Un Tinto, Un Toro—Toro’s Wine Festival

Did I ever mention to you that one time I (along with three others) won 30 bottles of wine at the Toro Wine Festival?

Wine from Toro's Wine FestivalUh yeah, that’s all ours

I’m a big fan of Toro wine, as you may have guessed. Toro is a small town located in the Zamora province, and its wine is divine! (Sorry for that random rhyming. Really, so sorry.) It’s not as well known as Ribera del Duero (another favorite) or Rioja, but the wines from Toro are some of my favorites, perhaps because I’ve had the chance to try so many of them. In fact, I know way more about Toro wine than any wine in the U.S.!

Every year, Toro holds a wine festival, la Feria del Vino de Toro, in its bullfighting ring. You pay €5, and you get five drink tickets. You want to know a secret, though? Hardly anyone asks for them, meaning we were able to try more than five. Shhh! It’ll be our little secret.

Toro Wine Festival

IMG_0931

This year, the Toro wine board had posted that the person who uploaded the “most original” photo to their Facebook page would win … 30 bottles of wine!

30 bottles of wine?

That seemed like, um, a lot. All for simply uploading an “original” photo? I told my companions about this contest, and my friend Luis suggested the photo—and it seemed like a winner! After all, the idea was originality, and this was original.

Un Tinto, Un Toro

We took this photo on the sands of the bullfighting ring. Do you get it yet? You can be forgiven if you don’t. Toro’s wine slogan is “Un Tinto? Un Toro!”, which means “A glass of red wine? A glass of TORO red wine!” And toro also means “bull;” thus, the bull horns.

Un Tinto, Un Toro Waterlogue

We uploaded the first photo, and then I browsed around to see others’ photos, which didn’t impress me too much. There were a few selfies, a picture of a glass of wine in the bullfighting ring, and our photo, which we all felt stood above the rest. But of course we had to wait, so we just kept drinking wine for another hour.

IMG_0934Don’t you love the handy wine-carrying pouches?

After we all were feeling sufficiently lightheaded, we set off to have lunch, tapas-style, along Toro’s main thoroughfare, Puerta del Mercado.

On Monday, I got a private message on Facebook from Toro, stating that I was the winner … Where should they send the 30 bottles of wine? It goes without saying that we’re set for wine for the foreseeable future!

Have you ever tried Toro wine? Ever been to Toro?

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What American Tapas Restaurants Get Wrong

The other day, while reading my mother’s copy of Reader’s Digest, I stumbled along a “funny” quote:

What the ...?

What the …?

This shouldn’t have enraged me … but it did. Okay, perhaps “enraged” is the wrong word to use, but I was rather miffed after reading this. I even Tweeted about how this person clearly didn’t get tapas. But then I thought about it some more. This person did get tapas, except he had only had tapas in American restaurants, meaning his experience was worlds away from what real tapas are like. I guess I couldn’t blame him, though I did blame Reader’s Digest for publishing his inane comment.

The real question is—What do American restaurants do wrong when it comes to tapas? Is it even possible for them to do it right?

American restaurants serve tapas at raciones price.

In Spain there are usually a few different categories of dishes on the menu, including tapas and raciones. Tapa are individual sizes, whereas raciones are meant to be shared among 3–4 friends. In the U.S., the restaurants make you pay much more for smaller-than-raciones sizes, meaning the guy in my picture is, um, right.

Whole Foods refers to tapas as “tiny treasures of Spain.”

American restaurants hardly ever give you anything for free.

Don’t you love getting something “for free”? It’s not really free, but in many Spanish restaurants (outside of certain areas), you’ll get a free tapa when you order a drink (a beer, a glass of wine, or a soft drink). I’ve never been to a tapas restaurant in the U.S. that does this.

There is no tapeo experience.

The true Spanish tapeo experience involves walking from bar to bar to get the best thing at each particular bar. In Zamora, for example, we know the best place to get a pincho moruno (pork kabob), calamares (fried squid), and a sandwich made with pork loin and Cabrales cheese.

You go from bar to bar with a group of friends. Ponéis todos un bote, meaning you all pool your money for a kitty—you then use this money to pay at each bar instead of everyone paying for their own drinks at each place. (You must put someone in charge of this. Choose wisely.) At the end of the night, if there’s money left over, we usually just save it “for the next one.” In Spain, there is never the last round; it’s always la penúltima (next to last).

The drinks are expensive.

When I come back from Spain, I can never believe how much wine is here. You want me to pay $10 for one glass of mediocre wine?! And you’re going to serve it to me room temperature? And you’re going to fill the glass up? I know it’s not like that in nicer places, but so many places just don’t know how to serve wine. At all. In Spain, you can get a good glass of wine for €3–€4 in Madrid, and in Zamora, we pay for €1.30 for a really decent glass of Toro wine.

Beer in Spain, if not usually good, is at least cheap. There are more and more places to get craft brews, but those tend not to be your traditional tapas bars.

And stop it with all the sangría, okay? Spaniards do drink it—sometimes—but most will likely opt for a beer, wine, or even vermouth.

Paella.

I know not even to get a Valencian started on paella, so I won’t go too into too much detail. But stop with the paella crimes, okay? Just stop!

So what do American tapas restaurants actually do right?

In my opinion, not a lot. They push things like sangría, they mix up Spanish with South American, and they charge way too much for way too little. However, I can say one thing: The taste of the food is good, even if there’s too little of it to really appreciate.

What’s your experience with tapas restaurants in the U.S. or other countries besides Spain?

What’s It Like Being With a Guiri?

