Thursday, August 26, 2010

Taka Kaiseki Lunch

Another one of my Birthday week celebrations, this time with R and E. I had been wanting to try this restaurant for a while since I heard it was one of the best Japanese. Its a very small restaurant (3 private rooms and a bar that fits 6 people) located in Pasay Road, Makati.

They specialize in Kaiseki (Traditional Multi Course Japanese Dinner). Reservation at this restaurant must be made in advance and even the food has to be ordered ahead. We opted for the "TAKA COURSE" which was the most complete (and expensive) of the menu.

While waiting, we had already popped a bottle of MOET CHANDON BRUT IMPERIAL, to pair with the Sashimi and other seafood dishes we thought we would have.

First was the appetizer: NIGIMA SUMISO - Chicken Breast with Scallions in a vinegar-Mustard-Miso dressing. This was quite tasty, the chicken being very tender and perfectly cooked.

SASHIMI - Tuna and Shrimp Sashimi was what we were served., Honestly, I was a bit dissapointed with the Tuna, as I found it very ordinary and mid level quality. The Shrimp (Ama Ebi) was another story. So fresh, juicy and sweet, as you bite it, you feel a rush of creaminess in your mouth. I have never tried Shrimp Sashimi like this before..very good.

Next was the YAKIMONO (Grilled dish) - Don't get fooled by the picture. This was a tiny portions of (probably 50 grams) of IZU Beef, although this was very good, almost like butter. I wish they had give us more of this...

NIMUNO (Boiled Dish) - I think this was Duck meat with seasonal Vegetables, Shitake Mushrooms and some sort of seaweed I think. Again this dish was ok, although I really did not find anything special with it. The Broth though was very tasty and complemented very well the Duck.

Next was the SUNUMUNO (Sour Dish) - This dish was called YUBA (or Tofu Skin) which is a sort of dried Bean Curd. It was wrapped and deep fried, served with a little Calamansi and one Shrimp cracker (Kropek). Another ordinary dish, to me at least. It was tasteless if not for the Calamansi that was given to us.

Next, ZUWAI GANI (Boiled Snow Crab) - Very nice presentation on this dish. Crab was very fresh, with a very softy shell.

Last dish was the NIGIRI SUSHI - 5 pieces of Sushi, the highlight of which was the O-TORO and the Scallop.

For dessert, they served us Japanese Melon (no picture) which was very very sweet. We liked this so much that we ordered 2 more.

We had 2 red wines: 1995 Campillo Gran Reserva and a 2005 Chateau Pouget from Margaux. Both very easy to drink wines, although I would have wanted so more meat to have with them.

Over all, I was expecting a bit more from this restaurant (after all the hype that has been going on about it) and I think this was way overpriced (I do not normally talk about prices in my blogs, but this was I found very expensive).

Monday, August 23, 2010

Birthday Lunch at La Tienda

The first of my birthday week celebrations was at La Tienda. I asked Javi to prepare some Pintxos (some old and some new) and a Chuleton. I wanted this to be an all Spanish Wine and food lunch, and that is what it turned out to be. Had as lot of fun, good food and great wines.

For starters, Aaron brought a 2004 Freixenet Cava Cuvee DS Gran Reserva , which we had with some Chistorra and Gambas a la Plancha. I love the pairing of Cava and Chorizo for some reason.

As soon as the Other arrived, the Pintxos started coming and we opened the wines. First was my bottle of Txacoli: 2008 Txomin Etxaniz. I've mentioned this type of wine many times before. Great pairing with the shrimp, very dry wine, not as fruity/floral as the Itsas Mendi no. 7, since this is more traditional Txacoli.

(Photo Courtesy of Noel)

The following were the reds we opened: 1989 CVNE Imperial Gran Reserva, 2001 Campillo Finca Cuesta Claro "Raro" Rioja Reserva Magnum, 1998 Vega Sicilia Unico, 1995 Vega Sicilia Unico and a 1964 Faustino Gran Reserva. The CVNE, popped and poured, medium bodied, light/medium tannins. We all agreed that it might have been better to decant this for at least 45 minutes to 1 hour. A's Campillo, made of tempranillo peludo (hairy tempranillo), was a pleasure to drink (quoting Jojo) and seems to have [potential if aged a bit more. I will definitely order some when this wine is available in Manila.

As for the "Unicos", Rene's 98 was decanted for around 2 hours, while my 95 was decanted for about 45 minutes. Both excellent, I enjoyed them with the Chuleton and fries. Both were powerful wines, although the 95 seemed to be a bit more than the 98. Regardless, both wines were excellent. I was saving my Unico for a special occasion, so what better time than this to open it.

