A“Qué viva España,” sings Manolo Escobar, and I say: “Qué viva Tapas Huset” – THE SPOT to eat the very best Spanish tapas this city has to offer.
Best served with sherry …
Before hitting the road on J-Dag night to see Denmark launch the Christmas season, we stopped by at a Spanish corner to insert ourselves into the warmth of their food traditions and forget about the Nordic cold.
Staying truthful to the experience, we were advised by Alexandra, the manager, to try a variety of tapas. We agreed, as we wanted to experience a way of eating that dates back centuries and started uniquely in Andalucía, Spain.
It is known that in Spain, and maybe mostly in Andalucía, that people have dinner late (10pm). Many believe that tapas originated when working men stopped at the bar for a glass of sherry before heading home. Bartenders started the tendency of offering free snacks to go with the drink in order to attract more customers. Soon they were competing on who made the best offer. And that’s how it all started.
Or a sweet sangria
Indeed, eating tapas is different. It is that kind of food that invites you to have a nice conversation while you are nibbling on the different dishes, rather than sitting down to a heavy meal. But don’t be fooled, because you will soon get full!
Instead of ordering sherry we opted for jar of sweet sangría. The chilled drink typically found on the Spanish coasts is made from red wine and chopped fruit such as oranges, lemons, apples and peaches. It took our tastebuds to a summer that we miss and long for.
Spanish specialties galore
We started off with ‘pan con tomate’, a classic in every Spanish kitchen. Delicious bread with tomato pulp and olive oil, it reminded me of those breakfasts with my sister when I visited her in Madrid.
It was soon followed by a flood of dishes, including the ‘empanadas gallegas de carne’ (meat patties), which came with a spicy sauce to dip in; ‘queso frito’ (fried cheese) with sweet sauce; ‘calamares a la andaluza’ (calamari) with a onion sauce that was heavenly; dates wrapped in bacon; artichokes with Spanish ham covered in a creamy home dressing; and grilled shrimps soaked in garlic and chilli. Every one of them was delightful!
Last, we couldn’t leave without trying some Spanish dessert: Torrija with cinnamon and vanilla ice cream topped with crunchy caramel. Sweet but not too cloying, it was the perfect end to our night.
Although the menu has lots of main Spanish dishes that you can opt for, I recommend the tapas experience. And if you are not sure which ones to pick, they make it easy for you as the set menu is a selection of the best ones. You don’t have to think, just enjoy!
Strong Spanish blood
Tapas Huset is a family business. Alexandra, the 24-year-old daughter of Mr Lacarta, the owner, remembers opening the door to greet the first customers when she was only 11 years old. “This restaurant – I have it in my heart,” she says. “We have loyal customers who have been coming regularly since 2001.”
The menu is based entirely on homemade recipes handed down by Yaya, her grandmother. “Everything is done homemade, from scratch,” she fondly remembers.
All grown up now, Alexandra runs the whole thing and she does it with the Spanish passion that runs in her blood, even though she is
“I think it is one of the only authentic Spanish tapas restaurants in Copenhagen. We have been trying to make it true to Spanish cuisine, without mixing any Nordic influence. We don’t want fancy – we want to keep it old-school.”
With décor typical of an old Spanish villa, this is reflected in the surroundings.
This señorita is returning
As our night was coming to an end and our sangria glasses emptying, one of the waiters approached the table next to us with a big pan. The delicate aroma filled the room. It looked scrumptious.
“Wow! What’s that?” we asked with curiosity.
“That’s the paella. You must come back and try it!” enthused Alexandra. “Trust me Chef Pepino’s paella is the best – it’s truly Valenciana.”
So I guess next time, when I visit my new Spanish amor, I will share a paella.