Posts tagged ‘Madrid’

August 8, 2019

Some news from Spain LXXXIII

And as time is approaching to my new annual visit to my beloved Spain, I like to tell you in this post some activities in August!! Yes the month where all go to the beach so they tell you , but many stay behind and lots of goodies I take advantage of again this year

Here are some goodies for August 2019 and I will be in some ::)

The terraces of the Edificio Nouvel building of the Reina Sofía Museum host this summer a film cycle that this year is dedicated to ways of thinking and feeling the city from the neighborhoods. Recovering a popular and transversal cinema, which also includes great milestones of fiction, recent documentaries or historical authors of the  cinema. Neighborhood lives, Cinema and the right to the city seeks to think about neighborhood lives and how they produce, resist and reinvent urban space. August 16 and 17 – La vida en los márgenes , August 24 and 25 – Distopías urbanas,  August 30 and 31  – Fiesta y diferencia. Resistencias lúdicas. At the museum in  Calle Santa Isabel, 52  Terrazas Edificio Nouvel. Metro Estación del Arte (old name Atocha) line 1 , Lavapiés  line 3 .More info here: Reina Sofia Museum summer cinema

The Golden Age is a recurring time for many festivals in Spain, and how could it be less, this summer in Madrid will once again enjoy the Fiesta Corral Cervantes, an event with fun-festive activities suitable for all public. This is already the third edition of this festival of classical theater in the heart of the city, and will feature an extension of the 42nd International Festival of Classical Theater of Almagro. Among the wide theatrical offer that you will find, there are popular works such as El buscón de Francisco de Quevedo, El Perro del Hortelano and La dama boba de Lope de Vega, The medical love of Tirso de Molina, The wise women of Molière, or El lazarillo de Tormes accompanied by flamenco guitar that return after the success of the second edition of the Festival. The dance will also be present in the Saturday night sessions with the show Cervantes dances, while the nights of Thursdays and Fridays are reserved for music with the Golden Music cycle at the Corral. Also, on Friday and Saturday mornings Teatro Corral Cervantes will host the proposals of the different formations that work in the Retiro neighborhood.  At Calle Claudio Moyano, s / n. nearest Metro Atocha Renfe  and Estacion del Arte (old Atocha) line 1. Adults: From € 12.90 (except La lengua en pedazos) Family shows: From € 7.90 at . More info here: Official Corral Cervantes

The Patio Sur (south patio)  of the Conde Duque building recovers its traditional cycle of outdoor summer cinema with an extensive program of films designed for all audiences. Both lovers of the original version to families with children will have an appointment to spend the summer in the city. Program highlights; Monday, August 12: Qué he hecho yo para merecer esto ; Tuesday August 13: Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios; Wednesday August 14  La ley del deseo ; Thursday August 15 : Todo sobre mi madre; Friday August 16 : SING-ALONG® The Rocky Horror Picture Show; Saturday August 17 : SING-ALONG® La llamada; Monday August 19 : La favorita (V.O.S.); Tuesday August 20: Metrópolis; Wednesday August 21: Cómo entrenar a tu dragón 3;  Thursday August 22: Fahrenheit 11/9; Friday August 23: Yesterday ;Saturday August 24 : SING-ALONG® Lo mejor del pop español; Monday August 26 : El cuento de las comadrejas; Tuesday August 27  El ángel;  Wednesday August 28 : Mi vecino Totoro; Thursday August 29  Un día más con vida; Friday August 30 : Mula;  and  Saturday August 31 : SING-ALONG® Lo mejor del pop español.  All this at  Calle Conde Duque, 11.metro Noviciado lines 2, 3 and 10 , Plaza de España  line 2, 3 and 10, San Bernardo  lines 2 and 4, Ventura Rodríguez  line 3. General admission: € 6, Live shows: € 9 , Wednesday (spectator day): € 3. More info here: Official Conde Duque summer cinema

For the sixth consecutive year, the CentroCentro Galeria de Cristal (crystal gallery) once again hosts one of the most anticipated cinematographic, leisure and art offers of the season, with the best national and international cinema, great classics, recent premieres, accompanied by a great gastronomic variety and a program of activities that will complement the projections. The tribute that is paid to the mythical Hollywood studio 20th Century Fox, in August and September you can see the following titles: Two on the road, All that jazz, The Young Frankenstein, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Glass Jungle, Eduardo Manostijeras, The Fight Club and Moulin Rouge! Other essential classic titles, belonging to the Sunday Classics, will be: To be or not to be, The Twilight of the Gods, Singing in the rain, With skirts and the crazy, and Breakfast with diamonds. This at Calle de Montalbán, 1. Metron Banco de Espana line 2 . General admission: € 6, Entrance with consumption: € 12 More info here: CentroCentro Cibeles de Cinema

With the arrival of summer the Outdoor Film Festival, FESCINAL, returns to the city in its 35th edition with a selection of films of all genres and for all types of audiences. Every day, two to four films will be screened between the two screens that make up the double program, being able to choose the film that most appeals and in continuous session. You can enjoy and laugh with classics like El Gordo and El Flaco; dance with West Side Story; being a boy or girl once again with The Lion King, Dumbo, The Lego movie 2 or Aladdin; practice languages ​​with the VOS (original subtitled version) of Sunset, The sisters brothers, Au bout des doigts or Werk onhe author; dream of the X-Men super powers: Dark Phoenix or Captain Marvel; or give it all with the music of Bohemian Rhapsody. All this at Avenida de Valladolid, 4 in the Parque de la Bombilla; Metro Principe Pio lines 6, 10 and Radial  and I’ll be with bus 46!!!! On Friday, Saturday and the eve of holidays: € 6 Sunday to Thursday, except Wednesday: € 5, Wednesday (spectator’s day): € 4, Ticket 10 tickets: € 45, Free: children up to 4 years. More info here:   Official Fescinal in August

I have previously told this but it will continue in August 2019 as all year celebration. The Prado National Museum celebrates its Bicentennial in 2019 and to commemorate it, throughout the year, a special program has been planned that hosts numerous exhibitions and activities related to the museum. A celebration where you will travel and reflect on your history but with your eyes on the future. The presentation:  Prado Museum 1819-2019. A place of memory (Nov 19, 2018 – Mar 10, 2019). A chronological tour, articulated in eight stages, by the history of the museum with the evolution of the institution and how it has been a reflection of the historical evolution of Spain. You know it  Paseo del Prado, s / n.Metro Banco de Espana line 2 or Estacion del Arte line 1 (old Atocha). More info here: Prado museum bicentennial events

On October 17, 1919, a pioneer means of transport was inaugurated in Madrid, such as the Metro! Now 100 years later, with 294 km of network and about to inaugurate its station number 302, the metro has become the fastest, most economical and sustainable way to get around the city, with 626 million travelers a year. Multiple exhibitions such as Historic Trains, and various activities such as the Centennial Race, make up the proposals that Metro carries out for this year of celebration. More info in a beautiful site here: Metro de Madrid Bicentennial

The Community of Madrid commemorates the Year Lorca 2019, dedicated to the universal poet, in the centenary of his arrival in Madrid. Great news will see Federico Garcia Lorca to me the best poet of Spain. A year of art and culture dedicated to the memory of the poet from Granada. There will be numerous conferences, plays, concerts, exhibitions and various cultural activities around the figure of Lorca and this past century. The Sabatini Auditorium, the Spanish Theater, the Historical Auditorium of the Complutense University, the Student Residence, the Royal Post Office and the Theaters of the Canal will witness this International Congress. More info in Spanish here: Comunidad de Madrid on the year of Lorca

Something unique in Royal countries and my Spain is one gladly.  Every Wednesday and Saturday  10-12h you can enjoy at the Puerta del Principe (Prince’s Gate)  of the Palacio Real (royal palace)  the changing of the guard of the Royal Guard. Free entrance.  Again the king does not live here and it is not his property, belonging to the national monument heritage of Spain. The palace sentries two on foot and two on horseback  dressed in gala uniforms – blue, white and red – similar to those used by the Spanish army in the time of king Alfonso XIII, perform a relay every 30 minutes, accompanied by an orphan (piccolo of very acute tone used in the military bands) and a drum that interprets military marches, following the orders and regulatory voices. In addition, every 10 minutes and not coinciding with the relay of the sentinels on foot, the sentinels on horseback move in front of the façade of the palace. You know it a Calle Bailén, s / n Metro Opera lines 2,5 and radial, Plaza de España  lines 2,3 and 10. More info in Spanish official Royal Guards site here: Royal Guard official site on the changing of the guard in Spanish

