My Deep Dark Fantasy

Moms.

I have a deep dark secret fantasy.  I’ve had this deep dark fantasy for just about 10 years now. The idea came to me late one night as I was nursing and changing our then new born daughter.  Just the very thought of going through with this fantasy brought an immediate smile to my face.  Then the idea just started to grow and develop over the years.  

Now, three kids later, on those days where I can’t get more than three minutes and twenty four seconds to cohesively put a thought together.  Between the constant discussions of what is available for snack, negotiating screen time, or refereeing the 119th fight of the day my fantasy carries me through.  

I have, on occassion, shared this fantasy over the years.  Carefully.  I didn’t want to be judged or shamed for these feelings.  But what I started to realize is, this fantasy of mine, this fantasy that has blossomed and carried me through some pretty dark days of parenting, is not only mine.  The mom friends I have shared it with have always looked back at me with enthusiastic approval and have even brought fresh ideas to make the fantasy, better.  

So what is this super secret 10 year in development fantasy?  It starts with a holiday, whether it be my birthday, anniversary, christmas, or especially Mother’s Day-  my husband, who completely on his own has noticed how hard I have been working to take care of the kids and the house, gives me a card.  Now this isn’t any card.   This card holds a hotel room key.  This hotel room key is not to the local Holiday inn. No sir. I am talking about the Four Seasons, or The Ritz Carlton room key.  Stay with me.  

This hotel room key isn’t for us to share the weekend together.  No.  This super secret fantasy does not actually include another living soul.  This room key is just for me. To go alone.  By myself.  To this beautiful, cleaned by someone else room.  

Picture it.  I am in a car.  Listening to the music I want to listen to when I pull up.  The valet will say “welcome” and I will respond “indeed”.  I go straight up to my room, immediately undress, put on the plush fresh white robe and just throw myself on the bed.  Sometimes in the fantasy I do a snow angel move on the bed, sometimes I fall directly asleep.  Eventually,  I pick up the remote, turn on the TV, and  browse the “in theatre” movie options and then make my way to the room service menu.  

I pick the movie.  It’s not a cartoon, or an action drama.  It’s just a cheesy RomCom and there is no one around to offer commentary on how dumb it is.  I order myself a cheeseburger with french fries and a bottle of wine.  None of which can make me fat (this is a fantasy).  It arrives.  I watch the movie with a burger in one hand, sauce is probably on my face- I don’t care.  I’m alone.  I wipe the sauce with the french fry and eat it- because I can.  

I miss my husband and kids for a second because I have a heart. So I send a little I love you text and smile. Because when I look up, I’m still alone.  In a huge king bed.    I fall asleep.  In silence.  Alone.  I wake up in the morning, on my own. No alarms.  There’s no one jumping on me, or yelling, or asking if they can use an Ipad.  It’s just me.  I hear the birds chirping and I imagine some Frou Frou song playing the background.  Alone.

I think what my subconcious is trying to tell us, is that as moms, it’s easy to fill the day meeting the needs of the kids, husbands, other family members and dogs, but what we have to remember is that we are here too.  No we can’t escape to a hotel and make snow angels on the bed in a robe, but we can find a little time in the day that’s just for us.  We may have to lock a door or two to find it, but it’s essential.  

This year has been especially challenging and overwhelming.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Don’t be afraid to say, I need 15 minutes, alone, to just be me.  Taking off the “mom” hat and allowing yourself some time to meet your own needs, whatever that may be.  It will make you that much better when you return.  

Do You Podcast?

You hear everyone talking about them.  All over your day people are saying “I heard it on that podcast.”  You smile and nod, but on the inside you are wondering why in the world you still haven’t figured out how to listen to one.  Something about the whole podcast thing seems complicated and the universe of available podcasts is vast and growing every day.  It’s completely understandable to feel a little lost.  Or maybe it was just me?

One night out at dinner, my husband and our friends were going on and on about this podcast they all listened to, and I finally just blurted out “How the hell do you all know how to do this podcast thing?!”  My husband very calmly took my phone, patted me on my very aging millennial head, and showed me the podcast app.  Down the rabbit hole I went.

