How to make Spanish tapas in an Irish kitchen

Chef JP McMahon marries Irish food with Spanish cuisine in his Galway restaurant, Cava. Here, he shares the secret to making tapas, with recipes from his new cookbook

Chickpea empanadillas, piquillo pepper salsa and lovage oil

Chickpea empanadillas, piquillo pepper salsa and lovage oil

 

What is it about tapas that makes the Spanish speciality so popular in Ireland. Is it the conviviality that comes with sharing lots of small plates of tasty food? Is it the suggestion of balmy summer evenings, and the image of icy fino condensing on a chilled glass?

Whatever the reason, tapas restaurants flourish under grey Irish skies, and none more so than Cava in Galway’s Middle Street. JP McMahon and Drigín Gaffey have been sending out regional Iberian specialities from Cava since 2008. The restaurant’s cookbook has just been reprinted, with the addition of 30 new recipes, photographs and stories.

“I wanted to marry Irish food and Spanish cuisine in order to introduce people to new ways of cooking and eating,” chef proprietor McMahon said when first introducing this book, back in December 2014.

Almost two years later, our enthusiasm for tapas, and for Cava, has not dimmed. “Most cookbooks do not get printed three times. To see this book in print again, to add 30 new recipes, is to witness the ongoing celebration of Cava as a site of enjoyment. Cava celebrates good food,” McMahon says.

The book is being launched in Cava today, as part of the restaurant’s sherry festival.

Cava Bodega Tapas: A Taste of Spain in Ireland, by JP McMahon, is on sale in Cava, Aniar and EAT at Massimo, in Galway, and from cavarestaurant.ie. It costs €25 and worldwide shipping is available.

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