One day whilst sitting in my little apartment in my little town of Ciudad Real, bored as bored could be, I decided to take matters into my own hands. “What…” I asked myself, “…could I possibly do to keep myself entertained and inspired in this smallish city where I still haven’t quite found my ‘scene’?”
Before long, an idea struck. The weekend I’d arrived, there was a tapas festival, Tapearte, going on in Ciudad Real. Dozens of restaurants in the city were participating, and each restaurant had created a special tapa for the week of the festival. The idea was that residents and visitors could do a sort of ‘ruta de tapas‘ by visiting all of the different participating restaurants and sampling their tapas. There was even a printed guide with a map of all the restaurants and their featured tapas that I’d snagged from the hotel I’d stayed in my first week. Unfortunately, since more pressing matters like finding an apartment and figuring out my school routine were higher priority at that time, I didn’t get a chance to visit any of the restaurants, but I’d held on to the guide and map.
“Why not do your own personal ruta de tapas?” I thought to myelf. “You could visit all of the places on the guide and sample whatever they have on offer. It’d be a great way to get to know some new places while keeping your belly full.”
Inspired by my idea, I whipped out the Tapearte guide, quickly perused the list to see which place sounded most appetizing, then decided it was best to just start at the beginning. And that’s how I found myself at Meson de Octavio, the very first restaurant on the list.
When I walked into the restaurant / bar located just north of the Puerta de Toledo in Ciudad Real, there were only a few other people inside. I greeted the bartender and asked if there was anything to tapear. At first he acted as if I’d invented the word, Then after I’d explained that I’d found this place from looking at the Tapearte guide, he suggested a tapa of risotto. I figured if he knew what I was after, he’d recommend something good.
What I got was slightly undercooked, slightly oversalted rice in a creamy sauce with a little drizzle of oil.
I think the bartender saw by looking at my face that I wasn’t exactly pleased with the dish, so he quickly recommended 3 other things. I opted for ternera (beef) en salsa.
Ah, that’s more like it! The dish was simple, but the meat was very flavorful and very tender – like a really nice beef stew. It even went really well with the crunchy risotto.
Along with my caña, the two tapas came out to 3.60 euro. Not a bad deal. But not a great deal either, considering I wasn’t pleased with my first selection. Ah well, there’s always next time!