Claiming culture in every corner of the city, the vitality of public spaces and the possibility that all citizens can participate in the summer cultural events. Veranos de la Villa,  (summers in the city) the summer festival organized by the Madrid City Council, picks up the essence of its three previous summers and presents a new and extensive edition that will expand numerous cultural proposals throughout the city until next September 1. The program offers in 2019,  41 artistic events in 35 different spaces and includes music, dance, theater, circus, zarzuela, cabaret, performance, cinema, astronomy, fashion, fireworks and urban sports, including the hybrids and crosses from which it is enriched The current creation. 90% free access, only 10% of activities are paid but with a maximum price of 15 euros.  More info here in Spanish: Veranos de la Villa of Madrid

Something unique to finish and very Spanish.  An exhibition that links the creation of Cristóbal Balenciaga, the most admired and influential Spanish fashion designer of all time, with the tradition of Spanish painting between the 16C and 20C. Thyssen Museum, Paseo del Prado, 8. Metro Banco de Espana line 2. General admission: € 12. More info here: Thyssen museum on Balenciaga

And there you plenty to see in my Madrid. Hope you can enjoy it as much as I, catch one of this activities this year or next. Enjoy Madrid in Summer!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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August 8, 2019

Retiro park and the Florida! Madrid of course!!!

And I bring you back to the culinary trails of me, well you know the series I am trying to bring back memorable places for me and my family over the years. All are listed in original posts in my blog, just bring them out individually for I hope all to enjoy as we do.

The next one is on my beloved Madrid, soon to be back in its dream nights. This one is very especial because it started out when just a teenager living in Madrid in the crazy 1970’s. Let me tell you a bit about the Florida Park or now call Florida Retiro.

The old Florida Park, inside the Retiro park, spectacles and fine dining with a show, the very best, and very nostalgic. Way back in my youth this was a community center where dances were held, now if you had a girl you could come here . I did. And, also, participated in several birthday celebrations of friends, mine and the girl….It is said you cannot forget your first real love at the tender age of 13!

You can come here Florida Retiro in the parque del Buen Retiro park at  Paseo de la República de Panamá, closest metro is Ibiza line 9. By the Calle Ibiza and the Puerta de la Reina Mercedes (gated entrance of the queen mercedes) straight in you will see the Florida Retiro ahead. This is an older photo of the old Florida Park. Pictures were scarse when young, but will be back this summer!


If you have read my blog you know this was my hangout place since teen years and always a memorable spot to come back to it with the family. Of course ,now the place is very chic and needs reservations for a great show. It is an ancient place where artists such as Concha Velasco, Ray Charles, Tina Turner, Plácido Domingo, and Montserrat Caballé made one of the best nocturnal schedules of the moment.  Old Florida Park Madrid was never dull and always great surprises night after night, thanks to its good atmosphere of beautiful people, excellent music and repeatable evenings. Where you can see the Parque del Buen Retiro, and is one of the most important of the capital.

Now let me tell what is there now for the last few years under new management.

Florida Retiro is a multiple area consisting of six different spaces . These are ,

La Terraza, hidden among the trees of the famous park from where you can experience the Madrid sunsets. The Pabellon or pavilion is an elegant place overlooking the park through its large window. The Sala or hall, is the essential of the night of Madrid. With its dinner-show that combines gastronomy, leisure and fun.  The Galeria or Gallery is the ideal bar to meet friends for drinks with tapas and portions, based on Madrid cuisine.

There are ,also kiosks of different outlook such as a fun area converted into a market consisting of six positions that have been given names related to the Retiro Park ; like the La Jacinta, in honor of Jacinto Benavente, is the place of wisdom, El Estanque (pond) and La Bellota (acorn) to acquire drinks, La Casa de Vacas, (cows house) where the meat stand is located. The La Alcachofa (artichoke), referring to the source, to savor pickles, charcuterie and cheese and La Gloriosa,(glorious) evoking the revolution that opened the doors of the Retiro park to Madrid, for tapas and pintxos. Also, from Thursday to Sunday, you can attend the best live flamenco. And finally, La Cúpula is the area to have a cocktail en live with electronic music and disco until the wee hours of the morning.

You can see it all here Spanish or English: Florida Retiro at Madrid

Hope you enjoy it , the flamenco shows in the middle of the Retiro park are awesome so tell me my family, and I am looking forward to be there this summer. Enjoy the Florida Retiro of today at the Retiro park in my beloved Madrid!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!






August 6, 2019

The Carillon of Madrid!

And while we are at it, why not tell you something unique of my beloved Madrid. As said cannot be too far from it. It is a problem really as very difficult for me to go elsewhere once the big vacation time arrives…. Madrid is more than a visit for me. After many years my family has gotten used to it or surrender lol!  If in Spain, need to at least past by Madrid.

Now here is something unique in Madrid and Spain. A carillon of singing figures and just by the apartment we will be staying in Barrio de las Letras neighborhood! The Plus Ultra building singing figurines!

The Plus Ultra building is in the Plaza de las Cortes 8, next to the Westin Palace hotel, in front of the Congress of Deputies and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, closely watched by the Statue of Cervantes.


It was acquired in 1941 by the insurance company Plus Ultra (formerly Groupama), 100% owned since 2015 by Catalana Occidente. Their official site is here: Plus Ultra insurance company

It occupies part of the site of the former palace of the Dukes of Medinaceli (most of the site is occupied by the Hotel Westin Palace) and was built as a rental house for the Marquis of Amboage. Although the Plus Ultra building dates from the early 20C c. 1913, ordered to be erected by the Marquis of Amboage, the Carillon was inaugurated on December 20, 1993 by the Infanta Pilar de Borbón, Duchess of Badajoz.

On the balcony of the first floor there is a carillon that in addition to giving the hours at specific times of the day presents a small spectacle of mobile figures, the only one in Spain at the time of its inauguration. The carillon plays the anthem of Madrid, La Marseillaise, the Radetzky March, Libiamo ne ‘lieti calici of La Traviata, the Ritirata of Madrid and the Boccherini minuet, among many others. With the holidays, the list expands to universal Christmas carols like White Christmas.

The Goyesco (as a Goya style)  Carillon looks out from one of the balconies on the first floor of the Plus Ultra building. When it comes into operation, it captures the attention of pedestrians, who for a few minutes stare at the movements of the figures.

The Carillon consists of five figures designed by cartoonist Antonio Mingote, all of them from the Goyesque era: the painter Francisco de Goya, the Duchess of Alba accompanied by a dog, King Carlos III, a Madrid Maja (local women) and the bullfighter Pedro Romero. During the more than three minutes that the small show lasts, the figures perform a series of movements limited to the sound of a music performed by the 18 bells installed on the sides of the clock. This music varies as we hear it at different times.  Each of the five figures performs a different movement: the bullfighter Pedro Romero tempers his crutch before the onslaught of an imaginary bull, a manola (women) greets with her fan, Carlos III of Spain – the mayor king of Madrid – shakes his head, the Duchess of Alba will greet with a handkerchief and the painter Francisco de Goya draws in the air with a brush. To see the Goyesco show there are several sessions a day, at 12h, at 15h, at 18h and at 20h. On December 24 and 31 ,it also works at midnight. It is recommended to be very punctual since its entire duration is short.

 The Carillon was manufactured in the Netherlands by a company specialized in such rare gadgets. Although the technical realization is complex, the resulting spectacle is very simple and at the same time unique in Madrid. Indeed, a marvel worth the detour to see it and of course something different in wonderful Madrid.

This is what you will see and hear from YouTube

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

August 6, 2019

Barrio de las Letras , Madrid!

