St Valentine’s Day in Spain

It’s not a traditional holiday in Spain, but most of the places in the world celebrate it with the traditional bouquet of flowers and romantic diners. the closest concept about it is from people of Valencia and their most romantic day of the year is, in fact, October 9th, when they celebrate both; the Day of the Valencian Community (Sant Valentin) as well as the Day of Saint Dionysius (Sant Dionís), locally known as the patron saint of lovers. This is a public holiday marked by many festivities and colorful costume parades held in the main plaza of every town and village.

A distinctive tradition on the Day of Saint Dionysius is the custom of offering ladies a Mocadora (Mocaorà) as a sign of love and appreciation. This traditional gift consists of a nice package of marzipan figurines handcrafted by local confectioners and then wrapped up in an elegant piece of silk.

In the Land of Cervantes, you don’t need a reason to get caught up in the fire and romance of Spain. The whole country is teeming with spectacular parks and gardens that inspire love.

Here is the recipe.

INGREDIENTS
150 grams of ground almonds
135 grams of sugar glass
1 egg white
30 grams of mashed potato
Pastry dyes and flavor extract of each fruit. Cocoa powder
If you have too much thickened water
Some pine nuts to decorate

Start boling a potato and make a very fine mashed potato. Set it apart to use later. Beat the egg white to the point of very compact snow. Until the container is turned over, it stays well attached and does not fall. Add the icing sugar and mix well taking into account that the point does not get off. Add the mashed potato and almond flour and knead well. Distribute the dough in as many portions as we want to make different figurines and add to each portion the fruit dye, the flavor extract and let it rest for a while before making them. Take the dough and mold with the fingers the desired figures. Place in a tray and let dry a few hours and if you want to follow the tradition, wrap them in a neck scarf and give them away. If you have more dyes and flavor extracts, you can make pears, lemons, oranges, strawberries … Go on, you are totally allowed to just play with them and make fruits for the ones you love!

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Santiago de Compostela (El camino) or The Way of St. James

This is my first blog in 2018. My last one was in June 2017. I had my personal journey fighting against cervical cancer last year and I had no energy whatsoever to post anything. Well, I’m still here! But after surgery in July and the beginning of chemo at the end of August, I’ve manage to travel to  Galícia and visited the city of Santiago de Compostela and the surroudings cities, Muxia, Ézaro, Carnota, Corcubión, Muros, Noia and also Finisterre, the last post of pilgrimage. I confess I didn’t do the whole “camino” but, you know, due to the circumstance at that particular moment of my life, I was happy just being there and somehow feeling blessed. Spain is a wonderful country to travel, full of history, wonderful food and spectacular wineries. It’s an energetic country to feel alive and enjoy living!! Something like “La Fiesta” therapy.

I love traveling by car. From Madrid to Santiago de Compostela is like 5.2 hours driving and the sightseeing change completely from the arid weather in Castilla La Mancha to a humid and ultra green meadows in Galicia. And I love eating fresh products from local producers. I specially recommend “O Graneiro de Amelia” (www.ograneirodeamelia.gal) where you can buy grains, species, dry nuts, teas and herbs. The colors, the smell of species and honey…. indescribable!!! And don’t forget to eat the Almond Tart, also a local food tradition.

There are eight main Camino de Santiago pilgrimage routes in Spain:

Camino Frances – the busiest route.
Via de la Plata – the longest Camino.
Camino del Norte – along the sea.
Camino Ingles The English Road – the shortest Camino.
Camino Portugues, (finishes in Santiago de Compostela but starts in Portugal).
Camino Primitivo. the original one.

Even if you don’t do the Camino, visit the city, the Cathedral and also Santa Maria la Real de Sar, a medieval church from XVI Century. From the cathedral’s balcony you can contemplate the beauty of the roofs and the city’s skyline. Unfortunately the frontal cathedral’s facade (The Obradoiro) is being restored and only will be re-opening on 2023. Well, I’ll have to come back somehow!

The Way of St. James (El Camino) was one of the most important Christian pilgrimages during the Middle Ages. Legend holds that St. James’s remains were carried by boat from Jerusalem to northern Spain, where he was buried in what is now the city of Santiago de Compostela. (The name Santiago is the local Galician evolution of Vulgar Latin Sancti Iacobi, “Saint James”.)

The Way can take one of dozens of pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela. Traditionally, as with most pilgrimages, the Way of Saint James began at one’s home and ended at the pilgrimage site. However, a few of the routes are considered main ones. During the Middle Ages, the route was highly travelled. However, the Black Death, the Protestant Reformation, and political unrest in 16th century Europe led to its decline. By the 1980s, only a few pilgrims per year arrived in Santiago.

