Easter Celebration in Spain : Torrija

Locally known as Semana Santa (Holy Week), Easter is the most important celebration in Spain, and stands out for its epic brotherhoods’ processions and unique, age-old traditions specific to each region.

Srapallo, watercolor, Casa de las Torrijas, Madrid, 2018.
Srapallo, watercolor, Casa de las Torrijas, Madrid, 2018.

The atmosphere that characterizes the festivities is usually solemn, the picture spectacular, and everything seems fully immersed in emotion. Don’t let yourself be fooled, though – this is still Spain, which means neither the strong religious beliefs nor the somberness of the moment can hide the nation’s fervor for pomp and lively fiestas.

These being said, let’s take a closer look at the distinctive customs and traditions that accompany Semana Santa in various Spanish provinces.

Here, the most important Catholic holiday is commemorated with a week full of color, art, religious fervor, and extravagant processions. The most spectacular events take place in Malaga and Seville, where the streets are taken over by flamboyant parades and intricate religious displays depicting biblical scenes.

Like everywhere in Spain, the festivities begin on Palm Sunday (Domingo de Ramos) and last until Easter Monday (Lunes de Pascua), with the most dramatic and passionate parades held on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.

While the Semana Santa festivities in Andalusia are the most spectacular, the ones in Castile and León are often regarded as some of the most authentic, solemn, and austere in the entire country. Among the cities that hold remarkable processions are León, Zamora, Salamanca, Toledo, Avila, Segovia, and Valladolid.

This scrumptious calorific treat is traditionally eaten in Spain over Easter.

Madrid-based food blogger Anneke Kooijmans shares a recipe for the classic Spanish Easter dish Torrijas with The Local which she describes as “like French toast, but different…”

Srapallo, watercolor, Torrijas, Madrid, 2018.
Srapallo, watercolor, Torrijas, Madrid, 2018.

TORRIJAS
(Serves two)

Torrijas are a Spanish Easter dessert, they are like French Toast, but different.

Ingredients:

250 milliliters milk
Zest of one lemon
¼ bar of French bread, in thick slices
1 egg, lightly beaten, in a shallow bowl
Good quality olive oil
¼ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup water
1 tablespoon honey
Kitchen towels

I hope you enjoy and Happy Easter!!!!!

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Sala de Despiece – A laboratory gastronomique

Again a must in my neighbourhood ….I’m never tired to mention that, how much I love Chamberi….

SRapallo, watercolor, Madrid, 2018
SRapallo, watercolor, Madrid, 2018

First you don’t understand what’s going on. This tapas bar has a unique concept, I never saw anything like this elsewhere. What the heck is this place?. Looks like you are in a butchery, in a meal treatment place… looks like industrial, like you are eating in a cutting room.

The other thing the caught your attention is… you need to help to finish the preparation of you own meal… they show you how to do it and you have to do it yourself if you wanna eat. …. So, you need to help finalize your own food…. and that experience is very enjoyable, and the server helps your with the torch… everything looks like you are eating in a gastronomique laboratory. Like they said It’s a white spotless space, inspired by the cutting areas from butcher´s shops or fish markets. Such spotless spirit is maintained by the team’s white aprons, and a space barely touched by decorative details paying tribute to the butcher’s profession.

Sala de Despiece
Calle de Ponzano, 11, Chamberi

SRapallo, watercolor, Madrid, 2017
SRapallo, watercolor, Madrid, 2017

+34.917.52.61.06

Website: http://www.saladedespiece.com/en/sala-de-despiece/

They don’t accept reservations. At Sala de Despiece counter seating is assigned on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Go there and enjoy the lab experience, I guarantee you won’t regret.

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Sorolla, el pintor de la luz

One of my favorite´s  place to sketch  in Madrid. The Spanish painter, Joaquín Sorolla was born on February 27, 1863 in Valencia, Spain. The artist’s house and was converted into a museum after the death of his widow. It is situated at Paseo del General Martínez Campos, 37 -Chamberí – Madrid.

Sorolla’s work is represented in museums throughout Spain, Europe, America, and in many private collections in Europe and America. In 1909 he made a successful debut in the United States in a solo exhibition at the Hispanic Society in New York City. The resulting critical acclaim won him a commission to paint President William Howard Taft in 1909. In 1933, J. Paul Getty purchased ten Impressionist beach scenes made by Sorolla, several of which are now housed in the J. Paul Getty Museum.

In 1960, Sorolla, el pintor de la luz, the master of depicting sun and water, a short documentary written and directed by Manuel Domínguez was presented at the Cannes Film Festival.

In 2007 many of his works were exhibited at the Petit Palais in Paris. In 2009, there was a special exhibition of his works at the Prado in Madrid, and in 2010, the exhibition visited the Oscar Niemeyer Museum in Curitiba, Brazil.

From 5 December 2011 to 10 March 2012, several of Sorolla’s works were exhibited in Queen Sofía Spanish Institute, in New York. This exhibition included pieces used during Sorolla’s eight-year research for The Vision of Spain. His style was a variant of Impressionism and whose best works, painted in the open air, vividly portray the sunny seacoast of Valencia. Sorolla was from a poor family and was orphaned at age two. He displayed an early talent and was admitted to the Academy of San Carlos in Valencia at age 15. After further studies in Rome and Paris, he returned to Valencia.

Upon his return to Spain, he purchased a beach house in Valencia, on the Mediterranean shore. For the rest of his career, he drew his inspiration from the dazzling light on the waters by his home, and his beach scenes are marked by sharp contrasts of light and shade, brilliant colours, and vigorous brushstrokes. That´s why he is called the ¨painter of the light¨ (el pintor de la luz).

The Museo Sorolla – The building was originally the artist’s house and was converted into a museum after the death of his widow. Designed by Enrique María Repullés. The principal rooms continue to be furnished as they were during the artist’s life, including Sorolla’s large, well-lit studio, where the walls are filled with his canvasses. Other rooms are used as galleries to display Sorolla’s paintings, while the upstairs rooms are a gallery for special exhibitions. In 2014, these rooms held an exhibition of David Palacin photographs of the ballet Sorolla produced by the Spanish National Dance Company.

It´s nice to see the actual place where he lived and produced so many of his artworks. There is also a nice entrance garden with a fountain where you can just seat there and make some sketches while admire the flowers and statues.

Don´t forget to visit this small museum if you have a chance on your next trip to Madrid. You won´t regret it!!

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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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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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