Tapas are my favorite meal because I’m greedy. If you’re the kind of person who is often jealous of what your table-mate ordered, tapas are for you. Plus, with Spanish tapas you’ll find the most delicious Iberico pork products (hello prosciutto!) and a surprising variety of seafood as well.
In case you’ve been living under a rock, Tapas (sometimes also called pintxos or “pinchos”) are mini-meals, sometimes only bight-sized, that encompass an explosion of flavors in a tiny package. They can be simple bar snacks or michelin star works of art; impressive little meat towers or vegetarian delicacies. The most beautiful and expensive often have exotic little curls of seafood skewered on top of crusty, carby bites of heaven and cheese. (If you’re going for gorgeous and famous pintxos, you have to go to San Sebastian. Period. Head towards the tiny bars on cobblestone streets in old town and get lost in it.)
As for drinks, almost all the alcoholic ones are light and bubbly numbers perfect for a hot afternoon. Try Tinto de Verano (“red wine of summer”, just some lemon soda + wine, ridiculously refreshing), and Water of Valencia (basically a better mimosa – OJ, Cava, Gin, and Vodka). They even have a light and bubbly coffee drink (Tonic Espresso). We actually whip up Tinto de Verano at home all the time!
Our most recent trip to Spain (2018) was after a long stay in Morocco, and as always, was a welcome respite. Thanks to our warm and joyous waiter Manuel, our first night in Valencia was a treat. We ate next to a family with four children playing hide and seek in the alleyways, “uno, dos, tres” echoing off brightly graffitti’d garage doors, and soft spanish music playing beneath the buzzing street lanters. He introduced me to a Russian Salad (pictured below, a seafood and egg salad blend.) Who knew I love eel? Or foie with crystalized sugar on top? Weird, and delicious.
A Lucky Break: TapaPiés Multicultural Festival in Madrid
We stumbled across this massive tapas festival in 2018 COMPLETELY BY ACCIDENT and it made my life. It’s an annual gastronomy bonanza in Lavapiés, one of the most culturally diverse neighborhoods of Madrid.
At this festival, all the tapas were only 1.5 euros, and every participating shop had their own specialty. I ate so many tapas. SO MANY TAPAS. We cruised all through downtown and the side streets, grabbing tapas and beer as we went, listening to live music and trying to stretch our stomachs. Shout out to a truly fantastic glass of wine and cold soup-like dessert at Gato Gato, the perfect nightcap to such a pleasantly surprising dining experience. Favorites from our tapas crawl were the Ligerito (Pancetta chunks with lemon from La De Espronceda), the Crema De Lombarda Y Coco Con Gallina Guisada (red cabbage, coconut cream, stewed chicken from Gato Gato), the Piadina De San Vito from (Oficina 42), and the Esponjosito De Codillo Iberico Con Bourbon (Iberico Pork Knuckle with Bourbon from NuBel).