Monday, June 4, 2007


Tapas, the traditional Spanish "small plates" have become increasingly popular throughout the US and Europe with bars opening up in every major city, and it is easy to see why. In drinking and eating automatically go together, and you always nibble on something if you stop by a bar or cafe for a drink. It can be a simple plate of olives, chorizo sausage and crisp loaf of bread, or something more elaborate that includes Spanish omelettes, shrimp and garlic, and potato salad.

These bite sized hors d'oeuvres are more than just appetizers, they provide a leisurely way to enjoy many different tastes and the companionship of friends - in other words the Spanish way of life. Wherever you are in Spain, tapas bars come alive in the early evening, in a tradition not unlike English pubs, and people socialize over food and drinks until it's time for dinner. Tapas date back many centuries when inn-keepers realized that by creating these bite-sized portions they could attract more people into their inns, and soon each began trying to create something better and different from his neighbor, resulting in a vast array of wonderful recipes.

So next time you invite friends over, why not do tapas and drinks at home? The below is just one of the many from the fabulous book "Tapas" by Richard Tapper (seriously that is the author's name) and the hand-painted tapas dishes and traditional terra-cotta cazuelas pictured above are available in the Gourmet Fusion store.

Mushrooms with Bacon (Champinones con tocino)
Ingredients (serves 6)
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 ounces diced tocino or bacon
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 lb button mushrooms
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon chopped parsley

  1. In a frying pan over high heat, warm olive oil.
  2. Add tocino and fry for 3 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and mushrooms and stir well.
  4. Add wine, salt, pepper and parsley and cook over high heat until most of the wine has evaporated and the mushrooms are cooked, 3-4 minutes. Serve hot.

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