Sunday, March 01, 2015

My Little Tapas Bar

It was a little intimidating at first.

The usual sight merrymakers gathered in the al fresco dining areas, drink in hand and a delicate tapas in the other.

It looked like a perfect night out with the mates.
Except. I had my mum with me.

But of course, that wasn't an issue at all. 

The warm lights within My Little Tapas Bar and the rustic and simplistic interior decor of their indoor dining area was very welcoming. And it was the 5th day of the lunar new year. It felt like I was doing a chinese new year visitation to someone's house.

And you know what? That. Was exactly the kind of experience they wanted to recreate for the diners. 'Mi casa es su casa - my house is also your house', Maria Sevillano says, as she shares about their concept for this homely diner. 

And the warm welcome continues with their house sangria.
I've an allergy to alcohol but the royal red brandy with the chopped fruits was intriguing enough for me to take a sip.
Strong. But resplendent with fruity notes.

Being the only Spanish restaurant with 5 legs of Jamon on offer, their next sampler plate gave us a taste of two of the five Jamons available.
The darker red Jabugo jamon from the well known 10 Vetas, was a crowd favourite.
It went perfectly well together with a cut of the Manchengo cheese and Jenga style baguette sticks.
Pop an olive in to complete the experience.
And rosemary baked almonds to cleanse your palate before the next round.

The Croquetas de Jamon were deep fried morsels of addiction.
Don't bother with half pieces.
It really was just for the camera effect.
I took a full one for myself after. :)
These croquettes are made the traditional Spanish way, with no potatoes.
No potatoes you say?
Yes, that's what they said.
Bechamel and Jamon stuffings, encrusted in a delicate shell. 
On a bed of garlic aioli.
Once you pop, you can't stop!

The next dish was a yet another Spanish tradition- the flatbread.
With the most amazing colors and flavours on every single piece.
I feared a strong fishy taste associated with the anchovies but the sweet peppers, slightly bitter taste of the rocket and the sweet sour reduction of balsamic vinegar drizzled atop put my fears to rest, and sent my tastebuds into overdrive.

We were also treated to their lamb rack.
Yet another fear of its gamey taste that I cannot stomach.
But Chef Director Edward Esmero gives his word that the gamey smell would be non-existent.
And one would be hard pressed to doubt a man who speaks with great passion about his food and his kitchen.

And indeed,
the tender racks of lamb had just a tinge of that gamey smell and the juices of the meat created an explosion of sense in the mouth. The proportions of fat made it all the more tender and still retaining a certain bite.
And while the potato chunks at the side looked like an overload on the calorie counter, these were amazingly worth the tipping of the scales.
A crisp exterior with a moist fluffy interior.
Do not put me on a no-carb diet.
Move over truffle fries.
I'd like a whole bucket of these.
The chickpeas were also a nice complement this main course.

And what's a dinner without dessert?

Tarteleta de Chocolate.
Chef Edward's entry for an International Culinary Competition while he was still an amateur in his home country of the Phillipines.
With this dessert, he beat his better known competitors from hotels and culinary schools.
Simply made.
It was a dish close to his heart, and made with the purest form of sincerity and passion.

This was a buttery tart, slightly bitter from the cocoa powder with a truffle chocolate interior which was described as chocolate ice cream but I'd think it'd be closer to a thick mousse made with 68% chocolate, topped with salted caramel almond bits.
The scoop of strawberry ice cream was made with the Magimix, using milk and egg with fresh strawberries. Forget your creamy strawberry ice creams, this was a much less creamy ice cream with an icy texture that bore truth to its rudimentary homemade processes. This was a tasting portion and the most perfect way to end the night. The regular sized portions I'd expect to be entirely indulgent and better shared due to its richness. 

So while I haven't yet been to Spain, this cosy experience has already created a wanderlust in me to explore the traditions and soak in their hospitable culture. 

But of course, till then, when the craving hits for some authentic Spanish fare, I know where to be at! :)

Thanks to Reka and Opensnap for this tasting invite jointly organised by Charles from FoodCult and also to the gracious hosts, Maria and Edward of The Little Tapas Bar.
All opinions are of the author's own.

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