Tag Archives: Food

piscinas y barbacoas

Although we spent this past weekend on the beach in Barcelona (post to come about that later this week), we’ve had a pretty standard schedule every Sunday for the past few weeks now.  Its been so hot every weekend, that we’ve been forced out to one of our friends’ pools outside the city.  And of course, we can’t help but indulge in a hangover-induced, over-the-top, grilling feast while there.

The first week it was sausages, hamburgers and hot dogs at Dani’s house after being saved from the madness of the public pool.  After a few attempts to make it to the Canal Public Pool we finally made it through the hour-long waiting line just to get inside to the disappointment of a sunscreen flavored swimming pool.  Luckily for us, after a few short hours of tanning, Dani offered to come pick us up, and we spent the rest of the afternoon at his pool.

Next it was a more thought-out, pre-planned cook-out lunch and afternoon pool party before Spain’s Eurocup finale at Gabi’s house.  And the week after that it was an afternoon pool party followed by a Thai Curry dinner prepared by our friend Nadine.

  

Needless to say, we’ve been enjoying our weekends more than ever, making it crazy to think I only have a handful of weekends left in Madrid!!  Hope you guys have been escaping to the pool or beach during the crazy summer heat.  Plenty of posts to come this week!  Ciao, amores:)

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lisboa con las chicas

Let me just start off by saying that this was one of the best weekend trips I’ve taken since I got to Spain. The combination of the beautiful city, friends I was with and lots & lots of laughs all came together perfectly. This trip was the last few days we would be spending with Jackie’s two best friends, Sally and Meg, who had been visiting from the US since the weekend before.  Although it was short, the two-hour long flight really made all the difference.  We had nearly the whole afternoon on Friday, plus all day Saturday and Sunday to explore.

After a few minor mishaps at the beginning concerning the apartment we were staying in, we were all a little on edge.  Jackie, Meg and Gabby went out to buy some snacks, wine and breakfast for the next morning while Sally, Lauren and I stayed back and started getting ready.  Worried they would return with even more woes, I was delighted when they came back in wonderful spirits and very excited to get our first night in the city started.  Between Friday and Saturday night, we managed to explore a large part of the Portuguese nightlife here in Lisbon.  We started out in Barrio Alto, one of the many hills of the city, lined with bars and filled with just as many locals as tourists.  We also got to see a Fado show, Portuguese flamenco, which was really beautiful.  Lastly, we went to two different clubs in the city, Urban Beach and Luxe that were both really fun.

  

Scenes from the trolley car.

We spent Saturday doing a little bit of shopping, taking the local trolley up through the Alfama neighborhood and strolling back down, taking in breath-taking views of the riverside and the city-side of the city.  Sunday was a little more relaxed (if that seems possible); we headed over to Belem, for the Pastéis de Belem, a very famous egg custard pastry.  It was really good, although I don’t know if I would say it merits being as well-known as it is.  Then we headed over to the beach town of Cascais.  There we relaxed on the beach and enjoyed the best gelato in Portugal.  I chose chocolate chip and lemon raspberry in a cup, which was so yummy.

Besides the wonderful sweets, we also tried many traditional Portuguese dishes.  Friday night we tried a tasting menu with Portuguese chorizo & blood sausage, baked cod in a thick cream sauce, kale soup, roasted potatoes and pork with a variety of seasonings.  If we thought the service in Spain was bad we had no idea what we were in for in Portugal though.  We had been to the southern beach towns of Albuferia and Lagos two years ago, but had completely forgotten the services issues we had there (we ordered four English breakfasts for four people, and for some reason the waiter had only written down an order for three).  Here, we got lucky though with a free sampling of chocolate and fruit mousses for dessert to compensate.

 

Saturday for lunch we had the funniest waiter I have ever had.  His broken English and radical change in mannerisms through out the course of the meal had me crying and falling on the table laughing.  Jackie and I shared a huge piece of fresh sole fish (although we had ordered swordfish… oh, language barriers) and roasted chicken.  Lisbon was such a beautiful city, and, just like with every other city I’ve been to, I really hope I have the chance to go back someday.  A lot of parts of the city reminded us of Prague; the style of the buildings and architecture was just very similar.  Every trip I go on, I hope to cross somewhere off the list, but unfortunately, that list is just getting longer and longer!  I hope you guys enjoyed your weekend just as much as I did!  Ciao, amores:)

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enhorabuena, bea!

 

I spent this past weekend in Lisbon, Portugal with the girls, but first I’d love to share something else with you! The weekend before that was my roommate Bea’s last weekend in the apartment.  She just finished her last year of university and decided to go back to her parent’s house for the summer until she figures out her plan for the fall.

