Calle Nueva 4, Ronda ✆ 952-878-640
Hours: 12:00 to 15:30 & 20:00 to 23:30
Average Price: €18 per person
All major credit cards accepted
I am by nature a grazer.
Given the choice, I will eat all day long, consuming small, bite-size amounts every now and then rather than sitting down at set times for a large meal, so the Spanish tradition of tapas fits right in with my typical eating pattern.
Tapas -- little, bite-sized morsels served on small plates -- originated in Spain as a way to keep flies out of your drink. When you ordered a glass of wine or beer, a tapa (literally a lid), would be served along with the drink and set on top of the glass. Today, tapas are an essential part of any visit to Spain.
On a recent visit to Ronda, one of the white-washed hill villages typical of southern Spain, I paid a visit to TragaTapas. This wine and tapas bar is an off-shoot of Tragabuches, a Michelin-starred restaurant in Ronda that offers some of the best Nueva Spanish cuisine in the country. I've had the pleasure of eating at Tragabuches several times, but dinner at Tragabuches is a multi-course eating event, one for which you need to prepare yourself financially and physically, as well as one which requires reservations well in advance. Most of the time I'm looking for something a little simpler -- and cheaper -- so I was happy to have a chance to try out TragaTapas on this trip.
I was there when they opened, at a typically Spanish 8:00 pm, and took a seat at the bar. I started off with a glass of the house red, a Rioja that turned out to be excellent and a great value. For my first round I ordered a tabbouleh and a marinated artichoke. Since these are both cold dishes, I expected they should arrive quickly and I was not disappointed. I had read some on-line reviews that complained of slow service, but that certainly was not my experience. I was greeted as soon as I walked in, and service throughout my time was relaxed and informal, but always prompt.
Once I got past the initial shock of these items being served in cat food cans, I dug in. The tins are actually probably sardine cans, but they just looked like cat food tins to me. As you can see from the picture, I inhaled most of both of them before I even remembered to take a picture, so the tins obviously didn't put me off too long.
Next up was asparagus and Manchego cheese. Served on a stone slab, the two spears of asparagus had been sautéed in olive oil to perfection, and covered in finely grated Manchego. I'm not a huge asparagus fan, but this was good.
Since I had been eating lots of traditional Castilian food over the previous days (read --> jámon) with not much more than salt for flavoring, I jumped at the chance for something a little spicier for my main course. Here I chose the Curry Chicken, with a side of Patatas Bravas. The Curry Chicken was just one example of some of the Asian-influenced flavors I found on the menu. One of my favorite tapas, and one you'll find in tapas places all over Spain, Patatas Bravas is boiled, slice potatoes lathered in a spicy garlic mayonnaise sauce. The heat level can range from very mild to sweat inducing, depending on the tapas bar.
This one leaned toward the warmer side, but was not uncomfortably spicey. Again service was warm, prompt and relaxed.
TragaTapas has taken tapas taken to a new level, with interesting combinations and twists on classic Spanish dishes, mixed with some Asian influences. This is a low-key, low cost way to experience some of flavor magic that comes from the minds at parent Tragabuches. Overall, TragaTapas was a winner, and one I'll happily return to next time I'm in Ronda.
Le Clos d’Amboise
27 rue Rabelais, 37400 Amboise
tel. 2-47-30-10-20 fax: 2-47-57-33-43
18 rooms. Singles: €86 Doubles: €97 to €149 Visa/MC accepted.
After a careful restoration that added 20th century conveniences like modern plumbing and air conditioning, this 17th century manor house still retains a homey, old world charm. Located in the heart of Amboise, the rectangular enclosure -- formed by the main house, Mansard Pavilion, pool and garden wall -- provides a tranquil retreat from the bustling streets outside.
Rooms have hardwood floors, modern, high-quality furnishings, and cove ceilings. The cheaper rooms are small, and can feel cramped, especially on a hot day. Spend more and the size increases nicely.
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