Gofio – posh Canarian food

Yeah. I’ve sold out. I ain’t keepin’ it real no more
This is definitely not an old skool menu del dia restaurant. Quite the opposite. It’s like a restaurant from The Trip. There’s dishes that come with foam, there’s dishes that get injected in front of you, you get instructions with each course. and there are eight courses of tiny but delicious weird dishes.
We felt like we should be constantly doing impressions. But I find that gets a bit wearing when professional impressionists do it, so the fifth time a scrote like me says “No, Mister Bond, I expect you to die!” you’re actually wishing you could die. “What do you mean Flash Gordon approaching?”…impressions are even worse when you have to say who you are trying to be…”What’s that supposed to mean, Scott?” (Guy Pearce in Neighbours)

So, this restaurant is in Huertas (or if you prefer..Lavapies Alta Norte) and it ain’t cheap. But i’m assured by my brother that for this sort of high class food in the UK you’d be paying an arm and a leg for this sort of an experience. And as everybody there is on zero hour contracts, you’ll need those arms and legs…even though you’d still be considered fit for work and sent back to poundland without them.

this is going to be hard to write about as there were 8 courses and wasnt completly sure what any of them were…mainly when the male waiters brought them over and insisted on telling us about the dish in very difficult to understand English. The female waiters were quite happy to explain the dishes in their native tongue, which made them much easier to understand. I wasnt too worried about what the male weighters were rabbiting on about as they had checked for alergies beforehand (and i’m deathly alergic to all nuts and all dirty bombs. and killer sharks. and i can’t breath in space. not allergic but i dont like beer over 6 per cent. think i got everything covered there)
Basically you have 3 options…they are all tasting menus…menus degustation. you can have short menu of 6 plates/courses, 8 plates/courses or ten. we went for the middle one. 35euro. Bottle of white wine from Lanzarote

first course…now this is easy….chicken soup. I’m sure they’d done something else to it than just chicken soup. Was delicious. “We took a chicken and made it fight a bear. an angry bear like in that film with Leonard Di Capprio. Then we got the chicken to appear on celebrity big brother and get off with an ex-wag and come at least third. Then, and only then, did we turn him into soup. Enjoy!”


 
 
 

next course/plate was a scallop with a foam of something delicious…in a sauce of delicious.

next plate/course was a pie of something, goat maybe. and injected with rabbit salmorejo…which is not salmorejo you know, there’s not tomato in it. there was something about the green veg it was served on and we were warned that we would be shown the door if we didnt eat the greens. fair enough

really not sure what the next thing was. Was maybe pork inside a damson style thing. with a sauce made of super concentrated baby squid

absolutely no idea. was nice though. the crispy thing on top was made from corn. i think. oh the wee gobs of sauce were made from avacado

Octopus. with a sauce. very delicious.

meat

this was the last “salad” course….he meant “savoury”. think it was goat stew with something on top and a slice of strong sheep’s cheese to the side

Pudding one. Lemon mouse thing with mint

pudding two. mine was different to my partner’s. mine was sort of chocolaty. thing the other one had evil nuts in it

all in all, i cant see myself eating there regularly. 115euro for 8 courses for two people and two bottles of lanzarote wine (very nice by the way…sort of smokey and dry) but was definitely a positive experience which i highly recommend. just dont make sure you dont sit next to a pair of dicks doing crap impressions

Meson Valle del Jerte

I once met a woman, no bear with me. This woman said “I don’t like menu del dias!” which to me is a bit of a strange thing to say….i can imagine someone saying “i dont like cheese” and not liking cheese….but if you said “I don’t like lunch” that, to me, is a bit weird. I have a feeling she didnt really know what a menu del dia was and was just repeating something she’s heard someone say, as she kept asking questions like “how many courses do you get?” “do we really get all this for 10euro?”
As i have mentioned, the menu del dia and our very way of life is being eroded and there are some areas of Madrid where it’s nie on impossible to find a proper menu del dia. and even in a civilised place like lavapies-sur (embajadores) they aren’t all over the place at weekends. So when you’re hungry, thirsty, tired and it’s a saturday and the grain of sands left counting down the lunch window are disappearing, it great when you remember a proper Menu Del Dia place is just around the corner.
So i ended up in Meson Valle del Jerte just opposite Frangus just below the rastro. Jerte is a small town near Caceres but for some reason this restaurant has some connection with Portugal. They sell Sagres and Pasteis de Nata, but maybe it’s just because its opposite Frangus and they buy from there.

Look at that! That’s a site for thirsty eyes….not only a full bottle of wine for one person, but a large bottle of Casera to mix with it. To be honest, i generally find myself rationing Casera as much as wine.

 

hell of a lot of seafood paella. i wont be going thirsty or hungry

Baked Bream (Dorada), the fish being baked atop the spuds and veggies. Lovely

oh and pudding. chocolate tart. Didn’t bother taking photo of dessert. it’s just dessert.

Old Skool no frills home cooked Menu del Dia. 14 euro (well, it is a weekend). I was able to get myself home and onto the sofa to siesta till half past seven half listening to a hiphop spotify playlist. Tell me if you had a better saturday!

Anton Martin Market 2nd Floor Restaurant

I was thinking about writing a new blog about the gentrification and hipsterization of Lavapies, gastrofication maybe. And I still might. We’re kind of lucky here at the moment as generally the gentrification hasn’t been overlly negative. Local people haven’t yet been forced to become financial migrants and leave the city centre, the new hipster cafe that charges 2,50 for a cortador opened up in a shop selling equipment for growing hydroponic weed, it didnt take the place of a much loved historic bar. So yeah, we’re not Malasana yet…but it’s bound to happen. We will become a theme park to our past, people will be coming to Lavapies to experience the ethnic mix we enjoy now even though the mix of ethnicities will have been forced out by high prices a long time previously.For the moment, I’m finding the choice to hipsterize or to normalize pretty dope. And the second floor of Anton Martin Market in Lavapies Alta is a striking example

I could go and have bowl of (quite frankly disgusting and weird looking) american sugar and cereal with milk and pay from 5euro for it….or i could go to the corner of the 2nd floor and have a 3 course menu del dia with a bottle of wine for 7. Hmmmm….tough choice

I went for the menu del dia

Full bottle of wine, ice and casera? Check!

1st course…patatas revolconos…I may have mentioned this before. Really? I have? Have I ever mentioned Lovejoy? Well, papayas revolconos are to spanish cuizine what Lovejoy is to UK TV….like only the best thing evarrr!!!Slightly mashed potato with paprika, topped with fresh pork scratchings. Yeah! Genius. Think it must be the only thing the Christians managed to do right

Second course, chicken with “sauce” and amazing-assed chips

 

Think I had ice cream for pudding.

My friends, we are living in the best of times. Enjoy it while we can. Before we’re forced to consume American cereal for lunch

La Cabana Argentina

Was my partner’s birthday so I took them (non gender specific pronoun) for a steak. I’ve walked past this place a few times and did my due diligence and it had good reviews. Also, did a bit of extra research as I’m a nob. Turns out that the best cut of steak to order in argentina is bife de chorizo or strip steak for you angloholics…it’s a cut that is tender but has enough fat to make it tasty. Your tenderloin or solomillo is apparently like shagging a model…looks good from a distance but not really much to it. and is skinny, smokes and does charlie. If a barbecue joint does a good strip steak, apparently you know its a good place. So i thought that even if its a rubbish meal, we’ll at least leave knowledged up about this place.

So obviously we ordered chicken nuggets and strawberry milk shakes. well done!
No… we ordered, well I ordered as I’m the alpha, 500g bife de chorizo en su punto (which is not rare or medium rare…it’s literally to the point…you’re saying…let the meat decide)
chips bien sur.
bottle of end of the world Malbec from Patagonia. a very nice drop yo.
Total was about 100euro for the two of us.

http://lacabanaargentina.com/contact

will definitely go back. but may take a year or so for all that meat to leave my intestines

Coffee in Madrid

I like my coffee like I like my men: hot, bald and slutty

Ok, that doesn’t make any sense. I’m probably just telling you that i drink cofee; I’m bald; I will most probably put out (I tend to let love rule) and in the right light, which is mainly a lack of light and no obvious exit, I could be considered attractive. Depending on how much you’ve drunk and what prescription your glasses that you’ve left somewhere else are.

