Tuesday, August 30, 2016


Since it's a cross-continental flight to Portland anyways, I can't be too upset that I hit Plaza de Toro's final summer party of the Ruta del Toro series, "culinary experiences where we share food and explore Spain"....  and have a really good time doing it.  The Ibiza-themed fete called for white apparel and a predilection for dancing, encouraged by Barcelonian DJ Bruno Homedes.   The chefs were imported from Spain as well, dazzlingly handsome
 ones with tanned skin and tousled hair.  At the helm was chef Juanjo Canals teaming with Toro's executive chef, John Gorham, who took it upon himself to manage enough of the cooking to liberate these guapos to circulate the crowd so I could at least introduce myself.

Which was a highlight of the evening, but the true magic appeared on laden platters passed about by enlisted Toro staffers.  Refreshing shots of scallop ceviche were served in hollowed out limes and shrouded in a tangy, diaphanous foam.  Ceramic crocks of a lusty shrimp and lobster potage tasted of rich summer tomatoes and a warm ocean breeze, loaded with tender chunks of fresh seafood.  This made a nice little meal-ette with a zesty insalata russa, plump with potatoes and peas, propped up on a cracker-thin wheaten toast.   The prize-winner, however, was a super sexy squid ink risotto, its glass cup leaving nothing to the imagination.  The blackened rice was chewy, creamy and saline, crowned with a tiny, shatteringly crisp octopod, deep-fried to chip crispiness.  It was hard to flag this one down, as they seemed to disappear off the serving trays as soon as they departed the kitchen.  I think in that kitchen, they intended the whole roasted pig to be the star of the night (but only because they didn't realize how awesome the risotto was...)  And truly, that pig was

spectacular.  Its rich meaty juices trickled off the tender hunks of flesh and saturated the fragile toast below.  Topped with a rich crema and a tangy melted cherry tomato, the toast had no hope of survival, succumbing to the juices of the meat, fruit and cream and just creating a luscious finger-licking delight of a mess. 

And it didn't end there, because the DJ was still spinning, sangria kept flowing, and no dinner party is complete without dessert.  So, in accordance with the abundance of the tapas, there were also many of these.  A party-sized hero of brioche was filled with sweetened whipped cream and sliced into two-bite sammies.  Key lime tartlettes cupped the tangy curd in buttery pie shells, spritzed with tiny flounces of whipped cream.  The best was a dense bread pudding, drizzled in icing and moist as could be underneath an oven-baked crust that maximized everything Maillard every hoped to describe.  An array of house-made chocolates spilled out over the buffet table as well, their liquidy caramel centers spurting out from delicate dark chocolate shells like the jets of soapy foam from real Ibiza parties.... which was pretty much the only thing that was missing from our slightly tamer PDX version.  So, until next summer, Toro. 

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