27 Dec2010

Holiday Tapas…

by Marketman


From a cheese tray, here, the same setting is used as the backdrop for some tapas on the following evening of holiday entertaining. With guests arriving at different times for holiday dinners, it’s a good idea to have several appetizers out for everyone to munch on. Tapas are a great option for guests milling about because they can either be substantial enough to tide one’s hunger over, or simply whet one’s appetite for the meal ahead. The other night we put out a tray filled with olives, manchego and membrillo, angullas (baby eels), mussels escabeche style, roasted red peppers, jamon serrano, etc. A few minutes after these photos were taken, platters of gambas al ajillo and some snails were also added to the coffee table.


Toasted slices of french bread were also laid out alongside the tapas. I have always dreamed of hosting a dinner with only a huge selection of tapas and drinks… well, maybe a paella as well. We used to prepare fairly elaborate, multi-course meals for the holidays, but lately, we have opted for more casual entertaining, without sacrificing food quality and abundance. :)



  1. Sopa de Ganso says:

    Just curious, you serve angulas (baby eels) as tapas. Where do they come from and at how much per kilo. Here in San Sebastian, Spain, it used to be a very typical dish for the San Sebastian feastday (January 20) but not anymore, last year you could find angulas at 800 to 1000 euros per kilo, no kidding and not a confusion: eight hundred to one thousand euros per kilo and each dish is ussually 125 grms.

    Dec 27, 2010 | 6:08 am


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  3. Marketman says:

    Sopa de Ganso, the angullas were tinned/canned and purchased on a recent trip to Spain. Not fresh unfortunately. But they were still pretty good. And yes, they were a bit pricey for this perhaps 50+ grams serving, but I don’t think I paid anywhere near 1000 euros per kilo. For some families in the Philippines, perhaps the last vestiges of once being a colony of Spain, angullas and other tapas are a special treat for special occasions…

    Dec 27, 2010 | 6:12 am

  4. Junb says:

    Ive not tried angulas before. Curious how it taste or cook, was it the same as ruling or silver fish?

    Dec 27, 2010 | 6:36 am

  5. Junb says:

    Sorry supposed to be dulong not ruling.

    Dec 27, 2010 | 6:37 am

  6. millet says:

    in the run-up to christmas and on the day itself, most people would have had their fill of heavy sauces and rich meats and pastas, so for me, tapas would be the perfect party fare for the day after christmas. a nice salad, great dessert and wine would carrry over the holiday spirit without adding to the “more of the same thing” feeling. love it!

    Dec 27, 2010 | 8:09 am

  7. josephine says:

    Merry Christmas again MM! Day 2 after Christmas we just had leftovers (of Bresse capon stuffed with truffles) but from the country home here in La Rochelle (France) if we leave really early and drive really fast we can be in San Sebastian by lunchtime. I have eaten angullas in tapas bars, but there was a rumor going around that they were really just extruded fish paste and little Chinese workers were paid minimum wages to paint on little eyes so they looked real! I didn’t really believe it… When I was little we fished them out -for free!- from the Marikina river!

    Dec 27, 2010 | 10:13 am

  8. ntgerald says:

    Josephine, what a funny comment about Chinese workers painting false eyes.

    Years ago, we had sunflower seeds, watermelon seeds, and squash (pumpkin) seeds, all crunchy and ready to eat. Someone quipped that they were from China, where retirees have part time jobs processing each seed between their teeth.

    Dec 27, 2010 | 12:11 pm

  9. joyce says:

    happy holidays to mm and family! thank you for another wonderful year of blogging. my day wouldn’t be the same without logging into the site.

    Dec 27, 2010 | 12:48 pm

  10. natie says:

    funny comments!!! looks delicious, MM!!

    Dec 27, 2010 | 1:21 pm

  11. Marivic says:

    oh my, those little eyes DO look painted on!!!

    Joke! Merry Christmas!

