.
Deciding that we would partake of supermarket leftovers for dinner, we stopped by the Mercado de San Miguel for a late lunch. This market is reminiscent of Mario Batali's Eataly, but without the ridiculously over-priced food and useless retail section. Instead, we found stall upon stall of prepared foods including oysters, tapas, cheeses, cured meats, wines, croquettes, breads, and sweets.
Each stall had its specialty and we chose a few samplings, including seared pimientos de Padron with sea salt, olives with anchovy and pickled peppers, Spanish oysters, cured salmon over a fried green tomato, and marinated seafood (mostly mussels) with pickled peppers and onions. Yum, yum, and yum again. Who would have guessed that there is such good seafood in the landlocked Madrid?!