Saturday, August 30, 2008

Gourmandise Degustation Menu

We had a degustation tasting dinner last Saturday by Chefs Rob and Sunshine. This the fourth one I attend since last year. The first 3 were impeccable and this one would be any different from the others. Great menu, great wine (thanks N for doing the pairings) and great company. The dinner was held at Global academy, a culinary school owned and managed by Chef Rob, where he teaches young and aspiring people who want to work in the restaurant/Hotel Industry. Once a month they hold these degustation dinners and we are always lucky to be there and get invited.

For starters, we had tomato sorbet, basil oil and garlic tuile. It was served in a martini glass. This was very refreshing and a good way to start our meal.

They then served us White asparagus and truffle mousse, with green asparagus salad. Again a very refreshing and light salad which was perfectly paired with a 2002 Leon Beyer Riesling reserve.

Right after, one of the main appetizers was served, the Pan fried Foie gras, bread and butter pudding with Balsamic gastrique. I had this with a 2006 Domaine Bott Geyl Les Elements Gewurztraminer. First time I actually drink this type of wine with Foie (we normally drink it with a sauternes) and I was surprised how well it goes(sometimes Sauternes tend to be too sweet). 

We then had the Oxtail tart with caramelized onions, Porcini-morel jus and white truffle oil vinagrette. This went perfectly well with the 2003 Delas Hermitage La Tourette

Next came the poached salmon and cod duo. The duo is a technique they learned in a workshop they did in Japan, from a chef that used to work with Ferran Adria of the famous El Bulli restaurant in Spain. Basically they fuse the 2 types of fish together. I heard that this can also be done with Beef/Lamb and many other combinations...hmm I wonder what Rob and Sunshine will "fuse" next?? With the salmon we had  2000 Herni Borgeois Sancerre "La Borgeoise" a Sauvignon Blanc from Loire Valley. This was the perfect wine as it was not as over powering as the "new world" Sauvignon Blancs like the ones from New Zealand.
The main course was French Duck Breast with Blueberry jus, spice whipped potato and wilted greens. This dish was paired by N with a Northern Rhone wine (a 2003 Hermitage) but we also had 2 Bordeaux wines with this, a 2000 Bahans Haut Brion and a 2003 Chateau Siran. Both were excellent and went very well with the duck.

For dessert we had baked Brie de Mieux, Truffle Honey Pesto, Strawberries and cream and an assortment of chocolates. I failed to take a picture of the desserts so you will just have to imagine how they looked. The Brie was baked and wrapped with some kind of thin wrapper (filo I think) and the chocolate was dark chocolate assortments. I had the brie with our last bottle of wine, a 1994 Leon Beyer Gewurztraminer Selection Grains Nobles.

Over all a great experience again and very much worth it. The food, wines and company was great so what more can I ask for? This menu will run for another month or so till they release a new menu so I am hoping to be in the next degustation some time October. Again pls excuse the low quality of the images. I again forgot to take my camera with me (I was too excited when I left the house). I hope in the next one I dont forget to bring it anymore...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Fat Michaels, Makati

Apparently this place has been around for quite some time, but this was the first time I had been here. Fat Michaels is a quaint restaurant located in the Evangelista are (Makati). Its an old house converted into a restauarnt with seating capacity of around 30 people max (or maybe even less) The place is decorated like an old house, with old books, silk scarves hanging on the lights and even a mini slot machine. The menu is written on blackboards hanging by the wall.

The place is named after the owners son, Michael. I've heard that many people come to eat here. Its a must to make a reservation since there are very few tables.

As for the food, its quite simple food but well prepared and very affordable. We were 3 and we ordered practically the whole menu since we wanted to try everything..For starters we had the taco salad bowl.. a taco converted into a salad. Quite tasty and a bit spicy.

Fort the main course we had the ff: NY Steak, Grilled Pork chops, Fish fillet, Lamb and Paella. What I liked most was the lamb which came with brown 'garlic' rice. The Pokchop was also quite tasty although a bit dry (probably because the slice is just too thick (2 inches approximately)

I was quite impressed with their paella. It had egg, peas, string beans, red pepper and a type of sausage. Very tasty and cooked just right (not too wet and not too dry). Their paella is better then some I've tried from so called "spanish" restaurants in Manila. Aside from this one they also had black paella in their menu but we just had too many dishes in our table already.

For dessert we had coffee/chocolate cake and Pancake a la mode. The chocolate cake was quite dry so we didn't really touch it after the first bite, but the pancake a la mode was probably the best dessert in their menu. Thick pancake with lots and lots of butter and syrup, with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. What made this really good was that the pancake was toasted/crunchy on the outside but very soft on the inside, plus the loads of salted butter and syrup they used.

For wine, we had a 98 Les Pagodes de Cos, from St. Estephe. Wine was very good and went well with the meats but it would have been better if they had bigger/better wine glasses.

I would recommend this place if you want to have a simple/home cooked meal, and if you are on a budget, this place is perfect. The owner/chef is also very friendly.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Je Suis Gourmand, Makati

Gourmand, a word that some may say is the same as Gourmet (a person who loves to eat good food) and some people say Gormand is a Gourmet with a tendency towards gluttony...whatever the case is, all I have to say is Je Suis Gourmand can turn Gourmets into Gluttons....

