An International Delight
These bite sized meals will be at the tapas of your list
The other night I was at The Brasserie in Fairfield when I overheard a family ask the waiter what tapas were. I was confused, not just because I thought tapas had become a part of everyone’s foodie vocabulary, but because we were at a French restaurant. The waiter informed the family that tapas just meant snack—but I beg to differ. Tapas are untranslatable, if you ask me, and a very special part of Spanish culture. But they have gone beyond just chorizo, olives and manchego and have infiltrated cuisines all over the world. I decided I had to explore where else in Fairfield County one can get tapas—whether they’re Spanish or anything else! So slow down, drink some wine, take a siesta, dine late, and enjoy a little bit of the Spanish way of life right here at home.
We’ll start our journey in Spain. Well, we’re actually starting in Norwalk, but you get the idea. Meigas has everything someone in the mood for Spanish food could hope for—paella, various seafood plates, and tapas, of course. The tapas are the real treat—and a steal with Meigas’ specials. Tuesdays through Fridays tapas are complimentary with a $5 sangria, mojito, margarita or caipirinha during happy hour (4-7 p.m.). Does it get any better than free food with cheap drinks?! Or you can head over during lunch and enjoy three tapas for $12. Looking for more food? On Sundays and Thursdays Meigas offers a tapas tasting menu with nine tapas (including one dessert tapa) for $29. The tapas change seasonally, but with a recent menu boasting shrimp-stuffed artichokes in a lobster sherry sauce, grilled baby squid with mango vinaigrette and pork tenderloin with artisan bread, manchego, tapenade and garlic oil, Meigas’ tapas are sure to be creative, delicious and beautifully presented.
We’re sticking with the same culinary region but moving all around Fairfield County. With four locations in the county, there’s bound to be a Barcelona near you. Its extensive tapas menu is divided between vegetable tapas and those with seafood and meat, making choosing just a few delicious tapas slightly easier. The tapas are traditional ones you would find in (the real) Barcelona: potato tortillas, olives, chickpea purée, papas bravas, garlic shrimp and ham and cheese croquetas just to name a few. Grab your friends and head over there for tapas and drinks. But if you thought choosing your tapas was going to be difficult just wait until you get to the wine list! Barcelona offers wines from every region in Spain and in the world—California to Hungary to Uruguay and more. Not feeling wine tonight? How about a specialty beer or a glass of sangria? No matter what you order it’s sure to be one heck of a good time.
Okay so the chorizo is Colombian, the vibe is Caribbean, and there is no mention of “tapas” on the menu. In fact, the only overtly Spanish dish offered is the paella a la Valenciana. Regardless, Brasitas is home to the most delicious tapas/snacks/small plates/whatever-you-want-to-call-them around (the restaurant, by the way, just calls them appetizers). They are tapas-style small plates, in my opinion, and it’d be wrong not to mention them here. Get the pinchos de churrasco (skirt steak skewers with chimichurri and fried yucca) for a small preview of their delicious steaks. If you’re feeling something new go with the arepas con pollo—this take on a Colombian dish is a medley of seasoned shredded chicken, guacamole and crema atop sweet corn and cheese griddlecakes. The empanadas are delicious, too, and the ceviche is perfection. It’s a culinary tour through Spanish America. Be sure to pair with a true Spanish native—a nice, big glass of Sangria.
Continuing on our detour out of Spain, we have Italian tapas brought to us by Molto in Fairfield. “Light” does not describe most Italian dishes, but when I’m at Molto and find myself craving something lighter; I go for one of their Italian tapas. Some are simple—cured olives, fried calamari, or the daily soup—some are very Italian—eggplant rollatini, or meatballs—and some are just small versions of a dish—risotto porcini, potato gnocchi with butternut squash sauce, or filet mignon over polenta. All are small on portions, but big on flavor (I would expect nothing less from Molto). The tapas can, of course, also be shared as appetizers before digging into one of Molto’s delicious pizzas or pasta dishes. Or ask for the wine list and have your own tapas and wine tasting, Italia style. It’s the perfect thing to do while soaking in Molto’s lively late-night atmosphere.
Now we’re back to where our tapas journey started—a French restaurant right here in Fairfield County. The Brasserie’s tapas menu changes daily and can be found scrawled on the restaurant’s huge blackboards. While the dinner menu is very French, the restaurant is more playful with its tapas. From the traditionally Spanish (figs stuffed with blue cheese), to the Asian-inspired (fried spring rolls and tuna sushi), to the Americanized (mini filet mignon burger), the tapas are varied and fun—and perfect to make a meal out of. Some of the highlights (and regulars) of the tapas menu include the summer-y Vichyssoise (chilled leek and potato soup) and the goat cheese and beet napoleon (beautifully stacked layers of bright red and white slices drizzled with a basil vinaigrette). Be sure to order a cheese tray, too, and try a few tapas desserts afterwards or share a larger dessert—profiteroles au chocolat, anyone? Enough said.