Tapas and Sangria at The Flying Elephant


This elephant sure can fly and took us to Spain for an evening of Tapas and Sangria.

Spread over 7 levels, muted sounds of cutlery on flatware, soft music and hushed conversations were the only noise to be heard at the Flying Elephant, Park Hyatt. It was a welcome change from the crazy traffic and general chaos on the road in front of the hotel. The vertically spaced spiral dining area is unusual and provided an aura of exclusivity despite several tables being occupied.  
In Spain, and elsewhere, tapas are very popular. They are bite sized appetisers, served hot or cold and include anything from seafood, meats and vegetables and definitely olives. As for the origins of tapas, there are many but my favourite is that of patrons in taverns who would put down their sherry glasses between sips and fruit flies, which had an affinity towards sherry, would hover over the glass. To prevent the pesky little things from falling in, bits of cured meat or bread were used to cover sherry glasses, thus giving rise to a whole new world of appetisers.

What's tapas without sangria? Sangria is a mix of wine, fruit juice, chopped fruit and a sweetener. We sampled the sangria blanca- white wine based sangria, crunchy with bits of chopped green apple and kiwi but my pick was the more traditional red wine based orange and sweet lime sangria.

Sangria and focaccia

This, then, was the Flying Elephant's take on tapas. Each day, 5 kinds of tapas are served, we started with the tomato degustation- a trio of gazpacho, vine ripened tomatoes in a tomato base and crisp tomato chips. I didn't think it was possible to go into raptures about a humble fruit. The vine ripened tomatoes were so sweet, the tomato chips the perfect foil, beautifully complemented with the cubes of goat's cheese and briny olives. Sweet, salty and tart flavours of the tomato that mingled in perfect medley. Spain is after all, the home of the tomato festival.

Tomato tapas 3 ways

The jicama was the star of the next tapa. I love jicama and usually use it for making spring rolls. The crunchy texture is perfect in a salad but here, the chef had made them into thin skins and proceeded to fill them with guacamole. The filling was a little too tart for me. The corn chips were delicious. Major techniques at work, methinks.

Jicama with guacamole and corn chips

Then there was grilled peach with burrata cheese. The plating was eye catching, with grill marks and drops of balsamic vinegar for visual effect. The cheese is creamier than mozzarella and the peppery aragula played the role of a good companion though I did wish the peach was a tad riper as the flavours would have been more complementary.

Grilled peach, burrata, aragula and hazelnuts

Bolster shaped chicken croquettes were served in mini frying baskets. The croquettes were held together with a white sauce and the breadcrumb coating was absolutely crisp- an interesting play of textures. It paired well with the spicy artichoke dip.

Chicken croquettes with an artichoke dip

The garlic shrimps in olive oil were just fabulous. I can't imagine tapas without a plateful of these and it lived up to all expectations. Succulent shrimps and a plate of Catalan flatbread to mop up all the garlicky juices. Tapas heaven indeed!

Garlic shrimp with Catalan bread topped with  Manchego cheese and olives

No way could we order the main course after this. But we were "persuaded" to sample some of their desserts-

-strawberry Romanov, The Flying Elephant's signature mousse cake, a chocolate shot, passion fruit glazed cheesecake and a pair of macarons. Something for every palate and then some more.

Service was impeccable and then the music got louder and  the service staff jumped in to do an impromptu dance to Psy's Gangnam style music.

Good food, some entertainment and a bit of Spanish history. What more could one ask for?

A Singapore palate


Singaporeans take food seriously. That's why there are so many hawker centres around the country as some of the best foods are dished up every day at these stalls. Of course, there are stand alone restaurants where fantastic food is served, but there's something about sitting in the open, surrounded by stalls and the most delicious aromas wafting up from each kitchen. It's like a giant buffet service, the difference being that instead of helping yourself to what's available, you go around and order whatever you want from the diverse cuisines on offer. The food is cooked fresh and brought piping hot to your table.

And there are people who drive for kilometers to their favourite stall for that delectable chicken rice, or rojak or for a mouthwatering seafood fix. Luckily, we live on the East Coast where some of the best seafood stalls are located.

My food odyssey in Singapore starts when I fly into Changi Airport. A bowl of mee rebus- thick yellow noodles in a gravy thickened with potatoes and laksa- noodles with a curry sauce are my equivalent of a Singapore welcome.

A few days later, there was a trip to the nearby hawker centre for some rojak and seafood rolls.

And sambal kangkong- water spinach and bbq sting ray

Along with gravy beehoon, Hokkien noodles and char kway teow.

At Watami, Raffles city, I had a sushi lunch - salmon, eel and tuna topped rolls and salmon avocado rolls. There was lots more, but my camera went on strike and I decided to concentrate on the food instead.

One evening, after a baking class, we stepped into Long Bar at Raffles Hotel for the original Singapore Sling. What a thirst quencher it was.

And fried calamari and prawn and mango spring rolls to snack on.

Each table had a miniature sack full of groundnuts in the shell. When I put the opened shells into a box on the table, I was told in no uncertain terms that the shells were to thrown on the floor... really?? 

And of course, every trip home has to end with a meal at Lemongrass, a Thai restaurant. Even the pouring rain couldn't dampen our enthusiasm. We ordered our favourites:

Tom yum soup with coconut milk

Scallops with broccoli; beef with basil

Crisp soon hock with Thai chilli dressing

Green curry

Pineapple fried rice

And for dessert, tako, steamed durian cake and coffee agar agar.

Now to plan for my next trip there :)

  • Bake Tales © 2012