I think the hipsters have moved on to artisinal beer these days, so I’m on safe ground to write something about coffee. Without being called a hipster, despite living in Lavapies and having a beard. Also, I’m too old to be considered a hipster. No tattoos, no kids, no dog. Guess that makes me a goth. or a hippy or whatever other clique is today’s counter cultural bête noire. I’m probably just a scruffy chav with sophisti-pop tendencies with a passion for Lovejoy, “Africa” by Toto, Soviet art and Come Dine with Me. Don’t think i’m exactly on the zeitgeist.

So, Coffee, Cawfy, CupaJoe,Java…what’s it all about, eh? As an ex-Englishman who became didlyeye culchie Oirish I grew up drinking a mug of tea more often than the jitter juice…but that changed in my early thirties when I left Istanbul and went to live in Lisbon. Fresh milk wasn’t a thing there at that time and nobody sane is going to put UHT milk in tea, are they? so i moved over to C8H10N4O2. Not a bad descicion to be honest, as it turns out that by the far the betterest coffee in the world is served in Portugal. A stint living in the south of Italy kept the coffee monkey on my back, so it was a bit of a shock when I moved to Madrid, 14 years ago now, and drank coffee here. Jesus, how do they make it so bloody aweful? Thankfully, some people are actually getting the hang of it and there are places you can find that serve half decent coffee.

Some basic rules:

  • This isn’t Italy, don’t feel confind by Italian rules of decorrum. You can have a coffee with milk after 10am if that’s your jam. Nobody is going to be reporting a dangerous maniac to the popo.
  • If you want your hot beverage to be more than tepid, you’ll have to make sure you ask for your milk to be muy caliente. Like my men….
  • If you want to be able to taste the coffee in your relaxing cafe con leche, ask for it to be largo de cafe.
  • Look for a sign showing they serve either Portuguese coffee (eg. Delta) or Italian Coffee (eg. Lavazza or Illy

 

Places that serve nice coffee in the centre of Madrid


Cafelito
(near Plaza Agustin Lara)

Mercadillo Lisboa (in Lavapies market)

Go on…have a custard tart and a small glass of vinho do porto or a glass of Licor Beirão

Taberna Tirso de Molina

(Delta coffee)

Bar La Piola (Calle Leon)

Mas Corazon (opposite Anton Martin Market)

if you’re Hank Marvin…order a pincho of their amazing tortilla…you get a fair old wack.

La Cana (on the way down towards Reina Sofia)

they do a lot of various (expensive) fruit juices too. Illy coffee.

*all the photos came off the old there internet, raining so i couldnt be going out and taking fotos myself. mianly from the locations own facebook or tripadvisor page

** new mac and new keyboard, got an english keyboard and so the punctuation has got me all a bit confused. so add in any necesarry punctuation using your own imagination.

The dark side of gentrification

Seems like half of Madrid has today off…hope they worked last Saturday like I did to warrant it. Means almost every restaurant full so I’m in the back up to my back up to my back up..but was running late and my window of lunch opportunity was closing. About as old skool and friendly as you can get. No frills, no Wi-Fi and bad phone connection but the telly on so you’re not completely disconnected with the outside world. Reasonably priced at 9,50€ for 3 courses with bread and wine….

I had the traditional inexpensive menu del día first course of Cuban rice (rice, two fried eggs and tomato sauce)

Main course, bacalao a la riojana (big chunk of loin of cod with a tomato and pepper sauce..with chips)

And I’ll probably have pudding…fuck pudding, but if I have coffee i won’t be able to siesta.

But look at this picture and see what is worrying me…

Yeah..a half bottle of wine. What is this…world war two rationing? Sharia law?

I worry that we’re becoming Malasaña and our traditional way of life is on the way out. I notice the new cereal bar doesn’t do a menu del día….jus’sayin’…slippery slope innit.

Don’t panic…all is not lost…they still gave me free aperitif. Phew

Calle Lavapiés

La Polonesa

Summer is long gone, so I’ve started feeling a bit ridiculous walking around with my enviable beach body. It’s getting bleedin’ chilly so I thought I needed to work on my draw dropping curves. What better way to do that than get some carbs down me. Now where can I find stodgy food aside from 98% of Spanish food? Something to put some meat on my bones and reduce this infernal cold..I know…northern european food, or better yet, eastern european food. A colleague told me about this Polish restaurant not far from the epicentre of Madrid. It’s in Pacifico/Menendez Palayo…a barrio I have previously mentioned as a hidden gem of a barrio for eating and drinking out…and only a 5 minute walk from Atocha.
I should mention my relationship with Poland. I’m from North Notts and we’ve had a large Polish population there since they came over to help the allies defeat fascism, and while Elizabeth II was practicing her zieg heils in the mirror while wearing some godaweful hat paid for by the tax payer, Poles living in Britain were either flying Spitfires in the Battle of Britain or they were mining coal to assist the war effort. I went to a catholic school so we were mainly Paddies or Poles. This is back in the day, before Rupert Murdoch and the Hitler supporting owner of the Daily Heil decided that they needed to demonise Poles while taking a short breath from making up stories about Islam. Not sure why they decided to demonise eastern europeans, but I suppose it’s the same as any target for these scumbags…less of them and easier to identify as they actually have skills, speak more than one language and are actually hard at work…unlike, say, your Nicholas Faräge type who has never done a proper day’s work in his life and has no obvious skill or talent. Also, if you can tell stupid people that they are being attacked by “others” they won’t notice the actual attacks to their way of life by the greedy priviliged natives…such as selling off the post office, the NHS, the land regestry, child protective services for fuck sake (which will be renamed “Child PRODUCTIVE servicing Inc” and a proportion of abused children will be sold off to a paedophile ring of British aristocrats. No…i definitely didn’t mention anyone whose name was Andrew Prince or anything similar)
Anyway, long and short of it. I grew up among British Poles and we lived quite happily together before they became enemies of the state. I went on a short holiday to Krakow when I was in my 20s…this was in the days before cheap air travel so I went by train as it was cheaper.
What I noticed about Poland as the train crossed over from germany into poland was that it seemed like we’d suddenly travelled back 50 years in time. The fields were suddenly being ploughed by oxen rather than tractors and there were far more carts going down the nearby street than 4b4s. The buffet car of the train suddenly had an actual stove and they were selling hot food rather than microwaived food or crisps….and you could afford it! and a beer!
The week or so I spent in Krakow, I generally ate in a mexican restuarant because i could afford to and it wasn’t something i could ever hope to do back in London, and in my head i liked mexican food. Also, they had really good looking waitresses in the Mexican restuarant….i think they were poles but at the time I’m not sure if i’d have noticed any difference between polish and mexican.

Fast forward to the present day and i can get by in Mexican and can order a beer in Polish (well, just by saying “beer” and holding the bottle up and moving it from one side to the other with my fingers and thumb to show that the glass bottle is empty). A colleague at work told me ages ago about this polish restaurant not far away from my gaff and recommended it. Today is a holiday in Madrid Capital (because of a statue of the Virgin Mary and Jesus that was found buried in the ground. No, don’t laugh…I don’t turn my nose up at a day off work, so keep your titters to yourself!) so i thought i’d try it out.
It’s called La Polonesa (The Polish) so i don’t suppose there are many polish restaurants in madrid to confuse with it.

http://restaurantelapolonesa.es/restaurante/menu-platos-principales-madrid

I thought I was ordering 2 starters…but the light was poor and I’m still not in the habit of taking my glasses out with me, because i very rarely need them. Turns out I ordered two main courses, which might explain why i was full up after the first and had to have 90% of the second to take away in a doggy bag. Because it was a holiday, there was no menu del dia. Hence my strange order and beer instead of wine. To be fair, i’d have more confidence in polish beer than polish wine….call me a rascist.
For my first main course i had the meat pierogi which are stuffed, steamed pies similar to dimsun but way bigger and fuller and came attop fried onions. They were really nice.

