Sunday, August 1, 2010

Spanish tapas and paella: La Sala Rosa in Montreal

Tapas is a "fancy" Spanish word for appetizers, but it's not, really. What I love about tapas is it's everything food should be -- sharing lots of little meals between friends and family, so you can experience a range of foods and flavours with the people you love and enjoy being around. It is what I love about food the most.

My 17-year-old cousin Rochelle from Tampa, Florida is visiting Montreal this summer. Her family comes up to Toronto every other year, and this is their "off" year, so when I found out she would be in Montreal on her own, staying with my sister, I decided a weekend road trip was in order.

She's a budding foodie. Reading about food, cooking new recipes, trying new places, as much as a 17-year-old can try. So when she mentioned that she read about this place called Casa del Popolo in Montreal, after looking at the website, and spotting paella, I decided we should go for dinner when I came.

But Casa del Popolo is the casual sandwiches and soups-type eatery. It's La Sala Rosa that is the dinner venue. I went with Ro, my 18-year-old cousin Michelle from Toronto who road-tripped with me, and of course, my sister and her husband. It was a really simple meal but reasonably priced and not your typical restaurant. Very unassuming from the front, but a warm, Spanish feel in the actual dining space. (Or maybe faux Spanish? I can't really make a true comparison because I've never been to Spain before.)

The server was extremely accommodating, even bringing us the paella plate when I asked how big the portion would be. For tapas, we had warm asparagus "salad" with roasted mushrooms; a marlin brochette on rice; fried potatoes with rosemary; mussels in a white wine sauce; and grilled calamari. We had a chicken, chorizo and shrimp paella. I had a glass of wine, my brother-in-law had a beer, and we also ordered two iced teas.

The music was a bit strange: high-pitched opera-ish (but not really) folksy music that made my younger cousins laugh somewhat uncontrollably at times.

It wasn't the most outstanding meal of my life, but the mix of atmosphere, company, value of food and super congenial service definitely made it one of the most memorable.

Fried potatoes with rosemary; seafood, chicken and chorizo paella. Photos courtesy of my cousin Rochelle.

No comments: