They say travel broadens the mind. In our case, as we often choose destinations based purely on their cuisine alone, it widens our bellies too if truth be told.
We often recreate dishes from our travels at home (or at least attempt to) or opt to eat at authentic restaurants from the places we have visited, back in the UK. I really believe you can be transported back somewhere in an instant by a plate of food, which is more often than not a good thing thankfully.
I am therefore more than happy to tell you that Spain can be found in the centre of Alresford. Pulpo Negro - a warm and sunny slice of the Meditteranean (the owner hails from Barcelona) can be found in an old townhouse on the High Street.
Pulpo Negro is a must book place, and it's busy for good reason. The food is truly authentic and the wine selection equally good (a little tip a Spanish acquaintance equipped me with for when I wasn't sure about what to pick off a Spanish Wine List - choose something with Del Duero in the title, and you can't go far wrong!).
Our visit was directly after New Year. A particularly over-indulgent festive season had finally come to an end and left us craving healthier things. This meant we were probably slightly more restrained than we typically might have been when it came to choosing things from the menu (don't worry I have a huge list of things I am going to try next visit!).
First up, Catalan tomato bread, and a bowl of sweet and garlicky Gordal olives, followed by something I tend to pick in order to appraise the quality of Tapas on offer - a classic Spanish tortilla. This came whole and warm in the most perfect size for two people, and still ever so slightly and deliciously gooey in the middle - perfection!
Crispy Violet artichokes came next served with a light and tangy lemon aioli, alongside the lightest salt cod fritters I think I have ever eaten. Our nod to healthy was mostly about the roasted cauliflower salad with pomegranate and salted almonds mind you, but the star of the show (and a dish that obviously had to feature on the menu given the name of the place!) was the charred Pulpo tentacle with chipotle ketchup - delicious and as tender as can be.
Our Waitress for the evening was Spanish, so if it wasn't for the dark rainy English Winter's night, and the familiar language surrounding us, it wouldn't have taken much effort to imagine we were in warmer climes. The service was efficient and helpful with explanations on the one or two ingredient names we weren't so familiar with.
We had such a nice time 'in Spain' that evening. Pulpo Negro made such a nice change after the beige onslaught of Christmas food, there was only one thing I came away completely disappointed by - the fact that we don't yet have a sister restaurant in Winchester. Please?...
28 Broad St, Alresford SO24 9AQ