Archive for the Food & Cooking Category

We love you Carmencita

Posted in Food & Cooking, Huevita with tags , on September 4, 2012 by grandersons

One of the places that truly made us feel at home in Madrid was Carmencita.  Our friends, Josh and Amanda, and Greg moved to an apartment near this little corner bar and we quickly became regulars.  Greg became such a fixture of the place that a burger was named after him when he moved away from Madrid!  We loved this place for many reasons…

Maryanne (Isabel).  At Carmencita you’ll be greeted by one of the loveliest people you’ll ever meet.  Her mom is Spanish and Dad is American so she knew just how to make us feel at home away from home.  She and her boyfriend opened Carmencita and work tirelessly to make it the amazing place it is.  We were pleased to find out that while she goes by Maryann, her real name is actually Isabel (pronounces e-sa-bel), which is the name we had already chosen for our soon-to-be-born baby girl!

Brunch.  Other than a few extremely overpriced spots, Spain has not discovered the joy of a large, late breakfast that includes eggs and mimosas, so we were thrilled to have a place where we could get huevos rancheros or french toast after a night out!

Toasts.  I still dream of the tosta con aguacate y champinones (toast with avocado and mushrooms).  We’ve managed to replicate this at home, but it still doesn’t quite compare to the delicious simplicity that Carmencita captured.  This tosta was literally one of the only things I could actually enjoy eating during the first few months of my pregnancy!

Here we are all dressed up to go to Carmencita’s birthday party – we miss you Carmencita!  Besos!


And a view of the 22 week baby bump – this was shortly after we learned we were having a baby girl!


Feria de Tapas

Posted in Food & Cooking, Life in Madrid with tags on October 8, 2011 by grandersons

While I must admit that Spanish food is not our favorite and has surprised us with it’s overall lack of variety, no one can argue that Spanish tapas don’t deserve to be celebrated in all their tasty glory.  Hence why we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to attend Feria de Tapas – a tapas fair held in Madrid’s basketball arena with booth after booth filled with tapas to try.  Let’s just say our friend Josh was totally jazzed about this idea.

We all bought our tokens – each cana (small beer) and tapa was a token or two – and headed into the crowds to sample the best of the best.

Ahhh…happy and full, a feria de tapas success story.

The Grandershel’s in Spain

Posted in Food & Cooking, Holidays, Life in Madrid, Special Occassions, Travel with tags , , , , on February 7, 2011 by grandersons

Christmas of 2010 was unlike any other – spent in Spain, away from the Grant’s and the Holden’s for the first time in my life.  It was particularly hard to be away since it was the first Christmas without my Grandma Darlene, who’s perfectly decorated tree, pies, and hugs made you feel like you were hanging out with Mrs. Klaus herself!  Despite missing our Boise traditions, we were happy to welcome Kyle’s parents, sister and brother-in-law to Madrid for the holidays.  They made us feel at home away from home and we had a wonderful Christmas!

Over the two week visit, we came to call ourselves the “Grandershel” family – comprised of the Anderson’s (Kyle’s parents, Ken and Sharon, from Boise, Idaho), the Houdeshel’s (Kyle’s sister, Megan, and her husband, Dasch, from Salt Lake City, Utah) and us – the Granderson’s (Me, Kyle and Abby).

Kyle’s parents flew in a few days before Christmas and got to know Madrid a bit before Megan and Dasch arrived on Christmas day.  We spent a sunny Christmas opening presents, walking through Retiro, taking a light tour on the ‘Navidad Bus’ and ending with a nice Christmas dinner in our cozy little apartment.

The day after Christmas we headed out on a Grandershel roadtrip to the Adalucia region of Spain.  I had rented a ‘7 passenger van’ that wasn’t exactly the mini van I had imagined.  When we first saw the little silver hatchback we were sure we’d been assigned the wrong car and went to the attendant with our concern.  He quickly unfolded two more seats from the floor of the back and suddenly there were in fact 7 seats crammed into a remarkably compact space!  I ended up enjoying the very back seat snuggled up with Abby on my lap and wedged comfortably with my pillow and a pile of suitcases while Kyle did an amazing job driving us safely around the South of Spain.

We made a quick stop in Cordoba for lunch before our first destination – Hacienda Minerva – in Zuheros, Spain.  Some friends had recommended this charming hotel surrounded by olive groves and we absolutely fell in love.  We only spent one night there but could have stayed for a week!  I even wrote about it on the Guiri Guide so other people might enjoy this gem.

Our next stop was in Granada – an unbelievably beautiful, historic town that is home to the Alhambra Palace.  I had booked a 3-bedroom house in the Albacin neighborhood on a hillside overlooking the Alhambra and knew it would either be fantastic or really weird.  I had seen on the online description that it was a ‘cave dwelling’ with the house built into the cliff side, but little did we know that rooms built into caves don’t have doors.  There literally wasn’t a single interior door in the entire place – not even to the bathroom!  There were two ‘cave’ rooms downstairs with a large living room and kitchen and a loft room up a narrow staircase.  Let’s just say that between the stinky old pipes and lack of doors, this was an interesting place to stay for 3 nights.  We all agreed by the end that it was pretty cool that we’d slept in a cave and that it seemed a fitting place to experience the historic city of Granada.  It wasn’t so bad, but I think we all would have traded the house for a room at the Hacienda Minerva in a heartbeat!

The finale of the trip was Ken and Sharon’s last night in Madrid.  Kyle and I had given everyone tickets to see “Mamma Mia” as a Christmas gift and we all loved the impressive performance that left us humming Abba for days!

