Madrid Recap

Hey you guys!  No new recipes today… the last few days of school have been hectic this semester, and this past weekend I snuck off to Madrid to visit a college friend and spend some time re-exploring the city.  Madrid is where I lived in Spain four years ago, and where I originally applied to be a language assistant.  Palma found me, and it’s growing on me, but it definitely lacks the big-city-bustle of Madrid.  Also built-in heating, which I complain about daily but still baffles me.  It was was great to get away for a weekend and do big city things.

I was going to blog about all of the delicious food I ate, but after a rough encounter with some low-budget tapas, or possibly just my lack of self-control around fried food, I’m just going to stick to the highlights.

Thursday morning I flew from Palma bright and early.  So early it was before bright.  I thought I left the Arctic Circle when I left Montreal, but here in Palma, the sun doesn’t rise this time of year until 8am, and in Madrid, not until 8:30.  My first stop once I got into Madrid was at the famous bakery ironically named La Mallorquina.  I cannot stress enough how delicious it is.  I grabbed a chocolate napolitana to go {still hot from the oven}, smirked on the inside at some woman ordering an ensaimada {who would want an ensaimada from Madrid when you can get an authentic one in Palma?}, and made my way over to Starbucks.  You have never seen a person as happy as I was when I walked inside.

Again, and really I’m not sure why liking Starbucks has become something to apologize for, I don’t often go to Starbucks when I’m in the US.  It is, however, a welcome piece of home when I’m away.  And, Mallorca doesn’t have any.  They have this local chain called Cappuccino which has no point in my life, and if I’m going to pay too much for coffee it’s going to be for the red cups and the ambiance and people spelling my name wrong.  My Starbucks in Madrid (that’s what I’m calling the one I stopped at), was perfect.  It was all decorated with fake window snow for Christmas, and a sign saying something ridiculous like “unite yourself with happiness”, and, even though it was still early by Madrid standards, it was open.  I couldn’t stop smiling when I walked inside.

The barista was super nice and topped my Christmas blend latte with whipped cream and toffee bits, as he called them, “the magic touch”!  It was the perfect latte to go with my chocolate pastry, and I was in heaven!

I did make it over to Mercado San Miguel on Thursday, and wimped out with a chorizo empanada that definitely wasn’t worth it; think fancy pig in a blanket – but they do have lots of fresh and delicious options.  Plus it’s so pretty inside!!  Check it out!

After a long day of sightseeing and wandering around, I ended up having dinner at the Hamburguesa Nostra in Corte Ingles.  Again, it sounds questionable, but was so delicious!!  The top floor of the Corte Ingles I was in has lots of different gourmet stations – kind of like Eatily if Eatily had all the food in the world.  It turns out Hamburguesa Nostra is an actual restaurant, not just a kiosk in a department store, and I totally recommend it.  If you’re in Spain, and you need a burger {I hadn’t had a hamburger since September – I neeeeeded a burger!!} you won’t be disappointed here.  I ordered a 250g beef burger, cooked very rare, with lettuce, tomato, and Manchego cheese, and it may have been the best thing I ate in Madrid, and even in recent memory.  It was perfect.  The cheese was melty.  The burger was rare.  And, the check came in a burger-shaped box.  Sooooo good!

Friday, after picking up breakfast at La Mallorquina again {it’s the old timey bakery you see as soon as you get off the Metro in Sol; not the end of the square with the bear, the other end}, and a long morning of art at the Prado, I got lunch at El Azul de Fucar, one of my old Madrid favorites.  They had a Menu del Dia, and I was able to get the world’s best hummus, a veggie quiche, and a delicious honey-walnut cake, super reasonably.

Friday night is where it all went down – just remember more croquetas are not necessarily better – but not before we got churros and chocolate at San Gines.  It’s somewhere between Sol and Opera.  It’s open 24 hours, and they have pictures of famous people.  The chocolate is thick and delicious, and the churros were so good that I ate too many.  Next time I want to try the porras, the thick fat churros.  I’ll definitely be back!

Saturday we made it to the Reina Sofia museum.  It’s younger and funkier than the Prado, with a lot more war going on.  They had a really depressing Holocaust film, and, of course, Picasso’s Guernica.  I’d seen it before, but I thought it was worth going again.  It’s really big!  Like it probably wouldn’t fit in your living room.

The neat thing, if you’re under 25 and have a student id, is that you can get admission into both the Prado and the Reina Sofia for free.  For me this was perfect.  I’m so not artsy, and even though I spent two days getting overwhelmed by art I didn’t understand, at least I got my culture for free.  Definitely check them both out, but give yourself time.  Don’t try to run through the Prado in 3 hours like I did.

Also go to El Retiro, the big famous park.  They have a boat pond, which I skipped because I figured I would fall in the water in the middle of December, and lots of local crazies to entertain you.  The man dressed up as Minnie Mouse aggressively trying to give balloon animals to children was a plus, as well as the old guy in sweatpants and a backwards fanny pack ice dancing in roller skates {no, not rollerblades, the skates with 4 wheels} around a statue.  Ooh and the guy playing Jingle Bells on his saxophone who kept stopping long enough to shout “Jingle Bells dame monedas!  Jingle Bells muchas gracias!”  “Jingle Bells give me money!  Jingle Bells thank you!”  Very festive.

The best part of this time of year are the Christmas markets everywhere.  The biggest one is obviously in Plaza Mayor, but the whole city is covered with little shops and stalls.  The Christmas lights stay on until midnight too, and don’t get shut off at 10pm, which is also nice.

It was an exhausting weekend, but so much fun!

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