Most pilgrims carry a document called the credencial, purchased for a few euros from a Spanish tourist agency, a church or parish house on the route, a refugio, their church back home, or outside of Spain through the national St. James organization of that country. The credencial is a pass which gives access to inexpensive, sometimes free, overnight accommodation in refugios along the trail. Also known as the “pilgrim’s passport”, the credencial is stamped with the official St. James stamp of each town or refugio at which the pilgrim has stayed. It provides pilgrims with a record of where they ate or slept, and serves as proof to the Pilgrim’s Office in Santiago that the journey was accomplished according to an official route, and thus that the pilgrim qualifies to receive a compostela (certificate of completion of the pilgrimage).

The “Way of St James” is marked by a scallop shell, a symbol of humility that also served practical purposes for pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago. The shell was the right size for gathering water to drink or for eating out of as a makeshift bowl. The pilgrim’s staff is a walking stick used by pilgrims to the shrine of Santiago de Compostela.

Most often the stamp can be obtained in the refugio, cathedral, or local church. If the church is closed, the town hall or office of tourism can provide a stamp, as can nearby youth hostels or private St. James addresses. Many of the small restaurants and cafes along the Camino also provide stamps. Outside Spain, the stamp can be associated with something of a ceremony, where the stamper and the pilgrim can share information. As the pilgrimage approaches Santiago, many of the stamps in small towns are self-service due to the greater number of pilgrims, while in the larger towns there are several options to obtain the stamp.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santiago_de_Compostela

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Goya – Royal Chapel of St. Anthony of La Florida – Ermita de San Antonio de la Florida

A must see chapel to visit in Madrid. What I love the most is all the angels depicted on the ceiling are women.

After his death aged 82 on April 16th 1828 (having failed to recover from falling down the stairs at his Cours de l’Intendance residence), Goya was buried in a tomb in the Chartreuse cemetery in central Bordeaux alongside his compatriot Martin Goicocchea, a former mayor of Madrid and father-in-law to Goya’s son Javier. In 1899, both bodies were exhumed to be transferred back to Spain. Neither body could be formally identified. For a start, Goya’s head had disappeared! It is believed that it was stolen by one of Goya’s former models, the Marques de San Adrian, who may have sought to understand the workings of Goya’s brain by doing some “hands-on” research. Goya’s head was never to be found. The two bodies were transported in a single coffin and buried with others first in Saragosse then transferred to a joint mausoleum at the Royal Chapel of Saint Anthony of La Florida in Madrid.

The Royal Chapel of St. Anthony of La Florida (Spanish: Real Ermita de San Antonio de la Florida) is a Neoclassical chapel in central Madrid. The chapel is best known for its ceiling and dome frescoes by Goya. It is also his burial place. After his death aged 82 on April 16th 1828 (having failed to recover from falling down the stairs at his Cours de l’Intendance residence), Goya was buried in a tomb in the Chartreuse cemetery in central Bordeaux alongside his compatriot Martin Goicocchea, a former mayor of Madrid and father-in-law to Goya’s son Javier. In 1899, both bodies were exhumed to be transferred back to Spain. Neither body could be formally identified. For a start, Goya’s head had disappeared! It is believed that it was stolen by one of Goya’s former models, the Marques de San Adrian, who may have sought to understand the workings of Goya’s brain by doing some “hands-on” research. Goya’s head was never to be found. The two bodies were transported in a single coffin and buried with others first in Saragoza then transferred to a joint mausoleum at the Royal Chapel of Saint Anthony of La Florida in Madrid

Goya’s fresco depicting the legend of Saint Anthony reviving a dead man

The chapel was built in the general location of two prior chapels built in the 1730s, which were on the land of a farm called La Florida. The present structure was built by Felipe Fontana from 1792 to 1798 on the orders of King Carlos IV, who also commissioned the frescoes by Goya and his assistant Asensio Juliá.The structure was declared a national monument in 1905. In 1919 Goya’s remains were transferred here from Bordeaux, where he had died in 1828. In 1928 an identical chapel was built alongside the original, in order to allow the original to be converted into a museum.On every June 13, the chapel becomes the site of a lively pilgrimage in which young unwed women come to pray to Saint Anthony and to ask for a partner. The frescoes by Goya were completed over a six-month period in 1798. The frescoes portray miracles by Saint Anthony of Padua. On the main cupola of the chapel Goya depicted Saint Anthony raising a dead man; instead of portraying the scene as occurring in thirteenth-century Lisbon, Goya relocated the miracle to contemporary Madrid.

