A lot of newly opened food outlets and even food courts, (in the case of Hutong at Lot 10) have chosen to go non-halal lately.
I’m not sure if that shows for anything, for I can only speculate: does that mean F&B proprietors may find the halal market actually negligible to their P&L?
Anyhow, in the case of El Meson in Bangsar, I’m certainly not complaining. The Spaniards are known for their fondness of pork and their Iberico pigs. It would be a shame if this is another pork-free outlet & we are deprived of this “delicacy” again.
To quote the owner Mr Ek, all their produce are imported, including their Chef, so authenticity is almost guaranteed!
And that sexy limb you see below is the leg of the Iberico pig……
………which looked like the below (pic courtesy of the Internet) when it was still alive.
Mr Ek, who is Thai; owns & runs Planter’s Jim, The Social (both in Bangsar) and now, his latest baby, El Meson.
YogiTree at the Gardens, Mid Valley is also under his realm of restaurants.
A most affable fellow, he graciously shared & explained to us about Spanish food, his experiences & the ingredients that went into our dishes; making our dinner most enjoyable & educational.
The Restaurant Supervisor was the epitome of good service as well.
Below: The master at work, Mr Ek craving the Black Leg for our Cold Platter.
Interior wise, the outlet features dim lighting, comfy chairs and well-spaced tables. I don’t see much memorabilia or Spanish cultural gear here except for a painting or two.
And of course, any self respecting upper- class restaurant now boasts of a fine range of wine & alcohol, more so since this is Telawi, Bangsar.
A bread fan, I grilled Mr Ek and his Chef Fernando on the bread eaten with the tapas. My perception was since tapas is such a staple food, then perhaps the bread is made specially; (techniques or ingredients-wise) to go with it?
Anyhow, he assured us the bread served here is baked in-house & is very much like the original Spanish bread eaten in Spain, which is slightly alike the Italian Ciabatta in texture, minus the herbs.
Taste-wise? Very plain. But that what makes it perfect with the flavourful tapas.
Clockwise from top left, 2 by 2, separated by the rock melons:
Iberico & chorizo (the round shaped ones).
Serrano (long ones) & Salchichon (the round ones).
Parma & Pancetta; the italian ones.
I stapled a piece for every type, since I’m not a fan of cured meats.
But I must admit, even for an inexperienced gourmet foodie like me, the superiority of taste & texture is prominent, compared to the cured meats one gets at the local deli.
Likewise, I’m pleased that the saltiness level is not as overpowering as I thought it might be.
Close-up shots of the Iberico & chorizo (the chorizos are the round ones).
I was wondering what is Salchichon since I have not heard of it. The google results I got was very enlightening. Allow me to share with you the gist of it.
Salchichon sausage is a dry-cured sausage of Spanish origin. It is classically produced on the plains of Spain, where steady breezes permit an even drying period which promotes complete curing in the sausage.
Made with pork from Spanish white pigs, ideally pigs which have foraged in oak forests for their food, developing lean flesh with a slightly nutty flavor.
The meat is coarsely ground and the fat is not separated, leaving distinctive white chunks in the finished sausage, before being blended with pepper, nutmeg, and other spices. It does tends to be very spicy, with a slightly creamy texture from the fat.
After the ingredients have been mixed, they are packed into sausage casings and allowed to dry. Traditionally, salchichon is cured outdoors on large drying racks positioned to take advantage of the breeze, although many modern producers cure in a drying shed to maintain food safety. Although the initial ingredients are raw, the curing process renders salchichon sausage safe to eat as-is once it has finished curing. Curing generally takes around 45 days.
A fully-cured sausage has a white crust and a slightly dry texture. When cut open, it reveals leathery meat speckled with pieces of fat and pepper which can be eaten plain as a snack or combined with bread and cheese in the Spanish style. Salchichon sausage pairs best with hearty red wines which can cope with the spicy flavor and enhance it without becoming overwhelming.
