new Things I Ate in Cambodia: La Abadia, Toledo, Spain

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

La Abadia, Toledo, Spain

La Abadia
Plaza de San Nicolás, 3
Toledo, Spain

Located in an extremely atmospheric old brick and wood building, La Abadia is a characterful bar and restaurant. Tapas, booze, and snacks are served in the congenial upstairs area, which only begins rocking around 10:30 (in typical Spanish fashion). New Spanish cuisine is served downstairs in the rocky and atmospherically lit dining room. This being a tapas crawl, we stayed upstairs, watched the Michael Jackson funeral, and had some eats.

One of Toledo's typical dishes is carcamusas, a flavorful stew of pork chunks, tomato, and spices. It's reminiscent of Spanish carnitas and is an excellent and meaty accompaniment to drinks. The Spanish are also besotted with fried potatoes, which appear in various guises all over the peninsula. In Castile and Leon/Toledo, free snacks, often quite substantial, appear with every drink - if you're not very hungry, this could be a great way to eat cheap.

A tapas serving of various grilled meats. At 7 euros, this was a substantial serving and quite a deal. It was all good, but the morcilla, Spanish blood sausage, was particularly interesting. Morcilla may sound pungent, but there's no discernable "blood" flavor, but rather a complex, meaty, and smoky flavor profile. The chicken was also tender and good, notable as it is real easy to botch a plain old grilled chicken breast.

This is a layered dish of cream cheese, smoked salmon, and caramelized apple, with a balsamic vinegar drizzle. Rich as hell but very delicious, and the crispy and candy-like apples provided a unique and interesting touch.

Our next stop was Alfileritos 24 (Calle Alfileritos), a contemporary and evidently hip tapas bar within easy stumbling distance of La Abadia. The tapas menu hits all the classics and is served in a bodega-like interior space - a nice place to hang out. The upstairs features a more formal contemporary-Spanish menu, and I think it would be well worth a look.

The Spanish dearly love fried snacks. These were good specimens of the genre: shrimp rollitos, crispy and soft on the inside, and croquettes - fried dough balls with shrimpy delights inside. We didn't actually order these but the server brought them anyway. Since they were good, we did not particularly mind.

Tuna belly with red pepper pistou. I thought Italian tuna was good but Spanish tuna is better - fully flavored and addictive, will probably give me Iodine poisoning from over-consumption. The sweet pepper pistou was a great accompaniment to the fish. This would make an excellent sandwich.

We also tried the gambas al ajillo (prawns with garlic and olive oil) - very nice here, plump prawns in garlic and olive oil sauce. It's a Spanish classic and you are pretty much required by Spanish law to order it if you come, just so you know.


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