Spanish Yum

The Culinary Passport has been gathering dust recently and I need to get that turned around and do some searching for new restaurants. Until that happens here’s another box review. Goodies from Spain as curated by Universal Yums.

I didn’t have any ideas what the folks in Spain may be snacking on but if the box is a good representation they have a bit of a sweet tooth. I was definitely looking forward to trying them out.

The snack I enjoyed most was the Lucasas Trufas, cocoa dusted chocolate truffles.

These little treats were a chocolate lovers friend. The chocolate was very good quality showcasing the why people would go to the dark side for their chocolate. Very rich and smooth and more than enough to enjoy over several days. The cocoa dusting was a good addition from a flavor standpoint but it was kind of like glitter in that it got everywhere.

My second favorite was about as far away from the truffles as you could get and still be a sweet.

The Gummi Spicy Mangos were definitely a fun treat. Of course they have the chewy, stretchy gummi consistency and a pronounced mango flavor that lulls you into a false complacency. I was thinking to myself, “these aren’t too spi…Hey now!” That spice comes out of nowhere to tango with your mango. It was quite the surprise and the combo was great.

There was a tie for the worst snack. Unlike some other months where that is really just my least favorite these were just not good.

The first one was supposed to be a ham flavored corn puff but it was mostly just puff. The flavor was not good and the texture was more like a decades old cheese puff without the cheese flavor or the unnatural orange color. The second was also supposed to be a corn based snack that was ketchup and mustard flavored. I was skeptical of these off the bat and they lived down to my expectations. The flavors were just nonexistent. The best use for them was as packing material to make sure the other snacks didn’t get damaged in transit.

The most unusual was probably more of a mental thing plus some bias based on hearsay.

I figured this one could go either way. I’d heard people who’d tried egg chips before comment they were nasty, smelled bad and / or were just weird. With that feedback I opened the bag with mild trepidation as I expected an assault on my nasal passages. There was not so much as a skirmish. I even decided to get in there and take a good whiff and while it did smell a tad eggy it wasn’t as bad as a boiled egg. The flavor was mildly eggish and not unpleasant at all. The chip was a quality chip to boot so I enjoyed them even if it was a combo I would not have put together.

For me the Spanish box was a mixed bag or box in this case. In addition to the favorites covered I really enjoyed some lemon cookies, a smoky snack mix, some dark chocolate covered peanuts and the Cortadillo Relleno de Crema that was OMG sweet but tasty. But there was also an olive oil, almond and spice cookie thing that couldn’t commit to being sweet or savory and suffered from the indecision.

The December box is a holiday box that is a virtual UN of snacks with 13 different countries represented and I already tried one from Poland and it was delicious.

Tapased Out



For Spain I wanted to go to a Spanish restaurant for tapas.  There are a number of tapas places in the area but Miro Spanish Grille in Ballantyne, NC has Spanish in the name so it was a no brainer.  Tapas is more enjoyable with company and not just because you can order more dishes to share (that is a huge bonus though).  In this case it was a great opportunity to catch up with a former colleague, friend (current not former) and fellow food lover.  Thanks Jody for joining me.


Miro is in a little shopping square and would be easy to miss if you weren’t looking for it.  I don’t know if they do all the time but this evening they had tables outside with a few patrons enjoying the fall weather and outdoor dining.  It is not a large place but the tables and booths are roomy and the booths were comfortable with high backs that muffled the sound and made conversation easier.  They take reservations so I felt compelled to wear my good jeans and something other than a t-shirt and that turned out to be a good choice.  It’s not fancy but it’s definitely a few steps up from Chiles.

The waiter, Jay, was quite helpful and tried to entice us with 2 seafood specials and a rack of lamb special but I had a plan and didn’t want to be swayed.  He almost had me with the halibut special that came with a chorizo stew but I remained resolute to the tapas.

We started with 4 dishes, 3 of which are pictured below.  The 4th came a bit later and I was otherwise occupied and forgot to snap a shot.  Pictured are empanadas, gambas al ajillo and patatas bravas.  The slow dish was pinchitos morunos.

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The empandas were nice and crispy outside and the filling was beef and vegetables nicely seasoned and pretty mild.  Gambas al ajillo is garlic shrimp cooked in that clay dish and you might notice  it was still sizzling when it arrived.  It was cooked with olive oil, garlic and had some peppers but it wasn’t spicy at all.  The shrimp were cooked perfectly to be tender and delicious.  The potatoes had what was described as a slightly spicy aioli.  They did have a nice taste but I wouldn’t call it spicy at all.  They were cooked soft but not mushy and very thoroughly coated with the aioli sauce.  Pinchitos morunos was grilled pork skewers with a chimichurri sauce.  They were tender and the sauce was understated.  I washed mine down with a Railhouse K-bar Brown beer that was pretty good and was a little bitter and a little sweet so it paired well with all the dishes.  We had one more plate that also didn’t get photographed because I was too busy talking.  It was the queso del dia, which was thick slices of tetlilla and manchego cheeses and a small variety of olives.  This was where we tapped out since we didn’t finish all the cheese and when Jay came back around asking if we wanted dessert there was no hesitation in passing it up.  Now if we had seen him pass by with that tray of dessert samples before (wow they looked great) the cheese likely never would have made it out of the kitchen.

Overall I’d definitely recommend Miro Spanish Grille to anyone as the staff is very friendly, he atmosphere was comfortable and the food was great quality.

If you’re interested the Tell Me More page has a gambas al ajillo recipe and more little tidbits.