tapas

De Tapas por Zamora—Where to Eat in Zamora, Spain

Zamora Spain Tourism

I’m in Zamora. But where should I eat?

Good question. I’m glad you asked! I personally love eating, but I know of no one who relishes good food more than Mario and his family, true Zamorans (zamoranos) who know a good meal when they see one. Thus, I’m very excited to share with you my favorite places to eat or grab some tapas in Zamora!

Check out my Google Map of Where to Eat and Drink in Zamora, Spain!

(more…)

About these ads

11 Little Things that Make Me Smile, Madrid Edition

It’s the little things, isn’t it? The big things are great, wonderful—but they’re often few and far between. Of course, the fact that they are indeed scarce makes them all the easier to appreciate.

Puerta de Alcalá (HDR)

Photo by Emilio García

But the small things? They’re the type of occurrences that could and do happen every day. We just have to learn to notice them.

  1. All the crosswalks are green when you get to them, even those pesky ones with two distinct lights, meaning you usually have to stop in the middle of the street to wait for the second.
  2. Arriving at the metro station and hop right on the train, both at the first station and your transfer station. Bliss.
  3. There are available seats on the metro. In fact, there are more than enough so you don’t have to squeeze in like a sausage!
  4. Remembering an errand you forgot to do, only to walk right by the store you need, whether it be the supermarket, the hardware store, or the bank.
  5. When there’s no line at the bank.
  6. When the cashiers at the supermarket smile and treat you kindly.
  7. When there’s a long line at the supermarket and they actually open a new line—and you get to go first.
  8. When your Spanish comes out perfectly the first time.
  9. Seeing the weather forecast app predicts sun, sun, sun for the foreseeable future. Not only during the weekend, but the weekend too!
  10. The tapas bar is full, but not too full. If you get what I’m sayin’.
  11. The wine you order is a) delicious and b) costs less than €2 per copa.

What little things make you smile in your city?

The Rain in Sevilla

Our trip to Sevilla got off to a rainy start. After checking into our hotel after an unsuccessful attempt to visit the dentist (another story altogether!), night had already fallen. Another thing falling? The rain, of course.

IMG_0435

My first view of La Giralda

Luckily, Sevilla is still pretty, even amidst the drizzle. The Christmas lights were lit, and it was hard to feel discontent with the whole city wishing us Felices Fiestas (Happy Holidays).

IMG_0438

Everything in Sevilla seemed so cozy

One of my favorite parts was seeing the juxtaposition of an orange tree with Christmas lights. Thus is Sevilla.

IMG_0442

Luminous

Our friend from a town near Sevilla had recommended La Carbonería to us. La Carbonería, according to Tertulia Andaluza, was “the meeting point for the vanguard of Seville, a space for independent and alternative thought.” In the past, the site was a coal warehouse, thus the name, which in English would be “The Coalyard.” In 1975, Paco Lira converted it into the place it is today, a venue to hear and see flamenco, for ideas, for art of all kinds.

We saw a flamenco show and ate food off paper towels. It was an intriguing show. What’s more, it was packed. Good thing we got there early.

IMG_0446

IMG_0449

IMG_0451

I found the female dancer especially intriguing. There was something there in her face, impossible to articulate but powerful nonetheless. She may not have been famous, but her whole self radiated the spirit of flamenco.

The next day we got up, and after a quick visit to the dentist who confused me with his sevillano pronunciation, we had some breakfast. Mario took his Cola Cao with extra sugar.

IMG_0454

I had a tostada con jamón along with a café con leche.

IMG_0455

Mario chose to go with a recommendation from our waitress, the pringá. Pringá comes from the verb pringar, meaning to dip or to dunk in this case, is made up of the ingredients from the traditional Spanish cocido, known as puchero in many places. The meat portion, which consists of things like morcilla (blood sausage), chorizo, and tocino (fat), is cooked along with the rest of the stew, and then made into a spread to eat with bread. Yum! Actually, it was quite good, we both agreed, although perhaps a bit more fuerte than the typical Spanish breakfast.

IMG_0456

Next on the docket was a bit of sightseeing. Of course, you can’t go to Sevilla without seeing the cathedral and la Giralda.

IMG_0477

La Giralda is a former minaret that the Christians made into a bell tower for Sevilla’s cathedral. It stands high above the Patio de los Naranjos (Orange Tree Courtyard). The area of the courtyard is supposedly the area the old mosque occupied, as two of the courtyard’s exterior walls belonged to. During the time of the Muslim occupation of Spain, the area served as the space for the Muslims’ activities, including cemetery and cultural events.

IMG_0502

Seen from above, as we climbed the Giralda

IMG_0505IMG_0507

Besides seeing the sites, we also wandered around a bit. Getting “lost” (is it possible to get lost with a smart phone nowadays?) is one of my favorite ways to see a city.

