Tapas on The Menu
The delicious little nibbles we now know as Tapas have a long history. These little dishes, usually eaten with wine, have been enjoyed in the bars and cafes of Spain for centuries. Several stories abound about how they first came to be. Tapa means ‘to cover’ and one theory suggests that a Spanish tavern owner may well have ‘covered’ a glass of poor quality wine with a saucer holding some strong smelling cheese or perhaps some olives, to distract his customers from the taste of the wine. Another says barmen began to realise that if they covered a glass of sherry with a piece of chorizo, olives or other snack, the salty taste would inevitably make the customer drink more.
Perhaps the most historic and widely believed theory is that Tapas are associated with the King Of Spain in the 1200’s, who became sick and had to be encouraged to eat small amounts of food with his wine. He was served tiny portions of favourite dishes and when he became stronger, decreed that wine should no longer be served without these gorgeous nibbles.
Whatever way it happened, Tapas are definitely a highlight of any Spanish holiday. Ireland has taken to them in a big way too. The varying tastes, textures and colours of Tapas and the whole concept of sharing really suits an informal evening out, enjoyed in the company of good friends and good wine.
The Little Yard, Wexford Town
The Little Yard has a personality all its own, attracting a busy working community who love to grab a quick and wholesome lunch to go during the week, or to sit in and enjoy it in a buzzy weekday atmosphere.
On Friday and Saturday evenings, a full Tapas menu kicks in and there’s many a local ready and waiting to grab the few tables to enjoy it!
The menu is authentically Spanish, with Manchego Cheese, Albondigas (meatballs) Salchica Ahumada (smoked sausage) Calamares al la Romana (deep fried squid rings with lemon pepper aioli sauce) Croquette de Bacalau ( Salt cod croquettes) and Gambas a la Plancha (grilled fresh prawns) all making an appearance. Plus lots more and a great vegetarian Tapas selection.
The Brook Inn, Glanmire, Co. Cork
In the Glanmire suburb of Cork City, The Brook Inn comes with three generations of family cheffing expertise behind it.
The Murphy’s have owned the pub for seventeen years. Greg Murphy is Head Chef/Owner here for the last couple of years.
Before that, his father Liam Murphy, who trained in The Shelbourne Hotel and had been Executive Chef at a big well known Cork Hotel, bought the pub and introduced the food element to The Brook Inn.
The Tapas Menu at The Brook Inn takes a little bit of a twist from the Spanish classic. You'll find traditional Irish ingredients forming the basis of the little sharing dishes on offer. Try a Crispy Hen’s Egg with Onion and Ham Hock. Salmon comes with Cured Cucumber, Samphire and Aioli. Pork Belly is served with Irish Black Pudding. All these and many more nibbles on the menu combine the cuisine of Spain with the ingredients of Ireland. Tapas are available at The Brook Inn from 3pm till 9.30pm Monday to Saturday.
Richy's Restaurant, Clonakilty, Co. Cork
Richy Virahsawmy has long been known for his eclectic cooking which combines the ingredients of his locality with international cooking at Richy's Restaurant in Clonakilty. Now he’s introduced a Sharing Menu of little tapas style dishes which use this wonderful array of Cork produce to create globally influenced flavours. Ummera Smoked Chicken makes beautiful Spanish style croquettes. Grilled Asparagus is served with Spanish Serrano Ham.
A cheese board features local Irish and international Cheeses while the charcuterie sharing board is made up of charcuterie sourced from a legendary West Cork smokehouse. Calamari and Prawns make an appearance on the fish selection, as does Seafood Paella. But you will also find Lamb Koftas and South East Asian inspired dishes here. Veggie tapas include the famous Spanish Patatas Bravas as well as olives, Valencia Almonds and Red Onion and Kale Frittata. You’ll be spoiled for choice.
Eat at Massimo, Galway City
JP McMahon’s casual dining offering at Eat at Massimo also includes a selection of Tapas, or ‘Little Eats’ as he likes to call them. This chef, who is a big fan of Spanish food and owns another restaurant serving authentic Spanish cuisine and wines in Galway, is a regular visitor to Spain to investigate new dishes and new ways of serving. His local food ethos carries through to the Little Eats menu, with Irish ingredients forming the backbone of a Mediterranean influenced menu.
Try the sharing board of Irish cheeses with Quince Jelly and Rye Crackers or the platter of Irish charcuterie and farmhouse cheeses with caperberries and crackers. Fresh locally caught squid is cooked with lemon and garlic. Speciality of the house is the Duck Fat Chips with Eat’s own homemade ketchup. Who doesn’t want to try those on an Irish Tapas menu?!