When a colleague first introduced me to Oomphatico’s a couple of months back, she called it “Oomphalicious”. I dined there for the first time with my pal last Wednesday, and I think “oomphalicious” wouldn’t be an unsuitable way to describe some of the food we had :)
We started with pan-fried chilli garlic calamari with lemon mayo and rocket salad. The calamari came in four broad, lightly scored rolls – two of them with a tinge of orange-pink, two of them a pleasing white – with a small bunch of rocket salad on the side. Drizzled with lemon juice, the orange-pink calamari (cuttlefish?) turned out to be a tiny tiny bit chewy, with an understated squid taste set off nicely with the lemon and the peppery salad dressing; the rolls of white calamari were just ultra-yummy, tender and tasty with a slight sear of pan-fry.
We shared two mains: the Kurobuta pork belly, slow-roasted and with a vindaloo emulsion on the side, and linguine with fresh clams and mussels in a white wine sauce. My pal and I agreed that the Kurobuta was over-roasted – or at least the crisped skin was; we couldn’t cut through it with a steak knife – but the pork went very well with the tangy vindaloo. The linguine was good, not too rich, with generous helpings of clam and mussels. The white wine complemented the taste of sea in the sauce just right, so one could taste both the wine and the seafood. My pal finished the sauce’s last dregs.
And then, for dessert, we shared “that expensive chocolate dish”. (Yup, that’s what it’s called on the menu.) This was really four miniature desserts: ice-cream stuffed with chocolate chips on a tiny slice of spongy cheesecake; a nutty (too hard) chocolate truffle on a really tasty chocolate chip cookie; chocolate mousse; and lava cake.
The chocolate mousse came in a tall espresso glass, and upon first tasting it my pal exclaimed that they’d put olive oil in it! Later she remarked that this was an interesting chocolate mousse, which was usually among the most boring of desserts. The mousse literally engrossed me – I’d scoop some in my mouth, flatten it between my tongue and the roof of my mouth and then lave, lave, lave at the particles of mousse, at the oil, turning the taste over and over in my brain as I circulated it in my mouth, figuring it out. One of the chefs (the restaurant was a little understaffed, but provided excellent service) later explained that the mousse was topped off with olive oil, limoncello and coffee liqueur, and that a more liquid version of this dessert was used as a churro dip at breakfast in Spain. It was a really fun dish, not least because while we were trying to figure out the strange taste of the mousse my pal thought she tasted soy sauce and sesame seed oil :p
The lava cake was simply delicious! It was just on the right side of warm, and the substantial but not too thick layer of cake was just crisped enough on the edge, the chocolate liquid and rich and not too sweet, the sprinkling of flakes of salt an absolutely inspired touch. My pal thought it made the cake taste like peanut butter :) I’d scoop some of the cake into my mouth, making sure to get a flake or two of salt, and chew, and when a flake of salt – I think using flakes instead of grains was absolute genius, by the way – was encountered and detonated, flavouring the rest of the gooey cake… that was a little bit of pure yummy-ness right there! :)
We talked throughout dinner and after that, on a bench in the shopping centre, and after realising it was late and finding our way out, on the way to her home. About how motivated we were at work, about how her mum had just undergone an eye operation and was worried she wouldn’t be able to read words on a computer screen, about how weird the idea of olive oil in chocolate mousse was, about what the future could hold and whether or not to seize an opportunity that had presented itself, about a couple of toxic colleagues, about a new boss, about being a new boss, about how chocolate bars were better than smaller packages of chocolate, about a mutual acquaintance’s wedding, about when we last met, about whether she had her shoulder-length hair when we last met.
As usual, when we parted, I felt a sense of loss – there was so much more to talk about – but also a sort of weary joy.
Till next time, dear pal :)