May 11, 2008 - Posted by Erin in Food and wine

No crazy adventures for me this week, well aside from my usual excursions in Madrid. This week I made a couple of trips to downtown. The first was to meet with Jacob’s mother and one of his aunts. We had intended to visit an exposition of tapestries at the Royal Palace, but were unable to when we discovered it was the monthly changing of the guard and could not enter. Instead we enjoyed drinks at one of the terrazas in Plaza de Oriente, followed by lunch at Jacob’s parents’ house (where I discovered that no gazpacho compares to his mother’s – it’s heavenly!). Needless to say, after eight hours of solid Spanish, my head was pretty well saturated.

Thursday brought another outing in Madrid with another of Jacob’s aunts, Ana Maria. Ana Maria is pretty much an expert on all things Spain, so she kindly shared the history of some of the famous buildings and sites in Madrid and also took me to visit a barrio that I had not yet visited. This was all followed by a delicious lunch at her apartment in Madrid.

Just when I thought I couldn’t possibly absorb another drop of Spanish, that same night Jacob and I headed to a cata de vino (wine tasting) at a local restaurant. It was incredible! They provided a full explanation of five wines (in this case syrahs from around the world) followed by appetizers, all at no cost. The wine was fantastic, the food was perfection and the restaurant was totally impressive. As a result, we opted to stay for dinner (even though the appetizers were more than enough) and try their famous Argentinian steak (I know – me, steak?). On top of that, the owner of the restaurant treated us to a dessert plate and two glasses of champagne. Quite an impressive night!

Today we headed a bit out of Madrid for lunch at a friends house in a charming town called Cobeña. I baked a kahlua cake, which was no small feat given how impossible it is to find just about anything I need to cook here. Originally the plan for the day was for all of us to go to their ranch in the country to go horseback riding and enjoy the pool…..but the rain kind of messed up those plans. In the end it was perfect though – we all had a great time.

Other than that, I’ve just been spending my time trying to get more situated here. Everyday brings a laundry list of both challenging and comical experiences whether at the gym, the grocery store or elsewhere. About once a week I like to hit up Starbucks just to have a taste of home, but have decided I should change my name to Maria as the last two times I’ve been there my cup has read “Eri” and then “Eli”. Apparently “Erin” isn’t a common name here ;)….except for the occasional “oh, like ‘Erin Brokovich’?!”. Oy!