The latest in Madrid by Andrew Ferren for the New York Times http://travel.nytimes.com/2011/07/10/travel/recreation-on-madrid-waterfront-heads-up.html?ref=travel
Peter Greenbergs webcast on Madrid
When thinking of a fall or winter destination Spain may not immediately spring to mind but there is so much more diversity to this fascinating country than simply sun, sand and sangria. Having moved to Madrid from Britain, with its well-known weather uncertainties almost a year ago, I was surprised to find such distinct weather changes here. However, I have just spent my first wintertime in the city and have learnt to embrace the chillier season and can now see that Madrid makes for a perfect winter getaway.
This bustling, vibrant capital has one of the most variable climates in the country but as the seasons change so too does the atmosphere of the city, presenting another, less well known side of Spanish lifestyle and culture.
The temperatures tend to drop around early November and rise again by the beginning of March. In between these months I have to admit it does get a little nippy but on the plus side the days remain mostly bright, sunny and crisp throughout the season. As the days get shorter and the nights get longer the city’s rich indoor nightlife steps in with all its sparkle and vitality so you have even more opportunity to enjoy the bustling restaurants and cosy tapas bars so well established within the city.
Start off your day with a heart-warming breakfast of churros, a traditional and still very popular Spanish donut dipped in warm chocolate, the perfect winter perk. Madrid has a long history of café culture that rivals that of other European cities such as Paris and Berlin and Madrileños have been meeting in coffee shops to debate, catch up with friends and family and even been the base for great writers such as most famously, Ernest Hemmingway. Due to this great literary café culture here in the city there are a few historic places but my personal recommendation would be Café Comercial which is located right next to Bilbao metro station as, being slightly out of the touristy down town area, here you will see long entrenched locals and trendy youth alike.
Afterwards, you might jump into one of the city’s many available and affordable taxis to take you along the Castellana which is Madrid’s main artery road with picturesque views (all the way) to Retiro Park. In terms of city parks this is one of Europe’s best kept secrets, maintaining its beauty throughout the year and in frosty weather still often buzzing with people and stalls while the lake glistens in the winter sun. Generate some warmth by following the signs to Retiro’s beautiful Crystal House which is a hidden gem!! Built in 1887 this building, constructed totally out of glass, is a wonderful example of Madrid’s elegant history. See if you can catch a glimpse of the local black swans gliding past on the nearby pond. Refresh and keep warm with another hot drink in one of the park’s coffee shops.
Alternatives, perfect for a winter’s morning, could be a visit to the world famous Prado art gallery where you will be wrapped up in all the glowing colour and vibrancy expressed by some of Spain’s most renowned painters. Or shop til you drop in one of the capitals many shopping streets, I recommend the Salamanca district whose streets brim with high end fashion where you can cosy up on a winters day and kit yourself out for a stylish sub zero season.
Spaniards take pleasure in their lengthy lunches and so after working up an appetite, a winter’s afternoon is the perfect setting to enjoy Madrid’s famous Cocido stew. Packed with traditional meats, chick peas and nourishing vegetables, it is normally served hot and will arrive at your table bubbling and can be washed down with a local red wine (or two!). One of thy city’s well regarded restaurants is Casa Corola, in the Salamanca district. The art of relaxing Spanish style may take a bit of getting used to and an afternoon of Cocido may see you wile away the hours but this traditional meal is all about spending time together with loved ones and shouldn’t be rushed.
Come rain or shine the Spanish know how to enjoy life and I have loved the winter in the country’s capital. So if you are starting to think of what to do in the potentially dreary months this coming winter I recommend Madrid, it won’t disappoint. Even if the temperatures do drop the city’s exuberance does not and it has proved to be a real “hotspot” whatever the weather.
What Paella is to Valencia and gazpacho to Andalucia that is what Cocido is to Madrid.
The Cocido Madrileño is the most traditional dish of the capital city of Spain. We don’t know much of its origins it is generally admitted that it was created in the Middle Ages as an evolution of the Sephardic dish adafina.
The ingredients of a cocido are the chickpea (garbanzo bean), potatoes, cabbage, carrots, chicken and pork meat including ham. The quality of the cocido depends mainly of the quality of the pork used for cooking. It is not the same if regular pork is used than if Jabugo pork.
It takes time to prepare a Cocido so most people enjoy it in restaurants. It is often served as a daily menu choice on Tuesday or Wednesdays. Please see below our favorites places to enjoy a cocido. As you will see prices vary depending on the restaurant. I went on Saturday to “Cruz Blanca Vallecas” and loved it. I love the one service in Lhardy too specially because this restaurant has been serving cocido for almost 2 centuries. I love the casual traditional one served in Malacatin and La Bola.
