Juicy juice

©mylunchanddinner

I know I just said I’m not writing that much in search of devoting more time to my PhD… but I’m already here and I’d like to share with you my story of the best breakfast I’ve had.

Definitely, some of my best food stories go back to lovely Madrid. This is one of those stories. It was an early morning, maybe not that early, Hubby and I were starving. Most of the restaurants were closed. We walked along Calle Mayor and then took the diagonal to the Plaza Mayor, one of the most famous squares. We got there and saw that only two places were open, Museo del Jamón being one of them. We continued wondering around, and went downstairs towards the place where the Mesones are. We walked up the street and got to a magical place called Mercado de San Miguel. Magical, of course, as most of you know by my posting by now, relating to the fact that there was a lot of glorious food there.

We walked around, and were kind of disappointed to see that the food there was mainly composed of tapas. There was however a small post that sold fresh juices. We went there and watched while the girl made a couple of juices for some people there. After careful consideration, we decided to get a juice and then return to Museo del Jamón for breakfast.

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Patiently waiting in line, Hubby and I were studying the possible ingredients. When it was our turn, the girls told us that we could select just fresh orange juice (OJ) or a mixture of OJ with a number of other fruits. Hubby ordered a juice composed of OJ, banana and strawberry, while I selected grapes, mango and OJ. The girl added a few ice cubes and sugar for Hubby’s, splenda for mine. Each juice was blended for about a minute and served on covered glasses.  They were both really tasty, cool and of course super fresh. Plus, I think really healthy.

We then went back to the plaza and sat happily at the Museo del Jamón. Now, I first thought they might say we couldn’t bring beverages from another place, but they didn’t say anything. Thus, this is of course a first positive point for them. We then read the menu, it was full of interesting choices… second point. After careful studying, Hubby selected a complete breakfast which included two fried eggs, bacon, toast and strawberry jam, plus an orange juice! I ordered what look as a tasty egg and ham sandwich, it included tea.

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When they brought the food, I was really excited. My sandwich looked just so cute with the egg yolk showing out a tiny whole made on the top bread. It tasted really good as well, I was enchanted! Hubby’s breakfast was not that bad either. He said it was tasty and he enjoyed the bacon that came along with it. And yes, he had his market juice, plus the orange juice included on his dish.

We were so happy with the results we repeated this combination for almost the entire stay there!

© mylunchanddinner 2012

Tapas!

©mylunchandinner

I love visiting Spain, specially Madrid.  I don’t know what it is with this city that makes me so excited when I get there and so sad when I have to leave.  I remember last year standing on the balcony of the hostel, looking at the Puerta del Sol. My eyes suddenly became watery. I didn’t want to leave, but I had to take a plane back to Mexico the next day and prepare for my move to Costa Rica…

Going back a few days before that awful Friday night, it was a beautiful evening. We had not eaten since having a sandwich at the Copenhague airport. Our plane had been delayed for about two hours, then the two hour flight plus the hour on train to downtown Madrid had made us hungry. Hubby’s mood was totally grumpy. Hunger brings the worst of him.  I can’t stop thinking at times how lucky he is that his bad moods don’t last for long because of this opportunity of having food right at hand and soon.

We left our things at the hostel, and then went looking for the oldest restaurant in Madrid. It is called El sobrino de Botín (Botin’s Nephew). Dad had told me where it was, but I think that the lack of sugar in my system made me get confused.  We went up and down Calle Mayor and never found it. Of course we never were going to, given that the restaurant is on another street. Hubby was furious by the time we went and came, so I decided to make a move to one of the Mesones located under the Plaza Mayor.

The Mesones are located in tiny caves under the Plaza Mayor.  Rumor has it that Luis Candelas, a Spanish Robin Hood kind of guy, used to hide in this small caves from the soldiers. The biggest cave is the host of a restaurant named after him, and of which I’ll talk in a later post.  The Mesones are small, cozy and full of life, but, most importantly, full of food. Each one of them has a specialty. My own favorite is Mesón del Champiñón. The one Hubby likes the most is Mesón de la Tortilla.

