I've been swept up by the tide of Madrid for the past 24 hours and I've been loving every minute of it. I truely mean swept because between the jetlag, an allergy induced sinus headache, wine, and orientating myself in a city whose language I barely speak, it's been a very 'come what may' experience.
I met up with some people that I knew through work- we wandered around city central and had tapas at a place called Vinoteca Barbechera. In the photo above, from left to right: duck foie gras with candied apple; a variety of forest mushrooms with ham; and blood sausage with candied apple. The mushrooms were the stand out favorite- sauteed with ham and glistening with sauce- fantastic! We also ate croquettas (the spinach, with raisins and pine nuts were great) and a plate of Iberico ham and sheeps milk cheeses. I don't know why the rest of the world doesn't do food this way- each tapas ranges from 2-7 euros (with the iberico platter being more like 20 euros) and everyone shares. It's a very social eating experience.
Down the street from my hotel was the newly inaugurated CaixaForum Madrid museum. The architecture of the building was beautiful- an old brick structure (formerly Central Electric) with a rusted metal addition on top that has a pattern cut into it, designed by Herzog & de Meuron. The adjacent wall was a living sculptural instilation (aka 'green wall') by Patrick Blanc, whose work I've always wanted to see. http://www.verticalgardenpatrickblanc.com/
The pairing of the metal, brick and verdant wall was fantastic.
There's a couple of stores called Museo de Jambon around town- each contained more cured ham than I've ever seen. The decor is cured ham, hanging in tight rows. It's a sight to behold. I didn't have time to fully explore their cases but plan on doing so when I pass back through Madrid on my way home. Currently I'm in Cuidad Real, the capitol of La Mancha, about an hour South of my starting point. Tomorrow marks the begining of Espana Original, a food expo of Spanish producers.