Now I know some of you reading this already know all about podcasts, and have your own must listen to lists (see below, please share).  However before we get into some incredible content that I love, I’m going to break down very quickly how you listen to a podcast for those of us who still haven’t been able to figure that out. 

The Apple App:

The podcast app is on your phone.  It’s one of those apps that Apple makes you have, but this one is actually useful: 

You open it up, and begin your journey.  Interested in a certain topic? Put it into the search and any podcast that has covered that topic pops up.  Interested in a certain person? Enter their name and all the podcasts they have appeared on will show up.   

Spotify:

If you have Spotify, they also have a great selection of podcasts to choose from.  They have more or less the same selection as Apple, but each service does have certain podcasts exclusively. (for example: The new Michelle Obama Podcast is only available on Spotify).  Again you open the app, scroll to the bottom of the home page and you will find some Podcasts available for you listen to. 

There are other services you can use to listen like Stitcher, Overcast, and Google but I think between the first two most people should be covered.

Not that anyone asked me or anything, but I thought I would also give you a few podcasts to start listening to.  You know just until you get your own juices flowing and find what you want to listen to.  Here are 10 of my favorites:

  1. Raising Good Humans Podcast: Dr. Aliza Pressman is the secret whisper in my ear now whenever I am looking for advice on how to handle any issues I am having with my kids.  
  2. The Armchair Expert: Dax Shepard brings on some pretty eclectic and interesting guests ranging from celebrities to psychologists, healers, and even geniuses.  He just recently interviewed Bill Gates, and I really loved that one.  
  3. Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations: If loving Oprah is wrong, I don’t want to be right.  She brings on the most outrageous guests, and gets them to open up in such a beautiful, and for lack of a better word, “soulful” way.  The Deepak Chopra episode was just, everything.  Sigh. 
  4. Latina to Latina: Alicia Menendez, has been interviewing successful and badass latina women for the last two years and bringing their stories to us in what is always a super insightful and beautiful conversation.  Alicia, is a current MSNBC host (one of their best), and one of my dearest and best friends.  So while I may have some bias, I would suggest you listen to any of the interviews and say you don’t find a great takeaway.
  5. Revisionist History: I will warn you before you listen to this one- Malcolm Gladwell is going to teach you something, and you won’t see it coming.  He takes moments in history, and current pop culture and challenges your view in an unexpected way.  
  6. Serial: Arguably the crime podcast that launched all other crime podcasts. Serial takes you through a true crime case each season. Juicy juicy for those true crime fans out there. Also here is an article with 50 more true crime podcasts for you to dive into!
  7. Unlocking Us with Brenee Brown: Brenee Brown is someone that grounds me.  I am not sure if you have heard of her or not, but let me tell you that Brenee is another voice in my ear that helps guide me through the day.  She has spent years studying shame and vulnerability and her insights are so clear cut and relatable.  Love this one! 
  8. How I Built This: if you like to hear stories of how great entrepreneurs got their start, this is the one for you.  The stories are usually pretty captivating and there’s always something good to takeaway.
  9. The Happiness Lab:  Dr. Laurie Santos teaches one of the most popular classes in Yale’s history.  She has some great episodes dishing out advice on how to form better habits and how to just find more happiness in your day.
  10. The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz: I’m a Miami girl at heart always.  This is my guy for sports.  I love this show, always have, since my dad used to make me listen to him on local sports talk when he was first starting out.  They always make me laugh, and keep me up to date on what is going on in the sports world in a way that makes me want to know, which for me is usually only during basketball season and if Tom Brady is involved. What? 

I listen to a podcast now when I go for a walk with the dog, when I’m cleaning around the house, or even when I’m in the car alone (LOL like this ever happens).  I do most of my listening in 10-15 minute increments, and I love it.  By the end of the week I know a new story, or have heard something cool that I never would have known otherwise.  

The podcast world is growing every day.  There are more podcasts being produced currently than almost any other form of media.  You can find some really compelling stuff to listen to, and you can also really find some hidden trashy gems.  Let me know what you’re listening to! I’m always looking for something new.  

