Monthly Archives: October 2011

feliz cumpleaños a kate en barcelona!!

Last Thursday I left to celebrate Kate’s 21st birthday in Barcelona for the weekend with a bunch of friends!  Kate’s birthday was a great excuse for us to go visit her while she’s studying there.  We spent all day Friday & Saturday touring around the city, so it was especially great to have her there as our tour guide:)

At the moment, I am fairly overwhelmed with school work, group projects, co-op meetings, and all sorts of miscellaneous other things that are requiring me to be at Comillas literally 24/7 (studying on study abroad? … what a strange concept).  Anyway, because of this I’ve decided to highlight my five favorite things about Barcelona.


{Fresh figs, chocolate truffles, and calzones at El Mercat St. Josep, La Boquería}

{Views from Parque Güell}


{Bike tour of the entire city through, focusing on Gaudi’s houses & la Sagrada Familia}

{FC Barcelona v. Sevilla FC match at Camp Nou}

{Discovering everything from miniature flower bouquets to homemade fruit juices on Las Ramblas}

Hope you enjoyed the snapshots of my weekend in Barcelona!  Saludos, amores:)

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la hora española

I’ve been meaning to write about “Spanish time” for a while but haven’t gotten around to it yet.  Fortunately for all of you, Gabby has already given her readers a wonderful snapshot of what exactly “Spanish time” is, which you can find below:

The Spanish Way…

I’m not sure if everyone is aware, but Spanish time is unreal. The days do start early, but around 2 every afternoon, everyone takes a 3 to 4 hour break to nap (siesta), leisurely have lunch or do whatever. Most stores close, the banks shut down for the day and the streets become slightly deserted. 

Things pick back up again around 5 – stores reopen, people emerge after their naps and continue on with their day. Dinner is never any earlier than 9 and even that is pushing it. 10 to 10:30 is prime time. Meals are pretty long because no one is in any sort of rush because there is still, “so much,” time left in the day. 

If you are planning to go out to a bar or a club, you can often times get free entrance before 1:30, but you and your friends will be the only people there. Clubs and bars don’t hit their prime time until at least 3, and again, even that is a little early! 

My mom called me Saturday around 5 PM (Spain time) and asked me how my morning was and how my day was going. Yes mom, I was a little embarrassed to tell you this but I responded by saying that I didn’t really have a morning because I had gotten home at 8 in the morning and woken up around 2 in the afternoon. I explained the concept of Spanish time to her and she is the inspiration for this post. I figure if she doesn’t know, that most likely means that a lot of other people don’t realize it either!

I told my roommate, Ana what time I got home and her immediate response was, “Welcome to Madrid. I never sleep here.” 

Soooo, let’s see how long I can keep this up. 

Thanks, Gab, for your insight into the struggle we’ve been having since we arrived in Spain!  Hope that clarifies the concept for all of you.  I’m heading to Barcelona tomorrow night, so expect a post Sunday or Monday full of photos and Kate Tarabelli’s birthday celebrations!!

Buen fin de semana, amores:)

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galletas americanas en españa

 

{Milk & cookies}

Though I haven’t posted much about it since I’ve been in Spain, I absolutely love to bake.  Cookies, cupcakes, muffins, scones, anything!!  It’s always so fun and relaxing, but there has been a serious baking void in my life since baking for Jackie’s birthday brunch.  Thankfully, that void has been filled.  If you follow my twitter, you may have seen my tweet Sunday night… I finally attempted baking our beloved Chocolate Chip Cookies with all of the equivalent Spanish ingredients.

{Spanish ingredients}

I would just like to start off by saying that it is a serious struggle to find baking ingredients at the grocery store.  Flour is with the pasta, sugar is near the bottled water and boxed wine (yes, there is a boxed wine section in every grocery store), baking chocolate is with the candy, and eggs are on the shelf (which I have finally gotten used to).  Spanairds have apparently not caught on to the “baking section” of the grocery store idea yet.