For my second main course, I ordered the bigos….which i remembered avoiding in Poland itself but had a bowl of it on the train between Krakow and Berlin, with a cold beer. And it was delicious. a hearty meat and smoked sausage stew with sauerkraut. 20 or 25 years later and in a (stationary) restaurant on the other side of europe, it was still delicious….but just way way way too much of it. If i hadn’t got it put in a doggy back, i’d still be there trying to get through it

wasn’t cheap as i was dining ala carte like Kanye might. two large main courses and two large (pint) bottles of Polish “okocim” beer…21€…though my lunch to take to work tomorrow is sorted too.

La Falda de Lavapiés

Ok, sorry about the ranting and the non-Madrid based eating and drinking. Back in my comfort zone now. You fuckers didn’t want to hear me sing my truth anyway.

Now…look at this photo and tell me what problem you see

I won’t insult your intelligence. If you know anything about how to live life and aren’t clinically insane (no shame in it) it’s more than obvious.
The salad was really nice…i’m not ashamed to tell you I really like quinoa and also everything else it came with was calm…cucumber, tomato, red onion, a touch of mint, crunchy bread crumbs. shitload too much salt in it, though. I’d never imagined or seen people put salt in salad until I came to Spain. Love of salt may explain why hypertension is so popular in Iberia. Can’t just be me making it cool.
For the seriously slow or those that just don’t know anything about how to live properly, what do you notice about the main course (beef-burger made of castrated male cow, I had it well done so i couldn’t hear the screams of the vanquished, tortured, humiliated and murdered cow. was nice)

Yeah obvious, wasn’t it, And you knew exactly what was going to happen from the first photo.
To be honest I’ve not really seen much negative about the gentrification of this barrio. I bought the DaveCave© before gentrification started here….and it has mainly meant that shitty bars/cafes have become nice bars or less shitty bars. La Falda was an odd local, as it was the first time that a shitty old man became a hipster place briefly before turning back into a shitty old man bar and recently became a fairly decent gastro-bar and has been getting a good reputation for platos, pinchos and tapas. I have heard that in Malasaña, where gentrification and hipsterification has really taken hold, that it almost impossible to get a menu del dia. I certainly don’t want Lavapies to suffer the same fate. I don’t really get this thing of just giving you one glass of wine for a 3 course menu. This is Spain and cheap wine is cheaper than cheep, it’s cheaper than tap water. How can you make one glass of wine last 3 courses? You could hide it, you could keep it on the other side of the building, you could maybe order a glass of wine that you really don’t like (but I’m not sure that exists…outside of the UK or parts of what used to be the Ottoman empire)…it’s just ridiculously tight and means I’m much less likely to return here. It’s not that I need a whole bottle of wine. But I want a whole bottle of wine. Or at least not have to sip a glass of wine so slowly that you’d think it was the only drinkable liquid I had and I was trapped on some sort of lifeboat in the middle of an ocean surrounded by dave eating sharks.
So, get it together yo
here is their facebook page if you want more actual information….like the address, or photos…the sort of stuff that I’m way to busy
https://www.facebook.com/La-falda-de-Lavapiés-626682344140720/

12 years in Madrid


This has very little to do with Eating or Drinking in Madrid, but it’s my blog and I’m not confined to labels. Don’t you call me a Cisgendered heterosexual male. I don’t accept labels, I’m just, like, a person?
I just read this plog post about a bloke’s 12 years in Madrid, and although he considers himself an “expat” and I consider myself an “immigrant” and I didn’t always agree with him, it still struck a chord and I wondered: “What have I learnt in my 12 years here in Madrid?” My first answer was a bit Paul Daniels…”not a lot”
http://www.expatmadrid.com/2016/10/21/my-life-expat-madrid/
but then I thought about it and I started to think that maybe I did have something to say, even if it is only myself listening. And even I tend to ignore myself

2 warnings:

People can TAKE offence but that’s their choice, I’m not MAKING offence…it just doesn’t collocate. These are my opinions, they may not be well thought out or even thought out at all, but nobody likes opinions if they don’t agree with their own. And opinions are not facts. Mind you, people don’t like facts if they contradict their own opinions.

In the “relationships” section I might infer that I have had carnal knowledge. Now, if you know me or are related to me, or even know what I look like, this inference might put you off the whole idea of what myself and Lionel (Richie not Messi) call “dancing on the ceiling”

So you might want to stop reading this now, if you haven’t already.

If you’re sitting comfortably,I’ll begin


Price/Cost

 

 

 

In Madrid, at least, there is little corrolation between the price/cost of something and the price/cost of the same or similar thing.
A menú del dia for example…the food on a 7€ menú could well be superior and more abundent than that of a 13€ menú. You might just get a glass of wine with the 13€ menú but a whole bottle witht the 7€ menú. If you’re in the north of Spain that wine might well be drinkable or even nice, if you’re in Andaluzia that wine might come with a choice of fizzy lemon or casera to mix with.
Before I bought my flat I put an offer in on a flat 6 doors down. The offer, thankfully, was turned down and wasn’t long before I found my actual flat…nicer than the first and €30k cheaper.
Don’t take this as a fact which relates to everything…I’m pretty sure that a 6€ a night hotel room won’t be as nice as a 150€ a night hotel room. And I’m thinking those ageing sex workers on Calle Cruz aren’t charging huge amounts of cash for their services, despite the decades of experience they may have

Language

There is sometimes a power struggle about which language to communicate in.
Chill!
If a waiter replies to you in broken English, don’t take it as a slight upon your amazing Spanish pronunciation, impressive vocabulary and remarkable grammatical control…it’s just, like me, you have a stupid fucking guiri face and the waiter doesn’t really expect you to speak Spanish…even though you’ve just said something to him/her in Spanish. Or maybe the waiter doesn’t get much chance to practice their English. Maybe he/she wants to impress their boss or co-workers. Maybe they just like speaking English. You don’t know and it doesn’t really make any difference to you so don’t take it as a dis. You only really need to change back to Spanish if the waiter doesn’t seem to understand your English. Could be your stupid accent coming out of your stupid face.
If they give you an English menu, it probably won’t make sense to anybody at all, so poiltely ask for a Spanish menu. You’re not going to know what any of those fish are anyway because you couldn’t afford to eat them in your English speaking country.
Getting annoyed by people speaking English to you is just you showing your own insecurity.

Waiters in an Indian restaurant is trickier. You’re not sure if not speaking Spanish to them might offend…but trust me, it’s quicker and easier for everybody involved if you put your ego back in your pram for a minute and order a “chicken dhansak” rather than insisting on ordering “pollo muy sabroso con ajo, trozos de piña, lentejas indias y salsa agridulce, ligeramente picante”
Also, you’re better off making sure that the waiter thinks you’re British rather than Spanish, and will know you would appreciate flavour in your curry. It is our cuizine after all…you’re going to want to impress your Valenciano friend with your paella more than impress your friend from Hull with your paella. Yes, a Hull paella can be served with chips and can contain chicklen nuggets.
/ticks off “yorkshire” from list of people to offend. it’s going well so far/


Relationships

 

 

 

I should start by just saying…DON’T DO IT! YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE AND YOU’RE A LONG TIME
DEAD
but, we’ll get there eventually.

I had a date arranged with someone not long ago, no…honestly! it’s true! and a colleague said “she’ll just be going out with you so she can improve her English”
Kind of a nonsense thing to say and was only said to put me down. You could replace the 2nd clause of the sentence with any reason a person might go on a date with another person
She’s only going out with you because you’re really attractive
She’s only going out with you because you have a hot body that just won’t stop
She’s only going out with you because you’ll cook her delicious food
She’s only going out with you so she can get that good good lovin’
She’s only going out with you because you’re 8th in line to the throne of Sweden
She’s only going out with you because she thinks you’re good mates with Matt Damon
She’s only going out with you because damn right your milkshake tastes better than mine
Ok…I’ll stop now.

