Tag Archives: Tapas

Toledo Tapas Competition 2015 – Drool Alert…

Today is a sad day in Toledo. Today concludes the annual tapas competition, which had us devouring a wonderful array of delicacies conjured up by the town’s bars and restaurants. Here is a small testimony to our greediness devotion over the past three weeks:

Mini curry burgers. Can't go wrong with that...

Our first tapa consumed on 5 November, the day the contest kicked off: Mini curry burgers. Can’t go much wrong with these.

Smoked beef on toast, with sobrasada (a kind of smoked meat spread) and brie. Really strong flavours, but it worked surprisingly well.

Wafer-thin slices of smoked beef on toast, with sobrasada (a kind of smoked meat spread) and brie. A brave combo of some really strong flavours, but it worked surprisingly well.

Salmon with guacamole and lemon mousse. Looks great, but didn't work. The lemon flavour totally overpowered the whole thing.

Salmon with guacamole and lemon mousse. Looks tasty, but, sadly, it was a fail. The salmon was tender but insipid, and the lemon flavour totally overpowered the whole ensemble.

Tuna marinated in soy sauce with peach alioli. Totally delicious.

Tuna marinated in soy sauce with peach alioli. Totally delicious.

I cannot translate this one. Nor can I describe it. It contained the following: deer, shitake mushrooms, apricot, gnocchi, potato. And it tasted weird. But good-weird. Could have eaten it again. And again.

I cannot translate this one. Nor can I adequately describe it. It contained the following: venison, shitake mushrooms, apricot, gnocchi, potato, cream. And it tasted weird. But good-weird. Could have eaten it again. And again. Top marks for creativity and presentation.

Octopus and potato. Very Galician, and tasted just as expected. Perfectly acceptable, but nothing to write home about.

Octopus and potato “lasagne”. There was nothing lasagne about it, it was merely a fancy presentation of a Galician staple, pulpo gallego (which I love). Perfectly acceptable, but nothing to write home about.

A very traditional Manchego affair: Pork medallion with potato, onion and a dollop of creamy mushroom sauce. Totally delish.

A very traditional Manchego affair: Pork medallion with potato, crispy leek and a drizzle of creamy mushroom sauce. Simple, hearty and satisfying. A winner.

Taken on our walk between bars: The sun catching the Christmas lights, with Toledo cathedral in the background.

I managed to take this yesterday while swaying from one bar to the next: The sun catching the newly suspended Christmas lights, with Toledo cathedral in the background.

You know me - it had to end like this! Oh my, that red berry cake was to die for...

How predictable am I… it HAD TO end like this, didn’t it?! Oh my, that red berry cake was to die for. First visit to a new cafe, but definitely not the last 😉

So, although TapaMania may be over for this year, there’s one thought that consoles me greatly: Toledo was recently voted Spain’s Capital of Gastronomy 2016 – I just can’t wait for the New Year!!!

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Tapas On A Winning Streak!

All good things must come to an end, as did Toledo’s annual tapas competition, which drew to a close last Sunday. For the entire month of November, local bars and restaurants had been showcasing a new breed of extravagant tapas, specially created for this year’s contest. (Yes, there were voting slips, prize draws and stuff!)

I have no idea how many different creations I tried throughout my innumerable outings,  as there were A LOT of participants this year. Anyway, here are some of the highlights:

Botero

Pork balls. Very satisfying 🙂

Alfonso VI

Sliver of fried pork with sauteed vegetables on bread, topped with raisin sauce. Looked better than it tasted, was our combined verdict.

Gulas

Puff pastry filled with seafood. The white stringy things, in case you’re wondering, are baby eels (gulas). These are very popular on tapas, and can take a bit of getting used to.

Lamb burger

One of my absolute faves: lamb topped with caramelised onion and manchego cheese, served  on a curry bun

Pulpo

Octopus with cauliflower mousse and coffee vinaigrette. This place has a knack for the outlandish, and it usually works, but this time, it didn’t. It really didn’t. Pretty to look at, though.

