GW Spain Trip 2016 No.1: Food and Wine No.1 Bar and Tapas

Spain Basque journey 2016 GW
Spain Basque journey 2016 GW

I’m going to start writing my GW travelogue little by little this time. This time, instead of writing in chronological order, I’m going to write a related article for each theme each time.

The first theme is « Food and Wine Edition ». This « Meals » series has become a standard these days. I’ll be writing about it in several installments.

Val was everywhere.

Bars are the first thing that comes to mind as part of Spain’s dining culture. Indeed, there were bars in every area we visited this time. The photo is a bar in Pamplona old town. This one was very nice.

But to be honest, bars are hard to get into if you’re not used to them…. If anything, I’d rather go to a restaurant. However, there are often no restaurants in small towns in rural areas. In order to have dinner, you have to rely on bars where there are only locals.

By the way, there are some bars that have almost no tapas, only drinks and snacks. It seems to be common in small towns. This is hard. For example, when I stayed in a beautiful Spanish village called « Calaceite », all the restaurants in town were closed because it was off-season. We had to give up our dinner.

If you sit at a table, it’s like a restaurant, and if you sit at a counter, it’s like a bar.

In bars, it seems that you basically eat and drink at the counter or bar tables (high tables), but of course there are often tables available as well. However, there was a pattern that if you sat there, you had to order restaurant food instead of tapas. In fact, this was sometimes more helpful. Of course, there are many places where you can order tapas even at a table.

About Tapas

And speaking of food served in bars, tapas is the best. As for tapas, as I had expected before, I think there were relatively many tapas that you can find in Spanish bars in Japan. Speaking of standard Spanish appetizers, cured ham (Jamon Serrano, Jamon Iberico) was everywhere. Hamon Iberico was relatively expensive, same as Japan. The quantity is the same price but of course they serve more than Japan.

I also saw a lot of small beans cooked with olive oil, garlic and ham (bacon). It was very tasty. It seems to be a standard dish in restaurants.

By the way, bean dishes in Europe are really delicious everywhere. If you like beans, you won’t be disappointed.

We also have a wide variety of meat products. Chorizo is a typical example. I didn’t order chorizo itself this time, but I had chorizo and pork stew (Cazuela, I think) in Cuenca on the first day. It was very good value for money.

As for other tapas, Albondigas, a meatball dish, and croquettes were popular and often seen.

By the way, Croquette is a type of white sauce in many cases, but not crab like in Japan, but meat (probably ham) in many cases. There was also a case of crab cream.

I thought it would be nice if there were more meat-based cream sauce type croquettes in Japan.


Ahijos are just shrimp.

Now, when you think of a staple in a Spanish bar, you might think of « ajillo ». It’s true that ahijos were everywhere, but almost without exception in every region I saw only « Gambas al ajillo » (Shrimp Ahijos).

They don’t seem to have this and that like in Japan. I don’t like the way they arrange ahijos like pasta with a lot of sauces (mostly spaghettini) in Japan. I prefer something a little simpler and more primitive.

Drinks in the bar

There are beers, cocktails and everything, but the best thing is that wine is cheap! Even a good Rioja wine can be had for around 1,5 euros. The bar is perfect for a light drink. In addition, there were a few places that came with nuts by default.

By the way, do these bars have a menu (chart)? Some of them have menus, but there are quite a few that don’t. In that case, you have no choice but to order by pointing at what’s laid out in the show window.

However, it seems that there are enough places that have them for foreign tourists, so don’t worry. But if you get used to it, it will be quicker to ask for this at the counter. Also, even if there is a menu, they may not come to your seat to take your order, so it’s better to go to the counter and tell them you want this.

さてさて、バルにはもちろん欠かせないピンチョス、そして伝統的な料理についてはまた次回以降にお話します。(食事編 No.2につづく)