Spain is famous for its tapas bars. Tapas are small portions, like appetizers, of seafood, meat and salads. Some bars have these toothpick sized goodies available to eat for free with your drinks, as was the case in a bar we had drinks in in Gijon. Other bars sell them separately. Our first attempt at ordering tapas in Madrid was a bit of a disaster – the waiter only offered larger portions called ‘raciones’, so the four of us shared one plate of mussels. Later in the evening we found a better deal at another bar and shared a couple of small dishes of their ‘house specials’ – salmon and ham on toast. But today we found the best tapas so far.
The old city of Toledo, which was one the capital of Spain, sits on a hill and is still surrounded by an ancient stone wall. The streets inside the city are narrow and weave their way like a maze over the hill. As we made our way on foot along the streets, squeezing ourselves against the walls of buildings as brave drivers negotiated the narrow lanes, we came across a very modern looking restaurant advertising a range of tapas for just 2 euro each. We had just toured the magnificent cathedral of Toledo and were ready for a drink and a rest, so we went inside. One of the house specialities was a cochinillo tapa. Cochinillo is a 21 day old sucking pig that is a culinary specialty of Toledo and Segovia. In Segovia we had seen a number of restaurants offering this pricey dish – and even saw a little dressed piglet in one restaurant window. So here in Toledo was our chance to try it out! We ordered two plates, plus a tapa of salmon wrapped around cream cheese and one of a fried egg on top of sautéed bread crumbs. They were delicious! The portion of cochinillo Glenda and I shared was a bit small to really savour the taste, but it was tender and juicy. I think my favourite tapa was the egg and breadcrumb one – the combination of textures and tastes was wonderful.
Toledo is a beautiful town, dripping with history and stunning views. The cathedral is awe-inspiring and I would agree with travel guides that it is one of the best in Europe. But my lasting memory will be of sitting in a bar in a narrow, nondescript street enjoying traditional Spanish tapas with a beer and my travelling companions.