Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Harrods Food Halls, London

During my last trip to London, my last day was pretty open, so I decided to spend the morning in Harrods. I was to do some last minute shopping for gifts for my family. What was supposed to be a quick in and out turned out to be a 5 hour tour around the Harrods Food Halls. It was like I was in heaven...I could not imagine that there could any place/store that had what I had seen...

Food from practically anywhere in the world, prepared food, frozen food, fresh, you name it and they have it. Aside from all that food fro take home, there are several 'restaurants' where you can have a quick good meal: Chinese, Japanese, American, French, Spanish, Oyster Bar, etc...I spent almost 4 hours just walking around and looking at the variety of things they are some of what they had...

Cheese...I was able to count more than 100 kinds.

Spanish deli, from Jamon Iberico de Bellota, Chorizo, Chistorra, Lomo Iberico, etc...

Italian Deli, from Culatello de Zibello, Mortadela, Prosciutto di Parma, etc...

All kinds of Ham, smoked ham, Farmers ham, Peppered Ham, etc...

Foie Heaven!! From Duck, to Goose, Smoked Duck, topped with Pepper, Apples compote, etc..

They even had Cured Ox Tongue in Jelly. I was tempted to buy one but look at the price!!

Next - Food for Take out:

More than 40 kinds of different Pies!!

Look at the size of those Asparagus!!

Tons of different types of Olives and take home food from all over the world!!

And now, on to the 'market' , selling fresh food:

Seafood and Birds Galore!!!...

So after all this walking and drooling about food, I was exhausted and had to rest my feet and have a quick bite, I decided to have a simple Salmon Roll with Caper Butter and a glass of Champagne!

What a day and what a place. Of course next time I'm in London, I will be back here for more.....

Monday, February 22, 2010

Hearty lunch at Cafe Caruso

I love Italian food and ever since my recent trips to Italy for work, I have enjoyed it even more and more. I can't believe that I have never tried out Cafe Caruso, for me now once of my favorite of not the favorite Italian Restaurant in Manila. The interiors are almost the same to any of the Restaurants I've been to in Milan, white table cloth, simple wooden chairs, just the way I like it. The kitchen is open, and on display, the brick oven, where they make one of the best pizzas I've tried in Manila and a mean Focaccia bread, freshly baked as you order.

As soon as the group arrived, we opened our first bottle of wine, my La Villa Roero Arneis 2008. One of the bottles I brought from a recent trip and one of my favorite Italian grapes, Arneis, in the region of Roero in Piedmont.

Our first 2 reds were open, just in time for our Pizza Salsicha. A thin crust Pizza with Tomato and Cheese, Mushrooms and Italian Sausage. I love thin crust Pizzas but very few Restaurants in Manila can do it well, and this was done to perfection.

With this, we had 3 bottles open: Jojo's Castelgiocondo Brunello di Montalcino 2000, Cordero di Montezemolo Barolo Bricco Gattera 1997 and my bottle of Mauro Sebaste Barolo Monvigliero 2005. My favorite was Jojo's Barolo, a 97 which I think was a good year for Barolo which I saved for my main course. This was slightly tannic but I thought it was drinking very well. My Barolo, which was decanted for almost 1 1/2 hours, was very light in color and still very tannic and young, so this would need major time in the bottle...maybe a 8-10 years more.

Next, Our main courses started arriving: Keiichi had as part of his main, Spaghetti Nero, pasta made with Squid ink. This was lovely and I regret now not ordering this...

For my main, I had Scallopini al Limone (veal with lemon) and served with a side of Spaghetti Aglio olio-Vongole, The Veal was perfectly executed and so soft, it was almost like eating butter. The lemon was not too overpowering and it did not at all clash with the wines we were having.

We had some more wines after our meal, together with a cheese platter. Greg's 1973 Berberana Gran Reserva (same as the one we had at my house a few before), Rene's 2003 Silvio Nardi Manachiara Brunello di Montalcino and Jojo's 1997 Fattoria di Felsina Berardenga Chianti Classico Riserva. All great wines although I think still young and could use some more aging in the bottle.

For dessert, we also had a dessert wine from Jay, a 2006 Dr. Loosen Beerenauslese, a light sweet wine, very easy to drink.

It was great fun and I really enjoyed the food and the place. I can't believe I have not eaten here before. I will definitely be back soon and thank you Jojo for organizing the lunch. It was great fun.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Luini Panzerotti and Pizza Spontini, Milan

I've been checking my files and realized that I have many posts that I still have not put up on my blog, so hopefully with more time, I can update all my "pending blog posts".

During my last trip to Milan (late 2009) I heard about 2 places that I said I had to check out. The first is a place called LUINI, very near the Galleria and Duomo in Milan. This tiny take out counter is an institution in Milan since 1948. People cue for at least 10-15 minutes before they can get their food. All sorts of people line up for a quick lunch, from Tourists to Milanese executives, students, construction workers, etc...

