Tag Archives: spanish

Salt Tapas & Bar

Dukkah crusted Tasmanian trout with Israeli couscous in a cucumber, tomato and dill broth

Salt Tapas & Bar at Raffles City is a place to sit back and relax and enjoy lots of little (or larger) plates of tapas with a modern Australian influence. They have a lunch menu on weekdays – where you have a selection of entrees, larger plates and sides.

I started with slow-cooked octopus with celeriac, apple, saffron rouille and dried black olive. The octopus was sweet and tender with no hint of toughness that can sometimes come with octopus (I watched a Greek cooking show where they tenderise the octopus first by bashing it repeatedly on a rock until its “soapiness” is released on the rock. Apparently in commercial kitchens they do this in a cement mixer !). The celeriac and apple were finely julienned and provided a crisp freshness to the rich saffron rouille.

Slow-cooked octopus with celeriac, apple, saffron rouille and dried black olive

For my main I had dukkah crusted Tasmanian trout, Israeli couscous, cucumber, tomato and dill broth. This is the first time I’ve had Israeli couscous and it’s delicious. It has a very satisfying springy, chewy texture that I equated to the tapioca balls in the Taiwanese “bubble teas”.

The trout was perfectly cooked so it was still pink in the centre and that broth it came swimming in – absolutely divine. It really brought that entire dish together with the acidity from the tomatoes and was so fragrant from the dill. And the dukkah crust on the trout gave the dish a lovely nutty flavour and texture.

You can also order a la carte during lunch but I was in a “can’t decide” mood and the only thing I ordered off the lunch menu was a side order of Jamon Iberico. Not because I felt I needed it because the portion sizes are pretty generous here. Just because I could.

Salt Tapas and Bar
#01-22A, Raffles City Shopping Centre
No 252, North Bridge Road

Tel: +65 6837 0995


Catalunya

Jamón ibérico “Gran Reserva” served with crusty bread topped with crushed tomatoes and olive oil

I’ve been waiting with much anticipation for Catalunya to open. Excited about the prospect of enjoying dishes created by a crack team with executive chef Alain Devahive Tolosa – who has worked in the wonderfully creative El Bulli – and eating them in the incredible floating restaurant in One Fullerton, was a way of us to experience a bit of El Bulli, especially since we were unable to visit before it closed.

I have to admit, I wasn’t sure what to expect. What you get, is a very simple, traditional Spanish menu, including snacks, cold and hot tapas, meat and seafood.

Realising that we were about to do our usual and order everything off the menu (our eyes are always bigger than our stomachs), we agreed that in order to enjoy the food, we would stick to either tapas or mains. Tapas won the toss.

We started with Jamón ibérico “Gran Reserva” – cured Iberian ham, along with the recommended bread with tomato and olive oil. The ham was delicious (it always is!), beautifully paired with the crusty bread with a refreshing topping of crushed tomatoes and olive oil.

Tomato salad with tuna belly and basil

Second to the table was a tomato salad with tuna belly and basil. Perhaps my love of Japanese food influenced my order here – I read “tuna belly” and thought “toro” sashimi – with its delicate fresh flavour of the sea. What was served was cooked tuna belly, which, with toro on my mind, made me think of tinned tuna. What a waste of such a prized piece of fish to cook it completely through. The wonderful creaminess of the tuna belly was completely lost and what we got was flakes of cooked tuna in a tomato salad. Even the sweetness of the tomato salad couldn’t redeem this dish for me.

We then were served calamari, andalucian style, served with mayonnaise. Sadly, this dish was also a disappointment. The batter was light, but greasy and also lacking in seasoning, so it ended up tasting very bland, even with the mayonnaise.

Suckling pig with lemon purée

Redemption came in the form of roasted sucking pig with lemon purée. Suckling pig is obviously a Spanish speciality, and  the chefs at Catalunya executed this perfectly. Roasting slowly for over 12 hours means tender and juicy meat, with perfectly crisp skin. Suckling pig is a very rich dish, and the lemon puree adds fresh dimension that brings this dish alive in your mouth as well as balancing the richness. Our waiter explained that the puree was potato based, and the flavour of the lemon came from the white pith. There was such a zingy lemon flavour that I would have thought it was from lemon oil or the rind and there was absolutely no bitterness that I associate with the pith. Gorgeous dish.

