I think it was the 10th anniversary of Movida, a bit of the Melbourne Food Festival and an opportunity, with Greg Malouf in town, to get two great chefs to turn out a joint dinner. Frank Cammora and Greg turned out an interesting series of dishes that one is not likely to ever again see on one menu.
Starters included gently seasoned Pittwater oysters lightly spiced with tomato vinaigrette and a slice of Merguez sausage.
Bastourma, one of Greg's favourites, air dried beef wrapped around goats cheese and rocket leaves is an irresistable canape.
A beaker of fresh veggies followed with baby pitas and a labneh dip flavoured with cucumber and tarragon. Not too hard a dish to produce for any decent chef.
Another of Greg's favourite dishes came next, and this was really excellent, a large fillet of salmon covered with a tahini and yoghurt dressing, coriander and crushed walnuts. The salmon which had been cured was also cooked - I would have preferred it raw, but it is a dish not to be missed.
Fish stew was a bit disappointing to me. I did not care for the potatoes, the fish was overcooked and it could not be saved by the seasoning, lemon rind and mint. The mussels, plump and perfectly prepared was the best of the dish. It did look nice
but what was astonishingly attractive was the salad that came with it.
The last main course was quite excellent. A slow roasted shoulder of lamb served on smouldering hay. The meat was nicely spiced with a touch of chilli and wonderfully tender. I don't particularly care for having to fish bits of hay out of my dinner but it is a great dish.It was served with an eggplant salad.
.This was supposed to be a set menu but, because Sandra has developed an allergy to chilli Frank Cammora prepared a special meal for her without chilli which was used in most of the dishes. This was an exceptional courtesy and furthermore a very fine meal.
Dessert was a variation on a yoghurt and burnt honey pannacotta flavoured with flower water. It had a slice of caramelized peach under another Malouf specialty, a very light fairy floss. It was accompanied by an undistinguished chocolate ice cream. Bits of Turkish Delight, chopped nuts and an orange baklava completed the dish. I felt it was a bit tricked up for this meal.
Each dish was served with a Spanish wine on which I don't feel in any way competent to comment.
It was in all a very interesting meal of very good quality products, presented attractively, served in beautifully spiced and delicate middle eastern sauces. A great night and one which led us to return a few days later.
The meal we had last week was stamped with Greg Malouf's influence. On this occasion we returned to sample a more extensive range of their regular menu which was stamped all over with Farank Camorra's influence (he was not there).
The menu is designed for sharing and is divided into small dishes, Tapas Classica, medium size dishes, Raciones, rice dishes, Arroces as well as a number of fish and meat dishes.
We sampled quite a few.
Jambon, ($18). Movida is noted for it's Iberican food and of course pork is a specialty.
Tortilla, ($5), confit potato with organic egg and caramelised onion - de licious!
Venado, ($7), cured venison loin on brik pastrywith celeriac and morcilla. A tiny titivating serve.
Bocadillo de calamaris, (8) a calamari sandwich with Basque guindilla and mayonnaise. Here the calamarie were sandwiched in a lightly toasted small bun. Quite different but reminiscent of Andrew McConnels signature lobster roll at Golden Fields and equally good.
Sopa, ($6.50) chilled hazelnut with grape granita, pickled and black garlic a special that night, just a couple of very tasty mouths full.
Asparagus ($16) char grilled with Romesco sauce.
Croquettes, four to a serve. Don't miss them if they are on the menu.
Gambas con sobrasada ($22). Prawns with sobrasada, broad beans and cider. Large, sweet, tender and great if you like prawns. I don't generally care for them but these were very nice.
Mejillones, ($18). Jumbo Spring Bay mussels cooked a la plancha with parsley, garlic and fino. These were the plumpest most fantastic mussels I can ever remember. A super dish.
Bistec (35), a large serve of char grilled Robbins Island rump with sweetbreads, white anchovy, egg and patatas fritas. They could not get all this on one plate! It was cooked as requested. The sweetbreads were outstanding and it was a totally enjoyable dish.
Here is the egg on chips.
And a couple of desserts
Helados, ($14.50). Ice creams served with fig bread
and creme caramel ($14.50) served with pestinos. Far from the best creme caramel but we were not expecting to be blown away by desserts
The place is buzzing with it's odd interior decor; drink crates hanging over the bar,
its rough wooden tables inside and casual patio furniture outside. It has plenty of atmosphere well supported by the food.
We were pleased to break with tradition here and drank sherry instead of wine. They served us a pleasantly dry Manzanilla and a superb sweet dark, almost oily smooth Pedro Jimenez. Never mind the terroir, the berry notes, the slight plum hints of this wine or that, the sherries were simply delicious.