Guam Diner Bytes: Vino Spanish Bar launches tapas menu Aqua Resort Club
The Aqua Resort Club Saipan recently held the opening of its newly-renovated Vino Spanish Bar (formerly Vino Bar) which features Saipan’s first tapas menu paired with a fabulous selection of wines. A private VIP invitation-only launch event introduced island dignitaries and customers to the Vino Spanish Bar on Friday, July 17. For this prestigious event the ARC management team went all out and flew in the internationally-renowned Flamenco dancer, Ms. Ana Gonzalez, the world’s No. 1 ranked from Cadiz, Spain. She enthralled the assembled crowd with her passionate, powerful dance performance. She also performed three sets on the following Saturday night for the Grand Opening launch of the Vino Spanish Bar.
The ARC also imported from Spain another “celebrity” - Spain’s most famous ham - Jamon iberico de bellota! This leg was showcased on Friday for all to see and sliced and served during the Saturday night tapas service. The pigs are raised in the “dehesa”, which is an oak tree forest. These specially raised pigs are fed acorns (bellota). This ham is known as the finest in the world. Once you’ve tasted it, you will understand why.
The Vino Spanish Bar’s renovation has enclosed the space so that it air-conditioned (the previous Vino Bar was open air). The Tapas menu has a variety of popular Spanish appetizers that have been perfected by ARC Sous Chef Joe Bayking, who has been assisted by newly-hired Executive Chef Ed Olarte, formerly of Hyatt Regency Saipan and the Outrigger. Although we sampled most of the twelve tapas items featured on the menu on Friday night, it was during our Saturday dining experience that we were able to try a la carte ordering of a selection of tapas.
The Lengua Estopado Con Chorizo ($10) is Beef Ox Tongue that has been stewed to perfection with sausage. These bite size chunks are delightfully rich and flavorful, with cooked green olives exploding in flavor.
Not on the menu but sliced and served for this Grand Opening was the Jamon iberico de bellota. This rare and unique ham has to be slowly savored. It has a luxurious amount of fat that gives it a silky texture with flavors that are both sweet and salty. The ham literally melts in your mouth and is wonderful when paired with your choice of wine.
A traditional favorite of mine is the Gambas Ala Jillo ($10), which is sauteed shrimp and garlic in tomato sauce. This is a garlic lovers’s dream come true, providing just enough shrimp to satisfy your palate, leaving you plenty of room for your next course.
The last tapas we ordered was the Coca de la Huerta ($6), which are Summer Veggies on flat bread. This is known as a Catalan pizza and is more oval shaped than round. This version has ricotta cheese and some sliced cured ham, swiss chard, tomatoes, red onions, celery, and red bell peppers. I really enjoyed the freshness of these ingredients as they blended in my mouth, as I married this with my sauvignon blanc. The celery was sliced just thin enough to leave a crunch with each bite...you really enjoy eating these delicious ingredients while having fun conversations while sipping your wine!
This is the beauty of the tapas dining experience! Other great tapas treats also available are Gazpacho Soup, Chopitas (crispy fried baby squid), Paella Ala Valenciano, Huevos Rancheros, Relleno Pimiento de Padron (Fried stuffed pepper with ground meat) and Almijas Marineras L’Avi Pau (stewed clams with tomato garlic). So the next time you are in Saipan, go to the beautiful romantic Aqua Resort Club’s Vino Bar for a tapas dining adventure you will never forget!