Dave

Nutshell: FX created, but on HULU, Lil  Dicky created and stars, don’t let this stop you, should definitely still watch, great for anyone, hilarious, super smart, music, some romance, 30 minute episdodes

CB Rating: 9.3

Let me tell you how much I wanted to hate this show.  No rational reason. My hate spun strictly out of principle. Not just any principle, marriage principle. Any one who has been married for a while knows- you cannot back down. Ever!

About three years ago my husband, Bobby, came home talking to me about a “rapper” named Lil Dicky.  He played me a song, and while I cannot deny that the beat was catchy (AF even), I just couldn’t get past the absurdity of the dick lyrics and his appearance.  Sorry Dave, I’m sure I am not the first or the last person to hand out that particular criticism.  It is not a knock either, your look just doesn’t scream “rapper”.

Anyway I dug in, and even when Lil Dicky started putting out some bangers, I could not admit defeat.  I could not be wrong.  This guy could not be a rapper.  Then he did that undeniably amazing song and video with Chris Brown, which I showed you guys last year (check it HERE).  So I had to sort of walk it back and admit he may be a talented rapper, but a TV show creator and actor.  Nope.  No way.  I mean look at the title image. I only agreed to watch the pilot to show Bobby how wrong he was about wanting to watch this. 

Guys, I’m going to say this loud so that everyone, especially Bobby, can hear me- I WAS WRONG.  Ugh, I hate saying that but I was so wrong.  Dave Burd, or Lil Dicky, is a seriously seriously talented guy.  This show (just like his music) is extremely well written, a little awkward and gross at times, but always funny.  The first couple of episodes are good but the show comes up a level in the fourth episode and just keeps getting better. 

I cannot tell you what a great surprise this was.  The season takes you through what seems like a biographical retelling of how LIl Dicky came to his success.  Each episode is so well done it’s smart, and has heart.  I am also a sucker for a show about music, so if you are a music fan there are a couple Benny Blanco cameos that will help put this over the top. 

So in conclusion, I was wrong here.  Don’t be like me.  Definitely catch Dave. 

Check out the full trailer for Dave HERE

Never Have I Ever…

Nutshell: Netflix, Teenage Angst, Highschool, Coming of Age, Mindy Kaling, light yet deep,

CB Rating: 9.4

What a breath of fresh air. Maybe it’s the quarantine talking, but I have been having a hard time wanting to watch anything on TV these days. I mean, I did just get off binging Season 2 and 3 of Ozark (my blog/rant on this is coming next), BUT that is more to my point- I don’t want to watch anything too dark right now and it seems like most of the options are a little heavy.

Enter Mindy Kaling and the incredible new show she just developed for Netflix, Never Have I Ever. It centers around Devi, an Indian American sophomore, navigating life almost a year out from a horrible family tragedy, and on a mission to be not just well liked but extremely popular in her LA high school’s bubble.

In my opinion, this is one of Netflix’s best teen comedies. It is sort of like a Book Smart meets Super Bad or Mean Girls but sweetened with a little bit of what makes Mindy Kaling great. It has her honest, colorful, and always hilarious take on growing up as an Indian girl in America.

All ten episodes are ready to stream and are each only 25 minutes. My husband won’t admit this to you, but he liked it. I caught him not reading his book and even laughing at all the right moments. But he will for sure still tell you it was awful if you ask.

I will say it again, I absolutely loved it. The show has heart and guts.

We watched the entire season yesterday. Don’t judge, it’s quarantine but if you really want to judge- my kids were playing nintendo the entire time.

Watch the trailer HERE

Happy watching!

Laundrify for the W-I-N

We all have that one household job that really just rubs us the wrong way.  You know the one thing that you push to the side and keep putting it off because you really just don’t want to do it.  Ok maybe there’s more than one of those household jobs. However laundry is far and away my least favorite chore.  

Oh come one.  Laundry sucks! Not only does it suck it’s never ending- especially when you have kids.  I have been doing laundry in perpetuity since I was nesting for my first child. Every time I think I have done it, I’ve caught up! I find a new basket filled with clothes.  I’m not even sure where it comes from anymore. Surely my husband is messing with me?!