{Spanish vanilla on a mountain of flour}

Once home I started the search for a Spanish equivalent recipe, since I had all of the Spanish equivalent ingredients.  Some of the differences include:

  • Powdered vanilla extract, which is only half vanilla.  The other half is sugar.
  • Brown sugar the consistency of Sugar in the Raw
  • Spanish butter.  It’s hard to tell the difference, but it’s not as hard as American butter and melts much quicker – creating flat cookies if you aren’t careful!

Anyway, I first stumbled upon a German recipe… the author’s story is very touching, and I really suggest reading it (by clicking above on “German recipe”).  However, the Spanish ingredients are also different from the suggested German ingredients in that recipe, so I unfortunately couldn’t use it.  I ended up using a recipe suggested to me by Jackie which she found on Spanish Yahoo! Answers.

In the end they were absolutely delicious, and I certainly suggest the following recipe to be used through out Spain by anyone craving their beloved homemade American Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Buen provecho, amores:)

American Chocolate Chip Cookies, adapted from Yahoo! en Español Respuestas

Ingredients
250 grams butter.
¾ cup white sugar.
¾ cup brown sugar.
2 eggs.
2 small spoons vanilla.
2 ¼ cups flour, but I add an extra quarter cup so they’re soft, like my mom & Aunt Betty Ann taught me.
1 small spoon baking soda (español = bicarbonato).
½ small spoon salt.
2 cups chopped walnuts if you choose, which I did.
1 baking chocolate bar chopped into “chunks.”

Instructions

  1. In a mixer (or with an immersion blender as I did) cream the butter and two types of sugars, then add the eggs one by one.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients (except chocolate chips & walnuts) and beat until mixed and fully incorporated.
  3. Stir in the chocolate chips and nuts with a wooden spoon.  If you have a friend, invite them over because this part is very tiring.
  4. If you feel so inclined, refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes to 3 hours.  I was to eager to try the cookies to wait anytime longer, and they came out delicious as always.
  5. Drop the dough in large spoonfuls onto a baking sheet because they will grow in the oven.
  6. Bake at 170 °C for 7 to 10 minutes if you like them extra chewy like me, or 10 to 15 minutes if you like them crispy.

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el rastro

{Just one of the many peculiar stands at El Rastro}

After relaxing most of the weekend due to the driest, sorest throat I may have ever had, I woke up bright and early on Sunday morning to head over to El Rastro.

El Rastro is acclaimed as one of the “must-see” sites of Madrid for any visitors, and according to it’s Wikipedia page, a Madrid visitors guide does not exist without a mention to El Rastro.  It’s an open air market in the historical center of Madrid that flows down streets and into a few small plazas.  Nearly all of the goods are second hand, and though there are a lot of cool stands, there is also alot of junk.  Among the

handmade jewelry, Moroccan tapestries, and leather bags, there are also As-Seen-On-TV stands, piles of clothing that can only remind me of Boston Costume, and random collections of everything from old cameras to wrenches.

 

Needless to say, it was a sight to see, but I am going to take it off of my recommendations list.  There are so many great places to see in Madrid that, in my eyes, El Rastro is not worth waking up early on a Sunday morning for.  The best part of it was walking through Plaza Mayor on our way there, which was empty and silent compared to how it is at all other times of day.

Fortunately for me, my Sunday continued as usual, unaffected by the morning’s odd trip, filled with bread & cheese, a nap, and some homework in El Retiro.  We even got to see an outdoor art show among the beautiful trees, which are actually starting to show signs of changing colors!  Can’t wait to experience fall here in Madrid.

Ten un buen semana, amores:)

{Artists painting before the showcase}

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semana cervantina

One of Dan’s roommates goes to a university outside of Madrid in Alcala de Henares and had seen this huge festival being set up last week, so we decided to spend the day there on Sunday!

Alcala de Henares is a small city outside of the city of Madrid but still within Madrid, the autonomous community (think New York City & New York the state).  It also happens to be where Cervantes, the author of Don Quijote, is from!  Each year they have a week long festival around the anniversary of his birthday to celebrate with homemade crafts, music, drinks, and delicious food.  As usual, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into, but it was a great day with new friends!

