197 Gertrude St
Following a sweltering day of tortuous lingering at Wilson Hall for our official graduation ceremony, we headed down to a suburb previously known for its notorious public housing flats for some Spanish fare. Walking along the now-hip-modern-and-almost-unrecognisable Gertrude Street actually had my dad reminisce about the early post-migration days when he resided here.
The place itself is based in a fairly narrow block, with an abundance of light streaming through the window panes and bouncing off the raw brick walls. It had an immediate sense of cosiness and relaxed atmosphere – full of chatter, but no so loud you had to shout. The waiting staff was knowledgeable and accommodating to our indecisiveness. Eventually we decided on two 12 course banquets and two 6 course banquets. Given I was pretty intent on having some paella; we were allowed to substitute a couple of courses for a paella – YAY!
First up : “Tapas” – traditionally complimentary with drinks, now (especially outside of Spain) refers to bite size morsels.
Left: Fresh oysters – freshly shucked with a crisp alkalinity and a refreshing dash of lemon.
Right Rabbit empanadilla – golden brown semi-circular pastry dusted with salt, concealed a lip-smacking tender rabbit filling with hints of spice.
Empanadilla (empanada) – Spanish / Portuguese stuffed bread / pastry. Empanada in Spain is generally large and circular, whereas in Portugal they are small and semi-circular (which are actually known as empanadilla in Spain). So now I have confused myself, so is it Spanish or Portuguese???
Salt cod & garlic shoot croqueta – oval shaped croquettes with a crispy, golden-brown exterior and a moist, creamy interior of cod.
Left: Charcoal grilled quail with freekeh and pomegranate – moist and extremely tender meat (which is essentially deboned), has a mild spicy kick with a peppery sharpness and a lovely smokiness from the charcoal grilling. The bed of freekah and pomegranate is juicy and refreshing.
Right: Stuffed calamari with sumac – Though I found the filling of sumac was somewhat subtle, it really gave a lending hand to boast the faultless execution of calamari, which was perfectly succulent and tender. (P.S. sorry this is a half eaten piece, we (*ahem* I) were too eager =P)
Next up : “Raciones” – traditionally referring to non-complimentary items at Spanish bars, however in modern terms indicates larger share plates.
Above & below left: Acorn fed Jamon Iberico de Bellota, organic pata negra (black-footed) jamon, aged 3 years
Paper-thin slices of prosciutto-like ham, with discernable elements of saltiness, smokiness, and fragrant layers of juicy fat. I can’t remember which was which, but one was distinctively smokier and more robust meaty texture and flavours. I just couldn’t have enough, especially alongside the crusty bread.
Jamon: essentially Spanish for ham. Flavour wise, it has similarities to prosciutto, but is cured for much longer. Classification of ‘Iberico’ (and literally ‘Pata Negra’) indicates that the jamon is from the black Iberian pig (compound-fed), whereas the additional label of ‘de Bellota’ suggests it is free range and acorn-fed.
Right: Green Gazpacho – A milky-green shot of chilled, creamy gazpacho has quite a refreshing vegetable-rawness to it (possibly spinach and parsley), but is no doubt quite sharp with a peppery-kick. Mum didn’t have much partiality for it, whilst the other 3 of us happily glugged it down.
Port Lincoln (SA) King fish with pickled orange & cress – fresh meaty texture with a sweet-citrusy-acidity, mmm.
Left: Charcoal grilled Shark Bay (WA) King prawns with salmorejo & crispy pancetta – Fresh off the grill, the prawns very smoky and succulent. The bed of salmorejo – a tomato and bread based cream – was a thick sauce of tomato-sweetness and vinegar-acidity. I personally wasn’t a big fan.
Right: Radish & cucumber salad with tahini – had a crisp-crunch-of-freshness. Though slightly on the bland side, it was excellent to complement the stronger flavoured dishes.
Left: Ottway Rangers (Vic) pork belly with fennel seed & smoky aubergine – The interchanging layers of succulent fat infiltrated meat and lean meat that was fall-off-the-bone-tender (well there is no bones here, but you get the drift) would alone be enough to trigger a mouth-watering monsoon. But WAIT for it, the crackling was simply heavenly – golden brown and super crispy which crunches between your teeth, and then melts in your mouth with a superb savoury-sweetness.
Right: Gem lettuce & chervil cress with crispy garlic, pomegranate & 12 year old Andalusian white balsamic – simple salad with a white balsamic dressing.
White balsamic: Ms JH said there was balsamic and my palate thought it was balsamic, but looking at the lack-of-blackness, I dismissed it as impossible – but how wrong I was – it WAS white balsamic. Essentially, white balsamic skips the caramelisation step required in black balsamic, which results in a vinegar which is less sweet and mellower.
Arroz negro, squid ink paella with cuttlefish, squid, clams & skate
Regrettably by this time (probably more like 4 courses ago) we were feeling quite full, but the arrival of a huge (looked huge to our already full stomachs) pan of glossy black paella still triggered a few oo’s and ah’s. The floating pieces of seafood were juicy-succulent, except the clams which were shrivelled up in their shells. The squid ink to my surprise was subtle on the palate, which added a crisp-taste-of-the-sea to the already seafood-broth-infused-rice … mouth-watering. (Seems like I’m being too abstract, but that’s the best I can do to put a word to the taste of squid ink. You can try it for yourself and tell me what you think.) I was however a little disappointed there wasn’t a crispy crust of rice on the base.
Finally : Dessert selection.
The churros – which I generally would not order if I was going a-la-carte – was in fact surprisingly good with a delicious brittle-crispiness (without the soggy oiliness from SanChurros), which went well with the dark chocolate sauce. The Pomegranate & orange blossom sorbet with sugared pistachios; and Pedro ximenez & muscatel ice cream – ended the banquet with a refreshing sweet note.
Pedro ximenez: white grape grown in Spain.
Muscatel: sweet dessert wine.
Rating: easily Yummy+1, halfway to +2. A well worth splurge with charmingly scrumptious food – close to $280 for 4 people, which of course included a $50 bottle of wine. Service was attentive and efficient; almost too efficient at times with the next course arriving the minute we finished our current one. Though ironically we probably needed that speed to help us finish all the food off, before our leptin levels caught up and have us realise how full we actually are. The staff was even kind enough to provide me with copies of the menu with items we had with the banquet marked on it – how lovely! I will definitely be back to try the rest of their menu.
A number of people have said they find Anada equivalent to Movida (some even prefer Anada), so I will definitely be looking forward to compare with some of (or all) the Movida’s and broadening my Spanish-culinary-education.
You might also like: Naked for Satan.
[Some information sourced from Wikipedia]