Last Day in Spain

Posted on Thursday, October 29th, 2009 at 9:52 am

My last day in Madrid was a Monday, when many of the museums and other tourist destinations are closed.  After six weeks of self-restraint, I shopped for some souvenirs.  I knew that I wanted spices and ovenproof dishes.

I walked all over the city on that sunny last day…

Spicy Yuli Spicy Yuli

Wandering, I found a small street with a store, intriguingly called Spicy Yuli (Calle Valverde 42).  It turned out to be the Grand Opening of an adorable spice shop.  The store is named after its owner, Yuli, who I liked immensely right away.  I was one of the day’s very first customers.  I’d been hoping to find some pimenton and saffron for gifts; this was the perfect place to get it.

Fast Good Fast Good

Approaching lunchtime, I decided to try out Ferran Adria’s fast food concept, Fast Good (Calle de Juan Bravo 3).  I figured that, since I hadn’t even tried to go to El Bulli, I should at least check out his idea of a hamburger.  I walked a good 45 minutes to get there, only to find it graffiti-clad and closed.  I was stunned to think that Adria’s concept might have gone under.  (The website still lists that location on Juan Bravo.  It also lists a second Madrid location and announces expansion to four other cities.  You might want to call ahead.)

Taberna de la Daniela Taberna de la Daniela

Hungry from all the walking, I decided to go back to Taberna de la Daniela (Calle del General Pardinas 21).  Lola, who had served me the massive Cocida Madrileno a week earlier, was there again.  She recommended that I order the patatas y jamon.  She said with a smile, “When you’re in my house, you get what I say.”  Of course, I took her advice.  It was a filling lunch of fried potatoes, topped with chewy chunks of delicious dried jamon and a soft egg, served with toasted bread.

Example of the Kind of Dish Example of the Kind of Dish (in Tembleque)

I knew exactly the kind of terra cotta, ovenproof dishes that I wanted.  Called cazuela dishes, they are handmade by artisans across Spain.  I’d been served plenty of tapas in them during my travels.  All day, I kept my eye out for the dishes.  Nearing 6pm, I had almost given up when I saw someone going into another mercado.  I followed.  Just inside, I saw a large display of them.  I was so excited.  They were very reasonably priced, ranging from two to four euros, depending on the size.  I got a set for me and a set for my mom.  I also bought a paella pan.  The large, flat paella pan pressed out the sides of my green backpack, making it look like a turtle shell.

For Oven Proof Dishes For Oven Proof Dishes

Walking back toward the hostel, I stopped at Spicy Yuli to get some more pimenton.  Yuli and I had hit it off so we made plans to get together with her boyfriend after the shop closed.  She asked if it was okay to meet at a “dirty” bar.  I said “yes,” trusting her recommendation for a great local spot, but not quite knowing what she meant… dive bar or burlesque?!

Bar Ovni Bar Ovni

I met Yuli and her boyfriend at Ovni.  It was a nice enough, not fancy, locals bar, close to Sol.  It turned out to be the perfect last meal of my trip: a little jamon, a few croquetas, and a fair amount of sangria, all in excellent Spanish company.

At the end of the night, I was honored that Yuli took me back to her apartment to see its rooftop view of Sol.  I felt priviledged to enter a Spanish home.  Looking out over Sol and beyond, my adventures ended on a definite high point.

Overlooking Sol Overlooking Sol

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