What is the concept behind Ziryab Tapas- Mezze wine bar and Shisha lounge?

The Ziryab concept is a blend of two cultures. Its aim is to bring together the rich and spicy flavours of the Arab world with the strong and varied traditional tastes of Catalonia to give you a unique culinary experience, while enjoying a wide variety of carefully selected wines from the wine-growing regions of the Arab world and Catalonia.

Ziryab is essentially a wine and tapas bar, where the tapas are fusion tapas. It takes dishes from traditional Spanish tapas and enhances them with a culinary Arabic twist; sometimes it takes a traditional Arabic “Mezze” – which is the Arab equivalent of tapas – and adds extra flavours to suit Barcelona’s climate, such as the refreshing Minty Hummous. At other times, it blend ingredients from both regions to create new dishes that are not usually found on Barcelona’s streets but maintain the same concept enjoyed by so many in this city – ordering a selection of varied plates to share between friends and accompany with good wine.

If you were just to think of two words, “Tapas Barcelona”, Ziryab’s menu is one which epitomises those two things in one fell swoop. Spain in general, including Barcelona, has a very rich history which is intertwined with the Arab world… Barcelona itself has also been under Moorish rule and the Moors left their mark on the country – in many forms that are more or less visible, but also in the Spanish culinary traditions. Ziryab tries to recreate a bit of this historical significance through its dishes.

Ziryab’s fusion tapas bring bursts of flavour from the Middle East – using spices such as thyme mix, sumac and herbs like mint, rosemary and sage, fruits such as almonds, figs and dates and bring them closer to home in Spain, by fusing them with more traditional dishes found in many places in Barcelona. “Tapas Barcelona”… with a twist!

Who was Ziryab?

Ziryab was the nickname given to Abu l-Hasan ‘Ali Ibn Nafi,’ was a young musician born in Baghdad in the 8th Century. When it became known that Ziryab’s musician talents had surpassed those of his musical professor, he knew it was time to flee Mesopotamia, to avoid persecution. And so it was that he embarked on a long journey which brought him to Cordoba in 822, aged 33. Cordoba at that time was part of Islamic Spain and under Moorish rule. Ziryab was taken in by the Abbasid Caliph and became a special advisor to the royal court of Cordoba.

The Court of Cordoba soon realised that Ziryab possessed an unusual plethora of talents: not only could he compose and play exquisite music (hence his nickname Ziryab, which means “blackbird”) but he was also an avid poet and artist, knowledgeable in the latest fashions, and educated in geology, chemistry and astrology. Apart from bringing new music styles and instruments to moorish al-Andaluz (he created his own 5-stringed lute which quickly became popular in the royal court), Ziryab also revolutionised the hispanic cuisine of the time, introducing new concepts such as glasses actually made of glass from which to drink, the concept of the three-course meal (starters, main course & dessert), the use of asparagus in cooking, as well as bringing new spices and flavours from Mesopotamia that highly influenced the Spanish cuisine forever after.

With all these innovations Ziryab brought in through his presence in Spain and in particular his culinary innovations, it could be said that he created a new and exciting blend of cuisine where the Arabian Mezze were mixed with the Spanish tapas to create a whole new fusion concept…