In the past few years, Spanish cuisine has been gaining notoriety along with French and Italian, arguably the biggest players in the western food world. An evening of Spanish tapas is an excellent way to indulge in Spain’s best. Tapas are small snacks served hot or cold. The word originated from the practice of simply placing a hunk of bread over a wine glass to cover it (the Spanish verb “tapar” means “to cover”). Covering a glass filled with sweet liquid such as sherry naturally attracts pesky fruit flies in some areas of the world. And while the trend has come a long way since then, it is still very typical to drink while enjoying your tapas. Prepare your palates and thirsty taste buds for a Spanish tapas party!
Traditional tapas are really quite simple: slices of Serrano ham or other salami, Manchego cheese, olives, anchovies in olive oil, tapanade, almonds, and a fresh baked baguette. When hosting a tapas party set a large tray out with these options or a few smaller plates scattered around the party. For hot foods, try serving mini meatballs in tomato sauce “Albondigas,” savory chunks of chorizo sausages, fried calamari, or small pieces of a Spanish omelet with potatoes, Tortilla de patatas. Of course, you do not have to follow the traditional Spanish tapas menu either! Just think of “small bite” savory foods such as easy spreads and cured meats.
To many, Sangria comes to mind when thinking about Spanish food. It is light, refreshing, and festive–basically a wine punch. Traditional sangria is made with red wine such as a Rioja and brandy with citrus slices and apples. With sangria’s popularity there are now many variations, from ginger peach to strawberry watermelon, and recipes can be based on either red or white wine. Serve in clear pitchers to showcase the pretty fruit slices.
Spain is a country of bold colors and aggressive themes like matadors and flamenco dancers. Dress your tables in bright reds with yellow flowers. For plates think of Spanish tiles, and use an eclectic mix of what you may have on hand–don’t fret if they don’t match. Turn the lights down and light candles to achieve the Spanish bar feel. Give the ladies red flowers for their hair as they arrive. Salud!