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Web Log Archive

Postings 36 to 40.

Log #40. Spanish Wines

¡Hola! ¿Qué Tal? Madrid-Uno called Rosé V to discuss Spanish wines. During our conversation the previous day she had let slip that she had done some serious exams in wine tasting / degustacion, so Madrid-Uno prevailed upon her to ante-up some info on some top level wines from Spain since Big John is coming over to stay in a month or so and he's a bit of an aficionado of the vino. My main line of questioning was, "tell me something other than Rioja - everyone knows Rioja - give me some labels that I can impress with."

Here's the official Rosé V list:

Tinto (red) - D.O. Ribeira Del Duero

  • Vega Sicilia
  • Pesquera
  • Mauro
  • Pago De Carraovejas*** - NB. lit. trans. = "The place where the sheep walk by" - nice!

  • Blanco - D.O. Rias Baixas
  • Albarino
  • Ribeiro
  • Plus, Madrid-Uno was to look out for labels from the D.O. Rueda region as well. Many of these wines are, apparently, available in El Corte Inglés so that makes things easier. Here's a good link for more info on the best Spanish wine labels. (pdf)

    Log #39. Tirso de Molina

    ¡Hola! ¿Qué Tal? Onwards to Tirso de Molina metro station, one stop south of Sol to meet Jasmina and her friend Rosé V, for we are to have Sunday lunch at an Indian restaurant. Our meeting is set for 2.00pm but Madrid-Uno's mobi is still on English time so he realises he doesn't have over an hour to get there and is 10 mins late. The ladies assure him they're not pissed off but that they are thirsty so we immediately head down the hill towards Lavapiés in search of a cafe. We choose well for the 3 canas - half pints of beer - are ice cold and served with frosted glasses. It's 2.30 pm, we're sat outside the bar, the sun is warming our backs and faces and Madrid-Uno's companions both have basic English so we can converse in a mixture of Spanglish. Que rico.

    After polishing off our cervezas, and being harangued by a lady trying to sell us artist sketch pads (nice patterned velvet covers but none of us draw) we move back up the hill a hundred yards or so where there are 3 restaurants in a row all sharing the same part of the street for their terraza dining. The one major drawback of this is that all the laid out tables and chairs slope somewhat - it is a steepish street. You have a choice of 3 kinds of cuisine: 1st up is Turkish / Iranian with kebabs the main offer, second is Indian, and the third is Pakistani. Madrid-Uno does not let on that, coming from England, he regards himself as somewhat of an expert on the curry front, so stays silent in the choosing period. The ladies settle on the Indian.

    It's going to be a samosa starter and we will all choose an individual dish and share. Its 1 chicken sag, 1 chicken tikka and a lamb curry + pilau rice. The samosas are good and they lay on three diferent pickles to complement. The place is also now suddenly full and the staff are busy adding tables around the edges of the existing customers. I'm feeling a bit corralled - as long as they don't start to shoot we'll be fine. Maybe this is why the main courses are pretty average, although another guess would be the Spanish distaste for most things too spicy. In Spanish cuisine some sausages are allowed to be spicy hot but not much else. It appears the kitchen is allowing for local taste because even the 'vindaloo' on the menu is accompanied by an instruction to inform the waiter if you want it 'with extra spice'. Now, where Madrid-Uno comes from, asking for a vindaloo with extra spice is like asking for kick in the head. The tikka is good but the other two dishes are bland and cold. The rice is proper pilau but coloured red - not the usual yellow saffrony tinge.

    2 x Coffee and another lager for Madrid-Uno. It's getting on for 4.30pm and the first diners are starting to leave, some having to climb over the newer arrivals. A bid for freedom! We join them paying a cuenta of 29 Euroweenies. That's about 20 for three people + drinks and OK it wasn't very inspiring but it wasn't bad either.

