There is nothing more special and lovely than a few too few days, eating far too many churros, and laughing just enough bellyful. The squad and I spent a whole 3 days in Madrid this past week, and ate our way through the city, leaving just a few hours to consume the culture and drink in the harried, important air.
Madrid’s capital-ness was self-evident: the grandiose buildings, the meandering streets that followed a non-grid drawn by a toddler, the way the light on the street sparkled post rain, the jungle planted mid-train station. Just quite everything was larger than life AND death, and old and busy and dirty and beautiful – I felt like a truer-than-true tourist.
Staying in the midst of the town, we almost overdid our budget by buying a 2 day train pass for a whole 7 euros and never using it: instead we worked off a bit of our Madrid calorie layer by walking. everywhere. Which is refreshingly the primary mode of transport everywhere I have been in this land ~ no workout, no problem. (some problem. shhh conscience) I brought one pair of true close toed shoes to Spain, and these boots were not really made for walking, so of course I’ve used them to walk/hike/run for a plane quite a few times in the past two months.
But I digress, FOOD recs coming up.
Pre Madrid, I avoided all semblance of homework for any “classes” I’m taking here on my “semester” abroad, and instead fell into the internet vortex, accidentally only earmarking eateries. oops? If we had eaten all the places I had pegged, I would still be in Madrid, having not fit through the plane doors, but alas we could only eat a few meals a day. In addition to some *bomb* microwave popcorn with freshly ground pepper, to be consumed only if sitting on the floor of a hostel, here are the winners ~
Ojala – Urth Cafe, meet Spain, and add a basement full of sand to sip a landlocked beer on the beach. My inner basic was doing cartwheels as I ordered an arugula salad with my brunch eggs, right after they served me orange juice with a stripy straw. If your eyes are done rolling to the ceiling, you could kindly rest them upon the best toast I’ve had since coming here. We came straight from the airport, because that’s how priorities work.
Mercado de San Miguel – Post a 5 hour nap (oops) we salimos de la marcha to the classier, prettier, less crazy little sister of Barcelona’s Boqueria – soft lighting and a warm conversational buzz set the perfect romantic date for 4. The concept: you order a tapa or two and a copa around the market, until you can’t walk anymore. (or something like that?) We had the creamiest burrata in the entire world, a bite size bitty of decent paella, a coupla leggy copas of Rioja Crianza for 3 euros (learned from my trip to Logroño, am I cultured yet??) , and blue cheese mushroom pizza to share. Avoid the quiche, have the froyo (thanks Aradybaby for the reco). Those are both mandatory requests. I was too distracted by the bright white spreadable lightly savory cheese to take any pictures.
Chocolatería San Gines – Need I say anything more? Honestly. Churros con chocolate. Churros with dippable drinking melted chocolate. They’ve been doing it since 1894, they’ve had a little practice – we went twice. That is all you need to know. Thanks to a course taught at our school about Spanish culture for the reco.
Subiendo Al Sur – Found in the blogosphere. Love/hate the fact that that word has become a regular part of my vernacular, but I’m accepting it as a piece of my being. Run by two brothers and a (son? nephew?) – everything is fair trade, etc. etc. Yet another home for LA baby bitches vacationing in Europe, but also wildly affordable and adorable. We were the only ones in the restaurant at 8 pm, and it was absolutely twinkly. What to get: A sweetish marinara sauced vegetable lasagna, or the most flavorful ceviche in the entire world. Or both.
Circo – Don’t stop til you get enough. Day 3, and we obviously hadn’t gotten enough ~ after a late night *cough* early morning burning up the floor of the kapital, we awoke in time for an afternoon brunch. Unfortunately, my googling skills failed us with their accidental success – famous ‘La Bicicleta’ was full. So I hung my head in the back of the line til for about 3 minutes til squad walked into this absolute GEM. Let me paint this picture for you ~ Are you ready? I’m not sure you’re ready. Ok now perhaps?
12.50 euro. A choice of drinks to begin; we all opted for orange juice, because #healthiswealth and #nextdayhydration. A bulging basket of bread and olive oil for a table full of loud, hungry girls. A choice between four entrees, of which I can remember two: Salmon on a savory pancake, or eggs benedict with sausage. Freshly fried, thick cut potato slices. Side salad. A ‘tasting plate’ of dessert which really consists of three full sized slices: an apple pie, a brownie a la mode, and a cheesecake, or a choice for creamy Greek yogurt topped with muesli. And a coffee in case you’re still a bit peckish.
We sat around for 3 hours, formulated the idea for a 6 way business plan, talked about life futures, and extolled the oh-my-gosh-ness of the potatoes.
La Rue – A good 6 or 8 hours after that marathon brunch, we found this lil guy to just tie up the tiny stomach pits that had made themselves heard, for some crepes. Order the one with chicken, brie, and onions, and the chicken salad, and the blackberry tea. And then order again, once they forget about you because you had the misfortune of sitting in the back.
Also, we saw the Prado, the grandest post-office I’ve ever seen, a chill-giving sign welcoming refugees to Spain, Museo Nacional de Reina Sofia, and JUST missed Parque del Retiro – it was raining and churros round 2 called. We came, we saw, we cultured. Thanks Madrid!