Yesterday I found that I have a fair amount in common with the pure bred heritage Iberico pig which feeds on acorns, which is known as "bellota" during the peak fattening period. As I hammered my way through the MoVida menu, which included 50 grams of the legendary Carrasco Jamon Ibericode Bellota that literally brought tears to my eyes because it was so damned good, I could feel my stomach engorging at the same rate that credit card balance is expanding as of late.
MoVida greeted us and were happy to accommodate two hungry and thirsty blokes with no booking. It wasn't long until we were reviewing both the wine and food lists after being seated by the friendly staff. I had to take a pragmatic approach to the list of tapas and raciones since everything looked amazing on paper so I was bold and ordered two of everything on the tapas menu. That was nine dishes. I also requested the special celery and white anchovy soup along with the aforementioned 50 grams of Jamon. It took a bottle of Moritz lager for me to read through the wine menu and decide on a bottle of 2008 Lanzaga Tempranilli Rioja ($98) which would also be consumed quickly and then ordered again to finish off two servings of Bistec Tartar De Wagyu.
Everything that was ordered was divine. Starting with the Anchoa ($4.50 each) with is a hand-fillet anchovy on a crouton with smoked tomato sorbet took to me to my happy place. The wine flowed as dishes continued to be presented. The Atun ($4.00 each) of the sashimi grade Bincho tuna with Piquillo pepper followed. This dish was just as good as anything that I had at Nobu. I was afraid that the Tempranillo would overpower the fish but it didn't. The Mejillone En Escabache ($4.00 each) was a surprise as the pickled Spring Bay mussel with carrot and onions was concealed under a pastry that was dressed with squid ink to make it look like a shell. It was so delicate and your senses are confused when you break the pastry and enjoy it along with the mussel. The squid ink certainly complements the mussel, carrot and onions and the wine for that matter. The Caballa Ahumado ($5.50 each) is presented in small coffin-like vessels and when the lid is removed, you can't help sticking your face in the smoke and inhaling as much of the smell that you can. Once the smoke clears and you come down off of your high, you will see the beautifully presented house cold smoked Spanish mackeral and pine nut gazpacho sorbet. Simply stunning. My senses were in overdrive trying to process the experience as a whole.
Music played in the background and it complemented the experience. The ambiance made me feel like I was in Spain in a bygone era after Franco died. The atmosphere was lively and as I got stuck in to the second bottle of Lanzaga, the Air Baguette ($4.00 each) arrived. It is 9+ score Wagyu with air baguette and horseradish. It certainly complimented the Tempranillo. The Alcachofa ($4.00 each) stunned me as it was a fusion of tastes that most resembled a potato however finely balanced to almost conceal the fact that it is in fact a roast Jerusalem artichoke with crisp onions. I do enjoy it when the restaurant can tease me in such a way.
The Gamba En Sal (4.00 each) followed which is a salt baked South Australian prawn. When I shelled it, the bits of salt went flying playfully over my dining companion and the bar and I laughed like a madman, probably a bit like Franco back in his day. I certainly was having fun as I consumed the Oreja ($3.50 each) which is crispy pig's ear with compressed apple. You would never know it is the ear of the pig as it is finely diced. Some people think the Spanish eat the ear as a whole like you would with a tortilla chip, but that is not the case but the thought does amuse me. We finished the tapas courses by enjoying the Pollo Escabache Al Miguel ($4.50 each) which for me was one of the highlights of this culinary masterpiece. Spiced chicken Escabache tapa on crisp crouton. This chicken was special and makes my pitiful attempts at making it at home even cause me now to hang my head in shame as I write this.
As there was more wine left in the second bottle, we each ordered Bistec Tartar De Wagyu ($18.50 each) which is the spicy steak tartare of wagyu beef. It was a great way to end my raciones experience however I would have liked it to be a bit spicier however that is just a personal preference.
The wine and experience as a whole finished with a plate of cheeses. Three hours went by quickly and I enjoyed everything - and I mean everything that MoVida had to offer. The highlight was the Jamon and the runner-ups were the Pollo Escabache Al Miguel and the Caballa Ahumado, although it is really hard to say that one dish was just more amazing then the other fantastic dishes. This is truly the best tapas that I have had in my life and it would have to be the best in this country.
Link to review
1 Hosier Lane Melbourne VIC 3000
(03) 9663 3038
My Rating: 16.5/20
Value For Money: 4/5
Comment: Jamon Iberico. Enough said.
e-mail: epicureanofsouthbank (at) gmail (dot) com
When I made this post originally, 84% of the reviewers on Urbanspoon also liked MoVida also.