We had dinner there last night ( a 2nd birthday celebration for me) with friends, E, C and R. I have to thank another friend, N, for telling me to try it this restaurant. He also helped me out making the reservation and talking to the Chef (Marc) who was gracious enough to agree to prepare a special favorite dish of mine - Steak Tartare.

We arrived at 7 Pm and the restaurant was full. There was a dinner hosted by IWFS (International Wine and Food Society) and all other tables were taken. I had a short list of things I wanted to eat based on N's recommendation, so I asked my friends if I could be in charge of ordering our appetizers. As soon as Chef Marc saw our table he immediately came and asked if I was the one who ordered the steak Tartare. So I said yes and he asked me if I liked its spicy. I normally like it a bit spicy but not too much that you cant taste anything anymore...

For appetizers, we ordered Escargot Bourgignonne, Steak Tartare and a special order of Pan seared Foie gras with Lentils, bacon and arugula that C insisted we try. All 3 appetizers were fantastic. The tartare had just the right amount of spice. It came with capers and it had a silky texture (probably the extra virgin olive oil). The Lentils just went perfect with the foie, bacon and arugula. The escargot had basil and olive oil. The only think I did not like about it was the size of the servings, I could have eaten more of those snails :)....

For the main course, I had the Goose leg confit, R had the trio of Lamb, E had the Lamb shank and C had the Chilean sea bass with saffron risotto. All our main dishes were very good. My Goose leg I found was a bit over cooked and had too much sauce but taste wise it was perfect. The other winner for the night was the sea bass, which combined very well with the saffron risotto.

For our appetizers, we had a 2003 Tourelles de Longueville (Paulliac) and a 2002 Sociando Mallet. For the main course we had a 2003 Chateauneuf du Pape by E. Guigal, which I think was the perfect companion for my Goose leg confit.

Over all I really loved the place and is probably in my top 5 favorite restaurants in Manila. The interiors are very simnple yet elegant and the price is very reasonable.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Antonios Restaurant, Tagaytay

The Mrs and I decided to go to Calatagan today to check on a small property that we bought many years ago and to visit the old chapel where we got married 7 years ago. It was a very pleasant day since we drove off early and enjoyed the scenery. I already had in mind eating in Breakfast at Antonios so we left Calatagan at 11 and got to there at around 12:15. It was quite full but we were lucky to get the last available table.

As they were giving us the menu, another pleasant surprise. Apparently ANTONIOS restaurant (the original one) is under renovation so they moved it temporarily to the breakfast place by the main road. So we had the choice wether to have the "real" Antonios menu or the breakfast menu. Of course I went for the main menu and forgot all about the breakfast menu. I saw this as a chance to have my favorite dish (Steak tartare). I had already tried the tartare during our Christmas dinner last year and I remember it being delicious, but as i looked on the menu, horror!!! it was not in the menu anymore....

I decided to tell the waiter to ask the Chef (Tony Escalante) if he could make a special tartare for me since I remember the last time he mentioning to me that he loved making it and loved eating it too...the waiter got back to me and told me that the Chef said that it was possible.

So, for starters, the Mrs had soup and truffle infused oysters and I had the Steak tartare. The Oysters were 6 pcs with truffle infused cream in a bed of angel hair pasta. Some had bacon bits and the others had cheese (gruyere I think). I had forgotten how good the tartare was in Antonios since the last time I tried it was around 8 months ago. It had the right amount of Perrins and Tabasco (not spicy). This is now officially in my favorites list and I do plan to come back  soon to have it again. It was served with their home made bread and butter.

For the main Course the Mrs had the salad with foie gras, blue cheese and candied walnuts. Of course, I had the Duck leg confit(one of my "other" favorite dishes). The duck leg was perfectly cooked and it was served with pigeon peas and a kind of potato gratin...This plus the tartare is my ultimate favorite menu so I decided that this lunch would be my birthday lunch (my birthday is 2 days from now and had originally planned to got to Lolo Dads). So for my birthday we will just probably stay home.

After our meal we did not have any space for dessert so I had my single espresso and we headed back to Manila right after. I really enjoyed this lunch not only because of the food but also the company of my wife (we left the kids home) and hope we can repeat this soon. Antonios will be under renovation til October so  for anybody who wants to eat there you will have to go to the breakfast rest. by the main road.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Le Gourmet Rustans, Makati

We (myself and the Mrs.) decided to go to Makati Saturday morning to take advantage of the sale in Rustans. We got there a bit early so we decided to have breakfast in a restaurant/deli inside Rustans Supermarket called Le Gourmet. I was pleasantly surprised by the place and the food we had.

It is a small restaurant with around 30 tables and a full blown deli with all kinds of meats, cold cuts, cheese, chorizos and many kinds of imported can goods.

For breakfast, we had a Croque monsieur (ham and cheese sandwich with melted cheese on top of it, salad and fries and a Ham and cheese croissant. We also had fresh pineapple juice and brewed coffee (ILLY). Everything was great. The coffee was just perfectly brewed and the juice was freshly squeezed pineapple.

