Sunday Night in La Latina: El Tempranillo Tapas

8 10 2011

The barrio of La Latina is the oldest area of the city, and it bustles most furiously on Sundays. El Rastro flea market during the day brings in scores of secondhand seekers; the night brims over with bubbly and tapas, particularly concentrated in calle Cava Baja.

El Tempranillo is my second favorite wine bar in La Latina. One glance at the decor leaves no doubt as to their priorities. As per the usual, I request a recommendation of Rioja – the bartender’s expertise definitely trumps my own. He rambles off a name and I agree immediately, resulting in two long-stemmed glasses of deep red diamonds, rich with the promise of warm complexity.

Such liquid treasure must be accompanied by equally superb edibles. Grilled chipirones on a bed of creamy caramelized onions are sweetly reminiscent of the sea without distracting from the Riojana star.

The bacalao accented with crunchy slivers of bell pepper atop a garlicky tomato sauce is an elegant presentation of a classic, but the showstopper is, rather unbelievably, the smoked salmon with banana. That’s right. There never was a happier marriage of fish and fruit than this salty-sweet symphony, drizzled with a balsamic vinegar reduction; the steady turning of the world comes to a screeching halt as we experience an entirely new and extraordinarily successful flavor combination.

My companion, eyes glazed over in pleasure, proclaims,

This. This is the best thing in Spain.


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11 responses

9 10 2011
Cassandra Gambill

If this is your second fav, I can’t wait to read about your first.

When you originally told me about salmon-bananas combo, I thought it sounded like an after-school snack assembled by a blindfolded first grader. However, after reading about it here, my taste buds are ready for a go.

10 10 2011
contomates

will happily treat you to a different pintxo if you give it a go and don’t feel similarly unexpectedly awed – just gotta trust me…

still need to take first-rate photos of my fave! perhaps this sunday…?

11 10 2011
Cassandra Gambill

I don’t have any Sunday plans–me lo apunto! (Not to be confused with “me lo amputo,” jaja).

10 10 2011
christineinspain

This sounds and looks amazing! I’m hungry now.

12 10 2011
contomates

If I really love a place, might as well trust the cook and order the funkiest sounding thing on the menu!

12 10 2011
Linda

Ahhh Tempranillo. I miss Spain. You would have to convince me to try the banana/salmon thingy. But I KNOW they make an outstanding mushroom omelet.

12 10 2011
contomates

I see a banana/salmon tapa in your not-so-distant future…..

16 10 2011
TourAbsurd

Like Christine, I’m hungry now. I think I must enjoy torturing myself, reading food blogs and all… Great pics!

17 10 2011
contomates

Spreading Spanish cravings worldwide: my work here is done. Thanks!

17 10 2011
Lauren

Alright so I just came to your blog for the first time and had roughly 5,000 food-related orgasms. Is that coming on too strong? Yes. But really. This makes me hungry and it also makes me doubt my unwavering commitment to Andalucía. I might need to plan a culinary tour in Madrid some time soon.

17 10 2011
contomates

Get your tastebuds up here; Andalucia may have pescaito frito but Madrid’s tops for breadth and depth. And salmon and bananas.

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