So here I am getting ready for my big European summer vacation in you will guess right my beloved Madrid. Many choices but always comes down to the heart! The city that I lived as a teenager and came back so many times over the years, it has become like my second home. Walked it, trained it, bused it, planed it , biked it, you name it I have done it all there . Not too shabby when Spain is the second most visited country in the world according to official UN WTO tourist organisms figures. 85 millions in 2018! And you want to know from my official subscription to the WTO , well , the most visitors come from the United Kingdom, France , Germany, Italy, Holland and the USA.  As to Madrid, well 10,2 million in 2018 with the most coming from the USA, then the United Kingdom, Italy , France, and Germany in that order.

And now let me give a primer on my spot and the history of it which I love. To Madrid to heaven and a hole in the sky to look down on it everyday! 

The Barrio de las Letras or district of the Letters, also called of the literati and the muses, is an area without administrative entity of Madrid in the City center or Centro district. The zone is delimited, towards the west, by the Calle de la Cruz and the Plaza Jacinto Benavente; to the east, by the Paseo del Prado; to the north, by the Carrera de San Jerónimo; and, to the south, by the Calle de Atocha. Some of its most emblematic routes are the Calle de las Huertas, Calle del Prado, the Calle Echegaray, and the Plazas or squares of the Angel and Santa Ana. It owes its name to the literary activity developed throughout the 16-17C. Some of the most outstanding writers of the Spanish Golden Age, such as Miguel de Cervantes, Quevedo, Góngora (who lived in the same house as his literary antagonist, Quevedo), or Lope de Vega and his idolized Marta de Nevares

Although most of the preserved buildings were built in the late 19C and early 20C, from the time of the Golden Age have survived the House-Museum of Lope de Vega, where the writer lived between 1610 and 1635 , open to the public as a house-museum; the Convent of San Ildefonso de las Trinitarias Descalzas, where Cervantes was buried; and the Church of San Sebastián (where it is believe Lope de Vega is buried).

.In the number 87 of Calle de Atocha, one of the roads that limit the neighborhood, was the printing press of Juan de la Cuesta, where the premier edition of the first part of Don Quijote de La Mancha (1604), considered the masterpiece of literature in the Spanish language. The Palace of the Count of Tepa, the Royal Academy of History and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Madrid belong to the 18C. Other buildings of architectural interest are the   Teatro Español or Spanish Theater, the Simeón Building and the Ateneo de Madrid. In this neighborhood there were also some essential pieces of 20C Spanish dramaturgy, such as the grotesque Luces de bohemia of Ramón del Valle Inclán.

María Pacheco,  was very popular after giving up her chicken pen for small theatrical performances, which ran from noon until late at night. The Corral de la Pacheca, which later became known as Corral del Príncipe, was the place of entertainment for the people of Madrid, who came every time in greater numbers to see the works of Calderón de la Barca ,and   later, of Lope de Vega. At present, classical works continue to be performed in the same enclave, transformed into the Teatro Español b. 1849, located in the same Plaza de Santa Ana that today houses the statues of Calderón de la Barca and Federico García Lorca. Nearby, on Calle del Príncipe, stands the Teatro de la Comedia, inaugurated in 1875 .On the opposite side of the Plaza de Santa Ana is the modern Me, one of the most suggestive hotels in Madrid, located next to the Plaza del Angel. In it highlights the Café Central one of the temples of jazz in Madrid.

The Church of San Sebastian, with wonderful archives. It contains a large part of the lives of illustrious people who were baptized   there such as  Ramón de la Cruz, Jacinto Benavente were married ,and –Larra, Zorrilla, Bécquer– or received homage after their death. Among its death certificates are those of Lope de Vega-buried right there-Ruiz de Alarcón and Espronceda. In its old cemetery, current nursery, was where José Cadalso, one of the most prominent names in Spanish literature of the 18C, tried to unearth the body of his beloved, the actress María Ibáñez. That experience served him to narrate his famous Noches Lúgubres. Or Lonesome Nights. In the Plaza Matutes you can stop to observe the building that hosted the press of the newspaper El Imparcial, where Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer worked. After the junction with Calle de León , you will meet the Comedians ‘quartent or representatives’ ghetto, where idle and unemployed people gather, especially authors and comedians.

Between the Calle Huertas and the old street Cantarranas -now Calle Lope de Vega is the Convento de las Trinitarias. Founded by king Felipe III in 1612, with a sober and austere line, owes its survival to the Royal Academy of History. In the convent, which became part of the headquarters of the University of Alcalá, Miguel de Cervantes is buried, which was closely linked to the order of the Trinitarians after they paid their release from the Algerian dungeons where he spent five years in captivity. The author of Don Quixote shared a thousand times scenario with his great and young rival Lope de Vega. During the final stretch of his life, Cervantes lived in Calle Huertas and then in that of Francos-now called Calle Cervantes-in front of the comedian’s room and very close to his enemy, Lope de Vega, who lived in a house from where he left once dead, followed by all the people of Madrid to the Church of San Sebastián, where he is buried.

The Calle Lope de Vega leads to the Church of Cristo de Medinaceli, long venerated by the actresses of the time who filled the church of Jesus with false male devotees. Object of devotion of thousands of Madrileños still in our days, is a chapel that was part of the Padres Trinitarios Descalzos or Barefoot Trinitarian Fathers and that was regularly visited by Lope de Vega, Calderon de la Barca and Tirso de Molina, writers ordained priests who moved their dramatic   works , previously represented in the vicinity of the churches, to the corrals of comedies. Opposite the Convento de las Trinitarias, on the corner of Calle Lope de Vega , is the one that was Quevedo’s house. This is remembered in a large plaque on the façade where one does not take into account that it was once the home that Góngora bought with great effort when he settled in Madrid.

The Paseo del Prado and the Plaza de las Cortes, where a statue of Miguel de Cervantes and the Palace and Villarreal hotels stand. A few meters away, since 1884, is located the Ateneo de Madrid, Madrid’s famous center for talks, forums and cultural meetings. Also, the Congreso de Diputados or Spanish parliament where the laws of the Nation are created. The museums of El Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza and Reina Sofía occupy an area that witnessed the life and miracles of our writers of the Golden Age. Today, the area, also known as the District of the Muses or Parnassus-in honor from the poem of Cervantes, Viaje al Parnaso– welcomes since the last quarter of the 20C, has concentrated a great activity of nightlife in bars, taverns, nightclubs and other places around Calle de las Huertas and Plaza de Santa Ana with numerous shops, hotels, cafés and breweries that make it one of the nerve centers of the historic center of the city. And I will be back here in this area , plenty to tell soon.


Congreso de Diputados of Spain parliament our apartment will be very close to it!

tourist office of Madrid on the Barrio de las Letras

And it has its own webpage but in Spanish, here: Barrio de las Letras webpage full of info in Spanish

On the above webpage I give the headings from left to right: Visits, pleasure, shop, eating places, contact the site, the association of merchants, and the Directory. Enjoy the Barrio de las Letras, I always have and looking forward to another splendid vacation. The only sadness with us this will be our first summer vacation in Spain without my dear late wife Martine, RIP!  I am sure I will have my weak moments there too.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!



August 5, 2019

Some news from Spain LXXXIII

And I am back at you with my latest tidbits of my beloved Spain. I am counting the days to my visit this year there and just can’t wait! For now the weather there is sunny and 91F ! or 33C while in my current neck of the woods is rainy cloudy cool and 67F! or 19C! I take Madrid weather anytime!!! Oh well just need to wait….

