mas was conceived by chef tomas rahal both as an antidote for the growing corporate fast-food presence in charlottesville, and as an opportunity to feature slow, organic, artisinal foods and wines, especially those from spain. emphasizing simple, well-made ingredients served in a casual neighborhood setting. mas features much of the traditional fare of spanish tapas, a bite-sized dish eaten between larger meals. these snacks are often eaten in groups, sharing dishes communally and without any pretense or formality.
why spain? as an inspiration spain uniquely blends cultural fusions such as arabic, african, european and asian cuisines in both traditional and cutting edge food explorations. mas’ foods and wines establish a vernacular of flavors, and essential tastes that follow traditional cuisines while exploring new, innovative styles and techniques. mas uniquely features wood-fired artisinal brick oven breads, pastries and slow-cooked braises of colchinillo asado, fresh seafood, and paellas.
a menu in touch with the traditional foods of spain, europe and the mediterranean we provide an opportunity to feature many of the locally produced organic foods and farm products including veggies, meats, honeys, grains, herbs and plants. another unique aspect of mas’ operations is to work closely with local farmers and vineros, both here and abroad, mas is able to offer an incredible diversity of products and varieties not easily sourced by conventional commercial stores. examples of this are the fresh local, wild mushrooms, beautiful whole atlantic sardines, wild alaskan king salmon, kobe beef, or spicy padron peppers. equally rare are the biodynamic and organic red wines of priorato, catalunya, and rioja such as Letras, Aljibes, Genium, Privat or Valsacro, or a precious glass of pedro ximenez reserva sherry. from the first olive to the last sip of wine mas strives to exceed your expectations in every aspect of service.
It all starts with an oliveit should come as no surprise that a restaurant serving spanish tapas and traditional foods should talk alot about olives. the meat, the oil, the stone, all have vital roles in the economies and histories of the world, and still do. at mas the olive is our first gift to you, a humble taste of what a dry, arid and rocky environment like spain's can produce. the oils we use are extra-virgin and pure, mostly originating in the suirana area located in catalunya, and are pressed from the tiny arbequina olive. we offer this brief history for your information.
for an overall phiolosophy at mas, we believe in letting the genius of the material speak for itself, and where fabrication or refinement is required, primal and offcuts and slow-cooking are preferred. customers love our rare kobe beef and our fork-tender veal cheeks or sweetbreads. the crispy crust, and slightly sour tang and silky crumb of our breads are a testament to letting the flavor in foods slowly develop. so much of what we eat is adulterated with loads of salt, sugar, sauces, rubs, and additivies, often there to simply cook the food faster. we often have forgotten what some foods taste like, and certainly how much energy goes into fresh, hand-made cuisine. at mas our motto is there are no shortcuts.
local genius is that when you grow grapes, you grow olives, or other complimentary foods right next to them in a unique symbiosis. the french developed this concept known internationally as terroir as a means to describe the totality and integration of systems in their biosphere or unique growth zone . the result is a nuanced similarity and complimentary flavor profile. to create such an integration is really beyond the skill of any one person and develops slowly over many years, eons, and millenia.
cooking is an artform for many people today. at mas we are concerned with the craft of cooking, where the kitchen is a laboratory but not a science experiment. our outcomes can never really be in doubt, reliability is a must and repetition the stone we sharpen our skills upon.
a master winemaker attempts to achieve this symbiosis in making a slowly aged, harmonious wine that reflects its environment. this too is what cooks are asked to do only much quicker. an old winemaker in priorat once told me that the history of his place, his home, was contained in every glass of wine he makes.
chef/owner tomas rahal
tomas rahal came to charlottesville as an undergraduate at uva's school of architecture. preferring the kitchen to the charette, tomas has run the kitchens of mono loco, rapture, market street cafe, and continental divide before initiating mas tapas bar. emphasizing the freshest ingredients and materials, with simple and innovative presentations, mas is really a tribute to old fashioned slow-cooked, family-run restaurants still prevelant in spain and the mediterranean. like most chefs tomas loves organic gardening.
"I was really impressed by the work of john jeavons and the intensive gardening movement when i was at university. my roomies and i had just met a great guy from berkeley, tom philips who laid all this great info in our laps, so we ran with it and rented a city plot. when time permits i love to grow a small plot of herbs and seasonal fruits. when they are biting i love to go tuna and billfishing. golf with friends is an ultimate luxury, and at the calmest moments there is cooking with friends and staff, pool parties, and and tasting dry, ripe spanish red wines."
inspired by the variety, versatility and innovation of spanish cuisine and winemaking, matching wines with foods simply follows the dictum, "if it grows together, it goes together."