Tuesday, December 18, 2012

New Discoveries in Old London

Chuse has been coming to Rosie's for about a year. And he always orders the same thing. A small milky coffee, a good european one. I love these sorts of customers. Unassuming and consistent. And it turns out that thick accented spaniard has a passion for ham. Seriously good ham. A few weeks ago he opened a bar, as an extension of his existing jamon stall at Malty Street Market. I went with my oldest friend Helen, who is so good at spanish she gets asked which village she is from, and her husband Simon. So the three (well, four including the baby) of us went off on a wild goose chase, with no idea what we were looking for. After farting around with some parking, and wrapping up the baby, we headed over and went straight into a well light arch with a lovely looking menu. Only after drinking a couple of glasses we realised we were at the wrong place. It was nice, but it just wasn't quite right. So on we went down the dimly light Rope Walk, past the spoils of LASSCO and various roasting houses and stores until just at the end, with a mostly drawn curtain, we found Bar Tozino. Man, was it worth the work.

Bar Tozino is dark and wood lined, and like all good spanish joints, super child friendly which was nice, because Billy is only 3 months old. Its brilliant. Chuse welcomed us with open arms to his warm woody cave filled with deeply aged hams from Spain. We ordered glasses of Cava which were refreshing and crisp and reminded us of one of our favourite nights in Barcelona a few years ago. The menu is appropriately small and really appealing: we had ham (obviously) both from Chuse's brothers farm and also a 4 year aged one which was so rich and sweet it  slightly knocks your socks off. And the milder one from Chuse's family is mild and creamy and youthful. After that came a bowl of soft chickpeas cooked up with chorizo. Not the cheap acidic stuff but smoky lumps of soft meat. And not a dark red sauce but a pink real tomatoey type thing. It was perfect. And then we got this waft, of rosemary and fat and demanded to know what was cooking. Ribs, cured and like bacon with a thick slab of fat encasing them. We chewed away on the ribs and listened to Chuse's stories until Billy finally worked out we were having too much fun and started to cry. Bar Tozino is well worth the visit. Go and meet Chuse and his team and get told great stories about meat and Spain. Next time I go, it'll be without Billy, much as I love him. And I'm going to drink loads and eat more. It's like dipping a toe in a good holiday.