Friday, February 27, 2015

Explore, Chill, Enjoy. San Francisco in one day!

My uncle is born and raised in California and had the patience and endurance to guide us through a series of fun and interesting excursions. One of those was a day in San Francisco where we managed to explore, chill and enjoy in just one day!

The trip took place a few years ago but all the places are classic and still exist apart from Yoshis San Francisco (Live jazz venue and Japanese restaurant) which is now closed and operates only in Oakland. 
Waterfront Hotel, Oakland, Jack London Square

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Casa de Valencia makes the best Paella in Madrid!

Take my word and don't spend even a minute thinking. When you plane lands in Madrid, call Casa de Valencia and book a table to savour the best paella ever. As a family and specially my husband who has been in Madrid many times to watch his favorite local soccer team, we have never tasted a better paella elsewhere.

We arrived in the restaurant a party of five friends, a Sunday noon and it was packed with local Spanish families who where enjoying paella and many different seafood plates. Seafood in this restaurant is very popular and no wonder as everything we tried was fresh and reasonably priced in my opinion. 

We had Fish and Seafood Croquettes, tasty, soft and moist inside, crunchy outside just perfect, we liked it so much we ordered two portions. The main course was a Seafood Paella for five people. As I said before,  excellent plate full of flavor with top quality ingredients and full of fresh seafood. We were not equally excited with the desserts we had a tiramisou and a chocolate dessert which I don't recall its name but we did not mind as the food was excellent. I appreciate the fact that they bring you also at the end a huge plate with sweet muscat wine and dry fruit free of charge. The service was efficient and speedy, but also precise and attentive with an old fashioned look just like the restaurant itself. 

Classy and old fashion Casa de Valencia, retains a formal elegance that many good restaurants in Madrid still hold. This is the main reason I love restaurants in Madrid, because you have the feeling they respect you as a client, either you pay a lot of money or not. Casa de Valencia I salute you!

Tips and Information

1. The restaurant was opened in 1975 by the King and Queen of Spain. 
2. Make a reservation prior to your arrival
3. An English menu is available 
4. Accessible to people with reduced mobility

Casa de Valencia
Paseo del Pintor Rosales, 58
28008 Madrid
tel. (+34) 91 544 17 47

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

EL MOLAR-Madrid "A taste of real Madrileno life..."

Senior Olivares and his American eagle

EL MOLAR-Madrid "A taste of real Madrileno life..."

Why El Molar

Visiting Madrid for the fourth time I already had a checklist of things I wanted to do and sights I longed-for to see. When Aris suggested that we are going to visit El Molar the village of a Spanish friend of his, I thought OK let's have a Spanish country feel, thinking it's not going to be Toledo but lets give it a try...

Olivares Family and their love for eagles! 

It turned out to be one of the best experiences of our trip, as I met the most welcoming people and had the most authentic Spanish feel regarding food and atmosphere. It turned out that Fernando (the friend of Aris) was one of the sons of Olivares family, who owned Casa Olivares, a traditional Spanish tavern since 1807 and Bodegon de Olivares a traditional Spanish restaurant with cuevas, caves. 

In Casa Olivares we had the opportunity to admire two amazing and huge eagles that Senior Olivares trains for many years, one of them flew over our heads (you can hear me screaming in the video) and see the big collection of birds among them a couple of beautiful owls and some types of smaller eagles. In Casa Olivares there is also a small museum with family portraits, folk art pieces, and an impressive armor called El Cid. If birds is not your thing you can chill out and drink beers or vermouth in the tapas bar in a typical Madrileno style with the locals and visitors from Madrid surrounding you. 

The Food - The Wine - The views

You can continue your day there and have lunch or dinner in Casa Olivares or you can choose Bodegon de Olivares for a more romantic and tranquil setting. This restaurant is up on a hill with great views of El Molar and inside is full of caves that operate either as rooms with restaurant tables either as cellars for old wine. Bodega means in Spanish a convenience store, selling wine and groceries. In the hills of El Molar more than four hundred caves spread between three hills, and two hundred wineries, some of them private in character, some of then are converted into restaurants serving typical local dishes, grilled, seasoned in natural wood. Extraordinary mutton, or lamb with salt and garlic, a scrumptious black pudding, baked beans with chorizo, chumichurri, steaks, pork, lamb.We had a plate of traditional spanish sausages which was washed down with beer of course and it was a blast!

Our day continued with lunch in Casa Olivares, in the main restaurant area of the tavern. I chosen a veal steak which was so tender together with a delicious fresh salad with lettuce and onions. Certainly one of our best and most authentic meals in Madrid!

As time passed, we had to go back to the city, Fernando drove us around, to the have a better view of the hills of El Molar and to see the vineyards. We made a small stop to a local church that owned its name to the saint protector of El Molar. We talked about religious feasts and I found many similarities with Orthodox Church, it is the moment that you magically discover so much to talk about even if your barely know the language...El Molar...we will be back! 

Tips & Information

El Molar is a forty minute drive from the centre of Madrid.

CASA OLIVARES desde 1807
Avenida de EspaƱa, 52
El Molar 28710 (Madrid)
tel. 918410000

El Bodegon de Olivares "bodega y cuevas tipicas de El Molar"
C/ La Cuesta, s/n
El Molar 2710 (Madrid)

tel. 918411034