Some of the latest that have been determine worth to post by yours truly is to follow; enjoy it

«Fra Angelico and the beginnings of the Renaissance in Florence»  Prado Museum.; Paseo del Prado, s / n.  Until September 15 2019

Of course, Fra Angelico (1390-1455) was not from Florence, but from Fiésole, an old city of Etruscan origin located eight kilometers away, which began to become a residential neighborhood. There he worked first as a miniaturist and then making altar blades until 1436, date in which the Dominicans, order in which he entered eighteen years earlier, moved to the convent of San Marcos in Florence, recently renovated thanks to the donations of Cosme de Medici. In the convent in Florence Fra Angelico contributed to make his spiritually more suitable by painting the chapter room, the cloister gallery, the altarpiece of the church and the monks’ cells. The set of frescoes that he left there, his Sistine chapel, prove not only that he was a great artist, but a man of faith fully committed to the mystery of Christ. More info here:

Rosalia, the Spanish muse of the Pirelli calendar. The singer appears in the prestigious almanac . Rosalia is back in the spotlight for her presence in the prestigious Pirelli 2020 calendar, where she shares the spotlight with other great female celebrities today. Kristen Stewart, Emma Watson, Indya Moore, Chris Lee, Claire Foy, Yara Shahidi, Mia Goth and Stella Roversi are some of their companions in the calendar pages, made by Paolo Roversi under the legend of “Looking for Juliet”. Always a classy calendar indeed. More info here:

Only a few days ago, the Kings of Spain and the Netherlands, Felipe and Willhem Alexander, were invested by queen Elizabeth II as Knights of the Order of the Garter in Windsor Castle. Today the relations between both countries are excellent. Gone are the revolts led by another Wilhem of Orange  against another Felipe II, which gave rise to the Eighty Years War (1568-1648) and the independence of the Netherlands. This will end up with a show of painters from both countries in a presentation in the Prado Museum going on until September 29 2019. More info here:

The wines of Navarra blends keeps growing with Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, and  Merlot that along the last 25 years have define the región before the coming back of the Garnacha grape. Some of my favorites for this blend of reds are:

Bodegas Ochoa  Ochoa Finca Montijo (2007);  Bodegas Azul y Garanza Desierto de Azul y Garanza (2016)            ; Grupo Chivite : Chivite Colección 125 (2012); Bodega de Sarría, Señorío de Sarría Reserva Especial (2013);Bodega Inurrieta  Laderas de Inurrieta (2015): Grupo Chivite Legardeta Syrah (2015); Pago de Larrainzar  Pago de Larrainzar Reserva Especial (2011);           Bodega Castillo de Monjardín  Castillo de Monjardín Deyo (2015); Bodegas Ochoa  Ochoa Finca Montijo (2014). Enjoy the Navarrese wines up and coming in my beloved Spain.

And the story of the chufa (tigernut) and the wonderful drink of Horchata.One memorable spot for me from visting my late Aunt at El Saler near Valencia in younger days . We drink it but wait to be in Spain to do so and from Valencia even better. I will look forward to my visit end of this month to Madrid to visit Horchateria Arboraya, Calle de Alcalà, 125. From Valencians! More info here:

And now a bit of history and how it is made the traditional way, look for it in Madrid from Valencians or Valencia area, simply the best.

The land is sown with chufa. This is in the Spring, when a process begins that will culminate in the elaboration of the sweetest ,and healthiest! drink we can imagine. In places like the village of Almássera, in the Horta Nord. Horta= the garden ,nord=north is already a multicolored landscape of cabbage, onions, lettuce, artichokes,  delimited by a network of ditches and roads. In June, after a few months of irrigation, the fields begin to be covered with a green tapestry. Somewhere between Alboraia, Meliana and Almássera, a thick smoke rises. And like here, many other fields are set on fire in a controlled way to burn the dried bush of the tigernut for later collection.

The orchard of Valencia is a strip of between 10-15 km that surrounds (less by the sea) the city. An area of ​​approximately 10,500 hectares irrigated by ditches, nine in total, from the Turia river and built during the Muslim period (between the 8-13C). In December, after the burning of the fields, it is proceed by the collect of this small tuber that is underground and that is one of the treasures, hidden underground, of the land. After a washing process in one of the three washrooms of l’Horta , the tuber will pass to the dryers. In the dryers, spread on the ground in airy spaces with large windows, the chufas will be removed periodically so that the tuber is losing all moisture. With the arrival of spring, horchaterías (horchata makers and call also the restaurant where it is serve) are preparing to receive the chufa. In the image, the triad process with state-of-the-art optical technology, at a rate of one thousand kilos of chufa per hour and finished off the old one, by hand and under the precise look of the careful hands. Already in the horchatería, the elaboration of the drink will take place with  a crushing process and the subsequent rehydration of the chufa based on a maceration of water, two sieves and sugar, a lot of sugar. All mixed and cooled quickly to temperatures around 0ºC. The road between Valencia and Alboraya, epicenter of the horchata, is the so call Avenida de la Horchata. Nothing better than tasting the drink accompanied by good fartons where the earth smells like chufa. Indeed try it! Horchata!

Enjoy Spain, everything under the sun; and do come to Madrid, from Madrid to heaven and a hole in the sky to look down on it everyday!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!




August 4, 2019

Shopping in Madrid: Sanchez Romero!

Ok so back to my Madrid mood, (always there anyway) , and the idea of having a good meal in my beloved Spain. However, we come for long periods and we love the gastronomy side of it and love to cook; granted we are not experts but just amateurs! One of the thrills of coming to my Madrid is that  I find myself with familiar goodies that have come down from grandparents and parents generations and could not get it or get it right at a restaurant. At that moment, we look for the best and buy , take home and do it ourselves! or just have a nice cup of coffee and bocadillos at a nice place.

This is the place I like to tell you in this post. Supermercados Sanchez Romero; remember the name. This is a chain of not so long back but a must when in Madrid. Glad to be able to visit every year at least once lol!


A bit on who they are:

They were born as a small specialized store in Paseo de La Castellana, which opened, in 1954, by Eduardo Sanchez Romero.  The Supermarkets Sanchez Romero has everything you need for special days from exclusive gourmet products, high-end, national and international, which you will only find in their establishments. But ,they are also your trusted store for everyday purchases, with the best service and the necessary variety of quality and healthy products, so you can go home with all your needs covered. Because,  the everyday can also be extraordinary.  They want you to come to Sanchez Romero to be a source of inspiration that allows you to enjoy cooking and gastronomy in a different way.  They promote the health and healthy nutrition of all their clients, whatever their age, and taking into account the special needs. And, now, also through  their social networks such as  Facebook Sanchez Romero, Twitter Sanchez Romero, and the new blog Alma Gourmet. In short, their new e-shop and a mobile App that will offer you a unique experience will be added to the digital universe.

Some tips from others goers on Spanish sites.

“I think about the cafeteria-restaurant-terrace at the entrance of the establishment, which is a supermarket. The waiters are very attentive and the service is fast. We ate tapas and skewers and everything is reasonably good, at tight prices. The employees of this establishment have a deal towards customers of 11/10. Vegetables and fruits are an investment for me. They are very very good compared to what you find today in others. It deserves to pay its price because, what you eat, you will really know. They have just modernized the store and they have been very beautiful, with a modern touch. You feel at home. “

The above has been our experiences too since 1990 coming here for our needs in Madrid, simply the best, and the cafetería is tops.

And their future reads very well. Supermarkets Sánchez Romero is growing in Madrid with its tenth store in the Salamanca district of Madrid. At the moment they do not plan to expand beyond the community of Madrid. The company has recently launched its online store, which stands out for its wide assortment of products, with more than 7,000 references and a variety of high quality freshness, served in different formats and cuts and maturation.

And my own , latest experience on it last year. We will be back in 2019 again!!!

I am taking you up north along Paseo de la Castellana to lovely Plaza de Castilla (Castile square) in the Chamartin district. This is a huge local transport hub for Madrid and the province as well. It is one of my hangouts in Madrid ,and we love to shop by it, especially the gourmet grocery store of Sanchez Romero (many branches in Madrid) at Paseo de la Castellana 196 not far on right hand side to Plaza de Castilla. Closest metro Plaza de Castilla lines 1,9, and 10 or Cuzco line 10. From Cuzco stay on the right hand side of Castellana and from Plaza de Castilla cross over to your left side and walk down. More info here:

And there you go another dandy in gorgeous Madrid for all your best foods and wines shopping nothing beats Sanchez Romero. See it and then tell me about it ok. Supermercados Sanchez Romero, Madrid!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

August 1, 2019

Wines: France and Spain!

Ok so let’s go back and talk about one of my favorite subjects in a general sense as it can be very personal issue. I will write a bit on wines, the beautiful healthy drink of the gods. And why not make this time a combine entry of the two countries very dear to me and who not only are No 1 and No 2 in visitors by the UN-WTO but also produce some if not the best wine in the world. I will spare you reading about my credentials in the wine world. Oh yes, of course, as the title says Wines: France and Spain!

