instead of hitting amuse bouche, we decided to go to torito instead. it's a tapas place in kensington that has been getting rave reviews, and we knew we'd be able to eat a lot more for less money, and it'd be a bit more interesting than fine-dining french style fare (for us at the moment). i was really sceptical about the possibility of getting proper tapas in toronto, as i've been really disappointed in the past (at cava, for example). "tapas" in toronto is starting to mean "rip off the consumer with tiny portions of standard dishes" and i was wary to say the least. torito was fantastic though. the two of us ate like pigs for approximately $50/person before booze...it was very affordable and nothing on the menu was more than $11. it gets REALLY busy though, there's usually a line up out the door, but we went really late, and i think either that or going really early will probably guarantee you a seat. we had:
this was very nice, although it wasn't cut to order. it was served with some raisins that had been plumped in a sweet-vaguely alcoholic liquid. the combination of flavours was really pleasant, with the sweetness of the raisins playing off the salty roundness of the serrano...but! everything was a little cold. the serrano was a touch chilly, which didn't bring out the fattiness, and the raisins were ice cold, which didn't pair well with the meat, and the bread was slightly chilly as well. room temperature everything would have made it awesome.
three dollars make you hollah! this was very nice, although again, a touch cold. the queso fresca had a squeaky, clean taste, nicely salted, and it came with "fiesta" which apparently is a combination of pickles and olives and chilies and beans.
grilled sardines (two!) with a fennel, radicchio, mint, parsley salad with lemon and olive oil and romano beans. absolutely delicious! the sardines were grilled perfectly, very juicy with a crispy skin. they were HUGE! and the salad was a great counterpoint, all the flavours (bitter radicchio, grassy parsley, minty mint) coming together and making the whole dish very punchy and refreshing.
these were crab croquettes with parsley aioli. the crab was very soft, and according to that boy: "it kinda tastes like chinese food!", which corresponded to my observation that it tasted vaguely of taro, in an not unpleasant way. my only quibbles are: the outside of the croquettes could have been a little crispier to provide more contrast to the squooshy insides, and that the parsley aioli could have had a touch more acid to act as more of a punctuation.
possibly my favorite dish of the evening, "chilean tripe stew". rich and smoky with smoked paprika, a touch of heat, served with bread (a little cold again, alas!), the tripe was meltingly tender, tasty, chewy, and texturally contrasted with the starchy richness of chickpeas. so awesome!
this was a roasted quail with pomegranate glaze. we were LICKING our plates clean. the pomegranate glaze was tart and sweet and so bright and cut right through the roasted quail. it was served with a mashed acorn squash and the whole dish melded really well, all the components coming together to enhance and support each other. look at the size of that portion! for $11!!!!!!! jamie kennedy can kiss my yellow ass!
this was a braised beef cheek and beef tongue. the beefiness of the cheek was short-rib-esque...richly meaty and tender, and underneath was a slab of braised beef tongue that was so tender, you could cut it with a spoon. i could eat slabs of tongue prepared like that. it was served in a consomme of the braising liquid with a tiny brunoise of mirepoix.
patatas bravdas with chorizo. something we had in spain. delicious! roasted potatoes served in a smoky pulpy tomato sauce with sizzled chunks of chorizo. each bite of chorizo was a flavour explosion: crunching through the skin, you got acidic juices, heat, smokiness, rich fattiness...this dish was superb.
piquillo peppers stuffed with salted cod with tapenade. again, another really traditional tapas that we had in spain. the piquillo peppers were hot and toasty and well, i really do love a good salt cod puree.
dessert! i had chocolate flan. i haven't had a flan in a while, this one was amazing. flan was one of the first desserts i ever made when i was like, 13 or something (stupidly ambitious of me, since it involves making caramel and dealing with burning hot sugar). it's really hard to make flan smooth without getting air bubbles...this one was like velvet, with the toasty, almost burnt sugar flavour and velvety smooth
the boy has never met a cheese course he didn't like, so he had the cabrales with mi flores honey and figs. again served a little too cold out of the fridge, but really classic and delicious.
we had an amazing experience. for the money, dollar for dollar it was a great deal...we were stuffed and i had vicious heartburn, but i would definitely go again. i really like the atmosphere, it's our kind of neighbourhood-y type of resto.
tonight for dinner i'm planning on making paella with chorizo, mussels, shrimp and squid in saffron-brothy rice with peas and roasted pepper sofrito. for dessert, pineapple upside down cake to use up the leftover pineapple from my jam making yesterday. we're supposed to be going out dancing and i'm very excited!
in other news: dear ebay, why must you continually tempt me with your sumptuous wares?!? whyfor!?!