Monday, June 30, 2008

Restaurante La Bodega - Barcelona

Ive been to this restaurant several times already but have only been able to document it once (my last visit). Located in the upper residential part of Barcelona (in Calle Via Augusta). The restaurant has been operating for several years already and is considered a very typical classic rest in Barcelona.

The food is very traditional home style cooking. What makes this place interesting/different is the way the menu is presented. Aside from the regular menu, there are dishes that are made daily that are not in the menu. The waiters and cooks bring out the dishes/pyrexes with the food and they bring them to your table one by one, if you like any of the food then just tell them and they leave it in your table. Its a tradition that has been done always in the restaurant and its quite fun since the waiters/cooks kinda shout out what they are showing you. Quite amusing.

Below are some pictures of the food we ordered. Initially we had some typical tapas (olives and croquetas, we also had a dish with bacalao (4 different ways of cooking them) and a leg of lamb. They alkso have a quite extensive wine menu mostly Riojas and Priorato wines.


Bacalao cooked 4 different ways

Leg of Lamb

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Ricky Ladia Food lighting workshop

Had the chance to attend a Food lighting shoot/workshop today by Ricky Ladia. It was held in Makati in the studio of Jess Marques and food styling care of Isi Kesner. We had a chance to shoot mostly Filipino food. I didnt use the studio lights for these shots (just used the fluorescent lighting in the studio and a tripod) and very minor post processing.

hi-key Calamansi.jpg
Calamansi - tried something diferent here...I shot this while waiting for the first plate to be styled..


Canapes - crackers with avocado and salsa with dilis

Sili - Again while waiting for the other plates to come out I shot this. I have 2 versions of this since I love spicy food...
Chili sauce.jpg

Now the main course.....
Fried Tilapia with Curry rice, red egg and sili...

Thank you Ricky, Jess and Isi - It was a fun shoot and I hope we can do this again soon...

Friday, June 20, 2008

Food shoots

Since this blog is about food and wine, I'd like to share some food shots I've done in the past. I wish I had more shots (I know I do I just have to look for them) so here goes some shots I've done:

Salad w/smoked salmon

Onion soup

Paella Cafe Ysabel


Atun vuelta y vuelta
Seared tuna with avocado and teriyaki sauce

Some of the pictures were taken in studio (with food styling) and some were just taken in restaurants that I've gone.

Croquetas de Jamon

Leg of lamb - from Gaudi Restaurant Serendra

Chocolate Mousse from Discovery Suites Tagaytay

Another Dessrt


Thats all for now. I hope you enjoyed the pictures...


Im not sure what happened but the the link of the wine night we had 2 weeks ago wasnt posted in the blog so ill just post some pics of the labels of the wines we drank. Ill have a more extensive one in our next wine tasting dinner which will be sometime july.

A shot of all the wines we drank that night. With the permission of Noel, Ill copy and paste his notes on the wines we drank. I hope you dont mind Noel.

Wine Dinner: Bordeaux and a Napa, 11 June 2008. (from Noels Blog)
This past Wednesday night was at Santi Araneta's place. The food was courtesy of his (much) better half, Maite, while we all brought some bottles to share. The event took place in Santi's den which was a special treat for me since we could smoke in air-conditioned comfort while eating and drinking.

Not wasting any time, to pair with a pâté en terrine of foie gras, Santi broke out a half bottle of 2002 Château de Fargues - from a Sauternes estate of which few people are aware has been owned and run since the late 1700s by the Lur Saluces family of d'Yquem fame. The oldest de Fargues I've had to my immediate recollection was a sublime 1986, enjoyed 3 years ago (See: my old notes).Though it has a lot of maturing to do, this lass is a precocious one; supple with a teen-ager's taut, lithe body and youthfully seductive curves (think Natalie Portman's character in the movie "Closer").

