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.
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.
It was long rumoured, wanted, craved for, cringed at and more, but coming this summer it looks like Come Dine With Me hits TV3 with the station snapping up the rights to film 30 episodes (thanks for the reminder, Cheeky Cooks!). If you’ve yet to see an episode of the UK version, check out 4od Food on YouTube.
The gist of the show is simple – take five foodies, each one getting a turn at hosting a dinner party for the others. The guests rates their host in turn each night and at the end of the 5th dinner, one host is declared a winner and can get themselves a cash prize of €1,000. Filming for the Irish version of CDWM is going to take place at different venues and homes around the country so producers are currently looking for applicants in Dublin, Waterford, Cork, Limerick and Galway.
If you’re interested in taking the plunge (let’s see, you get to to host a dinner party and in turn, have dinner cooked for you another four nights of the week, and possibly walk away with a grand in cash for your efforts), you can get in touch by
Though subject to change, phone lines for applications will close on 20th March 2011. The main requirement is that you can’t be a professional chef (past or present) and if it comes to it, producers may decide what constitutes the term “professional chef”. On that note, all the terms and conditions of application can be found here.
I’m really looking forward to seeing how the Irish version of the show pans out. Lord knows over the UK series there have been some great dishes, some abominations but as reality TV goes, it’s one of those shows that I could get stuck into. Certainly moreso than rounding up a bunch of randomers for a few weeks holiday in a jungle somewhere. So, if you *aspire* to be a professional chef, or reckon you’ve got a dish or dinner party that could net you €1,000, what are you waiting for?