July 28, 2011

Spain Vignettes: Comida es la vida

“Tengo Hambre” was one of the first Spanish phrases that I learnt, and more importantly, never forgot, because of how important it is – “I am so hungry”. When I asked Ash about planning a trip to Spain, Ash, who has been to Spain twice, wrote me a detailed reply. At the end of the email, he said simply, scratch all I said, just go for the food.

We were ready to be gastronomically delighted. And we were. Right from our first meal in Madrid. By the time we got out at Anton Martin station, we were hungry. As we walked down the street we saw a restaurant sign, we didn’t need much more invitation than that. I had read somewhere that the a-OK gesture (circle with index finger and thumb, other three straight out) was an offensive gesture in Spain, so we tried our best to use our middle three fingers while saying ‘tres’ while asking for a table or asking for coffee.

One of the dishes was pollo, the other was tortilla with patatas y jamon. We may have ordered a third, I don’t remember now. I noticed that Attu was eating quite slowly. And because Neeto and I were wolfing down food, I was quite concerned Attu wouldn’t have anything to eat at her pace. So I broke off bits of the chicken leg and tried to make sure she was eating. That courtesy lasted that one meal, probably because I hadn’t seen her in years. By the end of the trip I was wolfing down her food before she got to it.

Anyway, this is a food post, so I will keep it short and picture-friendly. I may not remember the names of most of the dishes, so feel free to help me out.

Our first dinner in Madrid, somewhere near Puerta del Sol.

This was the restaurant. Well, as you can see above, we had to have a second dinner a few hours later, of which we don't have any pictures of. Of note, at the second dinner we were introduced to croquettas and aceitunas. We probably tried to have them at nearly every meal after that. YUM!

We only had coffee here...but look at the display!

Lunch, near Plaza de Oriente, next to Palacio Real de Madrid. As Toni informs us in the comments below, this dish is called Pulpo a la Gallega.

Dinner at Mercado de San Miguel. Highly recommended. You will see a lot more locals than tourists too. They were really friendly and offered to take our pictures when they saw us take out our cameras. One of the skewers was 'chicken tikka', delicious.


Tres Cafe Con Leche, Barcelona. I am not generally a coffee drinker, but loved the coffee in Spain! Given our packed schedule and how little sleep we were getting, the cafe visits were a necessity. This particular cafe was run by an old man. It looked like a house converted to a cafe. Near the ceiling, you could see what looked like solid white window-doors, painted the same colour of the walls.

After a visit to La Sagrada Familia, we went to a cafe nearby. There were three sections, in the first we saw two old men playing chess. We walked to the second section, with painted red walls, a love-seat and two antique cushion chairs. There was a young woman running the show, and she spoke to us entirely in English. We realized people in Barcelona were more likely to speak in English and was the only city where we began speaking in English, instead of attempting Spanish.

Lunch at a restaurant by the sea in Barcelona. We were told at the hostel to head to this area to find the best food. This shellfish is called Navajas.

Two kinds of paella, the one on the left is made entirely of verduras.

And a closer look at one of the little guys in the paella on the right...

In Granada, we were hurrying from the walking tour to Alhambra so we could make it in time to the allotted hour on our tickets. We ate at a cafe-restaurant inside, there were only cold foods available. The gazpacho was quite memorable, but we were too hungry to think about taking pics. Also, our cameras had given out by then. Aric, our tour guide had recommended a place for dinner. Lamb kebabs,gambas al ajillo and calamari were on the menu.

I had read that churros con chocolate was not to be missed in Spain. Don Pepe in Cordoba is quite famous for its churros, at least according to the restaurant where we had our lunch. This restaurant still had a poster of the World cup winning team pasted on its wall, now somewhat faded, in just a year. I took a picture of it too. The churros:

The menu at a tapas place by the road.

In Sevilla, we had lunch with a few others from our hostel, and forgot to take pictures. Here we tried the menu del dia option. The sopa de arroz that was placed in front of Attu was delicious. We had dinner at the public casetas at Fiera de Abril, and we definitely had plenty of croquettas.

Full circle. Before we left to drop Attu at the Barajas airport in Madrid, we ate lunch at the same place by Anton Martin station where we had our first meal in Spain.

Chocolateria San Gines. Chocolate con churros. Enough said.

These are pics from my camera, I will update the post later with pics from the other two.

Update: Attu sent me these photos from her camera. Our meal in Cordoba, at a little cafe-restaurant where the waitress later recommended Don Pepe when we asked about a churros place.

The only food worries I had were beef-related, as I wanted to make sure I didn't consume any. So I tried learning the words that can be used for beef in Spanish. Thankfully there are a lot of the dishes in Spain with pescado and/or jamon, so this wasn't too much of a problem. It helped that I had tried learning basic words (arroz, pollo, et al) prior to the trip. A little research goes a long way!

Tengo hambre amigos?


Title: Well, I am deviating from my song-themed spain posts for this one.


Robbie said...

yummmmmmmmm .... u took me all the way back to spain again de ..
me practising to eat faster than u guys ... 'll master it bfr May 2012 :P .. he he .. btw, one doubt .. y do i see neeto's hand in most of the pics??? ;) :P

Rush said...

Hehe did I tell you i love your blogger profile pic? You have to eat faster da! Although if you don't, more for me :)

Major posing Neeto is doing no*? :P

*-excuse inglish pliss

Robbie said...

danxxx :) ... n aaama .. neeto, too much !! :P

HKL said...

Ayi! Robbie and Rush will get beating now :) Or rather i'll just eat all your food :)

Btw, i didn't even notice a hand, i had scroll back to to check. As usual food had my undivided attention!

Toni-chan said...

Who can have a bikini diet when I get bloody hungry 10' after dinner thanks to these innocent-looking but evil blog post??! I miss pulpo a la gallega soooo very much!! :'(

It's great to see that you got the most of Spanish diet though! :)

Rush said...

Lol, not to worry Toni, I always feel hungry right after dinner!! Are you dieting? Hehe I am being all diet-master for my cousin now, so I can help compensate for the evil blog post, by being hawk-like over your consumption too! The food was soooo awesome, quite unlike anything I had ever eaten.. I miss it now :)