Tapas, raciones, & eating our way through Spain.

Spanish food is perfect for us.  You have to forget the fact that we aren’t late night girls.  We don’t need to go our for a full, multi-course meal.  Karen and I can survive on tapas and raciones.  These little plates (appetizers, if you like) are available pretty much all afternoon and late into the night.  Eating this way allows us to sample many different tastes without any big commitment.

Tapas are a speciality in the region of Andalucia.  We only have to stroll down the street from ‘our’ house in Alhaurin el Grande to find a wide selection of bars, cafes, and restaurants.  On this bright, sunny day, we choose a table outside, the perfect ring-side seat for people watching. Scanning the menu (la carta), we spot sardinas fritas.  We’ve never tried fried sardines, so what the heck!

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These fresh-from-the-sea sardines are butterflied, perfectly seasoned, lightly coated, and fried to golden brown perfection.  They need only a squeeze of lemon. Better than we could have imagined.  So simple, but so delicious.

Just as we were finishing our meal, the clouds came and it started to sprinkle. We took our wine inside to finish.  The bar top’s refrigerated display case held a selection of cheeses, olives, fish, and things neither of us recognized.  All waiting to be served cold or to be cooked to order.

Another iconic image at the end of the bar: great legs of jamón ibérico ready to be sliced wafer thin and served with fresh bread or, possibly, a chunk of sharp, manchego cheese.

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Tapas, raciones, appetizers, or nibbles, whatever you want to call them, there are many new flavours and textures waiting for us. Anything in particular that we must try? We’re up for the challenge!

 

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23 thoughts on “Tapas, raciones, & eating our way through Spain.

  1. Love love tapas, I could eat tapas for every meal…and we often do in Mallorca. My absolute favourites are padron peppers…..slight element of Russian roulette, as every so often there is a super HOT one. Pam fried with sea salt. Yum
    Love their olives, never liked them before Spain.
    Seafood….except for shrimp, can’t handle the dangly bits as they usually serve them whole…
    Anything with goat cheese, yum!

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  2. Only you would mention the shrimp’s dangly bits!

    We don’t really bother ordering full meals in Spain. Why would we? A bite here, another there. Wander around. Taste the wine, see the sights. Perfecto!

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  3. That looks so good! It’s early in the morning and I haven’t had breakfast yet and your post made me salivate! One of the things I love most about travelling is the food. When I lived in China there were lots of fancy restaurants about and when my family came to visit they wanted to go to them (and because my mother’s picky that’s what we ended up doing) but I spent a lot of the time trying to convince them that the best food was always the street food. I maintain that if you want to have the best food in any country eat the street food not the restaurant food.

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  4. Gambas al alijo and gambas pilpil are both must-haves when in spain. Albondigas. Chopitos. Patatas bravas. I mean, seriously, you just have to try it all. I love tapas. I love Spain.

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  5. I’ve made note of your suggestions. Thanks for the extra work on this serious assignment! I’ve also got churros con chocolate on my must try list. I’d better get walking, or I’ll be buying bigger pants!

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  6. Oh come on! You are soooooo not playing fair here! Churros in any way, shape or form, with or without chocolate, are to die for. Actually a great dessert at home too. Go to Mercadona and buy a spraycan (no kidding!) of churros and some vegetableoil for frying. Then you spray (still not kidding) the dough straight into a pan of warm oil, be ready with the scissors and clip the dough in the size you want. Let oil run off on kitchentowels, sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve. Melted chocolate for dipping is optional.

    Seriously though, I spent 5 months in Spain on Costa Blanca and I lost weight – despite eating my way through the area. If you think about it – it makes perfect sence too! Most of the tapas is proteine-based. Proteine keeps your bloodsugar levels stable, so you dont get the cravings for sweets. Also eating small meals often makes you never go hungry, so you don’t overeat. You just nibble and nibble all day long – on mostly healthy stuff.

    So, unless you have churros every day – go nuts in the tapas!

    If you’re up for a giggle (at my expence) and also wants a couple of tips on what NOT to say while feeding on tapas at restaurants in Spain, here is a little piece I wrote about me making a complete donkey of myself:

    https://oliveole.wordpress.com/2015/08/11/things-one-should-avoid-to-say-in-spanish/

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  7. My husband wouldn’t get any further than patatas bravas, but I then the meatballs(bondigas?) are pretty wonderful. Truthfully, as long as it stays still in the bowl I will try it. I agree that the octopus rings are a little like chewing on a rubber band.

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  8. I whole heartedly agree, Luke. We also try to find places where the locals are eating. We slipped up once, here, and ended up in a restaurant full of ex-pats with the waiter speaking Spanish. Too late, we were exhausted, and we’d already ordered wine. There were nachos on the menu. Nachos. In Spain. Sigh.

    We’ve just come home from trying churros from a street stand. Another new taste checked off my list. Oh. My.

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  9. “as long as it stays still in the bowl” – oh, my. I’m not quite the open-minded, but I do try.

    As far as octopus goes, I remember the first time I had it, years and years ago, and it was incredible. This was also in Spain, and the lady told us that she cooks it for a long time on low heat. Tender and fantastic. Not chewy at all. I live in hopes of finding someone else who knows how to cook it.

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  10. That was a good read, thanks! I could feel your pain every step of the way.

    You’re right about tapas being pretty safe bets diet-wise. So far, so good!

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  11. What fun, to nibble your way across Europe and around the world! But now I have to ask, are those goat legs? Sheep legs? And are they the “jamón ibérico” you mention?

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  12. Ooh, yummy, little dishes, my favourite way of eating when out. Sounds delicious, you seemed to have jumped from Lancashire to Spain, but I expect the weather may be better on a Costa del Espana coast as opposed to a Lancastrian one! Possibly the Tapas too…!

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  13. We were in Wales for a bit, Vicky, but the climate was similar. We switched it up in a lot of ways.

    Almost time to go home, so we are soaking it all in.

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  14. Thrilled to have found your blog via our mutual friend, Betty. We have a lot in common, specifically a love for travel, adventure, and fine food! I, too, love Spain and have enjoyed many tapas. But I never knew that churros could be sprayed into a pan!

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  15. Doreen, I’m glad to have you join the travel party. As you can see, I am taking quite the long break from blogging as I enjoy life at home (regularly found trolling Ponemah Beach Central – maybe I’ll bump into you one day). I’ll pick things up again in November.

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