The Greatest Meal of My Life

Hey ya’ll! It is my favorite day of the week: What I Ate Wednesday! I am so happy to be back in the country to participate in this. Luckily for ya’ll, I’ve been holding off to post for this special day, so that I could share the best meal I had on my trip with ya’ll and the rest of the foodie community! Thanks so much to Jenn for hosting this weekly event! Girl, you are a genius. Anyways now time for my meal. This was when we got to Sevilla. The day after we went to Toledo and went back to Madrid, we woke up the next morning super EARLY and hopped on a train to Cordoba where we would only spend a few hours. Thank god before we left I ate a Luna bar to tide me over.

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Our first stop on the itinerary in Cordoba was to go to La Mezquita, which is a sort of catheral and mosque. It was amazing. I am a huge art history buff, I even took a course in my undergraduate studies. Near the end of the course we studied this famous architecture because it has a huge Moorish influence. The arches are probably one of the most notable features of this place since they go on and on forever. The columns themselves are also gorgeous. You can learn a lot about the time period of a building by looking at the crown of the column, which has the decoration part on top of the pillar. All of the carvings in the wall were very intricate too. It is amazing that such beauty like this can be created years and years ago when there was not that much technology and tools.

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More arches and columns. Don’t worry I won’t torture ya’ll so much. I have about a million pictures of this one place. It was so beautiful that I just kept snapping away at everything. My eyes were a bit overwhelmed by everything, so I wanted to take enough pictures to be able to remember it later. There was a small amount of stained glass in the building, which was seriously breathtaking. I am a huge fan of stained glass (Jewish probz – or maybe art lover problems). I really just love art and architecture in general. If I could do something else in life (I wouldn’t because I love nutrition and health too much), but if I did it would have to do with art and architecture. I love it.

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After La Mezquita, we headed off into these really small alley ways to find a synagogue. However the synagogue was closed for renovation, but luckily the Sephardic museum was open! I’m an Ashkenazi Jew, which means that I come from Eastern Europe. Sephardic Jews come from Spain, Morocco, etc etc. The museum was really cute though. It was three stories with each room being a different part of Jewish history in Spain. They had tons of old Spanish Jewish artifacts like a seder plate that was painted in the brightest colors. I liked that the Sephardic Jews were into very bright and vibrant things. It makes everything so much more beautiful. After this museum, our train was in an hour, so we didn’t have time to sit down and eat anything. We went back to the station and got on our train to Sevilla. Once in Sevilla we were starving, so we went to look for something that was open to eat. However it was siesta around this time, so we were getting nervous that nothing was open. Luckily we ended up at La Azotea, which had the best meal of our entire trip.

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This may have been my favorite tapas plate of the entire meal. It was wontons with goat cheese and shrimp inside topped with a spicy aioli sauce and scallions. Ummmm yes. It was like an asian fusion with spanish food. The wontons were really hot, but the cheese just melted into your mouth as you bit into it. The shrimp was chopped very finely, so that the texture was not a bothersome at all. It was the perfect dish. I could have eaten about two or three plates of these and called it a meal.

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This was a fish plate. It had a small filet of fish on top of a bed of greens, tomatoes, and this garlic sauce. It was also topped with parmesan flakes. This was a medio portion, which meant that it was half of what the ration is. It was cooked perfectly. The fish was extremely flaky and fresh. The tomatoes were so good too. When you mixed everything up with the sauce, it was the perfect bite. There were some other good looking fish plates that went by us as we sat waiting for our food. We wanted to eat everything.

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This looks extremely weird, and a little bit like sushi. However it is just some brown rice and meat stuffed into a seaweed wrap and topped with either an egg or caramelized onions. When I first saw this dish on the table, I was a bit worried. It looks a little sketchy, however it is an explosion of deliciousness when you shove it in your mouth. You expect it to be a bit bitter, but instead it is extremely sweet in a savory sort of way. I would have definitely ordered this again.

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Croquettes! We obviously couldn’t have gone one meal without eating at least one of our favorite traditional Spanish foods. These were AMAZING. It was like a sweet duck sauce underneath the croquettes, which were just simply filled with ham and cheese. They were fried super crispy too, which gave the outside a nice crunch as you got into the soft inside. These were definitely one of the best croquettes I had on the trip.

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I believe that if you are having the best meal of your life, you definitely need to order dessert. Since this restaurant was so amazing, it was obvious that all of the desserts were going to be equally amazing. It was really hard to pick, but in the end we ended up choosing a chocolate orange souffle. It was mind blowing. When we broke it open, chocolate ganache spilled out of the cake. We ate it up in about five minutes. They must have thought we were American pigs, but oh well. It was good. Definitely the best meal of the trip. I wish we could have gone back at least one more time to try other things on the menu since there were so many tempting options.

