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dTapes – Tapas Festival in Tarragona, round #1

dTapes, the fourth edition of this brilliant local gastronomic initiative,  got in to full swing last Thursday evening with 42 mini creations on offer.
We have already munched our way though 9 different establishments but there is still a bit to go so we are going to reserve our final verdict on the best tapa for the end of next week.

To those who are new to this kind of gastro touring this is how it works:

  1. familiarise your self with what is on offer through the website of the event
  2. decide on a starting point / area
  3. grab the comprehensive tapas “passport / guide” and get your first stamp so you can track where your have already been and what you have eaten (if you go through all 42 you get the title of Tapejador d’Or and a price)
  4. start tapas hopping (remember: fourty two tapas, three distinctive areas of the city, over two weeks to eat them all).
  5. Note: Tapas are 2.50 euros each, including a drink.
  6. Vote for your favourite one (mandatory) on the dTapas site
So what’s on offer? Our first tapa was the Montando el Pollo at the Taller de Cuina (photo above) at Placa del Forum in the Part Alta. Served on a square slate was a succulent mini chicken burger drizzled with wasabi mayonnaise, on a crispy fried bread with caramelised onion to further lift the flavour. It was artistically topped with a reduced caramelised onion foam which added visual and taste buds drama. Verdict  8/10

Next it was the turn of teh fabolous Restaurant Barhaus with their imaginatively titled Knelo-cric-crac (photo above, left) a with two delicate, crispy and perfectly executed chicken rolls (locally known as chicken cannelloni)  in a yoghurty-lime-sweet-sour fabulous dressing.  Happiness all round ad another resounding 8/10

This was followed by the Tolma Toful (photo above, right) at the busy Toful eatery, which, after the the previous delights fell a little flat on the general presentation and felt a bit watery despite being packed with flavour (I have to add Toful is one of my favourite place for salad and they do a mean cheese cake but more about this another day..). Tolma Toful was a ragout of roasted mince meat  , with foie, wild mushrooms and caramelised onions, wrapped in a cabbage leaf (… alas, overdone and falling apart) in a tasty tomato sauce. It wasn’t bad but felt a little predictable hence our verdict 6/10

Since you get  a glass of wine (or beer, or sometime cava) with every tapa,  it was time to go for a little walk to shake off the dozy feeling, so we headed to  the Serrallo. The Serallo is the old fishing port of Tarragona and is packed with gutsy restaurants and eateries. Our first stop there was at Sidreria Donosti where we were presented with La Jeta del Yerno (a hearty stew made from carillera which is the delicate meat scraped of the beef cheers and jaw) served with a crusty slice of bread. It was earthy and full of flavour but it could have been more so we gave this a 7/10

Next it was the turn of L’ Anap, which is a personal favourite of mine… so we sat, we ordered, and waited… and waited (this is a seriously busy eatery and as they were serving tapas and full meals full trot someone must have had a nervous breakdown in the kitchen) but… when it finally arrived nearly 30 minutes later it was worth every lick: I present you the Te Suena el Rin Ran, a total stunner of a tapa, consisting of a succulently sweet langoustine, made with a creamy base of savoury potato puree in a prawn bisque, matched by square of pinapple which had been given the crema catalana twist… So this is the contender against all other tapas will have to be matched; our verdict 10/10!

After such a lush experience we needed something to bring us back to earth, so we headed to Marisqueria l’Ancora, a traditional take no prisoner eatery and a local hangout. They presented us with Cruxient Blau made from the small delectable breaded and deep fried fillets of Peix Blau, a local variety of sardine which is only found in these waters and has a protected designation of origin. Beautifully simple  and to the point and anther 8/10

As there was a rare sweet variety of tapa on offer  just next door we headed to Raffa Gelati for a D.O.Tarragona which turned out to be a very apt name: if you turn Tarragona in to an ice cream presentation this is it. Sitting in three individual dishes which seemed to have come straight out of the Murano glass works was 1) a scoop of Chartreuse ice cream drizzled with an extra dash for good measure, 2) a serving of toasted hazelnuts rolled in caramelized sugar, and 3) a scoop of creamy hazelnut ice cream garnished with a  freshly baked hazelnut cookie.


More to follow!



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