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dTapes – Tapas festival in Tarragona, round #2

It’s really interesting to find 3 different types of gastronomy in Tarragona ; these are represented by the Serrallo with the best seafood, the Centre where you get you traditional earthy Catalan cusine and then the Part Alta which adds a touch of fusion and leap to its food. Of course every part has a bit of both but there is a definite gastronomic character to each area.

We rejoined the dTapes trail starting off with some serious creative offering at the Basque Mos Restaurant near the Mercat of Tarragona. Their complex entry is Xipirabo (top image) which goes a bit like this: Squid stuffed with Oxtail sitting on a bed of  dark squid ink potato purée  surrounded by a deep rich reduced oxtail  broth and garnished with popped rice. This is a dish to explore and not to gobble down in 5 minutes flat but time is the essence if one want to cover every single entry of the dTapes trail so on we went. Verdict on the Xipirabo 8/9

Zig zagging about we ended up at Entre Rambles for their offering of Entre Dolç i Salat, basically a savoury sweet lasagna which, after the triumphal Xipirabo fell a little flat on it’s face.  The fact that it had been made the night before and reheated was a little too obvious and the varios ingredient (spinach, longaniza, goat cheese, pears) had become intertwined that the pear,  was lost to me. But it was a decent effort accompanied by a nice glass of ice cool cave – had it been freshly made I am sure it would have hit a spot. Verdict… humm, a 6.

Back in to the centre of town an to Restaurant Cocvla inside the Urbis Hotel where I met with my nemesis… tripe. I have a complete psychological block when it comes to tripe so matter how refined the presentation and preparation.  So here it was as part of a quintessential Catalan dish called ‘Callos tradicionals teh Vendella‘ , a rich and tender tripe and beef stew made with the finest ingredients served with bread and red wine which everyone else wolfed down with relish. Verdict, a gulity 7/8 

This was followed by a real surprise at La Botifarra, a local eatery which is a local treasure and, I suspect the best place in town to taste the fabled Botifarra and anything  related.

Their entry was the deceptively simple Quina Castanya! which looked like an ordinary piece of bread topped by some cooked ham but no… La Bottifarra uses that very large and fragrant country bread that seems to keep fresh for ever and is presented in the shape of a Torrada, a large toasted flat slice, topped by a layer of mousse made from roasted meat, topped by a layer of sweet and nutty chestnut purée, topped by a a this slice of tender boiled ham, garnished by a paste made from ceps mushrooms and caramelised onions. This creation would have stood proud and high in any New York deli and I truly think it’s one of the 4 best entries on the dTapes trail.  Noticing my enthusiasm I was further presented with a slice of the same type of bread topped by the best Botifarra I have come across which I know sounds like bribery but cemented my vote: 10/10!

After a deserved afternoon siesta (bloggers of the world take note) it was the turn of something deliciously sweet courtesy of the  almighty Gelateria Sirvent in Placa de la Font.

Demonstrating that a little sweetness can give all this savoury concoctions a run for their money Sirvent has come up with La Temptacio’ consiting of a creamy ball of yoghurt ice cream merrily surrounded by a fresh strawberry cream sauce topped by equally fresh strawberries and passion fruit. To finish it all off there was the Santa Tecla classic: a lemon and Chartreuse zesty slush which brought a real zing to the dish. We are going back for seconds today and this one deserves a 8/9 for share loveliness!

After this we headed to the nearby la Cova for a gutsy little fresh made coca topped with bacon, goat cheese and caramelised onion. La Cova specialises in Cocas so no wonder it tasted that good and got a fine 8.

Ok so here is a low note and it also serves to show that we are honest in our appraisal. The low was delivered by two eateries in the Part Alta who should have know better: Lluna Nova came up with Farcellet Selenic, a really nice idea consisting of savoury morcilla wrapped and toasted in a tortilla and served with salad. Sadly they decided to use a cheap salad dress which came clearly came from a bottle and tasted dire, ruining the dish. We all make mistakes. The Farcellet gets a 3.

Slightly better was the entry at La Cucafera Restaurant – something which looked like part of a car crash and consisted of a type of Fiedua cooked in squid ink and served with a limp bit of octopus, an equally tired green pimiento del padron, and a tomato…. mah (as we say in Italy). Verdict 4

The evening was redeemed by two nice litte offerings which came curtesy of Kay, and Restaurant Sentis.

The firs had the tasty Cruixent de Kay, a toasted piece of rustic bread topped with caramelised leek, a slice of crunchy bacon, goat cheese and something which tasted a bit like gooseberry sauce (nice one!)  – Sentis had a breaded filled of sardine on offer topped with caramelised onion (bit of a theme going here)  and fat sliced piece of grapes. Bot got a deserved 7.

We are about half way and there are still over twenty Tapas to go and less than five days left to do it.  To be continued…

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