I headed back to Madrid around 11pm exhausted, with a stomach full of magical forest fruit sangria, the most authentic Turkish falafel kebab I’ve ever had, a tasting of Dan’s giant baked stuffed potato, and a sampling of artesian meats and cheeses.  And my hands were filled with a delicious goat’s milk cheese we just had to have for our next picnic, and a handmade leather cross-body bag… oh how Spanish!

        

I’m really glad I’ve been able to get to see so much of the Spanish culture since I’ve been in Madrid.  For our professor at Northeastern, we have to submit a two page monthly report each month until co-op starts.  Ours are due on the 15th of each month.  Even though it’s kind of a hassle to sit down and write about what I’m doing with my life here in Spain, I do enjoy it in someways.  It gives me a chance once a month to return to my original goals and plans for this year abroad.  One of the biggest things I wanted to do was to explore as many parts of Spain as I could, which is why I thought I’d share this with you now.  The different communities of Spain are so vastly different; I’m so happy I’m getting a chance to experience them all.  If you’ve been reading you know I’ve already been to Madrid (of course), Toledo, Salamanca, and Alcala de Henares.  I also have trips planned or in the works for Barcelona, San Sebastian, and Sevilla before the end of the semester.

Hope all is well at home and thanks for reading!  Hasta luego, amores:)

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real jardin botanico de madrid

After a long week of school work, group meetings, and long dinners with friends, Dan and I decided to have a relaxing Saturday.

We started off with Nana’s pancakes, which were of course not as good as they usually are at the Rowland’s house, but tasted very similar.  Thanks for the recipe, Yanya!  The butter and baking powder are quite different here, but that didn’t stop them from being delicious:)

    

After a very slow morning, we made our way over to the Royal Botanical Gardens.  They are located between the famous Museo del Prado and el Parque del Retiro in the old part of Madrid.  The 1,25 euro student price was totally worth it and I definitely plan on going back again.  A lot of the flowers were out of season, but it was still beautiful to see.  The vegetable gardens were in full bloom and besides the normal tomatoes, lettuces, and pumpkins, we also saw tabacco plants, artichokes, and a dill bush.  I had no idea how dill was grown, but this was a huge bush – probably five feet tall!!!

      

We also explored a cactus greenhouse, tropical palms greenhouse, and the bonsai tree terrace!!

      

After a snack of bread and cheese (shockingly!) and a siesta we went out for a nice relaxing dinner together.  We went to a little Italian restaurant in the plaza behind Dan’s apartment.  It was really nice to do so since we’ve been running around Madrid with new and old friends since we got here (not that we aren’t enjoying that!).  We sat outside despite the cool autumn weather, which finally started over the weekend, and shared a few different plates: provolone fondue with a fruit marmelade, eggplant rolled and filled with cheese and wonderful marinera sauce, and parmesan-stuffed gnocchi.  It was absolutely delicious, and we’re already planning on going back for seven euro pizzas during lunch soon!

I wrote recently about how inexpensive grocery shopping is in Spain, and we talked about this topic over dinner, as well.  We had a great meal and a bottle of wine for 20 euro each, but that’s how much we spend on nearly a week of groceries.  It made us realize the difference between the United States and Spain with regard to this.  Our meal probably would have cost about the same amount in Boston, if anything, a little more there.  However, to buy the food at the market or grocery store would be about half the price here as it is at home, which doesn’t make any sense!  Needless to say, we’ll be saving our money for groceries and eating out less frequently, as we certainly have been doing already.

Feliz lunes, amores:)

Covered in vines of grapes used in wines all over Spain

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el desayuno americano

Sunday morning (read: three o’clock in the afternoon) I hosted an all-american breakfast at my apartment.  A few international friends came who had never or only once or twice experienced the marvel of brunch.  As well, some American friends came to enjoy one of the few things they truly miss already from the United States.

Our American breakfast was complete with scrambled eggs, chocolate chip/banana pancakes, fruit salad, hash browns, and bacon.  Lauriane and her boyfriend, Tomas, also made French crepes with nutella.  Though, I’m sure you’ve all been having these wonderful foods every Sunday, it was certainly a treat for us.  We’ll definitely be doing this again soon!

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