By Alex Dominguez on Tuesday May 22, @09:41AM
from the Return of the international eat-boy dept.
The Count of Baltimore arrived in Madrid on Sunday on his way to attend the wedding of Jorge Sanchez Romeralez in the Extreme馻 town of Badajoz.
Here磗 his personal account of his first two days in Madrid.
Sitting next to a man named Girson on the plane, I learned he lives in Los Angeles and is the son of Ecuadorians. He is taking a guided tour of Spain to learn about the country that colonized his parent磗 native country.
After he asked about shuttle service from the airport to his hotel, I offered to drive him to his hotel on Calle Antonio Lopez, and we set out on a mini-driving adventure in my rented Opel Vectra.
We couldn磘 find the hotel on the map provided by the rental car company, so we stopped first off the Gran Via where an old man at the cafe-bar tried to ignore us at first while he served street cleaners in bright green and yellow nylon jumpsuits.
``Buf, lejos. No se exactamente. Y un barrio peligroso,创 he said.
``De verdad? Pues, el tiene reservacion en el hotel y tiene que ir alli,创 I said explaining we didn磘 care how far away or safe the neighborhood was because he had hotel reservations.
``Si, si, estan enamoradas,创 he said, accusing us of being gay.
We left, and some actual homosexuals outside told us it was near the soccer stadium. A taxi driver along the way set us straight and we arrived at the hotel, in a beautiful neighborhood, a half hour later.
I also checked in to the immaculate Hotel Praga (13,000 pesetas, $70) because I was exhausted and took a shower in the stone-tiled splendor of my room.
I then met Girson in the lobby and we went to lunch before he had to meet with his tour group. We strolled down the street and stopped in at a place with wrought iron work encasing the windows and stuffed animals - pheasant, foxes, etc. - decorating the interior.
I ordered the sweetbreads (mollejas) with asparagus, followed by tiny lamb chops. Girson - who told me his name was Jewish in origin, but he was named for a Brazilian soccer star - ordered artichoke hearts with mushrooms. We both had Cuban cigars (I had a Fonseca and Girson had a Monte Cristo) and some coffee before driving to the Parque del Buen Retiro for the mandatory post-prandial paseo or walk.
Girson remarked about the diversity of the crowd - ``Bring it on. Unless a culture attracts people and provides opportunity, it dies,创 I replied.
While watching Incan pan flute players in front of the rowboat lake, a gypsy woman grabbed my hand, gave me some rosemary and told me I was simpatico and lucky, but had mal de ojo and invidio.
I gave her 100 pts for the rosemary and she cursed me, saying I owed her for the palm-reading as well.
After saying good-bye to Girson, I took a nap and then went for a walk down Calle Antonio Lopez to where it runs into the Glorieta (traffic circle) Vadillo in front of the ancient, and no longer used, bridge to Toledo that crosses the Manzanares river. The bridge is now a giant terrace with hundreds of seats set out for people to take in the night air while drinks are served from cafes set up under tents and traffic from the highway alongside the river whirs by in the background.
On the way back, I had some grilled Navajas (razor clams) and boquerones (anchovies in vinegar) at the Marisceria La Pradera, where I told the men at the counter my family is from Galicia, in northwestern Spain.
Galicia has the best water for shellfish in the world, they said.
``There磗 a saying in Spain - God磗 hand touched Galicia, and you can tell because it has five rivers,创 one of the men said.
``He was probably looking for St. James,创 I replied, referring to Santiago de Campostella, where the body of the apostle is said to be buried.
While we were talking a small boy walked in and asked for water.
``Gracias,创 he said putting the glass down on the stainless steel counter.
``You know, it磗 the same at my coffee shop in Baltimore,创 I said. ``Kids are always coming in and asking for water.创
``And do you give it to them,创磘he man said.
``Como no?创 or ``Why not?创 I replied.
``Well, you know, those hamburger places, they don磘 give out water, unless it磗 a bottle of mineral water for sale,创 he said. ``And most of their customers are children.创
The next day I left the hotel and moved downtown to a small dingy hotel near the Puerto del Sol where I stayed for two days for 4,000 pesetas ($22).
The second day, I walked behind the San Miguel market, and five or six blocks away found a vacant lot overgrown with trees behind a restaurant. The wall surrounding it was a mess and a young man with a motorcycle emerged from within, but I loved it because birds were in the trees inside singing while two blocks away buses and taxis growled and beeped .
The side street Calle Almendro, Almond Street, is apparently named for one of the largest trees on the lot. As I listened to the birds, a neighbor磗 parrot squawked quietly, trying to elicit a response from the chirping birds behind the walls and iron and wood gates.
A German Shepherd watched above from the little balcony of a nearby apartment, whose owners had left the floor-to-ceiling window/doors open so the dog could enjoy the fresh May air and watch the neighborhood.
A cigar would be nice now, I thought and bought a Punch Punch at a nearby estanco (920 pesetas, $5) and then stopped in the Restaurant El Schotis for a beer.
Continuing my walk, I wound up at the market at the Plaza de la Cebada, where I watched a man at a fish stall debone and clean a long silver fish called a pescadilla with the largest triangular cleaver I have ever seen. I soon saw most of the butchers and fishmongers using them.
Nearby, a butcher was selling cochinillos, or suckling pigs (2,500 pts/kilo), veal, and other meats, flattening the veal filets he cut with a smooth, fist-sized stone.
Time for lunch, I thought, and stopped in a small bar several blocks way called Bar La Esperanza (corner of Calle de Bailen and Calle de Angosta de los Mancebos, just down from the Palacio Real.)
There the bartender explained to me what I had seen at the market earlier. What appeared to be twine wrapped around two parallel twigs, was zarajo, or tripa de cordero - lamb tripe.
The tripe, fried and served with lemon, is a typical dish from Cuenca - the town east of Madrid where the houses are built hanging from cliffs.
The bartender hacked the wound tripe into four pieces - two disc shaped pieces from the center of the round lump and what remained wound around each twig.
The pieces around the stick came out much crunchier, and were less gamey and liver-like than the less well-done center pieces. The tripe came liberally salted and once the lemon was squeezed over it, the crunchy parts were delicious. I finished them all, picking the last bits with my teeth from the twigs, which I saved as a souvenir.
The whole meal, grilled chorizo sausage, manchego cheese, tripe, olives, bread, three short beers and coffee, was $1,950 pesetas, about $11.>p>
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Re: El Conde returns to Spain for Jorge磗 wedding
by Candelo, El Pajarito Del Conde on Wednesday May 23, @07:38PM
El Conde me abandono! Estoy aqui en el bano ... solo! Kate viene cada dia para molestarme. Tres veces ho gustado el sangre de esta bruja. Soy seguro que esta tratando de matarme. Ella viene con papas y "ice cream" envenados. When she complained about my squawking, I tried to remove her ear. When she tried to remove me from her ear, I tried to remove her finger(and almost succeeded!) Everyday I bite her, and still she comes! Tomorrow I will peck out her eyes!!
And when the Count returns, I will commence anew my Days of Rage!!!!!