Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Snow the Size of Golfballs...

It was going to snow, it wasn't going to snow, my friend Nic Z, said it was too cold for rain and she was right. Tiff and I were at Carrefour, and when we came out, we saw it...tiny little flakes. Soon...those tiny little flakes turned into the biggest flakes I have ever seen in my life! They were literally the size of golfballs!!!! Pictures just weren't cutting it, so I took some video. Unfortunately, for the kids, it all turned to rain overnight, and the school bus came right on time...oh well...it was fun while it lasted...Hasta luego...
video

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

And the Winner Is...

video

For the past week I have been having a facebook follower drive! I wanted to increase the number of facebook followers on my blog, so Tiff and I came up with the idea to have a drawing for a "Taste of Spain" giveaway. Any new facebook followers, and any old followers who had friends start following because of them, were entered into a drawing that includes Spanish pottery, olive oil, sherry vinegar, glazes, spreads, crackers, chocolate, and more. Thanks to my facebook friends, my followers increased by over 100%. Pretty cool! So we held the drawing this morning before the kids went to school, and the lucky winner is Jenn Walton!!!! Congrats, Jen! I have to take a trip to the pottery town on Puente, to finish up the basket, and then I'll have it the mail in time to arrive before Christmas. Pictures to follow of all the goodies! Maybe she can even have a Tapas party for New Year's Eve...

My son encouraged me to draw two more names for a consellation prize. I don't want to let it out of the bag yet. I have a fun little item in mind, but i have to go downtown to see if I can find it! The runners' up in the drawing were Heather McAlpine and Tracey Buckholt! Your goodies will be on their way to arrive before Christmas as well. Congratulations to all! Also, in a few days I will be sending out the fabulous sangria recipe to all my facebook followers and to any new facebook follower in the future! I will also be trying this again before summer for those who follow me on google. Thanks to you all! Hasta luego...

Wordless Wednesday #34


Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Oldest Restaurant in the World--Botin in Madrid!

In the immortal words of my good friend, Nickie, "I'm turning 40 and my husband is taking me to the oldest restaurant in the world!" I, for one, think that should make you feel young. After all, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, the Restaurante Sobrino de Botin is over 280 years old. Next to that, turning 40 is nothing. Here's the birthday girl, looking over the menu...
So that was my first time going to Botin...for Nickie's birthday. It was pretty neat. We ate upstairs that night. Roast suckling pig is their specialty, but the filet mingnon is also stellar.This little get together was a surprise for our friend. She knew she was going out to dinner, she just didn't know we'd be there too.Outside after dinner, deciding where to go next...Tiff and I are talking...as usual.Fast-forward ten months, and we are back again...this time with my mom. This time, we sat in the cellar, the oldest part of the restaurant which dates back to 1725. Many of the clubs and restaurants here in Madrid are below ground...perhaps it's an attempt to keep cool on those hot summer nights...Once again, I skipped the suckling pig, because like my friend, Jen C, I live by the adage, "Mommas don't eat babies." This is hard to manage in Spain, where they LOVE eating baby animals...It was filet mignon again for me and it was delicioso! Botin is definitely a place for tourists, but locals like it too. I don't shy away from places the tourists go...If a city is famous for something, there is usually a pretty good reason and not going somewhere just because everyone wants to see it means you might be missing out on something great. Such is the case with Botin. You will definitely need reservations. It's great for groups big and small and you can even go home with your own Sangria pitcher for a pretty good price. If they start to seat you upstairs, I recommend that you ask to be seated in the cellar. We did and it was much cooler and I loved the old brick archways. It was really neat.
If you have been to Botin, please feel free to leave your comments about your experience here. Hasta luego...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Flamenco...Show Tips for/from Dummies!

If you've ever read the book, 1000 Places to See Before You Die, and if you can remember it...one of these "places" is right here in Madrid...Going to a Flamenco Show at the Corral de la Moreria. My friends, Tiff and Nic Z have both taken their families to a show there and really enjoyed it. Tiff's only advice...DON'T sit in the front row or you run the risk of getting sweat droplets in your copa de vino which can ruin your appetite for you big expensive meal...noted! Nic Z and family just went for the show and still sat very near the stage, though, thanks to Tiff...out of the "Sweat Zone." We went for the show only, were seated near the back and though we enjoyed the show, we think a few things done differently and we would have had a tremendous experience closer to the stage...Learn from our mistakes and I think you will definitely be glad you went to the Corral de la Moreria before you are cold and dead in the grave...

