Hello everyone! Wow, it has been a LONG time since I have last blogged. I don’t have a good excuse for this, except I realized I was cooking and eating SO MUCH delicious food that it was difficult to keep up. Also, I really wanted to grow my Instagram followers, and just keeping up with Instagram posts was time consuming. But, I can’t think of a better time to pick back up on my blog now. Why? Because it’s currently Day 15 of the mandated NYC Quarantine due to Coronavirus and I literally do not have any excuse not to.
Since the entire world is affected right now I would guess that you are probably social distancing as well. I never thought I’d see the day when all of the wonderful bars and restaurants of New York are closed, with no idea of when they’ll be re-opening. The uncertainty is the worst part by far, and I cannot wait for the day that Matt and I can go out for a simple dinner that we used to take for granted. Until then, I’ll have to live through my memories of all the great places we’ve gotten to try before this all started.
For our anniversary this year we had an amazing trip planned to Malaga, Lisbon, and Marrakesh at the end of March (basically now). Although we had to cancel the entire trip a week prior, I had been getting really excited re-acquainting myself with tapas and Mediterranean food before we realized we wouldn’t be able to go. For Christmas, Matt bought me a Spanish wine and tapas tour of Soho through NYC Vinos and Tapas, which turned out to be absolutely incredible and was a great way to learn about Spanish wines before traveling there.
The tour consisted of a trip to two different Spanish restaurants and a Spanish wine store. At each location we were given a couple tapas each paired with a delicious glass of Spanish wine. In addition to the amazing food and wine, our tour guide Tatiana was super friendly, knowledgeable, and was a great hostess. I had so much fun! I have been raving about it ever since, and I cannot wait to go on another tour. It also showed me a neighborhood of NYC that I rarely get to check out. Below I’m going into full detail about the three spots we got to check out.
Socarrat Paella Bar
The first stop on our journey was the cutest Spanish restaurant I’ve ever seen. Socarrat is a “paella bar” and honestly I’ve never heard of anything better. We started off with one of my favorite Spanish tapas, Patatas Bravas, which is basically lightly fried potatoes with a spicy aioli or mayonnaise. It was paired with a crisp glass of white wine that really amplified the spiciness of the aioli. This was unusual because by itself the wine was quite citrusy, but took on a completely different form when drank with spicy food.
After devouring the potatoes we were lucky enough to get to try their famous paella for our next tapas. This was probably my favorite snack of the entire day, I mean, who doesn’t like paella? This was paired with a red wine this time, which Tatiana explained was because of the saffron and spices in the paella. Although the meat was chicken and seafood, a white wine’s flavor would have been lost due to the spices. Fun fact: Socarrat actually has a few locations, and their brunch is AWESOME. Tapas, paella, and unlimited sangria!
Despaña Vinos y Mas
Our second stop on the trek was an exclusively Spanish wine store around the corner from the Paella Bar. Prior to this tour I had no idea that such specialized wine stores even exist, but of course if they do, they would be here in NYC. When we walked in they had delicious tapas waiting for us, specifically pan con tomate y jomón (bread with tomato jam and ham), and salted cod croquettes. We got a super fun lesson on the different wines from different regions of Spain, as well as the history behind wine making in the country. We also got to try some natural wine from Spain that has no preservatives or fillers. Surprisingly, you wouldn’t even believe some of the crap that gets put in larger brands of wine to make it shelf-stable and consistent, since wine makers don’t have to list ingredients.
Our last and final stop was Taberna Gallega, which is an authentic Spanish restaurant right in Little Italy. I would never have known this place existed if it wasn’t for this tour. I had several glasses of wine by this point but I certainly did not forget how awesome the food was. We got to try chorizo that was brought flaming to our table, and my favorite, octopus. I was seriously in heaven by this point. The wines that were paired with the tapas made the meat taste even meatier and the octopus even sweeter. By the time the tour had ended I was definitely not ready to go home, so we stayed for hours longer and several more bottles of wine.
Although we’re all stuck inside for the foreseeable future, I’m so happy that we at least got to have one fun-filled day to pretend like we were in Spain. Unfortunately that will have to last us a while, because who knows when we’ll be able to travel again. Once this is all over though, I highly recommend booking a Tapas Trail to get back out there and to refresh your memory on what this city has to offer.