New Yorkers love Tapas and often venture through the city restaurants hunting for new spots and new varieties. Commonly known as small dishes, tapas is a culinary art on itself perfectly prepared, impeccably presented and stunningly delicious.
As part of Spanish cuisine, Tapas can be found in most restaurants and bars in Spain where they have evolved into an entire, often sophisticated cuisine. Tapas may be cold or hot, may work as appetizers or snacks with drinks; they also can be the introduction of a meal or the meal themselves.
With tapas you can try few different foods, they are great for sharing and make for conversation, which is a wonderful way to enjoy a meal in good company.
When I’m in Spain I always go to my favorite tapas places to enjoy the traditional food cooking I love so much. And I also like to check out the eateries where the latest trends of sophisticated modern cuisine are redefining the concept of tapas for the customers every day. In our kitchen at Alcala Restaurant in New York we thrive to bring to our customers the best tapas that can be found in the city.
But what makes a great tapa, what are the things we can recognize in every great tapa? Here are some tips that will help you find outstanding tapas.
1) A good tapa is a good concept. Like everything in life not all dishes are born to be small, not all ideas in the paper work in the real world of cooking.
2) Simple is good. Best tapas are made of one-two ingredients topped with a great sauce that brings everything together.
3) It’s the size! A good tapa should come in a confortable enough size to be shared but not so much to make you feel full. As a rule of thumb, a tapa should have at least three good parts for sharing and it also must allow for tasting another two o three different ones.
A great tapa should be prepared a-la-minute to be eaten right away or in some cases, heated in the moment.
4) A tapa is not a snack. Tapas shouldn’t be confused with snacks, nuts or dips.
5) What’s in a bite. In tapa land there’s no room to hide. That’s why tapa ingredients need to be fresh, top quality and prepared to produce great taste and eating experience.
6) Just ready-made. A great tapa should be prepared a-la-minute to be eaten right away or in some cases, heated in the moment.
7) The knockout effect. A great tapa should have a fresh touch – a contrast in textures, a touch of herbs or a raw ingredient that changes altogether the impact of the food. It should not be too spice or too salty but tasty and delicious.
8) Presentation, presentation, presentation. A great tapa must have a great presentation without interfering in the way of eating it. If it has several parts that need to be combined it should come cut in portions to facilitate the mixing of ingredients.
9) Another one please. You know a tapa is a great one when it incites tasting another one.
10) Bring it home. In general, a good tapa should be fairly easy to replicate at home.
So get ready to mix and match tapas dishes with your favorite wines and company. Happy New Year!