La Catapa Madrid, Spain

CATAPA4
“Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy” Benjamin Franklin

Tapas are what you want when in Madrid. No need to book a  table at a fancy restaurant -there are plenty of great ones – but really, tapas are satisfying enough and often times much more fun. It’s all about sharing small portions of whatever the bar serves and most offer great dishes that pair really well with a cold “caña” (small glass of draft beer) or a nice “chato de vino”, a small glass of wine.CATAPA3

On a warm tueday night last august, half of Madrid had gone on vacation. Many restaurants and bars were  closed . Fortunately, in the barrio de Ibiza,  near the Retiro park and Salamanca, a few were still open like  La Catapa on an otherwise boring weeknight. Packed with patrons, as if no one had to work the next day, this small eatery was bustling with people while a petite waitress ran around tables ensuring everyone was well served, the chef also comes out to check on his happy crowd. Another fun spot for tapas and drinks in Madrid.CATAPA1

We ordered the tortilla de bacalao…a freshly made omelet oozing with sauteed salted cod, onions and green peppers served with plenty of country bread…a lovely combination that proved absolutely  satisfying.  We also had a nice salad of burrata drizzled with a basil vinagrette that was nicely chopped up for tapa convenience – when sharing you want to have bite size pieces on your plate for easy serving. 

I thank God for places like this one that make a tuesday night a little more special, breaking away from the sleepy routine of a hot summer weeknight in Madrid. 

La CatapaCATAPA5

Calle Menorca 14

Madrid 28009

Tel. 686143823

91574615

tabernalacatapa@yahoo.es

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Café Skansen – Oslo, Norway

skansen1After a long flight from Boston with nothing to eat – airlines  now charge for  awful food that I refuse to pay for- and  checking into my hotel, I went looking for a good place for lunch, I was famished!skansencarpaccio

I was fortunate enough to arrive in Oslo on a gorgeous sunny afternoon. There was a lovely breeze so I hoped to find a spot where I could sit outside. I wanted to avoid the  tourist places in the harbor so I went into town looking for somewhere locals ate . I wanted to eat what they eat.

So, after doing some research, I found Café Skansen, a lovely house with an amazing outdoor patio that was pefect for this breezy summer afternoon. The building reminded me of something I would find in Provence – just like Van Gogh’s Yellow House…smack in the middle of Oslo.skansefishsoup

Friendly waiters, ran around tending lively patrons who drank a lot more than they ate. I was hungry and wanted something hearty to go with a nice glass of chilled Hansa beer. The first thing that caught my eye was one of the appetizers: Carpaccio av hval or Whale carpaccio – “Whale?….Isn’t it in danger of extinction?” I thought. Indeed, but it seems that Norwegians have no qualms about eating it. Well, actually they only consume the Minke whale, a small 25 foot long baleen that is not considered  endangered.skansenhalibut

Regardless, my curiosity won over my conscience – I know, I still felt really guilty but I had to try   what everyone called a ” real Norwegian delicacy”- somewhat fatty but more meaty than fishy- delicious! I needed another Hansa to rinse my conscience and move onto the next dish. This time it was something more commonly accepted: Skalldyrsuppe or fish soup. A creamy chowder made with chunks of salmon, halibut, shrimp, clams and mussels. The fish had its skin on and   I knew that in spite of contaminants, salmon skin was rich in omega 3 oils but I wanted to know why they left it on. I was told it was just easier to handle and  wouldn’t fall apart in the soup. It didn’t matter, it was definitely hearty. 

I didn’t need anymore food but I had already ordered a main course: Kveite, halibut with potatoes au gratin over creamed asparagus. A small portion of flaky  halibut baked to perfection that paired wonderfully with the light and airy asparagus foam. Café Skansen proved to be a delightful start to my Scandinavian foodfrisking expedition! I was more than satisfied with my first Norwegian meal and, of course, my first Norwegian beer.skansenbeermussles

Café Skansen

Rådhusgata 32

0151 Oslo

Tel:24 20 1311

http://www.cafeskansen.no