Notes of orange marmalade, orange rind, ripe peach/apricot compote over a slight undertone of crème brûlée are displayed with just enough acid, spiciness and botrytis tang to save the palate from early fatigue.Lovely, but now I'm going to have to find that DVD of Closer somewhere in the baskets of other videos in my room....With hot-off-the-grill slices of chuleton (with the luscious, irresistible fringes of toasted, life-enriching fat) and various side dishes (scalloped potatoes, marinated peppers, sautéed mushrooms, etc.) , we then moved on to the reds:
1995 Château de Fieuzal (Pessac-Léognan) - My bottle, reputedly the best produced by de Fieuzal before the advent of vintage 2000. I last had this wine over 5 years ago and was very curious how it was coming along. I mentally compared it to the 1996, which is drinking superbly:
Already a lot of bottle-age sweetness to thismedium-bordering-on-full-bodied, ripe, red currant-and-kirsch-laced,cassis/tar/earth dominant wine with finely knit, with a vaguely smoky, sweetishroasted herbs and cedar surfacing mid-mouth and following through on thefinish.
The 1995, while holding true to its terroir with typical roasted herbs, mild earthiness and smokiness to the cedar and discreet tar/tobacco notes, lacked the forward sweetish red currant/kirsch push of the 1996 (it was more dominated by dark fruit) and had noticeably less balancing acidity, which, to me, made the former marginally less alluring. I think the 1995 is definitely a good wine, but expected more from it, given its reputation and my fascination with its 1996 counterpart. This just bolsters my (and many others') opinion that the 1996s are definitely better (virtually across the board) than 1995s .
At this stage, anyway.1995 Château Montrose (2nd Growth, 1855, St-Estèphe) - Santi's bottle, chosen by me to compare with the de Fieuzal of the same vintage. I am certain I've had this wine within the last year, but simply cannot find any notes of mine on it. The last I recall clearly was at our beach house during summer around 5 years ago and thinking it was way too young and closed.In any event, Santi noted that, while the wine was initially reticent, it opened up well around two hours later (he's learned a lot and fast, that one has). Montrose has long been a favored château, it has consistently high quality and can, in good years and after proper age, be powerful yet contemplative as well.This Montrose was typically masculine, a touch stern and austere, with notes of leather and smoky cedar to its earthy dominant dark fruit and cassis. This is classic St-Estèphe, this Montrose held true and proud to its origins. I thought this and, next, the de Fieuzal paired best with the steaks. This 1995 is more ready to drink than their 1996, I can't think of many wines I could say the same thing for.
1998 Château La Couspaude (Grand Cru Classé, St-Emilion) - I brought this merlot-dominant wine thinking it would be a nice counterpoint to the left-banks and to pair with the steak. This wine gave me my first win in our regular Mini Blind Bordeaux Challenges so I wanted my friends to try this "giant-killer". All my past bottles of this wine displayed wide-open, generous, almost wanton vanilla/oak-infused, unctuous sweet ripe plum, kirsch, violets, espresso and chocolate profiles on a crowd-pleasing, low acid medium-to-full body.Unfortunately, this bottle was mildly corked - with a slight hint of of mustiness and plastic and none of the flamboyancy of a healthy bottle. It was still drinkable, but, after a few polite "consolation sips", everyone set their glasses aside - as well they should. There is no reason to plod through a bottle of even mildly corked wine.
Quite disappointing, but, these things happen. Too bad, I really wanted them to be able to try this wine.

1999 Château Cos d'Estournel (2nd Growth, 1855, St-Estèphe) - Miguel's bottle, and, for me, the wine of the night. I had earlier mentioned to them that most all the dinners I've attended in Bordeaux (in 2006 and 2007) featured the host château's 1999 vintage (e.g., Siran, Léoville Poyferré and d'Issan; plus the 1999 Poujeaux at the recent Commanderie dinner in HK) before moving to far older vintages.
Cos d'Estournel is widely regarded as the top of the St-Estèphe heirarchy. There are no 1st growths in St-Estèphe - the commune being "ruled" by two 2nd growths: namely, Cos and Montrose.
Some professional reviewers (like Hugh Johnson) opine, however, (and I agree) that Montrose is more expressive of the appellation's terroir. Be it as it may, Cos is an eccentric, exotic château (with a curious Chinoise pagoda on the estate) that makes a wine virtually sui generis with Asian/Indian spice and Chinese tea notes that make it seductively alluring and marginally easier to identify in blind tastings.
This Cos is well extracted and ripe for its vintage, with telltale traces of its signature Asian spice and tea leaf, touch of soy in its nose and on the back-end of the palate, exquisitely woven into the smoky cassis, cherry, licorice, touch of fig and mildly spiced oak. It needed virtually no aeration to display its favors, it just sang out of the bottle. Good confidence and command without being over-bearing, it put on a solid, definitive and memorable performance. Bravo.

