For our second dinner we headed up to the top of Amelia Island and the small historic downtown area of Fernandina Beach. There are many options here and we asked lots of folks on the island before choosing ESPANA (www.espanadowntown.com) at 22 So. 4th Street. It's an unassuming place run by a wonderful couple run the place (Marina in front, Chef Roberto in the kitchen, but with visits to the tables out front for sure!) featuring Iberian cuisine and tapas.
We ordered a bottle of VIONTA Albarino 2010 from Rias Baixas which was crispy and tasty with our many tapas selections to start. A plate of creamy dressing drizzled with olive oil arrived to dip the bread in and Samuel said he wanted this at home for our bread! It was addictive.
Samuel was game to try many of the tapas but the big hit with him was the CALAMARI FRITOS which came with a marinara dipping sauce. His other favorite was the PICADINHO or pork tenderloin in small pieces cooked in a rich wine, spice and brown sauce that was actually just as good for dipping the calamari in. The calamari incidentally was perfectly battered and fried and dry as could be with not the slightest hint of grease!
BOQUERONES came in true tapas style layered on large piece of bread with olives and pimentos; they were divine, but Samuel was not crazy about these tasty anchovies. Finally, ALMEJAS BORRACHAS called "Drunken Clams" were quite large cherrystones in garlic, onion and white wine. They were nice, but nothing special.
Our second wine was a diveine creamy AVANTHIA 2011 Godello which was superb with the PAELLA VALENCIANA we ordered. Our server, Mandy, was wise and told us to order a portion for ONE person as it is huge; she was right. Clams, Shrimp, Mussels, Chicken & Andouille Sausage abound and on the side was a tasty Housemade Hot Sauce of Poblano & Jalapeno that was perfect on the rice dish. Samuel gobbled up his entire portion of POLLO CON LIMON y AJO....a simple chicken breast with lemon & garlic but lovingly cooked, juicy and seasoned to perfection.
Will wanted to try the TRES LECHES for dessert. He liked it, and I was not as crazy about it, so we headed back to the Club Level of the Ritz-Carlton where desserts are served with after dinner drinks every night and had more...OMG!
Special thanks to Chase and the entire staff there who made our evenings a joy after dinner!