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Eating Our Way Around Spain By Marilyn Baron

Marilyn BaronThere is a long tradition around food and cooking in Spain. Anyone who knows me, knows I love to eat. And I found a lot to love in Spain. My favorite dish was the seafood paella. I also ate a lot of gazpacho. We had some great meals in Spain and I’ll mention just a few places we visited.

In Madrid, we went to El Rincón de Esteban, at Santa Catalina, 3, in Madrid www.elrincondeesteban.com, and it was delicious. The proprietor met us outside the door and constantly came to our table to make sure everything was okay. His wife supervised in the kitchen and kept a watchful eye on the diners and the wait staff. We sampled cava (Spanish sparkling wine) and were plied with appetizers. We were with a group of people, all of whom enjoyed their meals — primarily seafood. The owner walked us out and presented us each with a flower.

We also had two wonderful meals in Seville. After a tour of the cathedral, we had a great lunch at Robles, www.roblesrestaurantes.com. The bread was good, and so was the selection of Spanish cheeses, the gazpacho and the friedlangostinos. And for dinner in Seville, at Restaurante La Isla, we ordered the paella and it was easily the most wonderful thing I’ve ever tasted. It was paella for two and my sister and I couldn’t finish it. I tried the paella in Barcelona, but didn’t like it because it was dark (squid ink was involved) not yellow (with saffron). Maybe it’s a regional thing.

The hotels on the tour were luxurious and centrally located: Le Meridien Barcelona; Alhambra Palace Hotel in Granada; the Hotel Alfonso XIII in Seville; and The Westin Palace in Madrid. The meals, views from the room and the rooms themselves were unbelievable. One of the hotels even had a gold bathroom.

Then we walked along Las Ramblas to Barcelona’s largest open market, the Boqueria, where you could choose from candy, fresh seafood, everything under the sun. It was like a farmer’s market on steroids. Oh, and the gelato at Amorino on Las Ramblas was not to be missed. You get three flavors in a cone, all shaped into the form of rose petals. One thing to keep in mind. When we walked into the shop, nobody waited on us. We finally figured out that you have to pay for the gelato first,then go to the counter, hand them the receipt and tell them which flavors you want. Apparently, that’s the way it’s done in Europe. Stracciatella (chocolate chip) is my favorite flavor.

Lots to shop for in Spain: from shawls and castanets to jewelry and ceramics.
Museums: In Madrid alone, we visited three: The Prado, which featured Spanish, Italian, French, German and Flemish painting, sculptures, drawings and prints and decorative arts. Then there was the Reina Sofía, which housed Picasso’s Guernica. Finally, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, which had a very impressive collection.

The landscapes of Spain were breathtaking, each place was better than thenext. We took buses, the high-speed AVE train and a plane to complete our trip. The impact of Moorish, Jewish and Christian influences was evident. All in all, I guess I would have to say that Seville and Madrid were my favorite cities. I hope you all get an opportunity to visit Spain. There are so many more places in that country we didn’t go so I hope I can go back one day to see what I missed.

Georgia Author Marilyn Baron writes humorous women’s fiction, humorous paranormal short stories and romantic suspense. Her latest release, Dead Mix was released in July by TWB Press at http://www.twbpress.com/deadmix.html. To read more about “The Edger,” visit her blog at Petit Fours and Hot Tamales at http://www.petitfoursandhottamales.com/marilyn-baron/; for her angel stories visit TWB Press at: http://www.twbpress.com/achoirofangels.html. Find her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Marilyn-Baron/286807714666748. Her next book, “Under the Moon Gate,” a romantic thriller set in contemporary and WW II Bermuda, will be released from The Wild Rose Press in spring 2013.

Pam Asberry - September 21, 2012 - 1:30 am

I have never been to Spain but my 21yo started out his 7-week European tour in Madrid. I can hardly wait for him to get home so I can see all the pictures and hear all his stories!

Mary Preston - September 21, 2012 - 4:33 am

I’d go for the food alone & then I would shop. I always imagined Spain to be beautiful.

Marilyn Baron - September 21, 2012 - 7:03 am

Pam, I’ll be interested in hearing what your son had to say about Spain.

Mary, thanks for commenting. I actually didn’t expect to like Spain as much as I did. When I was a student in Italy, I never traveled there because it was too far by train. And then I never went back until I left on a cruise from Barcelona. But I never really got to see much of the city. On this trip I got to see a lot of Barcelona but I would definitely go back to Spain. I would like to visit Northern Spain or one of the Spanish islands. My favorite thing I bought was a wide silver cuff bracelet.

Anonymous - September 21, 2012 - 8:11 am

Marilyn-
Enjoyed reading your food tour of Spain! Wandering the shops, open air markets and foods in the local restaurants is my favorite way to taste the culture :-) Love paella too… never tried squid ink paella …only Italian squid ink pasta, considered a delicacy. Thanks for posting.

