Tapas Cooking Demonstration at The Iberian Pig

The Iberian Pig Tapas

Tapas Cooking Demonstration at The Iberian Pig

Decatur restaurant The Iberian Pig hosted a lively and entertaining tapas cooking class last night. Guests sipped Spanish wines and chatted excitedly before donning their aprons. Most attendees brought a date to learn to cook while romancing their significant others. Talk turned—as it inevitably does with a gathered group of foodies—to restaurants. In mentioning buzzed-about Atlanta restaurants, guests sung The Iberian Pig’s praises as a romantic dinner destination.

Executive Chef Eric Roberts led the demonstration, assisted by Sous Chef Matt. The key to making great tapas, Chef Roberts explained, is packing lots of flavor into small bites.

He began with the restaurant’s most popular small plate, bacon-wrapped dates. We mixed finely processed walnuts and aged Machengo cheese. Next, we stuffed pitted Medjool date halves with this mixture. Then we wrapped each with a small strip of applewood smoked bacon. Servers whisked our creations away to the kitchen to cook the dates while we learned about other dishes. Bacon-wrapped dates plated with a Romesco sauce returned fully cooked. So delicious!

The Iberian Pig Rabbit empanadas

Rabbit Empanadas (c) Iberian Pig

Next we sampled rabbit empanadas, one of Chef Roberts’ additions to the restaurant’s menu. The Iberian Pig cooks 30 rabbits a week, making these tapas. They braise rabbits with Serrano peppers for six hours, then a sous chef carefully picks the meat off the bone. Chefs stuff shredded rabbit meat into gyoza wrappers and flash-fry the empanadas to achieve a gorgeously crispy exterior. Served with a petite Guindilla pepper and cumin-flecked crème fraîche, this dish melted delightfully in my mouth.

Finally we made pork cheek tacos. I was staggered to hear that The Iberian Pig uses 200 lbs. of pork cheek a week. That’s a lot of pork! We assembled tacos from plates of juicy pork, corn taco shells, grilled corn and piquillo pepper salsa. We topped each taco with a generous dollop of avocado crèma. Chef Roberts advised squeezing lime wedges over our completed tacos. He explained that squeezing lime over a dish with fats, like pork and avocado, balances the flavors.

I was thankful for my apron when my taco shells cracked as I bit into them. Avocado crèma splattered across my apron and corn salsa coated my fingers. I didn’t mind, because the sweetness of the corn and tartness of the lime perfectly complemented the pork. I loved every messy bite!

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Having lived in Atlanta for three years, Abby is slowly eating her way around the city. Tacos, ramen and dumplings call her name. Blogging and weird party ideas are her game. Read more of her writing on her blog, Confetti Casserole.

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