The last bottle was my 1964 Faustino Gran Reserva. A wine Noel, Aaron and I ordered from Spain a couple of months ago which they are thinking of selling locally. At first, based on the looks of the bottle, we had our doubts about this wine. Once opened, everything changed. Surprisingly youthful after 46 years, this does come from the 64 vintage of Rioja, who some people say was the best year ever for Rioja. I would definitely agree. Even the color was not of a 46 year old wine...fantastic!

You must be wondering by now, where is the food? Well, here is what we had: (some are Javi's 'usual' and some were things he made special for the lunch).

The 'usual' Escalivada...

Gambas con Datiles y Bacon sobre Tomate Confitado (Shrimp with dates wrapped in Bacon and Tomato Confit)

Tomate Asado Rellenos de Chipirones encebollados con Espuma de Almejas (Roasted Tomato with baby Squid and Clam Foam)

Pintxo de Brocheta de Solomillo y Bacon con Arroz Cremoso, Foie Gras y Salsa de Oporto (Beef, Pork Belly,Seared Foie Gras, rice and Port reduction)

And of course, Chuleton with fries and Javi's special Pimientos ( a recipe from his 'Abuela'). We also had a Paella de Verduras with Basmati Rice, but we just too full to to have any so I gladly took it home.

(Photo courtesy of Noel)

Thanks Guys for coming...really enjoyed the food, the wine and the company!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Hinds Head Pub, Bray, London

I was in London a few weeks ago and ended up in a town near Bray. I remembered that that was the home of the Fat Duck, Heston Blumenthal's Top Restaurant, and also remembered that he had a pub right across, Called The Hinds Head, so we decided to have lunch there. We were quite lucky to get a table since the place was quite full, we called a few minutes in advance and they gave us a table.

As we were seated, we proceeded to order our appetizers, typical English Pub food but with Heston's magic touch:

Scotch and Eggs: Crispy on the outside and moist almost soft boiled egg on the inside..lovely!

Pork Pie: Another classic, served with English Mustard.

Last, Devils on Horseback: Prune, stuffed with mango Chutney and wrapped in Bacon. It's baked so its not as oily as the fried version.

I enjoyed the 3, but the Scotch and Eggs were my favorite. After a quick break, we had our main courses:

Salad of Raw Scottish Beef with Raddicchio and Horseradish: Of course, anything raw always catches my attention. This was thinly sliced beef like Carpaccio, with a light salad. Very good.

Next, Oxtail and Kidney Pudding: This was my best dish of the meal(the picture does not do justice to how this dish tasted). Bread pudding stuffed with Oxtail and kidneys, with a thick gravy sauce. Genius!

Last, Aberdeenshire Rump Steak with Bone Marrow Sauce and Fries: This dish was just so-so but the fries were exceptionally good. Twice fried I think.

A quick walk after lunch led me to The Fat Duck Restaurant, just 50 meters away. a very simple place, although it's a place of worship for foodies worldwide. You need 2 months notice to eat there, so some time soon I'll get there.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Casa Jacinto, Barcelona

I know its been quite a while since I've last posted..I've just been to busy lately and have had no time. Well now I'm back with a vengeance and hopefully will be able to start posting soon. I came for a 3 week trip to Europe, so I'll be posting some of the restaurants I tried while I was there.

Casa Jacinto is a classic seafood restaurant in Barcelona, located very near my house. Its been existing for years and I've eaten there a number of here goes:

For starters, we decided on a simple plate of fresh Calamares a la Romana (this may sound boring but believe mew they were so fat, juicy and tasty that I dont regret ordering them. The other appetizer dish we had was Habitas con Jamon y Salsa Romescu (small beans, ham and ROmescu sauce). This was delicious and one of my favorite the beans slightly sauteed, mixed with the Jamon Serrano (fat included) and Romescu sauce (Romescu is atypical Catalan sauce made with almonds, Pine Nuts, Garlic, Olive Oil and a sweet small red Pepper).

All of this washed down with some fresh Albarino de Fefinanes, which I have tried several times in the past. This goes very well with all seafood and also with the main dishes we had. Very fruity, it has all the great qualities an Albarino should have.

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For main, I had Bacalao a la Llauna, a typical way preparing Bacalao on Catalunya (poached in olive oil with paprika and Peppers). This was delicious, really fresh Bacalao. It was not as salty but still perfectly prepared. We also had Bacalao al Pil-Pil, which is typical Basque way of preparing Bacalao (also poached in lots of olive oil and thing cuts of Garlic in a clay pot and shaken until it emulsifies. again another fantastic dish, using really fresh fish.

We ended the lunch with coffee and a shot of Pacharan...lovely lunch. a very recommendable place if you like fresh seafood and good service.