Sunday, July 25, 2010

Viva la movida madrileña!

Do you ever feel an instant connection? It doesn't matter if it's with a person, a place, a certain ingredient, a cocktail. You have this almost overwhelming yet calming feeling that you have found your match and that life, after all, it's going to be ok.

In my life I experienced a very small number of such connections, and yet I remember and cherish each one of them. I cannot tell you how long had it been since my last epiphany, let's just say that —finally— a few days ago I had a new one. I wasn't in Madrid for six hours and, already, I absolutely adored the place. Everything about the city, about the neighborhood, the food, the people, the drinks and —I hate to use the word because nothing sounds nuttier and more tree-hugging than the word "energy", but I'll use it anyways because in Madrid even using the word energy seemed ok— the energy is so rich, charged and charging, that I instantly thought "I want to live here."

Food, of course, was a very prominent part of my vacation. I cannot even go five miles away from my house without managing to find a new ingredient or a favorite wine bar, so imagine what happens when you unleash me in Madrid. Madness is what happens. And a very happy, constantly semi-drunk me. As my best friend describes it, locamente borracha, which loosely translates to "stupidly drunk", and yet doesn't even begin to describe the happy stupor in which I found myself as I was taking in the amazing views and the even more amazing food and drinks. Potatoes with salsa brava, a tomato-y, spicy concoction that is a a staple of Spanish cuisine made my taste buds sing. I kid you not.And that was only the beginning.
Mixto iberico, aka pork galore, also ranked very high in my all-time-favorite snacks. I think I ate the equivalent of a whole pig while I was there, and loved every second of it. I cannot say that this kind of nutritional plan is particularly easy on the waistline, but it tastes so heavenly one can only do one thing. Eat more of it.
Cerveceria 100 Montaditos, the best deal on earth. Every tapas on the menu is either 1 or 1.20 Euros and, get this, if you order at least one montadito (tapas) your huge beer half liter beer, which usually goes for a whopping 2 Euros, will cost you only 1 Euro. I was practically in heaven. Not to mention that the food itself was more than good, it was amazing. Jamon serrano, jamon iberico, tortilla madrilena with salsa brava, pate and berry jam, smoked salmon... you name it.
Let's not forget about the drinks, of course. The mojito pictured above was probably the best mojito I have ever had in my entire life, and that includes the two years I have spent bartending in Florida and making what, at the time, I thought was the best mojito on the planet. Well, little did I know that in a cozy, yet air-conditioned, bar on Calle Espiritu Santo in Madrid I'd find a bartender that makes a mojito that is better than mine. The bar is called Lolina Vintage Cafe and, a part from the stellar cocktails, the place is absolutely adorable. As the name suggests, it was entirely furnished and decorated using vintage prints, furniture and pictures from the 60s and 70s, which goes together perfectly with the whole barrio (neighborhood) of Malasana, where the bar is located, sort of a Spanish version of Montmartre or the Village, with indie music stores and independently owned boutiques.

Can you see why I want to go back to Spain as soon as possible?


  1. I've only been to Spain once and I'm dying to go back! I loved it. The people, the sights, the lifestyle, the food. Amazing place.

    And I LOVE patatas brava--give me a whole plate of those suckers, and I'm a happy girl.

  2. I also had that instant connection when I visited Madrid. Connection to all the food that's available! The pastry shops...oh dear...what sweet memories.

  3. TKW,
    next time you go back, tell me and we'll meet up for some patats bravas and some sangria to wash them down! =)

    I loved the city itself, but I especially loved its food. I'm going back to Spain in two weeks and can't wait to be there!!!



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