LHARDY CARRERA DE SAN JERONIMO STREET Tel: 91 521 33 85 www.lhardy.com Served Daily – Price: 35,50
MALACATIN – RUDA,5 Tel: 91 365 52 41 web: www.malacatin.com
Served Daily – Price: 19 €
LA BOLA – BOLA STREET, 5 Tel: 91 547 69 30 www.labola.es
Served Daily – Price: 19,5 €*
LAVINIA – ORTEGA Y GASSET ,16 Tel: 91 426 05 99 www.lavinia.com
Served on Wednesdays only – Price: 33€
CASA CAROLA – PADILLA, 54 local derecha Tel: 91 401 94 08 web: www.casacarola.com
Served Daily – Price: 29 €*
El CAFÉ DE LA OPERA – ARRIETA,6 Tel: 91 541 28 00 web: www.elcafedelaopera.com Served Daily – Price: 17 €
CRUZ BLANCA VALLECAS / CARLOS MARTÍN ALVAREZ, 58 Tel: 629147040 web: www.cruzblancavallecas.com Served Daily – Price: 16 €
LA CASUCA AGUSTIN DE FOXA Tel: 91 314 56 96 web: www.casuca.com Served Daily – Price: 15 €
Tomás Alía is considered one of the most influential interior designers of present times in Europe and National Prize winner of Architecture of Interiors in the year 2000. His design studio works in the field of interior design, industrial design and temporary exhibitions www.tomasalia.com. Last Friday night Tomas invited me together with 3 other friends to dinner at Taberna Mariano.
Taberna Mariano is a small local restaurant across the street his home. The food was so good, Mariano was so friendly and nice and the restaurant was so casual and filled with locals that I immediately felt like sharing with you. Taberna Mariano is located in Lope de Vega street number 25 in Madrid. It is advisable to book a table +34 914 292 993. Mariano offers outstanding meat and vegetables in his restaurant. The filet mignon is a not to be missed (veals from Avila – Mariano’s home province nearby Madrid). The lamb chops are also a dream and hard to find offering such quality elsewhere in the city. The cod fish is also of exceptional quality and very well cooked. Don’t miss the peppers or the grilled vegetables.
Helena Rohner is one of our more international Spanish jewelry designers.
She was born in the Islas Canarias (Canary Islands) in 1968. She designs using mainly silver although sometimes uses gold too. She loves including porcelain, semiprecious stones, wood and even Murano glass in her works.I love her work. It is easy to wear and makes me feel good.
A visit to her shop/workshop is a not to be missed when visiting Madrid. It is located in Calle del Almendro 4 – bajo in the heart of Madrid historical quarter. Helena’s Spring 2011 collection includes wonderful colors.
Have a look… http://www.helenarohner.com/helenarohner_PV11.pdf
Although Madrid is not located in the Himalayans… of course going to the moutain for Trekking is possible, and there are good trails to do so.
Just located 50 minutes away by car taking the A-6 Highway (you could also get there by catching the ¨cercanias¨ commuter train from Atocha Train Station that will take you to Cercedilla and then you´d have to change to take the cable car up to Cotos Station) you can do the very nice and not that known ¨Birds Lagoon Route¨, in the heart of the Guadarrama Range.
We can leave the car at Cotos Car Park, where there is a small Restaurant, Venta Marcelino, where we can have a coffee before starting the route.
The trail starts taking the cobbled esplanade which is not hilly. After a 20 minutes walk there is a small Information Point where there are maps about the area, we should turn right here and walk for another 20 minutes, then we´ll see a well indicated sign to go to the Birds Lagoon, and here starts the ¨hilly¨ part of the trail for around 1 hour and 30 minutes more. It´s not necessary to be fit, but a little bit would be recommended.
At the end of the trail we´ll see the very nice, especially in winter when it´s all snowed, the Birds Lagoon where you can stop and appreciate the nature.
On the other side of the mountain, you can admire the very nice views of La Granja & Segovia at the end.
The way back to Cotos Car Park is easier and faster as we just have to go down…
This is one of the better Trekking routes you can do near Madrid and it´s not crowded as others are. It´s quite well indicated with signs along the way.
It usually takes 4 to 5 hours (round trip).
Museo del Prado
1 March to 20 May 2011
Jean Simeon Chardin was one of the top 18th century French painters. 56 masterpieces of this artist will be on show.
15 February – 22 May 2011
The Thyssen Museum, the Paul Getty Museum of LA and the Museo d’Orsay of Paris have joined forces to put together this monographic exhibit on the art works of this outstanding French painter/sculptor. 60 pieces of art including some of his top works.
Museo Reina Sofía
25 February – 30 May 2011
This is a monographic exhibition on this Buenos Aires artist and humanist. The exhibit includes his 2002 installation “Darkroom”.
Peter Eisman. Cidade da Cultura de Galicia
Circulo de Bellas Artes
7 February – 13 March 2011
This 60 photos show that serve as an introduction to the new Cidade da Cultura de Galicia that Peter Eisman has designed and built in Santiago de Compostela.