Tamara LeBlanc - September 21, 2012 - 8:18 am

One of my best friends went to Spain for her honeymoon years ago. From her stories I always wanted to go. She stayed in Madrid and said it was so wonderful she didn;t want to leave.
When I was in college my 1st two years I swam for a Jr College (I was a homebody back then and was afraid to leave home:) It was a big exclusive Jr college in Fla and we had a great swim team. Our coach recruited swimmers from all over the world. There were only 4 Americans on the team including me. The rest were from Brazil, Argentina, London, South Africa, The Canary Islands, Canada, and last but not least, Spain. The Spanish swimmer was female and her name was Munci. She was an amazing person. She came to us not speaking a lick of English. All she could say was yes, no and bathroom :) She was very, very nice, and very , very smart…she learned perfect English (with an accent of course) in exactly three months. 3MONTHS!!
We were all blown away.
Once she learned how to speak English she told us stories of Spain and that was the first time I vowed that I would one day travel there.
Hopefully that dream will come true one day. I’d love to go with my husband and my sisters.
You’re so fortunate to be so well traveled, Marilyn.
Than k you for sharing such a wonderful post. I truly enjoyed it and get to travel vicariously through you.
I hope to see you at M&M
Hugs,
Tamara

Marilyn Baron - September 21, 2012 - 8:34 am

Tamara,
What an interesting story about your swim team and Munci. That is amazing that she learned to speak English in just three months. I think I took six years of Spanish in grade school in Miami and I can only say yes, no and bathroom. Oh yes, and where is the notebook? I hope you do get to go to Spain. I know you will love it and next week on Friday I’ll be blogging about all the American literary ties to Spain. I will see you at Moonlight & Magnolias

Marilyn Baron - September 21, 2012 - 9:46 am

Dear Anonymous,

Thanks for commenting. I think I know who you are, and if so, you are the master of culinary excellence. I’m sure you could make your own paella and it would be wonderful. I agree, wandering around the shops and markets and tasting the food is a great way to get to know a city.

AJ Kirby - September 21, 2012 - 10:31 am

I love Madrid. Buzzing city, great food, and good people. Cracking architecture too, and I’m not just talking about the soccer stadium. Barcelona I’ve not been to yet, but definitely on the hit list. (On a side note, France also excellent for food – Lyon comes highly recommended)… AJ Kirby

Marilyn Baron - September 21, 2012 - 10:43 am

AJ,

Thanks for commenting.Yes, I loved Madrid, too. The reason I went on this trip to Spain was just to see The Prado, but the city was so much more than I expected. I would go back there anytime. I love France, too, but have never been to Lyon. I’ve heard it is wonderful. I’ve been to France and Italy a number of times and thought for a change I would try Spain, and I wish I had done it sooner.

Carol Burnside - September 21, 2012 - 3:44 pm

You took me down memory lane, Marilyn.

Hubby and I went to Barcelona in 2010 for our 30th anniversary. We spent 2 days sight-seeing before boarding our cruise ship. Las Ramblas and the Boqueria was wonderful. We ate in a small seafood place in the Boqueria. First time I’d had razor clams and they were delicious.

I’d love to go back to Spain and explore more of it.

Marilyn Baron - September 21, 2012 - 4:06 pm

Carol,
I’m glad my post brought back happy memories. It sounds like you had a great trip. I never had razor clams. I’ll have to try them. I hope you do go back.

Linsey Lanier - September 21, 2012 - 7:05 pm

What a delicious trip, Marilyn. Now I want to try that paella. I found a recipe here, but it’s probably not like what you experienced. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/the-ultimate-paella-recipe/index.html

I’d love to see that gold bathroom. Bet you enjoyed that. :)

Marilyn Baron - September 21, 2012 - 7:28 pm

Linsey,
It would probably be impossible to duplicate that paella. I’ve never had anything like it. I will send you a picture of the gold bathroom after I get home from dinner. Ha ha. Food again. Thanks for commenting.

Sia Huff - September 22, 2012 - 12:28 pm

Marilyn,
Sounds delicious. I thought gelato was an Italian ice cream, so it’s interestig that they have it in Spain.
I love wandering through the Boqueria, seeing everything they had to offer. How long did it take you?
Wonderful post :)

Marilyn Baron - September 22, 2012 - 3:02 pm

Sia,

As far as I know, gelato is Italian. I remember eating it when I was a student in Italy eons ago, but I guess gelato is so good, everyone claims it. We were on a tour at the time and the Boqueria was our first stop, so I’d say we had about 30-45 minutes to explore on our own and we could have stayed longer but we had other stops on the tour.
I’m glad you liked the post.

Maxine Davis - September 23, 2012 - 9:44 pm

Marilyn, it sounds so wonderful! You make it come to life. I have always wanted to visit Spain. Maybe one day…

Marilyn Baron - September 23, 2012 - 10:30 pm

Maxine,
I’m glad you liked the post. I hope you do get to go to Spain one day.

Susan Carlisle - September 24, 2012 - 9:36 am

Marilyn,
You go on the greatest trips. I love hearing about the food. It is such a cultural thing. A great way to learn about the people.

Marilyn Baron - September 24, 2012 - 3:12 pm

Susan,
I think you’re right about the food being a way to learn about the people of the country. Thanks for commenting.

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