Sunday, September 6, 2015

Wanderers in Madrid

The Metropolis of Madrid

Leaving the gothic streets of Barcelona, we hopped onto the AVE, a high speed train, to Madrid and arrived in just two and a half hours. Now that's the kind of transportation we need here in the US. Madrid is the beautiful capital of Spain and the third largest city in the European Union (after London and Berlin). Its buildings and plazas stand the test of time in both majesty and power. Aside from the now populated streets of cars, the architecture looks like pictures out of my old history textbooks.

Almudena Cathedral of Madrid
The Royal Palace of Madrid
Palacio de Cristal

Architecture aside, let's talk about the food. Our favorite restaurant while we were there was by far La Casa del Abuelo, a mom-and-pop shop at the corner of a restaurant filled district in Madrid, so popular that they opened up two more just down the street. While pricey, their sizzling gambas al ajillo was completely worth the money, so much so that we went back a second time before we left to enjoy it again. We even stopped by a third time to buy a bottle of their olive oil to bring back with us. We have tried this dish at many other restaurants and can confidently say that La Casa del Abuelo blew this one out of the park. Their olive oil captured the essence of garlic and shrimp flavor that most other restaurants could not. It's one of those dishes that as soon as you take the first bite, all you can do is close your eyes and sigh because you know that nothing you have tried before could compare and no dish you try in the future would be able to live up to this one. 

Top to bottom, L to R: gazpacho, gambas al ajillo, croquetas de gambas, gambas a la plancha

Next up: Casa Toni. We were out looking for a good lunch spot when we spotted this little jewel packed to the brim with people, both tourists and locals of all ages. We tried the fried eggplant drizzled with balsamic honey, the chorizo, and the braided lamb intestines - some things they don't serve in the usual touristy restaurants. While we were there, we ran into a group from a local food tour - what I'd like to call a win, especially since we didn't sign up for the tour, but came upon this gem anyways. 

Our last day in Madrid, we signed up for a wonderful cooking class at Cooking Point. The 4 hour class included a tour of the local market where we bought fresh ingredients, then learned how to make gazpacho, paella, and sangria. This was truly one of the highlights of our trip - a nice relaxing break from all the walking and touring we had done over the last week. We were joined by a sweet retired Australian couple who had been touring Europe for the last month. Our guide, Eduardo was very knowledgeable and patient. We would highly recommend this class for anybody traveling to Madrid in the near future. 

If you missed Barcelona 
Next Stop: Cordoba

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