La Tortilla Española, a seemingly simple pie of potato and egg, is a staple of tapas menus everywhere.
It's been said before, but it's true -- the trick about simple food is to start with great ingredients and not screw them up.
Ingredients as basic as potatoes and eggs can either yield soul satisfying food or suck mightily.
We went on a quest to Iruña and Tapas Papa Frita to see which tapas kitchen turns out the best Tortilla Española.
See which Tortilla turned us on after the jump.
In one corner: Iruña, 7217 E 1st St., Scottsdale, 480-398-3020
With modern art adorning the walls inside, and a re-creation of a small Spanish village on the shaded patio, Iruña is visually stunning; much more so than the basic brown and beige slice of potato and egg pie that arrived at the table. The Tortilla Española was topped with a squiggle of aioli, which looked like the frosting you squeeze out of a tube to put on a Toaster Pastry, and tasted like nothing more than plain mayo. Once I tasted the Tortilla, however, I pushed the aioli out of the way. The eggs were delicate and fluffy, and the potatoes were well seasoned and tender. The ratio of huevos to papas was PERFECT, and the way the potatoes were cut, in what looked like slivered discs, allowed the pie to hold together each time the fork cut through this Tortilla Sabrosa.
The expansive, overly, decorated dining room, servers in their "Running of the Bulls" style white outfits with red scarves, and the bar that looks like a bad Antoni Gaudi knock-off, seem like embarrassingly bad clichés of Spain.
That said, their presentation of a Tortilla Española is simple and beautiful. The addition of tomato in the pie gave it a little color, and a small sprinkle of cilantro added a pop of green. Adorned with aioli, draped just over the edge like a jacket, the dish looked wonderful- only it was TINY. Like two bites tiny. Two, hard to get on my fork, bites of tiny.
The potato is diced, rather than sliced and falls apart easily. Sadly, the eggs were a little tough, and the potatoes under seasoned. The aioli, though, was heavenly. We actually considered, packing up some aioli to go, and heading over to Iruña.
The Winner: Iruña