Monday, September 29, 2008

Tapac 24, Barcelona

Ive been wanting to try out this place ever since I heard about it. Tapac 24 is a tapas restaurants (Tapac is tapas in catalan) located in Calle Diputacion corner Paseo de Gracia in Barcelona. Its part of the group of restaurants of the chef Carles Abellan. His main restaurant is Comerc 24 , a 1 star Michelin located in the Calle Comerc of Barcelonas hip Borne district. Carles Abellan had worked with Ferran Adria in the famed El Bulli for 10 years. I ate in Comerc 24 last year (see blog here) but wasn't quite so impressed with the food although most of the dishes were very creative.
Tapac 24 is different. a very simple tapas restaurant...hardly any tables and a long line of people waiting. We got there at almost 3:30 Pm and there was a line of around 10 people waiting to be we patiently waited and in about 20 minutes we were given a table. I was surprised how friendly the waiters were despite the fact of the place being very full...We ordered our tapas and they were brought to our table promptly and always with a smile:

Patatas Braves - fries with All i Oli and their special spicy sauce - quite good and pretty close to what I consider the best Patatas braves in Barcelona (Bar Tomas).

Next we had the Calamares a la Romana en su Tinta (deep fried Calamares in their ink) very fresh and tasty. Also very creative in presentation..

Bikini Comerc 24. Bikini is traditionally a sandwich with Farmers ham and cheese a la plancha. In this case they served it with Jamon Iberico, Queso manchego and truffle oil. Very tasty although for my taste they put too much truffle oil.
Next we had the Mc Foie-Burger - a small burger that's was served with Mayonnaise and Foie. This was delicious and reminded me of a Tartare of the foie of course..

The last 2 dishes we had was the arroz negro and huevos estrellados. The arroz negro was a bit salty to my taste but tasteful never the less. The huevos estrelladois is fries with butifarra and a broken fried egg on top. Such a simple yet great dish.

Over all this is one of the better tapas places I've been to in Barcelona lately...great combination of simple fresh ingredients with a little dash of creativity. Good Job By Chef Carles Abellan. Oh and if you do plan to go just be patient. There are long lines but it goes by fast. I would recommend this to anybody going to Barcelona....

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Em Hotte, Bonn

I was in Bonn for 4 days to attend a trade show (PHOTOKINA). Our first night we asked the concierge at the Hotel if he could recommend a typical restaurant where we could try typical German food and beer. He recomeded us this place which was conveniently located 10. minutes walking distance from our hotel.

We got there and the place was quite full (good sign). The waiter, who was indian, hardly spoke english but we managed to understand him and ask what he could recommend to us. We decided to have the Herring salad as appetizer and for main course we had the roast pig and sausages with Sauerkraut and mashed potatoes.

One thing that I liked about the restaurant was that they give you a basket with several kinds of mustards and horseradish for your meal..something I love...mixing horserdish with mustard for meats...
The typical beer (or most popular) was the Gaffel - Kolsch beer. It was quite good and we had many mugs that night. We decided not to order any wine since the wine list in the restaurant was quite limited and with the meal we were having we thought beer would be the best to drink it with..
Herring with salad in rye bread. Very fresh herring. It went well with the onions.
I guess this is the most typical dish in Germany? Roasted Pig (crispy) with mashed potatoes and sauerkraut (translated from german it literally means sour cabbage). Probably the best sauerkraut Ive tried in my life...the pork was not oily at all (i think it was baked not fried) and went very well with the mustard and Horseradish..

E had this dish of 4-5 kinds of sausages also with Mashed potatoes and Sauerkraut. I ony tried the blood sausage which was very good but too rich to have another bite of..the restas per E were very good and lean.
This was the only 'german' meal we had since the other days we were in the trade show complex and all we could eat was self service fast food....

Monday, September 22, 2008

Paco Meralgo, Barcelona

I've been in Spain for a few days already and havent really had time to do my usual blogging but today, probably due to jet lag, I am awake early so I decided to post this. Paco Meralgo is one of my favorite tapas places in Barcelona and whenever I am in Barcelona, I have to eat here at least once.

No, Paco Meralgo is not the name of the owner of the restaurant. It is short for Para comer algo (to eat something) and it became Paco Meralgo since the spanish talk so fast and shorten all the words...did you get it?

Anyway we had lunch here last sunday with a small group of friends..this place only serves tapas and even the paellas are tapas portions (for those who dont know, tapas are all kinds of appetizers and dishes served in small portions).

