Our first time discovering the pleasures of a tapas restaurant was at San Chez in Grand Rapids. We had heard of this type of restaurant, but had not had the pleasure of trying the concept. While we hadn’t thought of Grand Rapids as a Mecca for this type of cuisine, we were there and decided to try it. If you have not tried a tapas restaurant, go ahead and experiment. The bigger the group you are with the better, since with just the two of us the selection of dishes we can order to savor diminishes.
Tapas are wonderful, full flavored small plates of food. It is like ordering many appetizers and sharing, and when there are only two to share, how many dishes can you try? When you are with more people the chances to taste different items grows exponentially. It is an unstructured fun way to spend an evening and you can throw caution into the wind, as each dish is not that expensive, so you can try something that you may not wish to order as an entrée at a regular restaurant. Since my Bride and I like to sample each other’s dishes any ways, this was a fun way to try some items that were more exotic.
We also enjoyed a bottle of Albor by Campo Viejo Rioja 1991, and as readers may have noticed, I am always game for trying any Rioja wine. I still think they are one of the best kept secrets in the world of wines. The majority of Rioja wines are blended wines from grapes grown in the several areas of the Rioja region, hence there are no great “chateau” type wines. In fact the wines are made more like the Bordeaux wines, because when the phylloxera blight hit France, many wine maker families moved south of the Pyrenees and started anew, using their tried and true methods. One example is the longer vatting of the grapes and must (the fermenting juice), which results in such a deep color that is associated with Rioja wines. Barrel aging is also much longer in Rioja than in other wine growing areas, which gives the wines more maturity when they are bottled. I think that both of these reasons are subconscious reasons that I enjoy these wines, plus I just enjoy the taste.