“What do you feel like for lunch?” I ask my parents during their recent visit to Sydney.
My mum replies with a question “Any new restaurants in town?”
“Lots, it’s whether they suit your taste buds” I say.
My parents’ eating habits are discerning and I’ve inherited this trait. Although I don’t mind checking out new restaurants, the tried and tested ones are always my comfort zone.
But since I began blogging about food, I realized an open mind would lend more excitement and lead to new discoveries in my culinary journey.
It also helps when Mysaucepan is the more adventurous between us.
Her persistence lead to our first MoVida dining experience in Melbourne which I fondly reminisce. The unusual combination of flavours is the excitement of this modern Spanish tapas.
My second meal at the original MoVida was just as enjoyable and for this reason, we are checking out its Sydney outpost for the first time today with my parents and friends.
Bread and olive oil arrives as soon as we take our seats. Fresh, fluffy and crusty, it’s the starter of all starters.
Does the anchoa at MoVida even require any further introduction?
Smother and spread the chilled smoked tomato sorbet over the hand-filleted Catabrian anchovy on crisp crouton and pop the whole thing into your mouth. This tapas has been the mainstay of its menu and is synonymous with MoVida.
Fresh figs, grapes, pears and raisins are classic complements on a cheese platter.
But sweet and savoury takes on a creative twist with a cigarillo de queso. No, you will not find tobacco leaves wrapping this ‘cigar’. Instead, creamy goat’s curd is wrapped with a sheet of quince paste and a pimenton tapenade adds subtle spice nuances to this tapas.
Personally, I dislike sardines on its own as raw fish flavours can be fairly strong.
These smoked sardina a la moraga is subtle with a gentle tapenade and crispy crouton. Flavourwise, it did not do much for me. When it comes to sardines, I like them hearty and I’m too spoiled by my own toasted sandwiches with sardines in tomato sauce, onions, lemon juice and fresh chilli.
Salchichon de gamba is thin slices of tiger prawn salami spread over a bed of jerusalem artichoke puree.
I’m thinking about bread the moment I saw this dish because spreading jerusalem puree on a slice of fresh baguette topped with the prawn salami is how I would eat this dish.
To me, this dish on its own is an improvisation of fresh tiger prawns with seafood mayonnaise or tartare sauce.
Cecina takes the form of a poached egg sitting on a soft pillow of truffle foam and thin slices of air cured wagyu beef.
The way to tackle this dish is to break the egg and toss everything together like a salad. I like the strong hints of truffle and the egg gives each slice of beef the rich, creamy texture you would expect.
Chicharones is fried kipflers, pork jowl and scallops.
This is a good side dish with the chunky potatoes filling the gaps you might feel when eating small tapas plates.
The callos is a Madrid style ox tripe with chorizo slices, chickpeas in rich tomato gravy and we order more bread to mop up the sauce.
I enjoyed my third meal at MoVida but I wonder about the balance between creative cooking that explores new flavours and traditional recipes that warm our hearts.
The anchoa is a beautiful stroke of Camorra’s imagination for new flavours while the other dishes are creative interpretations of casual and homestyle food which I love - spag bol, roast pork with potatoes and fresh seafood. They give me ideas and inspiration to rethink about what and how I cook at home.
A meal at MoVida is not cheap because you are paying a premium for culinary creativity. Whether this Spanish art translates to flavour and value on the plate is the question. Judging by MoVida’s popularity in Surry Hills, it certainly has its share of tapas fans.
So dear readers, do you like creative food in small doses or prefer food which more wholesome and hearty?
50 Holt street (cnr of Gladstone street)
Surry Hills, New South Wales
Tel: +61 2 8964 7642
Opening hours: Monday – Saturday 12pm to late, closed on Sundays.