MADRID – The tapa, considered by some to be the epitome Spanish cuisine and a culinary creation that inspires friends to come together and share small morsels of tasty food accompanied by a drink, is to be celebrated by chefs and enthusiasts worldwide.
Nine years ago, Saborea España launched World Tapas Day as a way to share the mouth-watering Spanish tradition with the whole world by encouraging people to take part in the social event on the third Thursday of June.
“We understood that it was a cool format that offers the possibility of sampling many things as if it were a tasting menu but with a relaxed approach,” Spanish chef Nacho Manzano told Efe.
Manzano moved from Asturias, in northern Spain, to England with the Iberica group which has eight restaurants that exclusively serve tapas “so that people can order lots of things and try more Spanish gastronomic delights,” he added.
“We knew Brits would like it, and six years after launching the project it is firmly established,” the cook added.
Manzano’s favorite dish, which his Gloria restaurant in Asturias prepares, is a potato omelet with cod pil-pil (a Basque flavorsome sauce made by cooking the fish in garlic-infused olive oil and then whisking up what’s left in the pan with the remaining milky white cod juice which thickens into a sauce), served with fried onions and piparras (Basque green chili peppers).
Three Michelin star chef Dani Garcia loves Russian salad with breadsticks which he serves at his Lobito de Mar in Marbella, southern Spain.
“Determining what makes a tapa is fairly complicated, it is more related to a philosophy of eating than a specific recipe,” Garcia told Efe.
“Anything can be a tapa, such as a little crockpot of tripe, what is important is what going out to ‘tapear’ (to indulge in tapas) implies, to visit one or two places, to eat while standing up, chatting with friends,” the chef added.
For Josean Alija, who has one Michelin tar with Nerua (Bilbao, northern Spain), “txikiteo” (which roughly translates as pub crawl) is his favorite sport.
“To meander through the streets in search of a specialty, with the gang, creating a tasting menu based on pintxos. The most important thing is to accompany the food and drink with people, to celebrate and to unwind.”
When asked what his favorite pintxos were he shared three Basque delicacies: the “Bilbainito,” which consists of hard-boiled egg, mayonnaise and two langoustines; “Grillo,” boiled potato and red onions with a vinaigrette; and “Felipda,” an unusual tapa of bread with mayonnaise made with condensed mil, anchovy and tobacco.
The chef suggests washing down the dishes with beer or a txakoli, a sparkling, dry white wine.
Roberto Ruiz, who runs the well known Punto MX restaurant and became the first Michelin star Mexican in Europe said his habits changed when he arrived in Spain and started having an aperitif or dinner made of tapas.
His favorite is a potato omelet with onion.
Jordi Roca is of the opinion that the tapas concept can absolutely be exported and that Ferran and Albert Adria and Jose Andres are living proof of this with their “Little Spain” venture in New York – a sort of street food market space that offers myriad Spanish delicacies for diners to enjoy.
“It is the most genuine format owing to its social aspect and the most recognized on a global scale,” Emilio Gallego, secretary general of Spanish Hospitality told Efe.