Nobody tends to start a relationship or is attracted to a person based on just one thing. It’s a composite of more than one thing. Unless you’re a really tall bloke…she’s only going out with you because you’re really tall. But don’t be disheartened…maybe she’s also going out with you because she’s worried about having to get things off a high shelf.
So don’t worry why he or she is going out with you, it might be partly because you speak English, it might be your milkshake. A lass was once going out with me because she lived in Mosteles but worked in Madrid, so staying over at my place meant she didn’t have to commute. Well, she didn’t say that, that was what my low self esteem was screaming at me.

Having said that…a relationship with a local has so many advantages: they can help you with language and beauracracy; they might know things of historical interest from their town/city; they might have access to a property outside Madrid which you can stay in free of charge; they might have access to a car to take you to one of the many places which public transport ignores; and essentially they connect you to this wonderful country in which you have decided to live.
That aside, my advice is to avoid a relationship at all costs.
Being one of a pareja makes you 50% less of a person. That’s science! Or is it mathematics? Iunno, i failed science and maths at school
I did pass RE (Religious Education) though, and I can tell you this…here in Catholic, Southern Europe a relationship is like a fucking sacrament. It isn’t just one person seeing another person until one or both of those people want to stop seeing the other person or would prefer to see another/other person/people or have a bit of time alone…the seperation of a pareja (or the end of “a beautiful love story” if I’m being Italian) is a traumatic ocassion.
You give away 50% of your personality but you suddenly gain a bunch of friends that you don’t necessarily like or would ever want to spend any time with but are your partner’s friends; you’ve suddenly got yourself a father-in-law to frown at you and distrust you and to share his ridiculous fascist views with; you’ve even got yourself a grandmother for the first time in your life.
Sorry, too late! There’s no way out now. I did try to warn you. And ending the relationship now is like culpable homicide. “And you have to choose today of all days to do this?! It’s 320 days before Xmas/San Isidro/ the 75th anniversary of my parents sitting next to each other at school/ our 3 month anniversary. How could you?! Daddy was right about you”
My advice is…and you’ve got this far, so stick with me….if you’re so desperate for a bit of affection, look after somebody’s dog for the day. If you’re so depserate for a bit of the other, go on tinder/grinder.
(Tinder advice
“No hook ups”/“No ONS”=“I’m desperate for sex with a stranger, but I feel guilty about having sex”
“Impossible to describe myself”=“I’m on the run from the CIA” or “I’m dull as dishwater”;
“love laughing”=“i’m a sociopath and like to see people fall over”or “I just never know what the fuck is going on cos i’m fucking stupid”;
“love travelling”= “I want you to know that I have enough money to go on holiday” or “I’m dull as dishwater and I think that having been to A,B or C will hide this because I talk about A,B or C so much” or, of course “I’m in a maximum security prison, please send file in a cake…not that i eat cake because i’m no fatty”
Photos of people doing yoga=that person wouldn’t walk 5metres without taking a taxi + they smoke and therefore stink.
Photos of someone skiing means that person wants you to know that their family have money so that as a child he/she regularly went skiing and definitely isn’t a pleb.

not that i’ve ever been on tinder. i’m so physically attractive i can just pull on the #27 bus home. nobody admits ever being on tinder the same way as nobody admits to voting conservative/PP or masturbating or masturbating while thinking about Donald Trump/Franco/Thatcher/Rajoy. To be fair, the drivers of the #27 bus are kamikazes so anybody who makes it to Atocha is so happy to be alive that they may even consider sleeping with you. #45 is a useless)

If, like many guiris here in Madrid, you are an English teacher…you’re in luck. A relationship with a native will mean you can afford not to share a flat with another English teacher or a University student. You’ll rarely see your parej@…they’ll be in bed by the time you get home (and not in a good way) and will have left for work by the time you wake up (and…not in a bad way). Make sure you’re not expected to ever ever go for Sunday lunch with your partner’s family…you’ll never get out of it after the first time and then that’s every Sunday you have off taken away from you. The food will be stodgy, lacking in taste but extremely salty. Don’t have more than one glass of wine in case the family think you’re an alcoholic and stage an intervention. ¿Qué es eso que está diciendo  abuelita? No, todavía está muerto Franco

Rather you than me. I’d even suggest some sort of ridiculous long term lie that begins from the very start of your budding, badly thought out relationship…maybe a lacrosse team that only plays on a Sunday afternoon. yeah, it would take too long to explain what lacrosse is and why you, as a cisgendered male (possibly…i don’t want to apply labels), are playing it. Of course, you might need a back up for this if your potential parej@ wants to see you play…do you know enough people to pretend to be playing lacrosse? do you have/need any equipment? listen, this is on you…i’m just trying to help. maybe lacrosse is a bad example

 

Shitholes

The UK is full of shitholes. Trust me, I grew up between Mansfield and Worksop. Ireland has plenty of shitholes too…my mum lives in Ennis and that’s not far from Limerick. And have you ever been to Dublin’s fair city? it ain’t so pretty. The US, I’m sure, has shitholes too and they’ll be shiholes full of white supremacists packing heat. Believe it or not, as much as I love Spain, it has its fair share of shitholes. Trust me, I wrote this while waiting for a train in Palencia train station…and I arrived at the train station 3 hours before my train left because the hope of leaving Palencia was more attractive than the thought of just spending another 3 hours in Palencia.
Going back to my previous well thought out, consice and well written segment about relationships, if you insist on having a relationship with a local, make sure they are from or have family living in a nice place rather than in a shithole. Somewhere that you might see youself visiting without any sort of attached duty. So make sure you don’t have a relationship with someone who is from or lives in La Mancha or Castilla Leon, or a small place in Andaluzia. There might be nice places there, but chances are they aren’t from that nice place, so make sure you do your research before you make a terrible mistake.
Never believe anything about someones hometown
Places you should never visit:
Mansfield 
Worksop (unless you like crack and you’re on a budget)
Nottingham (unless you’re going to see the famous football team play awful football)

Derby (as the train draws into Derby there’s a sign above the platform telling you that it’s Derby. And under the name “Derby” “is shit” has been written there for about 25 years…I guess nobody thought they should really clean it off…being so apropos)
Croydon
Bracknell (you see horrific pictures of families fleeing war-zones and yet people still live in Bracknell. Poor fuckers)
Santander (you can tell me a million times that the area around it is lovely, but that’s the area around it not the city and how am I going to get to the area around it?)
Anywhere in the district of Toledo that isn’t actually Toledo city (Yes, I’m looking at you Talavera, Torrijos, Escalona, Maqueda…absolute shitholes. there should be a stronger word for shithole. And you’d think..”this is such a shithole at least it’ll be cheap”…but it ain’t…a beer or a glass of shitty wine will cost you the same or more as the same thing in Madrid. Maybe you’re paying extra for the flies)
Alicante (95% of the restaurants are pizzerias or kebab shops. but I did actually eat decent arroz here)
Palencia (if you’re into Christ crucified, this is your place. Not sure how much he’d like it if he ever came back. The people I met were nice, and in general the coffee was better than in Madrid…but that’s a bit like saying you prefer the library facilities in Kabul to those in Aleppo)

Tapas

What is a tapa?

If you ask me, a tapa is an aperitvo that is given to you free of charge when you order an alcoholic drink. You don’t choose your tapa, you take it or you leave it. “Tapar” is a verb which means “to cover” and the tapa was originally used as a small plate to cover your drink from flies while advertising the bar/inns menu to the mainly illiterate diners (if you ordered a full portion you might want to ask for it with or without extra flies)

But don’t you choose your own tapa and have to pay for it?

No, that’s a pintxo/pincho. Obviously this may not be any sort of dictionary definition, but it’s what I consider to be the difference between a tapa and a pintxo/pincho (same pronunciation…i’m using both spanish and basque spelling because i’m like so inclusive an’ shit)

Run that by me again?

