Tag Archives: Tapas


I’m spending ten days in London, a favorite city, and have been exploring some of the more unique small restaurants. I like to find places where the food is good and the wine list is, if not voluminous and filled with the usual suspects, is well-selected and has some surprises for a couple of Wine Explorers (LINK) like Dorianne and me.

This visit, we have found a few:

RABBIT, Chelsea (LINK): Rabbit is a farm-to-table operation with a sister restaurant, The Shed, in Notting Hill. It is run by the three Gladwin Brothers (LINK). They source most of their ingredients from Nutbourne Farm in West Sussex, including their wines. The menu at Rabbit is made up of small bites (Mouthfuls) and small plates (divided into Nutbourne Cures, Slow-Cooked, and Fast-Cooked). The menu varies by what is available and in-season. They do their version of a Sunday Roast on weekends. The food we had (a couple of Mouthfuls and three small plates) were all delicious, as well as very inventive. The service is friendly, professional, and helpful.

There are crafted cocktails, a few beers and ciders, and a medium-sized but well-chosen wine list featuring four wines from Nutbourne Vineyards (LINK).

One is a NV Nutbourne Sussex Reserve, a  white blend of Bacchus, Huxelrebe and Reichensteiner grapes. After tasting, we chose this wine to have with our dinner.

Another white is the 2015 Bacchus, (LINK to Bacchus varietal info), a very dry and crisp white wine is a good sense of terroir, and a slight chemical sense on the nose.

A 2014 Blush, a rosé wine made from Pinot Noir and Schönburger grapes.

And a 2013 Nutty Brut, a sparkling wine made with Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and some Reichensteiner grapes.

The rest of the wine list is mostly Old World and a smattering of New World, including two surprises from California, a 2013 Uvaggio Vermentino from Lodi and a 2013 Au Bon Climat, Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir from our friend Jim Clendennon. I’ve seen a few Au Bon Climat’s on London wine lists.

PACHAMAMA, Marleybone (LINK): This was our second visit to Pachamama, a Peruvian Restaurant with a twist. Again, small plates are the rule (there is a leg of lamb for two). What you get here is foodie-quality ingredients, preparation, and presentation – very inventive; not traditional Peruvian food.

The bar features great hand-crafted cocktails featuring Piscos (Peruvian liquor) – either Papa’s or Mama’s (about 6 of each). It’s a good idea to arrive early and have a drink at the bar and watch the bartenders in action.

The wine list (LINK) is small but nicely selected. There is only one Peruvian wine, a 2008 Picasso Tempranillo, which I have ordered for the table on both of our visits (after cocktails, of course). The wine is rich and fruit-forward, with a nice balance of minerality – very nicely crafted. The rest of the list is much like you see elsewhere in London, only with a greater emphasis on South America, mostly with the reds.


Andalucia is a good spot for pre-theater dinner – authentic, inexpensive, and good. There are lots of higher-end tapas places in the area, especially over toward SoHo, but if you want authentic, this is the place.

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London is a great city, and a wine-lover can find a full range of experiences. These are just a few of the many “off-the-beaten-path” experiences that this great city offers. I’d love to hear about your experiences here in the comments section.

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

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Your Scribe – Getting With the London Look (LOL)


I went to Los Patios de Beatas on Calle Beatas the other evening to check out the wine scene there. It was recommended by Kelly Kannisto of Tannin Trail Tours (LINK) (LINK TO PREVIOUS POST), when I contacted him about recommendations for wine experiences in Màlaga.

Although Màlaga is a wine region, the wines made here are generally sweet. The great dry wines of Spain are made elsewhere.

Los Patios de Beatas is a combination restaurant, tapas bar, wine tasting room, wine retailer, and event location. It is beautifully appointed, has indoor and outdoor seating, and a good selection of wines, almost all from Spain, on sale. Since being in Màlaga, we have had some difficulty finding a good wine shop.

I looked around the space a bit, and asked if I could do a tasting. Àngel, the head waiter told me to sit anywhere in the tasting room/tapas bar area. He and Christina made sure that I was well attended to, even though there were other customers – the exterior seating was full. The main restaurant is staffed separately.

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There is a Enoteca Machine that dispenses wines and keeps them at temperature. The wine list had over 15 tintos (reds) and half a dozen blancos (whites) available by the glass. Eight of the reds were in the Enoteca. I started with a 2005 Tilenos Pagos de Posada, 100% Mencia from D.O. Bierzo (LINK) in northwestern Spain. This wine has a great minerality with hints of dark fruit, chocolate, and leather. Very nice. It retails for 33€ or about $36. Another great value from Spain.

