Wednesday, August 31, 2011


I can't believe I've only been here for 4 days! I really feel like I'm adjusting to the culture and language of the Spanish people. On Saturday when I went out to explore, I grabbed lunch at a local café called "Cervecería 100 Montaditos". The bar serves 100 different kinds of sandwiches on baguette rolls. I ordered the Pan Cereals, Gambas con tomate natural y lechuga (grain bread, shrimp, tomato salsa paste, lettuce) which is served with a side of freshly baked/fried chips.
It was delicious! But, I definitely didn't know it was going to be that time I'm going to order 3 different ones to try! And the best part? This meals was only 1.20E (about $1.73)! How great is that? And on Wednesdays, they have a 1E deal! You can bet I'll be frequenting this place for lunch :)

Later that evening, my friends Zahra and Soo arrived to the apartment and we spent the evening unpacking and settling in. Skip ahead to Sunday and we had a truly Spanish day. We embraced the 3:00PM lunch time with a menu del día (menu of the day). At 12E, each person gets a drink choice, appetizer, entree, and postre (dessert). We decided that we wanted to try a lot of unique Spanish dishes and each ordered something different to share.
Gazpacho (A Spanish-style soup made from tomatoes and other vegetables and spices, served cold)
Ensalada con atún (Salad with tuna--this is very typical)
Paella (A Spanish dish of rice, saffron, chicken, seafood, etc)
Churrasco de la Ternera a la Parilla (Grilled beef rib with potato fries and roasted red peppers)
Another dish with Ternero--it was very tender!
Tortilla Española (a thick egg omelet made with potatoes and cooked in olive oil)
Flan de huevo (egg custard with a typical Spanish cookie)
The flan de huevo was definitely our favorite, so delicious.
Flan (custard with caramel)
Helado (ice cream)
In Spain, almuerzo (lunch) lasts for nearly 2 hours. This is definitely something we're adjusting to here, but welcoming to leisurely time with open arms.

Later Sunday evening Zahra, Soo, and I met up with some other NYU students around 7PM and went to El Jardín Secreto (The Secret Garden) for some drinks. It was a cute place and I got a blended fruit juice drink and we all shared a brownie/ice cream/fruit dessert. Everything was great!
Afterwards, we explored the area on our way back home.
El Palacio Royal (The Royal Palace)
El Senado de Madrid (The Senate)
Stay tuned for my next post which will include more Spain pictures and food features!

Vale (Okay!), the Spaniards use this word in just about every sentence!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

I have arrived: Madrid, Spain!

Hello hello! I'm back in full force for blogging, Madrid edition!

This morning at 7:25AM (Spain time), 1:25AM EST, I arrived in Madrid, Spain to begin my four month study abroad adventure! My journey here was uneventful compared to the excitement on the east coast now--that is, hurricane Irene. She's bound and determined to delay flights out of the east coast. I flew from Cleveland to Washington, DC to Madrid in about 11 hours of total travel time--not bad! I slept a bit here and there, but most of the time I was reading, playing Sudoku, or watching movies ("Water for Elephants", anyone?)

I was starving by the time "dinner" rolled around at 8:30PM! Who knew the air crew was going to withhold food for that long?! The meal choices weren't too bad for airplane food--a choice of rosemary chicken with potatoes or ricotta tortellini in a tomato sauce. Well, that was a pretty easy choice for me seeing as I've been on a major ricotta cheese kick and I love Italian food. The entree came with a "side salad" (aka wilted greens), a dinner roll, and an oatmeal chewy brownie.
I'm feeling pretty good for getting about 3 hours of light napping on the plane ride from Washington, DC. I'm hoping to push through the day without sleeping and then crashing tonight to get in sync with Madrid time.

When I did finally make it off the plane I had to wait for my luggage for about 30 minutes. I then found my car service (I know, sounds fancy, but it was so convenient and worth the extra $$!) and had a quick 20 minute ride to my apartment. I met my landlords in the lobby and was welcome with the traditional European double cheek kiss--so cute! My landlords are some of the most kind people I've ever met! They are so excited to have me here and even took me out for my first Spanish meal--desayuno (breakfast) of (tea), café (coffee), pan tostado (toast), and churros (referred to as a Spanish doughnut). I wasn't able to take a picture, but it looked a lot like this:
After our breakfast, Segrario y Carlos (my landlords) drove me around town a bit to show me where los supermercados (supermarkets) and las farmacias (pharmacy) are as well as several well-known places in Madrid--Plaza Mayor, el Palacio Royal, el Prado, and many cafeterías (coffee house, small eating establishments). 

I am now back at my apartment working on unpacking my things to make this place home for the next 4 months. Check it out!
My room!
Nice window with a view of the great Madrid outdoors
Living Room
Living Room/Dining Area
Bedroom #2
Bedroom #3
Our apartment is huge! It's pretty cool that we each get our own bedroom! I'm waiting for my friends to arrive, I can't wait for them to get here so that we can start this adventure!

I'm thinking about heading outside soon to explore a bit, I just don't want to get lost, alone :/ So we shall see!

Catch ya later with an update on my first day in Madrid!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Book Review: The Help

Good Morning Blog World!

Today I'm coming at you with a book review.  Since I have a lot of time on the train in the mornings and evenings, I've been able to read a fair amount of books this summer. Fair amount being 10! The most recent book I finished was The Help by Kathryn Stockett. 
 According to her website's synopsis, The Help:

"Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step.

Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.
Minny, Aibileen's best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody's business, but she can't mind her tongue, so she's lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.

Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed."

This was by far the best book I read all summer. It was so captivating. But it was also extremely emotional. There were times where I found myself smiling one minute, tearing the next, and laughing to myself while drying my tears. Kathryn Stockett's writing is on point and true to the time. This book was very near and dear to my heart. Although I did not grow up in the south with a live in maid, I did grow up with an African American woman taking care of me while my parents were away working. I call her Nana, and she is one of the most important people in my life. I love her like I love my parents. She did, however, grow up during the time period in which this book takes place, and I found myself feeling some of the pain she experienced from segregation during those times.

I don't want to be super sappy here, but if there's a book you were going to read this year, this has got to be the one. And! The movie is coming out August 10th, so before you see the movie, read the book!

Anywho! I'm going out to dinner tonight with some friends for Restaurant Week, where NYC restaurants participate with pre-fix menus sampling some of their best dishes at an affordable price. I'll catch you later with a re-cap!