How does my husband wear 9 shirts between Friday and Sunday I may never fully comprehend.  Speaking of things I just don’t understand, what exactly is my son doing throughout the day that leave his shirts so dirty or with the occasional hole.  Also do not get me started on the random pile of unmatched socks I have accumulating in a bag in the laundry room. I keep hoping that one of these days I will find a match or finally discover where the deep dark abyss is that has swallowed all the other socks along with the hair ties. 

Between getting all three kids to their activities, doing their homework, cooking, cleaning, picking up, and then picking up again (because they love to make a mess after I pick up), I just don’t have it in me to do the laundry.  Then when I do have it in me to “do” the laundry- it ends up in the dryer for days. Ok full disclosure: I have been known to restart the dryer, fluff the clothes a bit and pull out what I need. Ok! Ok! Sometimes things end up being washed more than twice {I make no apologies for how we get by}.

I don’t even make it to the basket anymore.  New laundry low. I’ve thought about and MAYBE one time taken shirts out of dirty clothes to be reused.  Stop it! Febreeze it a couple times and no one has to be the wiser. I’m not proud- survival

So naturally when I was approached about Laundrify, I thought it was too good to be true.  I could download the app on my phone, schedule a pick up, and send bags of clothes filled with grass stains (hopefully grass), and it comes back in a beautiful bag organized and folded.  The best part? All the socks have their pair. SIGN. ME. UP.

I gave it a try, and it was an immediate impact on my day.  Honestly, I believe it was just the thought of taking something off my plate that really hit home.  In a day filled with having to do things for everyone else, it was nice that this was being handled and allowed me to focus on something else. 

 I definitely look like some version of this at one point in the week:


It’s as easy to use as Ship’t or Instacart.  You can sign up through the website, or download the app, and just fill in your information. Once you’ve done the basics, you are able to set your pick up day- that’s it.  You can even sort what you need them to do between wash and fold (available for same day) to wash and hang, and dry cleaning.  Add notes as to how they can pick up your bags, and any special requests, and you are good to go. 

Think about all the things you can do with your time….


Yeah. This probably is not going to happen, but a girl can dream.

If you want more information you can check out their website HERE.  They are offering a special this month $10 off each of your first 3 pickups (big savings) just enter Cristina30 at checkout.  I’m basically Oprah, you’re welcome! You get a discount on laundry! You get a discount on laundry! We all get a discount on laundry! Currently available in Brickell, Downtown, Edgewater, Midtown, Wynwood, Buena Vista, and more. Coming to Miami Beach soon!

What I loved most about my experience was feeling like this huge task of mine was being handled. It wasn’t just being handled, it was being handled way better than I could ever have done it.  Let’s be real, I haven’t folded my kid’s clothes this neatly since I was that sweet innocent mother nesting away before baby number one.

This may not be something I do every week, because money is a thing despite what JayZ tries to tell me.  However on weeks where I know things are going to be hectic, or a time where the idea of washing and re-washing becomes too much to bear.  I am definitely opening up this app and giving myself a big break.  

Just one note, Laundrify- if you could maybe find a way for someone to come put this clothes away.  (OK! OK! Find you’re right I can handle this part, maybe, I hope).

High Fidelity

Nutshell: Hulu, Zoe Kravitz is a god, 10 episodes, 1 season, 26 minutes, music lovers will really love this, remake of a late 90’s movie but modernized and way better than original, I would watch this again and again

CB Rating: 9.6

Not to make this about me, but I just turned 36 years old.  Why is this relevant to an article about Hulu’s High Fidelity? I grew up in the 90’s and early 2000’s which makes me the prime of the prime, smack in the center, of John Cusack’s former fame.  If you’re still asking yourself why John Cusack is even coming up in a conversation about a show starring Zoe Kravitz* (everytime we mention her name it must be said with the utmost deference- we will discuss this below), then you my friend should do yourself a favor and catch High Fidelity, the movie starring our former darling.  

But before you do that, watch this show.  The movie is great, but the show managed to take the plot of the movie and just completely make it it’s own.  The movie is irrelevant, about as irrelevant as John Cusack is now (ouch burn, sorry Cusak). This show was pretty close to perfect for me.  

