Tag Archives: beer

If I am what I eat, call me Bocadillo de Jamon: Madrid

11 Apr

After a weekend of no sleep and beach parties in the Barcelona sun followed by a couple days of detoxing on the pristine Ibiza beaches, I couldn’t imagine how Madrid could get any better. Besides the little bump in the road when the airport ATM ate my debit card and absolutely no one could help me, Madrid quickly proved me wrong and stole my heart! Above all reasons to love this lively capital city is a wonderful man by the name of Chimo.

This is Chimo!

This is Chimo!

I have found that spending time with locals makes a travel experience 10 times more enjoyable and unforgettable. I was extremely lucky to be connected to Chimo because he is the cousin of my mom’s Marquette roommate’s husband. Chimo adopted the 4 of us girls for a couple days: Wined and dined us, but mostly wined as he tried and succeeded to get us pretty tipsy by midday. For our first meal in Madrid, Chimo took us out for an authentic Madrileno lunch. We first tried to meet him for our reservation at a restaurant in the city, but when we showed up the gates were up and it seemed closed down (Holy Week shenanigans..). Change of plans: Chimo arranged for us to meet at Casa Carola a bit outside the city, so we hopped in a cab and he met us there on his bike.. Harley that is. Yep, he’s a badass dad. Chimo took charge and ordered the table Cocido Madrileno, a traditional stew from Madrid. It was a rainy day in Madrid, so this hearty soup did the trick!

The base: stock and noodles

The base: stock and noodles

Beef, Chorizo, Pork Belly & Blood Sausage

Beef, Chorizo, Pork Belly & Blood Sausage

Chicken, Beef Bone Marrow & Jammon Iberico

Chicken, Beef Bone Marrow & Jammon Iberico

CHICKPEAS! Cabbage, potatoes, and carrots

CHICKPEAS! Cabbage, potatoes, and carrots

We went back for seconds.. or thirds.. fourths? I can’t remember. As much as I was paying attention to how delicious our meal was, Chimo’s stories were way too distracting! He definitely wins coolest father for life award! We heard of his wild experience running with the bulls and another event where he ran to the center of the arena and had to crack open a bottle of beer before the bull charged him, or else he couldn’t take the beer! What Europeans do for a drink, I tell ya! As if we weren’t stuffed enough at this point, out came dessert.

Flan

Flan

Arroz con leche

Arroz con leche

Torrijas - taste like french toast!

Torrijas – taste like french toast!

And the best for last! As if the wine during lunch didn’t already do the trick to the 4 detoxed girls, Chimo ordered 2 bottles of the Spanish version of grappa called Aguardiente and Orujo de hierbas. With the exception of Chimo because he’s a champ, the unanimous favorite was orujo de hierbas because it was sweeter and stung less. He had to practically shove it down Madison’s throat, but once it was down she kept coming back for more! “Arriba, Abajo, Al centro, Al dentro!” 

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"Do it, bitch" - Chimo

“Do it, bitch” – Chimo

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Now it was time to walk it all off! We got a tour of the city from the best, wisest, and funniest tour guide in town: CHIMO! We met back up in Puerta del Sol which is a sight in and of itself. This place is loaded with hooligans. You feel like you’re in an amusement park and it doesn’t feel safe. The costumes weren’t even good, they were cracked out versions of Spongebob, the Smurfs, Mario, and Spiderman with a beer belly.

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Before leaving the square we stopped to pop a squat on Spain’s “Km 0” point.

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Chimo took us past the Opera House to the enormous Palacio Real and Catedral de La Almudena.

