I am a certified foodie. There are few things more thrilling to me than sharing an amazing meal and libations over good conversation with good company. And I always admire those people who just know where to go. We all have that one friend – our personal yelp -- who always comes through with recommendations. But what about what to order? We promised we would dig into all the different ways to stylize our life on Key of B. Food is art and style rolled up into one. There's no reason to settle for boring here. And being able to spot little gems on the menu is everything.
I recently visited a Spanish restaurant -- Racion -- which served nothing but the most amazing tapas, gourmet style. It took me back to my days in Barcelona, which still ranks in my best-trip-ever hall of fame. This restaurant had a stylish spin on traditional tapas and it was like a food fashion show: each plate came one after the other adorned with herbs, sauces and cheeses. Our gracious waiter was amazing at explaining all the different options to everyone at the table, and so I thought I would share some of my favorites with you.
ABOVE: Racion -- Deconstructed Pan con Tomate with Jamón Iberico and Fresh Requeson
ABOVE: Racion -- Chicken Croquetas with Goat's Milk and Membrillo Honey
Tapas have generally evolved from the bar to the main dining halls with the most elaborate fanfare. If you're still a little new to tapas, we wanted to share with you our top 5 bites so you can order like a pro the next time you go. If you are a Tapa guru, then let us know what you think!
1. Croquetas – This has to be one of my all-time favorites. I bit into my first croqueta several years ago in Spain, and it was love at first bite. These are breaded and fried bite-sized croquettes made with béchamel, cheese and some type of chopped meat, such as ham or shrimp. Any tapas restaurant worth their salt will have some type of croqueta. The art is getting the outside extra crispy, and the inside nice and soft.
2. Patatas Bravas – This is another crowd pleaser. Patatas bravas are potato chunks that are either fried or sautéed (sometimes boiled), spiced with chili and sometimes tomato and garlic. It comes with a scrumptious garlic aioli. A simple little dish that packs a lot of punch.
3. Pan con Tomate – This is as simple as it’s name suggests, but my second favorite (croquetas are tough contenders!). It’s also known as Pan a la Catalana in some parts of Spain, and is one of the simplest and most loved dishes from Cataluña. Pan con tomate is essentially toasted bread rubbed with garlic and ripe tomatoe. It’s then drizzled with olive oil and salt. Pan con tomato is usually topped with cheese or some type of meat like ham or sausage.
4. Jamón Serrano – Jamón serrano translates to ham from the mountain range. Many of us are probably already familiar with this one. It’s simply little slivers, sometimes diced pieces, of salted and dry-cured ham, and if done correctly, will have a delicate nut flavor and feel like butter in your mouth. Jamón Iberico is similar, but more premium.
5. Gambas al Ajillo – This dish consists of fresh shrimps cooked in olive oil, casserole style, with garlic and chili. Somewhat of a luxury dish in some parts of Spain.
"Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire" ~Unknown~