Zoe Kravitz, is a stand out star.  Bear with me, I am going to ramble about Zoe Kravitz for a hot second.  How is there a human being walking around that is this perfect. She manages to be even more beautiful than her mother, Lisa Bonnett, laced with her dad’s sexy cool stare and demeanor.  She’s dripping in style and swag. This girl is wearing baggy jeans, a white tee, a green sweater vest and boots in the promo of the show and she looks OUTRAGEOUS! If I wore that exact outfit and posed for a picture, people would think I was Chandler Bing. RANT OVER 

Side Note Idea: if there is an impending apocalypse the world should agree we save Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonnett and make them responsible for repopulating the earth.

Zoe can also just act.  The whole cast was just really amazing.  The story from start to finish brings you in.  Each character plays a part. The classic story of heartbreak with unexpected twists keeps you invested.  There are 10 episodes that are each around 26 minutes. A quick binge for some, and not an overwhelming amount for newbie bingers. 

I would highly suggest watching this show.  If you don’t have Hulu (it is about that time to commit) but if you don’t want to they are offering a free month trial.  That is enough time to watch this show and The Handmaid’s Tale for all those who have been sleeping on that (inexcusable).

Get to it! I’m planning on watching it again, so maybe we do it together!

White Bean, Sausage, and Kale Soup

This is one of the first recipes I started making when Bobby (my adorable husband) and I decided we were going to start this whole “kale” thing that Beyonce and the rest of the world were talking about. Eating healthy is not always fun, so I like this recipe a lot because it’s light and helps you get some greens in without wanting to die each bite.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 4 Cajun Andouille Sausages (or your preference) sliced thin*
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4 cups vegetable broth or chicken broth (2 boxes)
  • 2 cups water (play it by ear may not need)
  • 2 cups kale stems removed and torn into 1” pieces (or half a bag)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

*If you are vegan, you can take out the sausage and only continue with beans and kale, maybe even add in sweet potato as a substitute for the sausage, as I’m typing this maybe next time we should just add sweet potato anyway!

How To:

Take a 3 qt or larger saucepan and

  • Heat the oil in a 3 quart saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add sausage and cook until browned (about 4 minutes each side). With a slotted spoon place the cooked sausage into a bowl to rest. Add a little more oil, and add the onion cooking until softened, about 5 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, mash one can of beans in a small bowl. Add mashed beans, broth, sausage, and water (if needed) to the saucepan. Bring to a boil.
  • Stir in remaining beans (left whole), kale, 1 tsp. salt, and ¼ tsp. pepper. Reduce heat, partially cover, and simmer about 20 minutes, until kale is tender.
  • Season to taste with additional salt and pepper and serve

HBO’s Succession

Nutshell: HBO, Drama, 2 seasons, 10 episodes each, husband approved, life styles of the rich and famous meets Empire sprinkled with a little awkward The Office humor.

CB Rating: 9.3

Should you watch this show? Let’s put it this way, I have been walking around practicing my Scottish accent just so I could correctly imitate Logan Roy’s poetic “fuck off”. Who is Logan Roy you may be asking? He is the main character, whom you hate while simultaneously really desperately want him to like you. This show is layered and it is excellent.

I started watching a little after the second season began.  I was told by countless serious TV people (yes this is a standard) that it was a must see.  They did not disappoint. Even Bobby [husband] got in on this one. 

It’s a story about a Rupert Murdoch-esque family facing the question of who will take over for dad and run this billion dollar media company when it’s time to step down (Classic!).  

The premise may not sound as sexy as a blonde mother of dragons losing her power hungry-mind and burning down cities only to be stopped by her bastard lover.  BUT I found myself pacing during a board room scene. I am telling you, pacing like I was watching The Battle of the Bastards.   In one scene one of the kids full on raps, and by the end I had my hands in the air like I did not care “L to the OG”.

In case some of these clues I’ve dropped have yet to peak your interest, I will once again insist this show has everything you could want.  It has family drama, a peak into how the insanely wealthy live, weird sex stuff, some pretty stellar awkward humor, and a theme song that is so epic it has spun off multiple samples and internet remixes {check some of those out HERE}.

If you disagree, 

Shana Tova!