Given the conditions of Hubby, we went to Mesón de la Tortilla where the specialty is of course Tortilla Española. Tortilla is kind of an omellete, but it is not. Made with fresh potatoes, usually cut in thin slices, and eggs this dish can be breakfast, lunch dinner or tapa. In my opinion, the one served at the Mesón is the best. The slices of potatoes are cooked with salt, and while they are being turned all around in the casserole they are converted to a thick mash.  They then use the mashed potatoes to make a pan sized tortilla with a couple of eggs and olive oil.

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We ordered our tortilla and a jug of sangria to drink. The sangria was brought first. It was really sweet and tasty. Made with red wine, lemon and orange juice and chopped fresh fruit, the drink has a taste that is not equalled in any other place in the world; not that I have been everywhere, but the places I’ve visited.

The tortilla came a few minutes later.  It is always served with pieces of bread, which I usually think are form a day before because they are kind of hard.  It doesn’t matter. The taste of the tortilla is always sublime. It is kind of salty, but not too much. The eggs feels fluffy and cooked just to the point. And the potatoes mmmm! The absolute best!

So… whenever you visit Madrid, you have to go Mesón de la Tortilla, located on Calle Cava de San Miguel, a few steps away form the San Miguel Market.

© mylunchanddinner 2012

One bear please!

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It was hot summer day. The ship had anchored in the city of Tallin, Estonia. We were happily waking to the city with our maps and the printed tour guide we had found using our good friend google.  We had decided no to take the red bus because we had heard the city is small and you have to walk all around.  At least for what we visited was true, but we stayed in the medieval old town, which is nothing but true beauty.

We walked all around. We saw beautiful views from the highest parts in the city. We were marveled by the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and by the imposing medieval walls that were one the first protection of the city. We walked around Katriina’s Kaiik (Catherine’s Passage) and took photos of the lovely street market where people were selling had knitted wool sweaters, socks and more. The center of the city was enchanting with an enormous city hall and the oldest european pharmacy.

The city is full of history and totally enchanting! We were completely seduced by it. Of course, after all the walking we did, we got really hungry! Wondering what to eat, we remembered that the cruise had  a recommendation for a restaurant featuring Estonian food, so we decided to go there. Kulse Notsu Körts is located a few steps away of the Town Hall Square on Raatskaevu 7.

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We sat happily in one of the tables on the street. We were looking at the people walking by and started talking. The waitress, dressed in Estonian typical cloths, brought us some bread and some butter which was made at the spot. The bread was super delicious, with some bacon bits on it, which gave it a taste that was sublime. The butter enhanced the flavors, and was really good by its own. Along with the bread, came the menus… we had no clue to what they said, but when the waitress saw our puzzled look she brought some menus in english.

We were reading and discussing what to order when the people sitting behind me turned around and asked if we were Mexican. We started chatting with the Spanish family, they were very nice… that is until they offered us some of their appetizer. They said we should definitely try it. It looked kind of gross though… fried pig ears! They insisted so much we tried it. The taste was not good, but the feeling was terrible… a crunchy skin (which wasn’t that bad) followed by chewy cartilage! The worst ever! We all had a nice laugh after the taste.

When the girl came back, we placed our orders. Hubby asked for some lamb chops. I didn’t know what to order, so I asked for a recommendation. The girl said I should try the bear which is a classic dish. I asked for it. After a few minutes, the order came in. Hubby’s dish had a lovely look. The lamb chops were cooked to a nice brown and were covered with a sauce featuring pink pepper which looked lovely. It was was complemented with potatoes and barley.

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My dish came with cubed bear meat with a white sauce, some carrots and potatoes and additional small potatoes with herbs. The taste of the my dish was good, but I must confess that after ordering it I felt kind of sad. After all, I love bears. Then again, I love cows and I’m always eating them. I cannot describe to you the taste in comparing with some other meat, because the taste is unique. I wasn’t completely conquered by it, so I convinced Hubby it was a good idea to share and try both dishes. So by the time we’d eaten half, we exchanged.

It was the best idea ever! The chops were sublime. The sauce was tasty and light. But was did excel in taste was the barley. I was shocked, I had never thought of eating barley as rice or risotto. It was actually cooked in a risotto-style. It had bacon which gave it lots of flavor and some kind of cream that made it rich and tasty. It was the best ever!  I think the barley was our favorite of all, but the meats were really good too!

Well, if you ever go on a trip to Tallin given you are on a Baltic Cruise or you just decide to go there,

don’t forget to go to the Kulse Notsu Körts…

©mylunchanddinner 2012