Thursday, March 28, 2013

P. Quinta de la Fuente del Berro

Tis the season for park visiting , in between the rain storms, here in Madrid. Brace yourself for a slew of pretty European park pictures. 

Today's park is a lesser known park so all links to park information will be in Spanish. I will do my best to translate the relevant bits for English speaking readers, but a good percentage of my readers are bilingual, hence, the included links.

Parque Quinta de la Fuente del Berro 17th century garden.

Once, probably used as a palace outside of the city now it has quite definitely in the city and is only a 15 minute stroll from my home. It has been changed hands in the royal circles since the 17th century, and has been a public park since 1954.

Fuente means fountain, and the park is named for the great tasting water this fountain gave.

In fact there used to be a stream nearby (between where the photo below was taken ,and those buildings) but there is now a circular highway (M30) running over the stream.

Still this park is a very pleasant place to quietly stroll on a weekend afternoon.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Madrid food tour

I am lucky enough to have the week off of work this week. I am even more lucky that I was able to book a last minute slot on the Madrid Food Tour's Ultimate Spanish Cuisine/Market and Tasting tour (we got two together because we are so lucky) I went this morning and it was fantastic!

First stop - Chocolate and Churros!

Even being married to a Spaniard and living here (in Madrid) for two years, I do not know a lot about Spanish food. I have had the desire to try more Spanish foods, but somehow I have never gotten around to it. I know that this is going to de mystify my life here in Spain, but I live a more "American" lifestyle then you would think. My schedule is still more or less American, I have to try very hard to practice Spanish every day, and I still cook Indian, Chinese, and Mexican dishes at home. Sure, some days I cook Spanish food here at home, or we go out and try different Spanish restaurants. But after a few months I had created a confort zone with Spanish food - only trying what I already knew.

Plaza Villa, where the cloistered nuns (building to the left) make the most amazing Spanish cookies.

Madrid, being the center of Spain (literally and figuratively), has representative foods from every region of Spain. On this tour I got to try an amazing assortment of foods. (I may never eat again I am so full.) I got to push out of my comfort zone and also to re-try some food and drinks that I had only tried once before and didn't like. Sometimes if you have a really bad experience with a food, you never want to try it again. The great thing about a food tour like this, is that your guide knows where to take you to get the good stuff. Sure there are some things that I tried that I still do not really like, but some of the things that I ened up liking were surprising. Like vermouth:

Madrid style vermouth
I had had vermouth before and I did not really like it. It was too sweet with an intense herby flavor. I never wanted to try it again. Today we want to an artisanal vermouth stand in Macado de San Miguel and I have to say, maybe it was the way that they served it, or that there was more care in the crafting of it, but it was like a whole different drink that I really enjoyed.

Pretty market bean photo
 I have a food allergy and my guide was amazingly sensitive to my needs. She was also willing to ask questions on my behalf about ingredients, which is a must for anyone with food allergies on a tour.

 My favorite new Spanish food find on the tour was, Cecina. To which our guide jokingly referred to as  "adult beef jerky". It is cured beef, thinly sliced and was given to us with some excellent olive oil on the top. It tasted like the best deli roast beef that I have ever had. It doesn't sound like much, but the taste was amazing!

Cecina and olive oil, it did not last long
 Olive bars, are of course, necessary for any Spanish food tasting. My favorite were some very green low sodium ones (you can see them at the back, click to enlarge). They were crisp and had a buttery-lemon flavor which I think I could have all day long.

Olive bar in an old marcado 
Beautiful fresh fish displays

This food tour took me through portions of Madrid's city center that I have never been too! Amazing, I have been here for almost two years now and there are places I still need to explore!

Birthplace of the bocadillo
This tour went beyond just food. When we were walking between places our guide would tell fun facts about the city to share with us too.

First terraza in Spain (and the end of the street)

I would take another one of their tours in a heartbeat. In fact, they have a Tapas and History tour....

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

This morning at work

I have visited a new park this past "bank holiday" or "puente", but today the weather is so lovely I am going to celebrate spring again. I will save the park post for another day.

As some of you know I teach English as well as trying to get my own little business off of the ground. This year I am with a new company, with a better schedule and all of my classes happen in one "district".

I like my students, I love being able to create my own classes and the hours are not bad. The only drawback is that it is an hour long commute on the metro and I have to change trains 3 times (each way).

Today there was a strike of metro workers, because apparently some Olympic comity is visting Madrid to look over it's infrastructure. Usually I am able to avoid using the metro during peak hours, but not today.

I have never felt to claustrophobic in my life. I was literally pushed on the the train by a wave of people and the only thing I had to be grateful about was the fact that the person who was forced to touch me inappropriately was a woman.

It took me several minutes to calm down afterwards, and the beauty of the landscaping at my "office" helped. I hope you like it too.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Parque Quinta de los Molinos, parte dos

The family is going through a difficult time right now. So I am going to bring you another photo post from this past Saturday. Parque de los Molinos is a park with a ton of early flowers, the star of which, is the almond tree.

So if you are going through a difficult time too, take time to enjoy the beauty of these flowers and to know that in the Northern hemisphere spring is coming.