Last week’s unseasonably warm (and wonderful) weather had me feeling nostalgic for the summer, and one summer in particular: 2008. That year my family and I vacationed in Barcelona for a few days before departing on a Mediterranean cruise.
However, it wasn’t the trip itself that I was missng — I was craving the food. From bocadillos/entrepans (sandwiches) to paella and of course sangria, I was in my element. But there was one thing about Barcelona (aside from its siesta/fiesta culture) that I missed the most: tapas!
Tapas are a variety of Spanish snacks that can be served hot or cold. But these aren’t just a fancy bowl of tortilla chips. In some bars in Spain and other parts of the world, tapas are considered fine cuisine — an alternative to schmoozy, five-course, seven-piece silverware dinners — but still sophisticated enough for the high-, low- and even the hilobrow to enjoy.
I did a little research on NYMag.com’s Restaurants and Recipes section to find a reasonably-priced and well-located eatery to satisfy my tapas-hungry tummy and came across critic’s pick Oliva on the corner of East Houston and Allen streets. According to the review, this East Village spot is known for its youngish-crowd, live music and laid-back atmosphere. But as soon as I saw calamari bravas (fried calamari) and house sangria by the pitcher, I was sold.
I enjoyed chorizo a la plancha (Spanish sausage sauteed with olive oil), the calamari bravas, and bonitos (Spanish tuna salad chopped with anchovies). And since I was still hungry (and wanted to enjoy the rest of my sangria), I ended my meal with crab bisque. (I apologize for the lack of food pictures; they would have been empty plates.)
The best part about tapas is that you can order a bunch to make a full meal. Tapas also allow for easy-flowing conversations and mobility around the bar, or wherever you’re eating. The experience would have been even better if there was the live Flamenco music Oliva mentioned on their website, but my stomach and taste buds were satiated. Until my next trip to Spain (if I can afford it), Oliva’s will be my tapas hot spot.