Spain has so many wonderful destinations on the Mediterranean coastline and in the south, it’d be a shame not to see all of them! A good place to start is the Costa del Sol, which makes for a great road trip route for you and your travel crew. Grab some beautiful seaside places to stay, sip some sangria and just relax. And what’s the most perfect part about exploring Spain’s sunny spots?
Now some of Spain’s cuisine can be wonderfully complex and beautifully presented, but I think the best stuff comes from the tapas bars. From a small villa in Costa Dorada with a bar to a large café outside of Malaga, there are endless places to poke around for wonderful Spanish bites. Although tapas, or small plates are often simple, ingredients tend to be fresh, rich and perfect for sharing when traveling with a group. Here’s a few to keep an eye out for on the menu!
Try to not get paella outside of Spain – it’s never done quite right. Spanish paella is a rice dish usually made with sausage, seafood and saffron. It takes a little longer to prepare, so plan on a few drinks while ordering a large pan for the table.
Jamon Serrano y Manchego
When I was a student, you could get beautifully cured ham, mature cheese and olive oil inside a fresh bakes baguette for about a dollar. Most of the time, you can order the ham and cheese on a palt alongside a cold beer or glass of wine. Up north there is ‘Iberico’ ham that is a little more famous, as the pigs are given a diet of acorns, but I think ‘Serrano’ is much better.
You may have heard of gazpacho – a cold tomato soup. This is a little bit like the cousin of gazpacho. It’s smoother, served chilled and has great hints of garlic. You can order fresh bread or ‘pinchos’ to dip in it.
As an au pair in Spain, I had to sample my fair share of junk food with the kids. You know, for quality control. I loved ‘turron’ around the holidays, a nougat and nut round circle you break into pieces. While more of a British thing, I really loved finding these funny friend eggs everywhere as a gummy snack too.
Another well-known treat, you can find churros con chocolate almost anywhere. Granted, more touristy bars will carry these, as tapas don’t usually include sweet things. They are basically long fried dough sticks with sprinkled sugar and melting chocolate for dipping.
Lomo y patatas
This is a staple on almost all tapas menus. It’s prepared a zillion ways -just slices of pork loin and potatoes. I like the version plain with chunky home-style potato cubes that goes great in the summer with a ‘rebujito’ shot!
Not like the Mexican version, the Spanish tortilla is thick and made with eggs and potatoes. It’s often served in slices, hot or cold, with mayonnaise. Nice, quick, simple snack with drinks in the afternoon or evening.
You might see this on the menu at several bars or restaurants. For a flat fee, the chef will bring out a round of tapas for the table at his discretion. If you’re feeling adventurous this is the way to go! You could get anything from ‘patatas bravas’ (fried potatoes) to ‘boquerones fritos’ (fried anchovies!)
Have you had Spanish tapas before? Which are your favorite?