The summer holidays present the perfect opportunity for communal outdoor dining – especially this year. And Shaun Clancy, chef and partner at Amarillo, a Spanish-inspired dinner in Fitzroy, has plenty of suggestions. His restaurant menu is inspired by the simplicity of the food he experienced during his time in Spain, and he finds himself simplifying things more at home as a result.

“I like it more and more as it gets simpler,” he says of the shareable food he loves to cook.

Here, Clancy shares five starter dishes and snacks that are perfect for summer – with the ideal drink pairing.

Anchovies
Anchovies appear in a few different forms on Amarillo’s menu, most notably on small toast with sweet onion and dried green olives. Amarillo serves both red and white anchovies (i.e. dark and light), usually sourced from the South Melbourne Market, and Clancy recommends market-fresh anchovies over the supermarket fare. However you source your anchovies, try pairing them with Delgado Zuleta’s Barbadillo Manzanilla, which is produced in a Spanish seaside village. “It’s a beautiful dry sherry,” says Clancy. “It’s great with anchovies or oysters.”

Red gem lettuce with salsa verde, pickled shallots and capers
This simple vegetarian assemblage showcases crisp, fresh ingredients without complication. You can use romaine hearts in place of red gem lettuce, and it’s easy to make a herb-driven salsa verde at home. Clancy suggests the floral and fruity Txomin Etxaniz’ Etxaniz Txakoli to pair with.

Moorish pork skewers
You can fire up the barbeque for this one or simply pan-fry them. The spice-mix is totally up to you, but Amarillo uses smoked paprika, fennel, cumin, coriander and a touch of cinnamon. Just mix the spices in some oil and marinate the meat in the fridge for a couple hours before cooking. Clancy says this juicy Albarino by Pazo Barrantes is the ideal match. “Albarino is one of the more classic Spanish white wines,” he says. “This is a super dry, skins-y albarino, with a little bit of saline and light fruit. It works well with those spices.”

Russian salad
According to Clancy, Russian salad is “super popular” in Spain – he tried several different versions of it there. It’s essentially a boiled potato salad with peas and carrots, but Amarillo elevates it by using fresh peas, baby Dutch carrots, pickled shallots, capers, sherry vinaigrette and soft-boiled eggs. “It’s really popular on our menu,” Clancy confirms. For a pairing, reach for a fruity IPA for a refreshing splash of citrus.

Esqueixada
Don’t be scared off by the spelling. This classic Catalan fish dish – similar to ceviche – usually combines salted cod, tomatoes, capsicum, olives, parsley and shallots. Amarillo’s version uses using sweet piquillo peppers instead of capsicum, and marinates the cod in sherry vinegar and olive oil. Try it with Malfy’s Gin Rosa, a grapefruit-forward pink gin from Italy. “It’s like a Sicilian ruby-red grapefruit,” says Clancy, who recommends adding a splash of tonic and grapefruit juice. “It just tastes super clean.”

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