"Like the conquistadors of my homeland, I go where opportunities lie," says Joseph Jiménez de Jiménez, the chef and co-owner of The Harvest Vine, a Seattle tapas bar. This may explain why someone who once cooked for the Spanish royal family would open a restaurant in a converted garage. Driving de Jiménez is a mission to teach others to appreciate Spanish food. His fans, who range from Internet moguls to local chefs, have already been converted.
With a copper bar and three tables set against an open kitchen, de Jiménez and his wife, Carolin, the pastry chef, have re-created the feel of a neighborhood tavern. And de Jiménez conveys the essence of Spanish cooking--especially that of the Basque and Castilian regions--by using authentic ingredients, such as artisanal hams and cheeses. His shrimp sautéed with pickled peppers and garlic, served with crusty bread, and his venison grilled on skewers and seasoned with smoked paprika bring San Sebastián to Seattle.