We had a great breakfast which gave us energy to go shopping after in Rustans (Debenhams is on sale at 70% off many items).

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Aubergine Restaurant-Patisserie, Makati

It was my brother in laws birthday yesterday and he was gracious enough to invite us for dinner at Aubergine at the Fort. It was my first time to eat there so obviously I was excited to try the food. Our dinner was at 8 but we got there a bit early.

My obsession with Steak Tartare lead my me to call the restaurant manager and ask if it would be possible to have a special order (since the menu had many different kinds of meat). They came back to me saying that it was not possible since they lacked one ingredient. I found it hard to believe since the ingredients used in this dish are basic ingredients that any kitchen should have. I decided to order the carpaccio instead which was ok but definitely not a replacement to the tartare. My dad had brought some rioja wine so we just paid the corkage (my dad thinks that Rioja is the best wine in the world and that it goes with anything) so he brought 3 bottles and I brought a bottle of 2002 Chateau Armillac, a Paulliac from Bordeaux.

For appetizers, we had Duck Foie Gras and smoked Duck breast sampler, Carpaccio of Australian Beef tenderloin with parmesan fondue and truffle oil and Tempura fried sashimi. All appetizers were superb but my favorite was the smoked french duck breast. The carpaccio was very good but honestly I could not taste the truffle oil anywhere...

For the main course I had the French Duck confit with creamed brussels sprouts and parsley marble potatoes and R had the Roasted Pommery mustard crusted Australian Lamb Loin. The Duck came with Brussels sprouts and marbled potatoes. It was crispy on the outside and tender inside, how all duck confits should be. The lamb was very tender and actually tasted like streak, but it was cooked perfectly and the Pommery mustard was a perfect companion to the lamb. It also had the same white foam that my duck had.

For dessert, we had 3 different kinds: Tiramisu, low sugar warm chocolate cake with green tea panacotta and a trio of mango souffle and panacotta with coffee ice cream. All I can say is that they really take time to prepare the dishes and desserts. All our desserts were plated so well that I felt bad to have to destroy it by eating it. Below are the pictures of the desserts we had:(as you can see the presentation is impeccable)

Again the photos are not the best of quality since I used my cellphone. I had brought my camera but forgot to bring the battery! As for the restaurant, I highly recommend it. The quality of the food and the presentation is worth it. As for price, its not cheap but neither expensive. And they have a very extensive wine list priced decently.

Friday, August 8, 2008

La Tienda, Makati

I've also been to La Tienda tons and tons of times (its the favorite hangout of my dad and his friends) so whenever we have occasions, we always go there. Like El Cirkulo, I always took La Tienda for granted. I ate there a few times (many years ago) but I never liked the food. A few years ago my Dad took me there and ever since it has become one of my favorite places to go.

The success and great food has to be attributed to the Chef, Javi Lecumberri. Originally from San Sebastian in the North of Spain, he was invited to La Tienda by the owner to be a guest Chef for a month, and it's been 10 years he has never left. Javi makes sure that all ingredients are fresh (which he sometimes personally buys in the markets). His cooking is very simple but if you combine that with top notch ingredients (Virgin Olive oil, fresh fish, etc..) what you get is great food.

We normally always order the same food when we eat there which consists of: Paella de verduras or Paella negra, Besugo al horno, Lapu Lapu a la vizcaina and the Pigs knuckles (crispy pata served in a different way. Aside from that we have the usual pica picas (croquetas, jamon, boquerones, chorizo, etc...)

Last Night we had dinner there with 2 friends, E and E. For appetizers, we had Chistorra (Typical fried chorizo from the north of Spain), a platter of Jamon Serrano, Gulas al Ajillo (an artificial version of the delicacy angulas-baby eel) and croquetas de Pollo. As usual everything was consistently good in quality. For wine we had Marques de Caceres, from Rioja region, which goes perfectly well with all the food we had.

For the main dish, we ordered Paella de Bacalao and Baby Lamb stew. It was my first time to try the Paella de Bacalao and I don't regret it. The paella was as they say in Spanish " en su punto" which means perfectly cooked (not too dry and not too wet). It had red peppers, Artichokes and of course bacalao. I always ask the Chef to use basmati rice in the paella. The long rain and smell of the rice just makes it so tasty and different.

The baby lamb stew was also very tasty and tender. It was my first time to try this dish there and it was surprisingly good. The sauce was a kind of gravy that went very well with the paella. They had ran out of Marques de Caceres so we decided to order Marques de Murrieta Reserva. I have tried this wine in many occasions and is one of my favorites, so it was a no brainer for me to order this wine.

For dessert we had Crema Catalana and and home made almond ice cream. Over all I really recommend this restaurant if you want authentic and simple but quality food. It gets full almost all the time so if you plan to go be there early or make a reservation. Forgot to mention that they also have a trio that sings old Spanish songs...

Please excuse the quality of some of the images - I was using my new Point and shoot camera but after my third shot the battery died on me - so again I had to use my trusty Iphone for some of the shots...