When and Where to Eat Cocido Madrileño

by Marina Diez

Cocido

Cocido is a very filling stew, especially recommended for cold winter days, or for when you have been toiling away in the open air and need to get some of your energies back.

It is usually served in two stages. The first consists of a broth, straight from a large pan where all the stew’s meat has been slowly simmering all morning. The second course is usually presented in a tray placed in the middle of the table containing chickpeas, cabagge, potato, carrot, and all the meat: beef, chicken, ham, chorizo and sometimes morcilla (black pudding).

In the late forties and most of the fifties, when Spain was quite poor, this dish was served in many houses in Madrid six days a week. The exception was Sundays, when something special, like roast chicken, would be prepared.

Where can I have cocido?

• In Madrid, it’s very common to find cocido on Tuesday’s menú del día. It usually appears as two dishes on the menu: the soup as sopa de cocido, and the rest as segundo de cocido.

Taberna Daniela: Metro: Goya, Velázquez, Príncipe de Vergara Address: C/ General Pardiñas, 21 Phone: 91 575 23 29 Hours: Daily 12-17:30 and 20:00-24:00 (to 1:00 Fridays and Saturdays).

See map below for location: Continue reading

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Posted in Eating out & Madrid Restaurants, How To's / Where To's, Traditional | 7 Comments

How to Get a Job Teaching English in Madrid

by Katie Goldstein

The easiest way for an English-speaking expat to earn a living in this city is to teach English. There’s always demand for teachers—it’s up to you how you decide to market yourself.

There are two main routes you can take to becoming an English teacher: freelancing, where you pick your classes and schedule, or working in academies or language schools, where you’re guaranteed a certain amount of job (and income) stability.

If you choose to go freelance, put an ad up on Loquo (pick “classes” and then “languages”) and don’t forget to mention that you’re a native. You can also investigate the classifieds in InMadrid or any other English-language publication. Finally, it wouldn’t hurt to put up an ad in any of the English-language bookshops around town. As for rates: aim high, but keep with the going rate. Ask around to get a feel for how much people are charging.

If you go the academy/language schools route, Madrid Teacher is a great resource. There’s a list of many of the city’s academies and then pretty reliable reviews of some of them. The site is full of resources for teachers (freelance, too!), so definitely spend a while looking around.

If you’re North American, there’s one more option for teaching English in Madrid: the auxiliar program. Here you’re not a full-time teacher, instead you work in the public schools helping the English teachers. And since you only work part-time as an auxiliar, you’ll have plenty of free time to pick up some private classes and earn yourself some more money!

Posted in How To's / Where To's | 1 Comment

To See: Palacio Real, To Avoid: Palacio Real Guided Tour

by Amy Menchhofer

Palacio Real

Para gustos hay colores.” This common Spanish phrase, meaning more or less that there are as many preferences as there are colors, sums up the state of affairs when discussing the famous Palacio Real in Madrid.

The royal palace is clearly a gem among the city’s numerous historical spots. But, when it comes to the tour of the Palacio, I see red. As in a big red X. Avoid it. Don’t be swept away by the romantic idea of a grandiose palace with sweeping staircases, royal jewels, and hidden mysteries. Not that they don’t exist, but you aren’t likely to hear any details on the standard, very run-of-the-mill tour. This is no Tower of London. And these are no Beefeaters. The unenthusiastic guides barely manage to provide an adequate introduction to the numerous clocks, mirrors, and chandeliers throughout the palace. And the sheer number of rooms visited (and the time spent describing said clocks) can put you in a trance.

Although the guided tour will set you back just 2€ more than the unguided admission, I recommend saving those euros for a caña. Wandering through the palace on your own allows you the time to gaze out the windows, bypass the slow-moving tour groups, and dedicate more time to the highlights of the palace including the throne room and the numerous masterpieces by some of the Spanish greats. And if you find yourself craving more information on a particular room, you can always slyly dawdle around one of the groups.

One must-see on your palace visit is the exterior. The best parts of the compound are the incredible palace façade and the extensive Sabatini gardens to the north. Admission for the gardens is free and there you can wander through the greenery, indulging yourself in the romantic fantasies that went unfulfilled during the tour.

(Ed. note: Other highlights are the room with the quintet of Stradivarius stringed instruments, the royal armory, and the gorgeous Campo del Moro, the park below the western façade of the palace.)

Metro: Ópera Address: Calle Bailén at the Plaza de Oriente Hours: Monday-Saturday 9:30-17:00 (winter), 9:00-18:00 (summer); Sundays 9:00-14:00 (winter) and 9:00-15:00 (summer). Continue reading

Posted in Culture, Travel tips | 1 Comment

Day Trip to Alcalá: Literary Roots

by Julie Espinosa

Cervantes

Alcalá de Henares, 25 km east of Madrid, is a charming UNESCO world heritage city worth a day trip. Its claim to fame is being the birthplace of Miguel de Cervantes, the author of Don Quijote de la Mancha.

