Welcome to our very first Guest Blogger, Miss Niki V.! Niki and I met at a conference held in Amelia Island, Florida. After we quickly established our mutual love of food... we decided to grab a meal together. And, here are both of our takes on that experience!
Kate and Niki's menu for the evening: Goat Cheese Salad-that evening's special (with goat cheese medallions, beet chips and caramelized onions and curried mustard vinaigrette), Gambas Costa Brava (Shrimp sauteed with spicy homemade piri piri and brown sauce), and Tortilla Espanola (layers of thin sliced potatoes, roasted vegetables, and cheese stacked and bonded with a seasoned egg mixture).
It was great to dine with my new friend Kate downtown. We worked with our great concierge, Gary on choosing a great spot, but nothing too filling because we had an epic lunch. After walking around in some kitschy shops, we found ourselves in quaint, festive Espana.
They had us at goat cheese! We both had to give the goat cheese, beet chips, caramelized onion and romaine salad a try. I chose mine with balsamic vinaigrette and it was just delicious. The cheese had a nice effect on the rest of the salad and two round patties were just enough to have a little flavor in every bite. The beets were a little chewy but gave a nice saltiness to the overall dish. Our bowls were empty not before long.
For our next course, we chose to split (2) tapas plates – (1) potato tortilla and (1) spicy shrimp. I liked the tortilla, but found it to be a little bland. Being layered potatoes and a little egg, there wasn’t much flavor but the shrimp more than made up for that. It was sautéed in this delicious butter, olive oil, pepper and onion broth that was perfect to spoon and eat on its own. We each had (4) shrimp, which I thought was a nice, generous serving. We dipped some bread into the sauce and that was just perfect and the bread was fresh too!
We skipped dessert knowing that we had infamous “Ritz Carlton s’mores” coming our way and soon left to get to our bonfire. It was a great meal with a new wonderful friend. I’m really glad that we got to share good food and stories.Kate's Take
I opted for curried honey mustard vinaigrette that came with the salad. And, boy, am I glad I did. I think Niki missed out (sorry, Niki!). It really brought the salad together so nicely. The creaminess of the goat cheese, with the crispiness of the beets, and the crunch of the romaine made this a textural masterpiece. Flavor wise, you had the softness of the cheese, the bite of the onions, and then the dressing which stole the show. I could have eaten three of these salads. Honestly. It was complex in all the right ways, and very satisfying. Thank goodness for amazing salads!
I have to agree with Niki on her take of the Tortilla Espanola. I was a bit disappointed. There really wasn't much flavor to this dish. And, texturally, it was pretty bland. So, that was a bit of a miss. BUT, the shrimp more than made up for it. The perfect blend of heat and flavor. And the shrimp were fresh caught that morning. Wow! They were yummy. The fresh bread was the perfect medium to sop up the extra sauce (which we both agreed would have been delicious on pasta!).
The staff at Espana were very helpful (making recommendations and sharing some information about the restaurant) and the ambiance was perfect for a beach town spot. I would love to go back to this spot when I have a bit more of an appetite and dive into some of the amazing looking entrees that are on this menu. We were told that you can get fresher seafood that you can here!
And, I am so thankful to have been able to share this meal with a new friend who also has an appreciation of good food. It truly was a lovely evening!