In what is most definitely a blanket generalization of Miami geography and cliche- Miami is where most of the hispanic community is based and on Miami Beach you come across a more transient crowd, but also it’s a high Jewish population.

So with that said when we were looking for preschools there was 1 or 2 Catholic options, but we wanted Montessori and we settled on this great preschool based out of a Temple.  I’m not very religious (we can discuss this later) but I come from a long long line of very rule abiding Catholics.  As you can imagine- this was a problem for certain members of my family.  But for us it wasn’t.  The school was packed with love and God is God people.

Well let’s circle back to the point.   We had been living on the beach for a couple years at this point, and right around Rosh Hashanah our car rides were filled with songs about apples and honey and Shabbat Shalom and we were happy.

Rosh Hashanah morning my daughter wakes up so excited and runs out of her room saying “Shana Tova mama Shana Tova, when are we going to Temple?” (Shana Tova means “a good year”).  I realized in the moment that it may have come time for a little talk.  Before I could get a round to it there was a knock at my door. I walk over and open it up.

There before me is a man dressed in a button down, dress pants, a hat and a full beard.  “Shana Tova” he begins, “Is your family Jewish?”  Traditionally these men are going around collecting money on the holiday.

“Good Morning,” I reply, “no I’m sorry we aren’t but…” I couldn’t finish my sentence before my daughter has come running to the front door.  She looks up at him smiling eyes wide open, “Shana Tova Rabbi!”

The man looks back at me in disgust like I am a dirty liar.  I laugh nervously, “No you see we send her to the Temple down the…”

She cuts me off again, “I love your Shofar” {for those who don’t know it’s a Ram’s horn used in certain Jewish ceremonies}.  Now this guy is looking at me.

I only had one thing left to say at this point, “Let me go get my checkbook”.

Madrid Food Tour

Everybody vacations differently.  Some people would come on a trip to Madrid, itinerary in hand with a plan for each part of their day.  They would have their day trips arranged, and a list of all the sites they want to see and each day would be filled with taking it all in.  I love these kinds of people. They’re so thoughtful and organized, and their planning is commendable.    

My husband and I are similar to these itinerary people, but just a little different.  Our itinerary for new cities is almost exclusively restaurants. Madrid was no different. Our game plan going in was to go eat at as many of the restaurants, throughout the different neighborhoods as we could, and whatever we could walk around and see after as we walked off the bread was a plus.

In the 30 days we were there, we ate at just about 30 restaurants.  I’m not going to bore you anymore with an intro. Let’s get down to it.  The first 6 were my top absolute must go to places. Everything else I will leave at your discretion.  I will say there is no going wrong in Madrid. It’s a magical land where even the most obscure empty restaurants, are filled with delicious food. 

