PEr FYI

January 19, 2020

Pez Vela, Barcelona… irrefutable proof that God exists and wants us to be happy

Paella, Spain’s most famous dish — mountains of yellow rice cooked with seafood, chorizo, and/or chicken in big lidded pots called calderos, enough to feed two or three hungry diners. Where can you get the best paella in Barcelona? This is a really common question for visitors coming over to visit this beautiful city.

Luckily for you, I’ve already covered that question!

Upon entering the warm, welcoming Pez Vela, the surroundings are immediately evocative of the Mediterranean. When the mouth-watering and hearty brothy rice with lobster landed on the table, it was belt-bustingly big so that the red crustacean seems to be crawling out of the caldero. Unlike paella, the rice here remains immersed in boldly flavoured broth and actually portioned to share.

Perfect paella. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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January 4, 2020

Los Caracoles, Barcelona…lots to like here, and lots more that could be better

I bloody love a snail. Dig in with the tiny fork. Probe the crevices of the now empty shell with your tongue. Then get to work with torn-off pieces of bread, dredging and dredging again at the garlic butter. Being such a fan of escargots, I made a beeline to Los Caracoles for the Spanish version of special snails.

The Special snails – Caracoles especiales are served on small plates from a big dish where they are kept hot in their sauce. The spicy touch they have makes them different from other snail recipes. I wouldn’t call this dish a triumph. Less satisfactory was the garlic shrimps – gambas al ajillo but the Catalan roasted 1/2 chicken – 1/2 pollo a l’ast was a return to form. The Paella “Los Caracoles” was pretty average

There’s lots to like here, and lots more that could be a little better. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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February 17, 2018

Agua, Barcelona…seafood lover’s dream

Thanks to the city’s proximity to open waters, seafood has always been an important part of the Catalonian diet.

Situated directly along the boardwalk, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, not too far and a beautiful stroll along the sea with the W Hotel. The menu covers the Mediterranean basics with fresh, eclectic seafood being the specialty.

Let’s start with the one bad dish. The paella was very salty. Everything else was great. It’s as if the best of the Catalan market has been brought to your plate. Even my friend in the group, a notorious seafoodie, was overwhelmed. The sangria de cava was the star. Drinking it was smooth, light, refreshing and exhilarating. Back off, mojito!

Agua is a fantastic choice for Mediterranean seafood. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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July 5, 2015

Bar Celona Tapas & Rice, Macau…the Iberian ham 36 and 45 are almost indescribably mouth-filling and deeply satisfying

For such an acclaimed restaurant it is surprisingly unassuming. Set upstairs in a de-script building on a quiet street in Macau it’s even almost difficult to locate. Inside, there’s a casual and relaxed atmosphere rather than stuffy with decor in dark and earthy colours.

The Iberian ham 36 and 45 (well-aged for 36 and 45 months) were thinly sliced (nearly, but not quite, paper thin) rashers of ham, each slice visibly interlayered with fat and lean. That was certainly a  flavour that is almost indescribably mouth-filling and deeply satisfying. The savoury olive muffins were also a crowd-pleaser. The unique flavor of these little breads is a slight departure from a traditional sweet muffin. The octopus leg gelatin style with potato and olive oil and the baby cuttlefish with artichoke were also pretty good. The former, though not my favourite dish, was an interesting combination that worked. The baby octopus, had stronger, if not more common flavours and was also quite nice. Again, however, both were qualified rather than resounding successes. A taste of the suckling pig is definitely necessary before you walk out those doors. Very different from your traditional Chinese Suckling Pig. My only fuss was that while the meat was amazing, the skin was tough and not exactly crackling with its crisp. The paella topped with generous amount of seafood shone less brightly amongst the rest of the stellar dishes served that night. The crispy egg with bone marrow and truffle is far from a simple egg dish but the crystal bread with olive oil and tomato was somewhat unremarkable.

Is Bar Celona Tapas & Rice a fine dining experience with top notch service? Nope and nope. Is it an satisfying and solid choice in Macau? Sure is. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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August 11, 2012

La Viva Spanish Bar & Tapas, Singapore…It’s an assault on your senses

You hear tapas in Singapore, you expect some earth shattering food.  At least that is what I expect.  I need to tell the real story for the rest of us who have stomachs.  

La Viva is super trendy… tries to attract that crowd as well with the decor. The food however… was horrible. Portions were small considering the price. We paid a small fortune for small amounts. By the end of the dinner, I was positive my $540 could have been better spent elsewhere. Oh yes, we ate some carrot cake and oyster omellette later to fill up.

We ordered both the sangria with sparkling wine which, as one friend put it, like sugar water plus cough mixture. The serrano ham and pear tasted as though they had been defrosted a few minutes earlier and heated in a microwave,  the bread tasted a bit like supermarket bread with a bit of a crust. The iberico ham was out of a can. The essalada de viva salad is not infused with anything resembling flavour. But probably the most disappointing dish of the night was the paella. We ordered 3 different ones. They were greasy and bland.

It’s actually a very tragic thing to order one of your favorite foods, only to find it is terrible and tasteless, and maybe even a bit gross.

This outlet disappoints with significant zeal. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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