“In the nineties, I had an erotic dream about Kim Beazley…” Marcia says to Natasha and I one evening. I almost spurt out my drink and then try to scrub the visual from my mind. It’s times like this when I’m glad that we’re sitting outside, the busy Sydney Friday night around us muffling our somewhat sordid and not-for-public-consumption conversation. We’re at Tapavino in Circular Quay, in Bulletin Place, a snug little laneway that to be honest I never knew existed that is pitched right next to a hotel. Inside is a red hued wine bar with a shiny display of glasses on the back wall but we’re sitting al fresco in this slightly chilly but still lovely Friday evening.
Cristina Oloroso Abocado sherry $9
Tapavino is said to be Australia’s first dedicated Jerez or Sherry bar with 54 sherries on the menu with 46 available by the glass. Patrons can tell them what sort of wine they usually enjoy and they will match them to a suitable sherry. They also specialise in Spanish wines by the glass or three carafe sizes or bottles. I do love a drop of Pedro Ximenez so I flick through to the sherry pages. On the waiter’s recommendation I try a Cristina Oloroso Abocado which is medium dry scented sherry although truth be told I should have really stuck with the Sánchez Romate Pedro Ximenez which was sublime with an intense raisin flavour, incredible legs and that went down as smooth as silk.
Razor clams $16
We’re on a tiny table for the three of us although it seems that we’re lucky to have this table given the shuffling that’s taking place around us for other tables. The menu is quite extensive and holds an intriguing and hard to choose list of menu items. Between the three of us, we decide on a list of four items and then thought that we should compare them to our friendly waiter’s recommendation. It turns out that there were none in common so we went with our own choices. Our first was the razor clam dish served as six razor clams topped with verdant mashed peas and broadbeans, eschallots and thin, crispy pieces of jamon. They were full of fresh flavours.
Pata Negra $30
There’s a jamon menu with eight different plates of jamon, mostly jamon serrano but as soon as I see Pata Negra, I can see nothing else on the list. Oh my kingdom for Pata Negra or Jamon Iberico, that incredible glossy jamon made from pigs that feast on black acorns. Yes, it’s expensive but it’s quality over quantity and the intense flavour and melt in the mouth texture is hard to find in other jamon. It is served here with fresh crusty bread and breadsticks.
Sardines de Compostela $17