Omar, the man behind the stunning Tapas concept restaurants popping up across the country has just released his Spanish Made Simple book and I was excited to try a range of the dishes featured this lunchtime.
As an opening gesture, our waiter arrived with some black olives. A bottle of Viura Rama, Vino de espana was also brought to the table. Crisp and light it would be the perfect refresher for the plates ahead.
The sweet Jamón Ibérico de bellota Montenevado is an acorn-fed Iberian ham, dry-aged for a minimum of 24 months and hand carved to order. The ham had a gorgeous woody smokiness with some intensity to it.
Next up were some delicious parcels of melting béchamel Croquetas de jamón which were deep-fried Ibérico ham. Again, the trick with Tapas is to enjoy the feeling of wanting more, it’s deliberate, but for me, I feel that too many restaurants in the UK don’t quite offer the right portion sizes and I always find myself looking at other dishes, wishing I’d tried those too. That’s the art of selection though hey?
The next plate was a feast to behold. Saffron rice with chicken, which the waiter pointed out several techniques and recipes to follow in Omar’s new book. I was sold! The delicate depth of flavours in the rice and the texture was divine. I’ll definitely be trying out recipes from the book.
Alitas de pollo a la miel y limón, worked incredibly with this dish, crispy wings with sweet skin that just fell off the bone.
Although a little bit dry our Pulpo a la Gallega was in fact incredibly succulent and non-chewy. This was steamed octopus with potatoes and pimentón paprika at its best. It felt a healthy recipe, but I wonder what a slightly richer sauce could have added to this stunning plate. The texture definitely didn’t disappoint however.
A rather remarkable Bacalao con piperrada roasted cod loin with slow-cooked red peppers and olives was a joy to behold, coupled with a vegetarian Tortilla de patatas. This stand out classic is a Spanish omelette with a pleasing warmth to it, and the perfect savoury dish to complete your meal, unless you have time for some churros and chocolate! These stunning, light, crispy fried frittas were a real treat on a cold and windy February afternoon.