Thursday, July 12, 2012

Europe, Destination 1: Madrid, Spain

My trip in Europe was definitely memorable. I learned a lot about myself, my place and role in the world, and thought deeply about philosophical issues, especially the relationship of location, identity, and competency. Most of this contemplation happened, of course, over food. The food in Europe blew me away. I gained some volume, and I don’t regret a single cubic millimeter of it. I was lucky enough to visit Europe with two friends who stopped me from ravishing my food (and by that, I mean, savor) before taking a picture or two… half the time, at least. So, I present you, the first of my 9 posts on my gastronomic adventures in Europe!

I started my journey in Madrid. I was excited to try their Sangria. With almost every meal, I shared a pitcher of Sangria with my friends. They were all very delicious, but I was not able to choose my favorite Sangria amongst them. Tough competition. Here’s one picture to represent the sangria we drank.

One tapa I thoroughly enjoyed and surprised me was patatas bravas, and in Plaza Mayor of all places. The sauce was some heady combination of a tomato based ragu sauce with a delectable and generous splash of fresh chili sauce. It was the first time I’ve ever had patatas bravas, and I foolishly thought that if Plaza Mayor, a touristy locale, would have such amazing patatas bravas, then the bars in Chueca (where I stayed) would top that multiple times over; I was wrong. If you’re ever in Madrid, you must head over to Plaza Mayor for that pitcher of red sangria and some patatas bravas. Be warned, we ate all but three pieces of potatoes before remembering to take a picture. This will be a common theme through my posts…

My first Menu del Dia was down this alleyway (sorry, I should have been better at record keeping and remembered names of restaurants and streets) and a split second decision because I was so hungry. It was the cheapest Menu del Dia I had and the best. I had Paella Mixta (this paella, in my opinion, topped all the other 4 or 5 paellas I had in both Madrid and Barcelona) and grilled swordfish with some red wine. I was stuffed to the brim and then some – I think I had one tapa with my shared pitcher of sangria that night because I was still too full for anything else.

At the same restaurant, my friend MA got the albondigas and the rest were history. I don’t even remember her second entrĂ©e; it paled so much in comparison. The albondigas caseras was melt in your mouth tenderness. It did take my breath away.

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