WE are still lucky enough across most places in Andalucia to benefit from a free Tapas with a beer, wine or mosto (non alcoholic grape juice).
In a Tapas Bar this tends to take the form of a menu of up to 20 different tapas options that you choose from, whereas in a restaurant they tend to invite you to a tapas of their choice with each round of drinks, as a way of showcasing their quality and style of cooking.
As soon as you order a meal they tend to stop bringing you a tapas, and in general the provision or offer of tapas is determined very much by the Spanish eating hours.
As the Spanish seem programmed to have to eat and drink at the same time, a few copas late evening tend to be accompanied by a few nuts, crisps or sweets.
‘Going out for Tapas’ is a phrase much like ‘going out for a drink’ back in the UK, and it is not uncommon to hear a place described by the quality of its tapas, and I have even been given directions by tapas… you know the bar with the great pinchos? Turn left there, past the one that does those great ribs, right at the ‘best meatballs in town, and it is on your right! I still get lost, but at least never go hungry.
I once went out for some tapas with a Spanish friend, to 5 different restaurants and in each one was given meatballs for the tapas… an experience for sure, but not one I was in a hurry to repeat.
At the other end of the scale I was once in a friend’s bar the day they started doing Tapas as a means of adding more value during the recession and went through the whole menu in one sitting as the ‘unofficial’ tester!
It is true to say that Tapas plays a large part in not only my life, but the life of every expatriate and resident across Andalucia, well
One effect of the recession has been a notable increase in the number of people going out for tapas in the evening , rather than a meal, and a number of restaurants and bars locally here in Almerimar have responded by offering tapas for the first time, or by offering a better quality, gourmet style, tapas. When you think of it, it makes sense – rather than spending 40€ a head on a nice meal, you can spend 20€ on some really nice wine and high quality tapas. Why should you have to sacrifice quality on your night out? Just spend less, eat less and still have the quality you prefer. It has the added benefit of showcasing a restaurant’s cuisine, and I have little doubt that once the cash starts to flow again these restaurants will be rewarded with new clients who found them through their Tapas.
Indeed we have just had our first Gastronomic Tapas week in Almerimar, with 15 bars, cafes and restaurants participating by showcasing four ‘special’ tapas during the week. It was interesting to see the different approach taken by the participants, and the quality and range was impressive. I was one of the Judges and by far the best thing for me was that it got people to try new places, meet new people, and sample different types of tapas from the ones they tended to opt for on a night out.
We are not alone as the Almería de Tapas has been running for some time now and has over 15.000 Fans (or I should say ‘Likes’) on Facebook, where the bars and restaurants have been encouraged to post photos of their tapas and of course customers have been encouraged to leave comments.
Mojacar has just announced their De Tapas Por Mojacar from the 1 July 1-11, organised by the ACEM, which is a tapas ‘route’ where bars and restaurants can showcase their tapas and awards will be handed out for the best Tapas.
If you get a chance try one of these events, or even better get one set up in your area as they really are a great way to showcase your area, meet new people, and experience
And finally …….. congratulations to Yachting Golf the winners of the first Almerimar Gastronomic Tapas week, and kudos to Restauarante Gourmet for organising the week.
By Chris Marshall