Holy Week procession

Holy Week procession

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You can’t really escape the gypsies and hooligans in Europe. Gypsies with their squeaky toys and headless business men congregated in the other famous plaza in Madrid, Plaza Mayor. We soon discovered how fun it is to hang out here in the late hours of the night with our 1 euro bocadillos de jamon as Luke pets babies in their mom’s arms…

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To finish off the tour, Chimo walked us around El Mercado de San Miguel right outside Plaza Mayor. This semester abroad has made me a big fan of the public markets and that much more excited to come home to Milwaukee’s. The best paella we had in Spain was right here in the San Miguel market. We also had the churros with chocolate and drinking the leftover chocolate from the cup put us right over the edge! Chimo couldn’t leave us without feeding us some sort of alcohol, why not Vermouth! I’m not used to seeing something other than beer on tap, but the sweet Vermouth de Grifo was a nice fruity change.

Paella with squid ink

Paella with squid ink

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Jamon Iberico

Jamon Iberico

Vermouth de Grifo

Vermouth de Grifo

Our first night we met up with Luke and Brad who met us here from Seville. Right up the road from Puerta del Sol we discovered this unbeatable deal of a bucket of Heineken for 5 euro at Bulevart. We were sold! The big Spain v. France World Cup qualifying game was on, so it was fun to see the place riled up with sweaty B.O. smelling fans from both sides. Luke flooded the bathroom (adding to the stank) and we befriended a lonesome guy who we saw hanging out with drug dealers and prostitutes the next day. Oh the friends you make in Europe..

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Day 2 and Round 2 for Tapas con Chimo!! After buying a pair of handmade espadrille sandals from Casa de Hernanz right outside Plaza Mayor, we met Chimo a couple metro stops outside the city at La Repanocha de Tapas. The owner and cook is Chimo’s friend Quique and everything he made was melt-in-your-mouth outstanding!!

Quique and his ladies

Quique and his ladies

Some people don’t like tapas, or don’t understand them, but that’s because they’ve never had tapas like this before! The name derives from when people didn’t want bugs in their drinks so they would cover them with their plate of food, therefore “tapas” comes from the Spanish word “tapar” meaning “to cover”. Just like yesterday, we let Chimo take the reigns and the food never stopped coming.

Spanish omelette with tomatoes and onions

Spanish omelette with tomatoes and onions

Goat cheese salad

Goat cheese salad

Cecina - say it with the Spanish accent (Allison's fave!)

Cecina – say it with the Spanish accent (Allison’s fave!)

Bacalao with avocado

Bacalao with avocado

Blood sausage spring rolls

Blood sausage spring rolls

Tripe (Cow stomach)

Tripe (Cow stomach)

Entrecotte from the Esla Valley

Entrecotte from the Esla Valley

Tangerine and Mascarpone ice cream

Tangerine and Mascarpone ice cream

Tiramisu

Tiramisu

There’s no way anyone could possibly say they don’t like tapas after a meal like this one. We undoubtedly had enough food, but it was so delicious that I could have gone back in for seconds! Allison had to excuse herself from the table when the tripe came out, but everyone else dug in and devoured it, scraping the bottom with pieces of bread. Once again, no meal with Chimo is complete without the digestivos: Orujo blanco and Orujo de hierbas.

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Chimo left each of us with flash drives full of Spanish music, aka my new favorite playlist. None of us wanted to say goodbye. It felt like we had spent weeks with Chimo and it was all coming to an end. But not to worry because we all planned a Route 66 road trip together, so the good times will continue!

CHIMO, YOU DA MAN!

CHIMO, YOU DA MAN!

I won’t bore you guys with “museum talk”, but we spent the rest of the afternoon museum hopping from El Museo del Prado to La Reina Sofia. The Prado is one of the world’s largest museums, neck-in-neck with the Louvre. La Reina Sofia has wild modern art and is the kind of museum where you’ll find a massive crowd starring in deep focus at a blank white canvas on a wall.. WHAT DO YOU SEE THAT I DON’T?! As cheap college students we discovered the free entrance deals for the Prado 6pm-8pm and La Reina Sofia 7pm-9pm. A quick (free) walk through both is definitely worth it just to say you’ve gone!

