Posts Tagged ‘tapas’

Stop mashing, baking and frying your potatoes and experiment with a classic Spanish tapa, patatas alioli. Spaniards drool over these tender potatoes covered in a smooth and rich mayo-like sauce made by emulsifying garlic and olive oil. Eggs give it extra body and a richness which, when cut by a bit of acid, is delicious. Olive oil, garlic and potatoes just might be Spain’s culinary holy trinity. Make them once and you’ll be eating them religiously.


  •  6-7 small Potatoes
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced (how much do you like garlic)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of vinegar or lemon
  • Olive oil
  • Fresh parsley, chopped

1. Fill a large pot with cold water and bring it to a boil with the skin-on potatoes. Lower the heat enough to stop the boiling and cook until fork tender, approximately 20 minutes.

2. While they cook, prepare the sauce. In a bowl using a whisk, electric hand mixer or immersion blender, mix the eggs, garlic, salt and the vinegar or lemon. The acid serves to stabilize the emulsified sauce’s texture by preventing protein coagulation and, therefore, separation. It also cuts through the richness of the olive oil from a flavor standpoint.

3. Keep the mixer on and add a steady stream of olive oil, slowly at first, until you reach a consistency that is thinner than a store-bought mayonnaise, yet still has body.

4. Peel the potatoes with the back of a pairing knife and cut into bite-size pieces. Cool to room temperature. If you do not cool them, the potatoes will soak up too much sauce and become overly soft. If you cool them too much, they will not soak up any flavor. Mix with the alioli and garnish with the parsley.

Note: While Salmonella does not grow in acidic environments, the egg yolks in this recipe are raw, so use proper caution if it is of concern in your area.










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217 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106-2812
(215) 625-2450

We celebrated my birthday at Jose Garces’s (Iron Chef) first restaurant: Amada. Seeking refuge from the downpour outside, we were happy to dry off by the bar, where spirits, hanging meats, and barrels are displayed with equal dignity. I had a taste of the white rioja sangria with ginger brandy, fresh peaches, and mint. I wish all wine tasted like that. We were led to our table, an unrefined barn-like wooden table placed over a floor of stones.

For those unaccustomed to Tapas style food, it originated in Spain when customers were given small plates of appetizers and snacks. Not only did the small plates rest easily on wine glasses—both lessening distraction and promoting conversation—, they also doubled as “tops” or “covers”—hence the name “tapas”— to prevent fruit flies from sipping the wine.

Green Salad with Asparagus, Favas, Avocado & Green Beans

The dishes come from all directions: The Ensalada Verde was an attractive mound of fresh asparagus, lettuce, fava beans and avocados, all chopped and mixed with a tasty and simple dressing. Ham croquettes also came. I am always astounded by how they are able to fry a filling that tastes as thin as a sauce. Although I don’t particularly love them, these were the best croquetas that I’ve had.

Ham Croquetas

Papas Bravas is usually a spicy, tomato-based dish with fried white potatoes. Garces’s seemed to be a deconstructed version, but his lacked the richness and rustic appeal of other versions. It was a good bite-sized snack, yet it was reminiscent of a tater tot topped with ordinary-tasting, smokey paprika sauce. I do really admire his original recreations of classic Spanish dishes. From nowhere, came a sizzling plate of shrimp, bathing in hot chile-infused olive oil and browned garlic. I would almost say that the aroma alone was worth the nine dollars. And to think the taste was a free bonus!

The Chicken Brochettes A La Plancha (from the grill) were skewered chicken cubes. Unless the chicken was meant to flavor the skewer and we were solely supposed to consume it, I can confidently say that the dish was a unanymous failure. I understand that they were trying to allow the main ingredient to shine, but when the main ingredient is chicken, it—at the very least—needs salt.

Chicken Brochettes

Speaking of flavor, the Madre E Hijo had plenty. This dish was composed of sliced, marinated chicken breast, Mojama, truffles, and a fried egg. Evidently, they found it equitable to substitute thin slices of quality, salted tuna (Mojama) for some potatoes. Looking back on it, maybe, instead of money, we should have substituted our payment for a few Bed Bath and Beyond coupons. But we play fair. On second thought, I think I remember something that tasted like ham, but may have been the tuna. Nonetheless, the dish was genius. I even tried black truffles for the first time. The taste was very complex. You know those bits of caramelized fond at the bottom of a pan? It tasted like that with a hint of tar flavor. Let me put it this way: I would never pay $300 per pound for it. I suppose my palate is not yet sophisticated enough.

The pièce de résistance was a flatbread topped with heirloom tomatoes, Mezze Sorrel & Mahon. The festival of the tomato is beginning in Spain and Garces is celebrating with them. The tomato is so abundant this time of year, that rambunctious people chuck them at each other in a food fight of colossal proportions. Tomato juice runs down the streets like blood after a huge battle and, days later, the city reeks in the hot, August sun. I’m almost ashamed to admit that the best pizza I’ve ever had was at a Spanish restaurant. The Mezze Sorrel and Mahon cheeses rested on the crunchy crust which gave the usually flavorless component of pizza so much flavor. The fresh, plump slices of herb-marinated heirloom tomatoes encapsulated all the flavor of a great tomato sauce plus more.

When you thought there couldn’t be more, there were also perfectly cut artichokes in a rich and creamy parmesan sauce—the only way to eat a vegetable— and Spanish Octopus called “pulpo”. I really learned something about octopus: every tentacle has its own personality. In fact, every piece of octopus I sampled had a different texture; these ranged from buttery and smooth—like scallops—to slightly bouncy and firm—like shrimp—to extremely rubbery and chewy to the point that, with an added “squeaker” at the core, this dish could become my dog’s favorite toy.

Parmesan Artichokes or "Alchachofas"

When you go to a place like Amada, you don’t just go for nourishment. You go to be treated well, to receive seemingly limitless amounts of tiny, edible gifts. You go to  eat food that tells a story and to have experiences that make them. You try new things, prepared in novel ways, and presented in a modern fashion. You get to eat things with awesome names like “alchachofa” and “Salbitxada”. Finally, you go to do just that: go. For a few hours, leave the world of burgers, casseroles, potato salad, and chicken fingers and escape into another world for a bit.

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