IMG_0487IMG_0491IMG_0492IMG_0495

We had lunch at Bar Alfalfa, another recommendation from our Sevillana friend. A real winner! We really enjoyed the food we had, and with the prices in Sevilla, you can’t go wrong.

After a bit more wandering, we headed over to the Plaza de España, where it was already starting to get dark.  Unlike most Spanish plazas, this one is not centuries old. It was built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition (often referred to simply “la expo” by Spaniards), which was held in 1929. Along its walls there are tiled alcoves, each of which represents a Spanish province, from Álava to Zaragoza.

IMG_0548IMG_0552IMG_0553

It has also been used as a film set: in Lawrence of Arabia, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace,and Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones.

Our day in Sevilla ended with—you guessed it!—more tapas at a popular local bar, Los Coloniales, located in the town center. These tapas included, of course, the typical Sevillan picos, a type of small crunchy breadsticks. They usually accompany ham/chorizo/cheese, but we found them to come with almost anything! Yum!

Have you ever been to Sevilla?

Tapeando in the US—Possible?

Last night, I had the pleasure of going to eat at BARcelona Tapas in Indianapolis with my mother, my father, and a family friend. Obviously, it is a “tapas restaurant.” I was excited to return to the restaurant. I had been there once before, back in 2007, before I ever went to Spain. I wanted to evaluate it now that I knew what the real experience is like.

6818cdf96bd7eeac598228cd0ebe2c42394c6492_l

[Source]

I wrote a post on tapeando already. Tapeando is, basically, the art of going for tapas. As I said in the earlier post, the point of tapeando is not to stay in one bar. It’s not a sit-down dinner at all. Ideally, you can hit up anywhere from three to six bars in one night, depending on your hunger and stamina. When I go out with Mario and his friends, we all put a set amount of money in the bote and put someone in charge of it. Then, we go from place to place, not worrying about it, as the person in charge will take care of paying. At each place, everyone orders a drink: beer, wine, or water (usually). With this order, we get a free tapa to eat. There are all sorts of tapas, and I don’t have the time to get into all of them, but they can be very, very good and, of course, not so good. You have to know where to go!

In the US, the craze for tapas is just starting. Tapas restaurants are popping up everywhere. Spanish cooking is beginning to get the recognition it deserves, thanks in part to chefs like José Andrés, who as this Wall Street Journal article states, arrived in the US in 1991 with little money, back at a time when basically no one knew what Spanish cuisine even consisted of.

My favorite tapas are usually cheese-related. (Surprise, surprise!) To me, nothing is quite as good as a slice of queso manchego with dulce de membrillo (a type of quince jam, which my mother-in-law makes at home). I also love patatas alioli, smoked salmon with cream cheese and bread, croquettes, and olives. Se me hace agua la boca.

Tapas are great, no doubt about it. What’s so great about them? It’s not just the food. It’s the atmosphere, the fun you have standing up in a noisy bar with your friends, drinking and eating great food. It’s walking from place to place after a few cañas. It’s the shared experience.

With that said, I wonder whether the tapas experience can ever truly triumph in the States. Most of all, it’s because we just don’t have the walkability of Spain—except in big cities of course. But I’ve always had the most fun in a small town, Zamora, because Mario grew up there, and he knew all the best places. We love going to El Chillón, a bar known for its tortilla con salsa de callos (a Spanish potato omlette with tripe sauce. Yep, you read that right. It’s delicious!) I know that in Crawfordsville, my home town, there is really no such thing as walkability. We have to drive everywhere, unless we want to walk an hour and a half to the grocery store. The real tapeando experience would not work here, nor  would it in the majority of US cities.

tapasgrid

[Image from Notes from Madrid.]

Nonetheless, the idea of introducing good-quality Spanish food is a good one. Many people believe (falsely) that Spanish food is similar to Mexican. It is not. Spanish food is not spicy. Many people go to Spain and leave believing that all Spaniards eat is pork. While they do love their pork and other pig-based products, Spanish food is extremely varied and usually delicious. I’m glad that BARcelona Tapas is doing good work. That said, some of my favorites from last night:

  • Alcachofas fritas—Crispy artichokes with Romesco sauce and shaved Manchego cheese.
  • Empanadas de espinaca y champiñón—Spinach and mushroom pastries with cumin garlic alioli.
  • Trigueros con Romesco—Grilled asparagus with Romesco sauce and Manchego.
  • Tres quesos—Manchego, Cabrales and goat cheese with Spanish picos.

What do you think? Will the art of tapeando ever really triumph in the US? Or maybe just the tapas?

BARcelona Tapas

201 N. Delaware
Indianapolis, IN 46204
317.638.8272