Thursday, March 21, 2013
My alarm goes off at an ungodly hour this morning. Janet’s flight from Atlanta is scheduled to arrive at 8:35am and I want to make sure I am there when she shows up. I have allowed plenty of time and it is a good thing. When I check her flight online it shows that it will be almost an hour EARLY! I go into high gear.
Two metro stops and one Aeropuerto Express bus later I find myself in the Arrivals Lounge at Barajas Terminal 1. Within 10 minutes her flight touches down and she comes through the gate. She looks none worse for the wear. That is because she finally took my advice and flew First Class “across the pond.” She agrees that it makes all the difference.
We decide to forgo the bus/metro routine and luxuriate in a taxi ride back to our apartment. Janet quickly ditches her bag and we head out to Bar Benteveo for coffee and breakfast.
Since we are now well-caffienated, it is time for a nap. Janel won’t be meeting us until several hours later so there is plenty of time for a nice long lie in. We both crash and burn.
By the time Janel calls on us (around 2pm) we are refreshed and ready to go. Lunch plans for today have been set for a while now. It is clear that we must re-visit El Cisne Azul for mushroom-y treats. Janel and I discovered Cisne several years ago by accident when we were actually looking for another restaurant. It has been declared a true “find” and we dine there every time I visit. Janet joined us there on her last trip to Madrid and is eager to go again.
The weather today is beautiful and we choose to walk. There are lots of people out today in all the plazas and outside restaurants. We fill Janet in on the “Does the owner look like his/her dog?” game and we all find some great contenders.
As we approach the tiny Cisne restaurant we are all wondering if there will be a free table – the place is tiny. We arrive and to our delight “our” table by the window is waiting for us! We immediately take efforts to top up Janet’s “cava meter” and order up a bottle of the sparkling stuff.
Janel quizzes our server about which mushrooms are great today and gets some recommendations. She also asks about Morrels since we remember loving them on our last visit. Yes. They have the Morrels. We order an herb salad, a plate of some new to us fungi with soft scrambled eggs and a dish of Morrels and foie.
When we discussed how much we all love foie I was reminded of something I read. Someone was being questioned (by a self-righteous individual) regarding the fact that he actually ate foie (oh no!). “You mean you actually eat foie? Don’t you know how horrible the production is?” He replied “Do I eat foie? Not all the time – only if it is produced by children raised strictly on veal…”
Needless to say our lunch was outstanding. We loved every morsel and morrell. Our server even convinced us to order the seared cheese with marmalade for dessert. As we were leaving, the owner invited us for a chupito. Janel and he chatted quite a bit and she found out that one of his friends is Jose Andres whom we “met” with our friend Tony Bourdain last time I was in Spain.
Unbelievable. We left in a mushroom-induced coma.
Janet and I are left to fend for ourselves and find our way home. Janel assures us – “just get on Fuencarril and keep walking…” So we do. We end up completely off track and find ourselves way south in an area we recognize from two years ago where we watched a Flamenco Show. We constantly consult our map and when I look up and see the restaurant Juana la Loca where we ate a couple of night ago I realize we are pretty close to home. I still have no idea how to actually get home, but I know we are not completely lost. We do manage to find our way and are pretty proud of ourselves. However, our feet have taken a beating and we know we have a LOT of walking to do in Lisbon tomorrow…
Tonight is set aside for a Tapas Crawl. Janel meets us and we find our way to La Latina and the ever popular Cava Baja street that is lined with interesting tapas bars and restaurants. Janet wants to meet Dario and he has agreed to meet us there as well. Since Dario is a Madrileno, he has an “inside” scoop on good spots and points us to a fantastic rooftop perch for our first stop. (Did I mention that we didn’t even meet until after 9?) A plate of delicious grilled vegetables is ordered along with a few choice pieces of “secreto de Iberia” which is a succulent and delicious cut of pork. A few glasses of vino tinto later and we are declaring the Spring has arrived in Madrid (because we are sitting outside). On to our next stop.
We want to try the other place that Dario recommends – Casa Lucio – whose specialty is eggs (very soft scrambled with bits of meat or mushrooms or whatever and put on top of potatoes). It is packed so we move on to Taberna Lucio instead. Great choice – more informal, same food.
We order the huevos rotos on top of potatoes and side of jamon iberico along with a nice bottle of red wine. During our meal we fill Dario in on some of our Weisling/Torkington customs (like “Cherry Winking) and we also show him how to “room around” a piece of bread in you plate to sop up all the goodness left from the eggs. Many laughs take place as Dario informs us that his mom not only “Cherry Winks” (offers food when you are completely satiated), but she also “double taps” (offers food more than one time). We love it! It is so fun to find out that our customs are not so far off.
The evening winds up after midnight once again and we have to sleep FAST. We are heading to Portugal in the morning where the Short-Haired Ladies trip will begin in earnest. Please keep in mind while reading that Janet did NOT want to go to Portugal. She is certain that she won’t like it…