5.341 Cecina

Cycle 5 – Item 341

12 (Fri) December 2014

Cecina

4.0

at MoVida

-Central Business District, Melbourne, Australia-

solo

Mission to Australia (Day 7)

In Melbourne.  Here to participate in a “Training of Trainers” workshop organized by The McCabe Centre for Law & Cancer to develop capacity-building programs for government officials towards strengthening their national legal frameworks on NCD risk factors.

LUNCH

Earlier in the day, the hosts of the workshop ordered pizza for lunch to celebrate the final day.  They’d fed and taken care of us beyond expectation throughout the week, so the hospitality per se wasn’t that surprising, but we were all stunned by the variety of the pies, as well as the quality – My Goodness, indeed.  The spread was a testament both to the centre’s graciousness and the city’s love of food.

The centre’s collection of cigarette packs in plain packaging – what every country should aspire to, just before banning tobacco outright.

DINNER

MoVida is a Spanish restaurant.  Flagship location of a growing family that currently includes 5 eateries, 4 in Melbourne, 1 in Sydney.

The ambiance was casual sophistication, my kind of place.

Ostensibly a tapas bar, with dishes bearing simple/traditional names.

A martini with locally produced The West Winds Gin.

Across the board, the food was amazing.  A perfect collaboration of Spanish tradition + Australian innovation, bordering on molecular gastronomy.  One of the most fun, educational, tasty, well-balanced meals in my life.

Calamares (3.0): daily special, not on the menu; baby squid, stuffed with tuna pate, served in squid ink sauce.
Anchoa (4.0): according to the menu, “hand-filleted Cantabarian artisan anchovy on crouton with smoked tomato sorbet;” exquisitely contrasting textures: crispy crouton vs pasty anchovy vs slushy sorbet; for the first time ever, I also experienced the wonder of contrasting temperatures: warm vs cold, both in a single bite; harmony of flavors: savory + briny + sweet + tangy.
Pipirrana con Verduras (3.0): “lightly braised baby vegetables in an Andalusian gazpacho stock” – simple yet solid.
Mejillones al Gazpachuelo (3.5): “pickled spring bay mussels in an almond and mayonnaise sauce;” mussels themselves were just okay, but the delectable creamy vs sour sauce demanded several pieces of bread.

Cecina is a Spanish method of curing meat.  Typically consists of beef or horse – CAL would later inform me that it’s horse by default in Madrid – which is salted and air-dried or smoked.  Essentially the same thing as jamon.

The highlight of the meal was the cecina.  All about texture.  The meat itself had a silky quality similar to that of jamon, but much more moist and delicate, being beef, not stringy, as pork can be.  The foam consisted of whipped potatoes, impossibly velvety and fluffy.  And the egg, poached to squishy and gooey perfection.  Like sleeping on a water bed with goose down pillows and silk sheets, obscenely luxurious, each element remaining distinct, yet synergizing to the point of dizziness.  The most amazing mouthfeel that I’ve ever experienced.  In terms of taste, the natural flavors of the components were left to speak for themselves, enhanced by occasional bursts of stinky/woodsy from the black truffle flecks.  Perfection.

DID YOU KNOW: Certain consonants in Spanish, when combined with certain vowels, produce the voiceless dental fricative (i.e., the “th” sound in “thing”).  Such as “ce” and “ci,” which means that cecina = “theh-thee-nah,” not “seh-see-na,” and Barcelona = “bar-theh-loh-nah.”  Also “za,” which means that Zara = “thah-rah.”

MIDNIGHT SNACK

In this part of town, even at a 24-hour takeaway shop, the fried chicken was excellent.

(See also BOOZE)

(See also GLOBAL FOOD GLOSSARY)

(See also RESTAURANTS IN AUSTRALIA)

(See also DUTY TRAVEL)

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