Carrying an umbrella in case of rain is almost a sure sign that it won’t be needed. Upon arriving in Barcelona we worried that the final weekend of our European vacation would be wet and dreary. For the first hour, it was. So, I unpacked the umbrella and the rain in Spain stayed mainly away.
Although, I’m sure we would have enjoyed the sites and food no matter what, the blue skies were an exclamation mark. We marveled at Barcelona’s beauty while also taking the opportunity to sample Catalan cuisine such as tapas, paella and other dishes that expanded our waistlines.
Tapas aren’t only only found in Spain, but that is certainly where they’re an art form. Following a walking tour of the Gothic quarter we wandered into a small tapas bar. Our server spoke wonderful English, which she said she was happy to practice.
We ordered jamon (paper thin slice of cured ham big on salty flavor), tomato bread, a cheese plate and potato balls. There is nothing like Spanish ham (jamon) and as much as I loved it, the potato balls were my favorite. Golf ball-size rounds of mashed potatoes were quickly fried creating a crusty, non-greasy exterior encasing creamy potatoes. Each had dollops of aioli. I could have eaten several platefuls.
My tapas-sized order of paella at another restaurant was uninspiring. The flavors were fine, but the abundance of shellfish made it difficult to eat. I suppose, in retrospect, that wasn’t a bad thing.
My favorite meal was grilled chicken and French fries topped with roasted pepitos. These mild, savory peppers were smoky. The crispy chicken skin, which I ordinarily would have discarded, provided contrast to the juicy meat.
We enjoyed pastries at breakfast and gelato for afternoon/evening snacks.
We did a lot of walking in Barcelona; we had to!
Spice of Life is always one of those reliable go-to places. Well, almost always. Breakfast and lunch standards have been part of the Spice landscape for (20) years. In truth, the food is more than standard, especially considering the small cooking/prep area behind the counter.
This is a popular Manitou Springs hangout. It’s the spot to meet friends, have a cup of coffee or pick up a gourmet food item, including spices. Recently, a beer and wine license was acquired and tapas appeared on the menu. Unfortunately, the tapas fall into the average category.
By definition, tapas are small plates. Although they’ve been around for years, it seems there’s a tapas bandwagon that has recently come into favor in the Colorado Springs area. Without taking anything away from the Spice guys (Michael and Doug) or their establishment, snacks are a more honest description for much of the Tapas menu. Handfuls of olives, cheese, slices of baguette and roasted peppers fall short of a well-rounded tapas identity. Of course, if we had ordered the Caprese Sandwich or Chicken Skewers, something that involved cooking or more preparation, I’d have less to quibble about.
Nonetheless, the appetizers were tasty: a large variety of olives, a tangy caponatta, and a creamy Roule – in this case made with sheep’s milk and rolled in herbs. I’ve always been pleased with the granola pancakes and sandwichs (especially the Vegetarian Delight), I’ll stick to those. Although, when enjoying a glass of wine, it is nice to have a little nosh.
Spice of Life
727 Manitou Ave.
Manitou Springs, CO.
My friend, Esteban, knows food. He reads about it, talks about it, cooks it (exceptionally well), and, of course, enjoys eating it. When it came time to celebrate his recent birthday he knew just where he wanted to share a meal: Tapateria. This unassuming little restaurant serves, not surprisingly, tapas, or little plates, which are big on variety and flavors.
Placemats with photos of the tapas serve as the menus. A couple of chalkboards feature additional items, including drink specials and desserts. The laminated placemats are the least classy aspect in the place. Nonetheless, it’s hard to keep eyes averted. Each menu item is numbered and falls into one of four categories: Bocadas (snacks), Verduras (vegetarian), Mariscos (seafood) and Carne (meats).
We started with the Pan con Tomate, thick toasted bread slathered with a fresh tomato paste. Because this was reminiscent of Spain, Esteban requested adding Serrano. This air-cured, Spanish national ham was sliced paper thin and deliciously salty. We also ordered the Chorizo-stuffed Mushrooms. Both dishes featured distinct flavors in little bites, however, the mushrooms were disappointingly small. We also ordered the Tuna Carpaccio Salad. Four thin slices of fresh tuna atop a bed of spinach, with capers, cherry tomatoes, sliced red onions, red peppers and diced cucumbers drizzled with a creamy, tangy dressing. It was great way to end our lunch.
The meal was deliberately slow paced, and we could have easily extended our stay. When we finally left it was to enjoy a walk in the cool fall weather — so could we still talk about food.
2607 W. Colorado Ave.
Colorado Springs, CO