Tap into Spanish Tapas
Posted by Merritt Steidl, deli category analyst
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
If you love snacking, socializing and sipping on wine, tapas are right up your alley! Tapas are small plates of food, traditional to Spain, that are served before either lunch or dinner. These plates typically have unique flavor combinations and are different than appetizers because they’re much smaller, so your group is able to sample many foods at a time. Tapas are shared in a casual environment and paired with a glass of beer or wine.
Some say that tapas originated when King Alfonso X was prescribed sips of wine in between meals to cure an illness. In order to curb the effects of the alcohol, he ate small bites of food as well. After he recovered, King Alfonso mandated that everyone eat something when drinking wine to keep from getting intoxicated.
Other people say that tapas started when bartenders covered patrons’ drinks with an empty plate to keep out bugs, dust and sand. Eventually, they started putting small pieces of meats or cheeses on the plates. Or, tapas could have simply been a way of rationing food during the Spanish Civil war. Regardless of their origin, tapas are an important and fun part of Spanish food culture.
The possibilities for Spanish tapas are endless. They can be as simple as a bowl of olives, or as complex as seafood paella. If I’m planning to serve tapas before a meal, I usually try to keep them fairly simple. Here are a few easy tapa ideas to get you started at home.
For an elegant tapa, try wrapping shrimp with thin La Quercia Lomo Americano slices. Serve cold, or cook both sides quickly on a high temp pan. We’ve served the shrimp with Marcona almonds.
Mitica Handmade Pear Paste is an excellent addition to any cheese plate. You can cut it into cubes, strips or even use it as a spread. Here, we’re serving the pear paste with Garroxta cheese and Spanish olives.
Mitica Torta de Aceite Sweet Flatbread can double as a cracker, or a plate! We topped the flatbread with arugula, Mitica Orange Blossom Honey and some hearty pieces of Valdeón Blue cheese.
What’s better than cheese and wine? Try placing a few small wedges of cheese on a Mitica Torta de Aceite Sweet Flatbread for a quick and unique tapa.
Manchego (made from sheep’s milk) is the most well-known and popular Spanish cheese. This is the Reserva variety, meaning it’s aged for 12-14 months. It has a grainier texture and tastes a little nuttier than a young Manchego. We’ve paired a simple wedge of Manchego with spicy Marcona almonds and served it on a HimalaSalt Tapas Plate.
This tapa is lovely, delicious, and easy to make! Just wrap Serrano Ham around a thin breadstick, drizzle with Mitica Honey, then top it off with grated Manchego. We’ve garnished our plate with fresh arugula as well. Make sure to serve these shortly after preparing to keep the breadsticks from losing their crunch.