Perhaps because they reflect the ease of summer, tapas and tapas-friendly foods are easily one of my favorite ways to idle away a nice weekend evening. They encourage lingering at the table and a slower pace to a traditional meal, as well as an opportunity to try multiple dishes in one sitting; plus, they instantly bring me back to Spain. This batch were inspired by one of my latest cook book acquisitions, Culinaria Spain, found at BJ’s Warehouse club for far less than the price printed on the inside jacket. It’s a fantastic collection of recipes, foods, wines, and other culinary traditions and peccadilloes unique to each region in the country. It also includes a phenomenal photo collection of traditional tapas one can find all over the country, and while reading through it on our way to the grocery store following our club trip, I knew that we would have to give some of these dishes a try. The duck prosciutto, of course, came from our freezer, though it was a little saltier than our first try (yet still utterly delicious). I found the Campo Montalban during our last visit to Balducci’s, which is similar to Manchego but is a blend of sheep, cow and goat milk. It’s a little more delicate than Manchego, but otherwise the taste is largely the same.
Culinaria introduced me to the concept of tomato bread, a simple dish from Catalonia that will be utter heaven when the best tomatoes come to market in the next few weeks. To make it is very easy: merely rub half a tomato over toasted bread, though I’m still experimenting with the level of doneness I like for the bread. These were a bit underdone, and the ones I made as a precursor to our Roman pasta dish were too charred. Alas, I must keep trying…and then eating the results. Research: it’s a tough life.
The migas were my favorite of the new dishes we sampled, but it’s not hard to see why: stale bread cubes are lightly fried in olive oil and combined with gently cooked chorizos and sprinkled with a little fresh parsley if one feels so inclined. It makes for a great party appetizer, either with bread and chorizo slices already placed onto skewers or toothpicks, or placed in a bowl for people to spear their own.
The pizza bianca, while not strictly a Spanish tapa, felt right to add here especially after I found some very fragrant thyme at Romeos, and balanced well with the duck ham and the Campo cheese.
All in all, an excellent meal, and perfect for idling away hours on a patio, porch, or the kitchen.