May 13 2024

Cold Tapas, the Queens of Summer

We all love croquettes or patatas bravas, but there are also Spanish tapas that are enjoyed cold: knowing them is loving them

Forty years ago, in 1984, Spain adopted as its emblematic logo a sun painted by the artist Joan Miró. The campaign encapsulated in an image, abstract but powerful, one of the country's hallmarks: good weather.

With the arrival of spring and, above all, summer, another of the Spanish hallmarks, such as tapas, reaches its peak. It's time to change the menu as well. Gone are the hearty dishes of winter and it opens up to a wide range of cold tapas, which although can be enjoyed all year round, reach their maximum expression at this time. These are some of the most popular, present in practically all the menus of bars, taverns, and restaurants. However, cold doesn't mean frozen: if you want to enjoy them to the fullest, it's best to adjust the temperature. They are tapas, not ice creams.

Russian salad. Perhaps the queen of Spanish cold tapas, with an  enormous popularity. The base is always cooked potato - boiled or steamed - and mayonnaise is the covering sauce, with the rest of the ingredients varying, although there are some fixed ones: among those that cannot be missing are tuna, boiled egg, cooked carrot, cooked pea, and red pepper in strips.

Ideal pairing: Bubbles go very well with Russian salad due to their ability to refresh a dish with a lot of mayonnaise. A Cava, a Corpinnat, or a Classic Penedès are perfect for cleansing the palate between spoonfuls.

Patatas alioli’. The freshest sisters of patatas bravas. In this case, the potatoes are always cooked and never fried, and they are allowed to cool down. The sauce that covers them should be a smooth alioli, made with garlic and oil - that's the traditional recipe, although some prefer to cover them with a mayonnaise with a little garlic. The final touch is a bit of chopped parsley sprinkled on top.

Ideal pairing: The presence of garlic makes it a good idea to pair this dish with a red vermouth, so that the bitterness and sweet notes of the vermouth soften and complement the alioli sauce.

Anchovies marinated in Sherry vinegar with caramelized onion and Manzanilla olive sorbet with orange and lemon juice

Boquerones en vinagre’. A classic Spanish bar recipe is this one, in which these smaller relatives of sardines are the protagonists. The fish is marinated in vinegar and has a seasoning of oil, salt, finely chopped garlic, and parsley. It is one of the few Spanish tapas in which the fish is not cooked and the key is in the chef's hand, who has to balance the acidity.

Ideal pairing: Nothing better than a light lager beer traditionally poured in a glass. Perfect to accompany without competing with a tapa full of nuances where the acidity of the marinade, the flavor of the fish, and the touches of garlic and parsley come together.

Gilda. One of the milestones of tapas is this simple preparation that takes just minutes if you have the ingredients on hand. Legend has it that although the skewer was created at Bar Casa Vallés in San Sebastián in 1942, it acquired its name from the famous character played by actress Rita Hayworth in the movie Gilda, released in 1964. Both 'gildas' were "green (provocative in colloquial Spanish), salty, and a little spicy," as one customer said. And there the name stayed. The preparation of the gilda couldn't be simpler: on a wooden skewer, olives, green spicy peppers (known as piparras), and anchovies are skewered. The amount of elements is variable and up to the consumer's taste.

Ideal pairing: A white wine with acidity like Basque txakoli becomes the best option for a bite with vinegary and spicy nuances. Also, in this case, it shares origin with the dish, which makes it even more suitable.

Stuffed eggs. This is one of those Spanish recipes that are considered 'homemade' by many. The base is obviously eggs, which are boiled. Once peeled, they are cut in half and the yolks are carefully removed without breaking the whites. The yolks, except one, are mixed with tuna, brown peppers, and mayonnaise. This mixture is used to fill the whites, while the remaining yolk is grated on top.

Ideal pairing: Another dish that goes very well with white wine. In this case, for a mellow dish like this, fresh and aromatic options like an Albariño from Rías Baixas or a Verdejo from Rueda are very suitable.