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CHRISTMAS

Spain’s festive cake brings promise of big prizes

On January 6th to celebrate Epiphany, Spaniards typically tuck into a Roscón de Reyes, a golden brioche ring decorated with candied fruit.

Spain's festive cake brings promise of big prizes
Photo: edu1971/Depositphotos

The cakes, which symbolize the crowns worn by the Three Kings (or Wise Men) on their visit to baby Jesus, traditionally contain a little figurine for children as well as a dry fava bean.

Whoever finds the toy is crowned king or queen of the celebration, while the one who finds the bean has to buy the Roscón next year.

But this year, El Corte Inglés has promised an even greater prize. The Spanish department store says it has hidden one gram gold ingots in 1000 of its cakes sold in the run up to Epiphany, each ingot with an estimated value of €47.

It has also included three special prizes of a gold ingot weighing an ounce with a value of €1,100.

El Corte Inglés expects to sell an estimated 600,000 roscones at its stores across Spain this year, in 25 different varieties.

But the department store isn’t the only merchant to offer the promise of riches with each bite of cake.

A patisserie in León has hidden a prize worth €9,000 in one of its roscónes this year.

Manuel Antonio González, owner of the more than 150-year-old Conrado bakery in León said the prize would be hidden within a cake sold between now and Saturday and that they can be bought online too.

Meanwhile in Asturias, bakery chain Panris has hidden 14 prizes within its roscones; thirteen with a value of €100 and one cake containing a top prize of €1,000.  

The traditional sweet dough of a Roscón is scented with orange blossom and can be served with cream but is best when dunked into steaming mug of rich hot chocolate after an evening watching the Cabalgata – the lavish parades held across Spain on January 5th when the Three Kings distribute sweets and presents to children.

READ MORE: Why Spain loves the Three Kings more than Santa


Photo of one of the three kings during Tenerife´s 2015 three kings parade: Desiree Martin/AFP
 

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FOOD & DRINK

Six Barcelona bars serving delicious free tapas

The Local's Esme Fox, a long-term Barcelona resident, shares some of her favourite city bars that serve free tapas when you buy a drink.

Six Barcelona bars serving delicious free tapas

Spain is of course celebrated for its tapas, small plates of food, designed for sharing and consisting of favourites such as patatas bravas (fried potatoes topped with spicy sauce), pimientos de padrón (fried green peppers) and croquetas (croquettes of different varieties such as ham or mushrooms). 

One theory is that tapas were invented in order to cover your wine or beer glass, so that flies and other bugs wouldn’t fly in. The barman would give customers a piece of bread topped with jamón (ham) or queso (cheese) in order to act as a lid or in Spanish ‘tapa’, hence the name tapas.

Although most cities in Spain no longer serve free tapas when you buy a drink, there are still some cities where you are guaranteed a free snack. This is still true in the southern cities of Granada, Almería and Jaén, in León and Segovia, as well as a few others dotted around the country.

Despite this, you can still find the odd bar serving the old-fashioned free tapa in some of Spain’s largest and most expensive cities, including Madrid and Barcelona.

So, next time you’re in the Catalan capital, save some money by visiting one of these bars, where you’ll still get served a free tapa along with your drink.  

READ ALSO: Top ten Madrid bars serving free tapas, one for each barrio

Keep in mind, you won’t be served a free drink if you just order a coffee and sometimes not with a soft drink either, it’s usually when you buy a glass of beer or wine.

Ca’l Chusco

This small traditional bar in the old fisherman’s neighbourhood of Barceloneta offers one free tapa every time you order a drink. It’s usually something small and simple, but if you’re still hungry then you can always order one of their delicious paellas or plates or seafood too. 

Raspall
This cute and contemporary little tapas joint, situated on the edge of Gracia, is so popular that it often gets very crowded, so get here early if you want a spot at the bar. It costs around €2-4 for a drink and a small tapas dish, which you can choose from a large selection. There’s everything from croquetas and hummus to small sausages.

Pappa e Citti

It’s not just authentic Spanish bars offering free tapas in Barcleona, at traditional Sardinian restaurant Pappa e Citti in the barrio of Gracia, they offer it too. Be aware that free tapas with your drink is only served between 6-9pm. Small tapas offerings may have an Italian twist or maybe something simple like a piece of bread topped with cream cheese and caramelised onions.

La Xula Taperia

In the heart of the Gracia neighbourhood, this modern and stylish bar offers the closest thing to a Granadino-style free plate of tapas. Rather than just a small piece of bread topped with an ingredient, their free offerings include meatballs, anchovies or even ensaladilla rusa (Russian potato salad).

Casa Arana

Located in the heart of the Sant Andreu neighbourhood, not far from the metro stop of the same name, Casa Arana is a small local barrio bar. As well as the regular drinks on offer, they make their own beer in either tostada (toasted) or rubia (pale) varieties, which is served in a tall glass and looks like an ice cream sundae. The free tapa served with your drink is typically a piece of baguette topped with a simple ingredient such as jamón, chistorra (cured sausage) or cheese.

Cassette Bar

This tapas and cocktail bar located in the heart of Raval has a decidedly 80s themed vibe and name to match. They have been serving free tapas for the past 14 years – something typical like piece of bread and tomato topped with a slice of tortilla (Spanish omelette).

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