Ok, imagine you’re a UKIP/Drumpf supporter. Yes, you can cover your head in tinfoil and wear old ladies underpants and hide under the table if it helps you get into character.
So, you’re currently chanelling a UKIPper/Drumpf-birther…how do you tell the difference between a wife and a sister? yes, you get no choice about your sister and although you have a very very limitted choice of non-related females to have disappointing sexual relations with, you do have a choice, at least you can choose not to be with that person…but if you choose to be with them, you have to buy a drink.
so…the tapa is your UKIP sister that you’re stuck with but at least you don’t have to pay for; the pincho/pintxo is your UKIP wife whom you have chosen from the gene pool that is glad you’re not in it

(little bit of politics there! thank you very much. Little bit of observational comedy now…5ps eh? what are they all about?)

So why not just go for pinchos/pintxos?

 

 

Are you slow? You have to pay for the pintxos! And not really a very affordable way to eat your tea if you’re a working person and have to pay your taxes and get by on the pathetic salary that remains. If you’re not all that hungry and one pintxo will do you, then go for it.

The tapa you get tells you how the gods feel about you

 

 

Sometimes I’m given no tapa at all…because I have a stupid guiri face so fuck me and the horse a rode in on. In those cases I shake my fist at the gods (obviously i don’t complain, because i’m british-ish and we prefer to keep that sort of thing inside and just feel afronted and disrespected)… I probably wouldn’t do this if any gods actually existed cos they’d have powers and would smite me in some way…the one in the bible, Valdomort I think she’s called, would proably cover me in boils.

If the gods are smiling upon you you might get:

  • some pork scratching
  • some white anchovies
  • some calamari
  • some/a meatball(s)
  • some prawns
  • some patatas brava

 

If the gods are thinking you’re a bit of a dick you might get:

  • crisps (something i can happily live without. nice in a sandwich, but generally a waste of time)
  • peanuts (yeah, thanks…why don’t you just put a gun to my head and shoot me)
  • russian salad (what did the russians ever do to the spanish that they have this disgusting “salad” dubbed “russian”?)
  • olives (now, i like olives well enough but as a tapa it’s disappointing)
  • mussels (I like mussles, but i’m not going to voluntarily eat a mussel that’s been sitting at a madrid bar when madrid hits +37º)
  • any traditional Madrileña food…which is mainly fried offel or offel in sauce. pigs ears for example, the sauce is nice enough…but why do you want to eat a gristly bit of pigs ear if you don’t have to?

Where can I find decent tapas?

Not in the touristic centre of Madrid, that’s for sure…nor anywhere near any part of Barcelona. In Madrid, make sure you cross over Calle Segovia, going away from Plaza Mayor

  • El Tigre – edge of Chueca, behind Gran Via. Famous for huge tapas. Explains why it’s always packed with students. and why the caña isn’t that cheap. you won’t need to be ordering dinner though. they’ve opened up two new Tigres in the same part of town.
  • Taberna Tirso de Molina – you have to leave it completely in the hands of the gods. you can almost guarantee that if you’re really wanting a tapa that you’ll get crisps. You’re not in the slightest bit hungry or are just having a drink before you go for lunch, you’ll get pork scratchings.
  • Casa de Asturias, Calle Argumosa – no need to pay for your tea here. 
  • Basically anywhere south of Plaza Mayor that isn’t a poncy place for ponces or a touristy place for tourists. But i make no promises, you have to be right with whichever god or gods you pray/sacrifice to.

Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife

After inventing the internet, I wasn’t sure what to do with it….I thought about just filling it with porn and funny photos of cats but then I decided nobody would be interested in either of those things, so I decided to write about my lunches and call it “a blog”
Fast forward a few years and life has changed…if you look hard enough you’ll find some porn and some funny cat photos on the internet and my “blog” has changed as life has changed.
I’m not as skint as I used to be and I’m more open to leaving the barrio than I used to be and more open to splashing some cash on a good meal.
So, I had a week off work to use up and I was quite happy to just enjoy not being at work…but seemed like a bit of a waste…plus it’s fecking hot in Madrid at this time of year. So i booked myself in to a 5star spa-hotel in Tenerife for a week. the plan was to do nothing all day every day. and that is what i did and it was brilliant, should have doen this years ago. As my hotel room included just breakfast (and what a breakfast!!!) i generally went into the town of puerto de la cruz most evenings and had some great meals. So the aim of this post is to let you know about some of these Puerto de la Cruz restaurants, should you find yourself there and hungry

 

  • Meson los Gemelos

Came here on my first evening and on my last. Lovely looking place inside….is like you’re outside and inside at the same time. good service and about the only place on the island that doesn’t just play cover versions of Beatles songs constantly.
First visit i had the hake and started with the canarian cheese…which was quite tasteless aside from a vague smoket taste. the hake, that also came with papas arrugadas with mojo was impossible to finish as it was huge

Second time i was there i had the conejo con salmorejo…for two reasons, first is that i love rabbit and i love salmorejo….2nd, ordering conejo appeals to my teenage brain (cos in spanish it’s like ordering “pussy”….yeah, hillarious!) not sure how exactly it was salmorejo was more like cacciatore sauce…delicious, but not what I was expecting.

  • Tasca Olvio

nice place. nice staff. facebook clanes it’s open all day but it ain’t (i did my knee in and was having to rely on the free bus back up the hill to the hotel so was wanting to have my tea erlier than i would usually). i had the bacalao with prawns and papas

 

  • La Carta

as everywhere on this island, staff really really pleasant and really good at German…i’m a bit embarrassed that ich habe kein wort deutch sprechen…not even a puta wort of it.

I was going to order the rabbit with salmorejo but the owner (of the restaurant, not the rabbit) explained that it wasn’t on the menu in summer. so i chose the house speciality which was black pasta with langostinos, courgettes, cream and basil. i make a similar dish at home and was a bit wary of spanish pasta as, in general, they don’t really know how to cook it and it’s almost always overcooked…but this was lovely, better than my own. Restaurant has a nice balcony terraza

  • Bodega Julian

I would possibly say that this was the most outstanding meal I had on my trip. I couldn’t decide whether to have the filet of lamb or the “symphony of langustinos” so the waiter suggested i had half portions of both…or half portion of lamb and then if i felt i could manage it, have a half portion of the symphony. genius. what goes well with that? yes, a full bottle of local white wine.

the symphony of langostines

the lamb was amazing, with sweet potatoes underneeth. very very slightly spicy. i’d have asked for the recipe but almost impossible to find lamb in madrid that isn’t just chuletas or piernas

eatinganddrinkinginmadrid was staying at the Hotel Botanico & the Oriental Spa Garden

 

La Tragantúa

Ladies & Gentlemen, lunch fans of all ages, gather around and stop what you’re doing (unless it’s preparing, eating or digesting lunch…or actually gathering around)…we may just have a contender!!
Badila /shakes fist at the sky/ almost killed my blog as its such a good place and easy walking distance from my house…that i almost only ever went there when i could go out for lunch. but yesterday I went to La Tragantúa for lunch. I tried to go there the week before but was full and waitress suggested I come back in an hour…and ain’t nobody got time for that!
what may keep the (pleasant) Badila owner and (pleasant and foxy) waitress awake at night is that…blimey, this place is good…and crikey, this place is slightly nearer to my house…so you never know, i might not go to badila every saturday for lunch.
this place is just off the end of Calle Fucar near Calle Atocha and you wouldn’t necesarily know it was there unless you actually know it was there. and lot of people seemed to, judging by the fact i couldn’t get in last week and was full this week…and an ecletic bunch in there…yanks, english, russians, maybe a spaniard or two. I assume it must be in a guide book or a blog that people actually read. But, bloody good…these guide books and well read bloggers know what they’re talking about.

the menu del dia was 16€…for 3 courses and wine, obvs. which is kind of standard these days for a weekend or a fiesta. i had a that weird looking thing there…which was a tomato covered in basil and buratta cheese. my parner had a vegetable noodle wok thing that apparently had nuts in it, so the gods were smiling on me and let me live another day.

main course was described as “russian fillet turkish style”…now in spain, a russian fillet is made of mince and is like a slightly flattened beefburger with cooked breadcrumbs around it. what “turkish style” could be i had no idea…maybe it would be a very friendly russian fillet unless football was involved, in which case I might have watch myself…maybe it wouldn’t have a huge amount of respect for women, especially if they were blond…maybe it would drive a car like it didn’t care if it lived or died (which, to be fair, wouldn’t be odd as it would be dead already and cooked….and also would have very little difference with a spanish russian filete in that respect)…well, it turned out that turkish style meant that it came with curry sauce. it was really nice and was brilliantly presented so i’m not going to slag it off, even though i lived in istambul for a couple of years and i know my way around the otman mutfak quite well.
i didn’t take photo of dessert…cos it’s only dessert, who cares? couple of things had nuts in them so i had yoghurt with strawberries in it which was really really nice cos it wasn’t sweet at all…was like cheese.
bottle of house white for 7,50€
service was extremely good, polite and efficient. also took my gym bag to put away while i ate their food and sneered at their lack of turkish food knowledge.
highly recommended. you can come round for a siesta at my house after.

