“When my brother was watching football with my father, I was cooking in the kitchen with my mother”.
Tapas have become a world-renowned cuisine where simplicity and convenience makes for a popular and pleasurable social pastime. The food in tapas is humble and hearty, the ingredients are fresh and the dishes are packed full of flavour. Jarek from Jarek’s Kitchen has used his cooking expertise to produce these Spanish delicacies with an Irish twist!
Jarek was born in Poland and discovered a love for cooking from his mother. “When my brother was watching football with my father, I was in the kitchen with my mother”. When he moved to Ireland in 2004 his passion for food came with him! Jarek started working as a kitchen porter to really learn the trade and moved his way up the food ladder rung by rung until he became the manager of the establishment. In 2011 Jarek auditioned for the first ever Masterchef on RTE and made it to the final 10! While he picked up some trusty kitchen tips along the way, it was his mother’s lessons that he kept with him during this time. From there he decided to do a month long intensive cookery course at Dublin cookery school, which truly whetted his appetite to set up his own food business.
Jarek and his wife went on a holiday to Spain and it was there that he had his light bulb moment – the realisation that there was a big gap for Spanish food in Ireland! “Spanish food is all about provenance and quality of product. They make classical dishes with quality ingredients. I knew I could change some flavours to suit the Irish palate and adopt a menu of small plates. It would be an easy-come easy-go style of eating.”
Jarek set up his market stall “Jarek’s Kitchen” soon after and it has been triumph after triumph ever since! He cooks everything from scratch and now trades 3 days a week.In 2015 his beef and chorizo meatballs even featured on RTE’s The Taste of Success! Jarek also provides private dining throughout the year offering a wide selection of dishes from any cuisine the guest prefers. Jarek’s advice for all the food lovers out there: “Keep it simple and enjoy the buzz!”.
Jarek serves a wide variety of deliciously hot tapas. His most popular dish is the world renowned patatas bravas. This recipe calls for potatoes cut into thick irregular chunks, fried to a crispy perfection, dusted with salt and dressed with a spicy tomato/ brava sauce. A dollop of creamy aioli is added on top to balance out the spice.
Next is Jarek’s favourite – beef and chorizo meatballs. These warming meatballs are a take on the classic Spanish dish “albondigas” and are made from the heart and soul. The meatballs are twice cooked and twice blended to ensure they are silky smooth and tender and are served with a zesty, rich tomato-based sauce that begs to be mopped up with the patatas! The meal is crunchy, salty, tender and comforting and will have you craving more!
Other items on the menu:
- Garlic and chilli prawns: fresh prawns in a sweet and spicy sauce
- Crispy squid and scampi: unapologetically deep-fried in batter and served with a hunk of fresh lemon.
- Chickpea and chorizo stew – satisfying warming and delicious!
**Food for thought
- The word “tapa” literally means a cover or lid. Two stories have emerged about its origin:
- The first – During the 16th century King Felipe III ordered a decree where for every drink given to the workmen at his new palace, small portions of food were to be served alongside to stop them from returning to work drunk!
- The second (and probably the most likely!) – In Spanish taverns the bartenders began to place a hunk of bread, or slice of ham or cheese over a glass to keep the fruit flies out. This started a trend!
- Brava (used in patatas bravas) means fierce and ferocious and so is the perfect word to describe the spicy sauce that is served alongside the crispy potatoes.