We celebrated with a final together in the apartment, of a wonderful piece of halibut that was from her town in Almeria, Spain.  Bea baked it in the oven and it was absolutely delicious, between the three of us we nearly finished the entire thing!  I also made homemade tomato soup and grilled cheese, which my two Spanish roommates loved.  I tried explaining that it’s really just a little kid’s food in the US, but I don’t know if I was too convincing.  I followed a delicious, easy tomato soup recipe that I also made here.

Bea also made a delicious strawberry shortcake.  We spent the whole night eating and talking, and it was so much fun.  I was planning on going out that night with my friends, but I didn’t realize how late it was until it was nearly 3 o’clock in the morning.  I feel the same way that I did after we had our last dinner with Bruna; I really wish we had done this more often!!

Congratulations, Bea!  And good luck with everything.  Hopefully I will see you in the USA in the fall!!

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un viaje florentino

This past weekend was my first time visiting Italy (of many more to come)!  A few months ago my Uncle Mark & Aunt Ginger sent me the itinerary for their two-week long Italian vacation (super jealous), hoping that I would be able to join them along part of it.  It just happened to work out that they would be in Florence for a week, including the weekend of May 25 – 27, so Dan and I booked a trip to meet up with them! We decided to fly through Bologna and then take the train to Florence, since, with all costs included, it still wound up being about half the price.  I took the bus to the airport from my office (20 minutes door to door!) and met Dan in the RyanAir visa check line around 1pm.  Of course, there were a million people that decided to rearrange their luggage once they got up to the counter, so it took us forever to get through to security. The security line was even crazier and Dan told me it was because 99% of people that go through security it is actually their first time doing so.  That’s actually not true, but I believed him, mostly because I’m gullible, but also because people really were taking forever!!

We got in the long RyanAir line and finally after passing the ticket scanner, we were informed that we were at the wrong gate.  We had nearly gotten on a plane to Santiago de Compostela, in the northwest corner of Spain!  Crisis averted, I anxiously ran to find the other gate and then waited in that line for another 30 minutes.

After a normal burning hot/freezing cold RyanAir flight we landed in Bologna and took a cab to the train station.  There were two trains to Florence leaving within the next fifteen minutes, so I was getting anxious in the ticket counter line.  There were only first class tickets available for the second of the two, and the next train was not for another hour!  We quickly paid, grabbed our tickets and ran (again) through the crowded station to our platform.  Tons of people standing there, but no train.  Taking the reactions of everyone else into count, I deciphered the Italian train status update and gathered that the train was 20 minutes late.  Once we got on it was smooth sailing for the rest of the weekend though, and we kicked it off with free wine and snacks in first class wooo!

Our hotel was only a ten minute walk from the Santa Maria Novella train station in Florence, so we checked in rather quickly upon arrival, dropped our bags and headed over to the San Lorenzo Mercato, the infamous Florence leather market.  It was closing in an hour, but we weren’t sure when we’d make it back there (we walked at least three more times in the next 48 hours), so we wanted to check it out!  I wasn’t planning on making a purchase just yet, but I did decide to try on a jacket (or 5 or 6) just to get a feel for what I wanted and how much it would cost.  Twenty minutes later we headed back to the hotel with my new leather jacket in hand!  Usually it takes me forever to make decisions, but the fact that I loved it and that Dan and I tag-team bargained with the vendor until he dropped the “special price” over 50% is what sold me!

After phoning Uncle Mark & Aunt Ginger’s hotel and showering, we met up with them right outside of our hotel to walk around the city before dinner.  We saw the Capelle Medicee, the Duomo, the Ponte Vecchio, Ufitzi, Piazza della Signoria y Palazzo Vecchio.  The sun was just setting and everything looked so beautiful in the light!  We made our way over to Acqua al 2, a trendy restaurant that Jackie had recommended to me, since her boyfriend James studied in Florence during the fall, and they had gone there for his birthday.  We enjoyed six tastings of fresh pastas with all different vegetables & sauces, three different filet mignons (one with blueberry & one with balsamic) and three delicious fresh salads.  It was a perfect dinner for our first meal in Florence since we got to try all different things and it really was very affordably priced.  Thank you so much for the recommendation, Jack!!  We finished the night with gelato and made plans to meet up at the leather market around 9am.

 

We started both Saturday and Sunday morning in the hotel with the free breakfast of croissants and rolls with nutella & jam, juice and coffee (cappuccino for me, café con leche for Dan), which gave us the energy to power through the long days ahead!  We spent all day Saturday driving around Chianti and the Tuscan countryside, stopping for wine tastings, fresh tomato/mozzarella/basil paninis, drinks looking out over thehills and lots of photo opportunities in small hill towns all afternoon.  It was beautiful and relaxing and certainly made up for the anxious travel day Dan and I had had the day before!

We made our way back to the city later on, enjoyed a snack of a smooth fresh pecorino (which was amazing), prosciutto de Parma and wines we had tasted and bought that day before heading across the river for a late dinner.  Mark & Ginger ate at the restaurant earlier in the week per the recommendation of their concierge but had no idea how popular it would be on a Saturday night!  We waited a while, but between the free glass of prosecco, people/food watching and conversation it seemed to pass very quickly. We had watched heaping plates of shellfish coming out to almost every table, so we knew we had to order that to share.  We also ordered a buffalo mozzarella stracciatella, which was fresh, torn, smooth buffalo mozzarella served over crispy fresh vegetables, and the traditional panzanella (Italian bread salad with balsamic vinegar and typical veggies).  After about 20 minutes it seemed the heaping pile of mussels, shrimp and clams was not getting any smaller, but when we turned around the table next to us had ordered TWO of them!!  Not only that, but when they finished those, the waiter brought out four plates of linguini with clams, one for each of them again!  We left around midnight, hoping to make it over to a gelato place that four local tour guides/waiters/etc. had recommended, but the gate was literally closing as we turned the corner.  We meandered around the city for a little while, taking in the city at night, which was absolutely beautiful.

Sunday morning, Dan and I headed over to the Galleria dell’ Accademia bright and early to see the David.  We didn’t have a reservation, but we actually made it into the museum in 15 minutes.  The statue was so impressively huge and detailed, I couldn’t believe how all of the photos I had ever seen of it did not even do it justice.  Dan made me snap this picture, even though it wasn’t allowed!!  I was freaking out they would kick us out of the museum, but of course no one even noticed.  The Prisoners were also very interesting, unfinished works by Michelangelo which make the sculptures seem like they are stuck in the blocks of stone.

We met up with Uncle Mark & Aunt Ginger at their hotel around 10:30, stopped in the Santa Maria Novella Farmacia, an ornate, beautiful pharmacy belonging to the church and then made our way across the Ponte Vecchio and up to the Piazza Michelangelo for the great view of the city.  We also stumbled upon a beautiful rose garden that I would highly recommend visiting!  It’s down the far left side of the Piazza, toward the Boboli Gardens.  I love stumbling upon things like that, and it was great to not have a set agenda because we could take the time to explore!!  While making our way over to see the Pitti Palace, we passed a church that was built in the year 1078 too!  We were getting so hungry passing pizzeria after pizzeria, but were determined to make it to Gusta Pizza, James’ favorite pizza place during his semester abroad.  It was definitely worth the wait, I got an arugula pizza and Dan got one with spicy salami.  As if that wasn’t filling enough, we had to stop at the gelateria from the night before.  A small cup of tiramisu gelato & pear ricotta gelato put me in a serious food coma, the perfect state in which to get on the train back to Bologna.

       

 

The weekend was a perfect balance between touristy site-seeing and relaxing, and I’m so happy we got to spend it with Uncle Mark & Aunt Ginger.  Thank you guys so much for everything, and enjoy the rest of your trip!!  Hope everyone else had a great weekend too.  Ciao, amores:)

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kathryn y trent, los chefs

kathryn y trent, los chefs

My two friends Kathryn & Trent hardly ever cooked in the US, so they took this move abroad as a chance to learn. They’ve been telling Dan and I that they wanted to cook for us ever since the fall, but we finally got around to it last week. They made a delicious baked cod with dill sauce, mashed potatoes and broccoli. Thanks so much for dinner, guys!!

PS. Have you ever seen this one minute brownie? We finished the meal off with it, topped with vanilla ice cream & strawberries.

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May 31, 2012 · 1:40 pm

el fin de semana


This past weekend was absolutely awesome.  Despite the on and off rainy weather, I had an all together great weekend in Madrid.  With only three months left and lots of travel plans between now and the end of August, I’m really trying to take advantage of every moment I have left here.

Friday afternoon I went to lunch with my co-worker Raquel; she lived in Miami for four years so we bonded over that connection to the US instantly.  Since then, we’ve started having English lunches every Friday, where we go out to lunch and only speak in English.  It’s really fun and I’m always happy to help people practice their English!  This week we went to an Italian chain restaurant that’s very popular in Spain, Gino’s.  I had the best pizza ever with roasted eggplant & zucchini, sundried tomatoes, pesto, mozzarella, tomato sauce and goat cheese.  It was so good I talked about it literally all weekend… Jackie thinks that pizza is what gave me all of my energy for the weekend haha.