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Plaza de Santa Bárbara – Chamberi

SRapallo, Dog 1, watercolor and ink, 2017
SRapallo, Dog 1, watercolor and ink, 2017

Plaza de Santa Bárbara

 

Again a enjoyable place located in my neighborhood, Chamberi. We go there a lot, specially on weekends. When my daughter came to visit, she took some pictures of dogs and children playing. Later on I used the pictures she took as a reference photos. This is an all-in one plaza for me: coffee-shops, a jazz club, bars, restaurants, an ice cream parlor, a drugstore and a hotel. There is also a playground for children and a tiny bookstore in the center of the plaza which specializes in used books and vintage post cards and pictures of Madrid.

What I love about it is that, on one hand, it is your neighborhood plaza. Not just the place to sit for a drink or to have brunch, but also where people take their children after school, or where they walk their dogs while reading the newspaper. And on the other hand, Plaza Santa Bárbara is the starting point of a night out on the town because many cool clubs and restaurants are in this same area. It has it all, daytime activities and nighttime fun.

Its location also helps to make it even more charming, because is at a walking distance from Gran Vía and very close to Plaza Colón. Also pedestrian street Fuencarral, filled with all kinds of shops, is 10 min away. It would seem busy and noisy at times, but it could also feel quiet and calm at certain hours. It depends on what you want to do, but it is definitely worth a visit.

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Gin & Tonic: Spain’s Obsession, Despite the Recession

Gin and Tonic

SRapallo, Strawberry G&T II, watercolor, 2017
SRapallo, Strawberry G&T II, watercolor, 2017

You probably always thought Gin and Tonic was just another kind of drink, right? Just put gin, tonic and some lime, right? Yeah, me too, but not in Spain. You even may think that is definitely not the most exciting cocktail you ever tried, but once again, not in Spain. In Spain the casual G&T is practically an art form, as bartenders pays attention to which gins they use with which tonics, and add thoughtful garnishes and thick ice cubes, serving the drink in goblets. They have entire booklets for G&T on bars, you can even get lost trying to choose one recipe over the other. Literally every bar you go into, from a cocktail bar to a crappy little sports bar, had 25 to 30 gins.

To write this post I made a little research over the subject and found out they have 65 types of gins, but only 5 types of tonics. There are not a ton of different tonics on the market in Spain. They have a dozen or so different tonics and a lot of companies make them. But most bars make their own tonic syrup and carbonated it. They are also very picky about the ice too. Just not any type of ice… no, most fancy bars just use Kold-Draft. Because the idea is that you want larger, denser ice with less air trapped in there, so it melts slower. It keeps the drink colder longer and there’s less dilution, which is ideal for something you’ll be sipping on.

They also have special Gin Clubs where you can choose from more than 40 gin brands paired up with their own trimmings. You can take it into infinity and beyond. It is refreshing, not overly sweet, and easy to drink. But in my case, just one drink for the night, the second G&T normally gives me a brutal headache the day after. But like the Spanish after discovering that G&T is much more than a normal and even boring drink served in plastic cups, it’s safe to say I had never tasted the true potential of this glorious convergence of grain and bubbles. Sounds even poetic.

The recipes are endless, from juniper berries, verbena, edible flower, black pepper, strawberry, cucumber, lime and lemon of course, but also orange, herbs like rosemary, chili and quinine, rhubarb, celery, melon, raspberry and thyme. You can be insanely creative on Gin & Tonic. Enough talking, let´s have a drink!!!! Here a simple strawberry gin tonic I prepared. I must say it was a pleasure night, preparing the post, making the G&T, photographing it, drawing and painting it and sipping my G&T while listening nice music. Jazz, of course!

Strawberry G&T

SRapallo, Strawberry GT, watercolor, 2017
SRapallo, Strawberry GT, watercolor, 2017

Ingredients

3 strawberries
18 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 12 oz. navy-strength gin
4 oz. tonic
Cinnamon stick

Instructions

Muddle 2 strawberries and ⅛ tsp. freshly ground black pepper in a shaker; pour into an ice-filled goblet. Stir in 1½ oz. navy-strength gin. Top with 4 oz. tonic; garnish with a strawberry and cinnamon stick.
If life give you lemons, make a Gin & Tonic.

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Chamberi Food Market

Mercado de Chamberí

Calle de Alonso Cano, 10, 28010 Madrid

SRapallo, Langostino, watercolor, 2017
SRapallo, Langostino, watercolor, 2017

This food market is in my neighborhood,  half a block from where I live. The market dates back to 1876, but after a thorough renovation it was inaugurated in 1943, then last year they renovated the food court. The Chamberí Municipal Market is not particularly famous like market Boqueria in Barcelona or San Miguel, that I wrote about on my latest post. But even though I consider a privilege having a fresh market  so close by. We totally changed our food shopping routine after moving to this neighborhood. I usually went to a supermarket like once a week for the fresh and daily products and like once a month for major shopping.

