I am a sucker for Tapas, mostly because I love eating a variety of different foods and picking at small plates between sips of wine. If I could always eat that way I'd be a happy girl. Knowing this, my brother Luciano took me to the award winning Tapas bar, Amada for my birthday last April. Shortly after, my friends took me to Bar Ferdinand, a Philadelphia favorite for my Bachelorette party. Besides the vast array of food, I got to wear a crown, so I was pretty much in my glory that night.
Last night, Gian Luca took me to Solera for dinner. I was a bit skeptical, thinking that nothing could be better than Amada or Bar Ferdinand, but Solera beat them both for one simple reason: the tasting menu.
Solera gives diners the option of ordering Tapas ala carte, or from one of three tasting menus: Tradicional, Seasonal, or Nuevo. Since Gian Luca and I are both traditionalist who have eaten Tapas in Spain, we opted for the Tradicional.
The tasting menu features eight small plates and must be ordered for two. Gian Luca was worried that there would not be enough food, and since we both wanted to try the rabbit with roasted peppers off of the Nuevo menu, we ordered an extra dish.
Our feast began with smoked salmon with white asparagus and capers. The slightly tart lemony flavor of the salmon worked well with the capers. We were off to a good start.
Next came a bruschetta topped with puree of Serrano ham, quince honey and sheep's milk cheese. We loved the new approach to serving Serrano ham, and wondered how exactly the chef was able to puree the meat.
The third plate was my personal favorite. Baby clams with a roasted tomato puree topped with blanched almonds. The fire roasted taste mixed with the blanched almonds is one that I will certainly try to imitate, possibly on a pasta. I'll keep you posted.
The next four courses hit us in a wild progression. Grilled mushrooms topped with a softly poached egg, grilled Spanish and Portuguese Sausages served with a chilled white bean flan, Chorizo and Goat cheese stuffed Dates, and Veal Meatballs with a parsley chimichurri sauce. By the time that the grilled Chorizo and hot green peppers arrived we were both so full that we couldn't even taste it. Our server was nice enough to wrap up all of what we couldn't finish (and, mixed with some scrambled eggs, it made for an amazing brunch this morning.)
Now that I'm thinking about it, I am almost positive that, we were serendipitously brought an extra plate of braised duck served on puff pastry. No wonder we couldn't eat everything.
We did, however, loosen our belts to make room for dessert. I could have eaten anything on the menu, but, in an attempt to remain semi-light, we chose the apricot gazpacho with leche fritta ( fried milk) and citrus creme. Served in a bowl with a grilled apricot, this was a deliciously sweet ending to a great meal.
This morning, as we drank our coffee, we decided that the only bad thing about Tapas is that it is too difficult to recreate for two people. This prompted us to want to have an end of summer Tapas party in our tiny apartment. So, if anyone has recipes to share, please send them my way!