Archive for August 2011

Spain 2011   7 comments

Hello to fellow travelers.

This coming week I will begin a full trip report about the month long sojourn to Spain my husband and I enjoyed.  I will begin with our five days in Madrid.

Pictures and descriptions will be coming .. visit often.

Precebes..Goose Barnacle

These creatures are delicious and easy to enjoy once you get past the lack of eye appeal.  They are best savored after a swish in some garlic olive oil and followed  by some white wine.

These barnacles live off the rocky coast of the Northwest of Spain.

MADRID  May 26 through May 31 2011

Spain!  We arrived in Madrid at 7:30  the morning of May 26, 2011.  Our First Class flight to Madrid was smooth and easy.  Fine dining and wines, which flowed for hours, served to enhanced the pleasure of a long flight.  The following was our menu, I have not added the lovely and copious options of wines and champagnes…



seared five spice tuna and asian noodle salad




with dried cranberries, cucumbers, tomatoes, and pine nuts



with eggplant and artichoke caponata



with béarnaise sauce, redskin mashed potatoes and haricots verst



with lemon butter, asparagus and paella rice



roasted beef and herbed chicken with a devilled egg, grilled peppers and artichoke



offered with fresh fruit


with your choice of sauces, whipped cream and chopped nuts



served with assorted breakfast breads and condiments




with syrup, scrambled eggs and chicken apple sausage



with milk or yogurt

Hurray for having American Express miles.  It felt like one of our anniversary gift.

First travel tip:  As noted in Maribel’s Guide “Be aware of the taxi drivers from the airport”.  They will take the opportunity to charge you for each bag in the trunk.  Really?  This fee was officially eliminated in 2002.  Some drivers want to charge an additional fee for each person. Time they “waited at the airport.”  Waited?  It should be around 24-27 euro.  Our ride fee was 35 Euro.  Oh yes, he asked if this was our “First trip” to Madrid… that should have been our first hint.

Our hotel was RoomMate Laura located at Travesia de Trujillo 3 (Descales district)

The hotel is only 25 Meters (82 feet) from Teatro Real and Plaza IsabeI.  We were so early, RoomMate Laura invited us to have breakfast and coffee while we waited for our room to become available.  We received an amazing 4th floor (actually 5th floor) room with a walk in kitchen, our room had two sets of French Doors that opened onto Juliet balconies looking out onto the Convent of the Descalzas Reales.  The lines to get into the convent was interesting since we never saw anyone exiting…hum?  We always find hotels in the Historic areas of cities.  The RoomMate Laura was perfectly located.  We enjoyed a double espresso before we set out to explore, even though we were blurry eyed.

Getting Started

We visited the Teatro Real – Opera Square, where people mingle, exchange local gossip and catch the Metro.  If we knew the Metro station was within two blocks of our hotel, we would have used it.  But for those who do venture onto the Metro, beware of pick pockets and those who would otherwise take your baggage off your hands.  In fact it is a good idea to always be aware of your surroundings.  Tourists checking city maps stick out in a crowd.

After half an hour’s rest in the brilliant morning sunshine in front of the Opera House to get our bearings, we set off  East along Calle del Arenal toward the Plaza Puerta del Sol.  The Plaza Puerta del Sol itself had been taken over by protesters, it reminded us of the youth movement of the late 60’s.  A tent city overrun with very peaceful demonstrators and requiring no involvement by the police.   We passed through the Plaza and traveled on Carrera San Jerionimo toward the Museo del Prado.

Madrid is surprisingly easy to navigate.  Stops and points of interest include the Plaza Major where there is an abundance of open air cafes and locals just enjoying the day.  The Museo del Prado and Parque del Retiro are located about 2 KM East of our hotel.   A Free Day at the Prado Museum. Great timing!   Our return walk brought us back on Calle del Prado, passing the Saint Anne Square.

Our first mid day meal was wonderfully interesting at Tirso de Molina.  We had fried pork fat/skin, which was something our cardiologist would have fainted just watching us devour..sensationally tasty. Its official name is torresnos (puerco).

Pig skin

The tapas that followed were croquetas (ham) 4.50 euro, champinones (in garlic oil) outrageously delicious, not too far from shrimp scampi… only mushrooms 5.00 euros.  The white anchovies tapas was refreshing with lemon and olive oil, the chorizo sidra was entirely too dense for our taste 4.50 euro.

White Anchovies and Chorizo Sidra

We had several more generous tapas and two Mahou Negra 2.70 euro each.  The charm of this old taberna is certainly worth a few hours for your mid day relaxation, with no tourists .

Taberna Bar Tirso de Molina

Plaza Tirso de Molina 9 | Lavapies & Latina | +34914291756

We were thoroughly exhausted after our day of early arrival and heavy tapas, therefore we wanted to walk to a restaurant close to our hotel for our first LATE NIGHT dinner.  Maribel’s Guide made reference to a small and personable cafe located within a block South of the Teatro Real at Calle Espago 10. The restaurant had been owned by a Mother and Son for many years. Maribel wrote: MODERATE (and not tourist-filled) Near the Plaza de Oriente and Teatro Real Genoveva de Barri.  In December 2010 a wonderful man named Gonzalo became the new the restaurant is named EL Sibarita.  The restaurant is a bit hard to find.  Walk from the square in front of the Teatro Real, look for Calle Independencia to the south and Calle Espejo is found at the end of Independencia. This diminutive spot, a very pretty and romantic neo-bistro and  has room for only eight tables and serves a market-driven seasonal menu with a creative flair.

