By Liesel Schmidt
March 25, 2021
For the people of Spain, food is an important part of the culture. They savor it, celebrate it, and linger over it. It’s a point of passion, and that passion is evident in its bold flavors. Naturally, Spanish cuisine is inspirational to a great many chefs who have come away from its kitchens forever in the thrall of its charms, bringing with them dishes that capture its unique essence.
It was with that vision in mind that La Crema Tapas & Chocolate originally opened in Rosemary Beach in 2009. Building on the concept of tapas and chocolate shops that have become such a popular part of the food scene in Barcelona and Madrid, the menu features an array of small plates, decadent chocolate desserts and drinks, as well as a carefully curated selection of fine wines.
Under the talent of chefs Eric Bartholomew, Alex Gomez, and Ricky Voelz, the kitchen at La Crema creates beautiful dishes that honor the spirit and traditions of Spanish cuisine, taking their guests on an epicurean journey with every item on the menu. A chef for 17 years, Chef Eric serves as a consultant at La Crema while also holding the title of executive chef at La Cocina.
The lead position, however, it taken by Chef Alex, whose five years at the restaurant have proven his chops and his ability to run point. Possessing a keen eye for detail, he ensures that everyone is set up for a successful service and checks each dish before it leaves the kitchen. Chef Ricky is a more recent addition, having joined the team two years ago; but his drive and determined work ethic have made him invaluable.
Together, the three execute the menus designed by Chef Eric and regularly create entrée and dessert features using fresh seasonal ingredients.
“Their leadership and experience keep the kitchen running smoothly, even on the busiest summer nights,” said Christy Spell-Terry, who co-owns the restaurant with her father, Rick Terry, under the Spell Restaurant Group.
Sweets and savories
The reason for those busy summer nights is, of course, the food being created by those three talented minds. Featuring yellowfin tuna, hibiscus, fresh avocado, and serrano pepper marinated in citrus, the Ceviche may well be considered Chef Eric’s signature dish and has been an incredibly popular part of the menu. The fresh spin on the Peruvian classic is a “must try” dish and is in good company with some of their other guest favorites – among them, the Brussels Sprouts, Serrano Wrapped Figs, Enfuego Chicken, Chocolate Fondue, Classic Cookies served with milk, and Hot Chocolate Molten Cake. Unlike many restaurants, they put as much emphasis on creating magic with their sweets as they do with their savories.
Naturally, that translates into success – as does their use of the best ingredients available.
“Serving small plates means that there is no room to hide mistakes. Each plate must come out perfect!” – Christy Spell-Terry, co-owner
“All of our dishes are made from scratch, using as many locally sourced ingredients as possible,” said Spell-Terry. “Serving small plates means that there is no room to hide mistakes. Each plate must come out perfect!”
Equal attention is paid to the wine selection, offering guests an impressive list that has been chosen to pair perfectly with the flavors on the menu.
“The wine and the chocolate would probably tie for what people love most,” said Spell-Terry. “However, none of it would be possible without the attentive service our staff provides. The goal of everyone in the restaurant, both front- and back-of-house, is to make each guest’s meal memorable.”
La Crema Tapas & Chocolate is located at 38 Main Street, Rosemary Beach. Open daily 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.; no reservations accepted. For more information, call 850-534-3004 or visit www.lacrematapas.com.