Ocho Tapas fuse Spanish flavours with local produce

Trudy Brolly / Image: Taste Causeway

We had a great conversation with Trudy from the award-winning Ocho Tapas Bistro last month to find out more about the local food scene and learn more about tapas. Trudy co-founded the restaurant in Portrush with her husband Sean in 2015.

Having lived for nearly two decades in Spain, Trudy saw how fresh and locally sourced produce was celebrated, and in particular how food markets were a part of everyday life. This is why locally sourced produce is at the centre of Ocho’s recipes with suppliers including Broughgammon, Vance’s Organic Kilrea, Greenhouse Brothers and many many more.

Tapas are “small eats” or appetizers originating in Spain but now seen all across the world. The word “tapa” means lid and one of the origin stories of the concept is that tapas started as pieces of bread to cover wine glasses to stop flies getting in! Of course, since then, tapas have evolved into a plethora of dishes.

Traditional Spanish tapas include dishes like tortilla Española – a potato based omelet, Croquetas – croquettes filled with different ingredients such as ham and patatas bravas – fried potatoes with a tomato based sauce. One of the best things about tapas is that they are intended for sharing, so you can order a wide variety of dishes with friends and try them all!

Trudy and Sean bring their own twist to the traditional tapa by working with a fusion of flavours. Ocho’s dishes include Monkfish Scampi With Patatas Fritas and Okonomiyaki Fries!

With Ocho based on the North Coast, fresh local seafood is never far away with everything from locally sourced squid to lobster to mussels featuring on their menu.

As well as the non-vegetarian options, Trudy is also keen on putting together a strong plant-based offering and Ocho has a wide selection of dishes on offer so vegetarians are able to have just as great an experience as non-vegetarians.

In Spain, Trudy noticed that people are really engaged with their food and know its provenance. In the same way, what she’d like to see happen in Northern Ireland in the future is more of an appreciation of quality food sourced locally where possible – even if that costs a bit more; things like eating better food, buying less but higher quality meats and making this people’s everyday experience.