Showing posts with label pinxtos. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pinxtos. Show all posts

Tapagria Spanish Tapas Restaurant (Thornhill)

Dinner at Tapagria Spanish Tapas Restaurant happened on their patio, where they transformed the parking lot as much as possible by covering a section with AstroTurf, a tarp, and string lights. The simple tables weren’t fancy, but the ones found outside at restaurants in Barcelona aren’t either - try to block out the cars and imagine yourself surrounded by the historical architecture of Spain.

Perhaps think of it as being on La Rambla where it’s crowded, hectic, and there’s tons of kitschy things happening on the iconic street. And like a La Rambla restaurant, which is typically geared towards tourists, you’ll find an extensive menu of Spanish favourites at Tapagria: pintxos (small sandwich bites), tapas (different small dishes), larger sharing plates, and paella (a rice popular rice dish that is made to be shared).

While waiting the 45 minutes for a paella, it’s important to get a few small bites to tide the stomach over. The truffle paste and Manchego pintxos ($12) was a strongly flavoured bite with the truffle dominating against the delicate toast and the buttery cheese binding things together. It’s tasty but given its powerful flavour is best eaten last amongst the sandwiches.

Surprisingly, for something that’s cooked in fat the duck confit pintxos ($14) were a little dry. Tapagria puts a dollop of mango chutney on top - a nice pairing with the fowl – but there wasn’t much of the condiment, so it didn’t really hydrate or flavour much. Perhaps a drizzle along with a condensed red wine reduction would help to give this pintxo some pizazz.

I enjoyed the nice creamy texture of the jamon croquettas ($12) but found the varying pieces of ham mixed in them confusing – one bite included diced pieces, so it was almost like having a croquette with sweeter chorizo, while another had pulled pieces. Truthfully, I was expecting slivers of thinly sliced jamon to be ribboned amongst the silky potatoes. Nonetheless, the dish’s flavours were on point.

Still, the paella de Tapagria ($56) was the star of the show. It’s a creation that can’t be rushed as you want to let it sit until there’s a bit of a crust on the bottom. While it wasn’t covered with a lot of ingredients, there was enough shrimp, squid, clams, chorizo, and chicken to go with the shallow flavourful rice. Some reviews claim it’s too salty, but I found it be seasoned nicely and like the hint of chili that makes an appearance. 

The caramel flan ($12) was very thick, possibly from the Spanish recipe incorporating condensed milk compared to the whole milk that’s used in French crème caramel. It feels like you’re eating a cheesecake (without the cheese flavours) that’s covered in a thinned caramel sauce. While not necessarily terrible, I do prefer the delicate crème caramel consistency and will stick with the churros or Spanish toast next time.

The most important part of the meal is to just take your time with it … arguably this may be difficult with the one and a half hour seating limits, but during our dinner wasn’t actually enforced. It’s the conversation over sips of wine and bites of food that really creates the Spanish experience and that is well within your control.  

Overall mark - 7 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Thornhill, Canada
 Address: 230 Commerce Valley Drive East

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!

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Simply Snacking: Espuña Tapas Essentials

The culture of sharing little bites is everywhere in the world: the French pass around hors d’oeuvres, Italians have antipasto, and Chinese families love dim sum. In Spain, they’re known as tapas, a selection of cold or hot dishes often eaten as a snack but could be combined into a meal. While travelling in Barcelona, they were a wonderful pick-me-up after hours of sightseeing to refill on nutrients and cool down with beer or sangria.

Sometimes tapas are purchased, but the simpler versions are offered on a complimentary basis with drinks. In fact, the practice began when bread or meat slices were given out to patrons at taverns to cover their glasses and keep out the blowing sand from dirt roads. The meats also tend to be saltier to encourage drinking and higher alcohol sales.  

This year, Espuña Tapas Essentials is crossing the ocean and entering the Canadian market. Currently found in Longo’s Market stores, they offer a variety of 18 sliced meats and heat-and-serve products. As an introduction I received a selection of products to try and invited friends over to sample them over wine – luckily my home wasn’t overly dusty as there’s no way these meats would cover the large wine glasses we use nowadays.

Directly translated as “mountain” ham, the Serrano ham used to be cured in sheds in high altitudes. Delicious on its own, I also enjoyed the ham on toasted bread brushed with olive oil with lightly aged white cheddar. The heat of the bread starts to warm through the cheese and softens the thin layers of fat on the Serrano ham to give the tapa a creamy feel.

If you like your charcuterie fattier (especially when pairing with beer), Espuña has a whole line of salamis. The Barcelona style (on the left in the picture below) is less blubbery and seasoned longer to really allow the salt and pepper to permeate the meat. The longer curing period also makes the pork dryer and a tad gamier than your typical salami.

Meanwhile, the original Olat salami (in the middle in the picture above) originates from the founder’s region, in the North Eastern part of Spain. Larger chunks of fatty pork is stuffed into a thin casing and seasoned again. A little greasy for my tastes, but was the salami my husband happily inhaled.

If you’re in the mood for a real salty snack, the chorizo cañitas takes pepperettes to the next level. Like its name, the cañita is thin and long like a “drinking straw”; Espuña even suggests you serve them standing up in a glass with breadsticks.

For me, since the soft pork was so well-seasoned with salt and paprika, I found the cañitas were best consumed in small pieces tucked into a soft piece of bread. Use them for a quick omelette: dice one cañita into small pieces, mix into two beaten eggs, and cook! You don’t even need to add any salt and pepper, making it one of the quickest breakfasts I’ve ever made.

The heat and serve line is ingenious for making tapas that could transform into a hearty meal. After removing from the packaging and a quick minute in the microwave, I was presented with juicy aromatic meat skewers with chopped fine herbs and a sweet and salty bacon wrapped dates. These are great for dinner parties, especially since they can be prepared in small batches to provide guests with a hot treat. 

When Esteve Espuña first started making sausages in a farmhouse near Olot, little did he know that his creations would eventually be eaten worldwide. Thanks to his family member’s working to expand the brand, I’ve received a taste of Spain in Canada. Mix with fresh bread, a selection of cheeses and grilled vegetables, their creations really allowed for a satisfying spread with friends. 

Disclaimer: The above snacks were provided on a complimentary basis. Rest assured, as noted in the mission statement, I would never promote something I didn't actually enjoy.

MORE: Back to Simply Snacking

How To Find Them 
 Website: or Longo's
 Approx. Price:  $2.99 - $6.99

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