According to the OIV =  International Organization of Vine and Wine ; more on it here: Official site of the OIV

The world vineyard area, whatever the final destination of the grapes grown in it, including the vineyards that have not yet entered production, is in slight increase compared to 2017, +24,000 hectares. Spain remains largely at the top of the cultivated area, with 969,000 hectares, followed by China (875,000 ha) and France (793,000 ha)!

In 2018, the world production of fresh grapes (for all uses), China is the first world producer with 11.7 million tons, followed by Italy (8.6), United States (6.9), Spain (6, 9) and France (5.5). The three European leaders increased their production by 28%.  Table grape production has doubled to 27.3 million tons, with China’s world leader followed by Turkey.

The wine (discounted juices and musts) reached one of its biggest productions since 2000 with 292 million hectoliters, 17% more than in 2017, year of serious climatic difficulties. Italy (54.8) is the world leader, followed by France (48.6) and Spain (44.4 hl). Productions in the United States, Argentina and Chile are still high. South Africa suffered a severe drought and fell. Second year followed by recession in China, due to a fall in crops: -22%.  The available data show a stabilization of world consumption with 248 million hl. Since 2014 it fluctuates between stabilization and recovery in Europe. The United States confirms its leadership with 33 million hl, followed by France (26.8), Italy (22.4), Germany (20.0) and China (17.9). The distribution was, by volume: 54% bottled wine, 33% bulk, sparkling 9%, BiB 4%. But in value the bottled ones represent 69.7%, the sparkling 19.8%, the bulk 8.6% and the BiB 2%.  Spain (21.1 million hl), Italy (19.7) and France (14.1) dominate exports by volume, with more than half of the world total. The main importing countries were Germany (14.7), United Kingdom (13.2), United States (11.5), France (7.1) and China (6.9).

The first forecasts for the harvest of 2019,in  Spain, counting with the unknown of how the high temperatures of August will affect the ripening of the grape  draw a campaign with a medium production and a harvest that will be generalized around September 10, somewhat earlier than in 2018. The agricultural organizations and Cooperatives Agro-Alimentary consulted by Efe (Spanish press agency)  calculate a harvest of between 40 and 44 million hectoliters of wine, which means a return to normality, with a considerable reduction compared to the current one and that It can even reach 20%  less in some areas.

There are no serious accidents been recorded, with the exception of the storms that affected the area of ​​Utiel-Requena (Valencian Community) and La Manchuela (Castilla-La Mancha) a few weeks ago, with multiple cases of hail. To this is added the heat of recent weeks, which can have a very negative effect on the vineyards, given the water stress that the plant already suffers; and although they insist that it is early for exact valuations, all these climatic conditions could lead to a normal pulling down campaign.

More in Spanish from Efe here: official Efe Agro on Wines of Spain

The wineries in Bordeaux are still full of wine when we approach the grape harvest, sales fall sharply, especially in supermarkets, the Chinese market is going bad ! Bordeaux wines have announced a series of measures to try to turn this brutal crisis. The new president of the Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins de Bordeaux (CIVB), Bernard Farges, has recognized ” Bordeaux suffers at this time”.  The sales have decreased greatly, under the short-term effect of the 2017 harvest (-40% due to frost), but also due to the structural effects of the sector and the evolution of the types of consumption, exports are up 4% in value, but in fact they have been saved by high-end wines, because the global volume drop reached -13%, caused particularly by the collapse of the Chinese market, in which French wines suffer from the competition of Australians and Chileans, who have no import tariffs, and this at the time the economy China is slowing down. In the long term, the Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins de Bordeaux (CIVB) , also wants to evolve in terms of communication to reach the young generation and remove Bordeaux from its clichés. My five cents; need a lot of work catching up, I told you so many years back! More info at the CIVB here: Official CIVB in French can be change

The recognition by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food of the first 84 Singular Vineyards, which has just been published in the Official State Gazette. The Rioja Qualified Denomination of Origin gives the possibility of identifying a more specific origin for certain wines, certified by the Regulatory Council. They were thus defined as wines from vineyards with more than 35 years of age and whose yields do not exceed, naturally and by virtue of their limited vigor, 5,000 kg. per hectare in the case of red varieties and 6,922 kg. in white varieties. In turn, its transformation is limited to 65 liters per 100 kg. of grape, its cultivation is respectful with the environment and its harvest manually. The counter labels that will guarantee these wines will include, certifying all these extremes, the mention “Viñedo Singular”, or Singular Vineyard , which will allow consumers to know that all the characteristics described are certified by the Regulatory Council. In fact, Rioja is not marking a path, but several, sometimes contradictory. It has not entered, for example, by the process of distinguishing the towns of its current territory that do not offer enough quality in their territory to receive the DO label, but still receive it. And it already has 84 high quality vines selected without specifying whether there are one or more levels in that category (such as ‘grands crus’ and ‘premiers crus’ in Burgundy). Finally, its regulation of the village wines or towns  fails, compared with that of the best French denominations, because it requires, for a wine to hold that category, which is made in the same town from which its grapes originate, thus making it impossible for a Winery that can make several ‘village wines’ when it has vineyards in several villages. In Burgundy a winegrower usually produces two, three, five or ten wines from different ‘villages’ in the same facility. And it is logical: what counts is the vineyard, not the location of the winery.  In the list there are vineyards already well known by Rioja wine followers, such as the Tapias de Marqués de Riscal, Alto Cantabria or Finca La Emperatriz, along with others that are completely new. More to come on this issue and will follow up!

More from the Consejo Regulador de la Rioja here: Rioja wines consejo regulador on vinedos singulares

The publication in the Official State Gazette,(BOE) that makes it official law in pdf file is here: BOE official announcemnet of the 84 vinedos singulares

And let me finish with some exciting samples of the Navarra region wines which I have been drinking for a long time and just in recent years are becoming very good value price/quality ratio.  In specific let me tell you about the wonderful wines of Navarra!

A panoramic review of Navarrese whites in which we find more white Grenache wines than chardonnay is a sample, anecdotal if you want, of the transformation of the wine sector in the community since those times dominated by French grapes!. From this white selection my favorites are:

Chivite Chivite Collection 125 Blanco FB Collection (2016);  bodegas y Vinedos Artazu, Artazu Santa Cruz de Artazu Blanco (2015), Chivite Legardeta Chardonnay FB  (2018), Bodega Nekeas  Nekeas Cuvée Allier FB (2017) (great price /quality ratio here) , Laderas de  Montejurra  (Emilio Valerio) Emilio Valerio Rosado de Leorín (2018);  and Bodega del Señorío de Otazu Otazu Chardonnay (2018).

On the reds my selection are (only my selection there are more ok) : The red Garnacha in Navarra. The regional community was slow to begin the recovery of a native grape that had been systematically uprooted. Now we contemplate its happy return, with several styles according to the terroirs of origin , the Navarra vineyard is geologically and geographically diverse  but always with a combination of power and elegance that has excited us. The selection are :

From Viña Zorzal Senora de las Alturas (2016), Lecciones de Vuelo (2016); Malayeto (2016); Corral de los Altos (2016) , then , Bodegas y Viñedos Artazu, Pasos de San Martín (2015); Bodega Inurrieta , Inurrieta Mimaò Garnacha (2017); Bodegas Nekeas El Chaparral by Vega Sindoa (2017), Grupo Chivite Las Fieles Garnacha (2015); and Bodega San Martín Sdad. Coop.La Matacalva Garnacha (2016).

A wonderful town nice places to see and most of all its wines, the tradition of Madrid!

The town of Valdepeñas, is located in the province of Ciudad Real autonomous región of Castilla La Mancha.  At present, the Wine Festivities are held annually in Valdepeñas, at the beginning of September. Its wines belong to a designation of origin that was founded in 1968, and that produces wines throughout the region.