Next, I tried a 2009 Alma de Luzon, Monastrell blend of 70% Monastrell, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Syrah. This wine is from D.O. Jumilla (LINK), in southern Spain not far from Valencia, where the Monastrell Grape is very popular. This wine was rich and chewy, with medium tannins and a smooth finish. It retails for 36€ or about $39.

Next, Àngel brought four bottles to the table – all chilled. Three were Sherry, and one was a local Màlaga sweet wine. There were two sweet Sherries and one dry Sherry from D.O. Jerez (LINK) (LINK TO PREVIOUS POST), where Dorianne and I visited last year. I tasted these side by side while waiting for my tapas to arrive.

The Màlaga sweet wine, a Trajinero (LINK), made from 100% Pedro Ximénez grapes and fortified, was semi-sweet, with a nutty flavor and a nice smooth finish. The stand-out was the Fernando de Castilla Antique Oloroso Jerez Sherry (LINK), probably the best dry Sherry I have ever tasted. Over 20 years in the barrel (they rotate Sherries through a series of barrels so that each vintage is similar – taking some out, leaving some in, and adding the more recent vintage), this wine was smooth, with traces of coconut, vanilla and pear. Really special. This wine retails for 22€, or about $24 per 500ml bottle.

Then, my two tapa arrived. The first, a cod in a sauce that include coconut milk, was an amazing sensation of flavor. The second, pork belly, slow cooked and then the fat removed and a slice of pork chorizo inserted, accompanied by fennel and an apple puree. Amazing! The kitchen here is wonderfully creative and executes that creativity beautifully.

To accompany those, Àngel suggested a 2008 Mauro “Sin D.O.” from Castilla y Leon, made from 88% Tempranillo and 12% Syrah. The wine was a decent pairing with the cod (the coconut made it tricky), but perfect for the pork belly.

Then, to round of a great experience, Àngel brought out two local digestifs. They retail for about 7€ for a ½ bottle. Both were nice, if not exceptional.

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My tab for the whole thing was 50€. I know that a couple of things were comped. One of the more expensive evenings I’ve had in Màlaga, but a bargain anywhere outside of Spain.

So if you find yourself in Màlaga, find Los Patios de Beatas and have a great wine experience. I was solo on this trip, as Dorianne is out of town – so I will be taking her there when she returns.

As always, your comments on all things Spanish and/or wine are welcome.


Copyright 2016 – Jim Lockard


We are in Barcelona for a week to do two things: to attend a Spirituality and Creativity in Management Conference (SCM2015) at ESADE Business School and, well, to be in Barcelona. We are staying a bit out of town to be near the campus (which is very close to the FC Barcelona Stadium) but otherwise, a fairly nondescript area.

We had been going toward the Barri Gotic (LINK) to eat, but the other day, we decided to check out something close to our AirBnb apartment. The hosts recommended El Cóm (LINK), a very small and very ordinary looking tapas bar two blocks away. So we went with another couple, friends from France who are attending the conference.

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Friends from France – Richard and Kamala – with Dorianne.
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El Cóm

We get there and look at the menu and are told that the place is closing in half an hour. The menu looks good, so we order and we speak to the “waiter” about wine. He lights up. Now, he is speaking Spanish and my wife is somewhat conversant and one of our French friends is less so, and me, I’ve got Mexican restaurant Spanish, so nothing there.

Dorianne asks about an Albarinõ, which is listed on the menu as not available. The “waiter” tells us that the vintage has run out, and then leaves. He returns with six bottles of vino blanco, then leaves and comes back with one more. At this point, we inquire a bit more deeply (noticing the many wine bottles around the restaurant in prominent places). It turns out that our “waiter” is Josep Valiente, Sumiller (Sommelier), a certified wine expert. Now I am paying attention.

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Me and Josep and the Wines.
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Just the Wines.

He describes each bottle (most of which we do not understand). I spot a Godello (LINK) varietal on one of the bottles, and, having just read about that varietal, I ask for that bottle. Josep opens it and we are transported to white wine heaven. It is a 2012 Bodegas A Coroa Lias Godello, from Valdeorras, Spain (LINK).

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A beautifully crafted wine that is balanced, buttery, well structured, yet very very smooth. Hints of pear and spice with a nice floral nose and a smooth finish.

Josep came over with his smartphone and showed us photos of a vineyard he is growing in the area. He said that he is growing several varietals. I showed him photos of our wine co-op (LINK) in California.

Oh, and the food was amazing. Oh, and we stayed for an hour and a half. Oh, and we are going back on Sunday.

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It is a wonderul wine.


