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A Bocado Experience

Pollo asado con naranja y aceitunas

Pollo asado con naranja y aceitunas

This month we went to one of my favorite places in Worcester – Bocado. Spanish tapas and drinks need I say more?

I started the evening with my favorite.. Sangria. While they have numerous flavors to choose from I usually go with the traditional red sangria which is a little fruity but not too sweet on the palate. Very refreshing! Tonite we were not ordering from the menu but being presented with a sampling of their menu that we would share family style at each table.

BoardOur first offering was a board of dry cured spanish serrano ham (jamon), 6 month old manchego cheese served along with quince paste and sweet red peppers. I just had to sample it all together on warm baquette bread slices. The nutty but firm cheese combined with the slightly salty silky jamon, sweet quince paste and sweet red peppers was a very pleasant experience for my taste buds. I could have eaten this all night but knew we had alot more food to go.

Next we started our Tapas round. First up was tortilla espanola which is a traditional dish of thinly sliced layered potatoes cooked with eggs and onions that came with red pepper creme fraiche and side of olive tapenade. I remember ordering this in Spain a few years back and thinking I know what a tortilla is (spanish tortillas are not like the mexican tortillas we are used to in quesadillas).. but it is not what you expect as it looks more like a layered apple pie. But this time I knew what to expect It is served cold so it throws some people off… but very traditional. The tapenade was a great add to give it some additional flavor and I was so glad it was not too salty as sometimes tapaneda can be.

Our second tapas was Pollo asado con naranja y aceitunas which was slow roasted chicken thighs cooked with orange, fennel, rosemary and olives. Normally I don’t eat dark meat but was willing to try it and I was not disappointed and actually pleasantly surprised. The chicken just fell off the bone with flavors of orange, fennel, rosemary and olives.. all being blended well together. Loved the warmness of the olives which mellowed the orange flavor as I am not one for overwhelming citrus flavors.

Our last tapas before our main dish was Calamares con ajo (fried calamari). Love these every time I go as they just melt in your mouth. Lightly fried with a slight lemony garlic flavor and only a slight taste of salt. You don’t really feel that you are eating fried food at this point especially when you take a bite with the orange horseradish cream sauce that was drizzled over them. My only wish would be to have a dipping bowl of the sauce versus just being drizzled on the calamari.

Just when we thought we could not eat anymore, they brought us the main dishes – 2 different types of Paella. Normally I just get the vegetarian paella so I was excited to try a different version. First I tried the Paella Clasica which had so much meat/seafood in it from chicken to calamari, shrimp, chorizo, mussels and little necks all nestled in a pan of slightly crispy saffron rice that was cooked in a seafood broth to wrap in all the flavors. I wish the paella was a little more crispy – that is usually what you expect to get – crispy rice at the bottom of the dish. Not that I could eat anymore but I did try the Paella de Carne which is very similar but varied in its ingredients – this one included chicken, chorizo, veal, duck confit, peppers and onions with a topping of spiced onion rings. Again it was all mixed with saffron rice but this time cooked in a beef broth. I know most would not complain about having too much meat/seafood in the dish but I would have liked to had more of a balance between the meats and the rice.

Finally out came dessert – Postres churros y chocolate. It may just be fried dough but these were sticks of light and fluffy fried dough that were lightly sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon. It came with a chocolate dipping sauce. I am not a chocolate fan so I passed on that but the churros reminded me of when I got them at the local street vendor on a trip to Seville, Spain.

Overall,great meal and I should say experience since it was more than just a meal. Our meal was actually very similar to their Bocado Experience for 2/4 people so be sure to check it out when you go. I know I will be back again but this time to try some new tapas as they always have some interesting new tapas and wines to try. -MM

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Paella Clasica and Paella de Carne

Paella de Carne

Paella de CarneWhen I walked into Bocado, the dimly lit interior screamed sensuality. Having been to Bocado several times and truly enjoying the meals each time, I was excited to see the menu which included dishes that were all new to me. To start, we enjoyed Jamon de Serrano and Manchego along with plenty of warm bagutette slices.  The nutty cheese was tasty, but not as flavorful as some Manchegos that I’ve had. It was improved when paired with the lean, salty ham and a bit of the quince
paste that accompanied the plate.

After the cheese course we were served three tapas: Tortilla Espanola, Pollo Asado con Naranja y Aceitunas, and Calamares Con Ajo.  The Tortilla Espanola came out first and it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. This dish was similar to a scalloped potato bound together with an egg mixture. The tapenade and red pepper creme fraiche served on top helped to add flavor to the otherwise bland dish. The braised chicken dish may have been my favorite of the night (and I’m not one to enjoy chicken on the bone).  The thighs were incredibly tender and the meat was deliciously moist. The orange flavor wasn’t ovewhelming but added a nice complexity to the dish.  Finally, a large bowl of fried Calamares Con Ajo arrived at the table. I’m not a fan of seafood, but I tried a few of the crispy rings. They were perfectly fried – not overly greasy but crunchy – and drizzled with a “garlic, lemon, parsley and orange horseradish cream” sauce. I didn’t taste orange or horseradish…lemon
was definitely the predominant flavor, which was too bad – some spice would have really made this dish above average.

At this point, our bellies were happily full and we still had two courses left!  I was disappointed to not see the vegetarian paella on the menu as there is at least one thing in the traditional and meat versions that I don’t enjoy. When the plates were delivered to the table, I was able to pick around the items I didn’t like to enjoy some of the tasty rice. The Paella Clasica is cooked in a seafood broth, so that one was not my favorite.  However, for seafood lovers, this was a hit – clams, mussels, chicken, shrimp, calamari, and chorizo were all mixed into this lively dish. The Paella de Carne included chicken, chorizo, veal, duck confit along with peppers and onions all cooked in a beef broth. I enjoyed the meat version and picked around what I thought was duck.  If i got some in my plate, I enjoyed it despite my preconceived notions!  I would have loved to see a bit of crispiness on the paella…one of the best parts of this dish is the soccarat (crispy rice) at the bottom of the paella pan, but there was none to be found.

The finale of the meal was Postres Churros y Chocolate, a fabulous dish of fried dough sticks with a bowl of dark chocolate dipping sauce. The churros are generously sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon while the chocolate is dark and not too sweet. The combination is simply delicious and it was a perfect way to end the night.

Overall, this was not one of my favorite meals at Bocado. I think a lot of that had to do with the dishes chosen not being the ones I would have chosen off of their extensive menu and I knew Bocado could do better. I did appreciate that it made me step outside of my comfort zone and try some dishes that I would not have ordinarily tried. I left full and content, and I will certainly be back to try some old favorites. -JM