2000 Château Pontet-Canet (5th Growth, 1855, Pauillac) - Chris' bottle, one I had never tried before. This was the young bruiser of the bunch, eagerly unleashing rolling muscle under a lush, ripe, almost velvety glove. Black fruit, cassis over licorice dominated with hints of red cherry, gravel and minerals in a long and strong finish. Good, sturdy bones in this. Impressive for a barely 8 year-old Pauillac, I 'd surely like to try this again in 3 years' time and follow its evolution over the next 20 years.
I suspect this will age nicely (it certainly appears to have the structure for it), the red cherries surfacing more in time and the wine turning subtle and sweeter in 10 years from now.
Though I expected this to be too young to really be enjoyable at this point, I suppose my experience with the 2001 vintage around 2-3 years ago caused me to think this of the 2000 before I tried it. I am happy to admit that I was wrong. Were it that all my mistakes were this pleasurable.
2000 Altagracia (Napa) - Rene's bottle, opened to compare styles and characteristics of origin. I remember it to be a vintage 2000, please correct me if I am wrong. As I understand it, this is the second wine of the cult Napa, Araujo. I've never tried an Araujo, so really didn't know what to expect. Having repeatedly tried a few cult Napa cabs due to the generosity of one-who-cannot-be-named (e.g., Screaming Eagle, Harlan, Bryant Family, etc.), I know well that not all "killer" Napa cabs are over-wrought, contrived, blocky and cumbersome. After all, I, the Doc and Edouard have repeatedly mis-identified well-aged bottles of Dominus from the Stockbroker.
This wine, though, young, was already quite enjoyable. It does not appear to be from the "the bigger, the better" school of wine-making. Though I would certainly not mistake it for Bordeaux or Old World, it does not display the over-bearing, syrupy consistency, tons of oak or telltale coconut-creamy/sweet butterscotch smell of a typical, big napa cab. Rather, it shows comparative restraint (a good thing for me) without sacrificing the straightforward honesty and rich flavors of its its kind.
Big (but not blocky), rich (but not ostentatious), this wine shows off its comparatively viscous, sweetishly ripe molten black fruit, mere hint of pruniness, crème de cassis, licorice, touch of toffee and sweet tobacco with some refinement. I thought it was a nice touch to throw a Napa into the mix. While my heart hopelessly belongs to Bordeaux, the palate can only take so much at one sitting. This wine kept things interesting. As Dr. Lecter quoted his mother in the closing scene of "Hannibal": "It is always good to try new things".
Many thanks, guys. It was a lot of fun. I look forward to the next.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Restaurant Comerc 24 - Barcelona Spain

I went to this restaurant some time last year during my visit to Spain. The restaurant is owned by Carlos Abellan. Carlos made himself at El Bulli, where he acquired extensive professional experience (almost 10 years). He was tasked/entrusted to work in Talaia and Hacienda Benazuza, restaurants owned by the El Bulli group.

His latest creation is Comerc 24, located in the barrio of El Born, a restaurant with the challenge of alternating creation with tradition. The restaurant was awarded with 1 Michelin Star last year.

We had the degustation menu. We had the chance to see Woody Allen dining in the restaurant that night with his wife. He was in barcelona during that time filming a movie with Javier Bardem. Attached some of the pictures.

comerc 24 interior
Interior of Comerc 24

Olives and Golden macadamias
For starters they gave us some appetizers, such as Huge oversized olives with fresh anchovy filling and golden macadamias.

Kinder sorpresa
They called this dish kinder sorpresa (referring to the kinder chocolatre eggs) I found it a bit salty but it was a mouse of egg with trufles at the bottom of the egg.

Sepia ravioli
This dish was called sepia ravioli - raviolis made with sepia, a type of squid. It also had a very thick black sauce made with the ink of the sepia.

The last 2 pictures were the dessert. I didnt have the chance to take a picture of the other dishes we tried, but Im hoping that I can go back there soon to try it again.

Dessert comerc24

Dessert Comerc 24

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Steak Tartar

Hmmmm steak Tartare - one of my new favorites. I know I can get kinda obsessive once I like a dish and with steak Tartare its not any different. First time I tried it was in Spain (with Mr. O) in the fine dining restaurant of El Corte Ingles. They don't have it in the menu but Mr. O knows the restaurant manager and he makes it as a special order for him.