Yesterday, Dorianne and I stopped into Taberna del Volapié (LINK) for lunch (around 3pm). We had a very nice meal of tapas and wine. The waiter told us that there was a free Flamenco (LINK) show that evening at 9pm. We decided to go later on.

We arrived at the Taberna at about 8:15 pm and noticed that all of the tables were either filled with customers or had “reserved” cards on them. Our waiter from lunch came up to us and we said that we had come for the show, but we did not know that we had to reserve a table. After some very rapid Spanish conversation with someone behind the bar, we were escorted to a table right up front, the reserved card was removed, and we were all set!

We ordered a bottle of 2013 Protos Roble, from Ribera del Duero (LINK), a wine that we have had before on our trip (in fact, I had two glasses with lunch). At 14€ (about $15) a bottle, it is quite a bargain.

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2013 Portos Robles Tinto

We had several tapas dishes – see the photos – and the show began.

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Iberico Jamon (ham)
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Patatas Bravas – fried potatoes with spiced sauce – each place makes this in a slightly different way.
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Tuna loin with tomatoes.

We each had a glass of Solera 1847 Cream Sherry to close out the evening – a sweet wine, it is reminiscent of a late harvest or a tawny port wine.

And then, FLAMENCO!

This group of three – guitarist, vocalist and percussionist (via clapping) and dancer – were the most accomplished team we have seen yet in Spain. Here are some photos and a video.

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Another night out for tapas and wine – after a visit to the medical clinic for me today. I was washing a wine glass last night (IKEA brand) and it shattered, lacerating my hand. So I got a brief tour of the Spanish health care system. Overall, I give it a B+, as compared to a D+ for the US system.

Anyway, we went to a nearby wine bar, La Bodega, at Plaza Alfalfa in Sevilla. They have a much more wine-oriented approach to tapas and wine than a taberna or a tapas bar. We ordered a Ribero del Duero Tinto – a 2013 Protos Ribero Duero Tempranillo (100%) for 15 euros per bottle. Really.

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We had the following tapas – tortillitas camarones (mini shrimp cakes), jamon croquettas (ham croquettes), queso (sheep cheese), arroz con verduras (rice with vegetables), plus a basket of bread and crackers, and the bottle of wine for 24.40 euros. Really.

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The wine was very good – fruit and mineral on the nose, a nice balance of acidity and tannin, with a smooth finish.

Another successful outing in Sevilla!


Exploring Sevilla (Seville) is an experience of one discovery after another. This is our first trip here, and we are in a rented apartment near the center of town for 3 1/2 weeks. Preparations are underway for Holy Week (LINK), which is a huge deal here, with between 1 and 2 million people coming to the city for over 50 processions and other festivities. It is the biggest week of the Sevilla calendar.

Sevilla is also the home of tapas, the concept of a variety of dishes served on small plates. Tapas used to be either a snack between lunch (served here between 1pm and 4pm and dinner (served between 9pm and 11:30pm), or to accompany a larger meal. Today, especially after the economic recession here, tapas have become lunch through dinner for most people. Plates of tapas, usually one or two pieces of something, a plate of olives or a salad, cost between 1.5 and 3.5 euros. Larger servings, media or plata cost more (think bread plate/salad plate/dinner plate).

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Marinated Pulpo (octopus) with Onions and Peppers
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Serrano Ham on Toast with Quail Eggs
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Patatas Fritas (fried potatoes) with a spicy Catsup and Garlic Mayo

There are hundreds of tapas places in Sevilla. We happen to be staying within a block of a very good one, and we have been there twice so far.

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The place is Taverna Coloniales (LINK) at the Plaza del Christo de Burgos. Here, on a corner, dozens of people gather from afternoon through late at night to sample an amazing array of tapa, wine, and beer. Dorianne and I have found that three or four tapas plates are sufficient for a meal. Add two or three glasses of wine each, and our bill comes to about 18 euros, or $20. It is cheaper than eating in our apartment.

The Taberna is staffed by six people, four at the bar, one in the back room where there are about 6 tables, and one out front where the sidewalk cafe can seat around 30. The place is often packed, but the staff is excellent at knowing who needs what and when they need it, and they remember what you ordered when it comes time to pay. They remind me of the countless counter people who work in places in Manhattan, giving excellent service to large numbers of people. Part of what we in the US would call a “chain,” there are several establishments owned by the same people in the area.

