I Can Eat 50 Eggs: Malaga Tapas & Bar

In honor of Paul Newman and “Cool Hand Luke,” I’ll review 50 days of eggs from 50 different restaurants.
Day 48: Malaga Tapas & Bar
440 W. Second St. 236-8020, www.malagatapasbar.com.
Hours: Dinner 5 to 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 5 p.m. to midnight Friday-Saturday. Lunch 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday-Friday. Brunch 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.
By Mike Sutter | Fed Man Walking | 03.17.12
To hear Alejandro Duran talk about piquillo peppers is to hear a man who might have been a builder instead of a cook, the way he talks about constructing flavors. We spoke for a story about red and green foods for Christmas, and Malaga Tapas & Bar specializes in red. Red for decor, red for passion, red for piquillo peppers, one of the building blocks of the Tortilla Catalana. Not the Mexican tortilla made with masa or flour, but the Spanish sort in the casserole style, layered with thin slices of potato and whipped eggs and whatever else makes sense that day.
At Malaga, the tortilla tower is cut into a wedge like a slice of meringue pie and built out with Iberico cheese, onions, herbs and yes, tender pieces of those sweet-tempered red piquillo peppers. It’s finished with a red-pepper Romesco sauce and a crowning one-two punch of eggs: a yolk-rich herbed aioli and boiled egg cut into threads as fine as excelsior.
You’ll find the Tortilla Catalana on the lunch and dinner menus at Malaga for $8 and change, listed under the “tapas” section. Now, tapas have their roots in small plates or bread-borne dishes meant to cover wine glasses to keep out unwanted visitors. If this tortilla is a tapa, I’d like to see the glass of wine it’s meant to cover. (Yes, I’ll have the 1.5-liter stein of Rioja, please.)
It’s a full lunch all by itself. But at lunch from 11-2 Monday through Friday, it becomes the centerpiece for one of the best package deals in the city, a visually mesmerizing and artfully flavored still-life of Spanish food. For $11.99, you get the tortilla and iced tea, plus a thoughtful salad of spinach and mixed greens with blue-cheese dressing and almonds, plus a skewer of three grilled shrimp spanning a bowl of creamy, sunset-colored shrimp bisque finished with chile oil in my favorite shade of Malaga red.
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)
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