Friday, June 22, 2007

Why it's the best restaurant in the world

I hope the few of you who get in to El Bulli this summer appreciate what you’re eating. I was in the kitchen at Adria’s famed restaurant on Saturday, and saw many fantastic things: cakes made without flour or eggs; mushroom broth turned into semi-solid spheres; snails escaping up the rim of the pot meant to cook them. But perhaps the most impressive sight was the first: right after the staff meeting, 25 young cooks, all in their chef’s whites, lined a center table and began peeling the tough outer shell from green pine nuts. Later, they would each go to their special tasks, but for the first hour, they slaved to free the tiny nuts—which would reappear in a pine dish as “caviar," about six to a plate.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Open Sundays

Leaving aside the convenience stores unfortunately known as "chinos," (which are roundly disparaged by Spaniards because their expanded hours tend to put the old fashioned mom-and-pops out of business. Roundly disparaged, that is, until said Spaniard needs a liter or beer or a box of cereal on Sunday. Then they're great. Viva yo.), there are only three kinds of shops open in Madrid on Sunday.

Bakeries, because no one should be expected to go a day without fresh bread. Florists, because you visit people on Sundays, and all the wine shops are closed so you can't bring them that. And book stores, because, well, I don't know why.

In the mood to spend money on a Sunday? All you can by are books, flowers, and cake. A perfect trifecta, I'd say.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Two steps forward...

After years of dispute over whether the extension of the metro to the new terminal at Barajas should be paid for by the national government or the regional government, after months of construction that indeed extended well beyond the opening of said new terminal, the new stations opened, as I learned when I recently flew back to Madrid. No longer is it necessary to take a surprisingly long busride to another terminal, and then a long hike to the metro station (from there, it still takes a long time to get home, but that is the way of airports). All for the good, except that amid all the hoopla about the new station, someone forgot to mention that it now costs an extra euro to board or disembark at the airport. And that to pay it, even if you have a metro pass, you have to stop and buy another ticket--coming and going. And that the charge applies to all the terminals, not just the old ones. Which, let´s face it, is just plain unfair.