Gourmet guide: Spain

Albert Adria prepares tapas at Tickets, his new restaurant in Barcelona.

One of the pleasures of a vacation in Spain is sitting out on a sunny evening, grazing on tasty tapas dishes.

Classic tapas include patatas bravas (fried potato wedges served with a spicy sauce), tortilla (a sort of thick omelette) and cheesy croquetas (croquettes) — but there’s also tapas for different types of Spanish produce, from olives to succulent “pimientos al padron” peppers.

And when in Barcelona, there’s no better place to sample them than at the newly opened Tickets.

Ferran Adria, the pioneer of molecular gastronomy, featured at his  impossible-to-book El Bulli restaurant (now closed), opened Tickets with his chef brother Albert. Their menu features the type of cooking that suits such creative chefs.  

“There is a lot more freedom when creating tapas, both in structure and form,” says Albert.

You must plan ahead if you want to sample his nouveau tapas, however — Tickets is booked solid until June. Visit www.ticketsbar.es to get a reservation.

Spanish specialties

Cured meats
Cured ham is a rural specialty and there are lots of types to try. Cured “jamon” from Iberian pigs, for example, has levels of appellation according to how exclusively acorn-fed the pigs are and how long the ham is cured.

Paella
Paella is probably the most well-known Spanish dish, cooked in a huge, specially made dish. We suggest one made with good quality rice from Valencia, with cubes of chicken and rabbit as well as beans and flavored with paprika and saffron.

Churros
The Spanish aren’t wild about desserts, but that’s not to say that they don’t have a sweet tooth. Churros are a lightly fried sweet dough fritter. They’re sprinkled with sugar and usually served with thick, sweet hot chocolate for breakfast, snacks or after a big night out.   

Seafood ‘a la plancha’
The seafood and fish here is so delicious that you only need it served in this way: a la plancha, which means grilled on a metal plate. Try tasty rings of giant juicy squid or succulent prawns cooked in olive oil and garlic.


Olives
Spain is the perfect place for olive lovers; the country is the biggest virgin olive oil producer in the world. The best places to sample olives and olive oil are Andalusia and
Catalonia.


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