Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Punk Rock Palate

Hosier Lane is a little cobblestoned vein that runs its course from the throbbing heart center that Flinders Street Station and Federation Square make of Melbourne's lane-laden CBD. Out of the way and with a slight uphill slant (or downward, depending on where you hit it from), the bricks that line its walls are vivid with verve and the movement of so many spiraling colours. It kind of looks like a rainbow went on a massive bender, dropped some acid, blared The Dwarves and then went and threw up in there. Textured with bleary undertones and splashed with ribbons of punk pink-red, it's gritty, edgey and absolutely livid with life. The kind of street scape that makes you want to flash a nun and swear at a cop. You know what I mean. 
The graffiti that screams off Hosier's walls doesn't just end there, inside at the fly Spanish red-red-red Tapas-Temple MoVida, the street art finds its way into a crazy kitchen, through a quirky menu and smack bang in yo-face-onto to a rollicking plate. My CakeKnifeHermanos, if your tongue aint already pierced - then it's probably about to be...
MoVida does what it does, and it does it damn, damn well. Amazingly priced, quality tapas-style food high on energy and rich with flavour - mostly Spanish, but a little not. Punchy, rustic and rebellious. Pour yourself a fiery Tempranillo, grab a spot at a table or bar-side and ease your way into the frenzied foodie flamenco that has had young and old Melbourne tongues dancing since it first opened its doors in 2003. It's a bit like the running of the bulls, someone's going to get hurt... 
Starting with this creamy oyster special thing which was a lovely shimmy of salty milkiness I dove straight into a truffled boiled-egg special that was divinely rich and decadent and simple. Small but punchy morsels that were full of colour and body and whetting my escalating appetite for all that was to come.
The anchoa - hand-filleted Cantabrian artisan anchovy on crouton w smoked tomato sorbet is a hell of a beauty for only $4.50. A salty sliver of whimpering barely-there anchovy lazing upon a wafer of olive-oil drizzled crunch is the perfect oily-dry brackishness that falls in deep flavour love with a good herbed-helping of cool, sweet smokey tomato ice. Subtle and piquant and entirely surprising. This was an incredibly elegant bite for a place so big on brawn.
Ditto the rottnest island scallop w garlic soup, although it wasn't quite garlickish enough by Arab standards, the little gentle island-jewel of a perfectly pale fresh scallop, spangled with a few shards of green and suspended in liquefied garlic was lovely, smooth and silky to taste - with a bash of oily-richness that gave it some grounding. Like a hand of cards being deftly dealt, it was then onto the next morsel...
This insanely incandescent pork-stuffed calamari w squid ink dressing was a squeaky textured, meat-fueled wonder immersed in shimmering, hazy ebony. The flavour was deep like sin and the contrast in textures between the gentle pork and rubberish calamari kept giving me something to think about. All of this mouth-Gaudi (mixed with the Tempranillo) was giving me enough of a mouth-rush that I thought I had fully come to terms with the wiles of MoVida's ways, but then the next plate happened and things just got a little bit crazy after that.
Ay Dios Mio! Seriously. Come hither and have yourselves a weepy gander at this here wonder: the famed MoVida cecina - air dried wagyu w poached egg + truffle foam. Up until I sampled this wonder I was still functioning under the mistaken impression that Javier Bardem was the hottest incarnation of flesh to ever hail from Spain. Poor Javier. It was a good run while it lasted, mate, but it had to end sometime...
Painfully pale scarlet curls of richly glistening meat blossom outward over a stunned plate beneath the slightly wobbling weight of a topaz yolked yet-to-be-spiked, epically poached orb of an egg, positively besieged by an airy-frothy-contrary tutu of truffle foam masquerading as edible gauze. Take this diaphanous form and picture it ordained with the holy squirting of a full, true olive oil, and you will understand the pain. Maddening, glossy salty meat spiked with eggy-orange swirls dissolving in all of that truly truffled foam. My god. Depth, richness, lightness, all in such perfect balance. It is just the right amount of wagyu that grounds the egg and truffle, no one ingredient overshadows the other, it just all hovers there in some kind of crazed chemical bliss...
The pan seared quail w fried bread + red grapes, although it could never trump what had happened before, still managed to hold its own. This is a dish for those of you who can handle your food 24 K gold-rich. The sweet-oiliness and crunch is restrained by the sobering saltiness of a smattering of black olives. And at this point you have someone who is very, very full.
A sip of mineral water...
Some colour to revive...
And there you have MoVida. Thanks to Nissa for the card that introduced me and my belly to Hosier and MoVida and a formula that keeps most of Melbourne coming back. There are quite a few ways to MoVida, should the need ever arise (and it really, really should). There's the original, then there's MoVida Next Door, MoVida Aqui and MoVida Terraza. For bookings at any or all of them call (03) 9663 3038, website here.
Thanks MoVida, the graffiti on the plate  has definitely made its colourful - and indelible - mark. Now, for the love of God, come open up in Sydney. 

2 comments:

lateraleating said...

The Spanish do know how to make pork & seafood glorious. Haven't been to any of the MoVidas yet but will try in my next trip to Melbourne, whenever that is.

Jordan Ramsey said...

Good food, good ambiance, and great people - that's as much a killer deal as jumping off a plane or going on safari. If that's not good enough, then I don't know what is.