So, back to Spain. Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten to chronicle our last few days in the glorious land of papas bravas and sangria.
After getting back from Segovia, we decided to finally tackle El Parque Retiro, the Jardin Botanico, and have lunch at Sobrino de Botin, the oldest restaurant in the world. Sadly, Goya is no longer a server there (or alive), but he was once, and that was exciting enough for me.
Let’s start with Botin, because starting with food is always a good way to go. When visiting Madrid, go to Botin, and when going to Botin, get a reservation. We were the first people there as they opened for lunch, and we still barely snuck into a table. Also, it’s tough to do a light or cheap lunch, so I’d recommend going IN for this meal. You’re in the oldest running restaurant in the world – you deserve it!
First of all, we shared a carafe of sangria because we’re not idiots, and it was hands down the best sangria I’ve ever tasted. Not too sweet, with the perfect amount of citrus, and refreshingly chilled. I asked what the secret recipe was, but that was a long shot. I remain in the dark about what made it so special but am okay with it, because it entered my body and that’s what matters.
Doug had some gazpacho which was – you guessed it – the best gazpacho either of us had tasted, creamy instead of watery and fresh fresh fresh. We each had salads that were prepared at our table, because of course they were. Now, we didn’t have any meat because we had dinner reservations for Maricastaña that night, but we were seated at the meat-dressing table so we got to watch as the servers lathered ham shanks and slabs of beef with sauces and potatoes. It was a production, it was
choreographed, it was old-world dining meets new-world Michelin standards. The whole event was beautiful.
On our way to Parque Retiro and the botanical gardens, we stopped at the loveliest little bookstore, Desperate Literature. They have books in Spanish, English, and French, as well as some gorgeous classics and a typewriter in the middle of the store where you can let out your inner bohemian writer. I love visiting bookstores in other cities, and Desperate Literature is a gem.
Onward to el Parque. We hung out around the Palacio de Cristal, or crystal palace, a beautiful structure overlooking the Crystal Lake. The lake was full of turtles and the air was delightfully breezy, so this was an excellent resting place (or retiring place, if you will).
Next, the beautiful Jardin Botanico. I love botanical gardens, and Madrid’s is no exception. I felt like I was in some kind of magnificent hidden jungle the whole time, and especially loved the desert room. It’s always nice to be reunited with your people.
On our way home we stopped at Mint and Rose for some handmade Spanish espadrilles (my birthday present from Doug, thanks Doug!) If you want a pair of espadrilles that are extra durable and can be dressed up, Mint and Rose has so many beautiful designs. I am the happiest with my shoes and will wear them until the last leaf falls off of the NYC trees, dammit.
Finally, dinner was at Maricastaña in our fav neighborhood Malasaña. It included burrata, my favorite thing on God’s green earth, sweet potato fries with truffle and egg, and flourless chocolate perfection cake. I was too distracted by the deliciousness to get a photo of my tuna steak dinner, but know that it too was impeccable. We did not want to have to say goodbye to Spain the next day, but I was more than happy for this to be our ultimate Madridian meal.
My next trip to Spain will surely include Barcelona and the north. Madrid, you were an excellent place to start.