By Laura Collins.
This time last week I was sat in Madrid eating chorizo, soaking up the atmosphere and loving life. Today I am sat in my freezing cold house in London tucked up in a blanket, munching cereal and cursing the broken boiler.
It’s times like this when there’s no way I can blur the boundaries between reality and fantasy. Life was better last week, no doubt about it. In fact, for me, life is always better when I have a shot of Spain running through my veins. Why? Because I’m obsessed with the place.
I’m not talking about the tacky Costas. There’s no room in my Spanish romanticism for brightly lit English bars, fat tracksuit clad Brits, and cuddly toy donkeys. I’m not even talking Enrique Iglesias and cheap cartons of Sangria (although both are rather tasty.) I’m talking the real Spain; the fascinating culture and lifestyle, the cobbled alleyways and old city streets, the beautiful language and, of course, the tantalising food.
Jamon, tortilla, paella, aceitunas, gambas; the list could continue and last week, it did. It continued so much that now my jeans are too tight. I spent my week discovering both Valencia and Madrid and although it was only a short break, it was an extremely enjoyable love affair. Sadly though, no sooner had it started than it was already over, a little like some other love affairs I’ve had!
When I touched down in London I returned with a heavy heart and a downtrodden mood. After a couple of days in Blighty I knew the only thing to rid me of my holiday blues was to get another good dose of Spain.
There are myriad of tapas bars and Spanish restaurants in London but those offering a true taste of Spain can be few and far between, or just ridiculously expensive. And I should know, I’ve tried pretty much all of them. That’s when I heard there was a new cat in town. A new branch of Iberica was opening in Canary Wharf and I knew that’s where I had to be.
Sure enough, the next day I found myself there (despite getting lost along the way!). Iberica stood proudly in front of me and my eyes glazed over in a dreamy state. My entrance was even better: I was greeted in Spanish by a smiling host and I was also welcomed by a delicious looking ham and cava bar.
Once my eyes moved from all the tasty looking legs of meat (and I’m not just talking about the waiters) I was able to take in the full restaurant. High ceilings, shelves full of wine and a modern but quintessentially Spanish interior lay before me. I was in a contemporary Spanish heaven.
The food (cooked by Cesar Garcia) was excellent, although certainly not as greasy as some of the dishes I’ve had in Spain. The staff were top notch, although again definitely not as greasy as some of the waiters I’ve experienced in Spain. It was like a neater, cleaner version of the places I frequented during my holiday and it seemed to rid me of any Spanish withdrawal symptoms, for the time being anyway.
The next time I feel them coming on I know I’ll be heading back to Iberica. Perhaps my Spanish dream can be fulfilled in London after all. I’ll be sure to book ahead of time too.