El Sibarita:

Rock Cod

While we were enjoying a beautiful meal of appetizers and main courses of Rock Cod and steak, we were speaking with a very nice couple sitting next to us and spoke of our enjoyment, of the atmosphere and the delicate way our meal was prepared. We did mention we came to Spain to celebrate our wedding anniversary. The gentleman said, “I am so glad you are enjoying the fare, I am Gonzalo, the owner”.  “Welcome to Madrid” he said and offered us several special dishes not regularly on the menu, along with his favorite wine, champaign, and a great desert. We felt very welcome.  As the night continued, Gonzalo and his beautiful girlfriend of fifteen years, told us they were going dancing (it turned out to be at an underground club) and asked if we would like to go.  Dinner in Spain starts around 9:30 to 10:00 PM even during the week, so dinner goes LATE.  We left El Sibarita about 1:30 AM, walked South to the end of the block and entered a doorway that you just would not find even if you were looking for it.  Truly underground.  As we entered, local color emerged.  The club soon full with Madrid’s beautiful people,with music pulsing, lights flashing. The night was on.  Drinks and dancing abound.  We were amazed that the music was re-mix and original versions of songs we all love.  In the wee hours we departed, Gonzalo said to my husband, “Come back when you get up, I will show you the real Madrid.”  Yes…

Upon awakening my husband jumped up to meet Gonzalo at 11:30 AM…we had gotten back to the hotel at 4:20 AM…whew.  He strolled to the cafe and found Gonzalo was expected in an hour so he came back to get me.  We rallied at El Sibarita where we met with Gonzalo and we were joined by Gonzalo’s partner, Tony.

We strolled up the street and passed a shop where handcrafted Violins and Viola were made, stopped to look and continued toward the Mercado de San Miguel.

The old Violin shop

very old violins

This market was designed by Eiffel – of the tower fame.

A must go with an appetite

The market offers one of everything.


A tapas bar in the making

Only one cheese vendor, one jambon vendor, one fish man, you get the idea.  We had a delightful walking through, sampling a glass of Sherry, and drinking in the sights. We then walked on to the local scene down Yzaguirre the Vermouth Bar, where we enjoyed Tapas, chorizo, Tripe and the best vermouth you can imagine.

The name of the bar and for what it is famous

We had never had tripe and it really wasn’t something we were looking forward to tasting.  The savory taste, soft texture of the tripe resonated with a velvety closeness to a brandy cream with each mouthful.

Tripe (in the middle)

What a surprise.  Since we were with Gonzalo, who seemed to be known by everyone in this perfect old part of Madrid, we felt welcomed as he introduced us to everyone.  In fact, all the people we met were very nice.  We strolled past world famous Botins, where roasted piglet is the speciality.  Then we walked to the:

Delic – Costanilla San Andrés, 14, 28005 Madrid, Spain  +34 913 64 54 50

The back room of this tiny deli is where a super focused master makes ONLY mojitos

Delic is a fine cafe where Mojitos are the favored drink.

the mint filled Mojito glass before all the liquors were added

Sweet, minty and strong, just the thing at 8 euros apiece. Good though…  We then walked through the Latina district, home of Madrid’s artists, youthful and alive and off the beaten path. Great!  We walked back to El Sibarita and enjoyed yet another round of drinks and food well into the evening.

Where it all began..

Something Gonzalo created for a very late night snack...quail in herbs and garlic with white wine

The next day we enjoyed a great breakfast at RoomMate Laura and set out to visit the Palacio Real de Madrid, where we toured the palace and saw how Spanish Royality lived.  We then walked 2 KM East to the Parque del Retiro just East and adjacent to the Museo del Prado.  A beautiful park, with gardens, a lake, Glass Palace. Locals and visitors alike find the Parque del Retiro restful and peaceful.  We have a few shots.

Upon our return we were tired and thought we would have a quick early bite, so we went to a small Sushi bar around the corner from our hotel, Restaurant Musashi on Calle de Lasconchas 4, simple and really not great, but ok, we went to bed at 2:20 AM.

The next morning, Gonzalo contacted us, we told him that we would like to take him out to dinner, he replied, “Good, I have so much more to show you.”  We met early afternoon and again hit several Tapas bars while on the way to what Gonzalo says is one of Madrid’s finest Sushi bars. Don Zoko.  Very nice.  Sashimi, Yellowtale, Eel, scollop, Sweet Shrimp, Sake, 3 people 72 Euros.  Of course, after dinner, we returned to El Sibarita for even more fun and food. We are not popping our seams yet.

The next morning we had breakfast, checked out of RoomMate Laura, picked up our rental car and headed North.


Posted August 7, 2011 by curiousaboutitall in Spain 2011

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