Wiki Spanish Food editorial team
Spanish cuisine is exceptional, as highlighted by many chefs and food critics. Aside from the flamenco doll and the Osborne bull, another symbol of Spain is its gastronomic tradition and culture.
This year, more than 47 million tourists visited Spain between January and August, a record number that positions it as a leading global tourist destination. In 2014, 9.5 million people came to Spain for culinary tourism, for which the tapa is one of the leading symbols of Spanish culture. In this context, World Tapa Day was held in Madrid on September 29th.
Tapas were first eaten in the 17th century, and prime examples include the unbeatable acorn-fed Ibérico ham, the traditional Spanish omelet, and the very best seafood, as well as haute cuisine, which can also be eaten as tapas. They are an extremely important part of the Madrid experience, which led to the creation of the Madrid Tapa Academy, a new framework for promoting and raising awareness about culinary tourism.
Luis Cepeda, a journalist and food critic, believes that tapas bars, gastrobars and neotabernas are the future and, with regard to the latter, the tapa is increasingly in fashion, as highlighted in Origin magazine. However, for a tapa to be high quality, it must be made entirely with products that are 100% Spanish.
In Spain, there are two tapas competitions:
San Sebastián Gastronómika, which held its 17th edition from October 4th to the 7th in San Sebastián, with Singapore and Hong Kong as the guests of honor. Gastronomika attracted leading professionals in the wine and catering sectors, and included presentations, tastings, workshops, and other activities, such as the 6th National Grilling Competition, and Gastronomika Adolescentes.
The 11th National Tapas Competition in Valladolid is around the corner, and will be held from November 9th to the 11th. Around 50 chefs from all over Spain will participate.
Another food event was the "Sea-inspired" Tapas Championship in Noja, Cantabria, on April 3rd.
Many other local culinary events focusing on tapas have been held over the course of the year, among them Pincho Week 2015 in Navarre (April 10-19) and Extregusta 2015 in Cáceres (March 27-29), where tapas made from DO products and foods from Extremadura could be sampled for a reasonable price. And the list goes on.
The tapas culture is very extensive, and recipes are diverse and original: pinchos, barandillas, montaditos, cazuelitas—from the most simple format, speared on a toothpick, to the more sophisticated. served in small dishes with seasonings and sauces which add a whole new touch. Spaniards generally accompany their tapas with beer, soft drinks, white or red wine as well as cava and Sherries such as fino and manzanilla. An incredible combination that appeals to just about everyone.
Gastrobars, which are typical bars for eating tapas but more modern, are becoming increasingly fashionable. They are updated versions of regular tapas bars, and they're also defined as a new version of eating tapas, where high-end cuisine is served in a smaller format for a lower price. A few examples of the many gastrobars in Spain include:
Lolita Tapería, Barcelona. Joan Martínez, co-founder of Inopia together with Albert Adriá, started this project on his own and it became one of Barcelona's leading gastrobars.
Tickets, Barcelona. Like his brother Ferrán (co-founder of this locale), Albert Adriá is curious and active and likes to embark on new projects. That's the case of Tickets Bar, which he opened after leaving Inopia and which has become one of the most popular gastrobars in the city. Picoteo, Los Ibéricos Joselito, Las Ostras, Tapitas del Mar and Los Xuxis (single servings you eat with your hands) are some of the most popular tapas served.
Estado Puro, Madrid and Ibiza. This project, by chef Paco Roncero, has three locales: NH Paseo del Prado, NH Palacio de Tepa and Estado Puro Ibiza. His neocañí recipes include a gourmet foie burger, his famous stuffed fried mussels, and the bomba de carne (a fried potato ball stuffed with meat). However, one of his best dishes is roast chicken.
Aris Bar, Madrid. Juan Pablo Felipe serves exquisite cuisine at his restaurant El Chaflán and he opened Aris Bar in Madrid to serve the same delicious food at very reasonable prices; the food at Aris is somewhere between classic and signature cuisine. The menu includes dishes such as potatoes with mojo sauce and tuna tartare.
Seis Reales, Aranjuez. Gastrobars are fashionable not only in large cities; in the historic quarter of Aranjuez is an outstanding tapas bar which leaves its customers with a "unique" taste in their mouths, especially if they enjoy their tapas with a glass of wine or cava, a house specialty. A good choice is the cod brandade and the grilled stuffed mushroom mi-cuit. While the best option is to have a bite at the bar, the restaurant also has a small dining room with five tables.
El Burladero, Seville. El Burladero, a leading Spanish restaurant in Seville, also tries its hand at tapas with this gastrobar at the Gran Meliá Colón Hotel. With bullfighting-inspired decor, customers can try traditional recipes with a touch of innovation and originality. The bar also has an extensive gin and tonic menu.