For starters, we had the very typical Pan con Tomate and Jamon Iberico. Pan con tomate is bread(in this case chapata) rubbed with a special ripe tomato and drowned with virgin olive oil and salt. The jamon is hand sliced Iberico ham (naturally grown and fed with acorns that grow naturally in the trees). We also had pimientos del Padron, which are green peppers sauteed in Olive oil then sprinkled with salt before serving. They come from a town called Padron in Galicia. Most of the peppers are sweet but a few of them are very spicy, which adds character to this dish.

We then had 4 more dishes: Boquerones a la plancha, Baby Clams (coquines), Ventresca salad, and a Tapa of steak Tartare. The Boquerones were griiled a la plancha with a little olive oil and garlic: simply delicious. The baby clams wer very small but very tasty, also slightly sauteed in oil and a little garlic. The salad was a ventresca de atun (Tuna belly), olive oil, mustard seed and Raf tomatoes. And of course, Steak Tartare, how can I not order this? Mounted on bread it was very tasty, not drowned in tabasco or worcestire sauce. (needless to say I had seconds of this)...

Most of the food served were considered 'cold' tapas so after a few minutes the 'warm' tapas started arriving. We had Dados de Solomillo(tenderloin cubes in oil and garlic), Calamares with beans and Paella de Marisco (Seafood Paella). The tenderloin was tender and had the right amount of salt, plus a little spicy which I liked. The Calamares was pleseantly surprising, since it was the first time I tried something like this. Fresh calamares sauteed with baby beans (fabes) with oil and pimenton (paprika). The paella was a seafood paella and was served in small individual plates. It was perfectly cooked and had lots and lots of seafood in it...

During the whole meal we had with their house white wine from Penedes(very light and crisp sav blanc). We had no more room for dessert so we just had a cafe solo (espresso). Definitely an enjoyable experience and I hope our friends who joined us for lunch enjoyed as much as I did...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Gaudi, Serendra

I've eaten in Gaudi countless times and the day I decide to blog about it is the day that the food was so-so...I've always had great meals in Gaudi (the last one some 2-3 months ago for my sisters birthday). We had the Chuleton and 2 paellas and everything was great. I had lunch there today with my Dad and since I was watching my diet (in preparation for my Spain trip this week) I decided to go healthy.

For starters we had a Gaudi Salad, which had lettuce, tomato, Asparagus, tuna and corn. I had a very light vinaigrette. The salad was quite refreshing and very light. I had the salad with a glass of white wine from Rueda (Marques de Riscal I believe). Rueda region is DO situated in the provinces of Segovia and Valladolid. They are known for their white wines made of Verdejo grape and occasionally mixed with Sauvignon Blanc.

For our main course, my Dad had the Lapu Lapu al Pil-Pil. Pil-Pil is a suace which comes from the basque region of Spain. Its made from Oil in which the fish was cooked from with lots of garlic and guindillas (small hot peppers). I had the Lapu Lapu en Salsa Verde, which was basically fish with sauce made from Oil, Parsley and Garlic.

Both dishes were ok although nothing really to rave about. The Fish was Lapu Lapu fillet and quite fresh but lacked taste. Definitely the next time I will go to Gaudi, I will stick to the sure thing: Chuleton (large steak served on a hot plate with rock salt) and any of their Paellas.

Oh, if you have never been there and you plan to visit, be sure to try also the Rollitos Gaudi (chorizo in lumpia wrapper deep fried) and the Boquerones (white anchovies served in vinegar and oil).

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Korea Garden, Makati

Hmm Korea Garden, another one of those classic restaurants for me and my family. As Kimpura, Korea Garden was a place we would regularly visit. Any occasion would be good to go there, like a regular Sunday lunch, a despedida, birthday party, etc...

It was originally located in the P. Burgos area for many many years, til they moved to Jupiter st some 3-4 years ago. I think the secret of this restaurant is that the food has been very consistent. Every time I eat here the food tastes the same and of course its very very good. The restaurant is very simple, even their plates and glasses are simple. We also have our "suki" waiter - Mike, who takes care of all our need while we are there.

Before we even order any food, Mike already comes to our table with all the appetizers. He remembers that I love the dilis so he always brings us 2-3 small plates of dilis. The small dishes consist of baby potatoes, tofu, dilis, spinach, togue and kimchi.

My favorite dish here is the beef stew - fall off the bone tender beef with their traditional beef stew sauce. I have never tried Beef stew this good. The beef has hardly any fat and is so tender you don't even need a knife. This beef must be boiled for days and days to be that tender...and the sauce is always perfect.

Other dishes that we normally order: Chap Che (noodles), Spicy squid (Iga Bugong I think). The spicy squid is also one of my favorites, with lots of onions and a mild spicy red sauce. All of this combined with white steamy rice really make this a perfect meal. Prices are standard and not expensive at all.

