213 - Tantalizing Tapas at Torito
By Mary Luz Mejia
In 1950s Barcelona, few women cooked in professional kitchens, much less as head chefs. This however didn’t stop Veronica Laudes’ grandmother from breaking with convention and heading up great kitchens throughout this Catalonian city. Torito tapas bar co-owner Veronica fondly remembers growing up in Chile, eating her grandmother’s superlative cooking. While other kids would get peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in their lunch boxes, Veronica would get beautifully-presented beef tongue sandwiches and other gourmet goodies. To her, this was everyday fare. No kidding!
Partnering with Chef Carlos Hernandez and Luis Iglesias to open Torito in Kensington Market, the Latin American trio had abuelita’s (grandmother’s) cooking as a defining influence. In fact, this is where the restaurant’s signature dish, “Braised Beef Tongue and Cheek” (no pun intended), actually originated. Slowly and separately braised in a mirepoix (a sautéed onion, celery and carrot dice), baby potato and rich beef broth, the two oft-forgotten meats become tender melt-in-the-mouth delicacies. Even if you’re the skittish sort, Chef Hernandez’s skilful touch will convert even the most unadventurous eater. Of course, there are less “exotic” items on the menu to suit most palates.
Torito’s dishes are designed for sharing; small plates brimming with robust flavours perfect for mixing and matching. In Spain, tapas dining is a casual affair, accompanied by a glass of sherry, wine or beer prior to a more formal sit-down dinner much later in the evening. Here in Toronto, we’ve become fond of dining in groups, trying numerous dishes and calling a tapas repast “dinner.” Torito also carries a fine selection of Spanish Jerez or sherry to round off any menu selection. From dry sherry perfect for savoury mains to amber-coloured, viscous elixirs that pair perfectly with dessert, the selection is impressive and flavourful. And if per chance you happen to be celebrating any special occasion, try a glass of Cava – the Spanish equivalent of “Champagne” from the north end of the country. Crisp, dry and as sparkling as a diamond, these bubbles will be sure to tickle your taste buds, as well as your pocketbook. Buen Provecho!
Torito Tapas Bar & Restaurant
276 Augusta Avenue