But nowadays, my husband goes to that market everyday, serious… every single day. He asks me what I want for lunch and he goes to Chamberi Market, buys super fresh ingredients and prepares it for us. I love cooking too, but… I have to go to the Embassy, where I work. Instead of having tons of products at the fridge, we just have one or two fruits and fresh vegetables that he buys daily. The secret to the soul of a mercado (market)  is its fresh produce. Adopting this lifestyle we eat better and by the seasons and save money.

In this market they also have a food corner with like 8 or 9 small restaurants. They called La Chispería de Chamberí, which with its name honors the “sparks” (the chulapos of the neighborhoods of Maravillas and Chamberí, where forges and smithies abound).

Restaurants:

Lambuzo: Cuisine of the province of Cádiz. El Rincon de Lupe: Castiza cuisine made with products from the market. La Valona: Chalupería, fusion of Mexican and Spanish gastronomy. El Loco Antonelli: The cuisine of national and international port. La Pitita: Grilled meats and the best selection of Iberian. Chambí: Peruvian ‘buns’ and ‘sanguches’ made from coal with machinery imported from Peru (Chinese box and cylinder) Café La Torbellino: In which you can enjoy the desserts of the 6 seats. Brewery El Ocho: Offers fresh Mahou beer from tank.

We haven´t tried them all yet but this market is a good option if you are not in the mood for a car of subway. Just as you buy your groceries for dinner here, the food stalls are doing the same, and with the same ingredients as you, they’re making something your kitchen could only dream of. You can find wide variety of products on this market: meat, poultry, fish, vegetables, fruits, wine and other spirits . You can also find some other European types of food, like German, French and Portuguese.

Source: http://www.mercadodechamberi.es/p/la-chisperia.html

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(Português)

Mercado de Chamberí

Rua Alonso Cano, 10, 28010 Madrid

Este mercado fica no nosso bairro, meia quadra de onde eu moro. Foi construído em 1876 e depois de reformado, foi reinaugurado em 1943, mas recentemente, a praça de alimentação foi renovada. O Mercado Municipal de Chamberí não é tão famoso quanto o Mercado La Boquería, em Barcelona ou o Mercado de São Miguel, que já mencionei em no meu último artigo. Contudo, considero um privilégio ter um mercado com produtos frescos tão perto de casa. Nós mudamos completamente nossa rotina depois que nos mudamos para esse bairro. Eu costumava ir ao supermercado pelo menos uma vez por semana para comprar frutas e verduras e uma vez ao mês para compras maiores.

Mas hoje em dia, meu marido vai ao mercado diariamente. Definimos qual o menu do dia e ele compra tudo absolutamente fresquíssimo no mercado. Eu adoro cozinhar também, mas como tenho meu trabalho na Embaixada, deixo essa tarefa para ele. Ao invés de estocar demasiados produtos na geladeira, compramos frutas frescas e legumes frescos diariamente. A alma de um mercado desse gênero é justamente a frescura dos produtos.  Adotando esse estilo de vida, nos alimentamos melhor, comsumimos produtos da estação e ainda economizamos dinheiro.

Neste mercado eles também tem uma praça de alimentação com uns 8 ou 9 pequenos restaurantes. Chama-se La Chispería de Chamberí, adquiriu esse nome em homenagem às faíscas, onde ferreiros e forjas eram a especialidade dos bairros de  Maravillas e Chamberí. 

Restaurantes: Lambuzo: Cozinha da Província de Cádiz. El Rincon de Lupe: Castiza cozinha feita com produtos do mercado. La Valona: Chalupería, fusão de cozinha Mexicana e gastronomia Espanhola. El Loco Antonelli: Cozinha de porte nacional e internacional. La Pitita: Carne grelhada e grande variedade de Ibéricos. Chambí: Peruano ‘buns’ e ‘sanguches’ elaborados com maquinaria a carvão importada do Peru e Café La Torbellino: Com seis opções de sobremesas. Cervejaria El Ocho: Oferece cerveja Mahou diretamente do tanque.

Ainda não conseguimos experimentar todos eles, mas é sempre uma boa opção quando não se quer sair de carro ou metrô. Assim como compramos nossos produtos frescos neste mercado, os restaurantes usam os mesmos produtos do mercado para produzir iguarias frescas que vc nem pode imaginar. É possível encontrar grande variedade de produtos neste mercado: carne bovina, frango, peixes, vegetais e legumes, frutas, vinhos e outras bebidas. Há também oferta de produtos europeus, como alemães, franceses e portugueses.

Página Oficial: http://www.mercadodechamberi.es/p/la-chisperia.html

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