Cheese tapa

Now, what could go wrong with a tapa entirely consisting of cheese? I tell you what: Absolutely nothing. Gimme more!

Foie gras oreo

Foie gras “Oreos” filled with manchego mousse

Foie gras truffle

More foie, this time in the shape of a truffle. You were meant to mix it with the bread crumbs. Interesting concept, but it was a bit like eating lard mixed with sand.

Beef stew

A dollop of beef stew on sliced potato. Simple and delicious.

Rabbit

Rabbit, fancily “rolled up” and drizzled with chestnut compote. Divine! This may have been my overall favourite.

Tapas2

I’m the only one with her eyes trained on the food rather than on the camera… typical!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Salamanca – Food First!

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I spent last weekend in Salamanca, a town with more history than you can shake a stick at. There will be photos of stunning buildings etc. in due course, but – and this will surprise no one(!) – I’m putting the food pics up first:

Let’s start with a round of pinchos, which is essentially the same as tapas.

The one in the middle is called "jeta". It's a colloquial word for face, as in "mug". As for the dish, it's pork snout :)

The one in the middle is called “jeta”. It’s a colloquial word for face (as in “mug”). As for the dis itself, it’s pork snout, oink! 🙂

But what Salamanca is most famous for in the food stakes is this:

Ham

Jamón!!!

And here's the nice man cutting it for us :)

And here’s the nice man cutting some for us 🙂 Pricey stuff, but so worth it…

Empanada

More ham

This burger was divine...

This burger was divine…

Nice wine display :)

Nice wine display 🙂

Who'd turn down such an evocative invite for afternoon coffee?

Who’d turn down such an evocative invite for afternoon coffee?

Not me!

Not me!

"Chochos Tipicos de Salamanca"  "Chocho" has two meanings: sweets/candy and... erm... fanny (beaver, if you're American).

Chochos Tipicos de Salamanca
“Chocho” has two meanings: sweets/candy and… erm… fanny (beaver, if you’re American).

Andalucía, We’re Coming For You!

I’m enjoying a long weekend down south. Maria and I set off yesterday at lunchtime, and seven hours later, with a few pit stops for food and cake, we arrived in Algeciras, in Cádiz Province. It’s right next to Gibraltar.

I didn’t get a good shot of “The Rock”, coz it was raining when we got here, but it sure looked impressive. Here’s a random Andalucían rock:

Maria singing in the car :)

Maria singing in the car 🙂

We had  "pionono", a local sweet, on the way. Too sweet for me...

We had “pionono”, a local sweet, on the way. Way too sweet for me…

We went out for tapas in the evening - totally delicious!

We went out for tapas in the evening – totally delicious!

Today, we’ll be exploring Cádiz 🙂

Annual Tapas Competition – Round III

I just got back home and here we have it: The eagerly-awaited (by me at least) final installment of Toledo’s annual tapas competition (La Jornada De La Tapa), which finishes on Sunday. We had some pretty interesting things, let me tell you…

It certainly helps to have a really dedicated team. Just look at the concentration:

Delfin

What we had: Morcilla (= black pudding/blood sausage) croquettes with apple, pistachio, matchstick potatoes and red pepper jam
Verdict: Not terrible, but not overwhelming. I found it too sweet overall, and the sweetness drowned out the flavours.

If there were an award for the most adventurous tapa in this contest, this one is it:

What we had: Coca-Cola and tamarind jelly topped with potato mousse, sprinkled with shavings of fried foie gras  Verdict: Out of this world! We were a bit apprehensive at first, The flavours worked fabulously well together. Top marks for originality!

What we had: Coca-Cola(!) and tamarind jelly topped with potato mousse and sprinkled with shavings of fried foie gras
Verdict: Out of this world! We were a bit apprehensive at first, but the flavours worked fabulously well together. And despite having probably 10,000 calories, it was as light as a fluffy summer cloud. Top marks for originality!

What we had: Bacalao (salt cod) dumplings with saffron and olive oil Verdict: Opinion on this was divided. Olga, who doesn't like bacalao, though it was OK. I found it too fishy (though I like bacalao). Carmen didn't like it at all.

