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Rioja Tapas Fantasticas 2011

June 27, 2011

This past weekend, blessed with the sun and soaring temperatures, saw the arrival of the two-day Tapas Fantasticas festival hosted by Rioja. I didn’t think it was well-advertised at all; I only found out on the first day of the festival and made sure to go the next day. It was taking place near Tower Bridge, which is only a short tube ride away from my flat. Not to mention the gorgeous weather (um, heat wave? You can live in Hong Kong for 17 years and then try to tell me that 28C is a heat wave) and free entry – so off I went to indulge in food.

Of course, the event was not just about food; plenty of wine was also on offer. I didn’t try any because I’m not a huge drinker and would probably not tolerate it well in the heat, but it would have cost £3 for a glass with 4 sample tokens, which gives you a rather small volume to taste. There were also cooking demonstrations (I just missed one by Jose Pizarro, unfortunately), live music, and even a children’s play area, which I felt was a thoughtful gesture. But onto the food! The first plates we tried were from Camino’s stall. Check out that grill next to those blistered chorizo sausages!

Chorizo sandwich, £4

I also had the following beauty – the best part was actually the tomatoes. Refreshingly tangy and sweet, drizzled with olive oil and accompanied by translucent slices of jamon, this plate really hit the spot as the sunshine relentlessly bore down on us, with most shady spots taken. The juicy tomatoes definitely made for messy eating – the tomato juice and olive oil was practically running down my arm. I probably looked pretty barbaric eating this right in front of the festival’s entrance.

Spanish ham with tomatoes and bread, £4

At this point I was still hungry, so we found another stall whose name I can’t remember and bought their chilled rice pudding and baked rice with chorizo, meat, and something else. The rice pudding was a huge stodgy portion for £3, which probably would have been better had it been halved and sold for £2, as I couldn’t finish it even with another person to share it with. On the other hand, the baked rice looked deeply savoury with each rice grain glistening in a most tempting shade of brown and studded with various bits of meat. The portion was a little stingy for £4, but it was tasty nonetheless.

With the addition of the two rice dishes, we were now properly stuffed and couldn’t sample any of the other food stalls’ offerings. Perhaps it would have been good to go on both days to avoid a total binge-fest within the space of 2 hours; I will keep that in mind for next time. It was a lovely way to spend a few hours on a Sunday! Remember to keep an eye out for this event next year in 2012.

Rioja Tapas Fantasticas
Potters Fields Park

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