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TAPAS

Ten of the best Spanish tapas to enjoy as autumn sets in

Feeling hungry? The Local asked foodie experts Devour Tours for the top ten perfect tapas to warm yourselves up on an autumn day (even though so far this fall it's still far from cold in most of Spain).

Albóndigas (meatballs) are one of the heartiest autumn dishes you can order in Spain. Photo: Lou Stejskal/Flickr
Albóndigas (meatballs) are one of the heartiest autumn dishes you can order in Spain. Photo: Lou Stejskal/Flickr
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.
 
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Now that autumn is setting in, (even though in mid-October 2021 it’s far from cold yet) we’ve put together a list of our favourite cold weather Spanish tapas. 
 
1. Champiñones rellenos (stuffed mushrooms)
A fine example of stuffed mushrooms in Spain. Photo: alanagkelly/Wikipedia
A fine example of stuffed mushrooms in Spain. Photo: alanagkelly/Wikipedia
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)
A hearty plate of albóndigas. Photo: cyclonebill/Flickr
A hearty plate of Spanish albóndigas. Photo: cyclonebill/Flickr
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)
 
Spanish bacon-wrapped dates, Expect a sweet and savoury flavour burst with this Spanish dish. Photo: Marco Verch/Flickr
Expect a sweet and savoury flavour burst with this Spanish dish. Photo: Marco Verch/Flickr
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)
Morcilla de Burgos. If you can get over what you're eating, this is a delicious autumn dish. Photo: Javier Lastras
If you can get over what you’re eating, this is a delicious autumn dish. Photo: Javier Lastras/Flickr
 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)
 
Served piping hot, croquetas are the perfect snack to keep you warm on a cold autumn day. Photo: Angie Six/Flickr
Served piping hot, croquetas are the perfect snack to keep you warm on a cold autumn day. Photo: Angie Six/Flickr
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)
Things might get a bit messy with pinchos morunos, but the taste is worth it. Photo: Juantiagues/Flickr
Things might get a bit messy with pinchos morunos, but the taste is worth it. Photo: Juantiagues/Flickr
 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)
Keep your mind on the deliciousness rather than the origin when eating Spanish callos. Photo: Javier Lastras/Flickr
Keep your mind on the deliciousness rather than the origin when eating Spanish callos. Photo: Javier Lastras/Flickr
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)
Chorizo with cider - Spicy meat and cider merge for the perfect kick in this classic autumn dish. Photo: Chispita666/Flickr
Spicy meat and cider merge for the perfect kick in this classic autumn dish. Photo: Chispita666/Flickr
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)
 

Buñuelos de Bacalao, a change from all the meaty dishes on most autumn menis in Spain. Photo: Amaya Rodrigo / Flickr
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.  (paprika mashed potatoes)
 
Photo: Patatas revolconas – because who needs proper vegetables in their diet? Photo: Leobh1979/Wikipedia
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 Tours 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.
 

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FOOD & DRINK

These are Spain’s new Michelin-starred restaurants

The new 2023 Michelin Star guide for the best restaurants in Spain and Portugal has awarded new stars to 34 restaurants across Spain. Read on to discover which ones and where they are.

These are Spain's new Michelin-starred restaurants

En España se come bien (People eat well in Spain), you’ll hear many Spaniards proclaim. That’s coming from a country that’s not accustomed to singing its own praises on the global stage. 

Although these higher-than-average gastronomic standards apply to all types of bars and restaurants, when it comes to haute cuisine, Spain continues to be among the top five countries with the most Michelin-starred eateries, together with France, Japan, Italy and Germany.

On Tuesday November 22nd, Michelin revealed its newest restaurant selection of acclaimed Spanish restaurants during an event in the Spanish city of Toledo.

As of November 2022, two restaurants in Spain have been awarded the coveted three Michelin Star distinction.

Three have gone up to the two-star category and 29 restaurants have been given new one-star rankings.

Atrio in Cáceres (Extremadura region in western Spain) and Cocina Hermanos Torres in Barcelona have both earned the top award three-star prize, which is the highest award that can be given, and have joined the 13 other restaurants in Spain at this level.

According to the judges, Atrio won the distinction due to “its elegant and delicate dishes, prepared by chef Toño Pérez, who has shaken up local gastronomic traditions”. His menu focuses on Iberian pork and other products from Extremadura.

While in Barcelona, Cocina Hermanos Torres has been given the top award for “firing the imagination with every bite”. Chefs Sergio and Javier Torres have created “a magical space in which the gastronomic experience consistently seeks out the very best seasonal produce and exceeds foodies’ expectations, turning it into a dining extravaganza,” the judges said.

READ ALSO – REVEALED: Spain’s cheapest Michelin-starred restaurants

Of the 2023 guide, International Director of Michelin Gwendal Poullennec said: “We were delighted to see how younger chefs are taking the lead and embarking on their own journeys, in many cases flying the flag of reinterpreted regional or fusion cuisines”.

“In turn, vegan options are gradually forging ahead on menus, something which was already occurring in other European countries,” he added. 

Below are the Spanish rankings for the 2023 guide, including the three stars awarded to Atrio and Cocina Hermanos Torres. 

Two stars

  • Deessa, Madrid
  • El Rincón de Juan Carlos, Adeje, Tenerife
  • Pepe Vieira, Serpe, Pontevedra

One star

  • Ababol, Albacete
  • Ajonegro, Logroño
  • Aleia, Barcelona
  • AlmaMater, Murcia
  • Alquimia-Laboratorio, Valladolid
  • Ancestral, Illescas
  • Arrea!, Santa Cruz de Campezo
  • Ceibe, Ourense
  • Cobo Evolución, Burgos
  • Código de Barra, Cádiz
  • Come, Barcelona
  • Enigma, Barcelona
  • Etxeko Ibiza, Es Canar, Ibiza
  • Ferpel, Ortiguera
  • Fusión19, Muro, Mallorca
  • Gente Rara, Zaragoza
  • Kaleja, Málaga
  • La Finca, Loja
  • Mont Bar, Barcelona
  • Monte, San Feliz
  • Montia, San Lorenzo de El Escorial
  • Oba, Casas-Ibáñez
  • O’Pazo, Padrón
  • Ravioxo, Madrid
  • San-Hô, Adeje, Tenerife
  • Slow & Low, Barcelona
  • Tabaiba, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
  • Ugo Chan, Madrid
  • Zuara Sushi, Madrid

The Michelin Guide also handed out special awards to three different chefs.

The Young Chef Award for 2023 went to Almería-born chef Cristóbal Muñoz, who at age 31, heads up the kitchens at Ambivium in Peñafiel, Castilla y León.

The Chef Mentor Award for 2023 was given to a well-known name in the world of Spanish gastronomy – Joan Roca, who together with his brothers turned El Cellar de Can Roca in Girona, Catalonia into one of the best and most famous restaurants in the world.

Finally, the Michelin Service Award for 2023 was presented to Toni Gerez from Castell de Peralada, also in Catalonia. As the restaurant manager and sommelier, he “excels in customer-facing roles, in particular, when presenting his marvellous cheese cart that goes from table to table,” explained the judges.

In total, the 2023 Guide lists 1,401 restaurants throughout Spain, Portugal and Andorra. Out of these, 13 have three Michelin Stars, 41 have two Michelin Stars and 235 were awarded one Michelin Star. 

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