It’s Tapas Time

Every country seems to have a culinary specialty, some dish or food item they are especially fond of and where everyone in the country makes their version of it.

Here in Spain it is no different and the food that makes this list is Tapas. Tapas can best be described as sample dishes of specialties. Tapas can be made up of seafood; salad; sausages or cheeses.  They are served either hot or cold and can even include paella, Spain’s most famous contribution to world cuisine. Every bar and restaurant in Spain seems to have a Tapas menu. Tapas are served as less of a meal but more than an appetizer. It is not uncommon for scores of people to go out late at night after a movie or a show and hit a bar to get a drink, usually beer or wine here in Spain, and then to order a tapas or two.

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Even the local mini-golf sells Tapas. Mike enjoyed their offerings; MAGRA DE IBÉRICO A LA JARDINERA and LONGANIZA BLANCA CON VERDURAS. I ate a veggie sandwich but our total spent here was only 7 Euros. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Here in Torrevieja we are in the middle of a Tapas Crawl, otherwise known as the 10th Annual Ruta de la Tapa. They hold this competition to see which bar or restaurant has the best Tapas in this region of Spain. This year 56 bars and restaurants joined in on the fun. To enter this competition your selections have to first be approved by a committee. Each restaurant chooses two areas of specialty; there is the standard tapas and gourmet tapas.

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At Pantasana’s Mike tasted the TOSTA DE SOLOMILLO CON CRUJIENTE and DELICIA DE BACALAO SOBRE CUNA. I passed even though one dish was vegetarian. I was saving myself since Tapas can be filling. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Contest dates are April 3 through 6 and then again from April 10 to 13. The bars and restaurants serve their Tapas from noon to 16:30 and from 19:30 to 23:00 on these days. This makes it easy on everyone interested in partaking since the hours are the same in all establishments and the only thing different will be what is offered. Each participating restaurant will also have two different Tapas to offer for each of the two weekends; so what they serve April 3 to 6 is not the same offering as April 10 to 13 so you can go back to the same place twice and order different Tapas.

 

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I was so glad I waited. My favorite so far, the Tapas from Taj Mahal. They served shrimp roll (ROL DE GAMBAS A LAS DOS SALSAS) and spicy vegetable fritattas (PAKORA VEGETAL) which came with two sauces, a sweet soy and a spicy duck sauce. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

A standard tapas order comes with a drink, again usually a beer, offered for only two Euros and gourmet tapas and drink is offered for 2.50 Euros. In a country where the unemployment rate is still the highest in the EU and where many people cannot afford to make their mortgage or utility payments eating Tapas for a euro or two is the cheapest thing to do here.

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At Cafeteria Mediterraneo we sampled the potato and chicken pie (PASTEL DE POLLO) and the toast topped with cuttlefish and tomato compote (BROCHETA DE SEPIA CON TOMATE RAFF). We weren’t too overly enthused with either entry. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

For the current competition there is a staggering 220 different Tapas being placed on offer. You literally can eat your way from one Tapas bar to another; in fact this is what is expected. If you eat no less than 10 Tapas you are allowed to vote for the best in Torrevieja (you will have your Tapas passport stamped in every place that you go in order for your vote to count).

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Armed with our Tapas map and our voting card we walked from Tapas bar to Tapas bar sampling the food being made just for the competition. They hold this competition twice a year. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Tapas are available all year round in Spain. You would be hard pressed to visit a bar or a restaurant which did not have a Tapas menu so coming here at anytime means you can create your own Tapas Crawl. However there is something to be said for getting to actually vote for the best Tapas in Torrevieja. So forgive me as I leave you because, “there is more Tapas to go before I sleep…” (My apologies to Robert Frost).

 

Florence Lince

http://www.about.me/florencelince

 

 

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