    Dec 27, 2010 | 1:27 pm

  12. Sopa de Ganso says:

    Gulas are extruded fish paste, and they are cheap, angulas are quite different. The most common way to prepare both is: olive oil, chile pepper and garlic. Just heat the angulas and eat. Angulas are also prepared in a regular salad with lettuce, not the gulas that are tasteless, although you do find them sometimes in tapas bars in San Sebastian just as an illusion you are having the real mccoys. And yes, tinned canned were probably gulas, although not called that way because “gulas del norte” is a trademark registered by the first company that started making these false angulas. The rest have to call them in different ways such as “delicias” or similar.

    Dec 27, 2010 | 5:28 pm

  13. WeekendGourmet says:

    Dear MM, what a fabulous idea for a holiday meal: easy in terms of preparation without sacrificing the quality of food served. I pretty much rely on the same style of entertaining :) I would make ahead a dish everybody loves, like callos and lengua, then on the day of the party, I reheat and serve with a salad, good bread, and small appetizers ranging from cured meats, smoked fish,manchego and other cheeses to deviled eggs :)gives me time to bake a nice dessert too.

    Dec 28, 2010 | 12:53 am

  14. rita says:

    mr. mm, you’re making us make another trip to spain! like that’s a bad idea, right? wouldn’t mind driving there again.

    Dec 28, 2010 | 4:56 am

  15. S Lloyd says:

    Thanks for your answer about the angullas. I too was curious about it. It’s being a while I haven’t sampled them but do recall that they were enjoyable.

    Dec 28, 2010 | 2:22 pm

  16. Marketman says:

    Sopa de Ganso et al, egads, I learned something new. Will have to go home and check the tin or bottles of remaining “eels” in the pantry (I am out of town right now). Maybe we had the extruded type? :)

    Dec 28, 2010 | 4:21 pm

  17. deebee says:

    Sopa de Ganso is right, they look very much like gulas — exactly like those I sometimes get from the supermarket sourced from across the border. I don’t like it very much, but when i lack inspiration for any salad accompaniment, gulas sauteéd in olive oil with garlic and red bell pepper on mixed salad greens is an easy alternative. A pack which has around 100 gms costs about 5 euros here. Here’s an article from the NY Times on how this “substitute angula” came about.


    Dec 28, 2010 | 9:08 pm

  18. Betchay says:

    Junb, they do look like dulong!
    Josephine, that’s so funny about the painted eyes! But as Sopa de Ganso and deebee confirmed the extruded fish paste, then you may be right after all! :) Maybe I’ll settle for our local dulong!

    Dec 29, 2010 | 9:16 am

  19. The Artist Chef says:

    Are those baby eels are the expensive one right? I was in Barcelona last October and suppose to ask you the name of the restaurant where u ate Paella. But as I remember u said it was too salty, pricey and so so :p So I decided to make my own adventures. I ate decent paella almost everyday and concluding I still like my version. Though they said that Paella should be tasted in either Valencia or Madrid. But hands down to the Spanish tapas! excellent I must say and this post just reminded me of my Barcelona memories. Thank you Marketman… and I invite you if you one day visit Vietnam, email me and I will let you taste my Paella :)

    Have a blessed new year to come!

    Dec 29, 2010 | 3:08 pm

  20. millet says:

    oh..learned a nice lesson on buying angulas…bring a magnifying glass and check out the eyes and mouth! (what will they think of next?)

    Dec 29, 2010 | 5:02 pm

  21. Marketman says:

    Sopa de Ganso et al… HOLY FAKED EELS! :) Egads, I got home and checked the tin of eels and sure enough, its made from fish meal best I can translate. So yes, extruded fish meal it is! Yowks. No wonder they were bland tasting. I guess they are the eel equivalent of all the “pseudo crabstick” that the Japanese use in everything. Yikes. Thanks for straightening that out… Last time I will purchase them as well…

    Jan 1, 2011 | 11:26 am

  22. Sopa de Ganso says:

    The real ones are usually fresh and during the winter times, so if you decide to celebrate your christmas holidays sometime in San Sebastian I’ll take you to the best place to have them.
    Have a very happy New Year and keep up the good work.

    Jan 1, 2011 | 8:48 pm

  23. Marketman says:

    Sopa de Ganso, San Sebastian is our dream food destination. So many starred and non-starred places to consider. I suspect I could gain 5 pounds there in less than a week. Happy New Year to you as well! Thanks.

    Jan 2, 2011 | 8:38 am


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