by 4 April 08, 2014Some places you just shouldn't miss out on. The Eiffel Tower is kind of a big deal. You probably haven't heard of it. I would check that one out if you get the chance. It lights up. It sparkles. There's a park around it. Wait, what? You know about that already? Weird. You don't need me to tell you about the things that come up on page one of your very first Google search, or the things that were highlighted in your seventh grade social studies book. I want to tell you about the places you might otherwise race by. I want you to know about Sriracha before it's in ketchup, salt, Brussels sprouts, on your pizza and your go-to chicken marinade. So today we start the Must series. It might be shops, boutiques, or beaches. Or maybe a hole-in-the-wall tapas joint, an afternoon tea, family winery or pop art gallery. Not a whole city guide. Not an itinerary. Just the places that if I could sit down with you and a glass of red wine one evening at our place, I would say, "Oh man, you absolutely must do this one thing. Promise me you won't miss it." That's the Must. Minus the wine. Well, at least for you. I swear I will have a glass every time I write one. One of us has to make it friendly. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- French Fries and a Frosty. Kanye and Kim. Cookies and Spain: all things you wouldn't expect to see together, but they just work. We stumbled upon the Spanish masterpiece Afri's Cookies as we strolled the side streets of the Malasana area in Madrid. True life: we had just had a little tiff and Mat, being the smart husband he is, was trying to find me a treat so I would be a little sweeter. Sugar in, sugar out. That's my post-argument motto. Anyway, on the uphill climb of a graffiti laden alleyway, next to a hot dog eatery and a shop that sells Bahn Mi, there she was. A dark wooden framed door, just a slight entrance to a sub-ground-level shop. It was buzzing with locals and that's always a good sign. When we walked in Afri herself greeted us. She directed us to the cookie of the day - in English, which was helpful. An orange cookie complete with a thick layer of orange glaze, also available with a dark chocolate center. I am pro-chocolate in a cookie, so I went that way. Mat chose to stick with the unadulterated orange cookie. Y'all. Y'all. You want an orange cookie. With or without chocolate it just doesn't matter. They were soft without being too chewy. They were fancy without losing the fun. They were orange but not once did I feel like the citrus had a history of assault. I felt like Afri and her husband Jose had me in mind when they made them, and that they loved me before they even knew me. They are the perfect size to have two and feel like you just treated yourself but aren't miserable. That meant we needed two more. Afri asked if we wanted a recommendation. I make a habit of listening to the chef, or in this case the baker. She said she would go for the nutella cookie because it was still warm. I didn't need the "because it was still warm" part, she had me at nutella, but it turned out the whole warm thing was totally a winner. The cookie actually incases a layer of nutella and is topped with chocolate chips. The center was melty perfection. Melty the way a nutella crepe is perfect. Mat stuck with a traditional cookie whose name we do not know. She explained it as a plain cookie that had been dipped in milk. I don't know exactly what it was like except for heaven. Just a hint of sweetness in a pillow like cookie. I enjoyed my cookie with an Americano and Mat with an espresso. If the coffee was off, it would have tainted the whole experience. Here I am writing about how remarkable it was so you know the coffee was good. I would go with excellent, actually. We didn't try the white chocolate raspberry but I wish we would have. I regretted it after we left. I didn't regret accepting Afri's offer to try a chocolate chip and sea salt cookie bite. When you go ask for a handful to go along with the full-size cookies of your dreams. Afri, come to London and I will franchise a local in Dallas. Let's take over the world. Go to Madrid and you must eat at Afri's Cookies & Coffee.
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