Lively tastes of Spanish this and that in Las Vegas: Julian Serrano Tapas

Julian Serrano Tapas incorporates the vivacity of the Aria Resort and Casino right into its restaurant: the construction is open, so you can see and be seen. They bounce energy off each other. Spanish pop music plays in the background. Sunny colors of Spain, along with hostesses wearing native costumes, are welcoming. I was happy to be hosted to experience it!

Start your evening with a Spanish drink. You could try one of their several Gin & Tonics — the Dutch (which used to be a Spanish territory) invented gin and the Spanish created the style of the drink. Or, you could go with one of their Sangrias, which I did. Blue Sangria had a light, honeyed flavor that went well with so many of the foods I ate.

It’s suggested that about 3 tapas items per person are satisfying for a meal.

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A charcuterie platter always says “sharing” to me and they have an excellent Spanish one made with highly prized Iberico pork: Iberico de Bellota chorizo, Iberico de Bellota Salchichon, Iberico de Bellota cured pork loin. The platter is served with tomato crudo, hearty toast, micro herbs, fruity Spanish olive oil with a hint of fresh garlic. The chorizo was meaty, not burning with spice. It had pockets of rich fat. The pork loin is from the same type of “Pata Negra” pig that is the source of those world-famous hams. It’s lightly dusted with with smoked Spanish paprika. It’s got a hit of salt, aged ham depth and good funk. The tomato brightens it, but doesn’t mask the aged flavors. The sausage — with more paprika — has a lemony, spring-like flavor.

They serve a number of paella styles, but they require 45 minutes preparation time and I had a plane to catch. The Paella with rabbit and basil-fed snails looked super interesting!

I just had to try one of their most indulgent dishes: Serrano Tender.  It has foie gras, prime tenderloin and white chocolate bread! There was also a wine reduction sauce. It was a well-balanced dish; luxurious, but still accessible. The white chocolate bread was buttery and subtly sweet. It was light, with English muffin like crumbs, but without the chew. The filet was lean, with mineral, beefy flavors. The foie gras is a great counterpoint: rich and nicely seared. Bits of chives also enhanced the dish.

If you’re craving something sweet, but draw the line at desserts, here’s a good dish for you: Stuffed Dates. It has Medjool dates, goat cheese, bacon and tomato marmalade.

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But if you do indulge in desserts — as I clearly did! — you’ll be tempted by the Torrija: salted caramel, vanilla bean ice cream and candied macadamia nuts. The ice cream is incredible! It has rich buttery and milk notes. It goes well with their coffee, which is full bodied, dark and nutty.

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