02.28.09: an evening in Barcelona.

A tapa is Spanish for cover, and tapas came about because bartenders would place either pieces of bread or small plates over patrons’ glasses of sherry in order to ward off the fruit flies hovering around them. They then realized that they could easily add toppings to the bread or prepare little dishes to go on the plates, and thus, the tapas movement was born.


Since then, they have become wildly popular in restaurants and at dinner parties alike; our friend L and I had our joint-bachelorette dinner at Barcelona, a fantastic Connecticut chain of wine bars featuring an extensive tapas menu, and even our friends who are more particular about restaurant food ate to their hearts’ content. It’s one of my favorite restaurants in the city, but it can get pricey (especially given their very tempting wine list) so a few weeks ago Michael, L and I decided to have our own tapas night and watch Vicky Cristina Barcelona. It was a movie that was always on my “want to see” list, but I had forgotten about it until I stumbled across the trailer on a random afternoon:

One glimpse of those tempting dishes and I was hooked. What we made is after the jump:

Garlic-Marinated Mushrooms

Garlic-Marinated Mushrooms

This is one of our favorite, simple appetizers because it’s so easy to put together: quarter mushrooms and toss with garlic, olive oil, parsley and lemon juice and let marinate in the fridge. Cremini mushrooms are a reasonable alternative to plain white button mushrooms as they have a more developed, woody flavor but isn’t as expensive as, say, using shittakes or similar. It’s a great simple dish to have on-hand if you’re expecting dinner guests, as it provides something to nibble on that won’t fill them up before the main course.

Sardine fillets, fresh from Romeo & Cesare's

Sardine Anchovy fillets, fresh from Romeo & Cesare’s

Fried Sardines

Fried Sardines Anchovies

This, as I mentioned before, was a tribute to our Italian friends, but given that both Spain and Italy benefit from having coasts on the Mediterranean, it felt equally appropriate to include this as a Spanish meal.


Chorizos in Red Wine

This was the only dish we replicated from Barcelona, and only because it’s so classic and simple to make. If you are planning ahead, make sure you poke some holes in the chorizos and let them marinate in the wine overnight–it always makes them so much tastier.

Grilled Vidalia Onions with Romesco Sauce

Grilled Vidalia Onions with Romesco Sauce

This was inspired from watching the Spain episode of No Reservations, and the original thought was to use leeks. Since they need so much cleaning, that idea was quickly scrapped and Michael found some Salad Vidalia Onions that are like leeks but a little smaller yet larger than scallions. Romesco is a classic red-pepper sauce, and it was absolutely perfect with these onions.

Poached Eggs with Roasted Garlic and Paprika Vinaigrette

Poached Eggs with Roasted Garlic and Paprika Vinaigrette

This is actually my own creation–I love classic Spanish garlic soup that’s loaded with paprika and served with toast and some kind of egg on top (I like poached), but I wanted to concentrate those flavors and make a thicker vinaigrette that would blend with the runny egg yolks and the whole mess would be sopped up with lots of bread. It was the first time I attempted it (usually not a good idea during a dinner party, but it’s how we roll here at Take Back Your Kitchen), so once I determine the exact proportions I’ll post the recipe.

  1. Oh! Bread! That looks amazing! And that wine looks like an old friend I won’t be seeing for a long time. And that makes me sad. Drink a glass for me, will you?

  2. Cin cin, darling! I sent you best wishes on your own blog, and I have a glass of Malbec here to raise to you. 🙂

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