Of the eight visited wineries in Valdepeñas, the most unique is Dionysus. It is better known as La Bodega de las Estrellas (winery of the stars), not because they are famous, but because they make organic wines (mostly in traditional clay jars), taking into account at all times, from pruning to racking, lunar phases and  the position of the stars. They make 12 astrowines, ad hoc wines for the Aries, for the Leo, for the Virgo and for the rest of the zodiac gang. Córcovo is a family winery, with quality wines and an impressive cave of barrels carved into the rock. To make tastings and acquire oenological jewels you should go to the Enoteca 11 Ánforas ( amphora’s). Their webpages to follow

Bodegas de las Estrellas

Bodega Corcovo

Enoteca 11 Anforas

Without wine, Valdepeñas would not be Valdepeñas. And Madrid, without wine from Valdepeñas, would not be Madrid either: The Puerta de Alcalá gate was built thanks to a special tax that levied the consumption (important since the mid-16C) of these wines in the city and court. These and other curiosities are told in the Museo del Vino (wine museum ) ,open from Tuesday to Sunday; entrance, 3 euros, former cellar of Leocadio Morales, from 1901, where the afternoon will be night walking through the monumental vessel of jars and contemplating the photos that the American Harry Gordon took on this earth during the vintage of 1959.

Museo del Vino de Valdepenas wine museum

vineyards fairs of Valdepena from Castilla La Mancha in English

Tourist office Castilla La Mancha on bodegas in Valdepenas

And if you are in France soon, check these dates out for wines galores!!

The 2019 Foire aux vins (wine fair)  is coming!  The major supermarket and stores, my selection are Auchan: from 24 September to 8 October 2019, Carrefour hypermarkets: from 10 September to 23 September 2019 Géant Casino: 3 September 15, 2019, Franprix: from September 18 to October 6, 2019, Intermarché: from September 10 to September 29, 2019; Lavinia: from September 17 to October 15, 2019, Leclerc: from October 1 to October 13, 2019, Monoprix: from September 9 to October 27, 2019, and Nicolas: from September 11 to October 15, 2019.

A great domaine and great wine to keep in mind while in France or maybe you can get where you are!

The Domaine de Fontenille, in the Luberon Regional Nature Park, between Provence and the Rhone Valley, organizes from September 19th to October 27th, from Thursday to Sunday, the Matinées Vendanges. Domaine de Fontenille, Route de Roquefraiche, 84360 Lauris.  Les Matinées Vendanges – Price: 60 € per person On reservation only by phone at +33 (0) or by email

Webpage Domaine de Fontenille:

And for closing, cachet finale at Château d’Estoublon!!!

The Château d’Estoublon,  majestic work, took up its quarters in the 8C near Fontvieille, in the valley of Les Baux, in Provence. Surrounded by unspoilt nature, it offers a quality wine tourism program, with a very upscale service in the spirit of the region. The 1.6-kilometer stroll lasts about 45 minutes and allows you to cover a part of an exceptional site that includes 120 hectares of olive groves and 20 hectares of vineyards. In addition, the Château, whose entrance is magnified by a path of century-old pine trees, has a restaurant, the Bistrot Mogador, located in a former winery. The Bistrot has a beautiful terrace, with a view of the rose garden. Guests can also settle in an indoor room, which is an old cellar. A shop-grocery store allows you to taste different wines from the estate, commented by experts, free of charge and without an appointment. Château d’Estoublon, Route de Maussane 13990 Fontvieille. More info here :

This is it in the wonderful magical wine world; do you dine with wines? we do every day good for you. Enjoy them while you can, life is too short. The pleasures of France and Spain, unlimited!!!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!


July 30, 2019

Restaurant: San Lorenzo de El Escorial!

Ok so one more in my quest to left an imprint of my rounds in restaurants with the family in Europe and elsewhere. I am taking now to a wonder of our world that must be seen and do walk the town too, it is wonderful. I am taking you to San Lorenzo de El Escorial in the Comunidad de Madrid of my beloved Spain.

While gazing at its marvel Royal Monastery  and walking its historic streets one has to be hungry. We have come here since 1990 with my dear late wife Martine. IN fact, while there with her car we had a flat tire and needed to call for a local garage to come and take the car to fix the tire very nicely and quick. We love to come here ever since!

As to eating well true to making a one day trip from Madrid our numbers of places are not much but one memorable one is the Meson 5 Bellotas, Calle de La Reina Victoria 10, San Lorenzo de El Escorial.  Facing Plaza de la Cruz. No web just their Facebook page here: Facebook page of Meson 5 Bellotas

San Lorenzo de El Escorial

We are lucky to have known  Mesón 5 Bellotas because each time we are very nicely welcome and always a good quality/price ratio.  The management/owner is very nice too. You can always taste delicious tapas that are the specialty here as well as known for its cold beer!

We come for lunch , and tapas galore we have bits and pieces of different ones including the famous grilled toast with all kinds of goodies on top your selection as well as theirs. The views over the square is nice and lots of people seeing going on! This is the Plaza de la Cruz. 

San Lorenzo de El Escorial

You do well to stop by and try the Méson 5 Bellotas at San Lorenzo de El Escorial, not far from the monastery main entrance.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

July 18, 2019

Some news from Spain LXXXII

So on a rainy cloudy day in my neck of the woods and 19C or about 65F and a much better sunny 29C or 84F in my Madrid! Let me tell you some news of my beloved  Spain!

Let’s start with something we love to do and I will again next month! Neighborhood bars and taverns are reborn with more quality and atmosphere than ever before. The best in my opinion to go out of the ordinary in Madrid.

El 5 de Tirso. Fans of Madrid tapas and typical dishes and stews of the capital will find their place in El 5 de Tirso. Plaza Tirso de Molina, 5.

The La Embajada de Embajadores.  Around a large bar full of stools and an area of ​​low tables, revolves the life of this  place. It is the typical bar where you are going to have a beer with a good tapa after visiting El Rastro. But it is also the perfect place to go to pick up portions or dine informally.  Calle Embajadores, 66

Gran Clavel . It is a wine bar, a food house of the 21C and a vermutería (vermouth bar). An all in one that was born with the aim of vindicating Madrid’s culture in a single space. That is why its essence has been materialized jointly through dishes, snacks and drinks. Because Gran Clavel is a cañí (by the glass cool place) site and its menu is a must for all those who love gastronomy. Gran Vía, 11

La Botijeria In the heart of the Madrid of the Austrias and located in one of the oldest buildings of Madrid housing (17C), is La Botijería. Its tasca concept is based on two pillars: good wine and tapas to share. Hence, its menu, castiza (local Madrid persons) but with a modern turn, is made and thought based on rations. Plaza Conde de  Barajas, 2.

Already mentioned in my blog but it is worth commenting again. The Summer Festival of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, scenario Clece (stage), has as a theme the literature, through versioned premiere works by Lorca, Cervantes and Sophocles, in addition to those presented by contemporaries Elvira Lindo and Jesús Ruiz Mantilla. Madama Butterfly (July 25 and 27) has the leading role of the soprano Ainhoa Arteta, in the famous character of Cio-Cio San. Puccini’s dramatic opera, about the geisha in love with an American sailor, moves in this version of director Emilio López until 1940, in the middle of World War II, with Giuseppe Finzi at the head of the Verum Symphony Orchestra and produced by the Palau de les Arts of Valencia. Also,

Yo, Farinelli, El Capón (August 7) is a musical monologue, the fruit of the union of artistic-literary talents. Inspired by the novel by Jesús Ruiz Mantilla, it is directed by Manuel Gutiérrez Aragón, on his return to the theater, and features the Baroque orchestra Forma Antiqua. The actor Miguel Rellán and the countertenor Carlos Mena put voice to the famous castrato favorite of Felipe V and Fernando VI, who introduced the great opera in Spain and stayed more than 20 years at the service of the Spanish court.

More info on the Festival of San Lorenzo de El Escorial here:

Some wonderful arts to see in Madrid this summer!