What we had: Bacalao (salt cod) dumplings with saffron and olive oil
Verdict: Opinion on this was all over the place. Olga, who doesn’t like bacalao, though it was OK. I liked the texture, but found it a bit too fishy (though I do like bacalao). Carmen gave it the thumbs down.

The winner of the night for me was this one:

What we had: Deep fried squid filled with mushrooms and smoked alioli Verdict: Totally glorious. It did not look like much on the plate, but it was DIVINE.

What we had: Deep fried squid filled with mushrooms and smoked alioli
Verdict: Totally glorious. I admit, it did not look like much on the plate, but it was DIVINE.

To view Tapas Comp Round I, click here, and for Round II, click here.

OK, time for bed… tomorrow, we’re doing a sushi raid in Madrid 🙂

 

Annual Tapas Competition – Round II

Those of you who read last Sunday’s post will know all about Toledo’s annual tapas competition “La Jornada De La Tapa“, and how I’m sacrificing myself to participate 😉

I just got back from stuffing myself with these delicacies:

Roast (I think it was pork) with tzatziki in a mini bun

Roast Pork with tzatziki in a mini bun

I already sampled the above tapa last week, but forgot to take a picture out of sheer greediness. I made up for it today, phew! Unfortunately, the meat in my bun was very fatty and I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as last week. A cracking tapa, though, the flavours really work!

Roast courgette filled with venison and topped with manchego cheese. Divine! ...but sadly a tad out of focus ;-)

Roast courgette filled with venison and topped with manchego cheese. Divine! …but sadly totally out of focus 😉

There was a third tapa, but it was a total disappointment on all fronts, visually as well as organoleptically. To console ourselves, we stopped by the ham shop:

My partners in crime: Begoña (beige coat) and Alfonso, tucking into his ham baguette

My partners in crime: Begoña (beige coat) and Alfonso, tucking into his ham baguette

A world of chorizo....

A world of chorizo….

If you want to take a look at last week’s tapas delights, click here.

Annual Tapas Competition – Round I

Every year in November, Toledo mounts a tapas competition, “La Jornada De La Tapa”. Bars and restaurants create their own special tapa, and our job is to trawl from place to place until we cannot squeeze in another morsel for fear of bursting out of our seams.

Of course, a glass of wine or beer is mandatory with every sampling, I leave it up to you to imagine the state of the judging panel by the end of a 3-hour assessment round. But someone’s got to do it.

The tapas are priced at €2 this year, and there are 82 participating bars and restaurants in Toledo.

This is serious stuff, you understand - this is the voting slip.

This tapas contest is serious stuff, you understand – here are the leaflet and the voting slip.

My co-judges Olga and Carmen

My (already a bit tipsy) co-judges Olga and Carmen

Olga can't wait to tuck in to hers ;-) Steak cooked in soy sauce, with foie gras and and fig salsa.

Oh, the anticipation 😉
Steak cooked in soy sauce, with foie gras and and fig salsa.

Fried Iberian pancetta, chickpea stew with vinaigrette.  Sounds like a weird combo, but it was delish!

Fried Iberian pancetta, chickpea stew with vinaigrette. Sounds like a weird combo, but it was delish!

I didn’t take pics of all the tapas we snarfed, but the one below was the definite winner for me:

Iberian pork glazed with hummus and onions

Glazed Iberian pork with hummus and onions. The meat was melt-in-the-mouth tender and the flavour out of this world.

We finished off with cake, of course:

La Malquerida has probably the best carrot cake I've eaten anywhere. And I've eaten a lot of carrot cake in my life...

‘La Malquerida’ has probably the best carrot cake I’ve ever eaten anywhere. And I’ve eaten a lot of carrot cake in my life 😉 This one’s very moist and not too sweet, and I even love the frosting, which I usually just scrape off.

We’re planning on another tapas judging expedition next Sunday. I hope to be a bit more consistent when it comes to taking photos of those lovely creations before gobbling them up.