THE WORD ‘TAPAS‘ stems from the Spanish verb ‘tapar’, meaning to cover. Originally, the tapa – a piece of ham or cheese – would have been presented on a small dish or lid placed on top of a wine glass, which stopped fruit flies from getting into the wine and also made it easy to eat and drink with friends while having el craic around a barrel.
Castilla’s King Alfonso V is credited with inventing tapas during the thirteenth century when he took to having small dishes of food with a glass of wine when he was recovering from illness. The tradition was enshrined in law then much later when another Spanish monarch, Felipe III, hoping to curb the drunken excesses of his subjects, passed a law prohibiting the serving of wine without some morsel of food.
The well-meaning Royal didn’t know but soon found out that invariably-salty tapas actually encourage people to drink even more, with predictable results!
Try pairing these simple tapas with the suggested Cavas and see how both dishes and wines are elevated to new plains of deliciousness.
1. Beer-batter hake + Mont Marçal Brut Cava Reserva
Combine 240g of flour, paprika, turmeric and seasoning in a bowl. Add 330ml of good beer and combine. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Season fish fillets while heating pan filled to 6cm with sunflower oil. Coat fish with batter and fry for 7 minutes. Serve to awe-struck guests with lemon wedges and fine Spanish fizz.
2. Pork belly with fennel seeds and garlic + Mont Marçal Brut Cava Rosado
Score skin of a 3kg slab of pork belly. Turn meat over and puncture flesh with skewer. Combineolive oil with bulb of finely-sliced garlic (sorry!) and 2 tbsp of crushed fennel seeds. Drizzle over flesh side and rub in vigorously. Turn over and rub salt into skin. Cover and refrigerate for a day. When ready, sear skin at 230°c in oven for 30 minutes, reduce heat to 190°c, and cook for 2 ½ hours. Slice and serve.
3. Chicken wings with cumin, lemon & garlic + Mont Marçal Brut Cava Extremarium
Mix 2 crushed cloves of garlic with zest and juice of 1 lemon, 1 tsp cumin and 2 tbsp olive oil.
Season, pour over 12 chicken wings and toss. Marinate. Pre-heat oven to 200°c and bake wings for 30 minutes, drizzling over 1 tbsp honey for last 10 minutes. When ready, sprinkle with flaked almonds and serve on platters.
4. Duck with plums, redcurrants and honey + Mont Marçal Cava Extremarium Rosado
Marinate 3 sliced duck breasts in garlic-infused oil, chopped mint and seasoning. Heat pan and sear skin side of duck, then flesh side, before transferring pan to oven heated to 180°c and
cooking for 2 minutes. Return pan to hob and drop in 2 plums, quartered. Cook until softened,
before adding 2 tbsp redcurrants, 2 tsp honey and dash of balsamic vinegar. Remove from heat and tuck in.