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I was most surprised by how cheap Madrid is! If you’re smart, you could spend close to nothing and still have an unbelievable time! Which was very relieving as Allison took on the role as my Sugar Mama and paid for everything after my debit card dilemma. Besides Bulevart, we found a few other awesome dirt cheap places for food and drinks! One of the chicest looking is called Copas Rotas (right outside the walls of Plaza Mayor) and caught our eye with it’s unbeatable 1 Euro glasses of wine, beer, and tapas! The bartenders were gorgeous too.. you can even hear it in the sound of their voices as they call your name to come grab your tapas. I’d let them grab my tatas any day..

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Next may be our favorite and easiest to find: Museo de Jamon. It’s a chain all around the city. As Madrid’s ‘fast food’ stop, we ate here at least 1 dinner, 1 lunch, and a couple late-nights while we were there. A ‘cana’, small glass, of beer is 1 Euro and their addicting Bocadillos de Jamon are also 1 Euro. Literally it’s just crispy bread and a few pieces of their Iberian ham and just like that it’s mouthwatering, but Brad made sure to pick up some BBQ sauce to layer on and sweet baby Jesus that took it to a whole new level!

Got dat "secret" SAWCE

Got dat “secret” SAWCE

This last place was introduced to us on our last night by Chimo’s nephew Luis, his girlfriend Maria, and a group of their friends and is called 100 Montaditos. It’s also a chain and had a Panera-like feel except with cheap beer deals! For 2 Euros you get a pint of beer from the tap and a sandwich from a huge selection. From Jamon, to pollo asado, to tuna, to brie and patata, they had it all! Although I had a bocadillo de jamon stuffed in my purse for a snack on the walk home, I couldn’t pass up this steal! If you’re sick of beer, we had Tinto Verano (similar to sangria, but simpler). Ah, every sip brought be closer to sweet summertime!

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Luis

Luis

Maria

Maria

It was so good that Al, Brad, and I made sure we made it our last stop before the airport the next day. Nothing says Spring Break like a little flight pregame and some Bocadillos de Jamon!

If that doesn't scream happiness..

If that doesn’t scream happiness..

Last thing on the list for a Must-See in Madrid is Parque del Retiro. It reminds me a lot of Vila Borghese in Rome because they’re so huge and there’s so much to see and do. Right near the front there’s a giant pond where everyone rents out row boats, and you’ll always find those jackasses trying to capsize. On the other side of the pond, past the statue, are more beautiful gardens, gazebos, and we even came across some vicious peacocks. Not sure if their screams were mating calls or if they were planning an attack on us.

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Lesbianest..

Lesbianest..

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If this “foody” post doesn’t scream “I’m my father’s daughter” I don’t know what will. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, Big Rich!

At the end of the week, the 4 of us unanimously agreed that we preferred Madrid to Barcelona, although was greatly influenced by the incredible time we had with our new friend Chimo! That said, we loved all 3 cities and could not have planned a more perfect week! Still can’t believe I just spent Spring Break in Spain.. This life I live is unreal. I don’t have many weekend trips left, but my exploration of Rome continues and is sadly coming to an end way too soon. BRB as I go ball my eyes out!

Until next time,
Ciao!

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Where beer is cheaper than water – Prague, Czech Republic

26 Feb

Sorry that I’ve been MIA for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been too busy CZECHIN out the world! (& the cheesy puns begin).

PRAGUE HERE I COME!

PRAGUE HERE I COME!

Two weekends ago I went to Prague with a group of 7 and let me tell you.. we had the most amazing time ever. I fell in love with the city, the life, and the beer! It’s literally Disney World ON CRACK!

