MoVida Bar de Tapas

February 3, 2012

1 Hosier Lane, Melbourne
I know I’m out by a day, but I’d just like to take a quick moment to commemorate Let Me Feed You Melbourne’s one year anniversary! My first blog post, on 2 February 2011, was on the Primrose cafe in Bristol, which is where this whole thing started. This blog started with a small coffee shop and a girl called Emma, who inspired me to continue writing about things that I love.
And, without getting too sentimental on you, I do love this blog. It’s one of the best things in my life, and I’m extremely proud of it. However, this blog would be nothing without its readers, so thank you for all your kind words and time taken to read my ramblings! It is much appreciated. I also owe no small amount of gratitude to all the friends and family members who have put up with my incessant blogging habits, namely delaying eating to take pictures of dishes and being antisocial by taking too many notes.
Above all I am grateful for this incredible medium of communication, and for what it has brought to my life. May it continue to do so!
“MOVIDA MOVIDA MOVIDA MOVIDA”, is what had been running through my head in the week preceding our visit to MoVida, for my mother’s birthday. I’ve written before about how thoughts of food tend to consume my life. Sometimes the mere thought of going to a particularly great restaurant makes me quiver with excitement, and I will happily spend hours perusing online menus and food blogs, drooling and fantasising and planning visits.
MoVida was high up on the quiver scale, so it was with no small amount of excitement that I bounded along the richly graffitied aisle of Hosier Lane to MoVida’s door.

This scene reminds me of Barcelona for some reason.

Inside, the restaurant is on the small side, with a long bar and separate dining area. The tables are simple and the walls are decorated in Spanish food posters. All the waiting staff are very friendly and knowledgeable, and they all (men and women) wear blue and red checked shirts.

The menu is divided into Tapas, which come as a single piece, and raciones, which are dishes for sharing. We began with some sprightly red sangria.

We began…Wow, even writing about this meal has me jittery all over again! Ok, Natalie. Calm.

We began with a selection of tapas. First off the rank were four Anchoa, hand filleted cantabrian artisan anchovies on croutons with smoked tomato sorbet. Honestly, I can only weep at the thought of how good these were. When I return I think I will order about 12! The icy cold sorbet only seemed to enhance the saltiness of those stunning anchovies. Please order these, you will fall in love.

Next up were the Buruelos de bacalao con pil-pil, salt cod and potato fritters with a lemon emulsion.We all loved these piping hot little morsels. Not too salty, despite the fish, and with a lively crunch to the outside.

Our final tapas was potentially my favourite dish of the day – the pato agridulee. Slooow cooked duck shanks with hazelnuts, raisins and onions. SUCH an incredible dish. The meat was, as expected, falling off the bone, and such a luscious pink colour. I loved the tangy taste of the hazelnuts, plus the sweetness of the onion sauce. We dragged our duck shanks across the plate to mop up as much flavour as possible. Spectacular.

Next up was a very simple, honest, but delicious dish of espinacas con garbanzos: chickpeas and spinach in a light tomato sauce. Not at all spicy, just very tasty and immensely satisfying.

Often when I’m home studying I’ll make myself chickpeas on toast for dinner. Basically you drain and rinse a can of chickpeas, then warm and slightly mash them in a saucepan with some olive oil, cumin, chilli, lemon and parsley. Simple but brilliant. Jamie Oliver also has a rather brilliant smashed chickpea recipe that I modified mine from.

Next up was the pulpo, char grilled octopus with chorizo and chickpeas. This was also delicious – I can’t remember much about it apart from that the octopus was extremely tender and had a lovely smokey flavour.

To finish we shared two slightly larger meals, the first being the zarzuela de marisa, a Catalan seafood stew. Having spent time in Barcelona in 2010, we were instantly hooked by the word “Catalan”, and were not disappointed with the result. A fresh and saffron-infused broth with a wonderful melange of prawns, calamari, squid, mussels and fish.

My absolute favourite part of the dish, however, was the dried crusts of bread they’d torn into chunks and thrown in, which soaked up the broth beatifully.

To end, a rather blurry picture (what can I say, the sangria was good!) of the carrillera de buey – slowly braised beef cheek in pedro ximenez on cauliflower puree. Yet another brilliant example of how good cauliflower can be (I refer you to my posts on Cumulus Inc and Huxtable for more cauli-goodness)!

The meat looks dry in the picture but it broke apart easily with our forks into beautiful fat ribbons of flesh that married so well with the sweet sauce. An excellent, excellent finish to the savory part of our meal.

Desserts at MoVida are a simple and honest affair, much like the rest of the food here. We each ordered one, and in doing so pretty much covered the entire dessert menu (which, I must add, is very well constructed and very, very tempting!)

Mum had the churros with drinking chocolate, which were perfectly crisp and sugared, while the drinking chocolate was slightly less viscous than one normally finds served with churros, I suppose because it was actually intended to be drunk afterwards.

On a similarly chocolate-intensive note, I had the ganache chocolate pudding with vanilla bean ice-cream; a sinfully rich and melty cake that oozed at the touch of my spoon. Warning: only approach if you can handle intense chocolate levels (fortunately I have no such issue)!

My brother ordered the creme caramel with pestinos, which are a kind of sherry pastry, and Dad ordered the special dessert of the day, baked nectarines with rum soaked cake and vanilla bean ice-cream.

In all honesty, MoVida is one of the best restaurants I’ve eaten at this past year. It has everything that I love in a restaurant – simple but devastatingly tasty dishes with punchy flavours, and no pretentiousness about it. Now all I have to do it book my next visit…

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