When was the last time you had three plates and a beer for $20? If that sounds familiar, you probably participated in last year's Estrella Damm Tapas Journey, which took lovers of the Barcelona beer through Wynwood for a taste of Spanish culture.
Estrella Damm has brought back the tour, extended it to Brickell and downtown, and added a bunch of Spanish restaurants, allowing you to eat and drink like a true Spaniard. Short Order was invited to sample some of the tour's tapas.
For all of September you can walk into any one of the participating restaurants where you can sample their cuisine through three dishes and an Estrella Damm. Participating restaurants include 100 Montaditos, Biscayne Tavern, El Carajo, Elwoods Gastropub, La Loggia, OTC, Perfecto, Rice House of Kabob, Tapas Benidorm, Xixón Spanish Restaurant, Segafredo Brickell, Piola, Barú Urbano, Sparky's Roadside Barbecue, and Spaghettino.
Estrella Damm is the oldest brewery in Spain. The beer stands the test of time, keeping the recipe the same as when it was first brewed in 1876. To show the world they are the ultimate beer to pair with gastronomy, world-renowned former chef and owner of elBulli, Ferran Adria, is the brand ambassador.
The whole point of the Tapas Journey is to educate Miami on the concept of eating small tapas and tapeando. In Spain, it's rare to go to a restaurant and have a traditional sit-down meal. Instead, friends might meet somewhere for a drink and a tapa and then walk to the next. By night's end, you might have eaten five plates and downed five brews. That's considered a good night.
Because Miami's weather and geography don't lend themselves to walking from place to place, three plates are offered at each stop as a way to get the feel for the tapas experience.
Xixón on Coral Way is as authentic Spanish as you can get. Spaniards like their beer on the verge of frozen, and Xixón sure knows how to keep 'em cold. Get adventurous with some cuttlefish meatballs served with a shrimp and clam.
That black thing next to the squid... that's black foam. And it's delicious.
Grilled veal is rare and juicy, served with a Catalan-style potato and green and orange mojo. From all the stops, I personally enjoyed Xixón's tapa offerings most.
You usually don't expect to find shellfish in a gas station, but at El Carajo, the tapas places conveniently located in a gas station, you'll get just that. A sopa marinero steams mussels in a light broth with tomatoes and onions.
Mushrooms are stuffed with spinach and topped with cheese and shreds of jamon serrano.
Montadito de codorniz is typically Spanish. A true tapa, it mounts jamon serrano, tomato and a sunny-side up egg on a piece of toast.
At Perfecto in Brickell, you can taste the ripe tomatoes in this tomato tartare.
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Octopus perfecto sears a thick piece of the multi-legged creature and pairs it with a boiled and spiced piece of potato.
Regardless of the tapa, they all go great with an Estrella Damm.
Follow Carla on Twitter @ohcarlucha