How to Get Your Eat On in Madrid: Lunch

One of my favorite things about Madrid was...

you guessed it...

the food!

enjoying a bit of queso manchego on crusty bread!
Luckily for me, most of Madrid centers around their culinary expertise. In fact, it seemed to me as though the rest of life was fit in around meal time. But meal time differs significantly than here in the US, in both quality and time of day. Meals are like an event in Madrid.

One is supposed to sit and enjoy food, not squeeze it in when you have a moment or are on-the-go. On-the-go isn’t really a concept in their culture. And it’s kind of nice. Except for the whole coffee thing. I do like my coffee on the go.

But aside from that, the rest is pretty great. It's a system that I could really get behind.

Lunch.
The biggest meal of the day. It usually takes place around 2pm. Later than most lunches here in the US, but don't worry...dinner won't be until 10PM, so eat up while you can!

All of the cafes in Madrid are packed with people enjoying some outdoor time and taking a moment to have a nice, long and enjoyable lunch.


It all starts with a cerveza (beer) and I love that this is socially acceptable there, even in the middle of the work day.

Why not?

A large lunch usually starts with a small plate, such as cold jamon on toast...

or warm pork loin with fried onions and softened brie on toast

and followed by a heartier dish, like salad with goat cheese croquettes or roasted duck breast.

And it's most certainly finished by enjoying some coffee...or in my case, caffe con leche (coffee with steamed milk). Yum.

I also love that it’s completely acceptable to enjoy a cerveza, a plate of queso manchego and a bread basket for lunch. Which I may or may not have done on a solo afternoon. Or 2.

And yet, like most cities, you’ll be hard pressed to find overweight people. And if you are completely spent after a big, cerveza-filled meal? No worries. Next comes siesta, so take a short nap and get back to work!

So what do you think? Could you get down with this way of eating? Are you down with lunch as your biggest meal?

Though I think I'd find it tough to get myself back to work after such a big lunch outside in the beautiful weather, I would love to eat like this every day!

Madrid Recap: Guernica, Patatas Fritas + Museo de Jamon

Friends! I'm back!

It didn't hit me until I sat down to start blogging again, just how much I missed writing! And all of you guys! I'm happy to be back in action. But certainly rocking a case of the post-vacation blues. I can't believe it's passed by already! At the same time, I'm excited that the summer is upon us and I have more trips (for work and for personal enjoyment) planned over the next few months. I love traveling!

So as you can imagine, I have a lot to tell you. I think I'll just start with some recaps from the trip. As you may know, we began the trip in Madrid, Spain. I adored this city!

 

It's so gorgeous, so well-kept and bustling enough to remind me of New York. Though Shaun worked on Monday and Tuesday (leaving me to my own devices...more on that later), we had some of Saturday night and all day Sunday to explore and 'be on vacation' together.

Our first stop was the Reina Sofia museum, where Shaun was determined to see Picasso's Guernica (a painting that, when he first mentioned it, I looked at him emptily and said...huh? I {sheepishly admitted that I} had never heard of it.). Though I am not really an art person (he studied it in school), I was happy to go along for the ride. When we were in Paris, he insisted on seeing the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, and he ranked Guernica in the same class. Can't say no to that one! Since no photos were allowed near the painting, I borrowed this one from pablopicasso.org.

Click for source

Yay? Nay? Art lovers out there? I have mixed thoughts about it. On the opposite wall, there was a series of photographs of the painting in various stages as it was being painted, and repainted as Picasso changed his mind. I thought it was fascinating to see the work in progress and how the final work morphed from original versions!

Anyhoo, following the museum, we obviously had to stop for some street eats...my favorite kind! We stumbled upon a tiny shop with fresh potato chips - patatas fritas! - in the window.

I heard that they are hiring me to be their spokesperson after this salesy-looking photo.

We decided to wander back toward our hotel (following a map of course), and we came across the Museo de Jamon (which literally translates to the Museum of Ham, clever no?), a tiny meat shop where one could order pork as though from a butcher, but also order meals there. In case you didn't know, Spain is allllll about the ham!

Jamon Iberico or Jamon Serrano, it is a cured ham and comes from the leg of Serrano and Iberian pigs which are native to Spain. These animals aren't your typical pig. They are raised eating acorns and other natural items to ensure top quality texture and taste. And friends, I've never had anything quite like it. It's super thinly sliced and almost lightly leathery in texture. Even Shaun threw his non-pork eating ways to the wind and seriously got down with some of this ham. Prosciutto, who? Just about every restaurant in Spain serves this jamon and we ate it at every chance we could.

We may or may not have eaten this every day of our trip. And we may or may not have cried a little to wave goodbye to it last Wednesday as we departed for Switzerland.

Ok, I've rambled on long enough for you. I have lots more to tell you about in the coming days. Meanwhile, are you an art appreciator? Is a museum first on your list of things to see? And most importantly, have you ever heard of or tried Serrano ham?!

Buenos Dias!

Hola, from Madrid!

I hope you had a GREAT weekend! I slept in hardcore this morning (it's 11:45AM in Spain right now) and am loving every moment of it. I feel like we've done so much in such a short amount of time here thus far and I'm just soaking it up. It feels great to be on vacation and in a foreign land. Since I plan to do more detailed posts when I'm back in real action, today I wanted to share a few highlights of the trip, things I'm loving here, and things I've learned.

1. Ham is e.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e. In addition to occupying every menu in Madrid, there are actual ham shops, called Museo de Jamon...which actually translates to Ham Museum. I don't mind.

2. Neither does Shaun. His no pork rule went out the window the moment we landed in Spain. Apparently pigs in Spain are fed sticks and acorns...a far cry from Boar's Head. Touche.

 

3. You can buy fresh Patatas Fritas - potato chips - in some bodegas and candy shops (which are plentiful 'round these parts).

 

4. Bakeries are just better in a foreign country. Especially when you find pastry cream-laden sugary doughnut things that are the size of your head.

5. Though I still managed to find the one cupcake shop in Madrid.

 

6. I am obsessed...no, wait...OBSESSED with my PacSafe purse! It it the perfect size to fit my DSLR without it jostling around, it's lightweight, and most importantly, adorable.

 

That's about all I've got time to share today. Shaun is working, so I'm flyin' solo (Jason DeRulo-style) all day today. Since it's after noon, I should probably get dressed and get to a cafe for some lunch stat. I'm totally geeking out and rereading Something Borrowed. It's a gorgeous day, so perfect for sitting outside and reading! Have a great day friends!

PS - any European travelers out there...does my MacBook need a voltage converter to be plugged in? I've been using this method for the last couple of days, but this morning it's not reading the charge...can I try it without the voltage converter...without frying my comp?! Help! Or this will be the only blog for the week! :)