MoVida Bar de Tapas y Vino has become more than a little trendy, if not trendsetter in many respects. Located in Hosier Lane (off Flinders Street where Federation Square is), it sets the standard in Melbourne for tapas and Spanish food as a whole – hardly anyone knows of any other restaurant / bar that comes close. Patron and Head Chef for both branches Frank Camorra was born in Barcelona but moved to Australia when he was five. Having trained as a chef in Australia, he then travelled to Spain and found a ton of inspiration both from modern and historical Spanish cuisine. Camorra is something of an odd duck in the Melbourne food world – he doesn’t seek publicity or celebrity, does not appear to be interested in creating a wider brand (although his books sell well) and simply believes in honest, old-fashioned hard work. Plenty others clearly agree as he was awarded Chef of the Year at the 2009 The Age Good Food Guide awards. What of the food ? Not having a lot of time (we basically walked in off the street and asked for a table – luckily one was free for a couple of hours), we grazed from the tapas menu as well as a couple of raciones. For those of you not familiar with the difference, tapas are small plates, a racion is a bigger plate usually to share between two or for a greedy one. Starting with anchoa (Hand filleted Cantabrian artisan anchovy on crouton with smoked tomato sorbet). The combination of the salty anchovy with the savoury sorbet works very well. A Croquetta (Fried silky croquette flavoured with leek and mahon cheese) might be considered standard tapas fare but this was nicely done. Probably the highlight of the tapas was the Viera (Roasted Spring Bay scallop with jamon and potato foam) – the scallops were excellent, certainly not overcooked and the potato foam was a novel addition. Of the raciones, we had to try the jamon iberico (Iberico imported organic Spanish Jabugo jamon. Fully acorn fed, 3 years naturally cured) which was very tasty (as well as expensive – but as jamon iberico seems to be the hottest food item around, one has to try it !). In order to be different, we couldn’t pass on the Pulpo a la gallega (Octopus cooked in the Galician manner, with kipfler potatoes and paprika). If you like octopus, this is definitely worth ordering – very tender, certainly not rubbery. All of this was washed down with a couple of Pagoa lager beers (from the Basque region – first time I’ve tried a Basque beer). We left having added to our knowledge store / food library and very satisfied. As reservations are essential at MoVida (and bookings are not accepted by e-mail), MoVida Next Door with its ‘no reservations’ policy makes sense if you are heading to or from the surrounds and tapas and a glass of sherry sounds like and excellent idea. But it is small so seats / tables are snapped up very, very quickly.