Estrallados – eggs with fries and chorizo iberico

The last savoury dish we ordered was estrallados, eggs with fries and chorizo iberico. This was served to us exactly as it was described – scrambled eggs with fried slices of potato, topped with thin slices of chorizo. This was tasty, although I felt like I should have had that for breakfast, or at least while the sun was still out.

Torrija – fried milk bread with spices with smoked milk ice-cream

The final dish was a great way to finish the evening – torrija – fried milk bread with spices with smoked milk ice-cream. It seemed really odd on paper, it was really odd in real life, but my goodness, how that oddness worked ! I tried the smoked milk ice-cream first – an explosion of smokiness in a mouthful of cold milky ice-cream. And then the fried milk bread – dense and chewy and intensely sweet, the two apart were almost too much for my senses, together, perfectly balanced.

The restaurant is stunning from the outside – a floating dome of glass floating on top of the waters at Marina Bay, and from the inside it is luxurious and comfortable, with an equally stunning panoramic view of Marina Bay Sands across the water. Attentive and competent staff round out the experience of dining at this chic restaurant. Dress to impress !

Catalunya
The Fullerton Pavilion
82 Collyer Quay
Singapore
Tel: 6534 0886

Open daily: 12 noon to 2am


Santi

Perfectly coddled egg with black truffles in a rich pea soup

This amazing restaurant is sadly closed – I’m still puzzled at why Marina Bay Sands closed it, but there you go. So although we will not be able to go back to Santi, I did want to record down the incredible meal we had there so that I am able to remind myself why we will be visiting the family’s original restaurant Can Fabes in Catalonia later this year when we head to Spain.

We ordered the tasting menu that started with bowls of gazpacho with flecks of uni – sea urchin roe – that was an explosion of the taste of tomatoes and the sea. Who would have thought they would go together but the silkily smooth gazpacho exactly matched the texture of the uni and rather than the two flavours battling to overpower each other, they simply complemented each other and seemed to bring out the flavour of the other even more.

Bluefin tuna with avocado, green apple sticks and foam and balsamic reduction

Next up was delicate Bluefin tuna (that the waiter advised was farmed) with cubes of avocado, green apple sticks and foam and balsamic reduction. Again, flavours that I would never dream of pairing together but worked in perfect harmony on the plate.

Next up was a vibrant green pea soup that had been ladled over a perfectly poached egg and topped with black truffles. We ordered an additional plate of jamón ibérico de Bellota  – the best Iberican ham made on the planet – and ate our own fancy version of ham and eggs and mushrooms. Again, food that is so beautifully presented that you begin to eat it with your eyes before the payoff of taste.

Foie gras and lobster with poached nectarine and balsamic reduction

Foie gras and lobster in a balsamic reduction and poached nectarines was served next. All bold flavours that again managed to complement rather than compete on the plate and in your mouth.

Signature suckling pig with celeriac confit on baby turnips and grilled mushrooms

Santi’s signature suckling pig with celeriac confit on baby turnips and grilled mushrooms came next. This was the one dish that I was gagging all evening to try and it did not disappoint. Meltingly tender meat encased in thin crispy skin – absolute perfection. And a perfectly sized portion so that juuust as you were about to think it was too rich, you’d just had your last mouthful.

Green apple salvation refresher

And a perfect time to serve their green apple salvation refresher. Perfect name to describe this dish – even the palate cleanser was a standout.

Dessert of strawberries and blood oranges

We had a choice of desserts and I chose the strawberries with blood orange. This came topped with a quenelle of the green apple ice-cream, a wafer thin slice of dehydrated apple and basil. A wonderfully light end to a spectacular meal.

Santi was a genius. And we’re grateful that the legacy of this great late chef remains – if not at Marina Bay Sands any more, then at least back in Spain. And one restaurant where we will be definitely be dining at in October this year.


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 🙂

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 – the 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