Sunday, July 17, 2011

Madrid in a day.

A somewhat last minute trip to Madrid? Well, why not.

I would be lying if I said that the main purpose of this trip was not to eat Spanish food. You’re probably asking, Megha, you seriously went all the way to Spain just for food? And the answer is yes, yes I did! You see, I have always been in love with the idea of eating little tapas and sipping on sangria, but I have never really experienced authentic Spanish cuisine. I wasn’t sure if it really was as amazing as I wanted it to be or if I just romanticized the whole thing in my head.

One thing I learned is that in Spain, eating is much more than just a meal. It is an experience. It’s sitting at your favorite restaurant with your friends, sipping on wine and chatting late into the night. You take your time. You allow your taste buds to savor and appreciate every tangy, salty, and sweet flavor in your mouth. You observe the way the flavors mingle and complement one another.

My favorite place by far was Mercado San Miguel. It might not be as large or grand as some of the other markets I visited in Europe, but this is definitely a case of quality over quantity. If you want a true tapas experience, then this is the place to visit. Locals stand at the counters, drinking sangria while they snack on all the delicacies this place has to offer. So of course, we did the same.

First, we ate little foi gras sandwiches. A warm little patty of foi gras topped with caramelized onions and placed on a soft bun…what could be better? 

Next on the to-do list: fish. One slice of soft bread topped with salmon, tomato, cheese, chives, and drizzled with olive oil. The other with a garlicy jam, marinated pieces of squid, and herbs.

And finally, to wash it all down, sangria. Surprisingly inexpensive and served with a little bowl of delicious green olives. Yum!

I could go on an on about the different foods I experienced like croquettas (little creamy fried balls of deliciousness filled with spinach, fish, jamon, or anything really), paella, and tortilla. But I should really stop myself before I just go on and on forever. Why don’t I just move on to dessert?
We know churros as fried sticks of dough topped with cinnamon and sugar. We eat them at baseball games (what, we only do that in Texas?!) and all we really want in life are Ryan Reynolds and a lifetime supply of them.



Now, imagine them without all that cinnamon sugar nonsense and instead served with a cup of piping hot, melted dark chocolate. Yes, google images tells me that this is common knowledge to the rest of the world, but this was totally new to me.

The chocolate isn’t as overwhelmingly sweet as one would imagine. It’s creamy with a slightly bitter edge. The churros are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. We also ordered porras, which are the thick and soft pillowy version of churros. 

The verdict? Spanish food was even better than I imagined.

I was sad to leave sunny Madrid. Yes, I ate and ate and ate. BUT I was also able to experience some of the other beautiful things the city has to offer like the incredible and historic Plaza Mayor. I even rowed a boat for the first time in my life in Madrid’s beautiful central park, Retiro. 

This was a whirlwind trip, and it definitely left me wanting more.

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