Tag Archives: food

¡A tapear!

So I just bought a Yelp deal that is going to get me $30 worth of tapas at Lalola on Nob Hill for $15. Needless to say I am very excited, especially because someone there evidently has connections to one of my favorite tapas places in Madrid, Txirimiri. I also stumbled upon a guide for a San Francisco tapeo through an area not too far from my house…might have to do some investigating!!

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Mercado de San Miguel

Sooo this is pretty much my favorite place in Madrid. The Mercado de San Miguel. I am so incredibly jealous/craving everything they sell there right now: jamón, vermut, chocolate, Crianza, aceitunas, queso. Man. Mr. Bourdain, you have quite the life.

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¡La Roja!

Doñana Drinks, originally uploaded by jhoolko.

So Spain won the World Cup today. First time ever. The video footage from Madrid was insane.

I managed to watch games from this world cup in Gjirokastra and Berat, Albania; Como, Italy; Madrid, Spain; and Chicago, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Sacramento, USA. That’s cool and all, but why the heck did I leave Spain three weeks ago?! How did I miss the first Spanish victory and possibly the most important Spanish football game in history by three weeks? All I can say is that today, I drank a tiny sized beer in Spain’s honor. But that win would have been a heck of a lot better from a Cerveceria in Malasaña with a bit of jamón, a tiny plate of aceitunas and a nice cold tinto de verano. And a caña. Or two.

Felicitaciones, España!

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Salat Greke

Greek Salad, originally uploaded by jhoolko.

I think this salad cost about two euros. We ate it on a bar that overlooked one of the most spectacular beaches I have ever seen.

Albanian fruits and vegetables were mostly organic, but not in the trendy tree-hugging healthy way that we have organic produce in California. Most people in Albania are just too poor to afford pesticides. The flavors of these vegetables were incredible. We made a Greek salad with the exact same ingredients two nights ago here in California and it just fell flat compared to the super super flavorful tomatoes, fresh cucumbers, and home made feta we had in Albania.

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Bees!, originally uploaded by jhoko.

All along the highways, we passed tons and tons of these little blue, green, and yellow boxes with rocks holding down their lids. I had no idea what they were until we started passing dozens of little roadside tents, manned by one person selling jars and jars of fresh honey. Bee houses!!!

Sometimes they would have a few other beeswax products or maybe some dried lavender, but it was the honey that got us to pull over and pull out the cash. We got a little jar of cloudy fresh honey in a short glass jar. Miraculously that honey made it all the way back to Spain with us, where it was promptly forgotten in a gross hotel room in Madrid. But we ate a bit of it almost every day during the trip in Albania and it was delicious. Only the fresh fig jam at our hotel in Gjirokastra could beat it!.

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Shishkebab in Vlora, originally uploaded by jhoko.

Vlora wasn’t our favorite place in the world. There is a beach, but it’s dirty. Crossing the main road in the city is a deathwish. There is a lot of construction.

But then we found this tent. This tent on the beach in the middle of a carnival where they were selling qoftë, which are basically sausage/meatball hybrids made out of ground lamb, and shishkebabs, which may have been made out of chicken wrapped in bacon? They were grilling these things on a big charcoal grill, and these young boys were running huge mugs of Albanian beer in and out of the tent to the rickety tables they had set up on the grass. As was true in everywhere we went in Albania, the clientele was 99.9% men, but it wasn’t weird or uncomfortable or anything to be a girl out there, which actually surprised me considering how few girls we saw out at night throughout the trip. An Albanian guy we met later on told us that it wasn’t wrong to go out late as a girl in Albania, it was just that they were more protective of girls and they were expected to be home a little earlier than the guys. I didn’t meet any girls to ask them how they felt about the situation, maybe because of the situation itself, but none of the guys seemed to mind their boys/ nights out. We had mug after mug of beer and plate after plate of qoftë and shishkebab, and in addition to our 14 euro beachfront hotel room, this place made our stop in Vlora totally worth it.

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El Rastro

El Capricho Extremeño, originally uploaded by jhoko.

Another ridiculous meal, consumed entirely by me. These lovely tostas come from El Capricho Extremeño, which you will find smack in the middle of the Rastro chaos any Sunday morning. One is covered in a generous heap of pulpo, or octopus, the other is gulas, or baby eels (imitation of course), topped with a few little shrimp. There’s always a line, but it moves fast, and it’s the perfect snack (I guess ENORMOUS MEAL would be more appropriate for this serving size) for a day at the market.

