For Foodies: Toro Blanco

A Specialty Spanish Food Shop - Chorizo, Manchego and wine—olé!
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We all know what Red Bull is—the high voltage power drink—, but have you ever heard of White Bull? How about in its original language: Toro Blanco? Still nothing? Well, if your taste buds are tempted by spicy chorizo sausage, sharp Manchego Viejo cheese, and some fruity Tempranillo wine, check out this specialty Spanish food shop the next time you’re in Vinohrady.

Toro Blanco owner Germán Palomino said he didn’t come to Prague for love like many expats, but thankfully he did come and he brought with him the Spanish concept of colmado—a type of neighborhood mom-and-pop store which carries everything from toilet paper to olive oil (although his shop focuses exclusively on groceries and some kitchen utensils).

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In the land of the Czech večerka, you might ask what makes his store different. “The concept is clear: only original Spanish products—no Greek olive oil,” Palomino asserts. “Here [Czech Republic] the tendency is to mix everything.”

This native of Girona has stayed firmly loyal to his concept and he showcases products from all over the country. Germán’s happy to educate us foreigners on the pleasures of Spanish cuisine too. Like just the other day an elderly Czech gentleman entered his shop and picked up a tin of anchovies and asked Germán, “Is this meat or seafood?”
“Seafood.”
Then the man asked, “From the river or the sea?”
“The sea,” Germán patiently answered.

Palomino has managed to squeeze a lot of Spain into a small space. A meat cooler with chorizo, fuet, jamón serrano, and the like occupies the back corner of his shop and a cooler stocked with dairy delights is next to the cash register. On the shelves, you’ll find an ample selection of wine, and various canned and dried goods ranging from typical Spanish biscuits to fabada—a bean and chorizo stew.

After puzzling over the best way to conquer the most culinary territory, I finally decided on preparing a Spanish-themed meal, from appetizer to dessert, with the added challenge of doing it in 800 CZK or less.   

I started in the wine section, which spans four shelves beside the meat cooler. Palomino carries wine from many different regions and one interesting choice was Cava, a sparkling wine from Catalonia that is typically consumed at important celebrations. Wow! If I wasn’t careful I would blow my whole budget on the booze.  Luckily, I found something in my price range—Sangre de Toro (literally: bull’s blood). 
135 CZK down, 665 CZK left to spend.

As I perused the rest of the store, I was surprised to see so much shelf space devoted to legumes—I didn’t know beans were such a staple in the Spanish diet. I threw a couple of cans of garbanzos in my basket, thinking I would Google a recipe later.

For the main course, I chose paella. Germán does have all the ingredients to make it from scratch but I opted for the instant version—cooked in 16 minutes and only 149 CZK per box, serving 2-3 portions. I grabbed two seafood flavored ones and hoped it would be enough for four people.

With 367 CZK remaining, I needed some serious appetizers to make the paella stretch. I got a ring of chorizo (108 CZK) and Manchego Viejo cheese (250g 140 CZK) to cover all my bases. For dessert, I passed up the biscuits in favor of some turrón (128 CZK), a type of nougat which the Spanish traditionally eat during Christmas.
Oops!—over budget by 10 CZK.

The final menu:

Appetizer: Manchego Viejo cheese, chorizo and Sangre de Toro
Main course: seafood paella with a side of stewed garbanzos and chorizo
Dessert: turrón

Total: 810 CZK

Dinner only took 30 minutes to get ready, thanks to the instant paella, and my friends seemed full, but for all I know they went home and ransacked their cupboards for something to placate their rumbling bellies (we’ve all been to those dinner parties).

Everyone agreed that the cheese was their favorite, and the garbanzos paired with chorizo, red onion and a little garlic were flavorful and easy to prepare. The wine lived up to its namesake and was spicy and full-bodied—just how I like it. Sadly, some things just aren’t meant to be eaten out of a can, and paella is definitely one of them. (I bet svíčková wouldn’t taste so hot either.) It was edible, but lacked oomph; plus the overall texture was a bit sticky instead of light and fluffy.
 
The only niggling doubt that remained for me was the total cost of the meal. After a quick inspection of the Spanish wine, cheese, and sausages on offer at Billa, I discovered that Germán’s products were similarly priced or slightly cheaper in some cases. And when given the option, it’s always better to support a small business over a supermarket chain.
 
Even though I couldn’t afford to dine like that every night, you do get the quality you pay for. So the next time I find myself in a Frankovka-Eidam-klobása kind of rut, I will definitely make a stop at Toro Blanco.

WHERE: Kolínská 19, Prague 3, Vinohrady
PUBLIC TRANSPORT: closest to tram stop Radhošťská or Perunova
OPENING HOURS: Mo-Fri 9:00-20:00 Sat 9:00-13:00 Sun Closed
WEBSITE: http://www.toroblanco.cz/en/#head

For Foodies: Toro Blanco


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Tip: Visit Expats.cz Food & Drink for great tips on Prague restaurants, Czech cuisine, and more

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