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Wednesday, May 23

Tapas and Spanish Food

We tried a local Tapas restaurant, Santos, near our apartment recently. The atmosphere is cozy and intimate inside. There’s a dining area as well as an area with bar stools and high tops. We were seated at a table for two by the window looking out at the courtyard. Across the courtyard was outdoor seating for Altstadthof Hausbrauerei. We’ve had Altstadthof’s beer and enjoy it thoroughly, especially the Rotebier. Funny enough, we ended up at Altstadthof later in the evening to meet friends for few beers.

I digress. At Santos we ordered drinks, Spanish Chorizo, Patatas Bravas (roasted potatoes) with Romesco sauce, Pollo Rojo (Chicken in Red wine sauce), Calamari (Fried Squid), Bread with Aioli, Sardines in olive oil and garlic. The aioli was a stand out. On our last night in Palma Mallorca, my friend and I went to a fancy restaurant and ordered their homemade aioli, along with other foods. The server brought out freshly baked bread to eat with aioli and we both joked we filled our bellies that night with bread and aioli. It was that good! So I suggested to the husband he try the bread with aioli at Santos. He liked the combination but he wasn't blown away. Too bad. In his defense, in comparison the freshly baked bread with aioli in Palma was better than at Santos. The chicken thighs were tender and falling off the bone and the red wine sauce was notable. Calamari was delicate and fried flawlessly, not overcooked and chewy which is easy to do.  Sardines in olive oil were served cold, acceptable but I was hoping for a warm preparation. Spanish chorizo was thinly sliced and served like cold deli meat; the husband enjoyed it more than I did. Patatas Bravas were our least favorite of all the dishes. They were cooked fine but did not taste extraordinary. The romesco sauce was watery and too acidic from the tomatoes.

Having perused the menu post dinner, there is a larger list of drinks, wine and bier. We guess Santos is a cocktail bar that serves food to accompany. Overall a satisfactory dining experience but not an outstanding one.

Craving Spanish food, I made Chickpea, Meatball Stew from The New Spanish Table. I’ve only made handful of recipes from this cookbook and should cook more from it because everything has turned out really good.

Chickpea Stew with Chorizo and Meatballs
adapted from The New Spanish Table
Serves 4

For the chickpeas
1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
1 bay leaf

For the meatballs
10 ounces ground pork
1/4 cup grated onion
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon smoked sweet Spanish paprika
Pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper
extra-virgin olive oil

For finishing the stew
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 large ripe tomato, chopped
1 teaspoon smoked sweet Spanish paprika
6 ounces Spanish Chorizo, sliced
1/4 teaspoon salt and freshly ground black pepper

Soak chickpeas overnight in cold water. Drain in colander and place drained chickpeas in a large saucepan with 2 inches of water to cover on high heat and bring to boil. Once the water is boiling, add bay leaf and reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered for 1 ½ hours. If foam rises to the top, skim off the foam with a slotted spoon. If the water level gets really low, add water to the pot. 

While the chickpeas are cooking, form the meatballs. Combine pork with grated onion, egg, paprika, salt and pepper. If the meatball mixture is too moist to form meatballs, place in the fridge for 30 minutes.  With oiled hands, shape the mixture into golf ball sized meatballs.  Heat olive oil in a large pan on medium heat and cook the meatballs until they are browned on both sides. Cook the meatballs in batches, if necessary.

In the same pan with the meatball drippings, add the onion, carrots, and garlic over a medium heat until they soft but not browned, around 5 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes, paprika and chorizo, then cover the pan and cook for another 5 minutes. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Taste the chickpeas for doneness. If chickpeas are done, remove from water with a slotted spoon and add the chickpeas to the onion-tomato-chorizo mixture. If chickpeas are not done, continue cooking until done. In the meantime, turn off the heat for onion-tomato-chorizo mixture. Once chickpeas are added, add salt and freshly ground pepper and simmer on medium-low for 20 minutes. Add the meatballs at the end and simmer for another 10 minutes. Taste the stew and season with salt and pepper as needed. 

Serve hot or warm.


  1. I love a good chickpea stew - whether Indian-style, Moroccan-style, Spanish-style... I've made a chickpea stew with similar ingredients you used in your recipe (sans meat)... plus saffron and some spinach, and some day-old bread (mashed with the spices) to thicken the sauce. It turned out really good!

  2. PS: I'm right there with you when it comes to good aioli. :)

  3. Oh, I think you're talking about José Andrés' spanish chickpea stew. Or at least that's where my mind goes with the ingredient list. I've made that before and loved it. I even made it for an event and it was a hit with the clients. The slight tang of vinegar makes all the difference.

  4. my family and i have had similar experience to yours when looking for chinese food in a different country (my parents always have to atleast eat once at a chinese restaurant no matter where we are!). particularly in peru, it wasn't outstanding, but what else could we have expected other than pervian chinese? :-D oh we have tried gobi manchurian! now i enjoyed the spice substitutions of that!

  5. It's hard to find authentic ethnic food outside of the country and maybe in America. That's why they call it the melting pot, there are so many cultures and food diversity there that no other country in the world can compare.