Tapas means a small dish. Usually it is a quarter of a portion, but many times it also refers to something that is not available in portions. You don’t eat a whole plate of cheese or cured ham at once. Tapas is a Spanish snack.
During lunch hour you see locals gathering at tapas bars with friends for having a glass of red wine or caña (a small beer), some cured Spanish ham, jamón and Manchego cheese. Finest jamón is called pata negra which translates to “black hoof” and it’s usually cured between 24 to 48 months. This is traditional Spanish way of preserving meat and it was the only way in the old days. It is served in thin slices and it takes years of training in order to be able to cut them perfectly from the whole pork legs.
Manchego is made of sheep milk and it is aged for long as well. Typical Manchego cheese is aged between 2 to 12 months. And the price goes together with the aging period. First Manchego cheese is cut in sectors and then cut in triangle slices. When served, the cheese must be in room temperature. Usually in tapas bars they don’t even put the cheese in the fridge – it is stored in under a cover on tapas counter. Depending on your preference you may enjoy it as it is or put some extra virgin olive oil and some ground pepper on top.
Many times these types of tapas is served with bread sticks. Once we’re at a tapas bar, the bread sticks came with pesto cream cheese and this combination turned out to be absolutely wonderful! In the picture above we have some home made pesto (see our recipe for Tuna Steak Salad with Green Pesto to make the pesto). Mix it well with cream cheese and you’re done!