Monday, 3 January 2011
2011 - kickstarting the Foodie New Year
Since we didn't have our usual Christmas celebration, The Lovely Wife and I decided that we would have a few close friends over on the 2nd January 2011 to welcome in the New Year.
One of my best mates, Vanesh, who has been working in Botswana for more than a decade, always comes home over Christmas and always spends it with us on Christmas day at my parents. I've known Vanesh for almost all my life and he is indeed like a brother to me. Lynn is another common fixture at all our gatherings and Tina is another friend who is really close to us. The kids know these friends of ours really well and we hope that they will continue to grow up with these friends of ours a part of their lives. So yes, it was more a family gathering as these three friends are very much like family to us. Family though they may be, it is still difficult to find a common time when everyone is available. Fortunately, tea time on Sunday seemed to work for everyone!
Tea at our house is never just about a cake and a cup of tea or coffee. Initial discussions with The Lovely Wife revolved around fried noodles and then meandered to sausage rolls and even fruit tarts. Eventually, we settled for a bunch of diferent finger food and decided to go the route of Tapas.
One thing that was the common denominator though was my Chocolate Cake. After all, I hadn't made the cake for Christmas so it seemed like a good time to make the cake and keep the tradition alive.
I've always know that Tapas is a variety of appetisers in Spanish cuisine. I've also always known that many Tapas can be ordered to comprise a full meal. What I didnt know was the origins of Tapas.
According to the Tapas entry on Wikipedia The word "tapas" comes from the Spanish verb tapar that means "to cover". According to legend, the tapas tradition began when King Alfonso X of Castile recovered from an illness by drinking wine with small dishes between meals. After regaining his health, the king ordered that taverns could only serve wine to customers if it was accompanied by a small snack or "tapa."
Other explanations say that the word "tapa" in Spanish means lid or cover and that often, a piece of bread would be placed over a glass of wine or juice to protect it from flies - thus providing a cover for the glass. At some point, this piece of bread was 'covered' with a snack.
It is also commonly said that since one would be standing while eating a tapa in traditional Spanish bars, they would need to place their plates on top of their drinks in order to eat, making it a top.
There are many other variants and explanations of how Tapas came to be but I'll stick to what we prepared.
We decided we would buy loads of bread to serve with the Tapas and so we got 3 different kinds from the nearby bakery - Sundried Tomato Loaf, Farmers White Loaf and a Baguette.
The Lovely Wife made some Tuna Cutlets.
I made some Garlic Mushrooms in Cream Sauce
and also my version of Spanish Meatballs.
And of course, my Chocolate Cake.
It was a really fun evening and I think everyone enjoyed the food. More important than the good food though was the good company. It's not easy finding good friends and good friends that become part of your family are even harder to find. We are indeed lucky that we have a lot more 'friends who are family' that are around both here in Malaysia and in other parts of the world, but just like any family, its difficult to get everyone together at the same time. Our hope for the New Year is that we will have many more of our friends over - especially the other 'Friends who are family' that are in Malaysia - and of course all the others when they come home!
Happy New Year 2011 everyone!
Recipes will be provided in due course.