Archive for September, 2009

One Night in Madrid

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La Tia Cebolla - Madrid

I landed in Madrid yesterday around 5pm local time. By the time I made it to my hostel, it was 7pm and I was very hungry.  I talked to Paulo at the front desk; I explained that I am a culinary student and that I was looking for some delicious, authentic, Spanish food. He got very excited, took out a map, and directed me to his favorite place for paella, an easy ten-minute walk from the hostel.  When I found the place, it was a dingy, empty, Irish bar!  The sign (in English) claimed the best paella in Madrid.  It was the kind of place that I avoid at all cost.

Along the way to the presumptious Irish dud, another spot had caught my eye.  The place was small, packed, and there was a lot of laughing.  I went back and found it: La Tia Cebolla (Calle de la Cruz 27). I sat at the bar and ordered a glass of the house red.  Along the bar, platters of tapas were lined behind a protective layer of plexiglass, probably to keep people like me from snitching just one beautiful olive.  First, I chose a slice of tortilla espagnola.  A tortilla is a dense Spanish omelette served at room temperature; the espagnola is one of the most traditional, made with potatoes and grilled onions.  Overambitious, I also asked for the empanada de carne, a savory pastry stuffed with ground meat, grilled onion, and little flecks of tomato.  The slices were way bigger than I had expected from tapas; I offered some to the man standing next to me.  We ended up talking for hours, splitting plates of tapas all the while.  It turned out that he was a Jordanian pilot on an overnight layover in Madrid; he has been to Chicago many times.  It really was the perfect start to my trip.  Not only was the food delicious, but a connection was created over the act of sharing it.

La Tia Cebolla - Madrid

Ready to Fly!

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My boarding pass says “You’re ready to fly.”  Yes, yes, I am!  The reality of this trip, which has seemed almost absurd until now, is finally sinking into me.  The plane is ready to board; I am going to taste my way through Spain.

Until Madrid…