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Europe Trip: Madrid, Spain


This is my first stop to a whirlwind Euro-trip within the time span of two weeks.

Madrid, Spain 

Coming off from a dizzying long haul flight of Sydney to Abu Dhabi - Abu Dhabi to Madrid we finally arrived to our first destination of Madrid stopping at the Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport. 

Although the train could be an otherwise cheapest option to go towards the Downtown Madrid area - we opted for the lazy route of a taxi. Within about 25-30 minutes or so, we were stopped in front of our Hostal close to Atocha Station. 

Atocha is a great area to stay upon accomodation wise as you are in the midst of walking distance to great landmarks, shops and parks and within walking distances from their largest railway station - Atocha station - to get to where you need to be with intercity and regional routes.
Leaving our bags behind for the Hostal we firstly went to find our first meal in Madrid. Walking down, we happened to stumble upon the cafes opposite the Reina Sofia Art Museum's Sabatini entrance (rather than the newer wing known as Nouveau entrance building.) and decided to spend our waiting time for the room by a brunch meal and concession tickets for the museum. 

Taking an al fresco table overlooking the square of the art museum gave us a birds' eye view of all passersby along with the flock of pigeons hoping to find a snack left over by the cafe goers.
Breadsticks and beers in supply, we order ourselves some pasta from this restaurant called "Pinocchio Trattoria" that is directly opposite the museum's entrance across the square with a vast menu of pizza, pasta, anti pasti and risotto dishes. Yes... we went to an Italian place in Madrid and you must be thinking... SOPHIE! why not something else like uhm... Paella?! #facepalm.
Nevertheless, with ample amount of breadsticks, fresh sliced baguettes and pasta needless to say we were got enough carbs out of it and was ready to walk it all off. 
Entering the museum we walked around the long hallways of the old building under tall arches and sandstone walls. Long exhibition rooms held various artworks, but the grand prize and main pull of the tourists undoubtedly would be for Picasso's works on show such as his famed "Guernica" piece.

Next morning, we started off at Maestro Churrero with a cup of Café con leche (coffee with milk), freshly squeezed orange juice and some crunchy spanish churros that was dusted with confectioners sugar soon after I took the photos along with our breakfast of two eggs and bacon.

This store looks fabulous with so many delicious treats - savoury and sweet! They had breakfast, churros, ice cream and chocolates, pastries and sandwiches.. the whole lot all in array and plenty to choose from within a great spot close by to a theatre.

Madrid's most popular open spaced central square is the Plaza Mayor with the timeless looking cobblestone laneways and beautiful architecture of its surrounds. Plenty of restaurants line up the square with multiple cuisine offerings and being on a weekend the pop-up local vendors were selling off their antiquities of coins, photographs and different odds and ends that made me think, "what is this doing here?" for sale. 

In the middle of all this commotion was a monument (didn't catch the name!) and also a modern 'maze-like walkway' lined up with plastic bottles in bags. We walked through the bottled maze, which lead in and out towards the nobleman and his horse.
Much to any foodie's delight there is the wonderful Mercado de San Miguel which is a food market which serves tapas-style snacks and stocks up on plenty of good food and fine wines. I was fascinated by the charcuterie (pictured) and the cheap-a-cheap wines by the glasses as well as the huge red-blushing strawberries for sale!
Back towards Atocha station, we had our last lunch at a corner cafe (the name escapes me..) during mid-afternoon when the sun was blaring hot and humid. We sat al fresco again, facing a round-a-bout which you can see the Atocha station's big curvy top of the building, a bit of the Reina museum and cars veering by. This time we had some spanish beers "Mahou" and I ate a simple yet easy to manage chorizo and fresh bageuette for lunch. This one had a shaded cover with spritzing streams of water to cool you off intermittently whilst you battle on with the Spanish heat which helps.

What's going to be my next European destination? See if you can guess!

Element with William Blue - ANDREW


Head Chef, William Blue Dining Sydney

Young Chef Andrew Madden takes a moment to sit and chat about his life so far from the very beginnings of his career path towards becoming Head Chef for William Blue Dining in the Rocks, Sydney.

