Thursday, January 12, 2012

Blogger Brunch Over Tapas, NYC Style

Few things cause more culinary excitement to me than meeting other food bloggers to eat together! It seems like such a simple joy, but the truth is, not only do you get to spend time with friends (sometimes ones you've known through years of blogging) and share a great love of food, but you also get to dine with someone who, like you, spends a good part of the meal photographing the food. I am not alone :)

After years of being online friends, I finally had the pleasure of meeting Priscilla of She's Cookin', a blog I've been following for years. Since she lives in California and I live in New York, it was not the easiest to finally meet my friend, but her recent visit to the Big Apple helped the stars align. We selected a fun tapas restaurant for our rendez-vous.

Boqueria has two locations in New York City, one in the Flatiron district (which is where we ate) and one in SoHo. It greeted us with excellent ratings and legs of Serrano ham hanging in the front window. I was salivating before I even made it through the door. Over glasses of sangria, we gossiped and swooned about our favorite foodie experiences.

Sangria $9/glass

Our mutual love of cheeses and charcuterie led to our selection of the Quesos y Embutidos platter available during brunch, which consisted of three cheeses (rosemary manchego, tetilla, and garrotxa), three meats (chorizo, salchichón, and Serrano ham over pan con tomate), quince paste, a selection of olives, golden raisins, and breads. It was an incredible deal considering they usually offer the meats and cheeses a la carte, which costs significantly more.

Quesos y Embutidos - Spanish artisanal cured meats and cheese $19 (plus the additional Tortilla Española)

The tetilla cheese was a bit mild for our taste, but we both loved the herbaceous manchego and the slightly sharp garrotxa. The pan con tomate was easily one of the simplest and tastiest presentations on our platter: crusty bread rubbed with garlic and tomato, topped with delicate, melt-in-your-mouth Serrano ham. The classic chorizo and the salchichón, a spiced pork sausage with garlic and herbs, rounded out the platter perfectly. Overall this was a great pick!

We also couldn't resist the Tortilla Española, which is simply a classic. This version was creamy and simple, the perfect texture and flavor. It was accompanied with a lovely garlic alioli. When combined with the tortilla, it was happiness and joy. We loved this dish. I could have easily had seconds.

Tortilla Española - Traditional egg and potato Spanish omelet $7

Finally, we indulged in an adorable presentation of fried quail eggs over chorizo on toast. They call it Cojonudo, but I call it delicious! It's also incredibly photogenic. Although the portion seemed small, there were only two of us, so it worked out in the end :)

Cojonudo - Fried quail eggs and chorizo on toast $6

Tapas can easily evolve into a very expensive meal depending on how many plates you choose to order, but with some restraint, and a languid meal where we honestly savored every bite of food, we didn't feel the bill creep up on us.

The pan con tomate with Serrano ham, part of the Quesos y Embutidos platter 

I look forward to revisiting Boqueria and trying more of their delicious menu. As a fan of variety, restaurants that offer small plates fill that void in my heart and stomach, and I'm happy to add Boqueria to the list of New York City spots I can turn to in the future to provide a myriad of flavors on my palate and satisfy my craving for authentic tapas.

*UPDATE 7-5-12*

I have since returned to Boqueria to explore more of their tapas options. I found every item as satisfying as my original visit, and would like to briefly share some more photographs and thoughts. First of all, this time around I tried the white sangria instead of the red, and it was very tasty, light and refreshing.

White Sangria $9/glass

Next we ordered a personal favorite, patatas bravas. Essentially, small fried potato chunks served with a slightly spicy salsa brava and a garlicy allioli sauce. The salsa brava was beneath the potatoes while the allioli was on top, giving a separation of flavors that could be mixed if desired. This dish is easily a crowd-pleaser and definitely a stand by as far as my tapas choices are concerned. Who doesn't love fried potatoes served with delicious sauces?

Patatas Bravas - crispy potatoes, salsa brava, roasted garlic allioli $9

We also ordered the Tortilla Española (I tried this last time also), which was plated along with one of the specials we tried, Torrada de Escalivada.  Grilled country bread was spread with goat cheese and topped with onions, roasted peppers, anchovies and a sherry reduction. I personally loved these bites although overall they were pretty soft in texture (no crunchy element). The saltiness and fishiness of the anchovies were complimented beautifully by the tangy goat cheese and slightly sweet bell peppers. Definitely a good choice I'd be happy to order again.

Torrada de Escalivada (on the left of the board) - grilled country bread, white and salt cured anchovies, onions, roasted peppers, eggplant, goat cheese, and sherry reduction $10

Another dish we decided to try was Bombas de la Barceloneta, or beef and potato croquettes. They were served with the same delicious salsa brava and garlic allioli sauces from the patatas bravas. Definitely another good choice for our tapas spread.

Bombas de la Barceloneta - beef and potato croquettes, salsa brava, and garlic allioli $9

Our final dish (and I must say we were insanely stuffed by this point) was another of the specials, Coca Mallorquina. This flatbread was topped with sobrasada (a soft pork sausage made with pimenton), Mahon cheese, caramelized onions, and topped with quail eggs. These was quite delicious as well, but unfortunately by this point much more of a challenge to fit into our already-expanding stomachs. Definitely, not a bad second visit to Boqueria. Not a single disappointing dish.

Coca Mallorquina - housemade flatbread, sobrasada, Mahon cheese, caramelized onions, and quail eggs $14

Boqueria Flatiron
53 W 19th St
New York, NY 10011
(212) 255-4160

Boqueria SoHo
171 Spring St
New York, NY 10012
(212) 343-4255


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