Before you head out to that nearby sports pub after work for a little bevy with your mates, why donâ€™t you scout around for a nice little Spanish tavern and check out a different Happy Hour atmosphere. Â Â Of course, sports bars are always fun and lively with the overflow of male testosterones. Thereâ€™s that high end lounge that sometimes can just be a little too nice Â on a dreary Wednesday, and of course that popular strip of dives that can be usually too dark, too smoky and too packed.Â Iâ€™ve always liked those Irish style pubs where you can actually hear each other talk, see whatâ€™s on your plate but intimate enough for a loner to drown his sorrows in a pint of beer and some buffalo wings.
Spanish taverns kind of like have the same ambience, except for the one thing that sets them apart from most bars. The absolute life changing array of the tapas buffet!Â I guess my Spanish roots have something to do with my love for tapas. In fact, being under the Spanish regime for more than 300 years in my countryâ€™s history, drinking is serious business in our culture.Â We never drink with just nuts and chips.Â Alcohol is always served with fatty, crispy, spicy, salty, and crunchy appetizers and entrees.
The Spanish tapas buffet has a lot of stories to tell about its beginnings and history has brought it to our contemporary lives as the Happy Hour.Â A tapas buffet would usually boast of nothing less than 12 different dishes bathed in either olive oil or tomato sauce and swimming in the company of garlic, chillies, paprika, saffron, aaah and yes, olives and a variety of bread!Â One would just drool over quietly at the sight of plump shrimps, chorizos, sardines, meatballs andÂ … gee, I better just let you google that and leave it up to your imagination because Iâ€™m about to short my keyboard with these tasty visions.
There is nothing more relaxing after a long dragging day than being in the company of good friends, delicious food and great wine. So if youâ€™re entertaining at home this weekend, maybe youâ€™d like to try and make these 2 tapas dishes from the Food Network and Spain-recipes.com. These are great for starters with a bottle of wine or a carafe of Sangria.
Shrimp con Chorizo
- 1 tablespoon, plus 1/4 cup Spanish olive oil
- 1 pound chorizo, sliced on the diagonal into 1/4-inch slices
- 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced onion
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1/2 cup dry sherry
- 1 tablespoon Spanish paprika
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 pounds peeled and deveined raw medium shrimp
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons minced parsley leaves
- Crusty bread, for serving
In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and sautÃ©â€™ chorizos until it starts to brown around the edges, 7 minutes. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are caramelized around the edges and softened somewhat, 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add 1/4 cup of the sherry and cook for 1 minute. Add the shrimp, paprika, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until pink and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of sherry and 1/4 cup olive oil, lemon juice, parsley and remainder of the salt and pepper; stir to combine and remove from the heat. Serve immediately, on small plates with any accumulated cooking juices spooned over the top. Pass the bread at the table.
Mushrooms ala Pobre:
- 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz)Â olive oil
- 4 cups (8 oz) mushrooms, wiped clean and quartered
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoonsÂ dry sherry
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon dried red chile, seeded and crumbled
- 1/4 teaspoonÂ Spanish paprika
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Heat the oil in a skillet and sautÃ© the mushrooms over high heat for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
Lower the heat to medium and add the garlic, sherry, lemon juice, dried chilli, paprika, and salt and pepper.
Cook for about 5 minutes or until the garlic and mushrooms have softened.
Remove from the heat, sprinkle with chopped parsley, and serve on small earthenware platters.
Photo Credit: Adactio
Photo Credit: Kai Hendry