By Nan Mackenzie
Maria Jose Calderon comes from the Basque country and was born and brought up in Madrid, where her family ran several restaurants, so from a very young age she was introduced to appreciating good food, with the result cooking for her became not only a skill to be perfected it was also an activity which managed to delight others. This ability to delight is still there if you choose to visit her recently opened Las Tapas tavern and bar.
In its previous reincarnation the venue was an English style pub serving uninspired Sunday roasts and pints of beer to homesick expats. Now its home to a much cheerier crowd of expats as well as being a very friendly watering hole for Cypriots, Russians, and anyone else who appreciates the music, dance and food of Spain.
Come the weekend the combination of all three sensory delights blend together when Andres Aspromallis and his partner take to the stage area to perform his stylish Flamenco, with driving stamping footwork, which he sustains over unfeasible peaks of intensity his torso curving in passionate arcs. This alone is well worth the price of a bottle of good red wine and a plate of tuna pies (or three) and a side dish of jamon croquettes, which consist of little cubes of ham set in a solid creamy béchamel, with the cylinders then rolled in breadcrumbs and fried.
To be honest this is a menu which offers really naughty food for good people where folk unhurried and unconcerned by dietary restrictions can really assault their taste buds with a delicious variety of taste delights.
We started with an anti-vampire loaded Sopa de Ajo – a Spanish garlic soup – with good fresh bread, then it was on to the home-made tuna pies with tomato sauce and egg. The dishes for a tapas bar are really quite generous here.
Maria always works the seasonal route so the tapas menu will have additions depending on what is in season, but popular standards such as the Spanish omelette and calamari with peppers, plus garlic prawns are always available. Other additions to the menu are a plate of meatballs in a white wine sauce, or mussels Vinaigrette, eggs with Spanish sausage and asparagus, or Maria’s speciality dish Paella.
Her Paella comes in three different versions – meat, seafood, and vegetarian. We relished her seafood paella with lightly flavoured rice, studded with juicy prawns, calamari and mussels, which dish resembled a lovely glinting heap of mixed onyx, and tasted delicious, with the seductive mix of aromas wafting from onions, garlic, olive oil and tomatoes. (Note; Paella needs a days notice so please order in advance)
For those who fancy really getting in the mood then there is also homemade sangria which is a thoroughly innocent lemonade beverage, well that’s what one would like to believe but, this beverage has long fooled quite a few travellers by its supposed innocuous lack of ‘spirit’.
The fully stocked bar also offers a good selection of beers etc also Spanish wines, and a range of some of the better local made wines.
SPECIALITY Everything Spanish
WHERE 53 Christou Kelli Ave, Kissonerga village, Paphos
CONTACT 99 424417
PRICE €17 for Tapas. When Flamenco is performed its €18 plus a glass of Sangria