It was a lovely sunny day and I was on my way with my friend N to London’s Bankside for a spot of culture at the Tate Modern. We got out of the tube, and decided we needed sustenance before continuing, and I remembered Tapas Brindisa – I’ve been to their restaurant in Soho a couple of times (and utterly loved it) but never managed to get into the one at Borough Market by London Bridge, as it was always way too busy. A good sign, I guess. Well, it was the middle of the afternoon following the lunchtime rush, and hey, there was a table by the window which looked just perfect for watching the world go by. We went for it.
The bad news was that we arrived five minutes too late to order anything hot, so we settled for the selection of Spanish cheeses. When it came, it was presented nicely and I liked the variety of the platter. Of the four, three came with some sort of fruit affair, and I diligently tried each with and without this little extra to see if it made a difference.
First I tried a goat cheese, Garrotxa, which I liked and which went well on their bread rubbed with olive oil. I must admit that I missed the grapes that this was served with, so can’t say if eating the two together would have made a difference (I suspect not). It was pleasant enough, but not something I think I must have again if I see it. Next was the inevitable sheeps cheese with quince. This was Zamorano extra matured sheeps cheese with quince paste. I was not in love with this, but I am not a huge fan of manchego with membrillo, so if there is an issue here, it lies with me, not Brindisa.
The farm house Mahón came with a tomato jam. On its own, this was nice and if anything rather creamy. But adding the tomato jam released other notes – a rich smokiness and almost a “meatiness” to the cheese, and it was really delicious and the enhancement to the flavour quite unexpected. I’ll have this again. The one I was most dubious about was a blue cheese called Picos de Europe which came with slivers of a fig and almond wheel. Dubious, because I’ve never had Spanish blue cheese before and didn’t think this sounded right. Anyway, on its own, this was a great cheese after all, but in the way that blue cheese is something I like and it usually always packs a punch. However, add the fig, and it cut through the sharpness and combined with the cheese to highlight its creaminess and rounded out the flavour. Again, a great combination where the partner ingredient really made a valuable contribution to the overall taste experience.
I’ll go back – I like the sister restaurant, and the atmosphere at Borough Market is friendly and relaxed. My aim was to try some new Spanish cheeses, and I am glad that Tapas Brindisa introduced me to a couple of new things that I really liked. I might just try to be a little more organised and make it in time for the hot tapas next time I go!
Tapas Brindisa, 18-20 Southwark Street, London SE1 1TJ. Tel: 020 7357 8880. Tube: London Bridge.
LondonEats locations map here.