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Chef Chat, Part 2: Hicham Nafaa of Majorca Bistro & Tapas

Today, we continue our conversation with owner and executive chef Hicham Nafaa of Majorca Bistro & Tapas (see part one here). The beautiful tapas joint just opened last week. Majorca stays open late -- on the weekends, it'll be serving until 4 a.m.

EOW: Tell me about the menu.

HN: The menu is Majorcan island-inspired. While we were doing construction, we took a trip to Majorca and were inspired by the foods, and especially the way they dine. That's why we created this tapas bar. It's a large menu; there's a large section of tapas. Spanish people are used to tapas. They like to go and drink wine and eat small bites. Also, there is a big selection of seafood. Whole fish, a lot of paellas. It's a very large menu and there is a big variety for everybody...I don't know if you know how tapas came about --

EOW: Nope, I don't know the history of it.

HN: I think in the early 1900s they used to go to bars, you know, the warriors. They wanted to drink. Back then obviously the bars were dirty, so the flies would land in their drinks and they used to get mad at the restaurant owners. So they came up with this idea, Okay, let's cover it with a plate. So they used a small plate on top of their glass of wine. The warriors got mad again. What, this looks bad, to have our glass of wine topped with an empty plate! So they came up with this idea. Okay, we're going to give you an empty plate but put something on it: food. Cured meats, or seafood, or something like that. So that's how it started.

EOW: Wow, I had no idea. So what's the difference between Majorcan food and Spanish food?

It's an island, so obviously they use a lot more seafood than regular Spanish food. It's the same in terms of flavors, in terms of culture. But there is a little bit of difference in terms of them being an island. They use a lot of fish. They use a lot of almonds, because they have production of almonds in Majorca. So they had to start using almonds. You'll find a lot of items with toasted almonds - that came from Majorca. That's the only difference.

EOW: What else should I ask you?

HN: Did you see the bullheads?

EOW: No, how did I miss those?

HN: Everybody asks us about them. See, this whole patio is all recycled metal. The bullheads are like walking over here to an arena. Later we're going to connect them with fire. They're made to shoot fire from the nose. Obviously the point is to attract traffic, but there's an idea beyond it. We'll welcome the people to a bullfight arena.

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It's all set up to do it. Now we just have to put the gas in it. We don't want to do it till the grand opening in September.

Come back tomorrow to have, quite frankly, a tapas foodgasm.

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