The Corral de la Moreria is located on Calle de Moreria, just off Calle de Bailen near the Palacio Real and the Cathedral, was started by Manuel de Rey in 1956. It is the most well known tablao flamenco in the world and has seen many celebrities walk through its doors, such as Cybil Sheppard, Brendan Fraser, Adrian Brody, Natalie Portman, Samuel L Jackson, Michael Douglas, Latoya Jackson, Demi Moore, Hugh Grant, Sandra Bullock, Liza Minelli, and Mariah Carey, just to name a few. Once you wistness a show here, you will have no doubt as to why this place is so popular. The players, singers and dancers truly are amazing. There are many tablaos flamencos all over Madrid. It is said that true flamenco, by it very nature, is raw, powerful, spontaneous and usually occurs after midnight. This is all well and good for city dwellers who have the time to visit flamenco bars night after night, listening to music and hoping that someone will feel inspired to get up and dance. If this is your cup of tea, the Casa Patas is still considered one of the best places to see a more spontaneous version of flamenco. However, dancing does not always occur and frankly, for most of us, I think, seeing the dancing is the point. Plus, most tourists can't wait until after midnight to see a show or they won't be able to get up early to get in line for the palace tour. ;-) That's why I think the Corral de la Moreria is the best bet for everyone. You get to see some amazing dancing, listen to incredible music, see the dancers and musicians milling about outside between shows. They eat at the tapas bar next door, and I think you should too. It has fabulous views of the Catherdral in all it's nighttime glory...get the chorizo and spanish tortilla. Their olives are to die for and the sangria is decent, though Naturbier in the Plaza de Santa Ana has the best Sangria in town, in my humble opinion. Below is the male dancer from our show, talking on his cell phone between performances.
I love the intensity of Flamenco dancers...They do such a good job of conveying emotion...
Here is a video we took of the final dance of the evening...Those ladies feet move so fast...
video
This is the first time we have been to a flamenco show. I'm so glad we were able to do it while my mom was here this summer. Nana is a big fan of dance! We wish we had a better seat, but it was still a great experience...This lady was so amazing...I loved these photos! Even though they are not completely "crisp," I think they really show the movement flamenco. These dancers are moving so fast that they are almost a blur...There were three female dancers and one male dancer. They were so amazing! The ladies in the crowd were going crazy for the the male dancer. He was quite the dish and very talented...He was really working hard and was quite sweaty...I think it may have been his sweat that dropped into Tiff wine glass when she was there...hahaha So, now that I've shown you why Corral de la Moreria is a great place to see flamenco in Madrid, here are some tips to help you make the most of your experience there:

1. Call and make your reservation ahead of time, then show up early and get a good seat. We ate tapas at the cafe next door ahead of time. We did have a reserved table, but I think they fill up from the front first. So come early, we didn't. I don't think you HAVE to do the full meal. Nic Z didn't, but I think we would have been seated a little closer to the stage if we'd arrived 20min early.

2. I would arrive early to the early show (there are usually 2 shows a night 10pm and midnight in the summer), then wait and eat outdoors at the cafe next door and watch all the singers, dancers and musicians milling around outside between shows. Or eat before hand and people watch and attend the late show which won't be as crowded.

3. Don't go in August if at all possible...that's when most of the tourists are here...and a lot of them travel with their kids, most of whom could care less about flamenco and you'll have to work hard NOT to be distracted by their ipads and games. Just look at what they missed... video
Hope you go and enjoy it! Hasta luego...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Beat the Madrid Heat Tour: Part 5 - A Tale of Two Museums in Copenhagen

Whenever we visit a city's museums, we try to balance what our kids' often see as "boring" museums with fun and visually stimulating design museums. Such was the case in Copenhagen...we happened upon this great Museum of Modern Design. It was bright and cheerful, and had many displays in English. There were lots of interactive displays, as well, which the kids loved, of course. I highly recommend design museums if you are traveling with kids.
I had never thought about it before, but the Royal Copenhagen line of fine china began because it was designed for and used by the Danish Royal family. Below you'll see one of the company's latest patterns...
More Danish designs...recognizeable perhaps...legos...
I took a picture of this chair because it looks almost exactly like a set of 4 chairs we bought at my father-in-law's company's moving sale...We got our solid wood chairs for a mere 5 bucks each...a steal!

More cool chairs...
Loved this display of hanging lamps...
Loved this bike and how you can fold it up! Expensive, but totally cool!
Talk about a cool way to turn trash into treasure...Pretty comfy outcome too...
We did manage to find a pretty cool "art" museum, though...Billed as Scandinavia's top art gallery, the Ny Carlsburg (Yes, like the beer) Glyptotek, has the typical items like paintings and sculptures, but it also boasts a major Egyptian exhibit. They even have a real mummy with a fingers sticking out...What kid wouldn't think that's cool???
Would you ever guess by looking at the at the outside of this museum that you would find this oasis of a garden on the inside?
We made out way into the Egyptian wing and we were amazed...
This sarcophagus held one of the mummies on display...
Someone's crypt...
More figures...
The mummies...I never knew the patterns created by wrapping the bodies were so intricate...
Notice the thumb sticking out there...
After a couple of hours of roaming around...we felt a little like these guys...hahaha...Hasta luego...

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