When our dear friend L told us she wanted to spend a weekend in the city to visit her sister as well as check in on us, the first thought we had was, of course, what food to prepare in anticipation of her arrival. She mentioned something about potentially going out on Saturday night, and therefore wanted to eat many small plates. Michael’s only request was for eggs and sausage to be somehow worked into the meal, so it should be hardly surprising that tapas became the theme of what would be a singular afternoon in our little Manhattan apartment.You see, if this were a normal meal with a friend invited over, I’d have more ready than just the focaccia dough that I woke up at 8:30 that morning to make; in fact, we’d probably have the entire meal planned out from start to finish. That, however, didn’t feel right this time around–why, I’m still not sure–and the three of us headed to Westside to pick up the provisions for the few things we had in mind, along with a nice bottle of cava for mimosas.
All told, we probably didn’t eat until 2 that afternoon, but no one seemed to mind–we took turns doing the prep work for various dishes, Michael had Lady Gaga cranking in the background, and the three of us talked so much that the food was appearing on the table at a very slow clip. I ended up slicing some Queso Iberico to set out just so we’d have something to snack on while we chopped, sliced and gabbed away.
While there were some old favorites served such as the aforementioned focaccia (studded with Campari tomatoes this time) and L’s favorite recipe from The Barcelona Cookbook (chorizo with sweet & sour figs), we also tested a few new recipes: a new mashed sardine combination on bread, and a tortilla that employed potato chips in lieu of thinly sliced uncooked potatoes.
The mashed sardines tapa came from The Barcelona Cookbook (shocking, I know) and was unbelievably easy to make: take a can of sardines, add in half of a finely diced red onion, a few tablespoons of olive oil, the zest and juice of a lemon, some chopped parsley, and stir to combine, all the while mashing the sardines into the consistency of canned tuna. It’s a great dish for the middle of winter, because while it’s bright and fresh and light, it’s not dependent on produce that wouldn’t taste its best at this time of year.
The other recipe we tried was one that has intrigued me for quite a while: Ferran Adrià’s seven-minute tortilla featuring potato chips. I’m not a huge fritatta/tortilla fan (I’m very, very weird about eggs), but this preparation was so novel and strange that it definitely merited at least a try–though Michael was definitely more than a bit bemused with this suggestion after I shot down his offer of making a fritatta. I can only defend myself by saying that this recipe enabled me to cook with potato chips–and how often is one given a legitimate opportunity to do that?
The basic premise is crushing a medium-sized bag of potato chips into small pieces and depositing them into a bag, and then coat them with two or three beaten eggs, letting them stand for a few minutes to soften, then adding two or three more beaten eggs, stir to combine and cook it in the skillet, first browning the bottom and then finishing it off in the broiler. We also added in some sautéed leeks (because eggs and onions always go well together), and you can see the final result for yourself above.
I have to say: I really enjoyed it. It is by no means traditional, but the chips had a nice texture and added the perfect amount of seasoning, and combined with the leeks provided a satisfying, but not overwhelming, course. We nibbled on all of these treats well into the late afternoon and early evening, and any thoughts of going out either for a bite to eat or for a drink eventually evaporated when we realized that we were doing precisely what we wanted to–talking into the wee hours of the morning–and realized that no change in location was necessary to make the evening any more special.