TAPAS. I’m absolutely mad for it. Genuinely. One of my favourite things to do when it comes to food is head out with this bunch of theatrical deviants, grab a table at the local tapas bar and surround ourselves with 40-50 dishes sampling pretty much everything on the menu (more on that in another post). Thanks to The Spanish Treat, it looks like we can do that at home as well.
Over the June Bank Holiday weekend I picked up a delivery from TheSpanishTreat.com, a recently established company in Dublin set up by two Spaniards who have been living in Ireland for several years. Having noticed “a shortage of real, authentic and good quality Spanish food in Ireland”, The Spanish Treat was born. They wholesale to gourmet shops, pubs and restaurants but more importantly have a tidy online store for public shopping, delivering to your home or office anywhere in the country. For those of you living in Dublin, there’s also a collection point in Dublin 8. And when they’re not selling online, they’re blogging about Spanish food over here.
I’m actually still working my way through the box of goodies that landed at the office 2-3 weeks ago, intentionally pacing myself as the box landed at a time when I was taking off for a weekend of cycling and building up to a 250k cycle next month.
What Came In The Box
- Manzano Semi-cured cheese
Made from blended cow, goat and sheep’s milk. It is typically used as a table cheese but is also good for cooking and pairs well with Spanish red wines and Spanish meats.
- Sherry vinegar
Sherry vinegar is only made from Sherry wines produced and aged in and around the town of Jerez de la Frontera in southwest Spain. This vinegar has been aged in American oak barrels and enriched with Pedro Ximénez wine. Vinaigrette made from Sherry vinegar is particularly flavorful and matches well with many foods, not just salads, but steamed asparagus or globe artichoke for example.
- Extra virgin olive oil
This oil is green, has a grassy nose and hints of green fruits. Extra virgin olive oil from the following varieties: hojiblanca, manzanilla, lechin and arbequina. I wasn’t long in waiting to open this one, quite nice with a little bread or as a dressing.
- Mermelada de Tomate – Tomato jam
This tomato jam is made from fresh ripe hand-picked tomatoes. Delicious paired with deep fried cheese.
- Chocolate Truffled Nougat
Chocolate truffle wrapped in a layer of milk chocolate. This is the nougat for chocolate lovers.
- Sweet almonds
A traditional Spanish sweet of outstanding quality. Almond shape casings are filled with the highest quality Spanish almonds, crushed with honey. These sweets will please the most sweet-toothed almond lovers.
All Natural, olive oil, fresh ingredients and special rice from Valencia. Primarily fish based (mussels, whole prawns).
Authentic Asturian fabada . All natural. Asturian faba beans (beans with its own protected denomination) with Asturian chorizo and black sausage seasoned with smoked pimentón paprika.
- Marinated Mussels
Hand gathered boiled mussels, fried in olive oil. Selected by their size, seasoned with laurel, pepper and clove.
Immitation version of “angulas” or baby eels with garlic and cayenne pepper. In Spain is commonly eaten with prawns or in salads, in the north it is a very popular ingredient for pinchos.
Bonito del Norte is considered to be the finest of tunas. Each tuna is line caught by hand, preserving the texture and flavour that can be damaged by the stress of harvesting by net. Bonito is packed with quality Spanish olive oil that keeps it moist and flavourful. It is great in salads, on sandwiches, or stuffed in Piquillo peppers.
Hand gathered cockles, perfectly cleaned and selected by their size.
- Iberian Salchichón
Dry-cured sausage seasoned with black pepper and made from free-range Iberico pigs.
- Iberian Pork-loin
Exquisite Iberian Cured Pork Loin. Made from acorn-fed free-range iberian pigs. Rich flavor and very little fat.
- Iberian ham
Iberian ham is one of the finest hams in the world. Sliced ham that comes from iberian free-range pigs.
Having tasted my way through some of what The Spanish Treat has to offer, I got back in touch with Sergio Llobet to find out a little more about the site and the service.
AGF: One of my favourite things to do is get a big group together and hit a tapas bar, plenty of food sharing to be done with friends and a bottle of wine or two. Given the type of food you’re retailing online, is the ‘home tapas’ market something you’re really looking at?
TST: At the moment yes. Of course we want to target Spanish people living in Ireland but also we want Irish people to familiarise themselves with Spanish food. In Spain we love going out for tapas, but often we meet friends at home and prepare the tapas there. It can be very fun, and a lot easier than people might think.
AGF: In setting up, did you come across any difficulty in importing the food into Ireland for retail, particularly around labeling?
TST: Not really, all our products come from Spain, and of course they comply with the rules on labelling of foodstuffs of the EU. On top of that, many of our products come with the ingredients written in English. And of course, we are happy to provide any extra information about the products that our customers may require.
AGF: I’ve recently started following SpanishFoodBlog.com – how do you see this as being a help to the business?
TST: TheSpanishTreat.com is an online shop, and it is mostly oriented towards selling. We are passionate about Spanish food, and the blog is a great way of sharing that passion with everyone, by posting recipes, restaurant reviews and much more.
AGF: If you could name one ‘must try’ food item from TheSpanishTreat.com, what would it be and why?
TST: For those who like cold meats (such as serrano ham or chorizo) we would recommend the Lomo Iberico de Bellota (Iberian Acorn-feed Pork Loin). It is not as popular but it is just delicious. For vegetarians, we definitely recommend the Piquillo Peppers.
On the web side of things, I’m loving the idea of being able to hit an Irish-based store, pick up all the ingredients for a tapas night at home and have them delivered to work the next day. On the food side of things, I’m mad for the meats. The pork loin and Iberian salchichon were extremely moreish, myself and my father attacking one packet with gusto one of the evenings. I’m not overly one (at least not any more) for microwave dinners so the paella likely isn’t something I would pick up myself in the future, plus I wasn’t too gone on the whole prawns (having imagined the size of the dish would incorporate baby prawns / peeled prawns instead) but it was a tasty dish nonetheless. The olive oil makes for a lovely dip and dressing and I’ve been opened up to a few other delicacies like tomato jam (who’s have thought). I’ve held back on the desserts for the moment (given the cycle) but a good week of things this week and they’ll be going to a good home (love almonds).
For me though, it was all about the meats. Any time we’re out for tapas it’s chorizo this or salami that or lamb this or chicken that. For the meat alone I’ll go for more. Of course that will mean having to organise some kind of a tapas party but if Mrs. Any Given Food-to-be doesn’t mind then it’s game on.
Disclaimer: A box from TheSpanishTreat.com containing the above products was sent to me directly as a gift from The Spanish Treat. I haven’t been paid or encouraged in any way to write anything from the above. Having thoroughly enjoyed everything I’ve opened so far, you can be sure I’ll be ordering from them in the future though.