The Mirador Building

Designed by Dutch architecture studio MVRDV in collaboration with the Spanish architect Blanca Llea, El Mirador de Sanchinarro was opened in 2005 –  to equal portions of delight and horror.

Mirador building

The colours are codes for different uses of the building – e.g. red for corridors and walkways.

More pictures and description of the 22 story building here: www.galinsky.com

Morcilla de Burgos

Just found this great post (also on a wordpress blog) about one of my favourite tapas dishes – Morcilla. The blog also has a good page on tapas bars in central Madrid.

I do recommend you try Morcilla de Burgos – even if you think you don’t like black pudding. It’s delish and goes well with a cold beer.

The Gender Gap

Gender imbalance stops jury from awarding Spain’s National Cinematography Prize. Carlos Cuadros, general manager of the Institute of Cinematography and Audiovisual Arts (ICAA), had to announce yesterday the jury meeting to decide the prize had to be called off because the panel of judges did not meet the legal requirement of gender parity. According to the 2007 Equality Law (brought in by ZPs socialists when what they should have been doing was fixing the broken economy), public offices must enforce parity between men and women and, in particular, they must make sure neither sex has less than 40-percent participation. The panel of judges was composed of nine men and three women or, in other words, 70 versus 30 percent.

Full article here at El Pais English Edition

Revolution in the streets

About 5 days ago I got an SMS from a friend who lives up by Parque de Berlin, North-Central Madrid. It said:

TODOS A LA PUERTA DEL SOL, NO NOS VAN A ENGAÑAR MAS, DEMOCRACIA REAL YA!

I jumped on the computer and clicked through to RealMadrid.com. What had happened? Had the socios revolted against the management? Had Jose Mourinho been sacked?

Nothing seemed out of place. What was my friend on about?

I texted him back. “What’s up dude? What does your message mean?”

Well, it appeared that my poor Spanish was at fault. This was not Real in the sense of Royal, this was Real in the sense of real. It was a call to protest, the very beginnings of what has now morphed into a nationwide movement.

As I write, the Puerta del Sol, the public square at the centre of the city, is currently occupied by many thousands of (mostly young) demonstrators. They’ve set up camp and they’re not moving. It’s huge. To get an idea of how huge, check out this photo essay at The Atlantic website.

I’ve never seen a demo this big before, and I’ve seen a few – Madrid has lots of demonstrations, it’s a popular way to spend a Saturday.

Tomorrow (Sunday) there are municipal elections. The demonstrators say they are non-party aligned, but this is sure to have some sort of effect. It’s all very exciting. It could be momentous. But no-one has any clue how it might end.

El Canto del Loco

ECDL are a pop-rock band hailing from Madrid. Fronted by Dani Martín, they have been a fixture in the Spanish music scene for a decade. Most Madrilena females can sing at least a couple of their songs off-by-heart and are known to sigh heavily when band members enter their presence.

Here’s a classic example. A ballad. Listen to the crowd sing-a-long.

Avenue Q – el musical

Avenue Q – El Musical.

Described as: “No apto para niños. – Desnudo integral de marionetas en el escenario.”

Hahahahaha!

Avenue Q el musical

Currently on at the Teatro Nuevo Apolo de Madrid, directed by David Ottone with puppets built by Manuel Roman.

Mahou versus Cruzcampo

Madrid’s own beer is called Mahou – and it’s bloody brilliant. At least, one form of it is, as there are three basic types and a shandy version:

Mahou Clásica – the original version lager, which is cheap and horrible
Mahou Negra – which is a dark ale
Mahou Mixta – a lemony shandy, only recently introduced to the market
Mahou 5 Estrellas (5 Stars – pictured below) – a 5.5%abv lager

Now, your beer snobs will tell you that Mahou is just a basic pilsner and will use pejoratives like “inoffensive – bland – gassy – insipid” etc., but that’s because beer snobs are fat, North European losers who only mix with other people at CAMRA conventions. To really appreciate the brilliance of Mahou you need to drink it in ice cold cans on a typical sunny Madrid day with your mates. Then its true genius comes out, because it goes well with tapas, friends and lots of talk, which as any self respecting Spaniard will tell you is the whole point of life.

I love Mahou and Mahou loves me. It never gets me horribly drunk but it does get me lovely and tipsy. I can drink it all day and still party all night. It’s refreshing, has a hint of maltiness both at beginning and end notes, it’s available everywhere and IT’S GOT 5 BLOODY STARS ON THE TIN, so there. And as an added benefit, by drinking Mahou you get automatic membership into the cult of madrilenismo.

In the city, Mahou has but one competitor. Yes, you can find the odd San Miguel and sometimes people will drink a Corona or two, maybe an Amstel or Heineken, but the only other beer with any wide distribution is Cruzcampo. Below is a picture of the Cruzcampo mascot. He’s called Gambrinus.

Cruzcampo

A pilsner at 5% abv, Cruzcampo comes from Seville and isn’t bad at all. I drink it when there isn’t any Mahou, and as there is almost always Mahou, that means I drink it rarely. But it is Spain’s biggest selling beer and like I say, it isn’t bad at all, especially when sold as draught.