By Fiona Hurrell, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – In a city where culinary events feature high on the social calendar, Rio is hosting its first annual Tapas Week following a successful two-year run in São Paulo. As part of a celebration of Spanish cuisine, four of the city’s most popular Spanish restaurants have agreed to take part in the event that began on July 22nd and will run until July 29th.
The restaurants are; Entretapas, EÑE, Pintxo and Venga, all of whom have created their own individual tasting menus specifically for the event, including some of their most popular and authentic dishes.
Entretapas, Pintxo and Venga offer a set menu which includes four savory tapas dishes followed by a desert for a fixed price of R$55 per person.
As EÑE is considered a more formal style of restaurant, the set menu is slightly different offering two cold tapas, three hot and two desert dishes at a fixed price of R$85 per person. Alcoholic beverages and soft drinks are not included in the prices.
The event is not only designed to celebrate Spanish Tapas but to raise the profile of the cuisine in general, a move which Felipe Chagas, manager of Venga in Ipanema, hopes will prove to be successful. Chagas explains, “I hope that this Tapas Week will gain attention not just for Tapas but for the Spanish cuisine in general. Hopefully people will try Tapas, get a taste for it, and want to experience more.”
Legend has it that Tapas, which is derived from the Spanish verb Tapar meaning to cover, was discovered by King Alfonso X who recovered from an illness by eating small dishes of food with his daily glasses of Wine.
On account of the benefit to his health, which he credited to this method of eating, he ordered that all taverns and bars must serve small snacks or ‘tapar’ with each glass of wine ordered.
Since then Tapas have developed, incorporating ingredients from many different cultures and countries, yet the manner in which it is eaten remains unchanged.
Designed to encourage conversation, Tapas is usually eaten in an informal setting and is perfect for groups, couples or those opting for a light meal. This, according to Chagas, is one of the main reasons why this type of cuisine is so popular.
“The fact that Tapas is a relaxed meal eaten in a comfortable setting means it is great for any occasion and can be enjoyed either on a date, in a group of friends or during a family gathering,” he said.
For anyone considering the Tapas Week set menu at Venga, Chagas recommends the popular Costilla de Cerdo, a dish of Ribs marinated in hot apple sauce which he insists tastes “Delicious!”.
Anyone wishing to learn more about Tapas week and the restaurants taking part can visit the website www.tapasweek.com.br.