June 5th, 2013
Last week I went out for tapas with Steve at Barrica in Fitzrovia. It poured with rain like a biblical flood and a white van blocked the entrance, so I went back this morning to get a decent picture of the facade. Don’t be fooled by the dark interior, Barrica is generally full, so it’s worth booking.
We had some Pimientos de Padrón to start – these are small green peppers (originally brought back from Mexico), named after the town of Padrón in Galicia, which holds a festival in their honour every year. The peppers are salted and fried in olive oil until they blister. Most of them are mild, but one in every five or so peppers is hot.
The Tortilla de Patata was excellent – note the soft sticky caramelised onion in between the layers of potato.
The Jamón Bellota came finely shaved, from the hind leg of a pig that was fed acorns for at least two years. Bellota literally means acorn fed and the fat in these pigs contains a high percentage of oleic acid (from their diet), the same as in olive oil. No wonder the Spanish don’t think of ham as meat!
For a change from meat, we ordered a plate of Idiazabal – a creamy, unpasteurised, smoked Basque ewe’s cheese. Seen here with a few more almonds.
In spite of the cheese, something drew us back to the outstanding charcuterie and a plate of Maldonado Lomo Extra Bellota. Lomo is cured pork loin and once again this one was the best quality acorn fed pig.
Having been almost stuffed with the finest pork, I pushed the boat out and ordered a choc ice (Sal de Mar Caramelo Chocolate con Helado de Aceite de Oliva). However, it was no ordinary choc ice, having been made with sea salt and olive oil! It seemed creamier than milk ice cream and I got little bursts of salt from the crystals in the chocolate.
The quality of food here was excellent – especially the ham. Our Andalusian waitress was friendly, attentive and good-humouredly put up with my rusty Spanish. She laughed and scolded me for being vulgar when I said the food was, “De puta madre”, (which it was).