Jul 6, 2010

Megalicious Wednesdays: Eating Tapas, Eating Spain

Guest Blogger: Sacha Page

Thanks MEG for allowing me to share my humble experience with one of my favorite foods that is synonymous with Spain and interestingly has coincided with today's most anticipated semi-final football game at World Cup 2010 - Spain versus Germany.

Visiting Spain has always been something I have wanted to do not so much for the bullfights or festivals, not even for the history but mostly for the food. Tapas (Spanish small dishes or appetizers) was something I first had about ten years ago at Mario Batali's "Casa Mono" in New York City. Let's say I was hooked at first bite. Ever since then I have wanted to have tapas in Spain and understand the essence of this food-way.
I now know that the Spanish Tapas (like any other food culture) is not just about the food, but about the culture, history, geography, and soul of the people who create and consume it. Guided by my friend, Isabel, who was born and raised in Seville, I had a memorable meal I wish to share with you. Crossing the Guadalquivir River to the Triana section of Seville, Isabel took us to this place (shown below) whose facade seemed well pretty plain.

Entering the establishment howev
er we were in for a real treat. We sat in a fabulous courtyard appointed with beautiful Andalusian tile work, whose focal point was a small 'stage' set up for flamenco. It was awesome in its simplicity and would mirror the marvelous tapas to come.

After being presented with a delicious bowl of olives on the table, we ordered an assortment of dishes some of which were seasonal others have a standing place on the menu.They typified form, some of the characteristics of Spanish cuisine in general and of Andalusian food in particular - the use of fresh ingredients, from produce to meats and fish, the liberal use of good olive oil, and the ever presence of artisanal breads to accompany our meal of tapas.

Below are pictures of some of the best tapas I have ever had. They were simple yet distinct offerings that were pleasing to both eye and the palate: -

1. 2.

4. 5.

1. Lamb cutlets in simple garlic sauce - hot
2. Ceviche of bacalao (cod fish) and pineapple - room temp
3. Anchovies and peppers - cold
4. Goat cheese covered with salmarejo (a cream made from tomatoes, bread, oil, garlic and vinegar) - cold
5. Spinach and chickpeas, a very traditional Andalusian dish - hot
6. Tosta of Manchego cheese (simply Manchego melted on a hearty piece of freshly, baked bread) - hot

These dishes were both hot and cold, and were a perfect meal on a hot afternoon. Encompassing various flavors and textures they were delicious with pieces of crusty bread to soak up the sauce and washed down with Tinto de Verano, a popular wine-based cocktail that is similar to Sangria but with less alcohol.For me these dishes epitomized why I fell in love with tapas in the first place - the meeting of familiar spices like paprika, cumin, garlic and chili; the briny goodness of the anchovy along with the olive oil used generously like a warm wave of flavor enveloping almost everything.
This meal has become my new benchmark by which I will judge any further adventures in tapas. It was a pleasure sharing it. This weekend how about celebrating the World Cup finals with a Spanish Tapas party for family and friends or just because?

Post Script - Tapas Defined

In Spain, dinner is usually served between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. (sometimes as late as 12 midnight), leaving significant time between work and dinner. Therefore, Spaniards often go "bar-hopping" and eat tapas in the time between finishing work and having dinner. Since lunch is usually served between 1 p.m and 3 p.m, another common time for tapas is weekend days around noon as a means of socializing before lunch at home. It is very common for a bar or a small local restaurant to have 8 to 12 different kinds of tapas in warming trays with glass partitions covering the food.


  1. Spain, Spain, Spain - Take me away! Those anchovies are looking delish. Hmmm, I wonder what's a good Spanish dessert?

  2. This is great! Makes me want to head to Spain...or just the nearest Tapas restaurant in NYC!

  3. With that historic world cup win today, all eyes are on Spain. Definitely will try a few of these! Btw, great pictures

  4. Sounds inviting, it should be my next European trip.

  5. Europe will be way awesome! Thanks for your comment!

  6. Spanish desserts are to die for. Churros con chocolate (the churros are as light as air combined with rich chocolate) and then there's crema catalana (cold custard with caramel on top) so good :-)

  7. @Diane - Thanks! Our Megalicious Guest Blogger did an outstanding job!

  8. @Betty - Your comment is much appreciated. Re: pictures - Agreed. They are amazing pictures. Thank you Sacha :-)


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