A Year In Food

From New York to Costa Rica to Europe to California: 365 Days of Dining Out

Friday, August 26, 2005

Aug. 23.

Madrid, Part Two - Our second day involved another epic hike around the city. We ended up back at the Puerta del Sol, after finding almost every restaurante and supermercado closed. I suggested we try Maoz's vegetarian falafel, if only because I was getting very bored eating sandwich after sandwich. For 3.20 euros, I got a pita overloaded with five balls of fried chickpeas. There was also a salad bar, with plenty of tempting options to fill the pita with. After subsisting for a week on bread, meat, cheese, and raw produce, the concept of prepared veggies seemed like a godsend. I maxed out on great curried chickpeas, spiced carrots, butter pickles and three tongs' worth of salad. I also put plenty of the green salsa picante over everything. It made for a fantastic meal, my best of the trip. While the falafel wasn't quite up to the par of Alfanoose, the exteriors being a little too thick and deeply fried, all the extras put this lunch over the top. Already, we're planning on hitting up one of Maoz's five locations in Amsterdam.

After lunch, we visited the Prado, which was free on Sundays. I wasn't too impressed the first time I went, and similarly, I was left largely cold this time. The art in the museum's three-floor collection dates mostly in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, while my aesthetic veers toward the modern and abstract. (In hindsight, I should've gone back to the more contemporary Reina Sofia instead. When we tried on Tuesday, our last day in town, we learned that was when it was closed.) Post-Prado, we toured the Retiro, Madrid's signature park and, after only Central Park, my second favorite in the world. It was as alluring as ever.

For dinner, we of course made a return trip to the Museo del Jamon and bought some of that deep burgundy ham hanging proudly on display, some standard pink ham, a harder cow's cheese they featured as ¨especialidad de la casa,¨ and two whole wheat baguettes. It was all stunningly cheap and the special ham was stunningly good. Splitting a dirt-cheap bottle of Cabernet we picked up along the way, we had a feast in our hotel room, gambling on games of Texas Hold 'em to end our second day in Madrid.


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