On Saturday, after walking around Madrid and engaging in a little healthy food shopping, we went home for a much-deserved nap, and didn’t go out again until 9 pm, for a pre-dinner drink.
In Spain, people eat late. And I do mean late : we Parisians have a tendency to be late diners as well, but they take the concept to a whole new level. As we drove into the city it was 9:30 pm, going on 10, and the restaurants were all empty, with a waiter or two waiting idly at the door, smoking a cig and enjoying the evening breeze.
Our friends first took us to a bar called Ducados Café, where we enjoyed the bestest frozen mojito in the galaxy, and possibly beyond. I’d never had anything quite like it : think frozen margarita, only green, mint and rum. So sweet and yummy it’s almost a dessert, and I gulped it down in five minutes flat. Which of course may explain the instantaneous heightening of my already excellent mood.
We walked through the narrow streets, which were finally starting to fill up – it was 11:30 pm after all – to the restaurant where we wanted to have dinner, a traditional taberna called Toscana. The restaurant room was large, with white roughcast walls and wooden panels, exposed beams and dark wood furniture. On the right was a long bar at which people were standing, drinking and nibbling on tapas, using (or not) the little disposal cans built into the bar at foot level.
The restaurant walls and ceiling were crowded with miscellaneous items of decoration : framed photos of corridas, people or landscapes, decorated plates, iron cauldrons… Legs of ham were hanging from above the bar (with the requisite safety mini-umbrellas), brushing shoulders with an army of yellow crookneck squash of varying sizes, and earthenware sangria pitchers, with their characteristic pinched mouth that prevents the fruit from spilling out when you serve.