[Free stuff by Wilfrid: May 17, 2010]
Who could balk at an invitation to eat tapas prepared by Alex Raij? With wine and sherry too? The occasion, the launch of a substantial and attractive volume, The Book of Tapas, published by Phaidon. And the hungry horde gathered at Phaidon's spacious and soothing SoHo store.
Now The Book of Tapas is not chef Raij's work. It's by Simone and Inés Ortega, authors of an encyclopaedic Spanish cookbook, 1080 Recipes. I believe chef Raij contributed a suggestion or two. More urgently, she contributed some neatly seasonal small bites to the launch party. A salt cod brandada pintxo- conventional enough, but lifted by a sharply flavorful ramp purée. Little triangular envelopes of serrano ham, stuffed with a cool fava bean mash. These were outstanding.
The slices of tortilla were classic, still just moist. Chorizo was tweaked with a slick of dark chocolate. There were chilled shrimp too, and a gazpacho shot I skipped only because I am no fan of gazpacho. My loss. I wavered between the Gonzalez Byass fino and the Osborne manzanilla.
It hardly requires food from the chef of Txikito and El Quinto Pino to make me interested in a book about tapas. A copy just fell into my eager hands, and I shall report my findings soonest.