Our Top 6

  • La Castela: Our first few days in Madrid were very blurry, but upon our very strong recommendation from our Landlord “Harrison Ford loved it here” we stumbled in.  It was love at first bite. The staff is made up of a group of close knit guys who have no interest in talking to you outside of taking your order, their hard to get attitude only made me love it more.  Their absolute must have dish is the Milhojas de Ventresca- we went back four times and had it each time. It is that good.  
    • Nutshell: no reservations, standing room or if you are lucky you can grab a bar stool, not kid friendly, $$
    • What we had: We sampled almost their entire menu, and I can tell you that you cannot go wrong.  I would say the Garbanzos salteados con Langostinos, Solomillo con Foie, and the Arroz Meloso con Pulpo and Calamar were my favorites.  Check them out HERE for more information. 
  • Triciclo: This gastro restaurant came highly recommended by locals and friends of ours who make it their business to know food.  I always come weary to gastro bars, in fear that it would go too far trying to be different. This place blew me away. Each dish was light and fresh, and took me by surprise with flavor.  The menu varies depending on what is available seasonally, but I would tell you to trust your server. To get more information or book a table click HERE
    • Nutshell: reservations available and suggested for dinner, if your kids are adventurous could work, $$$
    • What We Had: Shrimp wonton, Tuna Tartar, Sea Bass Carpaccio, Solomillo, Cannelloni Stuffed with truffle mushrooms and ricotta, and a rack of lamb 
      • To be clear I am very aware we overdid it here.  It was our only chance to come and everything was as amazing as it sounded.
  • Ten Con Ten: As soon as the automatic sliding glass door opens into this gorgeous wrap around bar scene, you know you are somewhere special.  We stepped into Ten con Ten for lunch one day, after receiving countless of referrals, and were taken by how beautiful it was and then blown away by the food.  I’m a sucker for truffle and an even bigger sucker for truffle on pasta. Naturally this place had me at hello, so much so we returned for dinner a week later.  
    • Nutshell: would suggest reservations, especially if you go for dinner as this place becomes a little bit of a scene (so fun to watch).  Very pricey- many people were there with their kids so it’s up to you.
    • What we had: Besides the black truffle risotto which we had both times because it makes me feel closer to God, we also loved the Pulpo (grilled octopus) “Pedreidro” Asado, Arroz Frito Con Pato (duck fried rice), as well as the Solomillo Asado a la Pimienta (Sirloin with Black Pepper Sauce), and would highly recommend a plate of their Iberico.
  • Los Juevos de Lucio: A light walk off the Plaza Mayor, down a charming cobblestone road you will find this charming place made for egg sluts such as myself.  As you might have picked up on, this place is THE place for juevos (eggs) rotos. You can order them over almost anything, we obviously did Iberico, because while most people have told me they got sick of it- I did not.  Check them out HERE for more information
    • Nutshell: casual, need reservation for dinner, good for kids, $$
    • What we had: Los Juevos con media racion de jamon, Pulpo braseado 
  • Street XO:  We were told by all of the foodiest of the foodies we knew that this place was a must try.  They open for lunch at 2 and the line starts to form around 1:30. That’s right, a line. Can you even imagine a place that is so delicious Madridians stand in line for the table, early! We were able to get a seating at the bar, and it was one of the coolest meals I’ve ever had.  The spin on Spanish food was different from almost anything else we had. The restaurant is really edgy and has Japanese grunge decor. The staff is also very edgy but majorly into food. We let the waiter walk us through the menu, and everything was delicious. 
    • Nutshell: casual, get in line at 1:30 worth the wait, $$, not kid friendly
    • What we had: Uzusukuri, Curry Japones, and whatever else the chef recommended
  • La Kasa– came highly recommended to us from the owner of Casa Di Vino, and it was for lack of a better word, divino.  The restaurant is modern and beautiful, and the staff was excellent.    
    • Nutshell: Even at lunch they were completely slammed, and made us feel lucky we could get a high top by the bar.  I would definitely suggest reservations. $$ I didn’t see any kids while we were there.
    • What we had: the Bunuelitos de Idiazabal (fried cheese), Gazpachuela, Mejillones de Bouchot Con Salsa Cafe de Paris, Corvina Macerada en Achiote, and the Lomo de Corzo Asado con Mole Poblano.  I would suggest any of these dishes, with the exception of the Corvina which while interesting to try wasn’t exactly up my alley. You can check out the rest of their menu or make a reservation on their website HERE.  

Cochinillo:

“Suckling pig” is a common dish served in a lot of restaurants in Madrid and all of the surrounding areas.  I am told that the absolute best one, according to many of the emails I’ve received, and almost all Madridians that I spoke to, is in Toledo (a nearby town accessible by a 45 minute train ride) and it is called Los Cuatro Tiempos.  However in Madrid you can find some pretty delicious variations. It’s typically served with roasted potatoes and is fall of the bone delicious with the crispy skin that just brings that added level of melt in your mouth deliciousness. We went to:

  • La Taberna Del Capitan Alatriste: more of a local scene.  Casual with an old Spanish vibe.  The menu here was very kid friendly and fairly priced.  I would make a reservation just in case, HERE is their website. 
  • Sobrino de Botin: Oldest restaurant in the world.  I swear- can’t make this up. It’s on a beautiful street in the center of Madrid, and the cochinillo does not disappoint.  Also casual, but some people dressed up. Kid Friendly and a little more pricey due to the “oldest restaurant in the world” tourist appeal.  Definitely make a reservation- find the website HERE

