It’s not hard to see why tapas is so popular around the world – bite-size dishes are light, tasty and perfect for summer. With so many wonderful Iberian ingredients in supermarkets these days, making your own Spanish-style tapas is easier than ever. You can make your dishes as simple or elaborate as you choose, serving in a traditional buffet style for a more relaxed atmosphere.
Serve your tapas using brightly coloured tableware and napkins (red and yellow are ideal) to get into the Spanish spirit.
For a centrepiece, try looking for two clear glass vases of the same shape, one slightly smaller than the other. Fill the smaller vase with your favourite brightly coloured flowers, and then place it inside the larger vase. Use slices of lemon or lime to fill the gap – not only is it bright and cheerful, it’ll also create a lovely citrus scent. To add an authentic Spanish touch, alternate the lemon with slices of blood orange, mimicking the red and yellow of the national flag.
Half the fun of tapas comes from the fact that very few of them require complex recipes. This leaves you with time to focus on arranging things as beautifully as you can, so feel free to experiment with your presentation.
One fun idea is to include a make-your-own skewers plate, with cherry tomatoes, chunks of soft cheese (Galician ‘San Simon’ cheese works well), peppers, chorizo and anchovies, served next to a glass full of long cocktail sticks. You can arrange all the ingredients in assorted small serving bowls, adding garnishes of parsley or sprinkles of paprika for added flavour.
Sherry is credited with being the reason behind the invention of tapas, which originated as simple slices of bread used to cover glasses in bars. However, a more modern (and drinkable!) choice is sangria. The traditional red wine version is deservedly famous, but our easy Recipe for Sangria Blanca is refreshingly cool on summer evenings.
Alternatively, if you prefer sipping on Spanish Rioja or Tempranillo, remember that red wine is best enjoyed in a large glass, after airing for 15-20 minutes to allow the flavours to mellow. Most modern dishwashers can accommodate large wine glasses, making it easier for you to achieve a sparkling clean finish.
No Spanish evening would be truly complete without a Latin-inspired soundtrack to set the mood – and maybe even get your friends dancing after the tapas! Whether you want to burn a CD or create a playlist, we’ve created a top 10 list of essential Latin tracks to add to your collection:
- Más Que Nada – Sergio Mendes
- Quimbara – Celia Cruz
- Llego La Banda – Spanish Harlem Orchestra
- La Camisa Negra – Juanes
- La Tortura – Shakira
- Maestro – Salsa Celtica
- Guantanamera – Celia Cruz
- La Comay – Sonora Carruseles
- Hermano – El Timba
- Arrasando – Los Van Van