Friday night we hung out at Lauren’s for a little bit before going to Sol to meet up with the Germans.  Jackie’s sister Bridget was visiting with a friend, so we were hoping we’d find something fun to do!  As soon as we got to the bar, our friends informed us they were leaving to go to a club Gabana, that we can just say is not my favorite.  However, we went anyway, and I had a blast!  I even had to ask Lauren to stay half an hour longer with me, which has never happened!!

After a long, long sleep, I met up with Jackie, Gabby, Bridget & Madison at one of our favorite bar/restaurants, Bar Casa Paco.  We devoured pinchos of a few different types of Spanish tortilla; they serve a million different varieties that are all amazing!  When there was a break in the rain, we headed out to give the visitors a tour of the city.  We went through the normal tour route that we have all perfected by now, but my friend Trent did a great job of mapping out a similar one here if you’d like more details on it!

I took a crazy two hour siesta from 8 – 10 pm when I got home and then woke up and got ready to go out. We went over to an outdoor tent/bar/not sure how to describe it, which has 6€ buckets of 5 beers.  Once they started locking us in, we took cabs back to a bar Gabby’s roommate Ana had told us about that was actually one block from my apartment.  Since it was so close to home, we figured we would give it a try, since none of us were up for going to Kapital, where everyone usually takes their visitors.  This place was so cool!  It’s the sister bar of a pirate bar we went to a few weeks ago for our friend Joe’s birthday, and it was nearly as fun as that one!

After another long, long sleep, Dan and I had delicious homemade egg sandwiches before heading out to an Artisanal Beer and Food Festival in Casa de Campo, the huge park on the west side of the city where the Marathon Expo was.  There are ton of different outdoor areas for expositions it seems, so I’m hoping to find more things like this through out the summer!  We spent a few hours tasting Spanish and International beers, enjoying locally made chorizo on crusty baguettes and soaking up the sun with some of the guys.  I hope everyone enjoyed their weekend as well! Ciao, amores:)

  

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un finde rural

Casas colgadas, the San Nicolas bridge, and the newer part of the city

In the fall Dan and I bought a Groupon for a two night stay in a rural bed and breakfast about 45 minutes outside of Cuenca, Spain.  Cuenca was on the list of four or five cities near Madrid that my roommate Eva had given me when I first arrived (by the way, I’ve visited all of them now!).  Being half way between here and Valencia, it was about a two hour drive, so we decided this Groupon would be perfect for devoting a weekend to this small city.

Knowing ourselves, we booked the trip for a few weeks after we had started work with anticipation of how nice a weekend of r&r would feel.  We spent a lot of time driving through the country side of Castilla – La Mancha, the province where Cuenca is located.  It was absolutely gorgeous and full of green rolling hills and steep stone canyons.  It was such a contrast to the landscape of La Rioja, where I was just a few days before, but they were both beautiful in their own ways.

The house we stayed in was really cute and was in a small town that, I kid you not, did not even have a convenience store or a bar.  The owners were so kind, so we decided to take them up on their offer of a barbecue dinner on Saturday night, which was delicious!  Other than that, we enjoyed Castilla – La Mancha delicacies like wild boar, Castillan soup, red wines and manchego cheese.  We also stopped in the adorable bakery Ruiz I had read about on Lonely Planet, but since we couldn’t decide what looked best we got one of everything to share, haha!

  


On Saturday we explored the historic part of Cuenca after lunch at this amazing restaurant, including the Plaza Mayor, Cathedral, quite a few lookouts over the mountains & newer parts of the city, and the casas colgadas.  The casas colgadas or “hanging houses” literally appear to be hanging off of the cliffs on either side of the historic part of Cuenca.  They’re so surreal looking and I’m still confused about how they actually stay up, even after exploring the Spanish Abstract Art Museum, which is actually housed in one of them!


On Sunday, we drove north of Cuenca to see the Ciudad Encantada, or Enchanted City, which is filled with crazy natural rock formations that used to be all covered by water.  It was really awesome, and it felt so great to be outside in the woods, something I really haven’t done since I left the US.  We also stumbled upon quite a few beautiful lookouts on the side of the road into canyons and rivers, which were absolutely stunning.

    

After a delicious lunch in Plaza Mayor (with a few scattered showers here and there to keep it interesting), we headed home.  It was such a relaxing weekend away; I’m so happy we had purchased that Groupon so long ago!  Hope you guys enjoy my photos of the trip.  Ciao, amores:)

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