Tuesday, April 30, 2019

A (Baby-Free!) Spanish Feasting Brunch at Aqua Nueva

My best friend likes to say that we live our lives 'in parallel': when I studied abroad in England, she studied abroad in Spain. There, she dated a Juan while I dated John. A few years after I moved to London, my ultimate dream came true and she moved to the city too. We got engaged on the same weekend. And then: our babies were born four months apart. See? 

Sandwiched somewhere between the years above, when I was studying for a Master's degree in Renaissance Literature at York, Udita moved to Huelva, Spain - a little town outside Seville - and taught English to schoolchildren there. John and I flew to Jerez to visit her over Easter weekend and I have vibrant memories of waking groggily to the sounds of a Semana Santa procession; of drinking freshly squeezed orange juice with the scent of jasmine hanging heavily in the air; of shyly ordering a Shandy Cruzcampo at the bar in a terrible attempt at Spanish. Of an everlasting friendship that would ensure distances across oceans, continents, and life changes. 

So, Saturday, we found ourselves at Aqua Nueva on Argyll Street near Oxford Circus, excitedly eyeing the new Saturday Spanish Feasting Brunch menu. 

Neither of us had a drop of alcohol when we were nursing our babies and the temptation of Cava, wine, AND sangria on the menu was all too real. 

We tucked into crispy slices of pan con tomate and delightful little spheres of croquettes, before sharing a bitter leaf avocado salad between us - all the while laughing at our own inside jokes. 

Because that's what brunch is REALLY for, after all: a relaxed, easy way to share food and memories with best friends. 

The tortilla arrived at our table and I was excited - a traditional Spanish recipe I try so hard to get right (and always get so wrong: too egg-y or too potato-y or too bland). This tortilla was delicious: dense yet refined; light, yet packed with flavor. I would have liked more, but then there wouldn't have been room for the seafood paella, which I made the unfortunate mistake of letting go cold as I took it outside to photograph. 

With generous helpings of saffron, this paella deserved to be enjoyed outside on Aqua Nueva's beautiful roof terrace, but the weather that day unfortunately didn't play ball, so we heaped portions onto our plates indoors instead. 

The much-anticipated dessert was a plate of light and airy pistachio churros, served with a tangy mango and passion fruit sauce - not too heavy, which was perfect for us as we slinked off afterwards to check out the homeware and kids' sections of H&M just a stone's throw away, taking advantage of this very rare baby-free opportunity. 

I can't think of a better way to spend a lazy Saturday morning: brunch at Aqua Nueva, followed by a mini shopping spree on Oxford Street. 

We were guests of Aqua Nueva. All opinions are my own. The Spanish Feasting Brunch is available at Aqua Nueva every Saturday from 12:00 pm - 4:00 pm and is priced at £35 per person. (Information correct at the time of publication, but please call ahead if you want to confirm!).
© angloyankophile

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