Tapas are all about big flavors on little plates, accompanied by a good selection of Spanish wines. For a refreshing finish, dish up fruit sorbet garnished with mint leaves.
Clams and Chourico: Fresh clams and Spanish sausage go for a steamy beer-soaked bath. (Notes: Use Spanish, not Mexican, chourico for this recipe. You may have to hunt it down at a specialty store, but the authentic flavor will be worth it.)
Fig and Olive Tapenade: Figs and olives mix it up in this sweet and savory tapenade. (Note: For best results, be sure to make this the night before so the flavors can blossom.)
Grilled Marinated Shrimp: Shrimp grilled with garlic and lemon is a classic tapa. (Note: This recipe calls for 2 teaspoons dried oregano. Want to use fresh instead? Substitute 2 tablespoons fresh oregano for 2 teaspoons dried.)
Tortilla Espanola (Spanish Tortilla): A favorite with the tapas crowd, this potato omelet can be made ahead of time and served at room temperature.
Party Ideas & Tips
Getting together for tapas and wine is like hopping a plane to Spain without the airfare pain.
- The food. You don't hurry through an evening of tapas and wine, so bring out just a couple of choices at a time so your friends have a chance to experience the individual flavors. Serve these Spanish appetizers on little plates--saucers will do nicely. You can use large, flat-bottomed Asian-style soup spoons to set out individual portions of seafood or other tidbits swimming in sauce. A good mix of tapas includes savory and sweet, so balance cooked tapas with easy dishes like slivers of honeydew melon wrapped with thinly sliced Serrano ham, salted Marcona almonds, marinated olives, bites of Manchego cheese topped with quince paste, stuffed dates, and pickled vegetables.
- The wine. Spanish cava--the sparkling wine of the Penedes region of Spain--is a refreshing sip that pairs really well with salty and fried tapas. Add a chilled dry sherry to the lineup, too. (Watch out, though--the alcohol in sherry can sneak up on you in a hurry!) Seafood tapas are terrific with a crisp cold Albarino from the cool-climate Spanish region of Rias Baixis. You'll also want to pour a reserva Rioja--a classic Spanish wine made primarily from Tempranillo grapes. If it's a warm evening, and you want to split the difference between red and white, pop open a bottle of superb Spanish rosé wine.
- The vibe. Keep it casual because lots of relaxed conversation is a big part of the tapas experience. All you need are stacks of little plates, napkins, and plenty of wine glasses. Spin the party music, but dial it down so people can actually talk to each other.
Ready to take on some tapas?