I’d been thinking of going out for tapas for days, and since I’d visited Senyor Vermut at the beginning of February, I decided to go back and record in black and white what had been a fascinating experience.
It’s a neighbourhood place, in the Eixample Esquerre to be precise, a fact that’s far from irrelevant. As Raimon, the great Valencian protest singer of the ’60s, said, ‘lose your origins and you lose your identity’. Run by the Miralles family, Senyor Vermut practises the noble art of the aperitif. Those of us of a certain age remember our grandparents preparing the Sunday vermouth with essentials such as Martini Rosso, soda siphon, tinned clams and Laughing Cow cheese.
On the afternoon I returned to Senyor Vermut, the tipple of the day was Negroni, and I set things rolling with this classic cocktail, one part gin, one part red vermouth, and one Campari. They say a Negroni awakens the appetite, and so it did. The Senyor Vermut menu of tapas and small plates isn’t all that different from what you’d find at many a more magnificent establishment, but at the Miralles family bar everything has the Miralles touch. There was a peach gazpacho, all kinds of croquettes – the wild mushroom ones are fantastic – a traditional 'capipota' (calf’s head and foot stew) with the same rich flavours as the ones my grandma used to make, interesting if not superlative 'patatas bravas', and a 'broqueta moruno' – skewered pork kebab – marinated in oil and spices. Bearing in mind a certain scene in Monty Python’s 'The Meaning of Life', I decide not to risk an explosion and round things off with a lemon sorbet.
Before I leave, I’m already compiling a wish list for visit No. 3: the 'bomba de la Barceloneta' (a giant breaded fried grenade of mashed potato and meat, on a splodge of allioli and spicy sauce), the Cantabrian anchovies, the 'bunyols' (salt cod fritters), the meatballs with cuttlefish, the Murcian potato chips and the tapa of Payoyo cheese. I’ll come by bike next time to burn off the calories.