El Pirata, Mayfair’s hidden gem
El Pirata, Mayfair’s hidden gem of a tapas bar which has been serving customers for 30 years, is in full Christmas flow. It is the perfect location to kickstart the Christmas festivities through December with family, colleagues and friends. In fact, given its close proximity to one of London’s flagship attractions, Winter Wonderland, the festive atmosphere in the restaurant is emphasized.
Christmas in Spain still has a powerful religious significance. It begins on December 8 with the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, and continues with religious events and processions all the way to Epiphany or Three Kings Day (Dia de los Reyes Magos) on January 5 and 6.
London’s Hidden Gem Tapas Bar
That’s when mechanised floats trundle down main streets with participants throwing handfuls of sweets to spectators. In Madrid and Barcelona, the sweet-throwing Three Kings’ parades are usually televised, they’re on such a grand scale. January 6 is also when children in Spain receive their Christmas gifts. Kids place their shoes – along with letters to the Three Kings – by the door or under the Christmas tree before going to bed on the 5th; the next morning they awake to shoes filled with gifts and treats.
Even in these more secular times, many spaniards attend midnight mass – Misa del Gallo or Rooster’s Mass – on Christmas Eve (Nochebuena). That’s also when families gather for huge feasts featuring roast lamb or seafood.
The Spanish love their food and Christmas specials include: turron – nougat made with almonds and honey; pavo truado de Navidad – turkey stuffed with truffles; cochinillo asado – roast suckling pig; and of course bacalao a la Vizcaina – salted cod cooked in a sauce made of red peppers, tomatoes and onions.
If you want to get a taste of a typical Spanish Christmas lunch or dinner, try El Pirata’s Christmas menus – they start with the wonderful jamón Ibérico, acorn fed ham and Spain’s ‘national treasure’.