Pollo Asado

When it comes to this dish, Madrid don’t play.  I want to point out to you, that I may be biased.  I am irrevocably in love with Spanish cooking, so to me their pollo asado (roasted chicken) is perfection.  Something about this dish, maybe it’s the magnificent way the skin of the chicken has just browned, creating just the right amount of crisp as it falls off the bone and is swimming in perfectly seasoned drippings.  Is it hot in here? Whew! Sorry, I sort of just lost myself in that moment. Two of the best places to get your hands on some finger licking good chicken: 

  • Casa Mingo: It opened its doors in 1888, and the decor has maintained the original main features with wood paneling, a view of their bottles and barrels.  The barrels are for their world renowned cider. It is a very local scene. Everyone comes here and places an order for the chicken, with a side of bread.   For our little family of 5 we ordered two whole chickens and not a single piece of chicken was left over. Our kids begged to go back for more.
    • Nutshell: Very casual, great price, and absolutely delicious. Reservations aren’t necessary and you can visit their website HERE.
  • Limbo: Located inside a hostel right off Plaza Mayor and near Mercado de San Miguel, Limbo is almost a more modern Casa Mingo.  I would called it the hipster Casa Mingo. It has a real young scene, even a space for live music, and the design is very modern with an open space concept.  The chicken here is on par with Casa Mingo. The appetizers and sides are also really creative takes on classic dishes. Would also recommend the ribs.
    • Nutshell: Casual, kid friendly, $$, and you can make reservations HERE.

Markets or Food Halls 

  • Platea: located in the higher end Salamanca area, Platea is a 2 story “gastro leisure space” food hall filled with different stands offering classic and a modern take on tapas.  For those who want a more formal experience there is a restaurant with full service on the first floor, where you can order from the menu of the surrounding gastro pubs surrounding the seating area.  It was a great experience with the kids, and also one of our first. They host live music and also have a “el club” for those who are looking to be without kids. Check out the website HERE
  • Mercado Los Mostenses: Our amazing food tour guide, Margit, introduced us to this amazing market one of our first weekends in Madrid.  Filled with different stands of different meats, seafood, fruits, vegetables and more. Most stands being run by the same family who has done so for generations.  The pride and care that goes into each slice of jamon or each bocadillo de pulpo was overwhelming and needless to say delicious. Only open on the week day and a must if you can make it. 
  • Mercado de San Miguel: I am going to say something about this mercado that is not going to sit well, it was one of our worst experiences in Madrid.  While beautiful, it seems to be just a shadow of its former self. While they seem to have led the food hall trend, I feel Mercado de San Miguel has become a victim of its own popularity.  Whether the vendors have a hard time meeting the demand of the number of customers they are receiving, or they are just phoning it in- I can’t tell. But it was rather expensive and the scene was very touristy.  I spent most of the time worried about where my kids were. I would not recommend when there are other more authentic, less hectic places to see. 
  • Mercado de Paz: If you can only do one food market, this is the one I would pick.  Also full of vendors whose families have been doing this for generations, it also has Casa Dani a small little popup restaurant with hands down the best tortilla I have ever had in my life.  Along with other little popups and different shops filled with locals, and really gives you more of an authentic experience.  

Places We Tried and Loved…

The biggest food takeaway from our time in Madrid is simple, you can’t go wrong.  We had a lot of recommendations to go off of, but when we felt like just venturing out we were never disappointed.  Every place has its own personality and style. The thing that remains is that it is all made with fresh ingredients by people who just get what it’s all about- great food.  Here are a few more places some that were referrals and some that we just stumbled into. All amazing:

  • La Palma 60: the best croquettas of my life
  • Bodega Rivas: the most tender fried octopus 
  • Cafe di Vino: her wine and Cava selection are amazing, and a mean ensalada Rusa
  • Couzapin: the fabada of my dreams
  • Gerardo: solomillo off the grill that was to die for
  • Laredo: they had a dish with a scallop on a rice cracker that made me tear up
  • La Barilla: fresh seafood, it was solid
  • Taberna Triana: a truffle juevos rotos dish that I could have eaten once a day forever
  • Catapa: arroz meloso (risotto) with rabo that I can still sometimes smell in my dreams