Old Town Square

Old Town Square

DSCN0762I was named group navigator from the minute we left campus. Over the weekend I had good and bad moments as navigator.. And they started when we landed in Prague. We took Czech Airlines and it rocked!! We got free unlimited drank, my first alcoholic drink on a plane.. yeah I felt pretty cool. Anyway, we landed and I led the crew to the bus stop where we got on and took it to the end of the line. Convo on the bus consisted entirely of drunken ass tatt plans (Which we never went through with). At this point I was feeling really confident with my nav guide skills.. spoke too soon. From the bus we got on the metro. Everyone in the station was just walking straight on and I saw no one getting tickets so I just assumed we could do the same thing.. Whoops.. 30 seconds after getting on, 2 big burly ticket checkers bust us. Well there goes 500/1500 Czech Crown I took out ($30). Getting off the metro we walk straight out to this..

Wenceslas Square

Wenceslas Square

Our hostel was located right off Wenceslas Square which meant we had to play “Old King Wenceslas” every morning when we woke up.. The location couldn’t have been more ideal!!! It was cheap, clean, perfectly located, and we got unlimited oranges.. which by the way are 100x better in Europe than America! By the time we got settled it was 10PM, so duh we went out! First we got dinner at Bageterie Boulevard, a little sub place but OMG GO HERE! We ate here twice because it’s just so so delish! I can taste the roasted chicken, onion, and blue cheese right now.. ughhhh.

Next stop: CZECH BEER! We went to two awesome places. CZECH IT: Beer everywhere in Prague is $1 for .5L! The first was Tlusta Koala where we were entertained by a table of sloshed older European men singing all night. The second was the Prague Beer Museum which was packed with Europeans our age in a giant mass of smoke. I tried cherry and blueberry beer, phenom!

Could we get more lesbo?

Could we get more lesbo?

Staropramen

Staropramen

First night with the fam!

First night with the fam!

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That night was the start of a few very amusing nights in Hostel Orange. Not only did the boys have major gas issues and were not ashamed at all, but we were kept up all night by Luke’s incredibly loud and unpleasant teeth grinding! Every couple minutes we’d hear “click click click click click”.. it was always the same amount and came in intervals of about 5 minutes.. all night.. Made for some pretty entertaining conversations in the morning though. Every morning started with Allison laying in bed “Reed.. would you hand me a cookie?” and then we were off! (Our 8 other roommates weren’t too fond of us)

Day 1: We walked to Old Town Square which was alive with street musicians, patio restaurants, food cart vendors, and massive bubble blowers (Bubbles the size of small children). Huge groups surrounded the Astronomical Clock at any time of the day, especially when the clock strikes each hour and little puppets pop out of the windows!

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Our first breakfast stop was for these awesome Czech desserts called Trdelnik, “Turtleneck”, which are fried dough with crushed almonds and sugar!

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Next stop: Bohemian Bagel. GOD do I miss my Marquette Brew bagels (As if I need more carbs in my Italian diet). Go if you miss American breakfast!! Standing in line I randomly found my best friend Emma’s cousin, Anna!!!! We immediately adopted her into the Fam and she spent the rest of the weekend with us!!!

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Probably one of the coolest places we went was the Lennon Wall. John Lennon that is, not to be mistaken for Vladimir Lenin. It started when Lennon was murdered in 1980 and he became a pacifist hero to the Czech youth who started writing down his lyrics of freedom which was something they lacked. We looked like monkeys, everyone was crawling over each other trying to read the wall and make their mark.

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lennonn

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From left to right: Anna, Me, Reed, Madison, Luke, Allison, Brad, Victoria

From left to right: Anna, Me, Reed, Madison, Luke, Allison, Brad, Victoria

The next adventure was the most hilarious thing I’ve ever witnessed!! We walked up Petrin Hill to get a real cool view of the city. We really didn’t think it through because the entire path and stairs were snowed over and icy.. prime conditions for the ultimate WIPEOUT! It took us forever to skate up the hill, holding onto the railing for dear life. At one point I needed to go down on all fours and grip the ground in front of me to pull myself up. Everyone was sliding backwards and SOMEHOW I didn’t pee my pants from laughter.