What's the secret of this place? I guess aside from a good location, they serve the best Panzerotto in town and fresh out of the oven. And what is Panzerotto? It's a pocket sized pizza made with a donut type of dough, very light and a slight sweetish flavor (but not overly sweet). Inside, all sorts of ingredients can be placed: Tomato, Ham, Tuna, etc...but always with a base of cheese. I had the classic Ham and cheese (their best seller I was told).

It is served fresh out of the oven, piping hot.....

First bite and not much filling inside, but the dough was "to die for"....

Second bite and last, the ham and Cheese. Very basic simple food but something I have never tried before. Don't make the mistake of comparing this to Calzone, which is made of Pizza dough. I will always make it a point to come here every time I am in Milan.

The next day, I was brought to Pizzeria Spuntino, another institution in Milan I was told, dating back since 1953. A classic Pizzeria, again very basic and simple. They only serve one kind of Pizza: Cheese Pizza.

While we ordered our take out Pizza, I observed how the kitchen worked. Everything synchronized, the Brick oven was spitting out huge, oily, bubbling cheese pizzas every 2-3 minutes, and waiters running around serving them non stop while shouting the orders to the top of their lungs. It was a bit of like an organized chaos going on there but it seemed like it was under control.

Finally, after a 15 minute wait, our pizza was served. For take out, the pizza is not even served in a box. The crust is so thick that it is just wrapped with a pink 'wrapping paper' and 2 strips of carton elevated so the cheese does not stick to the paper.

Once we got to our destination, we unwrapped it and voila, lovely thick Milanese style pizza, oozing with Cheese and Tomato. The Pizza was not so big in diameter (I'd say around 14-16 inches) but it was so thick, almost 3/4 inch thick.

Definitely my kind of Pizza, simple as can be (just a Pizza 'margarita') with Cheese and Tomato. I think the Tomato they used were very fresh ones, since I could not taste the bitterness of the canned Tomato sauce many pizzas use. The crust was very thick but still crunchy, which is how I like it.

Since we were celebrating the opening of our office in Milan, we had a Bottle of 1993 Dom Perignon to go with our Pizza. Weird as it may sound, I actually enjoyed it and I think the Champagne was a good pairing with my Pizza.


Friday, February 12, 2010

Geales, Notting Hill, London

Being in London, I could just not leave there without having my fix of Fish & Chips...somewhat comfort food for me. I had a bad experience this trip, during the first day of my arrival in London. I went straight to a meeting from the Airport, somewhere near the Heathrow area. Our meeting was finished and since we were quite hungry, we decided to stop on the first Pub we saw. I ordered Fish & Chips and it was BAD...frozen breaded fish is what they served us..'nuff said' (as a friend of mine says) terrible. I was set on having another shot at this dish before the end of my trip.

A meeting that day brought us to the Notting Hill Area, so a quick visit to the Portobello Market was in order. Lots of street vendors and shops selling antiquities, souvenirs, novelty items, etc...Quite interesting and enough to open my appetite.

I then remembered that during one of my nights researching about food and restaurants around the world that there was place near Portobello Market that served good traditional Fish & Chips, so obviously we made our way there. The place is called Geales and it has been operationg since 1934, so I was assured of quality, traditional Fish and Chips.

As we got it, I noticed that the place was full, and full of locals, so of course this is a good sign in any place you go or in any country you are. We got the last table available fro two people. The menu was very simple, only 3 choices of fish (Pollock, Haddock or Cod) and a choice of a few sidings (Mushy Peas, Chips, Creamed Potatoes, Baby Spinach, etc..)

For starters though I asked for a Beer, London Pride. I have never heard of this since I am not really into beer but this Premium Ale is apparently Fuller's flagship wine (One of U.K.'s oldest Beer brands). It had a slight bitter taste but if i were to compares this to wine, I would say this is an Easy to drink medium bodied wine.

For my meal, I decided on Cod. I am not sure if Cod is traditionally the fish used for Fish and Chips but Cod is one of my favorite fish, so most of the times this is what I order. My colleague had Pollock, which is a commonly used fish in the U.K. Both had different Presentations, mine was more rounded looking like a Bell Pepper and the Pollock was longer and flatter.



The Fish was delicious, perfectly cooked crispy batter, not oily at all. The fish inside was not overcooked (as many others I've tried), moist and tender as anything. I sprinkled it with Malt Vinegar, Tartar Sauce and an order of Mushy Peas. I got to try the chips ordered my my friend, which were thick cuts (not french Fries) of a type of sweetish Potato. Apparently, this is how real authentic fish and Chips should be.

One of the best Fish & Chips I've had. I look forward to coming back here on my next trip...BTW, you may notice the quality of my pictures is not the same - I was using a Sony-Ericsson Cellphone Camera that I use when I travel. I was actually very impressed with the quality as seen above. Not bad for a Cellphone camera.