Tag Archives: tapas

All In the Pan.

Jill and I haven’t been shy about discussing our collective obsession with Spanish cuisine in these pages—our love affair with tapas and sangria has been going strong since our inaugural trip together, and it shows no signs of waning anytime soon. Fried chunks of potato doused with aioli, shrimp in sizzling garlic oil, served in a hot cazuela, blistered shishito peppers sprinkled with sea salt, croquetas de jamón (or blue cheese and dates, if we’re feeling fancy)—these are the things of which reveries are made.

But as much as I love those small-plate staples, I’ve always been less than impressed by what may as well be the country’s de facto national dish: paella. (Not that that’s stopped me from wanting to make a great version myself, mind.) After one too many encounters with an underwhelming, blandly seasoned pan of rice, I gave up, mentally categorizing this dish as one that’s great in theory—what’s not to love about seafood, sausage, and garlic?—but fails to live up to its billing in reality. Silly me. Turns out I just hadn’t met the right one yet.

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Spanish Outpost.

As much as I like to explore new dining frontiers, I’m really a creature of habit: There’s a core group of restaurants that I go to over and over again, but, for fear of misrepresenting my favorites, I’ve avoided writing about all but a few of them. It’s so much easier to discuss the things you’re not as attached to emotionally, isn’t it?

When Jill and I came back from our first-ever trip together, our love affair with all things Spanish (well, minus the racism) was firmly in place. It wasn’t easy to feed my newly minted tapas addiction in Virginia, where I found myself after Spain, or in Romania, where I spent a few months before moving to New York, so I went a little nuts once I got to this city. Although the sheer volume of options could’ve been overwhelming, I was determined to work my way through as many tapas joints as I could manage. Many of them didn’t measure up to what I’d had in Europe and were easy to cross off the list, but the moment I discovered Tía Pol, the search ground to a sudden halt.

This was the food we had in Spain. No. This was the food we wish we’d had in Spain.

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A Break from the Blah.

I hate to say it, but I haven’t had much of an appetite lately.

I’m not sure whether to blame the weather change, the tiresome feeling that I’m stuck in a rut, foodwise, or an overall sense of ennui, but regardless of the cause, the result is that I’ve been subsisting on some fairly uninspired fare: the spoils of a Sahadi’s shopping trip (on any given day, that means hummus, taramosalata, olives, and/or cheese and crackers) and neighborhood takeout (crappy Chinese, mediocre Indian, decent pizza) at home, and visiting the same old spots for the odd meal out.

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I managed to pull myself out of that depressing cycle just long enough to revisit a place that, due to a slightly higher price point, isn’t part of my every-day rotation: Alta Restaurant.

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Off On the Right Foot.

The first leg of my journey to Vermont started with a mad dash from a Midtown office to the subway to the AirTrain to JetBlue’s new(ish) Terminal 5 at JFK. After painlessly checking in and practically floating through the security queue—par for the course, if my experience with the airline (at JFK, anyhow) is anything to go by—I had enough time to peruse the bright-and-shiny terminal’s updated dining options. (A brief disclaimer: I’m in the midst of a serious love affair with JetBlue. I do not own stock in the company, nor do I get any sort of kickbacks; I wouldn’t turn either one down, though, if any execs happen to be reading.)

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Anyway. It will surprise no one to learn that I went with Piquillo. As you may recall, I have a slight thing for tapas, and this spot, billed by JetBlue as the first tapas restaurant in a U.S. airport, seemed the perfect choice for a quick snack (and glass of wine, naturally) before boarding.

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Tapa Temptation.

Little-known fact: There are few things not cured by sparkling wine.

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A dreary, rainy Tuesday night? Champagne and fried goodies to the rescue.

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