View from the top

View from halfway up

The way down was EVEN WORSE! Everyone except Anna and I somehow frolicked down the icy road with ease.. we were a mess. We pretty much sled down the hill on our butts because there was zero traction. The more we laughed the more we fell and the longer it took us to get down 😀

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We had lunch up at the Monastery on the hill. It looked like an old mead hall inside and it was here that I got my first taste of goulash.. I was not disappointed!

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That night we wanted to try out this well known bar, Beer Factory, but the wait for a table was so long that people were actually camping outside with pillows and blankets. Alcoholics much? Instead we found this awesome little bar called Apetit with the same self-serve beer tap at every table! We guzzled down 20 Liters of beer.. and for proof that beer is cheaper than water I took a pic of the menu. .25 L of water was 30 crowns while .25 L of beer was 18 crowns. Lets just say by the end of the trip I couldn’t remember the last time I drank water.. whoops.

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tapp

Bonaqua=Water

Bonaqua=Water

The night was still young. Anna and I hit up Lucerna right next door which is a huge 80s and 90s night club! As we walked in Michael Jackson was playing, we grabbed a shot of absinthe (when in Prague?), and took it to the dance floor for some Lionel and Madonna.

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The night ended with the best late night food Czech has to offer: Fried Cheese. NOM NOM NOM!

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After another entertaining night of teeth grinding, we were craving American breakfast. Right past Old Town Square is a James Dean Diner where the waitresses are all dressed up in little diner outfits and the milkshakes are heavenly (the boys were kept quite entertained with our waitress). Coolest bathrooms evaaaaaa, didn’t help that I’m IN LOVE with James Dean.

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Our huge Saturday plan was to take a 2-3 hour long FREE walking tour to hit every sight we could, but after waiting around for the tour guide we got impatient (typical) and decided to guide ourselves! “In Marlo we trust!” It wasn’t a bad hike up to the Prague Castle – Thank God for iPhone maps. We explored the inside of the castle walls, shot bow and arrows (Luke failed epically and completely missed the target all 3 times), and rubbed the golden penis for good luck.. a very awkward task.

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View of Prague from the top

View of Prague from the top

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After walking for so long, all one needs is some $1 beer. Am I right? Up the hill towards the Monastery there’s a Beer Cellar with probably the cheapest beer in town. We stayed for a while because it took so long to defrost.. and the beer was ughhh so good. There was a fireplace and we sat at a picnic table with fur seat cushions, I could have stayed all night until I got hungry.

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beercellar

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Now we were all craving goulash in a bread bowl, wadddddup Panera! We searched high and low (literally up and down the hill) until we found a place that had it! We got our own private room along with the coolest waiter ever. One of the guys thought it’d be a great idea to sneak in a bottle of vodka and pour himself glasses under the table after we all warned him not to. Bobby, the waiter, finally saw, picked up the glass, and downed it! As if it was water! From then on he was our best friend. He brought us brandy chocolates and tried to remember all of our names. I was “Marlon” for a while, but anything beats “Mario.”

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BOBBY!

BOBBY!

As for our last night in Prague.. we had to go out with a bang! A Prague native took us out to a local bar deep into an alley where we hung out for a while, but as people started getting sleepy Anna and I were not having it! “This is our last night in Prague, we’re not going to bed we need to do something crazy!” So we did (well 4 out of the 10). We went to a strip club right off Wenceslas Square called Carocia. $5 for entrance, a beer and quite the experience. I paid for a lapdance. Just kidding. But I DID get up on stage so everyone could CZECH me out.. “PRAHAhaha”

Okay I’m done. Phew. Overall it was a trip I will never forget!

Also, if you ever make it out there, don’t forget to try mulled wine, hit up a cabaret, and go for a thai pedicure – wish I went, but they’re all over the place and hundreds of little minnows eat the dead skin off your feet. Great keepsake idea: Collect a coaster from every bar you go to in Europe, I picked up a ton of cool ones from Prague!

I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard and I owe it all to the group. If you get the chance, CZECH out Prague and I promise you won’t be disappointed.

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Budapest post coming once I make it through midterms!

Ciao!