On Saturday night I was sweped away by an elaborate plan orchestrated by Ru and made possible by R. I was taken to a surprise birthday dinner with a promise that the food will wow me.
We arrived at a small homey restaurant called La Vinia. The waiters and waitresses were pleasant. They were very helpful with the menu and gave some really good recommendations too. Everything looked so delicious, I’m pretty sure we ended up ordering half the menu.
Gambas al Ajillo: Sautéed Shrimp with Garlic and Olive Oil. The shrimp was very fresh. It came out in a cast iron pan that was still sizzling hot. The shrimp was perfectly done. I would imagine it would be slight under cooked before it was served, and as the food is being served it continues to cook so that when it arrives on my plate, it was perfect. Very tasty and fresh. The garlic does not over power the fresh shrimp flavour.
Sweetbread: Sweetbreads or ris are the thymus (also called throat, gullet, or neck sweetbread) of the calf or lamb. This was slightly gamey. The sauce was heaven. It was creamy, with lots of spices, and a bit of carrots. Perfect for dipping fresh bread with.
Pimientos del Piquill: Piquilo Peppers Stuffed with a Seafood Mouse and an Anisete cream. The pepper was cooked until it was soft and tender. The seafood mousse was a light cream, with a bit of a salty seafood taste to it. There was pieces of crab meat in it as well. This was added to another personal favourite.
Calamares a la Plancha: Grilled Calamari with Chilli oil. The calamari had a slightly charred flavour to it. It has that crispy savory taste to it. It was served with a generous drizzle of chili oil which gave the squid a very aromatic flavour. It was grilled perfectly, not to raw so that it was slimy but not too cooked either to make it take like rubber.
Pulpo a la Gallega: Poached Octopus Marinated in Olive Oil and Pimentón. The octopus was so soft, and so flavourful. We had to ask the waiter how it was prepared. The waiter said that the octopus was tenderized before being cooked by beating. Then it was poached for in broth. I’ve never tasted octopus so soft before. The chewy elastic texture is completely gone.
Jamón Ibérico: Spanish Ibérico Ham. I could seriously eat this all day. Ibérico is the Spanish’s version of prosciutto. It was slightly salty, the a similar texture as prosciutto. Excellent with wine and fresh bread. Writing about this post makes me want to go back from some more ibérico.
Seafood: We also had this seafood dish which had scallop, mussles, shrimp served with a light tomato based sauce. The flavour was light, not over powering the seafood. This dish compared to all the other ones was good, but not as outstanding.
Fideuá: Spanish Catalonia Style Spaghetti Pasta with Shrimp, Calamari, Scallops, Monkfish. This is a pasta version of paellas. We ordered it because we though the concept was very unique. The flavouring used such as safforn, and other spice is like the traditional paella, except it is made with pasta and not rice. The pasta was thick, perfectly al dante to my taste. First bite, and this reminded me of chinese noodles. Haha.. I know it sounds weird, but it’s good noodle, with a nice broth and seafood. Very tasty, and I’m glad we tried it.
Paella de Marisco: Spanish Saffron Rice with Shrimp, Calamari, Mussels, Scallops, Monkfish and Clams. Paella, the chef’s pride. The paella was traditionally made with fine safforn spice, infused with flavours of the seafood. The rice was soft, but not overly cooked. The flavour was fantastic, with lots of seafood flavour from the shrimp, mussels and calamari. This has got to be the best paella I’ve had since Barcelona. A+++
An assortment of desserts to finish off the night.
Mango cheese cake
Where: La Vinia
Location: Toronto, Ontario
What: Almost half the menu. Too many dishes to list. See above.
Verdict: Highly recommended. Would definitely go back.