March 31, 2009

Crianzas and Sherries

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Tonight I met up with an old friend for some simple food and a few glasses of wine. We wanted something casual so I thought we'd visit Tapeo, a tapas bar that I've read about recently. There are a few places around town which brand themselves as serving tapas, but Tapeo seems to be the only true tapas "bar". There are no tables and customers sit on bar stools in front of the long, L-shaped counter.

We started with a 20g plate of Jamon from Jabugo and a glass of González Byass Alfonso Oloroso Seco. Interestingly there is an arbitrage in the pricing. It's actually cheaper to order two 10g portions than to order a 20g plate. Anyway the jamon was only OK, as they were down to the last bits of the leg and it wasn't as juicy as it could have been. The sherry was refreshing and nice, striking a good balance between dry and sweet (hence the oloroso seco I guess).

We followed with sardines a la plancha, which were actually much bigger than I expected! Nicely pan-fried with a roast pepper sauce to go along. I tried to take in as much of the fish head as possible...

The pulpo a a gallega was very nice. I'm usually not a big fan of octopus but the pieces were soft and tender, with just a bit of chewiness. Could do without the capers but that's a personal preference. I used the bread to soak up the paprika-flavored olive oil. Yum...

With the meat dishes we ordered a glass of 2005 Bodegas Navajas Crianza - can't remember exactly which of the three but probably Navajas. Pretty decent.

I had read about the crispy pork belly with quince alioli on the internet, and wasn't gonna pass it up for sure! It was nicely roasted - no doubt a lot of the fat has already dripped away during the process. The crackling was a bit tough the way I like it - similar to Cantonese roast pork (燒肉) - but not unmanageable.

I must say that I thought the duck breast and Pedro Ximenez to be a bit ho-hum. It's not exactly a "traditional" tapas item and it was a bit overcooked for my taste, but I'm very French when it comes to poultry - I like 'em pink.

We still have some room, so we order up some lomo de Córdoba. I've always loved lomo, as the slight spiciness of it makes my mouth water. It's cheaper than jamon, but easier to chew on than chorizo. Yum...

For desserts I had my second glass of Sherry, this time the González Byass Solera 1847 Oloroso Dulce. This is definitely a sticky and good for desserts. Very nutty and grapey.

For some reason churros and hot chocolate has shown up on the menu as a dessert. This is a breakfast item and one that I enjoyed immensely on my trip to Spain. But I guess I'm not likely to have it at breakfast here in Hong Kong, so I should be happy and just take it. Actually it's not enough to dip the churro into the hot' better to scoop the chocolate out with a spoon and drizzle it all over... My friend was watching his diet so I ened up having most of it. Heh heh heh...

We also had the crema Catalana and the raisin and Sherry flan, as a couple of other friends stopped in to say hello at the end. Both were pretty decent.

I think it was a pretty good meal overall. It's a very casual atmostphere, sitting on bar stools and hanging your jackets on the wall hooks behind you. The open kitchen means you get to smell everything as they're being cooked - which can be a little distracting - but also fun. Piero the manager (he's Italian) was pretty friendly so that also helped to improve my dining experience. Let's see how well they do.

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