Tag Archives: anchovies

Terrific Tapas in Tanglin

Calamares – lightly floured and deep fried squid rings

Well, it’s not officially in Tanglin, but Orchard Road didn’t sound as good ūüôā

Good tapas seems to be very hit and miss. ¬†Which surprises me because the preparation of the dishes is relatively simple – tapas relies on good produce to speak for itself. ¬†The few places we’ve tried in Singapore are more for convenience – like Que Pasa, because it’s a lovely place to have a bottle of wine rather than because of the food (although the food there is certainly passable).

Marinated mixed olives

Trying to find a restaurant that was open on the second day of Chinese New Year seemed to be a problem, and we were thrilled that Bodega Y Tapas on Orchard Road was a) open and b) had space for us. ¬†It was busy when we got there, which it always seems to be when I pass it, and we were quickly ushered to our lounge chairs to have our dinner indoors. ¬†The space indoors doesn’t allow for larger groups but it’s a nice intimate area to have dinner for two or maybe three people.

The tapas menu is extensive, which made choosing difficult, but one of the benefits of tapas is that you can sample lots of little dishes.

A generous bowl of marinaded mixed olives started the meal, which worked wonderfully with the sangria that I ordered.

jamon iberico de bellota

Then came 80g of jamon iberico de bellota – ham made from free-range pigs fed exclusively on black acorns and aged for 36 months. ¬†I love that it was hand-carved from the actual leg of the ham – it adds a certain rustic feel to the ham and I swear it makes it taste better than the machine-sliced iberico ham that you get in the hotel buffets. ¬†Although, to be fair, serve it to me any way and I love this stuff. ¬†It’s the sort of ham that you chew and chew and almost don’t want to swallow so that you can savour the intense flavour of the ham (including the fat) in your mouth. ¬†I recall a very good tip from Chef Ryan Clift of Tippling Club, which was the longer you chewed jamon Iberico, the better the flavour, as it “excites” all the different taste bud sensations on your tongue.

Cold cut meat platter

We also ordered a platter of cold cuts Рthe waitress was a bit vague on exactly what was on the plate but we had two types of pork sausage (one with and the other without chilli), air-dried beef (sort of like bresaola but with a more jerky appearance, served with a drizzle of olive oil and slivered almonds) and a dried sliced pork loin.  Also on this dish were baguette slices that had a dollop of delicious finely chopped tomato salsa that you could almost serve as gazpacho.  It was light and refreshing and absolutely worked with the cured meat.

Lightly floured and deep fried anchoview

For warm food we had chorizo – simply fried, and calamari and anchovies, both lightly floured and deep fried, which, for me, were the winners of the evening. ¬†The calamari was soft and tender – not overcooked or tough, and served with a garlic mayonnaise – quite standard, but probably the best I’ve had in a while, and the anchovies just needed a squeeze of lemon juice over them to be eaten whole. ¬†Again, I love anchovies, and these reminded me of the fantastic ones we had at Valentinos.

All in all, this is a brilliant find for D and I and if our dinner last night was anything to judge the rest of the food there by, I know we’ll be back again to work our way through that menu.

Bodega Y Tapas
Orchard Hotel
442 Orchard Road
Tel: 6735 3476


Valentinos

Tucked away in the back streets of Bukit Timah is Ristorante Da Valentino, which my friend C who took us there described as “charming”.¬† And boy was she right. Small, clearly family run and loved, you are warmly welcomed to your table amongst a nice buzzy ambiance.¬† The waiter tells you the specials of the day – that night, a lot of produce flown in from various parts of Italy, all of which sounded so good we ended up ordering five antipasto entrees between the three of us.

Never, even when we were in Italy, have we tasted produce like this.¬† The food was simply prepared, and when the produce tastes this good, you don’t need to dress it up.¬† First came anchovies¬† – lightly floured and fried, on a bed of salad, simply dressed with a squeeze of lemon.¬† I love love love small fish anyway, and anchovies are one of my favourites, so this was easily going to be a winner.¬† The next two were tomatoes from Southern Italy – they were small like cherry tomatoes, and dressed in olive oil and a few shavings of basil – and the flavour in them was almost ridiculous.¬† THIS is what tomatoes are meant to taste like – intensely sweet and savoury at the same time.¬† These perfectly accompanied fresh buffalo mozarella.¬† And again, neither D nor I have had the pleasure of sampling buffalo mozarella like this.¬† It was almost like it had just been molded – a big white, voluminous cloud of cheese dressed with olive oil, which the waiter cut at our table, and you could see the milky goodness ooze out of it from each cut.¬† OH MY GOD.¬† Heaven.¬† We also had the tormino cheese wrapped in proscuitto and pan-fried – the cheese was a little too “tangy” for my liking – I kept thinking of goat’s cheese, which I really do not like.¬† Oh, and how could I forget the ham ?¬† Homemade on premises, served thinly shaved with a warm prosecco sauce.¬† Delish.

Freshly baked ciabatta was served along with all of this, crisp and sliced thinly, so you could dig out the anchovy pesto from the small ramekin that they gave each person.

We were so full after the antipasta that we ended up just ordering pasta for our mains.¬† I had the linguine aglio olio with tartufo which, even as a garlic lover, was a little overgarlicky for me – there was about one bulb of pan-fried garlic pieces throughout the linguine and hardly any tartufo.¬† C and D had the porcini ravioli with tartufo and perfumed with truffle oil.¬† I think that was the winner, but D was so enamoured by it he only remembered to offer me some after he’s eaten most of it and I was soooo full by then.

We couldn’t even think of dessert, but Valentinos also has the most astounding array of amarones that I’ve seen, ranging from $100 – $2000.¬† C had taken us there especially for amarone, but the waiter recommended a Valpolicella from Dal Forno, Romano.¬† D absolutely loved it.

In fact, D loved the whole meal so much, it’s on his birthday dinner list (the unlaminated version).

We’ll definitely be going back if for nothing else for the mozarella and tomatoes – which you should ring ahead for because it’s not guaranteed that they will have any that day…

Ristorante Da Valentino
11 Jalan Bingka
Singapore 588908
Restaurant: 6462 0555
Fax: 6462 2247
Email: ristvale@singnet.com.sg