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Until we can once again sit, sip and while away the hours at local wine bars, elbow-deep in tapas and lost in the fervour of the room, there is takeout. No, it’s not the same. Still, life-saving spots like La Flaca -- a wine-bar-turned-bodega on Queen West -- are energizing our snack game and getting us excited about savouring our stash at home.
The spot’s new picnic boxes, launched last week, are the latest draw. Brimming with a wealth of high-end, portable, easy-to-nibble Spanish goods, these boxes will soon be the darling of Trinity Bellwoods Park.
Opened in September 2020, La Flaca, named for the popular Spanish song, is, at heart, a wine bar. The victim of bad timing, the spot survived just one month before pandemic-related closures forced owners Ricardo Rueda and Cesar Castro to reimagine the spot. A duo that first met working at Spanish spot Carmen and helped launch that restaurant’s offshoot, Mercat del Carmen, Rueda and Castro took a cue from Mercat’s business model. “A few of the neighbours around were missing being able to stop by for a good coffee and some Spanish treats,” says Rueda.
Housed in the same space as now-shuttered Mercat, La Flaca was transformed into an all-day spot, where people could buy coffee, along with wine, beer, cocktails and “bocadillos (Spanish sandwiches) that we made daily along with some sweets like Danishes, croissants and muffins,” says Rueda.
In addition to house-made snacks and savouries, La Flaca’s shelves are also lined with “a bunch of Spanish goodies, like Spanish chips, canned seafood, charcuterie and cheeses,” says Rueda. Rounding out the options are gourmet, small-batch, “pickles, jams, garlic confit, Spanish sauces and a bunch of stuff depending on the season and market availability,” he adds.
Drawing from this wealth of goods, La Flaca's curated picnic boxes include a bottle of wine or sangria of choice, along with cured meats, cheeses, pickled vegetables, olives, bread, nuts, dried and fresh fruits. Available for pick-up from Thursday to Sunday, the boxes can be made for two to six people to snack on at home or, when sanctioned by the powers that be, at nearby Trinity Bellwoods Park.
"I think it is really cool that people who worked years ago in this place now own and run the business," says Rueda. Not only that, they're infusing the neighbourhood with a welcome dose of Hispanic flavour and flare.