05 Sep Tapas and wine, the perfect pair!
I know that being a food blogger everyone thinks that I Instagram every single meal that I have and that I’m always on my phone taking pictures of everything we eat, and while G might say so sometimes, that’s not 100% true. Sometimes we just want to enjoy a night out and not worry about the lighting, how good the pictures came, or taking just the right photo before our first bite.
One of those unplugged date nights we discovered Ibérica and had such an amazing dining (is it really dining if all we had was tapas?) experience, that I made G promise me that next time we visited this restaurant, I was going to blog about it, and that’s what we did!
Ibérica is a beautiful restaurant located in Spinningfields that focuses on Spanish cuisine serving mostly tapas and traditional dishes like their amazing paella. This place is perfect for a date night, like the one we had, drinks with friends along with some tapas to share, or any other excuse you might come up with to have some wine and eat while you chat!
I talked to Ana, their head of marketing, before we came in, and she was nice enough to prepare a menu for us so we could get a good overview of what Ibérica is all about. Even though I had already been here before and tried some of their yummy tapas, I have to confess that I was incredibly excited to see what an insider like her could put together for us. You guys know how much I love getting recommendations on what to eat!
We started with some Jamón Ibérico, which they describe as “Traditionally made Jamón Ibérico from 100% pure-breed, free range, acorn fed Iberian pig”. My way to describe it? the best jamón I’ve ever had.
The ageing process suits it perfectly to give it a strong taste. We’re both fans of jamón and prosciutto, so we’ve tried more than a couple in our three years together, but absolutely none of them come even close to this one. The flavour was absolutely amazing. I would have eaten the whole board but G of course took advantage of the fact that I was taking photos and looking around, and ate half of it himself!
Ana recommended us a really unique red wine to complement its flavour. The best part is that here at Ibérica they source wines from different regions with the aim of representing the rich diversity of Spanish wines (and catering to pretty much everyone!). As part of this effort, they bring wines from small boutique wineries that are not available anywhere else in the UK. If you’re looking for something this unique, you just have to look for the * in their wine list.
In this case we started with Pittacum. Mencía DO Bierzo (2010), a wine made with a range of red and black fruits, liquorice and mineral tones, pleasantly woody. This is the description they provided me with, and I definitely agree. It’s strong and complements these tapas in the best way possible.
If you have any doubts on what wine to pair with your food, I’m sure that anyone from the staff will help you pick something that brings out the best in both the wine and your dishes.
We also had an amazing selection of Spanish cheeses, all of them carefully sourced from artisan finest producers. To me, that makes the biggest difference. The quality is 10x better than other ‘mass produced’ cheeses that you might have had.
Also, since you get a wide variety, you can really try a bit of every kind of cheese available and decide which one do you like the most. From classic cheeses like the manchego (a favourite!), to strong and soft cheeses, they didn’t miss a single detail when it comes to including everything that a cheese lover (like us) might be craving.
Another thing that improves the whole dining experience at Ibérica is the fact that all of their staff is incredibly attentive and nice to everyone. They’re all capacitated not only to give you the best attention, but also to recommend and give you all the information on what you’re eating, how to pair it with other items on the menu, and the story behind the dish. That makes Ibérica stand out from other regular ‘tapas’ restaurants. Their staff is definitely another reason for me to go back.
But let’s keep going with the food!
They describe it as ‘the perfect side to jamón Ibérico’ and I couldn’t agree more!
The tomato flavour serves as a nice base to complement the strong and savoury flavour of the jamón, and when you have it on its own, it feels fresh and delightful. Perfect for a sunny day like the one we had!
Continuing on the same line of fresh dishes with an amazing flavour, the gazpacho didn’t disappoint me for a second.
G described is saying that it transported him to summer in Spain, and even though we still haven’t had the chance to travel to Spain and spend our summer in Barcelona or Madrid, I would definitely agree with him that this is how we believe it feels.
