After a hectic English language volunteer week in Valdelavilla, I came back to Madrid with my new friends, both Anglos and Spaniards. Yup, that's what being together for six entire days will do to people - we'll always look back at the fun times in that tiny village in Soria province.
But first, plans were made to hang out over the weekend and do what everyone loves best: going for tapas in Spain, hitting a few places in one night. First up on Saturday night was MJ, who along with her boyfriend brought Rebecca, Joanne, Aileen and myself on a walk around the main sights in Madrid (whose details I won't bore you with). The food fest started at Taberna Almendro 13 in La Latina for some huevos rotos (broken eggs), pictured on the right, a concoction of sunny side-up eggs, jamon bits and potato chips. We also had roscas de jamon, a round ham sandwich which everyone shared, washed down by vino or cerveza, of course.
David, another Spaniard on the program, met up with us at Plaza. Sta. Ana, and together we headed to another one of MJ's (and apparently, lots of other locals') favorites, Las Bravas - a casual joint specializing in Spanish fast food. The wait for a table did not deter us, and soon we were gorging on orejas (pig's ears) and patatas bravas (potatoes with spicy sauce).
At first MJ wouldn't tell everyone about the pig's ears, preferring to keep it a mystery, but since I spoke Spanish I knew what she ordered. Any trip of mine wouldn't be complete without eating some weird animal parts, so I was quite eager to taste them. The pig's ears were pretty tasty actually, but some Anglos didn't like biting into the cartilage, so I ate more than my fair share of the dish.
Last stop for the night was nearby Villa Rosa for some drinks and dramatic touristy flamenco. We didn't have anything to eat anymore; sometimes it's amazing how these little bites fill you up without noticing it.
Same meeting place and same time on Sunday, but with different Spaniards - Ignacio, Antonio and Jose Luis, three of the most popular participants in the program.
After some sightseeing we headed over to a hole-in-the-wall joint off Plaza Mayor for some bocadillos - sandwiches stuffed with meat or seafood. JL recommended the bocadillos de calamares (fried shrimp stuffed inside a roll) plus more carbs in the form of patatas bravas, which were less spicy than last night's.
Once again, the cramped space was packed to the gills, and you can quickly become good friends with diners at adjacent tables given the close quarters. Everyone seemed intent on wolfing down their huge sandwiches in the least amount of time. .
The tour went on to the next place specializing in mushrooms which seemed a bit hokey, with the cave-like atmosphere, but the chatty piano player who played contemporary Beatles and Pink Floyd hits ("Original Spanish music is really nice to listen to", Antonio quipped wryly), and the mushrooms made up for it.
I forgot what exactly these were called, but our group was full at this point, and the Anglos were just clamoring for more wine, so off we went to La Latina in search of good vino. Last stop was Taberna Tempranillo on the street Cava Baja, a wine bar with an unparalleled collection of bottles and a perfect place to sip, relax and talk.
Part of me didn't want these nights to end - it was great to discover these places and dishes that I normally wouldn't have found nor sampled on my own (given the infinite number of establishments in Madrid), but more so the pleasure of new friends' company. Here's to fun times, lasting friendships, and more English conversations. Salut!