Next was another interesting starter; the Boguerones on Toast, which is slightly pickled Spanish Herrings with garlic confit, RM14.
It was one fishy fish 😉 , & tasted like sardine!
Texture was wonderfully meaty though. Top grade olive oil coated each fish unsparingly and the garlic tomato confit was pleasingly piquant.
Then we tried one of their soups & it happened to be a cold one. While I am not a fan of cold soups (blame it on my Asian roots) the Gazpacho – chilled tomato soup with grated egg and serrano, RM14 was thick, full bodied and slightly grainy. I slurped away unabashedly.
Finally we got on to the HOT dishes!
Hot Tapas: Trotters – Crispy fried and served with apple sauce, RM22.
The skin was crackly crunchy and the meat, though it looked deceptively stringy at 1st, which made me wary; turned out to be fork-tender and disintegrated in the mouth easily enough without much effort.
A bit plain on its own, the accompanying sauce carried its role well.
Hot Tapas: Berenjenas – aubergines in red pepper sauce, RM14.
I have always loved aubergines, more so when it was done so exceptional well here, with the red pepper sauce not too overpowering and quite flavoursome.
The name & the colour might be mildly misleading, for it was not spicy at all. Apparently, Spanish food doesn’t pack much heat; Chef Fernando had said to us.
Oxtail braised in Moscatel & Matchstick Potatoes, RM40.
I barely tasted the Moscatel, a type of Spanish wine, & honestly, I felt that this was like a very well done ordinary oxtail soup.
The matchstick potatoes were a delight though, and I had fun chomping away at them, and they were even better soaked in the gravy!
Linguini with Rabbit, Olives, confit Garlic and Herbs, RM32.
Rabbit meat was something I wanted to try for a long time.
And my verdict? It looks like chicken meat, tasted like chicken meat, albeit slightly more leathery & it gave my partner and I quite an exercise in jaw muscles building.
Homemade Spanish Blood Orange Sorbet w Orange Slices and Liquer (Cointreau) RM18.
This was something refreshingly different! Sour with a very sharp bite, I thoroughly enjoyed it, what more when it came swimming in Cointreau!
Bottom left: Fernando, a Spaniard who loves his chocolates, the chef who prepares everything from scratch and with passion.
Just as we are about to leave, Mr Ek treated us to some Smoked & Pickled Herrings, as opposed to the pickled ones we had earlier.
These were saltier, (naturally, since its smoked) and while the entree we had was smoother in texture & easier to melt on the palate; so to speak.
The smoked ones were slightly more leathery, which I speculate could be due to the smoking process that drew out the water.
So here’s another lesson on Spanish food.
Boquerones are small, fresh anchovies. Accompanied by crisp, fresh Spanish bread, a glass of ruby-red wine or refreshing Asturian cider, they are a delight to eat
Like its friend the sardine, the anchovy is an oily fish, packed full of proteins and minerals, protecting against heart disease, and “good” for cholesterol. What´s more, in many areas of Spain -in particular the Mediterranean coast – fresh anchovies are extremely cheap.
Traditional preparation of Boquerones vary slightly from family to family. However, the basic principles are always the same. After cleaning and filleting the fish,soak them, either in white wine vinegar or a mixture of half vinegar and half water. The vinegar will clean and bleach the fish and also soften any remaining little bones. Some may sprinkle the fish with salt; while others feel that the fish is salty enough already.
The fish has to be left for a good few hours soaking in the vinegar. After that, throw away the vinegar, & cover the bleached fillets good quality virgin olive oil, which will preserve them. One can add as much, or as little, sliced garlic as you wish, plus freshly chopped parsley.
Left chilled and completely enveloped in olive oil, these herrings shelve lives can be prolonged for a quite while.
Last but not least, I think I will be spending some idyllic Sundays here soon 😉
Total bill for the dinner was RM290 incl of service charges & tax.
Jalan Telawi 3, Bangsar Baru.