Last week I was invited along to an exclusive event at Tapas Revolution* in Eldon Square, Newcastle, for a pairing dinner hosted by Spanish celebrity chef, Omar Allibhoy. Celebrating the opening of his seventh restaurant in the UK, Omar is the mastermind behind the Spanish restaurant chain and is passionate about bringing a real taste of Spain to the UK. Although classed as a chain restaurant, Tapas Revolution is unlike other restaurants that have other branches scattered around the country. Omar prides his business on using the finest Spanish ingredients, there’s no ordering from catalogues each week. It’s all about fresh produce which he orders from his contacts directly from Spain itself and it doesn’t get more authentic than that.
Upon arrival we were greeting by a smiley waitress who welcomed us to the restaurant and took us over to our seats. The atmosphere was warm, fun and friendly with Spanish music playing from the speakers, it was easy to transport yourself to a warmer climate and imagine you were in sunny Spain instead of chilly Newcastle.
Whilst we waited for everyone to arrive, we chatted between ourselves and ordered some drinks from the extensive drinks menu. I ordered sangria as it seemed fitting for our Spanish themed night. Despite visiting Spain more times than I can count, I’ve never really indulged in the country’s traditional cuisine. It was only last year that I tried Tapas in Barcelona and even then I didn’t go for the traditional dishes so I was excited to try them during this pairing event.
Although sangria is a popular drink in Spain, beer is actually the drink of choice when it comes to socialising with friends and family over food. Before we started the pairing, we were given four different types of beers, one of which would accompany our dessert later in the evening. I’m not a beer drinker at all but it made a nice change to learn more about the beer and which foods they best suited. I was pleasantly surprised how easy they were to drink.
The first was an alcohol free Estrella Galicia beer which was very light and refreshing with a smooth aftertaste. This was perfect to accompany the lighter bites such as breadsticks with olive dip and the Spanish omelette. Another beer to pair with the light, less fatty foods was the Estrella Galicia premium lager with a 4.7% volume which had a stronger taste with an aftertaste that lingered for a while.
To compliment the heavier dishes such as the ham and bechamel croquettes and chicken paella, we sipped on 1906 Reserva Especial which was 6.5% alcohol. This had subtle notes of caramel and coffee and had a warming taste to it.
We were served a beautiful variety of tapas dishes that differed quite dramatically in taste. My favourites were the croquettes and the pan de la casa which was made up of toasted bread topped with tomato, garlic sauce and surrano ham – delicious! Tapas is perfect for people who like variety when they eat, you can simply hop from one dish to the next and it’s great fun when shared with friends.
I also tried Octopus for the first time! Mixed together with small pieces of sliced potato and sprinkled with paprika, it wasn’t as chewy as I imagined it to be and it tasted a little bit like pork (the plate was much fuller than the photo below!).
Can you believe the food above was just our first course?! Next we were given a massive pan of paella which was made up of saffron rice, chicken and green beans – it was absolutely to die for, I could have eaten it all day long. Shared between five of us, it was fun dishing out our own portions. I would 100% order this dish again!
Despite being pretty full from our first two courses, we couldn’t skip dessert! We were served torrija which is a Spanish twist on the traditional bread and butter pudding. A torrija is a caramelised brioche bun soaked in custard and sprinkled with a dash of cinnamon, it was incredibly sweet and certainly satisfied my sweet tooth. Accompanying the dessert was 1906 Black Coupage which was a whopping 7.2% proof and it was served in the most gorgeous glass may I add! This beer had flavours of liquorice, chocolate and caramel running through it and it complemented the dessert perfectly.
I had a fantastic evening learning more about Spanish culture and the best beers to pair with different types of foods. It turned eating and drinking into a whole new and exciting experience. I would definitely visit Tapas Revolution again in the future to try more of their menu! I’d like to thank Omar, Lisa and Sophie especially for their hospitality and for sharing their knowledge with us.
Is beer pairing something you would like to try? Pop down to Tapas Revolution to try the unique experience for yourself.
*Complimentary food and drink provided by Tapas Revolution in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Please read my disclaimer for more information.