Monday, July 19, 2010

My First Real Meal in Spain

Hi, guys!

A lot of you have been after me to update you on my situation - thank you SO much for all the love and concern! :) Sorry about being so slack - I work pretty long hours (for an intern) and I'm tempted pretty much every day to explore the city after work, so I don't get home until late, at which time I just feel too lazy to write.

But I'm back. And I'm doing great! I´ve found myself a new apartment that´s within budget, within walking distance of my office, right by a gorgeous supermarket, cleaned weekly, and literally steps away from the nearest subway entrance.

My landlady was livid, because apparently, I'm the second or third girl to be driven out by my current roommates and here I am, giving my notice just after a week. But because my landlady was so kind to let me stay 8 nights for free in June, I decided to try to be a good person and do her the courtesy of staying for July. It's not easy, but it's only two weeks until freedom! I only get half my deposit back but I'm just cutting my losses.

But enough of that - can we talk about how well I'm eating instead? Because Spanish food is just phenomenally delicious, and the best part is that it's actually affordable, even to people on budgets as tight as mine - unlike when I was living in Nice, when all I could afford were croissants and McDonalds!

So my very first morning here, I decided that I needed to treat myself to ease the trauma of the previous night. I went to the heart of the city in a fairly touristy area and just walked around, looking for menú del días.

A menú del día is a set menu that restaurants provide - they're required by law to do so - that contains usually about two courses and a drink/bread/dessert at a reasonable price. In Madrid, you can find these set menus at prices as low as 6.75 €, but the ones I've had were about 10 € or just under.

I came across this restaurant called Lizarran, which was on my list of restaurants to try in Madrid. It had a 9.90 € menú del día and one of the choices for the first course was pinchos (which took the form of a slice of bread with yummy stuff on top of it at this restaurant), so I decided to go for it!

I was kind of nervous about speaking Spanish, but I steeled myself and walked up to the gentleman behind the bar. He was a very kind, dapper, diminutive man who spoke English beautifully (he could tell I´m a foreigner) - well, except he kept "ma'aming" me, but then again, it'd be unreasonable to demand that someone understand all the nuances of a language I've been speaking much longer!

I went to have lunch at a very unSpanish 1pm, so I was absolutely doted on by the server. I chose the 4 assorted pinchos for my first course and the baked cod (bacalao) for my second choice.

The server told me to go up to the bar to help myself, where there were trays and trays of picture-perfect pinchos sitting in a long, glass case waiting for me. I promptly chose the ones that had a bunch of cured meats and smoked fish beautifully arranged on them and brought them back to my table with relish. Meanwhile, the server already brought my Fanta (my vice in Spain!), thin, crusty bread and olive oil/balsamic vinegar.

To be honest, I didn´t really know what was in my pinchos but they looked so beautiful I decided to just eat first and think later. They were DELICIOUS! The bread was soft and crusty, the toppings were super savoury - it was a massive flavour party in my mouth. I think there was morcilla (blood sausage) on one of my pinchos, and it´s quite delicious if you manage to not think of the fact that you´re eating blood.

After a while, my baked cod came. There were all these eraser-crumb-like squiggles on top of them, which were also on one of my pinchos, and I had no idea what they were. They tasted kind of like Chinese fish balls to me - there was definitely some kind of fish in it. So I asked my server what it was and he looked worried, like he thought I´d freak out.

He carefully told me, "They're baby eels..." But of course, I wasn't fazed, because I'm Chinese and we eat pretty much everything. The only things I won't eat are rabbit (I was born in the year of the rabbit so it feels like cannibalism to me), lamb (can't stand the flavour), genitals (which they serve here in Spain as well as in Chinese cuisine!) and baluts (EWWW and so cruel!!!).

After my meal I was so full I couldn´t even spare any room for dessert or coffee, which apparently was included; I wasn´t sure if the server was being nice to me by giving me all these things, because unless I understood the menu wrong, I was supposed to choose between bread, dessert and coffee, not get all three.

For 9.90 € it was a great deal AND it was absolutely scrumptious. The service was lovely and there were lots of locals eating there despite the fact that it was in a touristy part of town, so I felt like I had a really nice little slice of Spanish culture that day.

I´d highly recommend this restaurant - I went to the location at:
Calle de Preciados, 33
28013 Madrid, España
917 010 812

¡Que les aproveche!

1 comment:

Stace said...

Even before reading the post. THT FOOD LOOKS AMAZING!!! :D :D