1. Museo-Casa Cervantes: Learn here about Cervantes’ life and get a glimpse of life in the 17th century and copies of Don Quijote on display. Free admission.

2. Universidad de Alcalá: Tour the university campus, spread through the city center, which boasts very old buildings and a particularly impressive main façade. You can also see the city’s native stork population roosting overhead.

3. Plaza de Cervantes: Stroll the main plaza of the city, anchored by a statue of its namesake. Nearby is the city tourist office and an art exhibition space in the Capilla de Oidor. Alacalaínos love to congregate here, especially around sunset.

4. Calle Mayor: Explore this pedestrian-only cobblestone street to the north of Plaza de Cervantes, with its shops and cafés.

5. Semana Cervantina: If you can visit for Cervantes’ birthday celebration (October 9), you’ll be in for a week-long medieval festival and other events paying homage to the author.

You can get to Alcalá in about 40 minutes via Cercanías lines C-1, C-2 or C-7, departing from Atocha in Madrid.

See map below for locations mentioned above: Continue reading

Posted in Beyond Madrid | 3 Comments

How to Find a Job in Madrid

by Amy Menchhofer

You’ve landed in Madrid, passed through customs, and checked into your temporary digs at one of the city’s hostels. But you’re not looking for a whirlwind tour of the Spanish capital. You’re looking to stay. So, first things first — how can you find a job in Madrid?

There are two major online job search engines that are used throughout Spain: infojobs.net and infoempleo.com. Both of these sites are extremely user-friendly. You can search the listings (narrowing the search by city, industry, sub-industry and key word) without signing up for the site, but to submit your résumé you’ll have to join. Both sites are entirely in Spanish, but you will find the occasional listing in English. A bit of advice — do some online research to find out the Spanish equivalent to your educational level. Most listings include the minimum required degree level and it’s best to know your way around that terminology. Once you’ve applied to a job you’ll be able to check your “status” on your private menu. As the companies review your résumé, they can change your status to “in process,” “finalist,” or “discarded.” If you see that you’re one of the first two, expect a phone call shortly.

Are you looking to work in the hospitality industry? There are listings for these fields on the above-mentioned sites, but your best bet is to wander the streets of the city center (where the bars, restaurants, and hotels are at their densest) searching for help wanted signs. These pop up most frequently in the early summer months when tourism skyrockets. You’ll do best to dress professionally, wander with CV in hand, and expect frequent rejections. Continue reading

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Battle of the Brunches: Part I

by Faye Davies

Café Oliver brunchSince the demise of the much-loved Bluefish a couple of years ago, the word ‘brunch’ in Madrid has become synonymous with mounting gloom. Take Café Oliver, for instance. Michelin-starred, and charging 24€ for their offering, it would be natural to expect from them something in the region of culinary delight.

Forget it. I’ve been twice. My first visit inspired only vague disappointment: small portions, stinginess with re-fills, average food, and just-about adequate service. My second visit, more recently, provoked outright fury. After an underestimated (on their part) wait of forty minutes, it took a further ten for them just to take our order.

A bad start to a soul-draining experience. For want of space, I’ll be sparing with the details. Suffice to say I’ve had better hamburgers from street stalls, better pancakes from economy supermarkets, and better service in government buildings. The fruit juice had run out; the waiter brought the dregs of someone else’s honey instead of my maple syrup; the coffee arrived lukewarm… You get the picture.

Hungry, angry and tired, I would have walked out without paying had my companion not had more compassion and class. My only consolation is I do know one wonderful brunch establishment, which I’ll be writing about in the very near future. Watch this space – and feel free to write in with your own recommendations.

Posted in Eating out & Madrid Restaurants | 7 Comments

Top 5 Seasonal Pastries in Madrid

by Julie Espinosa

Torrijas

Spanish pastries are here to tempt you year-round, with the chocolate napolitanas of La Mallorquina or the chocolate con churros at Chocolatería San Ginés, for example.

But their scale-tipping powers become even harder to resist around holidays. At these times, be prepared to either let out the belt a notch or hit the gym a little harder, for you won’t want to miss at least trying these special pastries, available for a few weeks at most at your local pastelería.

Here are my top five favorite seasonal Spanish pastries:

5. December/January: I really don’t like the round, sometimes cream-filled roscón de reyes, but it is super popular with most people around Christmas and Reyes (Epiphany).

4. November: For Day of the Dead you’ll find marzipan shaped like huesos de santos or saints’ bones with various sweet fillings. Nothing like religious relic-tinged culinary humor.

3. November: Another All Saints’ Day specialty are cream puffs, buñuelos de viento. There’s no linguistic link, but they always remind me of Spanish surreal filmmaker Luis Buñuel.

2. May: Madrid’s got its own special treat for the Fiestas de San Isidro, in honor of the city’s patron saint. Try these anise-flavored donuts or rosquillas de anís.

1. March/April: Described by one Spanish girl I know as a “bomba de calorías,” torrijas, or Spain’s version of French toast, are a cinnamon-sugary fried treat sold around Holy Week.

Posted in Weird : Quirky : Fun | 4 Comments