Anova Sous-Vide precision cooker

what do you need to cook the perfect steak? yeah, it’s obvious….you need…
a pot filled with water
a sous vide precision cooker

 

an app
a plastic food bag.

obviously.

so, i bought an anova sou vida precison cooker a month or so ago…just cos i have more money than i need and gadgets make me happy. basically, you cook everything in a sealed plastic bag in water…the anova cooker brings it to the correct temperature and tells you when it’s finished…how do you decide what temperature and how long? don’t worry…the app sorts that out….you ask for a recipe, choose one and the anova sorts it out from there…meanwhile you stick whatever you’re cooking onto a plastic bag.
so why is it good 1) it’s a piece of piss, does everything for you
2) cooks whatever you like to perfection…and you can just go to the pub.
aside from how incredibly tender whatever you cook is, the flavour is incredible…because it’s not losing anything while it cooks.

i know exactly what you’re thinking…”yeah…shit just got real!”
and you’d be right. so here’s what i did today…steak.

bought a wee bit of steak from the market in anton martin. made a marinade of garlic, mustard, soy sauce, worcester sauce, bit of chili, salt, pepper and olive oil…whiksed….put the steak in a ziplock bag and poured in the marinade…sealed zip lock while the bag was under water…..so you get the air out of it…and sealed it- left overnight while i went and watched the forces of darkness pip atleti in the champions league final

so…next day…after the usual (w***, shower, breakfast, getting dressed, pissing about on the internet, listening to music)…i fired up the anova…which means plugging it in…and choosing “steak medium rare” on the app on my phone…when the water was at the correct temperature, i put in the bag of meat…and went to the pub. now this part is essential but you don’t have to go to the same pub as me, in fact i’d rather you didn’t. for me is la playa de lavapies on calle argumosa in madrid, but for you could be anywhere.
you can have as many pints as you like because the anova can’t overcook the meat…although i suppose it could run out of water if you were going for a pint drinking record in your local pub. for a medium rare stake it takes 2 hours…so that’s about 3 pints as long as you don’t waste any time talking to people…which i never do.
so then you come home and take the bag out of the water bath…and dry the meat using paper towels….heat up a frying pan and sear the steak…otherwise you’re just eating boiled steak…which sounds nasty but is quite good.

then you sear the steak

 

once the steak was browned all over, i let it rest while i poured some of the marinade into a cup and whisked with olive oil then poured over a salad of arucala, sweet onion, cherry tomato…then sliced the steak

 

and there you go

i’ve had the anova precision cooker a few weeks now and not had anything using it that wasn’t much better than using any other cooker….perfect boiled eggs, increble bacalao, pork loin, tuna, shellfish….i don’t know why i ever bothered to teach myself how to cook!

old skool madriz

I embrace my dave-ness, I embrase my guiri-ness, I even out-guiri my stupid fat face and stupid bald fat head, by wearing super guiri clothes (you might call them sweat pants, i call them sexy pants. i think you’re saying more about yourself than me. sad really. oh and a nottingham forest 2015 shirt, to honour Sir Wes Morgan’s premiership win)…so the fact that i’m at least trying to speak spanish (despite my stupid fat guiri face) should be embraced rather than dissed. I had lunch in one of the oldest, most castizo restaurant in madrid, el lácon in all my guiri finery.
I ordered the rice with cooked onions and wee octopus to start and that went well. tasty but a bit cold

though to be fair, food being hot isn’t important to me. it’s like the way i don’t see colour. except blue.

second course didn’t go so well. the waiter (who was the spitting image of ex-rotheram manager neil redfearn) put a right face on him when i asked for “albóndigas de merlusa en salsa verde”…he looked sad and confused and has to repeat my order back to me exactly as I had said it. to be fair, he’d only been sacked as rotherham manager less than 3 weeks ago, so was maybe a bit early for him to get to grips with the entire menu of 4 main courses

fish meatballs sounds brilliant, what with the “fish” and the “meatballs” partl…..but these were a bit disappointing. way too much flour in them. the green salsa was really nice though. the tiny tiny jug of wine in the photo was actually almost enough.

i had dessert too. i asked what ice cream the ice cream was which confused the ex manager of rotherham united who just told me it was “ice cream”. they charged me 2€ for a chapito. so 10€ plus tip, so 10.50€

As i had the day off to celebrate Sir Wes Morgan’s premiership win (and in lieu of working saturday) and as i was close and was in an old skool mood, I decided to finish off the afternoon with a glass of mansanilla in Bar La Venecia, maybe the most old skool bar in all of madrid.

I rock.

La Chusquery

*i took the photos in this post, which would explain why they’re so shite.
two posts in the same day, i should have a lie down.
amazing how much time you find if you miss mass on a sunday and masturbate slightly less. or quicker, maybe. i joke…i haven’t been to mass in twenty years.

yesterday i went old skool and had lunch in SanBruno, like i’d never been away. same waiters, nice as always…litre and a half of wine, casera and glass with ice all without asking. and a free chupito of patxaran to digest. and west ‘am against arsenal on the telly.
today was like a special day? so went to a posh place. we’d tried to go before but they were having none of it…said they were full or some shit. so yesterday after lunch in bruno i waddled up and booked a table for today.
The maitre-di/waiter had decided that despite more than 25 years in madrid between us, and the fact that i’d bucked it in the old Castellano, that we could only be spoken to in hard-to-understand english and had to order from an english menu that was very hard to follow if you actually spoke english. i’m quite happy speaking to people in english if they want, in fact…most of the time i insist because i’m lazy as fuck….but sometimes, and almost always in a restuarant you just want to ask “¿podemos realizar esta operación en español, que sería más facil?”…which probably sounds like “koood wee perfume thos peration une spaggheti, eat wood bees moo oozy if i say it. i was just pissing by the door”

Anyway, this restuarant is like so hot right now. as in hip. and used to be a nice little local shop for old people just by Plaza de los Carros in La Latina. I remember i used to come in here for a can of beer to drink in the plaza on a monday as there was no popo there, like on a sunday. Not sure what the schtick is in the resturant…but there’s quite a few japanese things on the menu and there are some pictures of japanese style temples on the wall.

my boo started with half cheese plate. came with nuts. ewww. and cheese is basically death anyway, as human adults we’re not really supposed to eat it, the fact we aren’t lactos intolerant is a freak of our DNA in the north of europe.

i had the ceviche of a fish (no point giving us a menu with the fish written in english…we can’t afford to eat fish in the uk so we have no idea what they’re called in english)….was actually delicious….really delicious…almost as nice as the ceviche in anton martin market but 3 times the price.

we both went for whatever it was trying to say on the menu…but it seemed to be galician grass fed dead cow meat. so we ordered that. yum.
i made the mistake of wanting white wine with the meal, because i prefer white wine and red wine gives me a headake. The Alo-Alo style waiter was non too pleased and decided to leave without taking the wine order just so that we had time to have a think about just what we asked. luckily we managed to order a bottle of albariño from another waiter

the grass fed dead cow meat was wonderfully tender and the chips were served in a mini chip frier as they always are these days, everywhere…except, i imagine, in chip shops. the waiter had decided i was obviously just wrong or insane to order the cowmeat well done (it tends to be a better choice in spain…because rare means the cow meat is still running around and medium means the cow has just been stunned for a while)….but i have to give it to him, he was right.
even had pudding…which i didn’t bother to photograph, because who cares about pudding yo?
so…three courses and 2 bottles of albariño wine…was about 90-odd €…i suppose that’s ok if you’re going to insist on going to posh places.

