Spain is said to have more bars per square foot than any other country. Of course, we couldn't be happier about this! There is something comforting about a tiny Spanish bar with its tall wooden stools, impossibly narrow entryway and more often than not, standing room only.
Everyone inside is laughing and shouting with a drink in their hand. And of course, you'll also need something to nibble on as you toast with your glass of Rioja or caña of beer. Enter the tapa; that quintessentially Spanish great little bite of food that has become synonymous with Spanish culture.
Now that autumn is setting in, we've put together a list of our favourite cold weather Spanish tapas.
1. Champiñones rellenos (stuffed mushrooms)
There are entire bars devoted to the perfect stuffed mushroom tapa. The technique is pretty easy. Take button mushroom tops, fill them to the brim with olive oil, garlic and bits of Iberian ham and wait for them to cook on the grill. This is a cold weather tapa that you can't miss!
2. Albóndigas (meatballs)
These delicious Spanish meatballs are usually served in a small clay dish with a little cracker called a pico on the side. You might get one or two meatballs as a tapa and they will be smothered in the most delicious sauce (usually homemade by the cook!) Especially delicious are the meatballs with almond sauce. They're rich and satisfying on a cold winter night.
3. Dátiles con beicon (dates wrapped in bacon)
Photo: Spanish Sabores.
You don't need us to tell you that salty and sweet are a match made in heaven! We also probably don't need to spend much time explaining that bacon can improve almost any recipe. This tapa is just what it sounds like: a date wrapped in a bit of bacon and then cooked on the grill until the bacon is crispy. Possibly the perfect cold weather tapa.
4. Morcilla de Burgos (Burgos blood pudding)
Okay, we know that the idea of eating blood pudding might not be on the top of your list. However, if you are so inclined, we highly recommend this tapa. Generally served with a little slice of bread, the sausage is rich and savory in the best kind of way.
5. Croquetas (Spanish croquettes)
Croquettes, when they are homemade, are easily one of our favorite cold weather tapas. When you bite into the fried croquette, you'll find a perfect creamy mix of béchamel sauce and bits of chicken, ham, mushroom, spinach (or whatever is on hand in the kitchen). Some say that croquettes are Spain's answer to leftovers. If that's the case, then this little tapa is the best use of leftovers we've ever seen!
6. Pincho moruno (seasoned pork skewer)
The pincho moruno is a very simple concept. The meat is coated in spices that were originally of Arab influence. This is how the skewer gets its name: "moruno" comes from the Spanish for "Moorish." The mix of spices is a lovely blend that is not at all spicy, just very flavorful in what that really enhances the flavor of the pork. A cold weather tapa that pairs perfectly with a good local beer.
7. Callos a la Madrileña (Madrid style tripe)
Again, we're going to ask you to refrain from judging this tapa by the name and your preconceived notions of tripe. In Madrid this dish is cooked slowly in a spicy sauce along with lovely chickpeas and makes for a perfect little stew to enjoy on a chilly night. We are sure that if you try this tapa, you'll be soaking up the sauce with your bit of bread after you've finished!
8. Chorizo a la sidra (chorizo cooked in cider)
If you've ever tried Spanish chorizo sausage, you will know that this tapa has to be good! Here, the classic Spanish sausage is simmered in cider until tender and cooked through. The result is a rich and savory tapa typical of the region of Asturias.
9. Buñuelos de bacalao (salt cod fritters)
Salt cod is one of the most common fish used in Spanish cooking, and the main ingredient in this cold weather tapa. The fritters are generally served with a bit of garlic mayonnaise, which complements the saltiness of the cod perfectly. We also like to enjoy this tapa with a local beer.
10. Patatas revolconas (paprika mashed potatoes)
This tapa is typical in the regions of Extremadura, Ávila and Salamanca and it couldn't be simpler. Homemade mashed potatoes are mixed with sweet red paprika to give them an orangey color and a smokey flavor. There are also typically bits of ham or bacon, or fried pork rinds called torreznos. It's a hearty tapa, and perfect for a cold evening!
Devour Spain was founded by Spanish food lovers as a way to connect hungry travellers with the local, family run businesses that make amazing food. Offering fun and delicious food tours and tapas tours in Seville, Barcelona and Madrid. Follow them on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter for Spanish food news, tips and recipes.