Every time I say "Tapas Bar" while teaching, the kids think I'm saying, "Topless Bar".
Where do kids' minds go?!
"Tapas" means "little plates" in Spanish, and in Spain, tapas are all the rage. Yes, typically it's a happy-hour-type setting, where you drink wine and have small plates of food to accompany your beverage. You can have one or two as a pre-meal snack, or you can have several and make it a meal.
And make it a meal we did.
For Christmas, I had decided to take the two ladies that I have worked with in the Main Park Office at Kennywood for 6 years now (I worked in games & retail before that - 15 years total at that park!) to a restaurant as their gift. After all, they had to feel the wrath of my epiphany and hear about all of the restaurants that I had been trying out for about half of the summer, into the fall during Phantom Fright Nights, and then again into December during Holiday Lights. Normally, we wouldn't even see each other around the holidays, but this year, due to the first year of Holiday Lights, we did.
Feliz Navidad. Vamos a comer.
We had decided upon Ibiza, since it would be a new experience for both of them - neither had tried tapas-style dining before, and they wanted to be adventurous, since I have had so much fun doing so myself.
Ibiza is owned by the same owner as Mallorca, which I had visited only two weeks earlier. I have been to Ibiza before, but not for about 2 years.
Michele and Marianne left the ordering up to me because I "knew what I was doing". Fact is, I know what's traditional, I know what's good, but that does not in any way mean that I "know what I'm doing". I don't normally like ordering for a group because I'm always afraid that I'll order what I like, and no one else will like it.
I'm weird like that.
First, though, the bread. Just like Mallorca, Ibiza brings out bread for you to enjoy, and it is delicious. An even better fact about the bread at Ibiza is that it comes with a hummus-like spread instead of butter, and it is far superior to bread with butter:
|Bread with Hummus|
I decided to start off ordering 3 types of tapas, and go from there to A.) See if they really liked this kind of food, and B.) Gauge their hunger level. It was nice, too, because each tapa was brought out individually, so we could try one before the next came out, preventing the cold dishes from getting too warm, and the warm dishes from getting too cold. Well done.
We started with the "Ceviche de Tilapio Fresco con Avocado", which is just as it sounds - a traditional ceviche, made with tilapia, served with avocado:
|Ceviche de Tilapio Fresco con Avocado|
Next, we had the "Vieras a la Parilla en Salsa de Mango", grilled sea scallops in a mango salsa:
|Vieras a la Parilla en Salsa de Mango|
Finally, we tried the "Chorizo Catalan con Patatas", traditional Spanish chorizo sausage served with potatoes. Fun fact - notice they use "patatas" for potatoes. In Spain, potatoes are "patatas", while in most other Spanish-speaking countries, they are known as "papas":
|Chorizo Catalan con Patatas|
Out of these three dishes, the sea scallops were my favorite, followed closely by the ceviche. I have had better ceviche, honestly - like the ceviche I had at Casa Rasta. However, it was good, not soggy, and very flavorful. Michele and Marianne seemed to prefer the scallops over everything else as well, but they both said that they like it all and were glad that they were trying new things, as neither of them had ever tried these things before.
I decided to push the envelope a bit more and order one daring item and one more traditional item to round out our tapas experience. First, the daring item: "Pulpo a la Vinagreta". Yup, octopus - suction cups and all. Cooked, but cold:
|Pulpo a la Vinagreta|
|Close-up of those octopus tentacles - I swear they're delicious!|
For the traditional item, I ordered the "Tortilla Clasica de Patatas", a classic Spanish tortilla - not like the ones in Mexico, that are made with corn (flour is more American), but more of an omelet with potatoes and onions:
|Tortilla Clasica de Patatas|
I really liked the octopus, and Michele and Marianne even seemed to like it (they could have been lying, but it was eaten!) Marianne did say, though, that it was a bit chewy. The tortilla wasn't very exciting, since it is similar to an omelet, but it disappeared as well.
Overall, I think that the ladies enjoyed the meal a lot, and were even more happy to try new foods. I was concerned that we hadn't eaten enough, but they thought that we had. They also liked the fact that everything was brought out slowly, so that we did not feel rushed to finish something before trying something else - most European-style dining is more relaxed that our American "order-eat-pay-leave" style.
It was nice to get to share a meal with the two people who have had to hear about my eating experiences the most, not to mention that we got to catch up on each others' lives before May. Before we know it, we'll be together again in the Main Park Office at Kennywood, taking calls, laughing about the crazy calls, answering the same questions over and over...
Ibiza Tapas & Wine Bar
2224 East Carson Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15203 (South Side)