Steak tartare is a meat dish made from finely chopped or ground raw beef preferably sirloin or tenderloin. It is often served with onions, capers, anchovies, cornichons, eggs and seasoning such as Worcestershire sauce and lots and lots of Tabasco.

I only eat steak tartare when I'm abroad since its quite hard to find in restaurants in Manila but I have had the chance to try it in Antonios restaurant Tagaytay and I must say its very very good. I don't know any other place in Manila where they serve it so if anyone knows where I can have this pls do let me know.

I attempted to make my own steak tartare last week at home, so I went to Santis to buy sirloin and they did not have any so I had to use rib eye steak. I removed all the fat and finely chopped the meat manually. Below is the recipe that I used (from Anthony Bourdains website). To be honest the taste was fantastic and everybody enjoyed it. I do plan to try this again with other varieties of ingredients and seasonings such as tuna and salmon tartare.

Steak Tartare
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp Dijon mustard (28 g)
4 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
2 tsp ketchup (10 g)
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce (5 g)
Tabasco sauce, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup salad (i.e., corn or soy) oil (56 ml)
1 oz Cognac (28 ml)
1 small onion, freshly and finely chopped
2 oz capers, rinsed (56 g)
2 oz cornichons, finely chopped (56 g)
4 sprigs of flat parsley, finely chopped
1 1/4 lb. fresh sirloin, finely chopped (560 g)
French fries, optional
4 slices fine quality white bread, toasted, quartered, for toast points


Place the egg yolks in a large stainless-steel bowl and add the mustard and anchovies. Mix well, then add the ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco(I added half the bottle), and pepper and mix well again. Slowly whisk in the oil, then add the Cognac and mix again. Fold in the onion, capers, cornichons, and parsley.
Add the chopped meat to the bowl and mix well using a spoon or your hands. Divide the meat evenly among the six chilled dinner plates and, using a ring mold or spatula, form it into disks on the plates. Serve immediately with French fries and toasted bread points.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Restaurante El Rus - Barcelona

I've decided to continue this blog which I kinda neglected for a few months now. Ill be writting about some restaurants that Ive been to and plan to go to in the future.

El Rus

For this first post I want to talk about one of my favorite restaurants in Barcelona, El Rus. Its a small place in a residential neighborhood in Barcelona (very near my house). I discovered this place 4 years ago when my aunt mentioned it to me. I had always seen it but it never really caught my attention since it was very small and hidden.

So we decided to try it our for lunch (me and my ucle who loves food more than myself, Mr. O) We got to the place and we were welcomed by one of the owners(Javier Rus) and the Chef (Jaime Santianes). Jaime is a very young and promising Chef from Asturias. He worked in Nobu London and had a 6 month stage at El Bulli. The dishes are a fusion of traditional Spanish food with hints of Asian cooking. He uses a lot of ingredients like soy sauce, sesame seeds and sesame oil. Pls see below some pictures of the food.

Caramelos de Cabrales
Caramelos de cabrales - Goat cheese wrapped with filo pastry with raspberry. One of my favorites, the strong taste of the cheese goes very well with the sweet taste of the raspberry.

Magret de pato con lasagna de queso fresco, hummus y espinacas con pinones - Duck breast with lasagna, hummus and spinach with pine nuts - Again one of my favorite since I love duck. The cheese in the lasagna is fresh cheese (queso de Burgos I believe)

Foie a la plancha con yema de huevo a la pimienta, patata paja y reduccion de malaga virgen

Gambas retorcidas plancha con fideua al aroma de soja, gengibre y tosaka aka - Fideua with shrimps with soy sauce aroma and ginger.

La Fabada del Chef.jpg
La Fabada del Chef - The Chefs Fabada. This dish again is one of my favorites. Its traditional fabada served in a unique/different way. The beans are pureed and the traditional ingredients (chorizo,morcilla and panceta) are fried with a very thin wrapper (filo I believe) and sprinkled with parsley oil...delicious...

Wine - Wine - Wine

Have been doing some serious wine tasting/drinking and I'll be posting some new blogs about the wines I've tried very soon.

In the mean time - pls refer to this link.

A wine tasting night we had last week in a friends house.

Enjoy !!