Tapas Hour – Opus 1

I wanted to write something about Spanish tapas, but realize that I need a whole lot more ‘field research’ before I will be able to speak with any kind of authority on the subject. Yet, as we lick our chops and smack our lips, I thought it was only fair to introduce you to at least one of our favourite tapas joints.

Rondeños, like Spaniards at large love their tapas, and will eat them at any hour of the day or night. La hora de tapas is whenever and wherever the opportunity arises. Since a tapa is a mere tidbit, a mini portion, one can indulge in them in vast quantities. In addition to being innocently small, they are affordable (average price here 1.5 Euro per tapa) and ever so tasty. The tapas culture is perfect for a rodent like myself, who likes to eat 23 times a day. But before I get ahead of myself, let’s go to the tapas bar.

La Vinoteca Entre Vinos is located on one of the side streets off the main drag through town. It is not evident to find, having no sandwich board outside and no flashy entrance. Most locals like to keep it a secret and it was only thanks to our friends Caroline and Robert, who hesitantly disclosed it’s whereabouts, that we now have become regulars and dear I say addicts.

The interior is Spanish bar style, with dark wood and a wall of wine at the back, all from local farms. But it is hardly the interior that matters. With a handful tables and a few bar stools, the place is always jam-packed. On weekends, middle class families and professionals ascend on the place, ordering trays upon trays of tapas and bottles of wine, while their kids sit at the next table, playing games on their iPhones. (Who said anything about the Spanish economic crisis?) Just as you think they could not possibly squeeze in more people, another group enters, ordering loudly over the heads of the ones seated at the bar. Standing on 8” spiked heels does not seem to bother the women, and maybe after a glass or two of the local Chinchilla, they cannot feel their feet anyhow.

Tapas often come like a mini bun, but I prefer the hot tapas. Try the mini dish of chipirones (squid) in salsa, the plate with a single leg of roasted duck, the small pot with octopus and ink-coloured rice. And my favourite, which is really a ración or a full portion: a scramble of oyster mushroom, Jamon Iberico and just a bit of egg to make it hang together, with a light drizzle of shaved sea salt, generously swathed in local olive oil!

If there is a food heaven, I think we have pretty much found it!

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