Drinking Beer in Madrid

Well, my bit of Madrid, at least

*none of the photos taken in this post were taken by me
** all of the opinions are mine and “fluid” to say the least.

Hipsters love their beer, almost as much as their tattoos and their facial hair.
Hang on! thinking about it, all those blokes I grew up with were hipsters not North Notts Coal Miners*
(*sounds crazy to younger people…but in the past…britain made things and mined things, rather than running hedge funds, avoiding tax and buying everything from China)

When I came to live in Madrid, 12 years ago now, beer existed but only Mahou or other chemically altered nasty lager beers. and you could spit on the floor and throw anything you liked on the floor in a bar. and smoke at people, and shit on the floor or in the milk or anywhere you liked. They were simpler days.

Madrid is a better place since I came here. Obvs. The bread is still shite and people do still enjoy spitting on the floor and shitting in the milk, but…..but….real beer has arrived, and arrived hard. While having your beard trimmed by a lumbersexual you can look out of the window and see a bar selling artisinal beer from any angle. So here are some places to enjoy liquid bread if you happen to be in the people’s republic of Lavapiés

O.G! La buena pinta. Maybe the first beer shop/bar in Madrid. In Lavapiés market. Sells beer to take away with you or beer to put into yourself there and then. Generally has 4 good beers on tap (between 3,50€ and 5€ a pint). La buena pinta is also involved with 2 other bars close by….

the good one….Bar Casa Zoilo

..one of my favourite old skool bars, now even better as it has at least one IPA on tap and loads in bottles. Reasonably priced.

the not so good…El Pedal. a shame…cos it’s really near my house. Unfortunately, rather expensive (minimum 5€ a pint going up to 7€ or so) and not very comfortable. Staff aren’t particularly friendly either

couldn’t find a picture of the bar. i could probably take one from my balcony, but i’m still in my jim-jams and drinking a mug o’tea. give me a break.
Chinaski

18 different beers on tap from all over the place. Pint of pilsner erquel for 3,50€ if you fancy a decent lager beer. Do check how strong the beer you’re ordering is….i’m not a big fan of anything over 7percent and they have quite a few that are up to 10 or more. I’m still very manly of course.

Cafe Pavon
Next to Teatro Pavon. Was an always empty cafe bar until it became a hipster paradise. No proper beer on tap but they always have a few artisinal beers from madrid in bottles. terrible service, they can’t cope if there’s more than 3 people in the bar so you might be in for a long wait. Also, almost always full of ridiculously attractive people. They should really have a bouncer on the door so people like me aren’t allowed in. For bog lovers, the bogs aren’t great.

(course, make me look stupid googleimages, only have pictures of this bar farely empty)
there is a specialist beard barber opposite but you have to have a booking. and speak english i think, as the barber refused to speak spanish to me. which is his right.

Fai Bistes, Vigo

Happens every holiday, I get sucked into this idea that instead of just being off work and relaxing, that I should go somewhere….because that’s what you’re supposed to do. Don’t let anybody claim that travel makes you interesting…50 times out of 100 it does the oposite, people who go on about travel and how much they love travelling are boring. It’s as boring as public school tory voters doing banter and thinking they’re comedy geniouses. No offense to people who like travelling or people who like bants. But the assumption that travel makes you interesting is a bit like the assumption that being gay automatically makes you good at interior design.
What holiday travel means is, you spend a long time going from A to spend time in B that you don’t know and you don’t spend time in your own bed, but pay to sleep in a more uncomfortable bed in B. Then you get home and you’re exhausted. Thank fuck there’s another holiday coming up in a few months..I won’t fall into this trap I hope

Anyway, if you don’t know Vigo…it’s in the far north of Spain, in Galicia. The weather is a bit like Ireland and the countryside around it is a bit like Ireland if you had never been to ireland and were imagining it to be a really beautiful country. I went to Vigo. It’s nice.

IMG_20160321_112042

I whatsapped a friend i rarely see, who had recently been appearing in a play in vigo and is originally from galicia, to get suggestions of where to go (ie. where to eat and drink)…she told me to eat in Fai Bistes. So I did.
The menu is mainly meat on the brasa (charcole grilled) and the fish limited to roast bacalao or red Tuna. I chose the roast bacalao. and a bottle of local white wine. Blimey!

 1458919866_thumb.jpeg
I lived in Lisbon for nearly 5 years, so i know a little bit about bacalao…and i must tell you, this was the best bacalao i’ve ever had. Roast loin of bacalao on top of sliced potatoes and courgette, topped with camorelised onion with olives. Wine wasn’t bad either. I even had pudding…Grandmother’s tart
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Not so easy to find the restaurant if you don’t know where you’re going….obviously. From the port use the ugly modern shopping centre to go up towards and across to Mercado Pedra (you can walk down from here to a row of restaurants with terrasas who sell oysters outside), do a right just after Santa Maria church (maybe is a cathedrel, dunno) and walk along Rua Real, Fai Bistes is on the left and the enterence a further left.
Another restaurant close by I’ll recommend is El Capitan…i had a nice bit of Mero here (grooper in english…but you might has well go with Mero) and the best cheesecake i’ve ever had in my life. people there were all eating Cozido Gallego…which looked as aweful and exactly the same as Cozido Madrileño…so must be a good place for Cozido, if that floats your (frankly, weird) boat. Another place i’d recommend is a great bar nearby called Taberna A Mina. That’s it, your roving reporter signing out

La Pescaderia

I try not to cross the rubicon of Gran Via when I’m off work, especially as the centre of Madrid is full to the brim with Christmas zombies, but I read about this restaurant and I liked the name…I’d say I eat a lot more fish than meat, maybe 3 portions of fish for every portion of meat..which makes 4 portions! no wonder I’m getting awful fatsch (Thats “fat” but in a west of ireland accent. I’m channelling my ma)

 

If you read any reviews of this restaurant you’ll read people complaining about the service…now I tend to take those sort of comments with a large pinch of Maldon…I assume they’re from americans who seem to think good service is about obsiquiousnes, while for me it’s just about getting served and at some point getting the thing you ordered, of course it’s better if the staff don’t treat you like you’re a piece of shit and that your request for a table/drink/food is just disturbing them from their important work curing cancer. There’s not problem with the serving staff in this restaurant, the waiter we had was extremely pleasant and brought us our food and our drink quite happily (and was quite literally a fox…which would have worried me if i’d been a chicken in a coop), the problem here is with the mangement. Obviously, I’m a management guru and shit, so I knows what i’m talking about. When you go in you have to wait for a femme maitre d’ to seat you, and she is far to grand and important to look at you or speak to you, which makes the system rather untenable. I booked on the internet for lunch on friday and received an email the day after eating there that it was not possible for me to book a table. Which was true, as my delorian is at the garage. Maybe it was due to the idea of going into the future and then assessing the booking system from the past, that led to so many people having to stand around the entrance waiting for La Femme to dain speak to you.
Anway we were given a seat in an area that kind of looks like its outside but actually is indoors. It’s a huge restaurant, I’ve no idea how many people can be surved there at a time, once they are given a table. This part of the restaurant looks nice but trying to make it look like al fresco dining means you’re sitting at uncomfortable tables slightly too short for the uncomfortable seats.
Well, the food…the food was great. though I was with someone who ordered better than I did, so I was filled with remource, shame and embarassment.

on the left are cuttlefish with caramlised onions, which my dining partner ordered (Grrrr!!) and were delicious. On the right, buñuelos de bacalao (cod fritters) which i ordered which were nice enough.

2nd course, now this is what i fucked up…i ordered the taquitos de merluza (small battered cubes of hake) with roasted red peppers. Chips served in a metal tin. problem was that it was so similar to my first course. stupid and elementary mistake. Plenty of it, so much so that i was bored of them before I’d finished. I suppose Restauranting is different from Theatering in that you don’t want your audience to be left wanting more.

