Your mother would approve of the Spaniards, who choose not to drink on an empty stomach, and instead accompany their tipple with some of the finest Mediterranean flavours your mouth can try. Mum’s the word, so with that in mind say, ‘hola, Ole!’ and order a jug of their finest sangria - red of course, we’re fond traditionalists.
The South Bank institution is a hot favourite any night of the week; rain, hail or shine; winter or summer. The proof is in the pudding (or the crema catalana, which was delicious for the record) and our visit found the place unexpectedly packed with punters washing away Monday’s blues.
With a swish of the wooden sangria spoon, stuff some deep-fried, cream cheese-filled olives ($6) down your gob and chase it with more sangria. Ahhh, the temporary mindset of summer is settling in and the best way to keep is there is order more tapas.
With a menu all in Spanish, pull out your tourist Espanol and give ordering your best shot. Me gustaría ordenar Almendras. Give yourself a pat on the back - you just ordered the spiced almonds ($5). They say practice makes perfect, and after another swig of sangria your linguistic skills will have improved immensely (or so you think).
The Pulpo Con Chorizo ($10), a tasty mix of grilled octopus, chorizo, lime, parsley and tomato, was a highlight with the fresh, simple and wholesome flavours balancing each other out. While the Queso Frito ($9), manchego cheese, should be on everyone’s order - crispy fried cheese with a mojo picon sauce - this guy is the god of cheese heaven and rules with a gooey fist.
For those on the hungrier side, order one of the four paellas ($45) or treat yo’self to the raciones (bigger share plates) with offerings of lamb shoulder, pork belly and beef cheeks on offer (all $19). Dessert mightn’t see you step past the churros ($10, great choice) but the Crema Catalana ($10) - Spain’s answer to creme brulee - is worth a try. Cracking the toffee shell to meet the cold set custard and warm figs inside is satisfying.
And lastly, a lesson in the language we all speak - mathematics. Tapas is about sharing, therefore amigos are essential. The more buddies you take, the number of dishes you try grows exponentially. In laymen’s terms, more friends equals more food. We’ll drink (sangria) to that!