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Instead of having dinner like a normal person, we decided to head over and eat some helado (ice cream) for dinner. Such a good option in my opinion. We went to Rayas, which is a very popular heladeria in Sevilla. It was definitely worth the trek (later on we found out that there was one literally a foot from our hotel lol). My brother ended up getting strawberry cheesecake and dulce de leche. The strawberry cheesecake was definitely my favorite of the two. It was so creamy and rich.

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I decided to go pretty simple and just get coconut. It was delicious. There were small flakes of coconut within the ice cream. I love fruit flavors of ice cream. I wish we would have gone back to get more because I would have gotten lemon or mango. You can’t go wrong with something simple. If I had my way, I probably would have just snuck behind the counter and sampled every single flavor. Yeah, I like ice cream. Foreign icecream is just so much better in comparison to American. I could live off gelato in Italy, but that is a whole different story. Back to Spain!

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After we got our ice cream, we ate it and walked around Sevilla. We ended up at this awesome castle/church thing. I’m not really sure what it was, but it was gigantic. It looks cool at night. We walked through the Juderia (Jewish neighborhood) and even ended up attending some neighborhood party. Actually we think it was some political rally, but it felt like a neighborhood party to me. It was super awkward in my opinion and I wanted to leave. Eventually we ended up back at the hotel and went to rest for the next day ahead of us.

I hope everyone had a good WIAW! We are halfway through the week. I’m not sure why I count down the week anymore since I pretty much do nothing besides coach volleyball. It is just a habit I guess or I’m just super excited for the Maccabi games and graduate school. Who knows!

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Baby, I’m back

Guess who is back, back, back, back again?!? MEEEE. I know ya’ll have missed me so much! I have missed ya’ll too. I’ve been crazy busy for the last month. I was working like crazy in a lab, I moved back to Austin, and then as soon as I moved back I was off to Spain! For the next week or so, I will be recapping my entire trip to Spain. Once that fun stuff is over, I have a TON of new recipes to share with ya’ll! I also have some pretty big news for ya’ll! I got accepted into the masters program at Columbia University for my masters of science in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology. Go Lindsay. Seriously still so proud of myself. I’m trying to figure out everything right now, so I will let ya’ll know if I end up going there (which I really really really want to go)! Now onto the big topic of Spain.

Oh god the flight was pure hell. I thought I was going to die. It wasn’t long, but it was the fact that we got into Madrid at 8:30 am and we had to wait at JFK for about 5 hours. It was definitely not fun. I was so tired when we got in, but we had to do a full day of activity!

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This guy was hilarious. I am still not even sure what this is, but it was one of the many street performers we saw on our trip. After we checked into our hotel in Madrid, we wondered off into the streets of the city to find something to eat and see some fun things. This is one of the great things we saw that first day. My brother was obsessed with him. He would like move around and make these really weird noises. I was doing some epic stalker pictures of him as he moved around the plaza we randomly walked through.

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When we eventually got to our hotel (we rode the subway all the way), it was around 11 in the afternoon. Then when we went out it was getting closer to 1 pm, so we decided that lunch would be the best option plus breakfast is not very popular there. We ran across this popular market, Mercado de San Miguel. It was actually really beautiful. The entire market was wrapped in glass windows that expanded from the floor to the ceiling, so you could see all the delicious stalls from the outside. As soon as we walked in, the fresh and delicious aroma hit our noses and our stomachs started to grumble. We obviously bee-lined to the first scrumptious looking stall we found, which was this seafood tapas one.

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We got four types of tapas of the many that were offered. They were all different types of seafood on small pieces of toast. One of them was mussels, one was clams, one was salmon, and the other was tuna. They were so delicious. There was a nice blend of textures from the softness of the chopped seafood with the crunch of the toasted bread. It was such a fresh light snack to have. This was what I loved about Spain. You could have multiple tapas or small plates, so you would get to try a multitude of things. You also didn’t feel like you were overeating or anything since everything was very small. I was in foodie heaven at this point.

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My favorite one was the oyster with a little caviar on top. You couldn’t taste the caviar. Only the rich flavor of the chopped oyster mixture. It was so delicious. It was creamy and sweet. I wasn’t even sure that it tasted like oyster, but that is what the label said at the stand. I was definitely not complaining. I could have eaten more than one of these, but there were so many more stands to try, so we had to keep going on.