La Corona de Margaritas or the crown of daisies: A large family father, Maurice Denis included his children in his work in a recurrent manner. In this case, the girl is inspired by her daughter Bernadette. The mottled that is seen in both the dress of the girl and the girl respond to the years in which Denis made use of stippling, a common feature with Édouard Vuillard, with whom he shared a studio. As for the wreath of daisies that gives title to the work, it is another frequent motif in Denis’ painting. In fact, there are similarities between this work and others such as Figures in a Spring Landscape (1897) or Virgin Spring (1899). Maurice Denis 1905-1906 at the Thyssen-Bomemisza National Museum, Paseo del Prado, 8. More info here:

Las Floreras or the flower girls: A contemporary flower offering, framed in a mountain landscape reminiscent of the Sierra de Gredos, where Goya spent two summers working for the infant Don Luis, is the scene represented by the painter in this canvas, also known as La Primavera (spring) . As explained from the Prado museum, the tapestry resulting from this cardboard was part of those that would be used to decorate the dining room of El Pardo Palace. It was foreseen that the series included a total of 13 tapestries, all of them dedicated to the four seasons of the year and to other country scenes, described as paintings of jocular and pleasant subjects. However, the death of Charles III in 1788 prevented the tapestries from finally hanging on the site that had been thought for them. Francisco de Goya, 1786; Prado National Museum at Calle de Ruiz de Alarcon, 23. More info here:

Kudos again for tio Pepe! Another recognition. The International Wine Challenge  is celebrated in London and gathers the best references from all over the world competing to become the best wine in the world. In the 36th edition, its jury, made up of professionals from the sector, has valued the quality and uniqueness of an enological marvel of Jerez that has achieved this recognition for the first time in its history. This award places it as the Best Wine of the World for 2019.  This very old amontillado, which shows the ability of the Palomino Fino to age with elegance and nobility. It comes from just one of the six boots that remain, for 53 years, in La Constancia Solera González Byass Museum awaiting its moment to dazzle the world. The result is Tío Pepe Cuatro Palmas, a clean and bright Jerez wine that has an intense mahogany color with amber reflections. The nose is complex, deep and awakens aromas of antique furniture, cedar, lacquers and varnishes. His mouth is strong, very dry, direct and wild, ending in a stunning final reflection of the perfect balance between acidity and old age. Tuna and salted meats, very old cheeses or the contrast of a pure cocoa are highly recommended experiences to accompany this legendary wine. More info here:

And the official Gonzalez Byass bodega:

Beers to get at the supermarket! And we will load up in our trip next month  ,these are to look for !  Cruzcampo Andalusian Pale Ale 4,6% 1 euro (33 cl.). Manila de San Miguel  4,2% 1,05 euros (33 cl.), and  Mahou Barrica 12 Meses  7% 2,95 euros (33 cl.). these are supermarket prices on bottles of 33 cl. Tercios!

One major event to celebrate worldwide indeed! The commemoration of the V centenary of the first round the world sail. The naval school ship, Juan Sebastián Elcano, traces the same route that the fleet of Fernando de Magallanes made 500 years ago, to now do studies of ocean pollution by microplastics, films, documentaries, shows and a great exhibition, The longest trip, which will open the Kings in Seville on September 12.  The story of the 247 men who, five centuries ago, left the port of Seville towards the unknown. Of the 247 crew that departed on August 10, 1519 with the sail boats Trinidad, San Antonio, Concepción, Victoria and Santiago , they only returned to Spain 34. By nationality, Spaniards were 147 of the original crew, 29 Portuguese and 27 Italians, while the rest came from several European countries: Germany, England, Greece … Almost half of the Spaniards were Andalusians, 21% were Viscaya, 6% were from Burgos and 5% from Gipuzkoa.!!! More info here:

And now a popular dish with many implications I have given the leyend of it before in my blog from the fisherman of Valencia and now what not to do with a Paella , a dish that we enjoy at lunch. The quintessential Valencian recipe and one of the most popular dishes  but not the most of the Spanish tradition raises as many passions as heated discussions about how to prepare, what are the canonical ingredients and what is the proper way to taste it. These are the most common mistakes we should avoid.

The socarrat or overdone effect is an exceptional complement and should never be missing. That’s right: when you do not know how to burn. First the look: it’s dry, it smokes but it’s water, it’s not burning. After the listen: when drying and begin to toast you can hear the crackle of the rice with the fat, it is toasting. And finally, the smell: you have to remove it before you smell it burning!.

Not eating paella at night because it is indigestible well a dish of paella brings a heavy digestion because the oil with which it was made was reheated or even burned.  Do not eat it freshly made: You have to eat it immediately. The closer you are to its preparation, the better!  Calling paellera to the paella container when  is the word for both the container  and the content the same.  To spend a lot on seafood and little on rice But we forget that a paella is, in essence, a plate of rice!.

White wine is the best paella accompaniment: In the case of paella, although a young or dry white wine will always perfectly accompany a paella of fish, seafood and vegetables, a semi dry and cool rosé will harmonize very well also the rices of this type and also those that take meat. These can taste better with a corpulent rosé with a merlot base. Red wines with fish or seafood  are not usually advisable because the iodine they contain adds a metallic note.

Pay a fortune for a dish in a restaurant (no matter how good it is). The paella must be accessible to almost everyone, because paella was never a luxury dish, it was a dish that was made with the ingredients of the garden, more accessible and every day. The average ticket for the diner goes out for 30 or 32 euros, in other places it is 40 and in other 25. Stick to the average and you will find very good ones in Madrid.

Falling into the controversy of the ingredients: the Valencian paella consists of 10 very specific ingredients: large white beans, tomato, flat green beans, chicken, rabbit, salt, olive oil, rice, water and saffron. What comes out of there may be paella, but not Valencian paella. The one with seafood and fish etc is call a Marinera or marine paella and other words to mix and match. The original is a Valencian Paella ok.

Another mistake is to insist so much that the grain has to be loose that in the end we are short of cooking. The key is to know the grain origin, how long it takes to cook and how much liquid is able to absorb without going over. To underestimate the value of the fire when the only way to do it was with orange wood; the grill impresses the final dish with aromas that cannot be achieved with more modern cooking methods. So, if you can, paella with firewood. And better still if tasted outdoors.! There you go now go for it!!! Paella (para ella pa’ella= for her ;see my post on the history). Others take it from a variation in the Valencian language meaning frying pan!

More history and recipes of the Paella in Spanish here:

An anecdote and history that I was able to see on site in my beloved Florida USA and from beloved Spain!

The cloister of the ancient monastery of Sacramenia province of Segovia now  in North Miami Beach Florida!!! The cloister of the Ancient Spanish Monastery, whose origins go back almost nine centuries, is located on the outskirts of the very young city of  North Miami Beach , founded in 1926 and renamed as today in 1931.

The medieval cloister, together with the refectory and the chapter house, was part of the Cistercian monastery of Nuestra Señora Reina de los Ángeles (Our Lady Queen of Angels), located in the Segovian town of Sacramenia, which began to be built in 1133 and was completed eight years later. in 1141. After the canonization in 1174 of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, it was renamed in honor of this influential French saint. For almost seven centuries, the monastery was inhabited by Cistercian monks, until in the 19C, with the confiscation of Mendizábal (Spain anticlerical minister), was sold and converted into a warehouse, barn and stable.

William Randolph Hearst, the great tycoon of the American press who inspired “Citizen Kane” to Orson Welles, noticed it and acquired the cloister, the refectory and the chapter house with the intention of taking it to one of his mansions in California. To this end, its walls, arches, statues were dismantled stone by stone Each piece of the new Hearst acquisition was packaged in a total of 11,000 wooden boxes padded with hay and numbered for later identification. They were then transported by ship across the Atlantic to the United States.  Meanwhile, Hearst’s financial problems led him to let go of his Spanish caprice and sell it at auction. However, the stones of the dismantled monastery remained buried in a warehouse in Brooklyn ,New York city for 26 years.

It was in 1953, a year after Hearst’s death, when two entrepreneurs turned their eyes to the thousands of forgotten pieces of the old monastery and bought them to create a new tourist attraction in flourishing Miami. The complexity of the reconstruction meant that the operation was invested for 19 months and what today would be equivalent to 20 million dollars. It was a matter of recomposing the greatest puzzle in history, as Time magazine pointed out at the time. In 1964, Colonel Robert Pentland Jr., a multi-millionaire philanthropist, bought the old cloister and gave it as a gift to the Episcopal Diocese of Florida. Located in the town of North Miami Beach, about 25 km (12 mi) north of Miami, exactly at 16711 West Dixie Highway, North Miami Beach, FL,  the ancient Spanish  monastery is now one of the most picturesque attractions in a county marked by hedonistic beach and luxury tourism. You can visit it, and it has as well kept for religious function, with masses in English and Spanish. But, in addition, it is a coveted framework for the celebration of weddings, birthdays and social receptions of various kinds. In addition, it is rented to host photo shoots, video clip recordings and even scenes from Hollywood movies, such as the music and dance performance starring Catherine Zeta Jones in “The Rock Age” (2012). The official webpage is here:

There you go another dandy from Spain, everything under the sun and it goes beyond its borders to the world. Enjoy Spain!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!


