Frog-shaped candlesticks, a bubble gun, and crazy wine-pouring contraptions all spell "party" at Dali, a tapas bar in Somerville. Surprisingly, the group I was with (a bunch of local food bloggers, all Featured Publishers on Foodbuzz) didn't get to partake of any of that craziness directly.
Ryan from Foodbuzz was on hand to talk to us about and thank us for working with the Featured Publishers program. Click on the button on the top left of the page to check the site out. They've been making their way through cities with large amounts of FP, trying to meet as many people as they can, and it was finally Boston's turn.
Tapas was actually a pretty perfect thing to order for a bunch of foodies - we all got the chance to try a little of everything without getting overly full. And dishes came only one or two at a time, allowing us to savor each for its own merits without any competing flavors.
We started off with sangria and the Plato Mixto, an assortment of meats, cheeses and olives. I have a hard time with cheeses, though, if there's no explanation of what they are - none of us were quite knowledgeable enough about them to tell exactly what they were. Next up were the Esparragos Blancos (above), tender white asparagus served with an herb sauce and a seafood sauce, both delicious enough to warrant wiping the plate clean with bread.
Dishes started coming a little faster, but we managed to keep up with them. I really loved the Queso Rebozado con Miel (above), little fried chunks of something akin to goat cheese, served with awesome honey-sweetened onions. It was oozy and crispy, sweet and tangy, and all-around delicious.
We also shared the Gambas al Ajillo (which came steaming and bubbling in their own little pot), Alcachofas Salteadas (tender artichokes with a little bit of kick), Pato Braseado (duck that tasted almost like pork in a rich and hearty berry sauce), Cordorniz de Castilla (a tiny roasted quail - they always look so naked on the plate, poor quails), Calderata Genoveva (braised lamb with almonds and peas, a little too wintery for my current tastes), and Patatas Bravas (cooked perfectly with a slightly crispy exterior and a soft interior).
We were all full by then, and our hearts weren't much into dessert. But we couldn't not look at the dessert menu, and as soon as we saw the featured desserts of the month, we knew we had to order them. First was a very simple and refreshing combination of cava and lemon sorbet. It reminded me of what we considered our "classy" drink in college (cheap champagne and melty sorbet), only much more elegant and refined. The other dessert, the Fresones (above), was another must as soon as the waitress explained it - two huge strawberries, dunked in a sherry batter and deep fried, and served with a strawberry sauce and chocolate ice cream. Sounds a little strange, but it was a really fantastic dish, and the batter on the fruit was surprisingly delicate. I would never think to fry a strawberry, but now I'm glad I don't have a fryer in my apartment, or I would want to try it myself.
And what about the frog candlestick, the bubble gun, and the crazy wine contraption? Apparently if you're celebrating some kind of event at Dali (we got to see a bachelorette party, a going away party, and a birthday), they turn the lights off, bring in a tall candle being held by a frog, and blow bubbles at you while the waiters all sing. And nothing quite says celebration like a porron, or communal drinking glass, that forces cava into your mouth through a tiny little spout. Unfortunately, the tables with the porrons also tended to be a little on the wild side, so it was often hard to hear our own conversation for all the screeching going on nearby (wow, do I feel old just for writing that...). Seeing how much fun those tables were having, I would definitely head back for a large group dinner.