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Last night, we had the tapa pictured above with a Tinto (red) wine from Rioja a 2011 Finca 10 Crianza (LINK – translation needed). The wine is, of course, Tempranillo. The term Crianza means that the wine has been aged for a shorter time (24 months with 6 months in barrel) than a Reserva (36 months with 12 months in barrel) or a Gran Reserva (60 months with 18 months in barrel). The wine was fruity, with a pleasant nose and a hint of minerality on the tongue; a bit bitter, with medium tannins and acidity. At under 2 euros a glass, it was hard to complain, so we did not.

Wine - Sherry - canasta-botella

After our meal, I ordered a glass of Sherry, a Canasta Cream Sherry (LINK) from Jerez (LINK), the premier Sherry region about an hour south of Sevilla. Also under 2 euros a glass, this wine reminds me of a California Port – rich and smooth with a very nice finish. That’s me above, with the glass of Sherry.

Here are some other photos of Taberna Coloniales:

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Dorianne and I arrived in Madrid on Friday the 13th. We are staying near the Palacio Real and the Cathedral, adjacent to the old city. So far, we have explored a few Tapas places, including the wonderful Mercado de San Miguel (LINK) which is a moving conveyor of wine-drinking, tapas-eating revelers from vendor to vendor devouring a variety of tapas and wines or beers. The two photos below are of the Mercado.

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Last night (Saturday) we visited TripAdvisor.com to see what was the highest rated restaurant near us. We were pointed to La Mi Venta (LINK), a nondescript little place near the Palacio. It was rated #32 out of over 7,000 Madrid restaurants.

Here is my TripAdvisor.com review: Thank you TripAdvisor.com! While in Madrid, we looked for the highest rated restaurant near our hotel – and found this gem just a few blocks away.
La Mi Venta is very unassuming from the outside – it looks like a thousand other touristy street cafes in this area near the Palacio Real (LINK). But inside is another matter. The ground floor is a very nondescript tapas bar – but downstairs are two very intimate and lovely dining rooms. David, who presides over this area like a king, is assisted by a young man who’s name we did not get, but the two compliment each other beautifully.
After being served a delicious bread and an amazing olive oil for dipping, we opted for tapas – two of the combination plates that evening. The menu includes a number of Tapas selections, plus other small plates, salads, and larger meals at the back.
Our first Tapas Platter was a combination of Iberico Jamon (LINK) (reputed to be the best in Madrid – and I have no argument there), and other charcuterie with Manchengo cheese.
At David’s recommendation, we ordered a bottle of 2010 Pago de Carraovejas Riserva Tinto (LINK). A blend of 97% Temperanillo, 2% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 1% Merlot – a truly superlative wine (Parker – 94 Points) for only 44 Euros (I saw the same bottle in a retail store the next day for 41 Euros). The wine was a perfect accompaniment to the Tapas.
For our second platter, we chose a seafood base – Pike, tuna, foie gras, and Pork back with fried potatoes and mild chilies. All amazing. The Spanish foie gras (which won the French competition last year) is very light and delicious and the geese are not force-fed to produce this amazing product.
We had digestives at the end of the meal, a version of limoncello and a chocolate cream liquor with wonderful confections.
The entire bill with tax was 84 Euros.
This restaurant is a don’t miss if you are visiting Madrid.

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This will serve as our introduction to fine Spanish Wine. The wine had a very appealing nose of dark fruit with a hint of savory minerality. David decanted the wine for about 20 minutes before serving. He noted that it is one of the hottest wines in Spain currently. The 2010 Pago de Carraovejas Riserva Tinto drank much like a California Cabernet – big and bold at 15% alcohol, a trait of many Ribera Wines.

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For a Digestive, we were served two liquors made on the premises, a Limoncello-like liquor and a Chocolate Cream Liquor, topping off a grand meal. Then, a quick tour of the wine cabinet with David.

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Dorianne and I went to a tapas dinner prepared lovingly by our friend Mary Stec. Attendance was based on bids at a charity auction and there were four couples plus our daughter, Grace, who is home from Boston University for the holidays.

Mary being Mary, there were a true plethora of dishes – about a dozen or so, from charcuterie featuring Iberico Jamon and goat and sheep cheeses, to marinated octopus, to, well, it goes on and on. The wines were varied – here is a photo of some of them:

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The line up of Spanish Reds and one Argentinian Malbec. Whites included Albarino and the sparking Cava at the right side of this line.

Here is the charcuterie plate:

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Oh, and some bread. And mussels and chicken and sausage and . . .

The wines ranged from very good to not so good. Spanish wines tend to be priced low compared to other European wines, but there is not a widespread familiarity and knowledge with most of them. In our sampling (I did not get the list, sorry!), the two best wines retailed in the low $20 range. Those at $10 or less were all disappointing to one degree or another. We did not open the Malbec.