Madrid Spain is one of my favorite cities in the world. Cosmopolitan and full of history, outstanding museums and sites, and INCREDIBLE FOOD (the male flamenco dancers are pretty amazing too but we will leave that for another post :)!!!
The coolest thing about the Spanish is that they start their day at about 10, stop for lunch around 1, siesta from 2-4, work from 4-8, and then their evening begins. They adore being out and about, young and old, it doesn’t matter. It is SO refreshing to see kids playing in the streets while the parents visit and take in a meal or a stroll. I totally dig it.
Typically, they don’t just hit a restaurant for dinner although, that may be slowly changing with the influx of tourism but instead, start out by “tapa-hopping”. This is so awesome….they go to a local tapa bar, order a sangria or drink of choice, pick a tapa or two (small appetizers), share with friends and then off to the next spot. This goes on till about 10 or 11 when it comes time to gather at a restaurant for the main course. After this, dancing till 2 or 3……gotta love it!
On my first night in Madrid, we decided to try this ritual; I mean, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do, right?” Plus we are suckers for trying whatever is new and part of the culture. Anyway, we made it through with flying colors for the first 4-tapa stops and I am thinking “seriously, this rocks, I must have been a Spaniard in my last life!” Partying for 6 hours every night? What????
Time came for the main course and our hotel concierge led us to the direction of paella, the infamous rice dish of Spain. We pranced off to the hot spot only to be stopped about a block away with a line of giddy and hungry patrons. We asked the group in front of us if this was “normal” or should we try another place less busy? They looked at one another and giggled, I am sure thinking….AMERICANS, and answered back that all of Madrid comes out at night so hunker down and grab another sangria! NICE!! I can follow directions…
Another 2 sangrias and we finally made it into the restaurant to be seated at a cozy table bustling with laughter and pan after pan of mouth-watering paella. We were salivating!
We perused the menu consisting of 50+ varieties of paella, each one made to order, and realized we probably still were at least an hour away from chow time and it was nearing midnight. It wasn’t helping that the flowing glasses of sangria throughout the tapa bars and in line were finally catching up to me and my eyes were getting so heavy that it felt like someone was standing on the lids. Great, I see it now, the paella comes and I fall face first into it, what a rock star partier. Pathetic.
I managed to somehow stay awake and sober up and when the paella was presented to us, we were ready to devour! We stayed classic and ordered the Valencia paella, laced with chorizo, chicken, seafood, veggies, and topped with huge mussels and clams. Not only did it look delicious it was a culinary art piece. It was colorful and carefully crafted and each piece of food was meticulously placed in a methodical order, it was amazing…no wonder it took an hour, it was worth it and we hadn’t even taken a bite. We look at each other and decided if it tastes as good as it looks, we are moving in.
It did and more. We finished it all, it was 2am and dancing would have to wait. —Eatentions