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.
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!
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.
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!
1⁄8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 1⁄2 oz. navy-strength gin
4 oz. tonic
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.
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).
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.
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.
This is one of the most visited markets in Madrid. Walking distance from Plaza Mayor, in the heart of the city. I love their concept, it’s not a traditional grocery market but a gourmet tapas market where you can get a beer from one vendor and some tapas from the other. Just find a place to sit (if you are lucky enough) and enjoy it! I strongly recommend the oysters and Cava, just to start. The Mercado de San Miguel is one of the best things in Madrid, and the popularity of the market’s food and wine stands and convivial atmosphere has soared to a stratospheric level. The weekends are heaving with happy locals and tourists alike munching on the gourmet goodies (stuffed peppers, oysters and champagne, Galician octopus, Catalan canelones, marinated olives, artisan cheeses, Jamón de Bellota, Chorizo, etc) and buckets of vino de Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Sherry, Cava, Priorat….
And if you find yourself in Madrid, a visit here is a must. Best enjoyed midweek and before dinnertime. If you don’t mind crowds, the weekends are a whole lot of fun. But take care with the pick-pockets … it’s a very touristic place.
Este é um dos lugares mais visitados em Madri. Perto da Plaza Mayor, no coração da cidade. Eu gosto do conceito do lugar, não é um mercado tradicional mas um espaço gourmet de tapas, onde vc pode pegar uma cerveja de um vendedor e algumas tapas de outro. Apenas escolha um lugar para se sentar (se vc tiver bastante sorte) e aproveite! Eu recomendo começar saboreando ostras e Cava. O Mercado de São Miguel é um dos melhores lugares de Madri e a popularidade do local é bem alta e tem uma boa atmosfera. Nos fins de semana fica muito movimentado e tem uma ampla variedade de produtos espanhois (pimentos recheados, ostras e champanhe, polvo da Galícia, canelones Catalanes, azeitonas marinadas, queijos artesanais, Presunto de Bellota, Chourizo etc) além de barris de vino da Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Sherry, Cava, Priorat….
Se vc estiver por Madri é certamente um lugar imperdível. Melhor passar por lá nos dias de semana, antes do jantar, para uns drinks. Se vc não se importa com multidão, nos fins de semana, fica muito movimentado. Mas cuidado com os batedores de carteira… É um lugar muito turístico.
San Lorenzo de El Escorial. I’ve been there many times, but last time was special because I was with my husband Luis, my son Gabriel and his girlfriend Juliete. Also known as El Escorial de Arriba is a town and municipality in the Community of Madrid, Spain, located to the northwest of the region in the southeastern side of the Sierra de Guadarrama, at the foot of Mount Abantos and Las Machotas, 47 kilometres (29 mi) from Madrid. It is head of the same name judicial party. The settlement is popularly called El Escorial de Arriba, to differentiate it from the neighbouring village of El Escorial, also known as El Escorial de Abajo.
The Monastery of El Escorial is the most prominent building in the town and is one of the main Spanish Renaissance monuments. Especially remarkable is the Royal Library, inside the Monastery.
The monastery and its historic surroundings were declared a World Heritage Site UNESCO on November 2, 1984, under the name of “El Escorial, monastery and site”.
The site also enjoys protection on Spain’s heritage register; since June 21, 2006, it has been protected by the Community of Madrid as a Property of Cultural Interest.
San Lorenzo de El Escorial is located on the southern slopes of the Mount Abantos (elevation 1753 m). The average altitude of the municipality is 1,032 metres (3,386 ft), and most of the urban area is above 1,000 metres (3,300 ft). The hamlet initially sprang up around Monastery of El Escorial, gradually extending up the mountain. In the 20th and 21st centuries, the town underwent a strong urban expansion, particularly towards the southeastern side of Mount Abantos.