Why people have been flocking to Richmond for a taste of Spain

Aug 18 2021, 4:09 pm

Since its recent opening, people in the Lower Mainland have been scurrying to Richmond in droves for a little taste of Spain at Jamoneria by ARC.

The new restaurant isn’t just taking inspiration from the region’s culinary sensations, as specialty importers, the owners have quite literally brought the flavours of Andalusia — in the south of Spain — to the west coast.

Beyond offering diners mouthfuls of authentic tapas, preserves, and bocadillos (Spanish sandwiches), the locale aims to fully immerse its patrons in the sights, sounds, and smells of Spanish life.

“We want them to experience Spain and share our enthusiasm for Spain,” says Antonio Romero Casado, the owner of ARC IBERICO IMPORTS and Jamoneria by ARC.

“If they’ve been there previously, relive it as if they’d taken a plane. If they have never been to Spain, we want to reproduce the same experience they will have when they travel, because they will undoubtedly want to travel after their visit to our Jamoneria.”

Antonio Romero invites his guests to think of the Jamoneria as an open tasting room where they can try multiple Spanish plates and tapas that they can take home after the fact.

The tasting room experience is also multi-sensory — every bite amplified by the warm ambience, the music, and the people. “All of our products are from Spain, all of our music is Spanish, the decor is inspired by Andalusian patios, and our service is second to none,” adds Antonio Romero.

Having just opened the doors to their freshly minted patio, this singular experience has recently expanded to the outdoors.

When it comes to discovering the unique dishes on the menu, Antonio Romero explains that pairing wine with food is crucial. “Tapas are designed to be eaten with one hand while drinking with the other,” he says.

Among the many delectable things worth sipping at the tasting bar is the sangria, which is made using his father’s secret recipe. They also have an impressive assortment of red and white wines, and of course, a selection of vermouth, sherry, and cava.

Raised surrounded by genuine Spanish food and dishes at his family’s prominent restaurant named El Labrador in San Pedro Alcantara, Marbella — one of Spain’s most iconic destinations — for Antonio Romero, good food is a birthright. And it’s one he intends to put to good use.

Their specialty dish — Spain’s national treasure and often regarded as the world’s finest Jamon Iberico — is the Cinco Jotas 100% Iberian Ham. Antonio Romero, who is Canada’s only master ham carver, also sees that it is whittled with precision before being put on your plate.

Other highlights include their expansive selection of Spanish seafood, including chargrilled Gueyu Mar conservas (premium charcoal-grilled octopus preserve), mariscada (an authentic seafood platter), Gambas Cocidas de Huelva (a distinctive white shrimp from the south of Spain), Carabineros (red king prawn), and langostino de Sanlucar (Sanlucar prawns) — a Spanish delicacy that can’t be found anywhere else in Canada.

We’d be remiss not to mention some of the tantalizing tapas, like Pan de la Casa Con Tomate (classic Spanish bread with tomato and evoo) and Anchoas del Cantábrico con Aguacate (Cantabrian anchovies with avocado).

Not to mention, the medley of Spanish pickles, olives, almonds, cured meats, cheeses, and more that are on hand to enrich the experience. To end with a good taste, a special dessert made with Antonio’s family’s recipe: Tarta de Queso de mis padres — a cheesecake like no other.

And the best part is: you can take it all home with you.

As importers of Spanish goods, they have an enviable selection of products available — and the tasting bar is meant to be the perfect setting for you to discover which tapas you enjoy most.

“Jamoneria is the ideal place for fans of Spanish cuisine to come and get their products directly from the source, while also receiving expert advice on what they are looking for,” says Antonio Romero.

ARC IBERICO IMPORTS has been in the business for over three years now, populating the counters and menus of your favourite local restaurants, grocery stores, and bars, as well as through their online shop which ships directly to customers across Canada.

In October of last year, the Spanish food purveyors opened their first storefront outside of their warehouse where they began selling bocadillos.

Jamoneria by ARC, the latest iteration of their ever-evolving food enterprise, has the simple but sincere aim of bringing Spanish culture closer to Canadians. We can’t think of anything closer than being able to cook up our own tapas at home.

“If they try several tapas and fall in love with one, they can buy all the products directly from the store and make their own tapas,” according to Antonio Romero. “It all starts in the tasting room where they can try multiple flavours and discover what they love.”

Visit arcimports.ca to book your table — keep in mind space is limited — and travel to Spain without leaving the province. The tasting room and wine bar — which require a booking — is open every Thursday and Friday evening from 5 pm to 10 pm, and Saturday from 10 am to 10 pm.

The general store and bocadillo shop are open Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday from 9:30 am to 5 pm (they’re also open during the tasting room hours).


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