On World Tapas Day 2017, the Council for Tourism of Spain chose Portland, Oregon to represent the U.S. Last night’s gastronomic celebration, held at the AC Hotel Portland, rolled out the red carpet for media and other area influencers with a strong interest and passion for promoting this exciting international relationship.
Students from Santo Domingo de Archidona Culinary School were in attendance to present their inspired tapa as well as chefs from Ataula, Bar Casa Vale, Bar Vivant, Chesa, MEC, Pollo Bravo, Toro Bravo, Urdaneta and 180 Xurros. Each restaurant was assigned a different region within the country to focus on and brought together the culinary specialties of that area in bite-sized delights. Highlights included:
Toro Bravo brought the flavors of Castilla Y León with Salmojero (basturma, egg, pickled cucumber and parsley), Crispy Chorizo & Morcilla de Burgos (potato cream and salt block seared lamb with smoked Jacobsen sea salt) and Squid Ink Fideo (spring vegetables and soffrito).
Bar Vivant showcased Extremadura with Dehesa—a sweet and savory combination of jamón Iberico, Cava mousse and caramelized pine nuts wrapped up in a colorful truffle package.
Chef José Chesa of Ataula, CHESA and 180 Xurros (Oregon’s first Xurro shop) drew from his roots to present albacore tuna, samfaina and cucumber yoghurt on squid ink brioche; and blood sausage, compressed grapes, onion petals and egg yolk over a bed of Iberico migas.
Chef ambassador for the evening, Mikel de Luis, came all the way from Spain’s Basque region with a veritable goody bag of Spanish flavors including Cigalas—a dish of crispy rice noodles, marinated seaweed, Carabinero caldo corto, Mediterranean prawn fumet and baby eel packaged in see-through balls that added to the already enticing presentation.
From a welcome glass of Cava to craft gin and tonic cocktails, gourmet Spanish products and Flamenco dancing, the Grand Celebration was designed as the exclamation point on a week-long Tapas Tour that officially ends on June 18 (so there’s still time to partake in a few events).
Obvious from the strong delegation of the Council of Andalusía at last night’s festivities is the appreciation for the strides Portland has taken in educating diners on the convivial culture of tapeo. If renowned local chefs have their say that will only continue to grow and, who knows, maybe we’ll have a San Sebastián-esque pintxos crawl in 2018.