My dining partner ordered much better (GRRRR!!!) and had roast langostinos with avocado and mango. Only reason I didn’t order this myself is because a) i’m not supposed to eat prawns and b) i became a bit obsessive with eating prawns, avocado and mango over last summer and think I prepared it at home and ate it every day for good while.
Dining partner couldn’t finish her’s and I was too full to help. Coffee and a patxaran to finish.
2 bottles of Valdesil Godello white wine (at 20€ each). Total for two 83€. Nae bad.
Yes, i know….I’ve changed, way too flush these days

Chiringuito la pedriza

Just to warn you, this might be the most annoying post i’ve ever written…I say that but I’ve not written it yet and the thoughts i’ve had before starting could barely be called “thoughts”
One reason is that there’s going to be a lot of guff before the actual food writing, and then the actual food writing is so brief and so pointless you’ll wonder why I even bothered at all. Bit like a lot of not very god foreplay before the equally disappointing main event… but that’s how i role, yo!
The other thing you may find annoying is that you’ve decided that at times i’m slagging off Madrid and/or Madrileños…to be honest, that’s your problem. I live in Madrid because I love it, if I didn’t I’d leave because I can live anywhere I like (possibly not Australia…they speak English there and probably don’t want me there). What it is, is that you can love someone or somewhere yet love them warts an’all. Obviously, if you go around telling everyone about their anal warts, they won’t be best pleased. I’ve lost a few (female) friends from being honest and saying i didn’t think much of their (male) partner…maybe some people think that their choice of partner reflects directly on their own sense of themselves…iunno…it never bothered me when my friends used to say how aweful my ex (“Dirty Sanchez”) was and it turns out that she was far more aweful than they realised, I should have listened to them harder. I’m sure even the wife of Ian-Duncan Smith can admit “Yes, I love him and he’s a wonderful man but there really are times when I’m confinced he’s one of Satan’s minions, a demon incarnate.” Obviously that’s a bit harsh on Ian-Duncan Smith to focus on just him…all tories are aweful people, so naming just one is a bit much. Like the Waffen-SS, it would be harsh to single out one and say “Yes, Herr Flikk is a nice guy, but he does strike me as a bit too anti-semitic for my taste.”
Anyway, if you think you might be offended by what you interpret as negativity toward Madrid, then I suggest you don’t read this.

Another thing which might offend you is that I’ve included possibly the worst photograph taken of food. No, my balls are not in it, don’t worry. The worst photograph taken of food without my balls in it. And that’s saying something. I’ve taken some pretty aweful photos, you must admit.

Ok, lets sort of start. On Sunday 23rd August I left Madrid and went out to the mountains. La Pedriza to be specific

Public Transport in the city of Madrid is generally great, aside from in August. Unfortunately, the comunidad of Madrid has been goverened by a far-right government for the last 20 odd years. The word “public” to them is a swear word and privately owned cars became the king. It’s the only place I’ve lived in where the European No-car day is completely ignored and in fact has even more cars polluting the place and making horrific constant noise, pedestrians are treated like second class citizans and while my Metro pass has gone up more than 300% in the years I’ve lived here, my taxes have gone to paying for more and more roads for the car drivers to kill themselves on, when they’re not killing cyclists or at least trying to kill them. Madrid is a small city and you can walk anywhere you might want to visit, despite the car drivers trying to kill you (I think there is some sort of point system in operation that means they earn soemthing for every pedestrian or cyclist they injure or traumatise)…but going somewhere outside the city is problematic. There’s a (supposedly) lovely village in the mountains of Madrid called Rascafria, but the only bus during the week leaves Madrid at 9am and the only return bus leaves the village just after that bus from Madrid arrives…well, thanks for making the effort. One of the few possible places you can visit using public transport is La Perdiza, a mountain around a national park close to a village called Manzanares el Real which you can get to by catching the 724 bus from Plaza Castilla bus station. I can’t be more specific about where inside the bus station, because every time I’ve taken that bus it’s been in a different part of the bus station…at least when you have to catch a train to Hogwarts you know you just have to find platfrom 9 and 3/4. Once you arrive in Manzanres el Real it’s about an hour of quite a boring walk into the park itself. Luckily there’s a mini bus in operation in the summer at weekends. There’s 18 seats on board so you need to turn up a good while before it leaves and check with the people at the bus stop who is wating for that bus and “quién es el último”…the timetable is printed around the corner outside the Tourist Information centre. The bus takes about 10 minutes and sets you down at a car park, which is where you catch it to go back to the village. At the side of the car park are two chiringuitos (literally a tent in the woods, but mainly used for beach restaurants…I’m using it as sort of a combination of the two)

This is where I made for once getting out of the mini-bus.

Best thing they do is roast chicken, which is what i had with a salad

there it is in its full glory, the worst food photo ever shared. If its not obvious…i had half a roast chicken, a salad, haaat sauce, bread and two, count them…two! large cold beers. durr! 16€

My post lunch plan was to take a walk along the river in the park, maybe take a “dip” in the river (it’s a bit too shallow to actually have a dip…i was actually planning just to sit in the Manzanares’ cool waters). Unfotunately most comfortable places along the river were already taken by families or groups of teenagers (they were probably like 30 or so…but i’m old now, so anybody under 40 looks like a teenager. It was also a bit noisy to have a pleasent siesta there…noisy kids is one thing, you kind of expect kids to just scream constantly and annoy everybody else, it’s their job…what is truelly annoying is the ammounts of these young people who have decided to leave the city and come all the way to this idylic natural park…

….and decide this is the perfect place to play their shitty music through loud-speakers. Why fucking bother getting out of the car…sit in your shitty car and listen to your shitty music with your shitty girlfriend…why even leave your shitty car park in your shitty part of the city?

ok, that’s it….I did warn you!

Roll

There’s an American telly program called “man versus food”…basically it would never exist in any other country but is oddly compelling…basically this bloke who is slightly on the chubby side but not obese or anything, goes to a fast food place in America and they bet him he can’t eat their special because there’s either a ridiculous amount of it or it’s covered in super hot sauce that should be considered a war crime, or both. Sounds almost offensive, doesn’t it. Not sure how it would work in UK or RoI…you’d probably have to eat everything everybody in the place ordered and stop off in abrakebabra on the way home. Anyway, went to an American restaurant in Madrid for lunch a couple of days ago. My partner has gone on holiday and left me to take care of myself. Fuck it, easy come easy go…so I got another partner for lunch. The place is called ROLL, I assume as it’s specialties are things like pulled pork sandwiches, burgers and stuff served in a ROLL…although I didn’t think they called a roll a roll in the American colonies.. Maybe because rollo in Spanish is a one night shag with no consequences..though of course I could be mistranslating that in order to have a more relevant word for my own personal life.
We began by sharing a salad

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Salad with raf tomatoes, langostines, avocado in a honey dressing. Lovely and we weren’t able to finish that between us.
For main course I ordered a sandwich called a po’ boy…with prawns in it. Never heard of it before and I was unsure of the pronunciat

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ion

Came with loads of chips and an ironic nod to salad. My partner for the day had to live in America for many years so she advised me the only way you could physically eat an American sandwich was to put your hand over the top of it and press the whole thing down…when in Rome. Was delicious and i finished it.
My partner for the day ordered steak-frites, which I hadn’t realised was American…but obviously a thank you to the French for helping the Americans out with every war they’ve found themse

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lves in

I think steak is French for “whole dead cow cooked” but then I only did cse French. Mais oui, voulet vou? And the amount of chips was offensive…she’s only a wee girl. Not wanting to offend the waiter or get told off, we thought about hiding some of the food after giving up thirty minutes later with the plate still looking similar to the way it started.
Even if it had been forthcoming i don’t think I could have managed a rollo after lunch, or the next day.
Very nice place in terms of decor etc and pleasant enough but forgetful waiters. In conde duque. They
do Brunch which has taken over in Madrid much better than my “lea” (a late lunch or early tea..Maybe “trunch”is more memorable). It’s certainly not cheap, was not far off 60€ for the two of us with a bottle of alberiño…but you won’t need to eat again for a few days