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July 12, 2019

The wines of Madrid!

So coming into dangerous waters to many as most people cannot believe there are wines in the Comunidad de Madrid autonomous region of my beloved Spain!  Yes they are and quite some time there too.  Needless to point out my wine roots , repeated so many times lol! You can look it up in my blog..! I like to tell you about a dear subject of mines and one area where I have lived and enjoy them since teenager days of glory. Well back then there were not that good just the thrill. The wines of Madrid or Vinos de Madrid has grown into adulthood as the rest of my Spain.

I like to tell you a bit about the Vinos de Madrid and hope that when in the capital you try the local product ok.

A bit on the history of vineyards in Madrid should begin my story me think

The existence of the wine industry in the current limits of Madrid date from the 13C, but it is not unreasonable to speculate on the existence of vineyards and wines in the region many centuries before. The Arab invasion did not put in serious risk the vineyards that they found on their arrival since, in spite of the Koranic prohibition, the cultivation of the vine maintained a notable presence in Muslim Spain. Even so, it would be necessary to wait until the 13-14C to verify the existence of vineyards conceived as a specialized agrarian activity, around the towns. It is, then, the 13C, the date of the first documents dating from the existence of wines from Madrid. The Golden Age is an important moment for the region and for its wines. The election of Madrid as capital of the kingdom supposes a remarkable growth of the demand and, in turn, of the production. In addition to the many times praised wines of San Martin, the capital is supplied by the production of Arganda, Alcalá de Henares, Fuencarral, Alcobendas, Torrelaguna, etc. The wines consumed during the reign of king Felipe IV came, above all, from the surroundings of Madrid. Valdemoro wine was famous, but the most prestigious ones were still the precious wines of San Martín, to which those of Cadalso and Pelayos had joined. Madrid reached the 20C with more than 60,000 hectares of vineyards, but in 1914 the first phylloxera was detected in San Martín de Valdeglesias. The plague spreads rapidly, ruining the Madrid vineyard and causing a substantial change in their wines. The recovery is slow and is done with foreign varieties, especially Garnacha (Grenache). But the real recovery would not occur until the 1950s, with the massive introduction of varieties selected for their quantitative yield and alcohol grade, with a predominance of Garnacha in the areas of Navalcarnero and San Martín and Airén grapes in Arganda. At this time most cooperatives emerge.

The 1980’s mark a spectacular change in the Spanish wine scene, to which the wines from Madrid does not remain excluded. The history of what it can be call the new Madrid wine starts in 1984, with the recognition of the Wines of Madrid Specific Denomination. In March of 1986 the Ministry of Agriculture approves the Wines Specific Denomination of Madrid. Finally, in November 1990, the Wines of Madrid Denomination of Origin was officially recognized. The following year, the bottles with the Vinos de Madrid back label are already on the market and since January 1992, the first aging wines  (crianzas) have been commercialized.

Where are the wines of Madrid, let’s give you some geography. Look up these towns on the bottle!

The biggest subzone is that of Aganda del Rey  located southeast of the región of Madrid (Comunidad de Madrid). These includes 31 towns such as Ambite, Aranjuez, Arganda del Rey, Belmonte de Tajo, Brea del Tajo, Campo Real, Carabaña, Colmenar de Oreja, Chinchón, only finca “El Encín” (Alcalá de Henares), Estremera, Fuentidueña de Tajo, Getafe, Loeches, Mejorada del Campo, Morata de Tajuña, Nuevo Baztán, Olmeda de las Fuentes, Orusco, Perales de Tajuña, Pezuela de las Torres, Pozuelo del Rey, Tielmes, Titulcia, Torres de la Alameda, Valdaracete, Valdelaguna, Valdilecha, Villaconejos, Villamanrique de Tajo, Villar del Olmo and Villarejo de Salvanés. Which I have croses on many occasions.  Through its lands  runs the Tajuña and Henares rivers, tributaries of the Jarama river, that in turn ends at the Tajo river.  The 27 Bodegas that belongs to this subzone of  Arganda produce about 20M liters that is about a bit more than 50% of the wine produce in this denomination of origin.

Next subzone is that of Navalcarnero, on the central part of the región, which includes 19 towns such as Aldea del Fresno, Arroyomolinos, Batres, Brunete, El Álamo, Fuenlabrada, Griñón, Humanes de Madrid, Moraleja de el medio, Móstoles, Navalcarnero, Parla, Serranillos del Valle, Sevilla la Nueva, Valdemorillo, Villamanta, Villamantilla, Villanueva de la Cañada ,and Villaviciosa de Odón.  This subzone has the least extensive cultivation with about 14% of the vineyards area. It is a flat terrain area running the Guadarrama river north to south of it and on the extreme west the Perales river tributary of the Alberche river. There are 5 Bodegas here that produce about 20% of the wines of the region Denominación de Origen Vinos de Madrid.

Last but not least we have San Martin de Valdeiglesias that includes 9 towns such as Cadalso de los Vidrios, Cenicientos, Colmenar del Arroyo, Chapinería, Navas del Rey, Pelayos de la Presa, Rozas de Puerto Real, San Martín de Valdeiglesias , and Villa del Prado. It has 35% of the vineyards área. The main wáter source here is the Alberche river. There are 12 bodegas in this subzone producing 30% of the wine.

There are many varieties of grapes allowed the main ones are

White: Albillo Real.  It is the earliest maturing variety in Madrid. It is very unproductive. The clusters are small, golden at maturity, in a varied way. The skin is very fine, so it is also very appreciated as a table grape. Malvar: It is a productive variety, with an upright bearing, with large and loose bunches, cylindrical in shape. It presents a medium maturation, advanced with respect to the Airén.

Reds: Garnacha Tinta. Late maturing. Grenache strains have an upright shape and medium-sized, conical clusters, usually compact, although they tend to bleed. It is very productive, although in Madrid it usually presents low yields. Tinto Fino (elsewhere known as Tempranillo): Of medium maturation. It has a semi erect shape. It is not a very productive variety. The clusters are medium sized, compact and cylindrical and with two characteristic shoulders.

Other varieties authorised planted are On the whites: Airén Macabeo (elsewhere known as Viura), Moscatel de Grano Menudo, Parellada, Torrontés (elsewhere known as Alarije),  and Sauvignon Blanc. On the  Reds they have Cabernet Sauvignon, Graciano, Merlot, Negral (elsewhere known as Garnacha Tintorera), Petit Verdot, and Syrah. The types of wines you can have from this region are Crianza, Reserva, Gran Reserva, Vino Sobremadre (white and red with carbonic gas wines) and Espumoso (sparkling).

Some favorite bodegas over the years in my house.Brief details.

Cuevas del Real Cortijo de San Isidro SA webpage:

Bodega Antonio Benito, webpage:

Vinos Jeromin, S.L webpage:

My best references on Jeromin are the bottles of Puerta del Sol, Puerta de Alcalá, and Puerta de Hierro very emblematic of Madrid indeed but good.


Marqués de Grinon Family Estates SA webpage :

My reference from this great Castilla La Mancha property is the El Rincón

Some webpages to help you find the bottles if not able to come to the Bodegas themselves, (highly recommended!) are in Madrid Santa Cecilia and Lavinia.

Santa Cecilia:


Additional webpages to help you find your way through the wines of Madrid!

The tourist office of Vinos de Madrid

The Denomination of Origin or Consejo Regulador of Vinos de Madrid:

There you go, now me think you should be ready to try these wines and enjoy them as I have for years. The wines of Spain are coming up and still great value price/quality ratio; those of Madrid are tops on this list. The Vinos de Madrid, muy buenos!

And remember, happy travels ,good health, and many cheers to all!!!






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