The newly opened Encasa Deli is not like its neighbours. It's a little piece of Madrid on Bathurst Street, smack bang in the middle of the CBD. Giant salamis - from Rodriguez Brothers in Yagoona - hang over a display cabinet groaning with whole legs of jamon, wheels of cheese and terracotta dishes piled with plump and glistening olives.
Olives stuffed with walnuts and haloumi cheese $8.50 (by weight)
Encasa Deli is the latest undertaking by the owners of Encasa Restaurant on Pitt Street, heading north into the city and moving into Spanish groceries, deli smallgoods and sandwich lunches for office workers on the run.
Colombian coffee $3
In only its second week of opening, word has spread quickly. There's a quirky mix of Spanish grandmothers hovering among the army of business suits that troop in at lunchtime. We pull up a stool around a huge wine barrel and kick things off with a robust Colombian coffee while we nibble on a plate of green olives stuffed with walnuts and haloumi cheese.
It's all about the bocadillo here, a baguette with a simple filling that is a common roadside snack found all over Spain.
Mural of smallgood happiness; hessian-covered stools along the wooden counter
As the kitchen eases into service, much of the menu is not yet available but we find plenty to keep our palates busy.
Bocadillo de tortilla $8.50
The bocadillo de tortilla is a lesson in the beauty of simplicity, a thick slab of Spanish potato omelette that is impressively moist. There's a generous slather of garlic aioli along the bread; strips of roasted red peppers add sweetness.
We're taken aback by the size of these bad boys - it's like having two sandwiches for the price of one. The bread is soft and fresh with a slightly chewy crust. All breads in the store are supplied by Brasserie Bread.
Bocadillo de boquerones $9
Bocadillo de boquerones is another winner, pairing delicate fillets of white anchovies with confit piquillo peppers and roasted garlic aioli. The faint saltiness of the anchovies plays off deliciously against the red peppers.
Bocadillo de calamares $9
In Madrid, bocadillo de calamares are a local specialty. Fresh calamari is lightly dusted with flour and deep-fried until a pale golden hue. It's piled into a bread roll with garlic aioli, and proves to be dangerously satisfying.
Spanish sardines in olive oil
Up the back is the grocery section, stacked neatly with tins of sardines and marinated octopus and kitchenware supplies like paella pans and terracotta dishes. Tins of tomatillos and pickled jalapenos seem to have the South American market covered too.
The owners say they hope to start paella demonstrations on the first Saturday of the month, starting in January next year. Their plan is to teach people how to make a proper paella, and provide free tastings along the way.
In the meantime, I can't wait to try the rest of their bocadillos. A little slice of Madrid in your lunch break? Olé!
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12/02/2011 01:17:00 a.m.