Touring Extremadura from “tapa” to “tapa” is a gastronomic experience to please the most discriminating palate. Extremadura is a region in Spain, which is west of Madrid and next to bordering country Portugal, and has long built a tradition of being the land of the “tapas”. For those that have not yet had a first hand experience with this Spanish gastronomic tradition, a tapa is a small appetizer, on a tinny plate, that traditionally was placed on top of a wine goblet or a glass of beer at a bar. Now the plates have become slightly larger and are placed alongside your drink at bars but are free appetizer to delight customers when they ask for a drink. At some bars the customer is allowed a choice, among many tasteful tidbits.
Sometimes the “tapas” come in the form of “pinchos”, which are small food portions that traditionally were presented on a screw or a kebab. They now constitute important attractions for a number of restaurants. To order a drink, which is accompanied by an appetizer, allows patrons to enjoy some of the tastiest dishes that range from traditional stews to avant-garde cuisine made with top quality ingredients, served at luxury establishments at prices that are within the reach of all pockets.
Palatable gastronomical classics
In the land of Extremadura make sure to taste a good “tapa” of local ham. This is the star appetizer for any local or foreign customer.
A special place in the range of “pinchos” is reserved to the classic “Tortilla de Patatas”, the famous Spanish potato omelet, which can be ordered with or without onions and also, fluffy or runny.
An undisputable star of the tapas served in Extremadura is the Iberian Pork, from just a taste to the hash passing through the ears, the snout or the popular barbequed skin or bacon, all are delicious delicious.
To accompany the consistent tapas with local olives is a delight. In Extremadura we can savor unique olives from century old olive trees, stewed in popular brines made with aromatic herbs.
We can be captivated by just glancing at the top of the bar counter. Displayed in attractive platters are the homemade croquettes, the chicken wings, or the Extremadura “Migas”, which are sautéed bread crumbs with sauce in addition diverse ingredients that range form meats to fruits. Also, cooked potato constitutes a great tapa at special places. They are one of the most grateful appetizers and are prepared fried, stemmed, scrambled, with garlic, hot sauce (bravas) or with “Alioli” which is a garlic mayonnaise made with olive oil.
To taste a wine from Extremadura or a refreshing glass of beer accompanied by a delicious appetizer, sitting at a bar with amazing views of the monumental city of Caceres, or at the foot of the Roman Temple of Diana in Merida, or with the Plasencia Cathedral in the backdrop, or the site of the Plaza Alta of Badajoz is a pleasure only available in Extremadura.
In small villages, such as Ahigal, “pinchos” are a main attraction on Sunday markets. A great variety can be found, both vegetarian and with different kinds of meats and poultry.
Most of the different villages in Extremadura have joined the fashion of subscribing to the Tapa routes. They also sponsor competitions among the best restaurants and bars to award the outstanding tapas or appetizers. They are held at specially designated events. These dates also serve as an incentive for visitors and may constitute an excuse to discover surprising places.
Tapas and Pinchos in Extremadura have acquired an outstanding position, during the last National Contest of Tapas and Pinchos, a gastronomic event in Spain. The first price was awarded to Alberto Montes, a two Michelin Star Chef of the Atrio Restaurant in Plasencia, a beautiful Medieval town in the north of Extremadura.
Original article by Ainhoa Miguel
Translated by Susana Windt
Published in June, 2017