Tapping into tapas

Integral part of Spanish culinary scene offers an alternative to large plate food

  • Jul. 3, 2019 8:30 a.m.

– Story by Chelsea Forman Photography by Lia Crowe

Tapas have been an integral part of the culinary scene in Spain since the early 19th century, drawing diners together in a social atmosphere to enjoy delicious food.

Offering an alternative to large-plate meals, tapas — which have gained global popularity in recent years —are described as any small dish of food.

While a tapas-tasting journey could occur at many restaurants in Victoria, Trounce Alley might be a good place to start, since Tapa Bar, Poco, and Bodega Tapas and Wine Bar are located within tapa-hopping distance of each other.

Located downtown in a Euro-chic setting between Government and Broad streets, Trounce Alley is a pedestrian passageway named after Victoria Pioneer Thomas Trounce. The alley’s nod to Victoria history includes some authentic gaslights that are over 125 years old.

The closely linked tapa bars make it easy for tapas-tasters to mimic the Spanish tradition of moving from one spot to the next, enjoying a bite and drink at each stop. With flavours inspired by traditional tapas, all three locations have become local favourites for their savoury dishes and lively surroundings.

“We have defined tapas at our restaurants as small plates that are designed to be shared or put together to make a meal. We emphasize that tapas have a lot to do with the spirit around them, and the social aspect of eating,” explains Emily Henderson, partner and general manager of Bodega Tapas and Wine Bar.

When dealing in small bites, Emily notes it’s important to combine both simplicity and quality ingredients to create the flavours.

“Two of our most popular dishes on the Tapa Bar menu are almond-stuffed dates and grilled kale. Both are simple and incredibly delicious,” she says. “The kale is marinated in coconut milk and lemon with spices, and warmed up on the grill for a few minutes. It’s delicious.”

The Tapa Bar menu aims to encompass more of a Latin and Mediterranean infusion, while Poco and Bodega offer Spanish-inspired small plates.

“The Tapa Bar opened about 25 years ago and the menu hasn’t changed too much because there are so many locals who have been dining here since it opened and love the menu,” says Emily, adding that one of the favourites on the Bodega menu is a tuna-stuffed piquillo pepper. “It’s a small, sweet red pepper stuffed with tuna, capers and olives, with a white anchovy in the top. It’s simple and people love them. They can be ordered per pepper, so as a snack or as a meal.”

Regardless of whether you choose to dine at one restaurant or spend an evening hopping from one to another, an evening of tapas-tasting should facilitate an air of togetherness amid a time-honoured tradition.

Stuffed Piquillo Peppers

1/2 cup confit tuna belly, fully cooked

1 Tbsp capers, chopped

1 Tbsp green olives, chopped

2 Tbsp mayonnaise

1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

1/4 lemon, juiced

salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together and stuff into rinsed piquillo peppers.

Grilled Coconut Kale

1 large bunch of green kale, de-stemmed and roughly chopped (don’t cut pieces too small because leaves will be placed on the grill)

1 can coconut milk

1/2 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

juice of 1 lemon

1 tsp salt

Heat coconut milk on the stove until lukewarm. Transfer to a large bowl, mix in other ingredients. Add kale leaves and toss in mixture until kale is fully coated. Cover and refrigerate for about 3 hours. When ready to serve, heat a grill or barbecue to high. Using tongs, place kale leaves on grill for 30-45 seconds. Flip kale for another half a minute on the other side, or until leaves are darker green and softened. Serve warm.

Just Posted

Sylvan Lake replaces Jaws for even bigger shark at Jaws at the Lake Series

“The Meg” will play during this year’s event on Aug. 4 with a start time planned for 9 p.m.

Eckville area author gets publishing debut

Barbie Band-Aid by Lillian White is a collection of short stories about being an oil field medic

B.C. journalist named PPC candidate for Red Deer-Lacombe

Laura-Lynn Thompson is running against Blaine Calkins in the federal election this October

Eckville fire chief advises wildfire prevention

Eckville Fire District Chief Stuart Carde provides easy tips to help prevent wildfires

First Sylvan Lake pot shop to open Saturday

Valhalla Cannabis will open on July 27 at 10 a.m. after eight months in limbo

VIDEO: Calgary, Flames agree to terms on new NHL arena

The proposed 19,000-seat facility would replace the Saddledome at an estimated cost of $550 million

VIDEO: Missing teens named as suspects in three northern B.C. killings

Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky are wanted in the deaths of Lucas Fowler, Chynna Deese, unknown man

Alberta ahead of average tornado count at 17 so far this year

The province’s average over the past 30 years has been 12 tornadoes per year

The Beaverton’s sharp satire thrives in polarized political climate

Canadian TV series’ third season to air Tuesday on CTV after “The Amazing Race Canada”

VIDEO: Bystander training gains traction as tool to prevent sexual harassment, violence

Julia Gartley was sexually assaulted after an event, and no one stepped in to help

Sexual assaults, extortion on the rise even as crime rates stay low: Stats Canada

Rates of police-reported sexual assault rose for the fourth year in a row

A year later, ceremony commemorates victims of the Danforth shooting

It’s the one-year anniversary of when a man opened fire along the bustling street before shooting and killing himself

Ottawa fights planned class action against RCMP for bullying, intimidation

The current case is more general, applying to employees, including men, who worked for the RCMP

Alberta judge denies B.C.’s bid to block ‘Turn Off the Taps’ bill

He said the proper venue for the disagreement is Federal Court

Most Read