Saturday, March 16, 2013

Madrid in 36 Hours, 1 Cooking Lesson, 1 Tapas Bar and 2 Pastries from the Mercado de Maravillas

Most trips, jet lag doesn't bother me. Today it did.

Yesterday I spent the day with Kathleen Berger, an opera singer, and her chef-husband Manuel Alba Garrido. I tagged along with Kathleen when she had a music lesson with voice coach Tony Madigan. What fun to hear her practice scales and phrasing in preparation for a performance in a week.

In the apartment they share with their four cats, Manuel showed me how to make an authentic Spanish dish, one served in most tapas bars: a tortilla de patata.

Made with a potatoes and eggs with onions (or without onions the barbarian way, as Kathleen explained; whether one puts onions in a tortilla de patata is a topic of debate in tapas bars, fueled by glasses of red wine) and a lot of loving skill, the tortilla does not have tortillas.

Similar to a frittata, but not a frittata. Similar to a quiche, but not a quiche. The tortilla is light but filling, deliciously comforting.

Manuel made a tortilla with a filling of thinly sliced Spanish ham and fresh tomatoes in the middle. The filling is added after the tortilla is cooked, much in the way a baker slices a cake in half and then spreads frosting in between.

That evening we ate a light meal at Asturianos, their favorite tapas bar. My favorite tapas was the big bowl of Brittany mussels in spicy tomato sauce with lots of freshly baked sourdough bread for dipping. Delicious!

In bed by midnight, jet lag woke me at 4am. Wide awake, I watched the BBC and did some work until I crashed at 8am and slept until noon. With only a few hours to explore Madrid, I got directions from the concierge, figured out how to use the Metro which is easy, efficient, clean, quiet and inexpensive.

Kathleen recommended I visit the Mercado de Maravillas on Bravo Maravillas, a cavernous central market with row after row of vendors selling fresh meat, produce, fruits, poultry and seafood. Racks of Spanish hams invitingly (and threateningly) hang above the customers who lean close to the glass cases filled with great looking meat.

With no time to eat lunch, I grabbed two pastries and rushed back to the Metro, eating them while I waited for the train.

Tomorrow we start our 8 day tour of the small towns along the Atlantic coast in Northern Spain with Insight Vacations. I can hardly wait.

Tonight I'm going to bed early so if that jet lag thing happens again and I wake up at 4am, I'll have gotten some rest.
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