After reading Girl in Florence’s post about her boyfriend’s thoughts about being with an American, I thought I’d interview Mario about his thoughts about life and love with a guiri (Spain Spanish for “foreigner”). He is really too kind, though, and it was hard to get out any juicy tidbits … mainly he was just super respectful. Darn it, Mario! (Okay, not really. He is the best.)

Before I came to Spain, I wasn’t sure if I identified with my nationality. I didn’t like guns, or football, or beer, or many other things your “typical” American likes. Oddly enough, it took me coming to Spain to really “feel American.” Although I still don’t see myself as your stereotypical American girl, I know that many parts of my upbringing are deeply ingrained, and they influence how I act on a daily basis.

As a part of a Spanish-American couple, I’ve seen and experienced many of the cultural mishaps that go along with dating someone from another country. Spain and the U.S. aren’t all that different in the end, but there are still some things that trip me up, even after five years in the country. Perhaps Mario and I will always have our small miscommunications and misunderstandings. But they’re still fun to discuss! So let’s get it started …

Mario Kaley Zamora Castillo

How do you think your life is different being with me than if you were with a Spaniard or some other nationality?

We wouldn’t be talking in English! I wouldn’t visit the States so much, of course, and I doubt I would have gone to Indiana ever.

That would be a crying shame! Really. “Don’t mess with Texas,” psh, don’t  mess with Hoosiers. What parts of the United States surprised you? The good and the bad.

  • People living in houses and driving everywhere, not having a proper city.
  • The high school was so big.
[I just want to insert here that I tried very hard to get him to tell me more things that he thought were just wrong, like we were all way fatter, but nooooo.]

What do you like most about being with someone from the U.S.?

You get to talk a lot in English, so I improve my English. Eating new foods from the U.S. Getting to experience another culture through your partner. Having two teams to root for in sports competitions.

Yes! Go Spain! Go USA! What things are more difficult?

Because we come from two different countries, one of us has to be far from our home. Sometimes there are cultural or linguistic misunderstandings

What new things have you tried (foods, experiences, etc.)?

  • Apart from going to Indiana, I’ve tried a lot of new foods, like: your dad’s smoked ribs, the cookies you make (the ones with oatmeal and dried cranberries) … I really liked the breakfast casserole your aunt made for us the morning after your brother’s wedding! [Kaley: This was your typical sausage and egg casserole a.k.a. hangover food.]
  • We went to an IU basketball game and a football game. We tailgated before the game! That was fun.

Tailgating Indiana University

  • Having an American wedding was cool, even if it was the traditional wedding. Going to your brother’s was also a lot of fun.
  • Thanksgiving was neat, because we were watching the football game on TV and then eating. I really like stuffing, and obviously the turkey. The ham was good too. I was at the Black Friday sales the next day. [Kaley: Note we did not go to the 3 a.m. stuff. Just the average next-day sales.]
  • I got to go pick out a Christmas tree at the farm. I cut it down too.

Mario Cutting Down Tree

  • I’ve been to Chicago, and it’s so impressive with all its skyscrapers, and of course the lake. I tried Chicago-style pizza with my mom and dad when they visited.

What things do you want to try now?

Obviously, I want to visit as many states as possible! I would especially like to see the Grand Canyon, Yosemite National Park, Yellowstone, the Pacific ocean, Hawaii. I would like to drive there and have an automatic car. New food, but not spicy!
Thank you for being patient while I peppered you with a zillion questions and badgered you incessantly to be meaner! Now is the time I would link to Mario’s blog, if he had one (hahahahaha, yeahhh).

If you could ask Mario a question, what would you ask? What do you find interesting about what he said?

What Do You Miss Most?

You know how, when asked to list what we miss about ourrespective countries, expats always say “friends and family”? It’s true, of course, that we (mostly) all miss those nearest and dearest to ous who happen to live thousands of miles away, but it’s also kind of a cop out. I mean, I know I use it that way. Just in case someone decides to get offended by what I miss, whether it be customer service (Don’t generalize) or people actually saying excuse me when they bump into you on the street or in the supermarket. Those are two things I do miss, but I don’t say them a lot for fear of being seen as one of “those expats”—my worst expat fear, being one of “them.” Not really, but it’s up there.

With that said, can I just say that, even though I chose this life, sometimes I wish I could just get all of the people I love and keep them in one place? Yeah, that would be nice. Unfortunately, it’s rather difficult to do when you have a Spanish husband, Spanish in-laws, Spanish cousins, and Spanish friends who all live in … yep, Spain. But last summer I got to have my in-laws visit Indiana and Chicago, and it was a magical experience. There’s some photos I’ve not really shared, so I’d like to do a throwback Monday and remember! Throwback Monday may not be a thing on Instagram, but it’s a thing now on Y Mucho Más, so just roll with it.

IMG_0570 IMG_0595Spanish-American Family

IMG_0606With my brother and sister-in-law

IMG_0616 IMG_0617 IMG_0709Bloomington/College Friends

IMG_0712Since we’re in the U.S., of course we had to eat Mexican food

IMG_0718Don’t deny it—my FIL is cuter than yours

IMG_0722Taught them a real “Indianer” game—cornhole. Do not call it “bags” to me

IMG_0757Hilary and Kanyi don’t care about this explanation

IMG_0759Learning about IU’s legends—if you kiss here at midnight, you’ll get married. Oops, already did that!

IMG_0761 IMG_0777 IMG_0787Colleen is funny

IMG_0798 IMG_0805 IMG_0833At Assembly Hall … We sneaked in

IMG_0834 IMG_0841 IMG_0849The dads

IMG_0902Exploring downtown Indianapolis

IMG_0942Mounds State Park

IMG_0945I love him!