My ninth day back in Madrid has been something close to magical.
Those days, I´ve been looking like mad for a flat to live in, not only stressed by the lack of options, but also because next week I´ll start my new job and won´t have that much time to hunt. Today I had 2 visits and big hopes, both flats exactly where I want to leave and with a terrace.
But before, I take my stuff to a place in Prosperidad where my dear friend Facu offered me a temporary bed to stay. I got there, meet his nice friend who welcomed me, and after she left, I decided to open Foursquare and look for a place to eat. I quickly found that option, rated 9.1, and said to be great for paella. The neighborhood is quite popular’ish and I picture that perfect small typical bar from Madrid with simple food to quickly have before my 2 flat appointments.
I got there, and found a big wooden door that was close surrounded by 2 windows through which I could see clients. So I knocked, using this huge middle-age piece of metal knocker — pam pam pam — and someone opened. The waiter looked a bit surprised by the fact that I was alone, but sat me on a nice table, on which they´re was a nice fork, knife, a nice plate, a nicely placed serviette… my eyes kept on going up, discovering a fully beautiful place, 4 tables around occupied by people in nice suits and not young… At that same moment the menu arrived from the hands of a very kind a smiling waiter. I offered my smile in return and head down to read the menu… I guess my smile just faded out at that moment, discovering prices that weren´t exactly what I had in mind…
I went for pride, and decided to stay and just have a entrance, aubergines with duck, 13 euros, that will be my meal today. Of course, after talking about my plans to the waiter, he asked “and for paella?, Which one would you like?”
I looked up at the waiter, with eyes that probably were speaking words of despair and sorrow. I asked about paellas for one person, hoping the price on the card was for 4 people. But no, it was 28 euros for paella, for one. So I said “sorry, but that goes out of my budget”. His look was of understanding, and he said “ok, so duck with aubergines. Wine?”. I said “yes please, that´d be nice”.
2 minutes after, the waiter came back and asked again: “ok, what paella you wanted?”. I said “no no, no paella, thank you”. He said “we´re inviting you”.
My jaw dropped a bit, asked for confirmation. And he answered: “you know, when one owns a restaurant, it´s not to get rich, it´s to make people happy”.
“Wow… hummm… muchissimas gracias…”. I wish I had a picture of my face at that point.
I told him to then recommend, and he decided for me to go for the “arroz a lo iberico”.
He asked me how I got to that place, I said through Foursquare, explaining that I was not expecting at all finding a place that high-class, he told me this is place where the kings come, ambassadors, Saudian princes… My face said “oh shit…”.
While waiting for the first dish, a woman came and dropped some olive oil onto a small dish, explained that it was made out of “picula” olives; I took a piece a bread, covered it in oil, and had a taste at this powerful and delicious olive oil flavour; then she came back and dropped some homemade baslamic vinegar, for which I repeated the process and enjoyed the same.
Right after that, the owner came to my table to say hello and welcome me in his house.
I wasn´t sure if I was in the middle of some sort of TV joke at that moment. But I didn´t look for TV cameras, didn´t want that thing to end.
The duck arrived, delicious. The wine was very good, people around me were very rich, and the 3 waiters taking care of me were amazingly kind to me.
Then the paella arrived, served in a beautiful metal dish, presented to me holding the plate at almost 90 degrees from the ground. I smiled. I smiled even more when on top of that, he served me a piece a pork rib, “on the house”.
I started with the rib, didn´t took me long to finish it, and not because it was small.
I could know focus entirely on that paella.
I served myself… then picked up the fork, half fork half spoon, specially used for the rice, and threw a good bunch of this gold into my mouth. Oh man… I wish to whoever is reading this to experience that taste in his mouth, once at least. I´ve been to Valencia, but this is something else. The taste was amazing and more addictive than heroin. That taste, a sip of wine, that taste, a look around the place while chewing, probably few uncontrolled smile, that taste again, wine, etc… I applied a basic principle of one´s education, that is to not leave anything in the plate. This was a gift, and would use it to its end.
I said thank you to the waiter, and asked for the bill. Had to go quick and I needed to pay the aubergine and wine.
Two waiters came back, one offering the dessert, melted belgian chocolate and with homemade thin biscuits, the other on handing the bill, folded discreetly in two.
I was left alone with another present, but also the little apprehension of the price I´d have to pay.
what I saw left me stunned, half in shock.
Where my eyes were looking for numbers, they only found a white background and 4 words:
“Gracias por la visita” (thanks for visiting).
I held my head for about 10 seconds, only moving my eyes to stare around, but nobody was looking at me, waiters were waitering, clients were eating, and I was dreaming.
I picked up mu moleskine and my MUJI pen, and wrote something like “I will never forget that. I promise to come back when I can afford it, with filled wallet and an empty stomach. Thank you so much. Nicolas Cornwall”.
I got up, probably smiling, walked toward the exit, on the way saw the owner, shook his hand with all my gratitude, promised I would come back, gave him the paper, discreetly folded, said goodbye and walked out, smiling.
I felt deep happiness and felt amazed by what happened.
I went to visit the flat I was supposed to, got in, said “I want it”, signed and it was mine. Exactly the place I wanted, where I wanted, with a terrace.
Then I went to Cafe Barbieri, met with Tyler and Marcelo Champanier, who played that night in the bar, very nice piano and voice. Then at 20h30 Bea and Rodri joined, we talked about their wedding, then Joaquin, then Dani. A great evening.
Then, to finish that day, on the way home, I saw a man with a giant telescope pointing at the moon, I stopped to say hi, he invited to look, saw this amazing view of our satellite, and then the guy explained that in about 10min, it should happen: this start should appear on the side of the moon. And that was apparently super cool. The guy believed enough in it to make be excited about it also.
And it appeared, a white dot, next to the moon. Very basic, but it turned out to be a cool experience, and after spending 20min there, we shook hands and said good bye.
Went home. Writing. Smiling.