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Fried food? Yes, sign me up please. My family loves calamari, so as soon as we saw some fried squid we had to grab some to go. It was in a paper cone, which was handy because we were able to walk around the market while holding it and not making a complete mess everywhere. The squid was perfectly fried. It was crispy, but not greasy. Sometimes when people fry things, it gets really greasy and disgusting. The calamari was so fresh too. It was bursting with flavor as you ate each and every piece. My brother and I gobbled this up in a few minutes. We also tried some fried sardines, which was interesting. It tasted like fish sticks.

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Introducing the Spanish food of croquettes. Fried cylinders filled with different types of creamy mixtures? Ummmm HECK YES. These were so delicious. That day we had a jamon (ham) and cheese one, a lobster one, and a shrimp one. It was hard to pick a favorite. It probably was a tie between the ham and lobster ones. The ham one was so cheesy with small chunks of chopped up Iberian ham while the lobster one was a creamy mixture of lobster and cheese. I was definitely a big fan, so this was the beginning of our croquette obsession on the trip along with our ham obsession (THERE HAM IS SOOOOO GOOD)!

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After we went to the market, we decided to walk around some more. After a little while, we ended up in Sol, which was an area filled with shopping (obviously I was in heaven there). We wanted something sweet for dessert and there was this delicious looking bakery. In the windows, they had shelves of some of the treats they offered. We went in and ordered two things. One of them was a napolitana de chocolate, which is sort of like a chocolate croissant. Although I think this was better than your typical chocolate croissant. The chocolate inside tasted like a fluffy buttercream. The pastry was baked perfectly, so it was only slightly crispy on the top and soft all around. It was topped with some type of sugar. We weren’t really sure nor did we care because we shoved this in our mouth so quickly.

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Hmmm this is interesting. A large white square. It is a meringue. It is definitely one of the more weird meringues that I have ever seen, but who cares since it was so delicious. It was soft and fluffy. It was so hard to eat though and we looked very awkward eating it. Every time my brother or I took a bite, our mouths were covered with meringue. It was very sweet, but I didn’t mind. It was like we were eating a soft cloud. I was sad that we never went back to the bakery because it was definitely my favorite bakery we ate at on the entire trip.

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After all our munching adventures, we walked all the way to the Thyssen-Bornemisza museum of Art. There was a special Pizarro exhibit while we were there, which was very interesting. I have a huge love of art, duh, so I was very happen to explore all the museos that Spain had to offer. I am looking hella exhausted. I am even rocking the glasses look. My brother would get so pissed every time I wanted to take a picture. Too bad. We were definitely needing our siesta at this point though. We were dragging through the museum, which made me kind of sad because I wanted to really absorb the greatness of the art.

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For dinner, we went to this tapas bar called Lateral that was very close to our hotel. We had taken a nice long siesta. It was good. The thing about Spain is that siestas are definitely needed. I haven’t been the one to nap during the day, but there somehow I was able to sleep. For the first dish, we had tortilla espanola. It was delicious. Another classic dish of Spain. It is pretty much a Spanish omelet. It was filled with potatoes and cheese. I was definitely a fan, but I had this dish before at a tapas bar in Boston.

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This tapa was jamon con queso. The cheese was a delicious brie that was topped with Iberian ham. This was delicious. The ham is sliced so thin and it is has a wide variety of flavors in just one piece of meat. The brie was so creamy. This probably was my favorite tapas of the night. It made me fall even more in love with the greatness of Iberian ham.

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The lower tapa was foie gras on top of a steak type of meat and the top was caramelized onions on top of the same type of meat. Oh man, how I love how Spain does caramelized onions. It sort of looks like a tablespoon of jam, but really it is a sweet mixture of cooked onions. We definitely had our fair share of onions after this meal. My brother and I also love foie gras. It was one of our favorite delicacies. We had it probably at almost every place that we ate at. Most people probably think we are weird, but ya’ll are the ones that are missing out!

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These are abondigas, which are Spanish meatballs. I thought these were just okay, but I’ve definitely had better. Like the time I was in New York City. They were served cold rather than hot, so I think that is why I didn’t like the dish as much as the abondigas I have had previously. After our meal here, we ended up exploring a bit more. We ended up at this really cute rustic place that was most famous for mushrooms. We ended up getting a plate of mushrooms that was to die for. I forgot to take a picture because I was so exhausted at this point in the night. After dinner, we strolled around the city a bit, but then went back to the hotel. I was exhausted and passed out easily!

I hope ya’ll enjoyed my first day in Madrid! Get ready for some great pictures of food, sites, and random things. I have missed this community so much while I was gone! But now I’m back with tons of delicious things to entertain ya’ll with!

Have you ever been to Spain? Where?
Have you ever had Spanish cuisine?