Long gone are the times when a tapa, Spain´s most famous and much loved snack, was just a piece of tortilla de patatas (potato omelette), three meatballs in tomato sauce with a toothpick or a saucer of boquerones.  Tapas have become sophisticated and the chefs are inventing ever new variations to tease the plate and the eyes.

In the province of Alicante, the city of Torrevieja´s yearly Ruta de las Tapas (Tapas Route) with 54 restaurants and tapas bars participating, is a hunt to find the best tapas treasure. But there is more to it and that´s the theme.

"Legend" has it that a pirate by the name of Torr el Viejo, after many years of fighting, decided to settle in the peaceful small coastal village of Torrevieja/ Costa Blanca  and collect recipes of local specialties. But he jealously  guarded his culinary treasures, splitting them into several parts and hiding them in unknown places. So, by going from tapas bar to taps bar you can try and find his secret map and you can even win a price.

Nice piece of entertainment for Torrevieja I thought and went hunting today. After covering something like 8 kilometers and 5 tapas bars, I was ready to pack it. But, I saw (and tasted) some fabulous concoctions and discovered two restaurants I´ll certainly visit again.

Because it was the closest to where I live, I started with Las Columnas on the waterfront. Their tapa of the day is this red scampi sprinkled with rose water. The maitre was also the friendliest, interested when I told him what I was doing there and happy to take my picture. I just loved all the other everyday tapas, so fresh and appetizing. The outdoors seating overlooking the sea is another bonus for this brand-new restaurant.

Following the promenade, the next was Burger Hombre del Mar. Their special tapas were mini vegetable burger in blue and green buns and a min currywurst in a yellow and red bun. See what I mean when I said it´s a pleasure for the plate and the eyes?

Restaurant NAMM had something very special to offer: bacalao yoghurt. Who would have thought of a yoghurt tasting of salt fish, but it was surprisingly nice.

I found a very eye catching tapa I another relatively new restaurant: Mat´s Burger. A tiny pancake filled with minced veal flavored with hazelnuts. And variety of other mini burgers made from exotic mixtures.

Then I veered into town to the long established Marisqueria. As  the name indicated, it´s all about seafood and so were the mouthwatering tapas.

Closing the circle towards home with aching feet and a very full tummy, I finally made it to Avenida Habaneras and Darla´s. A small tapas bar of the old style but with the most exotic tapas, like solomillo  teriyaki on mashed potatoes and squid al pil pil.

Obviously, this story covers only a very small part of all the fabulous tapas which are on offer along the Ruta de la Tapa. I don´t know if anyone could manage the whole thing, but a dip into tapas heaven will go a long way.




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