Memories of Madrid…

When I go to Spain my time in Madrid is usually a bit whirlwind. It’s either on the way into or out of the country, and only for as much time as I can squeak out – making sure that the patient I’m traveling with has been compliant, is healing appropriately, and is ready for the big travel day from the Alicante province to Madrid.

I must confess here a bit: I love Madrid.

I mean, what’s not to love? The shopping is amazing. The food is spectacular. The place drips with history. The architecture is show stopping. There’s the Prado! The Royal Palace! Flamenco Dances! Okay – now I wanna go back.

Anyway… days in Madrid with a baby post-op in tow can be a challenge. Sometimes we all look at each other – realize we should have had a snack or a meal – oh, about an hour ago – and if we don’t get something to eat NOW, we WILL keel over!

(That’s it! The little café in the corner – with the white umbrellas over the tables!)

January 2007 was one such occasion. Linda, Meredith, and I were roaming the streets of Old Madrid, headed for Plaza Mayor when we realized that we were famished. Eating in Spain is sometimes a challenge to the American frame of meal planning mind. We eat at 7 am, noon, and 7pm – or some semblance there of, right? Well, Spanairds eat more like this:

7am – first breakfast
10am – bakery stop – second breakfast
noon – snack – tortilla de patata in a bar perhaps
2pm – lunch! This is the BIG meal of the day. Everyone comes home for this meal.
4 or 5pm – bakery stop – snack time!
7 or 8pm – drinks and tapas somewhere
9 or 10pm – dinner
midnight – drinks and tapas somewhere

It kinda rocks the American mindset.

While it seems like you should be able to find a meal anywhere at any time – I mean we do that in the United States, right? – not so much in Spain. If you hit between a culturally recognized meal time – your only hope, for the most part, is tapas at a bar somewhere.

Bar – by the way – is not like what most Americans think of when you say “bar” – it’s more like a small neighborhood café that – yes, serves alcohol – but for the vast majority of the day the focus is deep, dark, extremely rich, heavily dosed with rich cream Spanish coffee.

So – Linda, Meredith, and I – about ready to keel over because we’re STARVING. It’s cold, we’re hungry, and not much is open. But we think ourselves extremely fortunate to find ourselves at just such a little bar/café which was happy to serve tapas at pretty much any hour. We quickly scanned the menu and I was able to find a couple of options that our baby post-op could handle.

One of the dishes that Linda and I thought we’d do well with was called Patatas Aioli. I may have been to Spain a dozen times, but sadly, I don’t speak the language. I was, however, able to ascertain that this was – I thought – something akin to potato salad. We decided we were game.

Our food arrived – the day was saved – and Linda and I took our first bites simultaneously.


One could just weep, sometimes, at the perfect marriage of different ingredients into the concoction that you know you simply couldn’t continue life without on a fairly regular basis.

THIS is one of those foods.

Honestly – WOW.

I should tell you – you gotta be a garlic lover. Garlic wimps need not even go here. Seriously.

I have made a point of going back to this same little café to order said Patatas Aioli – well, pretty much every time I’ve been in Madrid since!

This past weekend Linda told me she’d found IT. She didn’t have to explain. I knew what she was talking about. She’s now – officially – my BFF for LIFE!

Here you go:

 Patatas Aioli

2 pounds Small red potatoes
2 cups Mayonnaise
1 cup Sour cream
4 tablespoons Crushed fresh garlic (not minced)
2 teaspoons Ground white pepper
2 tablespoons Fresh parsley, chopped


Makes 4 to 6 servings.

  1. Boil potatoes until tender. Peel and cut each into 4 to 6 chunks. Allow to cool.
  2. Whip together mayonnaise, sour cream, garlic, white pepper, and parsley.
  3. Combine potatoes with the whipped mixture, adding small amounts until you get the consistency you like for potato salad. Chill.
  4. Garnish with parsley.

Notes: This Aioli sauce (the mayonnaise, sour cream, and seasonings) is excellent on top of fish, or as a dip, or even thinned out with a little milk to make a salad dressing.

This is definitely a recipe for garlic lovers! Weak at heart beware!

2 thoughts on “Memories of Madrid…

  1. I love reading your blog so much! How do you manage to make a recipe so much fun to read about? Your writing is amazing Aunt Dina! I’ve become quite discontent with my own writing lately and was wondering, do you have any tips for me??

    • Megan, my darling!

      The best hint I can give you about writing is to do this:


      Start your own blog if you want, even – and write every single day. Write about what you know. Write what you feel deeply. Don’t apologize for who you are and what you are expressing – although remember that if you’re blogging – it’s public and can come back to bite you in the butt in future life if you’re not exhibiting some wisdom and discernment! 🙂

      I love you much, sweet and beautiful niece!


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