So how did he begin this path, you ask...?


"Hi, I'm Andrew and I am studying culinary management at William Blue. I guess I was just at home one day cooking then I thought to myself, "I could probably do this for a career." So I signed up with William Blue after that yeah. "


"When I first left I was an apprentice for Alex Herbert when I started at The Burlington, and progressed pretty quickly there so I was a chef de partie and worked up to sous chef. And I think it was probably … sorry all these moments come into my head of being yelled at. So there was … there was probably a moment that I kind of remember where I was very underprepared for service and the head chef just really let me have it and just basically told me where I could go. And that sort of said to me well I can either now put up or shut up. That’s where I sort of said to myself, "Stand on your own two feet a little bit, be a little bit more confident about that job." Yeah sort of being in the deep end, being under the pressure is probably where I found my feet more so than anything."


"Initially I kind of liked that avant garde Spanish type of thing and then I've kind of wanted to dial back a little bit and do more classic things, more classic French style stuff so I kind of guess I would say I've stayed with the European food mainly but now cooking, that’s like fashion in a way, it's constantly changing, it recycles the old and mixes up with the new and all these nuances that come up with cooking and things that you need to learn by like playing with anything really. Any ingredient I find I think sort of inspires me or it gets me to try a new way of looking at a complete dish. And if I thought I've mastered it, it wouldn’t be as exciting as it is for me I love that, everyday sort of getting in there having to challenge myself just a little bit more and to cut something just a little bit finer or those little, little things that really make a good chef a great chef. "

"It's almost that I find some sort of zen in it I would say, a lot of people would tell you it's hard and it's a difficult job and all these things but being in that sort of you know everything is against the wall that pressure, I live for it. So yeah cooking is nothing but elation for me really it's yeah …like air, you know, yeah. "

Learn more about many other young talented people just like Andrew as well as careers from the Element - Young Chef's page on William Blue - Element The Lives of Young Chefs
Photos and Interview courtesy William Blue Education 

Happy Bastille Day

Happy Bastille Day!

It had been a long-deserved accomplishment that has now been ticked off the list - visit the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France!

Whilst I'll go into detail over my endeavours to France shortly, I wanted to write to say Happy Bastille Day to the French that are going to be celebrating for it tomorrow!

video via

Trio Cafe, Bondi


What makes a good Saturday arvo? I like the idea of sitting down in a cafe whilst overlooking at the Bondi beach as the waves roll by,  surfers up and down the coast with abit of brunch to go with it.

Pictures do better justice than with timing as this was about in April this year, when it wasn't as chilly as this week has been. With some visitor friends of ours, we chanced upon Trio cafe on Bondi Beach to have a walk about the beach and graze on some brunch dishes from the local cafe.

A busy weekend rush with a bit of wait time, it's nice to see white sheet table tops inside the cafe and an all day breakky menu for those who like a good late sleep in like I often end up doing.

We ordered three dishes - the Mediterranean breakfast plate served with two slightly poached eggs drizzled in truffle oil along with the sides of toasted olive sourdough with butter, char-grilled haloumi slices, crispy pancetta, semi-dried tomatoes, spinach & sliced up chorizo. I don't know why but lately I've been in a good mood for haloumi I often like to bite into it's kind of munchy, chalk-like texture and enjoyed having this plate of bits and pieces.

The boss eggs were another good favourite of the table - a slice of
Potato Mille-Feuille takes the fame of this plate as it is propped lengthways with the other ingredients - baked beans, scrambled eggs with fetta & truffle oil served on sourdough toast, mushrooms and sun dried tomatoes. 

Unfortunately not pictured - however the table also ordered their buttermilk pancakes served with a mango and lime flavouring, strawberries and lemon curd with a good dose of maple syrup on top.

Then to drink, the table water was a large carafe of tap water infused with mint for an extra touch along with me trying out the Kombucha specialty "JIVA" Ginger blend. I'm not much of a Kombucha drinker but did enjoy the earthy, gingery blend of it in the end.