Boqueria Tapas Bar and Restaurant
Boqueria Restaurant was inspired by the Spanish tapas bars from Spain, and they are serving up some of the best tapas in DC. The Chef was imported from Barcelona and he puts a heavy emphasis on obtaining the freshest ingredients available. “Farmer Bob” (I’m not making this up J) of Leedstown Farm in Westmoreland, VA provides beautiful and affordable fruits and vegetables to Boqueria. Some of the more exotic vegetables include purple cauliflower and Tuscan kale.
The first tapas we tried was the Pan con Tomate. The Chef grilled thick slices of white bread until they developed a slight char. Fresh tomatoes were then rubbed across the toasted bread leaving a nice slather of the tomato’s pulp with fresh garlic and olive oil to accent the dish. This is a typical dish of Catalonia and it had a simple and rustic charm to it.
One of my favorite tapas was the Pimientos de Padron. It was a simple dish of blistered shishito peppers that were flashed fried and studded with big flakes of coarse sea salt. The dish is a little bit like a game of “spicy roulette”. These Japanese peppers are earthy and in general not spicy, but watch out, 1 in every 8 or so has a lot of spice! This dish pairs great with one of Boqueries many sangrias.
Like all respectable Spanish Restaurants, Boqueria takes charcuterie seriously. Ten cheeses were on the menu that night and the cheeses were served with bread, grapes, raisins and an assortment of olives. We had a Rosemary Manchego which is a sheep’s milk cheese that is hard and nutty. The rosemary gave it a nice herbal note on the palate. My personal favorite cheese was the Monte Enebro, a goat’s milk cheese that is soft and earthy (aged 2-3 months in ash). It was very creamy and quite delicious.
Next they brought out the Pintxos Morunous. These skewers of Colorado lamb were cooked to a perfect medium rare on the inside with a nice charred crust on the outside. A bright and citrusy salsa verde coated the top of the skewers which created a vivid explosion of flavor. A word of caution though, this is a dish for garlic lovers.
Can a Spanish meal be complete without paella? Not in my book! We drove the meal home with the Paella de Mariscos. Plump pieces of monkfish, squid, shrimp, clams and mussels were nestled in the bed of saffron rice. A drizzle of their pungent and garlicky salsa verde ringed the dish. Boqueria’s paella is prepared using a technique that leaves an authentic crust or soccarat on the bottom. This is achieved by cooking the rice in the same browned oils that the seafood is cooked in. The result is a wonderful rich flavor and a crunchy texture. They also use Bomba Rice, which absorbs more than conventional rice and makes the dish more flavorful.
Their signature dessert is the Churros con Chocolate. Traditional fried dough sprinkled with cinnamon accompanied with hot chocolate.
I forsee many return visits to Boqueria in my future. It is versatile spot where you can pop in for a quick bite at happy hour, or have a long sumptuous meal. If you have a craving for the delicious flavors of Spain you should give them a try.
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