Food & Drinks

Spanish tapas: Culture comes to Nairobi


Churros in tapas menu at Crowne Plaza Nairobi. PHOTO | POOL

Rather than meet over traditional nyama choma, you can meet at a bar with tapas, have a few drinks, and nibble up a storm from an array of savoury dishes.
Crowne Plaza Nairobi Airport introduced a tapas menu in November and it is served at the rooftop Pool Bar, a perfect sundowner spot.


Croquettes of tapas at Crowne Plaza Nairobi Airport Restaurant.PHOTO | POOL

Tapas are appetisers or small plates of food that originated in Spain to accompany alcoholic beverages in bars and restaurants.

Today, tapas are a whole cuisine by itself and have spread to other countries.
Barnabas Wamoto, the general manager of Crowne Plaza Nairobi Airport said the introduction of a tapas menu was inspired by the Spanish food culture of sharing good meals and drinks in an informal setting.
“Our goal is to evolve the bar menu by striking a delicate balance between continuing to serve our loyal guests and attracting new ones,” he said.
We arrived at the Crowne Plaza late in the afternoon and started off by snacking on Nachos spread with melted cheese, guacamole, and tomato salsa. Alongside this, we had some chilli cheese bruschetta, slices of focaccia-like bread topped with gratinated vegetables and chilli.

They were very tasty, I could have eaten more of them but I wanted to try other items on the menu.
I like that the tapas menu has several options for meat and non-meat items and that it brings in food influences from other countries such as Italy, Mexico and Korea.


Cheese nachos in tapas menu at Crowne Plaza Nairobi Restaurant. PHOTO | POOL

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Moving into the meat options, we shared plates of delicious, crispy Korean fried chicken wings and grilled pork belly Pinchitos, skewered with pickled apple, Mediterranean vegetables and cottage cheese.
From the main course, I selected the sautéed garlic prawns, shells removed and served with a simple garlic, parsley and olive oil sauce.

They were pretty yummy, especially with an extra drizzle of squeezed lemon.
I also tried the grilled Cordero lamb chops that were coated with a honey aioli sauce that balanced the peppery flavour of the meat.

Along with that, we had some Patata Bravas, which are classic tapas food. These Spanish-style cubes of fried potatoes are served with a hot cheese sauce, an excellent accompaniment to the meat items.
The Pool Bar has a full selection of beverages, cocktails and mocktails. But sangria was the go-to drink of the day.


Pinchitos Spanish tapas at Crowne Plaza Nairobi Airport. PHOTO | POOL

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Another tradition from Spain, sangria is a type of chilled fruit punch with wine, liquor, fruit juice and fruit pieces.

The white wine sangria was quite lovely as it was flavoured with whole pieces of cinnamon sticks.
For dessert, I chose the Churros, another Spanish delicacy commonly eaten after the main course. The long, deep-fried churro pastries were served with a chocolate and caramel sauce, and they hit the spot in terms of a sweet end to the meal.

I also tasted the Hazelnut Mud Cake, which was divine, with soft layers of cake, rich chocolate and
hazelnut praline.
Tapas are perfect when you want a light meal or as shared food for a casual gathering. Or you can order several tapas dishes and combine them to make a complete meal.
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