Monday, July 15, 2013

Photographing (and Eating) Tapas in León, Spain - Part Two

If you didn't catch Part I of my article on tapas:  you may want to read it by clicking here before advancing to Part II. 

Several years ago, my colleague Steve and I went to a tapas restaurant in North Carolina.  He hadn't heard of tapas, and I wanted him to experience something like he might get in León, Spain.  I had had tapas several years earlier in León, and thought the restaurant experience might be similar, yet an Americanized version.  Our waiter told us to pick several items from the menu and they would be brought out as we had our drink.  We ordered a Spanish tortilla (a potato dish), manchego cheese, some ham and even quail legs.  The first dish that was brought out was the cheese.  On the plate were two thin triangles of cheese.

"Are these just for us to try?"  Steve asked, puzzled.

"No, I think that's the cheese we ordered."

To make the story short, the rest of the night continued exactly the same way.  When we left after paying a bill of well over a hundred dollars, Steve said, "I'm hungry.  Let's go get a pizza."  To this day, he will no longer take my advice on a restaurant.  He'll just stare at me and say, " remember North Carolina...?"

Well, that's the American version of tapas.  The food was okay, but it was expensive and there wasn't much of it.  In León, however, the bars take pride in the quality and quantity of tapas, as well as the diversity.  For well under two Euros, you'll get a drink and a plate of something good to eat.

We ordered a round of seven drinks.  This is the plate of food that came with it at the Barín de Eva

León's streets are safe to walk, even late at night. The streets just off from the Cathedral are filled with bars.

Many of the tapas you'll get with your drinks are Spanish specialties, although, at first, not all will sound appetizing to some American palates.  One of my favorites is morcilla.  It's a blood sausage, and absolutely delicious.  Another is callos, or beef stomach.  It's served in a hot barbeque sauce and should be tried before declaring you don't like it.  You might also have squid, shrimp, shellfish or other seafoods.

The bartender at the Cervantes cheerfullly let us choose our tapas.  One that I gave a try was callos.

Sandwiches on the left and callos on the right were tapas at the Cervantes Bar.  The sauce on the callos is extremely spicy.

Morcilla and fried potatoes were tapas at the Rincón de los Gauchos. We also had a delicious garlic soup.   Notice that Reserve Rioja was provided rather than a "house wine."
This plate of tapas from the Gala Bar has white asparagus, peppers, potatoes, fish, sausage, a fried egg and bread.

We had shellfish in tomato sauce at the Bar Ribera.
We drank Rioja and Ribera del Duero wine at the Boccalino.  Tapas included shrimp, sausage, and pizza.
Obviously, in just a little over two weeks, I didn't have time to try all the bars in León (although you can see that I tried).  Thanks go out to my wife's cousin, Jo Luis and his family for making sure we got a sampling of the best food, drink, and hospitality that León has to offer. 

I hope you get a chance to try real Spanish tapas from León, sometime.  If you have a good experience, let me know.

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1 comment:

  1. Yum, you're making me miss the tapas we had last year in Galicia! We couldn't go morcilla but made up for it in pulpo and pimiento de padron! Love your photos of Spain! Safe travels!