Jaleo: Dining in Washington DC #1

When we first traveled to the Andalucia region of Spain eight years ago, I had never heard the word “tapas”, and was charmed by the concept of nibbling nonstop whenever we felt hungry instead of being bound by the three-meal-a-day convention. Tapas ranged from simple (fat, juicy olives) to surprising (dates wrapped in Serrano ham) to slimy (freshly-brined snails). Without exception, all used the freshest of ingredients. They were sublime. Better still, all came free, served with The Spouse’s beer and my sangria.

Andalucia: home of the tapa

Today, tapas are ubiquitous – we have tapas bars, tapas dinners, and even tapas parties. And none of them come free. Globally, these little nibbles have been elevated to a form of haute cuisine. Having had the opportunity to try tapas in their most basic form in Andalucia, their region of origin, I wanted to sample them in their more fashionable avatar. When I found myself in the Washington DC area last month, I couldn’t think of a better place to do that than at Jaleo (pronounced ha-lay-o), the tapas restaurant owned by José Andrés – the chef who introduced America (and arguably, the rest of the world) to tapas as a standalone fine dining concept. Keep reading…