31.01.18 — Journal

Eating in the New Year

Happy 2018! Yes, okay, fine – the timing of this post might be a little off (especially seeing as there’s a blog post which fits right in the middle, you’ll see) but I plan to fill you all in on some general nonsense since I got back from England anyway. When titling the post I had a think for a while to try and figure out what bound everything together, and as usual the only common theme I could find was that of food. Here we go…

As I mentioned briefly just after I’d got back from my festive holiday, I started my time back in Madrid by meeting up with my friend Megan and a couple of her friends who were visiting her from New York and Barcelona. We went exploring the city as usual, and as it was Sunday we found ourselves amongst the hoards of people swarming around the El Rastro Sunday market – a Madrid staple. Once we’d had our fill of the atmosphere, we dived into a nearby Mexican restaurant and tucked into some delicious tacos.

Street art near El Rastro
A delicious platter of goodness

After waving them goodbye it was soon the evening of New Year’s Eve, and I headed to meet another friend and see in 2018 with his family and a friend who was visiting from France. We had a lovely night and got along really well, such that a couple of days later we met up and had even more tacos and a (slightly more sober) chat. I shall spare you more pictures of tacos – some of you might be feeling peckish and I don’t want to ruin anybody’s New-Year-New-Me diet.

Around the same time I started back at work, where a mystery late Christmas gift to the studio arrived when a big fancy coat showed up from seemingly out of nowhere. Having found it on the coat rack, we asked around (even putting up flyers on our street) but nobody came along to claim it, so we made the most of the opportunity to don the oversized leopard-print monstrosity. Here’s my attempt at looking regal with a cardboard crown we also happened to have lying around…

God save our gracious Ollie.

God save our gracious Ollie

The winter climate has also been treating me as I wander back home from work, as the sunsets here seem to always manifest in rather spectacularly colourful compositions. To make the most, one night I went for a wander up at the African temple next to my office, where I could look out over the west of the city and unwind in the breeze.

Looking up whilst leaving work
Looking down the road
A fountain, the temple and the city
The sun sets on the Temple of Debod

My culinary adventures aren’t just restrained to life outside of the Erretres office however, as a colleague recently insisted I try a local dish which is basically fresh cheese topped with honey. I remarked that it didn’t sound too good, but I had to take it back the next day when I was presented with a bowl of said dessert and I actually rather enjoyed it.

Having been introduced to a typical local dessert, I felt like I should introduce the guys at the office to a bit of British sweet culture. Seeing as I was to make a lemon sponge for my mum’s birthday down in Murcia, I made another and brought it along for everyone to try at the office…

The cake is cut

The cake went down a real treat in the office, and I have been told I have to follow it up with some traditional Spanish torrijas pretty soon as Easter draws closer and closer. No pressure then – I should never have made them for everyone two years ago when I first interned in Spain!

Anyway, here’s where this post gets a bit weird, for here lies the gap when I went down to Murcia to see my family, which I have already covered in a post you can jump to by clicking here. Check it out or pretend you have read it already, and we’ll now move on to what I’ve been up to since I arrived back in Madrid. Here we go…

The first day back in the office after my mini holiday ended in heading into the city to meet up with Thuy once more (now we’ve seen each other in Leeds, London and Madrid!), as she was on a fleeting visit to the capital. We had a lovely catch up over arepas and then chocolate a la taza, a local type of hot chocolate which is so thick you can stand a spoon up in it. I tried an orange infused one and it was just divine.

Looking up in the big city
Orange chocolatey goodness

This weekend just gone I headed out to do a few bits and bobs and see the sights of the city with some friends, including a trip down to IKEA for meatballs and hot dogs, a disappointing visit to a lake which has been drained and is no longer there (oops) and a visit to Retiro park to check out a cool exhibition currently being shown in the Palacio de Cristal. A series of names was written on the floor with letters made of water, and they slowly filled and ebbed away as we wandered amongst them. It was pretty cool and must have needed some insanely intricate plumbing!

Wet words appear from nowhere
The exhibition space

On Sunday evening we finished up by checking out a concert in an alternative art space in the south of the city, but soon retreated to a local café to catch up over coffee, and planned our very important Tuesday evening meeting.

Quirky interior design
A sunset as seen from the south

The meeting, which took place yesterday, is part of our tradition of meeting up to share cakes and all manner of sweet desserts, and so once again I was charged with creating my third lemon sponge cake in a month. It went down well once more, but after cake and a burger from one of my favourite local spots, I headed (or should I say rolled) home and after another day of work I have finally managed to sit down in my flat and get this post sorted.

I update you with urgency for good reason however, as come next Monday I’ll have more photos and stories to share once I’ve returned from Asturias. Once again I’ll be hopping on a train on Friday evening and heading northwards to spend the weekend with Kevin and plenty of other friends, and there’ll surely be plenty of cider and the local cachopo dish to be had. Here’s looking forward to that!