Monday 28 September 2015

La Taberna de El Campero, Zahara de los Atunes, Spain.

It would be a mistake as a visitor to Spain to think that all the best tapas bars are just concentrated in the famous places, in the north San Sebastián and the big cities, Barcelona and Madrid. La Taberna de El Campero in the small coastal village of Zahara de los Atunes is in my opinion one of the finest tapas bars in the whole country. In fact this little town is becoming a bit of a food mecca, I'm guessing since the arrival of this tapas version of their Barbate flagship that we've also been to a few years back. (See here). The only difference is that the original restaurant offers larger ración type portions.
This modern, smart tapas bar is the epitome of what you might consider the local food movement; terroir. De los Atunes literally means 'of the tuna' and that's what on offer here. In many different and creative ways. Chef Jose Melero known locally as 'The Master of Tuna' says;
“We never buy tuna less than 30 kilos in weight and mostly around 10 years old. We are extremely careful who we buy it from and we freeze it at minus 60 degrees – or ‘calidad sashimi’ – so we can use it all year round.”
The almadraba, the fishing of bluefin tuna is limited only to May and June when the fish migrate to the Mediterranean. Zahara de los Atunes is perfectly located as the straits are quite narrow. We went twice on this trip and ate most of the tapas dishes on the menu, nearly all tuna based. There wasn't anything we didn't love, it is all superb and very reasonably priced. On the very first evening of our holiday we begin, sat around a barrel in the bar area (my preferred spot) there is a larger room to the rear and side plus seats out front. It's usually really busy. These shots below were before all the Spanish turn up at 9pm (never earlier).
Bon Bon de Foie, mojama and apple cream cheese. (€4.25).
Langostinos en Tempura. (€3.50).
Canelones de Atún. (€4.50).
Lasaña de Atún. (€4.25).
Assorted raw fish dishes (tartare, loin sashimi, tataki, € 22). I doubt you'll get better quality outside of Japan.
Tortilla de Verduras. (€2.50).
Tartar de Calamar. (€5.50).
Tataki with Ajo Blanco (a cold almond soup). (€4.50).
Atún Picante (Spicy).
Second Session.
Albondiga de Atún. (€3.25). Exactly like a meatball made with meat. It makes you realise how versatile tuna actually is.
Pinchito Moruno (€3). Usually pork but you guessed it...
Cococha de de Atún. (€5.75). I've never had these before from tuna. Kokotxas are normally hake or cod throat, popular in the Basque country.
Carabineros. You may have seen me mention these giant scarlet prawns before. They're certainly no cheaper in Spain. But they're worth it. We scoop out the hot brain juices with little spoons.
There wasn't a bad dish in there. Service is perfunctory rather than friendly and you have to more or less beg to get your order in but it's a place you must not miss. You must like tuna though otherwise you may be going hungry.

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