I thought it was about time that I experience Europe in Melbourne. I decided Spanish would be a good choice for this outing. After all, who doesn't enjoy a bit of sangria? So I was booked in for Las Tapas in St Kilda. When I first stepped in, the smell struck me first, perhaps it was of seafood but I could not quite put my finger on it. The place was small and quite dark, with black walls with dimly lit lamps but the window facing the street was large and let in the last of the day's sunlight. With light guitar in the background and a casual laid back ambience, I could almost imagine myself in a small restaurant in Spain. The menu offered Galician squid and artisan anchovy fillets with Catalan bread. How much more Spanish could you get? I thought the Black Angus Bistec was perhaps less "authentically" Spanish and far more likely to be Australian produce. Perhaps this was to fit in with Australian tastes. They don't want to scare us away completely.
Our Spanish waiter pronounced paella the way so many of us westerners get it wrong – yes, he pronounced the L. I thought this to be strange in a small restaurant that otherwise seemed to be spot on with Spanish tradition, but perhaps he was just sick of correcting the silly Australian's pronunciation. Or perhaps people didn't understand what he was talking about when he offered the traditional dish with the true Spanish pronunciation.
We went all out for this dinner – calamari, gambas pilpil, paella and sangria. Each was amazing, completely alive with flavours and all featured amazing seafood. And getting your hands dirty was unavoidable with the fresh seafood. Shelling the prawn sort of reminded me of Christmas day with my family, but these flavours were different. Even the rice of the paella tasted different to what I was used to – smokey and fishy, taking in all the flavours of the pan. The food is a little on the expensive side for the portion size but their focus was certainly on quality not quantity so we could justify the splurge. It was certainly one of the more Spanish experiences Melbourne has to offer.