One of the things I miss about finishing a job are the people I bump into on a daily basis during the renovation work.
For three months or so I see the same people every morning and get to know not only the waiters and chefs but also the locals who frequent the bars, from the foreign students in Malasaña sometimes with visiting parents, office workers having lunch in the sun or shop owners having their first coffee of the day, strangers who quickly become friendly faces.
In Malasaña I would have a delicious Mexican breakfast - complete with chile sauce - almost every day in Ojala, the little cafe with the sandy floor in Plaza Juan Pujol on Calle San Andrés. Year round the coveted outside tables are always full and it’s a great square for watching the Malasaña world go by. The local bookshop with the kind owner and his cat, the little clothing boutique with spectacular one off party dresses for special occasions, and funky pop up stores which would be here today and gone tomorrow, all were all fun to browse through on my way home.
In Chamberi I would go to the local bar on the corner for a morning coffee, always nodding a hello to the serious solitary man with his breakfast glass of Rioja. Lunch would be a quinoa salad at Mama Campo or a huge bowl of pasta at the local Italian Il Casone. I always enjoyed a walk around Plaza de Olavide at any time of day watching the old men walk their dogs and chatting to each other.
Now in the Barrio de Salamanca I have taken to having (every day without fail!) the best pan con tomate of my life (garlicky toasted baguette and freshly made tomato topping with a golden peppery olive oil) just below the flat in Creperia Babu. It’s also fun window shopping in the designer boutiques on Ortega y Gasset.
It’s great being a temporary local and when the flats are sold I miss the daily routine in the local places..... until I find the next place, of course, and can make new discoveries.
Pan con Tomate