    Madrid-Uno says goodbye to the ladies back at Tirso de Molina metro taking the blue line up to Alonso Martinez and dropping off for a pint at Finnegans to catch up on the English footie results. Chelsea have already played (and won) and Man U are losing 1-0 at half-time. It's almost the perfect day.

    Log #38. En Blanco

    ¡Hola! ¿Qué Tal? This evening Madrid-Uno and Zipper went to a pub called Bo' Finns to watch Lyon vs. Real Madrid in the opening game of the group stages of the Champions League. It's yet another Irish themed pub (the city is stuffed with 'em - all containing the same ye olde antiquey Irish pub signs) and can be found on Calle de Velazquez towards the top end of the road in Castellana barrio. The place was pretty full and a good ratio of boys to girls for a footie night, maybe 60:40, and most aged in their 20s to 30s. Staff were fast and friendly and we were quickly served despite a wee crush on the bar. They had at least 4 screens but all the tables were full, so we managed to grab a spot by the stairs to witness a pretty poor Real performance - 2-nil down after the 1st half. Beckham was playing but not adding much. Cannavaro let Madrid-Uno down after he had told Zipper that he was Capello's best close-season signing. We decided to have a cigarette so headed to the street (no smoking inside - Prohibido fumar) where we had a nice view of four rather elegant girls sat at one of the pub's outside tables. The second-half was better with Real showing a bit more bite and adventure but Lyon probably edged that half as well, whilst the scored stayed at 2-0.

    OK, so football not so hot, but girls very hot. Friendly atmosphere, cliched surroundings but good staff - Madrid-Uno guesses that that makes a recommendation. They also show English Premier League football games and you can meet some expats there occasionally.

    Log #37. En La Televisión

    ¡Hola! ¿Qué Tal? Another working day. About 18:30 Madrid-Uno's eyes gave up on staring at a computer screen, so, healthily, he decided to watch a television screen instead.

    Madrid-Uno finds watching TV helps his Spanish. In particular, he finds the most helpful progs are the game shows, the news and the football coverage.

    The game shows are good because there's lots of asking questions and, 'cos it's a game show, the questions are usually set-up for idiots. Which, in Spanish at least, Madrid-Uno is. Tonight there was a choice of four game shows including: Allá Tú on the Cuatro channel, a fairly simple game which would be called 'It's Up To You' in English; Metro a Metro on TeleMadrid, a quiz based around the Metro underground system; and Lingo on La Sexta.

    The news is good because the presenters' speak clearly and one can match the day's events to the inflexion in the news presenters voice - grave, surprised, mucho serio, false levity for humorous story at end of show, etc.

    The football is good for two reasons. Firstly, since all footballers, all over the world say the same thing after every match (the boys done good, we fought hard and came away with a result, bollocks was that offside, etc.,) Madrid-Uno can understand surprisingly large chunks of the dialogue. And secondly, because Spanish football commentators are absolutely bonkers! These guys make Jonathan Pearce look somnolescent. They chatter and joke, gossip and laugh amongst themselves constantly and when they really take-off during times of incident you lose them completely and instead have to just sit back and listen to the musical torrent of invective / joy / fear / gloating. Much to Madrid-Uno's delight he also found that the Spanish really do use the word caramba! - as in: "Paco beats one man, he beats another, he shoots, Aye Caramba! Off the post." Madrid-Uno's friend Zipper told him a great story about a famous Spanish football commentator. Spain were playing Italy in an important qualification match back in the 1980s and at somepoint the Iti's scored. The commentator supposedly exclaimed, in full Ron Atkinson blunder mode, "Balls! Cut off their balls! Those cheating sons of Italian bitches!" hehe.

    Log #36. Useful Tip

    A useful tip for learning Spanish, passed on by Misterio, is to switch on the teletext for deaf people when watching a film on TV. Although the translations are not exact it really helps you to link the pronounced words to how they are spelt. Don't do this when you have Spanish friends over though... It really annoys 'em!

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