I’ve repeatedly heard El Rastro described as the largest flea market in Europe. “El Rastro” means “the trail,” as in the trails of blood that the animal carcasses left as they were being dragged down the street when this was the old meat market…or so I hear. Honestly, I don’t know if it really is the largest flea market in Europe, but what I do know is that I am not the person to ask because I have never fully explored the depths of its enormousness. I usually go to pick up something small like a pair of cheap sunglasses or a pashmina for 2 euros, but you can get literally ANYTHING here. Underwear? Got it. Swords? Yep. Old motorcycles? Random ass junk? Check and check. An entire booth of rubber hoses? Got that too.

There are also an insane number of tourists, all of whom seem to be American girls between the ages of 18 and 24. Can’t really point any fingers with that one, but where you find those, you also find pickpockets, so be careful here. I’ve seen more than one altercation in the incredibly densely packed crowd. Definitely worth a visit though, especially if you need to buy, well, anything. It always makes me sad because there are such incredibly awesome antiques there and I can never buy any furniture because it is stupid enough that I buy things like books and shoes here considering the budget and suitcase space I have. Speaking of suitcases, back to packing! 😦 Waa.

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I like to eat. This is no secret. But I am not one of those people who go out of their way to try the weirdest, craziest food they can find. I like to eat because I enjoy eating, and if something is weird I will totally eat it, but only if it sounds like I will enjoy it. For that reason, I don’t eat a lot of crazy-ass food. Also, I am in Spain, not in some small town in China or India or Peru, so the cuisine is preeettty similar to what I would encounter in America, except everything leans a little towards HAM. But still, they eat some nasty shit. And sometimes I love it.

Anyways, turns out I have eaten some weird stuff here. I decided to make a list. So here it is, from least weird to most weird, along with the location of where I indulged in these fine delicacies. Enjoy!:

7. Pork knee: Yep, just a pig’s knee. Turns out they are pretty big. Also turns out they taste just like RIBS!!! This was a specialty in Prague and I think it weighed something like 2.2 kilos, which is a hell of a lot of meat, regardless of whether or not there is a giant bony knee in there. Highly recommended, especially if accompanied by a humongous beer on a cold rainy day in the Czech Republic!

6. Frog’s legs: Taste like fishy chicken, look like small human legs. I also DO NOT like that the two legs (and hips and nether regions) of the frog are served still all together in one piece, like the body was just severed at the little froggy-waist, cooked (kinda), and thrown on your plate. Blah! Pontepez, Madrid. (Still love Pontepez though!)

5. Wild Boar: Served in a “huevos rotos” dish, which means eggs scrambled with slices of potato and other things, in this case “other things” would be Pumba from the Lion King. Okokok I know he was a warthog, but my friend described it to me as “Timon from El Rey Leon” because he didn’t know the word “boar,” so I had to throw that in there. Not that weird, but that is why it’s not number 1. Asturian restaurant, Madrid.

4. Angulas: Baby eels! Actually to make this even weirder, I had imitation angulas….like the “krab” version of baby eels….I wish there was some way I could spell that with a ‘K.’ Maybe they could market it as baby EELZ?? Anyways,   real angulas are extremely expensive because they are hard to catch and equally difficult to cook correctly, hence the knock-off eels,  but I am keeping this on the list because they look like this, which is freaking weird. I mean, those are all WHOLE baby eels! Not spaghetti! But even the imitation ones were delicious! Like pasta! Made out of shrimp!!! My host family’s house, Madrid.

3. Pig’s ear: Cut into little pieces, served in a paella-ish rice dish. Some pieces still had pig hairs on them: Salamanca

2. Horse….specifically horse hamburger: Evidently they sell this at Carrefour in pre-made patties, it is called “Potro.” And evidently it’s not just horse, it’s baby horse. Lovely. I actually only at 1/4 of the burger before deciding I would let baby Black Beauty rest in peace as basura. My host family’s house, Madrid.

1. Sangre con tomate: Pig’s blood, mixed with tomato and congealed into cubes that you eat with a toothpick. As nasty as you would expect): La Puerta de Segura (obviously)

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