Korea Garden for me is definitely if not the best, one of the best Korean ersaturants in town. Its worth a visit.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


I still remember some 10 years ago when I would come back to Manila for vacation (while living in Spain) how hard or impossible it was to drink a decent espresso. Only the 5 star hotels had them and served them properly. Actually thinking about it now, it was even hard to get a decent cup of brewed coffee during that time.

Then Figaro opened in Glorietta and it became an instant favorite hangout of mine while I was on vacation in forward 10 years and now practically any restaurant has a decent coffee maker and can make any kind of coffee, including espresso, cappuccino.

Espresso (my favorite type of coffee) is concentrated coffee brewed under high pressure (ideal is around 9 bars) using finely ground coffee. Served in a small cup (25 to 30 ml.), the main characteristics is that it is thicker than the usual drip coffee and the most important - the crema. The crema should be reddish brown in color and at least 0.5 cm thick. I normally drink it black or sometimes with just a little of sugar - although most of the times I take it black and in 2 sips.

When I prepare it at home, I have a ritual that I follow, which allows me to enjoy an "almost" perfect cup of espresso. I say almost because nothing can replicate the coffee served in bars in Spain or Italy, simply because the pressure they have in their machines can never be equalled by a small espresso machine for home use.

I normally pre-heat my machine by running the water without coffee into the cup. I leave the cup with the hot water so that the cup stays warm while I'm preparing it. Then I load filter holder with approximately 7-8 grams of finely ground coffee. Then here comes the important part. You have to tamp the coffee with around 10-15 kilos of pressure (you can measure/practice this with the scale in your bathroom). Once ready, put in the filter holder, empty the cup with the hot water - and let her rip.

The espresso in my machine takes around 15 to 18 seconds to finish. Once done, simply enjoy your espresso. The coffee (if done well) should have the crema (my test is to lay the spoon on top of it and if there is enough crema, the spoon will not submerge itself in the cup) and not a very bitter taste. I normally enjoy it in the mornings or after meals.

Nespresso Coffee...

I've been lusting for a Nespresso coffee system for quite some time now. I can openly say that I am a coffee addict and used to drink many cups of espresso everyday until I started having panic/anxiety attacks/palpitations. I decided to stop drinking coffee for 8 months and lately have been drinking again but at the most 2 cups a day and if I go over then I drink decaf. I know some people will say why drink coffee if its decaf, but I really like coffee for the taste, not for the high that caffeine gives you.

I already have a Krups espresso machine at home and I'm eyeing the nespresso for my office. Its very easy to operate. Just choose the type of coffee you want (there are endless varieties and flavors), pop in the capsule, press the button and voila - you have a perfect cup of espresso. No need to clean it after. You just open the lid, remove the capsule and pop in a new one - that simple.

There are many brands of coffee makers that make espresso machines specifically for Nespresso, like Krups, DeLonghi or Saeco. The one that I have my eyes on is a DeLonghi single serve automatic espresso machine (EN95R) (color red). I will be going to Spain next week and I do hope I find it there. I will also have to buy stock of capsules since I'm not sure you can find them in Manila. I'll keep you posted on how it goes and if I finally purchase one...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Kimpura, Greenhills Shopping Center

When I hear the name Kimpura, it reminds me of when I was young. My dad used to take us there every Sunday for dinner. The whole family would gather around the misono table and watch that Japanese cook the fried rice and the steak. Then they had those tin foil laid out in the sides on the misono table where they used to put the vegetables.

The last time I ate in Kimpura with my Dad was in Glorietta some time last year, before the explosion. I had lunch there today with my friend E since we had we had some errands to run. Actually whenever I am in the Greenhills area I practically eat in Kimpura most of the time(almost 99% of the time).

I've been quite obsessed with  Japanese food lately and I always seem to order the same dishes, and I never get tired of them. Main things I always order are salmon sashimi, spicy tuna sashimi, Tamago sashimi and Zaru soba. I know these are simple foods but I think that is what makes me crave for Japanese food - its simplicity. When I eat in Kimpura, I sometimes order their fried rice, which I consider their house specialty, and Ebi tempura.

Kimpura is still one of my favorite japanese restaurants and I make it a point to try to go there at least once a month or every 2 months. They have very fresh ingredients and excellent service (many of the waiters are the same ones that used to be in the original one in the quad area (Bricktown is what I think it was). My ONLY complaint is that they do not have fresh wasabi, which I always like to have with my sashimi. Ever since trying fresh wasabi, can't seem to imagine eating  sashimi with wasabi coming out of a tube.

Overall for me still one of the best Japanese restaurants in town....