Bar Pintxo in Santa Monica, CA (109 Santa Monica Boulevard, 310-458-2012) does a good job of recreating the tapas experience in Spain.
I haven't found a tapas bar in the OC that I love, so we drive the 45 mins to Bar Pintxo if we're feeling the need. It's just authentic enough to make me miss Barcelona more than the typical tapas bar.
They serve excellent cava, especially the Avinyo ROSAT, a refreshing, dry rose which is lovely on a sunny SoCal afternoon.
And while they don't serve nearly enough anchovies and sardines, both of which are pintxos maintstays, and they don't count toothpicks for the bill, Bar Pintxo does have a healthy reverence for fresh vegetables, and one of my favorite dishes of theirs is the Sauteed Peas with Romesco Sauce.
Lucky for you, it's pretty easy to recreate a similar tasting dish at home. I've made this a few times and it's really delicious.
SAUTEED PEAS WITH ROMESCO SAUCE
* Mix of whatever kind of fresh peas and pea shoots you can find (sugar snaps, English peas, pea shoots, etc). I have made this dish with just sugar snaps and it was delicious. If you are using sugar snaps, cut them in thirds.
* 2 chopped shallots
* olive oil
* Romesco Sauce (adapted from Deborah Madison's excellent Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone):
-- 1 slice country-style white bread
-- 1/3 cup almonds (roasted if you have them)
-- 1/4 cup hazelnuts, roasted & peeled
-- 4 garlic cloves
-- 1-2 tsp paprika
-- 1-2 tsp red pepper flakes
-- salt & pepper
-- 4 Roma tomatoes with the seeds removed
-- 2 tbsps fresh parsley
-- 1 roasted red bell pepper (if you use one from a jar, make sure you rinse it thoroughly to remove any vinegar)
-- 1/4 cup good quality sherry vinegar
-- 1/2 cup olive oil, preferably Spanish
Make the Romesco first. Fry the bread in a little olive oil until golden and crisp. When cool, grind the bread, nuts, garlic, and chile in a food procesor. Then add everything else but the vinegar and oil and process until smooth. With the machine running, gradually pour inthe vinegar, then the oil. Taste and make sure the sauce has plenty of piquancy and enough salt, and is the texture you want. You may need to add a few extra tablespoons of oil if it is too vinegary for your taste or if it the sauce is too thick. Set aside.
Saute shallots in a few tbsps of olive oil on med high until translucent. Do not brown. Add the peas (and pea shoots, leaves, etc if you are using those). Saute further until just cooked through and still crisp. This may only take about 5 mins. Add sea salt to taste.
You can toss the peas in a few spoons of Romesco or serve the sauteed peas on a mound of Romesco so it gets tossed as people serve themselves. Enjoy!
NOTE: This Romesco is a great all-purpose sauce--I've served it with grilled shrimp and even used it as a a sandwich spread with grilled vegetables and goat cheese.