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Every year Jesse Gerner, the owner of Spanish bodega/vermutería  Bomba, along with various staff, takes a trip to Spain. It’s a chance to eat, drink, meet local producers and bring back ideas and ingredients. The outcome of this year’s gastronomic adventures is Bomba Goes to Spain – two special Sunday lunches featuring stories, dishes and wines discovered on the trip.

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This year Jesse and his team went to Seville, Cadiz, Jerez and the Canary Islands and I was invited to the Bomba Goes to Spain lunch inspired by the farmers, fishermen and chefs they met on their island adventures. 

I’ve never been to the Canary Islands and only know it for the British holiday haunt Tenerife. Turns out the Spanish archipelago, located just off the southern coast of Morocco, is famous for its seafood and many variations of mojo sauces. Our lunch featured both heavily.

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To start, delicate Spring Bay mussels with a mojo de azafran ie saffron. Sweet, piquant and silken, these slippery little morsels slid down nicely with a sip of Christmassy-scented vermouth.

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The fried school prawns were surprisingly fleshy and the spiky paprika salt gave each crunchy bite a satisfying kick. bombaIt was served with the housemade bread created by a sourdough starter called ‘The Mother’ started by Jesse almost eight years ago and now produces daily offspring for Anada, Green Park Dining and Bomba.  

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Poached pork ribs, a traditional Sunday lunch dish, was modernised with sweet corn and a grassy mojo cilantro made with coriander and a bed of crushed potato.

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One of my favourite dishes was the char grilled octopus with mojo aromatico. The octopus had been slow cooked for several hours at a constant temperature, turning each tentacle tender without turning it into mush. It was served with ribbons of confit potato and the mojo made with a pounded blend of aromatics.

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The Montadito of olive pit smoked sardine and green onions was another favourite, inspired by a serendipitous find, one of the few eateries in the old town open on a Monday and serving modernised tapas. This dish was the first time Jesse had used olive pits to smoke and it’s a practice he will probably continue given pips are normally a waste product.

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Slow cooked rabbit was another traditional Sunday lunch staple, served with one of the Canary Islands’ signature dishes – papas arrugadas, potatoes cooked in seawater. These wrinkly potatoes were served with a mojo picon, a paprika and garlic sauce. I enjoyed the full-bodied tomato and oregano sauce of rabbit but found the meat to be a touch dry for my liking. 

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To finish, croquettes of leche asada (milk custard) studded with orange zest and a rum ice-cream and a spiced rum and orange syrup. I loved this dessert – crunchy on the outside, fluffy on the inside and gently spiced.

This Sunday 30 August is the second of the Bomba Goes to Spain lunches, featuring dishes and wines from Andalucia. It costs $65pp for four courses including tapa, raciones and dessert so in fact you end up with a 8-9 dish long lunch – quite a bargain and guaranteed to fill you up so you don’t need dinner! There’s no nicer way to spend a Sunday than to feast in the surroundings of Bomba‘s warm brick downstairs dining room or by the bar. 

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And don’t despair if you miss out – some of these special souvenir dishes, maybe tweaked a little, will be appearing in Bomba’s main menu in the future.

Bomba Goes to Spain, Bomba Tapas Bar and Rooftop, 103 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne +61 3 9077 0451

Lunch 30 August 12-3pm

Normal opening hours

Lunch Mon-Fri 12-3pm

Dinner Sun-Thu 5-10:30pm, Fri-Sat 5-11pm

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