Bonus points for the bits and pieces that gave it a whole other texture.
Now let’s talk about one of my absolute favourite things to have in the entire world. Yes, I’m not only talking about Spanish cuisine or tapas or anything like that, I’m talking about a favourite in food. Period.
These croquetas are one of their signature tapas and I can definitely see why they would stick with them, they’re just too good to skip!
If you haven’t tried croquetas de jamón, you definitely need to do yourself a favour, head to Ibérica and order some. You can thank me later.
They’re as amazing as they can get. Perfect creaminess and completely delightful in every single way. Their crispy outside makes me love them even more.
Missing them on your visit to Ibérica should be considered a sin!
I would have never thought of having a toast with green asparagus, but the way they prepared it made so much sense to me, that now I’m wondering why I never tried it before!
All the components were balanced to provide an amazing dish, with the strong flavour of the asparagus over the manchego base, drizzled with the truffle oil, every bite you take has just the perfect taste.
I know I’ve already said that the croquetas de jamón are my favourite, but the octopus a la gallega came pretty close in second place. Some days, depending on my mood, we could even call it a tie! (I mean, we could put all of these dishes tied in first place, because there’s not a single one we didn’t love!)
This is definitely another ‘must’ when you come to Ibérica.
The octopus is prepared and seasoned perfectly to really bring out its characteristic flavour, and the potatoes serve as the perfect base for it, complementing it greatly with the creamy sauce.
There aren’t enough words to describe how perfect this dish was to both of us, you definitely need to go and try it yourself!
Our server told us that the secret to get the best flavours out of this amazing paella is to serve it like Spanish do, scraping it from the bottom of the pan. And when in Rome, do as the Romans do. So that’s what we did!
Spanish are definitely right, the caramelised bits are the best part of the paella.
We definitely wouldn’t expect any less from such an amazing restaurant, but even knowing what to expect from Ibérica, this paella surprised me with its wonderful flavour.
All I can say is that I’m thankful for the fact that the pan was big enough to have plenty of caramelised bits for both of us, because I know if it hadn’t been the case, we would have had to fight for the last bite. That’s how exquisite it was!
By this point, we were done with our red wine and jumped straight to white wine to complement our chicken paella. Ana recommended us a San Clodio Treixadura & Godello. DO Ribiero (2015), which they described as classic, fresh peach and cut grass. We’re not really white wine drinkers in general, but Ana’s recommendation impressed me and definitely made me change my mind! Also, it paired perfectly with our paella. Wouldn’t have it any other way!
And then it was time for dessert!
Yes, we finally had churros!
And I say finally because G has been craving churros for the past two months. We didn’t have them last time we came to Ibérica because we didn’t have room for dessert after eating so many tapas, but thankfully this time we prepared our stomachs and left room for these babies.
They were absolutely perfect.
I know it might seem like such a basic/lazy description, but that’s the best way to say it. They were nice and crispy on the outside, with just the right amount of sugar to make them a proper dessert, but not too much to make you feel like you’re going to have a sugar rush afterwards.
The chocolate was a little bitter, which to me makes perfect sense when paired with these sugary treats. Definitely an amazing combination. They complemented each other in the best way possible.
As you can see, G was happy and got
way too excited dunking his churros in chocolate over and over again.
I’d definitely recommend this as your dessert of choice when you come!
Overall, words are not enough to explain how much we’ve enjoyed every visit we’ve had to Ibérica. From their staff, to their food, to the amazing decor and the nice atmosphere, they have really thought of everything to provide you with a high quality dining experience that you’ll enjoy from start to finish. But please, don’t take my word for it and pay them a visit yourself. You won’t regret it!
I hope my insights will give you some ideas on what to get depending on what you like the most, and if you decide to go for something completely different, maybe you’ll give me ideas for our next time! I’d love to know either way.
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That’s it for today, friends. Thanks for reading me, and make sure to come back on Thursday for a boozy adventure.