Friday, June 29, 2012

MISTI dinner, a JOYful evening

MISTI talk

Last night, Alicia (the MISTI coordinator) came to Madrid. She was on her way to visit the MISTI kids in Madrid, San Sebastián, and Barcelona. The first thing she scheduled was a talk about "networking" by a Dr. Jordi Robert-Ribes at the Instituto Internacional, very close to the place I work. So I went to buy an erasable pen from the Hiperpapelería Carlin - two euros and I was armed and ready. Then I walked the 5 minutes to the Instituto Internacional, only to sit through the most boring talk on networking I have ever heard. A few choice points of his I didn't agree with (at a future time there will be a link to another blog post about my thoughts on networking that will address the concerns raised here):
  • The point of networking is to see what you can do for the other person rather than see what you can get back from them in an exchange.
  • The building of trust in a networking relationship can be accomplished with no accord for local customs. 
  • If you're nervous at a conference coffee break, just to find the person huddling against the wall and talk to him instead. 
  • Eat a huge meal before going to the conference so you can ignore the free food and focus on talking to people. 
  • Always ask a question to an important speaker, even if it's stupid, just so that everyone else in the room hears your one-sentence pitch about who you are.

MISTI dinner

But a redeeming fact was that after the talk, Alicia took us all out to dinner, on MIT's dime. In her own words: "I've been doing this 5 years and I've never seen a group as eager to eat food and drink wine as you guys." We went to a place off of Plaza de Santa Ana, a bit south of Sol, called La Bardemcilla (Calle Nunez de Arce, 3). Because MIT was paying, this is what we ordered, to be split among the 7 people on our side of the table (Lucas, Cristina, Sam, Oscar, Ann, me, and Josh):

  • Croquetas "Jamón Jamón" (ham croquettes)
  • Croquetas "De La Madre Superiora" (cod fish croquettes)
  • Chorizo con los "Días Contados" (Spanish sausage cooked in white wine sauce)
  • "Huevos de Oro" Estrellados (fried eggs with potatoes, onions, and ham)
  • Albóndigas de "Carnaval" (homemade meatballs)
  • Calamares de un "Planeta Extraño" (fried squid tentacles with tartar sauce)
  • "Callos Mayor" (tripe)
  • "La Morcilla mas fea del mundo" (black pudding, otherwise known as blood sausage)
  • "Torrente" Manchego (a plate of Manchego cheese)
  • Chuletitas (small adorable lamb chops) x 2, which for some reason I can't find on the menu online but we definitely ate two plates of...
  • Two bottles of Rioja, a classic Spanish wine
  • Two pitches of sangría, sweet Spanish wine with sugar and citrus fruits
  • A bajillion baskets of bread to dip in all the yummy sauces!
One of my favorites were the lamb chops, but the sauce from the albóndigas was spicy and the best dip for the bread, by far! Alicia then ordered us all deserts, of which there were four plates that had a bit of every kind of desert on it.

There were a total of 18 people for dinner and each group ordered about this much.... the total bill (again, covered by MIT), ended up being 570 euros, including tax and alcohol. I bet the amount of bread alone added up to at least 10 euros (for reference, each basket was 80 cents). 

Thanks again Alicia for taking us out to dinner! 

JOY

By the time dinner was over, it was already 11:55pm. Now, cuando en España.... (when in Spain...), you need to enjoy what you have and the people you're hanging out with. The plan from the get-go was to go to the club Joy, off of Plaza del Sol, before 1:30am tonight after the MISTI dinner. Thursdays at Joy is international night, which means that for college students you get a discount: 10 euros covers the entrance fee and two drinks. 


We decided to meet in the Puerta del Sol under the Nike sign as per usual at 12:45am and head over to Joy - literally a two-minute walk. Cecily, Lionel, Josh, Ann, Jordan, Oscar, Sebastian, Evelin, and I all went to have a good time. They didn't have mojitos, but no matter, we discovered that vodka-limón was just as good. And we discovered a new Red Bull-like energy drink called Burn that tasted like Fanta Limón but had a bit of a caffeine kick to it that apparently the bartenders give you if you say "limón" and they didn't hear you properly. 


The club was filled with tourists as usual, but I met one guy from Madrid. He went to Cornell and his friend went to come other Ivy League school - I forget which one. Let's call it IVY_LEAGUE. Our conversation (which I wasn't thrilled about) went kind of like this:


Him: Eh, bonita! (Hey pretty girl). English?
Me: Hola. You should really think of a better pick-up line. Nice to meet you too. And who might you be?
Him: I'm from Madrid but I go to IVY_LEAGUE. 
Me: Oh cool, I go to MIT. (show Brass Rat)
Him: Well, that's almost the ivy league; you know that it's not the ivy league, right?
Me: Yea, I'm aware. 
Him: You know, you didn't quite make it to the ivy league. I hope you know that. 
Me: Yep, it was nice meeting you too. (walk away)


I'm not sure he understood why I didn't want to talk to him after he bashed MIT....


But nonetheless, the music was all American music. There were clearly no locals - except for the one from Cornell who said him and his friends come to Joy once a summer to "check out the scene", which I interpreted to mean "pick up foreign chicks." This solidifies my thinking that nightclubs are a thing of tourists rather than legitimate madrileño life. But I've heard from a few places that the clubs popular among the local crowd are farther away from the city center, closer to Chamartín or Atocha (Kapital is right next to Atocha). Joy, being right off of Puerta del Sol, has the disadvantage that every single tourist walking to Sol sees it and wants to go there. But the club has only one dance floor, about 20m x 20m large. There were three balconies that looked down onto the dance floor, but for some reason they were closed when we were there. 


We called it a night at around 4am, because we were feeling the tiredness and realizing that we all had to get up for work the next morning. It was worth it though; good people, good times.