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Spontaneity in Spain + Fried Eggs with Creamy Spinach and Toast Soldiers

Fried Eggs and Creamy Spinach | Umami GirlWell hello there from Seville. It’s been 25 days since we left our flat in London and began — as Cope recently put it — “Tim Ferrissing” Europe, meandering our way back to New Jersey over the course of a month and a half. So far we’ve been to Amsterdam, Paris, Alicante, and Málaga. I’ll post some photos, recommendations and highlights from each city in the coming weeks, none of which will include a repeat usage of Tim Ferriss as a verb, I promise.

Seville wasn’t on the itinerary, mostly because it averages about 97 degrees Fahrenheit in August. But the beginning of our time in Málaga didn’t turn out the way we’d hoped. The town itself is cute, with pretty architecture in the old town and a nice international tourist vibe. Due to the first of our hotel snafus, we stayed in an airbnb for one night in the old town before heading to the hotel. (I feel morally and aesthetically compelled to pause here and register my objection to the shape of the airbnb logo, but otherwise we’ve really loved our experiences in the apartments we’ve carefully chosen through the site.)

Relaxing in the apartment for an hour before we headed out to explore, Cope Google mapped how long it would take us to walk to our hotel the next afternoon. He was pretty sure it was about ten blocks away. As a point of pride, we usually don’t travel with much luggage. But since we’re in the middle of a protracted overseas move, we’re towing two large suitcases and three carry-on bags, one of which we have to hold our breath and wink seductively to get past check-in personnel. The difference between ten blocks and twenty is one for which we need some mental preparation, if not a taxi.

The girls were playing a game on an iPad. The room was fairly quiet. And then, “Huh,” said Cope. “Six hours and forty minutes.”

The Málaga we thought our hotel was in (namely, actual Málaga) was a six hour and forty minute walk — otherwise known as a one-hour bus ride — from the Málaga our hotel was in (namely, Torre del Mar, a tiny coastal town near Vélez-Málaga, technically still within the province of Málaga). Got it? Because we didn’t. This was a surprise, and not a particularly welcome one. Still, we were game. It’s all an adventure. So here we are, smiling on the bus to Vélez-Málaga.

Surprise Bus to Vélez-Málaga | Umami Girl

Oh, Vélez-Málaga. My Spanish is poor on the best of days, but when we disembarked from the bus and walked the few blocks to our hotel, I asked Cope whether he thought that Vélez might mean “The Newark, New Jersey of,” or simply “Not.”

There were plenty of young Spanish families and groups of elderly folks having what seemed like a happy vacation in Torre del Mar. I’m at least as happy for them as they were to see us there, and from the looks on many of their faces as they tried to figure out what we might be doing there, I’d say probably a little more so. I won’t belabor our reasons for leaving. I’ll just say that Cope is turning 40 in a few days, and the Newark of Málaga didn’t seem like the right place to do it. Also, the beach is almost definitely made of cat litter.

Málaga Montage | Umami Girl“Spontaneous” is not the first word that would spring to your mind to describe any one of us, and yet, to quote my wise friend Vera, “As my 8th grade history teacher liked to say, there is a time and a place for spontaneity.” Yesterday was the time, and Torre del Mar was the place. We ditched our reservations and left. Bus back to Málaga, train to Seville. And here we are. It’s gorgeous here. More to come.

In the meantime, with all this nomadic adventure, we’ve been craving a bit of stability. One of the best parts of airbnb is that when you just can’t eat another bite of tapas, you can head home and cook. Lacking a permanent residence for the moment, I’m perfectly happy to call it home if it’s got my family and some leafy greens. Where some might crave a good steak, I apparently want fried eggs snuggled atop a hefty pile of creamy spinach. And just so you know I really have no idea where home is, a few “soldiers” — strips of toast to dip into the yolks, English style.

For our next blow-out brunch, we’ll be having churros and coffee from the neighborhood stand recommended by the folks who own this apartment. But for you, maybe these eggs would work nicely. Talk to you soon!

Carolyn xx

Fried Eggs with Creamy Spinach and Toast Soldiers

Preparation 10 min Cook Time 10 min Total Time 0:20


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced small
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 10 ounces baby spinach
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese
  • Plenty salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 eggs
  • Toast


  • Heat one tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat in a nonstick or well-seasoned frying pan. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until starting to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one minute more.
  • Add the spinach, in batches if necessary, and cook until wilted. If there's a lot of liquid in the pan at this stage, you may wish to pour it off. (Sometimes there is, sometimes there isn't -- depends on the spinach.)
  • Add the nutmeg, cayenne, heavy cream, cream cheese, and some salt and pepper. Stir to combine well. Simmer until the sauce is reduced enough to mostly cling to the spinach. Taste for salt and pepper and divide between two shallow bowls.
  • Wipe out the frying pan. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Fry the eggs in the pan to your liking, and slide two eggs into each bowl. Cut the toast into strips ("soldiers," as the English call them) for dipping into the yolk and cream, and garnish each bowl with a few. Serve immediately.
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    Hi there, I'm Carolyn, and I'm delighted you're here. I'm a NYC-area food, travel, yoga, coffee, wine, running, music making and book obsessive with a great family and a love for sharing it all with you. Grab a drink and come on in. Learn more.