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February 27, 2024

Spanish tortilla obsession

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Ambrunah is run by Javier Mayrata, who takes the Spanish love of tortillas and shares it with us.

Simon Haslam

Ambrunah is a specialist Spanish takeaway in Byron that passionately upholds the foundational culinary tradition of tortillas – properly put together Spanish omelettes. Part of me believes all Spanish people are food-loving, fun-loving, friendly people who, when they’re not partying, hang out with their cool friends in tapas bars laughing, enjoying life, wine… everything – and I think that my fantasy might actually be true!

Ambrunah is run by Javier Mayrata, who takes the Spanish love of tortillas and shares it with us. Javier says the hero of Spanish cuisine would be the tortilla. He’s pretty obsessed. In fact, he didn’t want to be photographed for this story in case it detracted from the attention owed to the tortilla. Outside of Spain, the ubiquitous paella and churros are often served up, but not tremendous tortillas, which, according to Javier, who ‘is an expert on/is obsessed with’ tortillas, are the dish most commonly eaten in Spain. 

Javier comes from Majorca off the coast of Spain near Barcelona, so he is an actual real Spanish person who has been obsessed with tortillas since primary school. ‘Everyone cooks tortillas at home at least a couple of days a week, he says, but for some reason it isn’t commonly done overseas’. 

‘I think that’s because to make it requires a lot of time, and a good technique. It needs a special pan, and a good strong wrist to flip it properly. It should come out gooey in the centre, it’s easy to overcook it and it will go dry, and a Spanish person would look for that.’

At Ambrunah, their philosophy is to ‘do one thing and do it right’ and luckily for us, the tortillas are the main thing, Spanish tortillas are a kind of potato and onion omelette. At Ambrunah you can choose the ‘classic’, with just onion, but there are also options with chorizo or zucchini and goat cheese, or the lush mushroom and truffle. All are cooked with free range eggs and are gluten free. There are infinite variations of the base tortilla and they also come up with some really special varieties, for example using Spanish meats. As well, there are a couple of salsas to accompany your tortillas and salad and a traditional, refreshing  cold tomato soup; Spanish style gazpacho.

Javier says, ‘I just want to do the tortillas perfectly. I serve one type in the bocadillo, which is a Spanish baguette, and the other is more as a morning breakfast type with Spanish Toast (a tomato on bread toast) on the side.

‘Where I come from has influences from Africa and the Spanish mainland. We have a culture of sitting down and sharing every meal with people, so in Spain tortilla is often served in a tapas bar, or is shared at home for dinner. But in Australia, I think it works better as a takeaway in the morning.’

 Ambrunah started at the markets, but now it also has a permanent place to serve from in the heart of Byron, at the Byron St end of Williams Lane next to Sparrow and opposite Aldi. There are spots to perch and enjoy your traditional Spanish takeaway fare, and you can get a coffee from Sparrow next door.

Byron takeaway window open Wed–Sat 10am–2pm.
Ph: 0455 290 723.

Javier says the Spanish tortilla was first cooked in the 1800s, so it’s been part of Spanish cuisine for over 200 years. The word ‘ambrunah’ translates to famine or hunger in a time of food shortage, when there were only potatoes and eggs available, and the tortilla was developed. It turns out that, whilst it was created somewhat through necessity, Spanish people really liked it, and that’s why he named his takeaway tortilla joint Ambrunah.

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