At Catalunya Singapore, The Fullerton Pavilion at Collyer Quay, Singapore.
Text and Photo © CM Cordeiro 2012
If it were not for a kind Samaritan I met along the way who pointed out directions to the Fullerton Pavilion in Singapore, I would have taken much more time before landing at the day’s lunch venue – Catalunya Singapore.
Coming in from the scorch of the mid-day tropical sun, it took a few seconds for the eyes to adjust to the dimmer interior of the bar and restaurant, though the line of sight didn’t need to venture farther than the reception to find a touch of Gaudí’s influence in the gleaming white broken mosaic pieces that clung to the columns of the dining interior. This influence of Gaudí would also continue, as I found, through the dining experience in the shapes and motifs of the plates and utensils on the table. Not two steps into the place, I was surrounded by individuals who spoke Catalan and Spanish, déjà vu and I felt right back in Barcelona again, and felt right at home.
Beyond the waterfront, Marina Bay Sands in view, an integrated resort that fronts Marina Bay in Singapore.
Just slightly ahead of the lunch meet up, I was free to explore the this conceptual space that drew me across continents, as if in a compression of spacetime itself. I felt the same warm invite that greeted me during my stay in Barcelona, Spain, in the warm summer months of 2011. The sight of the blue-green Singapore waterfront and the sight of Marina Bay Sands in the background beckoned me to the other end of the room, to marvel the glistening waters that not just two centuries ago, would have been filled with bumboats and sampans, brimmed with trading goods from larger sailing ships docked in the deeper harbour waters of then, Temasek /Tumasik. And at the other end of the room, the colours and textures of Spain in deep ambers, warm terracotta and dark golds that glint from the uniform of the bullfighter in understated courage and of an anticipated win, enveloped my senses and I could breathe again.
Bottle drier sculpture that unlike Dada artist Marcel Duchamps’ original 1914 Bottle Rack piece, is filled with botles, thus perhaps in the Asian context, takes on a more Yin Yang flavour.
In a city that is constantly filling with people as Singapore tries to hit its 6 million inhabitants mark, I hardly noticed the crowd filling up the restaurant as I sat with dish after dish of what I thought brought me back to my Andalucian roots from the 1500s – calamari Andalucian style – was a must on our list of warm tapas at our table. That, and “una xocolata calenta si us plau”.
Surprised by my request, hot chocolate was not on the list of drinks for order but as if by instinct, they knew what I wanted and out from the kitchen, came a Spanish hot chocolate so deliciously thick, you could easily stand a churro in it.
Cod fish “esqueixada”. A cold tapas of cod served with olive oil, tomato, spring onion and olive paste. In the background, Jamón Ibérico Croquette, a warm serving of Spanish ham croquettes.
Calamari “Andalucian”Style of squid served with a side of lemon zested mayonnaise. In the background, Bombas from “Barceloneta”, a warm tapas of potato and meat stew inside a crip outer shell.
Combining the traditional with modern, dining at Catalunya Singapore is inherently filled with a sense of adventure, that is in perfect keeping with the spirit of elBulli led by Ferran Adrià. When in Barcelona, I was introduced to molecular gastronomy via an evening at Enoteca at Hotel Arts Barcelona, where the meal coupled with recommended wines, was a symphony for the senses!
Tortilla Omelette “Deconstrucción”. A touch of molecular gastronomy in this deconstructed omelette in a Martini glass.
The ‘omelette’, topped with a twist of fresh ground black pepper.
At Catalunya, Spain’s favourite omelette is deconstructed and taken to a new level of ambition and curiosity – foamed tortilla, moussed over onions and a concoction of egg yolks, to be eaten with a spoon in a Martini glass, from bottom up.
Suckling Pig “Segovian Style”.
Catalan cream with lemon jelly.
Surprise, amusement and delight seemed to be what greeted most dishes that came out of the kitchen this afternoon, where many dishes made for excellent table conversation, that lightened the mood of business lunch meetings considerably.
Textures in the surrounding architecture brings a little Barcelona to Sinagpore.
Spanish hospitality is just a nudge more formal than Italian hospitality, and together with the beautiful culinary presentations, made for a most enjoyable afternoon dining by the waterfront, out of the heat of the sometimes punishing humidity of the tropics.
This to me, is a place that summons your curiosity and invites you to a warm travel of culinary adventures, one that I find both exciting and comforting in the melting pot of (an almost) infinite variety of cuisines found in Singapore.