Ramen in Madrid

Those afflicted by xenophilia (oh yes and and we´re linked to Gourmet magazine, how cool is that) and living in Madrid will be happy to know that at long last we have a ramen bar. It´s right behind Callao and you can amble in, take a peek at the giant bubbling stockpot, place your order, nibble a couple of rolls from the little train of sushi rolling by, and before you know it, have a giant bowl of soup placed before you.

This is truly good news. A place for really fast, really nourishing and good food, right in the middle of the most hectic shopping district, just where you might begin to feel faint from all the noise and the confusion.

Oishii, c/ Miguel Moya, 6 91 522 75 74 Metro Callao


Hard choices

My baby turned one yesterday. This means that she can now smear bits of her own birthday cake everywhere, and that she crawls with the speed of lightning. So we´d either have to watch her like hawks, or else take away most of the stuff in danger of toppling off onto her head.

Everything not strictly useful has been boarded up and carted away, and that includes my embarrassingly large cookbook collection. At first I was puritanical and fierce, and tought I´d only keep Nigella´s How to... books and my own notebooks.

Then I decided The improvisational cook could stay, too. And I´d probably need an all-purpose reference, so out came The Ballymaloe Cookery school book. By then my will had snapped, and I started to make little piles of survivors.

My rule: only stuff I really cook from. No fascinating but intimidating ethnic foods, no pretty but vague stuff, nothing too new, nothing too big.

Lindsey Bareham´s paperbacks, Nigel Slater´s Real fast food, Nina Simmond´s Noodles. For times when I want an exotic change of pace, Flatbreads and flavours. And Claudia Roden, of course. Imagine putting her in a box! No American baking books because of the meassurements, but the Barefoot Contessa stays because she´s just so friendly. Likewise The breakfast book, and The Joy of Cooking, which I would have packed up, but it turned out to have been propping up a lame chair and I only found it after the move, so it´s been allowed to stay.

My kitchen is still more full of books than most, but I feel virtous and monastic, and I´m looking at this select few with a new, loving eye, that promises happy hours spent with them.

We leave today for the beach and will be back around the 20th, so posting will probably be slacker than usual.


Smashed eggs

I live right in the centre of Madrid, on a reasonably picturesque street with a pretty mix of old brick buildings and trendy tatto parlours, independent bookshops, italian restaurants and ultra cool hairdressers. We also, this being Madrid, have a few bars, and a fair amount of night time traffic, but less than most surrounding streets.

This means that on weekends there are people walking around drunk and loud until more or less three or four. And that´s fine by me, until the high spirits become out and out vandalism. Walk along singing off tune and you´ll find I merely turn over and fall back asleep, but smash bottles under my window, or use thrash cans for a batucada, and you wake the dragon.

I go to the balcony and if they´re near enough, smash a couple of eggs into the offending group. This is all in the great Madrid tradition of "huevos estrellados", or smashed eggs: fried potatoes with fried eggs gently broken over them, so that the yellow yolk gets everywhere and you can have a proper cholesterol fest. Apparently the secret to making this, according to Lucio, the famous master of the smashed egg, is to make the egg over easy, not in masses of boiling oil. 

So there you are: urban violence and popular culture, all in the Sunday morning´s work. I just wish I could remember to buy cheap eggs for this, because it breaks my heart to waste good organic stuff.