A big thanks to the Anderson’s and Houdeshel’s for a fantastic Christmas in Spain and memories that will last a lifetime!

Thank Goodness for Pho

Posted in Food & Cooking with tags on January 5, 2011 by grandersons

One of the things that Kyle and I have missed the most since moving to Madrid (besides our wonderful family and friends, of course) is pho.  For those of you that know us well, we were regulars at the Fremont pho shop, Lucky’s Pho, and looked forward to Friday nights curled up with two steaming bowls of the delicious Vietnamese soup.




Thanks to our dear friends, the French’s and the Bishop’s, pho came to us in Madrid!  They sent us all the ingredients to make it ourselves, along with a few much appreciated extras like Trader Joe’s pumpkin bread mix, gingerbread mix, and dark chocolate!  We LOVE you guys!



So I busted out my apron and went to work feeling slightly intimidated but super motivated.  Amazingly enough, it was a huge success!  Homemade veggie pho – delicious.


Tomate Frito

Posted in Food & Cooking with tags on December 12, 2010 by grandersons

Kyle and I recently discovered the most incredible 5 minute meal thanks to our new friends, Josh and Amanda Mischel, and couldn’t resist sharing it’s delecious simplicity!

Tomate Frito – fried egg served over white rice with tomate frito (sweet, tangy tomato sauce that’s basically tomato paste and sugar!).

Tomate Frito may very well be a staple over the coming year as we survive on my ‘sugar mamma,’ non-profit salary!  Delicious, fairly nutritions and totally affordable!

An American Thanksgiving in Madrid

Posted in Food & Cooking, Holidays, Special Occassions, Uncategorized with tags on December 12, 2010 by grandersons

I’ve spent 29 Thanksgivings in Boise, Idaho with my family and Kyle has spent every Thanksgiving of his life with his family too.  Even when we lived in Seattle, we’d join the hordes of travellers to make our way home for turkey and mashed potatoes.  There was only one year we almost didn’t make it – it was Thanksgiving 2001 following September 11th and  Kyle had recently had a cyst removed from his wrist and had to wear a pretty bulky cast while it healed.  On the way to the airport, Kyle realized that he didn’t have his wallet.  We raced home to look for it, then retraced our steps around Seattle, but couldn’t find it anywhere.  It was gone.  We went to the airport hoping for the best and expecting the worst as a college kid in a hooded sweatshirt with a cast on his arm tried to get on a plane without any form of ID beyond his check book.  My mom will never forgive herself for telling me to get on the plane without him and we laugh about it to this day, but amazingly enough he batted his baby blues and submitted to any search necessary (no, he didn’t actually have to be strip searched – thank goodness!) and managed to get on the plane right as it was ready to take off.  Our track record of being ‘home’ for Thanksgiving was impressive.

We knew that this Thanksgiving would be different.  We were halfway around the world in a wonderful country where canned pumpkin and brown sugar are hard to come by and not a single relative was in sight.  We quickly realized that in this case, different wasn’t a bad thing. 

Just like at home where we bounce from one dinner with Kyle’s family to a second dinner with my family, we maintained the tradition of having two Thanksgiving dinners in Madrid.  We started with an event hosted by the ‘Net Impact Club’ on IE’s campus. The Americans cooked traditional Thanksgiving foods and enjoyed dinner with students from all over the world.  For many international students, it was the first time they’d ever eaten turkey, stuffing, or pumpkin pie and we loved sharing our American Thanksgiving traditions with them.   

Next up was Thanksgiving at Erick and Mandy Bauman’s – a couple from New York who invited a crew of Americans to celebrate with them.  They roasted a beautiful turkey and everyone brought a traditional food item that they eat with their families at home on Thanksgiving.  It was AMAZING!  We devoured roasted veggies, green bean salad, deviled eggs, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and all the pumpkin pie (and whoopies) you could imagine.  We couldn’t have asked to spend our first Thanksgiving in Madrid with better food or better people.

Makin’ Whoopies

Posted in Food & Cooking with tags on November 13, 2010 by grandersons

As many of you know, Kyle and Anne look forward to fall for one important reason (okay, there are many – but one in particular takes the cake)…PUMPKIN.

Granderson Pumpkin Party 2008 – we did not win the contest with our “Idaho” carved pumpkin.

Each year we hold the “Annual Granderson Pumpkin Party” complete with our amazing friends and family; a pumpkin carving contest with bronzed pumpkin trophy to document annual winners; and all things pumpkin (pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin penne pasta, pumpkin chocolate chip bread…).  But the real star of the Granderson Pumpkin Party is the Pumpkin Whoopie Pies.

Imagine two fluffy, cake-like pumpkin cookies held together as a sandwich by perfectly sweet creamcheese frosting.  Yum.  If it’s hard for you to picture, this image might help:

So what are the Granderson’s to do in Spain, where canned pumpkin seems to be nearly impossible to come by?  Why, go to the American Store in Madrid of course! 

We walked away with six cans of pumpkin sold at 2,50 euro a pop – yikes – but worth every penny!

Now we just have to figure out how to use our oven (that supposedly functions as a microwave and a traditional oven at once) and find baking sheets tiny enough to fit inside and we’ll be set.  We were sad to have this year pass without the Granderson Pumpkin Party, but are already looking forward to 2012!  Time to start crafting designs so your name can take its place in history on the bronze pumpkin.

Now, time to go make some whoopies!