Tuesday, April 26, 2011

La Tienda lunch

It's been a while that I haven't eaten at La Tienda with the Usuals, so when Richard suggested a Spanish wine lunch, I immediately offered to organize it in La Tienda.

We had the usual starters: Boquerones, Gambas a la plancha, Chistorra, Escalivada and a plate of clams al ajillo.

With all the tapas, we enjoyed several wines: a refreshing cava from Noel, Freixenet Reserva Real, a Itsas Mendi Txakoli upon special request of Jojo, a Manzanilla Pasada sherry from Jay and again from Jay, a 98 Viña Tondonia Rosé.

A shot of Noel serving the Txakoli like it's done in San Sebastian.

Then our mains started coming: Besugo al Horno, Paella de Verduras and the main dish: Chuleton!!

Needless to say, everything was delicious as usual. I enjoyed the fish with the Txakoli and also the Rosé of Jay.

For the wines we had for reds and all from Spain. Numanthia from Rene, a III C Beronia from Richard, a 92 Maetines Bujanda from Jojo and Alenzo also from Jojo.

For dessert, Chef Javi had prepared us one of our favorite combinations: Leche Frita, Torrijas and home made Ice Cream. All of us wiped out our plates, except Rene I think.

Another excellent lunch at La Tienda. Thank you Javi!!

Monday, April 18, 2011


I just came back from a trip to Europe a few weeks ago and was in Paris for 3 days. Had the chance to eat in a couple of good Bistros and a Morrocan restaurant. Was also lucky enough to meet up with some good friends who took me to some great places...so here are some pics of my 3 days in Paris... My first meal there was at a place called Chez Dumonet. This was recommended by a fiend who lives there who took me around while I was there. This is a typical french Bistro, specializing in Duck Confit and many other french comfort foods. For starters, I had smoked salmon. Very simple and fresh smoked salmon, some lemon and a little creme fraiche...I had this with their house white wine, a Pouilly Fume.

For my main, I had to have the Duck leg confit. This as I read was one of the specialties of the restaurant. I know this is quite simple and readily available to order even here in Manila but believe me it's hard to find the same level Duck confit in Manila if you compare to this one I had. For starters this leg was HUGE, super crispy on th outside but still so soft, tender and juicy on the inside. Accompanied by some potatoes and a salad, this was really great.

My friend had Steak tartare. Tartare lover that I am, I was glad she ordered it since I was dying to taste it. Its made in front of you with very minimal, basic ingredients (mustard, capers, onions, Tabasco, etc..) This one was super creamy (unlike some I've tried that are too dry) and slightly spicy but not too spicy, this was just right. One of the better ones I've tried..

I will cut this short here and have a part on Paris, since I am back here as I write this and will have more to write about soon.

Hermanos Taco Shop, Gilmore st.

So what's up with the Mexican craze in Manila nowadays?? Mexican eateries seem to be sprouting out all over the place. I like Mexican food and the only one I really liked was the one in Boracay (Manana) which was good. Like I mentioned to someone, I'm no Mexican food expert but I can definitely appreciate authentic Mexican food. I asked my brother in law C to take me to a place that many have been talking about, Hermanos Taco Shop, in a Gas station by Gilmore street. The owner is Mexican and I've heard it's the most authentic place around, so I decided to try them out. For Starters, we had Horchata. I guess this is the typical drink in Mexico. The Horchata I'm used to is the Spanish one, made with Almonds. This one is made from rice and mixed with Cinnamon and Sugar. Its quite good but a bit too sweet for me.

Our first order arrived, which was Shrimp Quesadillas. This was great, with tiny little shrimp inside, melted cheese and the tortilla just a bit crunchy. I liked the fact that it had some Guacamole and cream on top. The salsa was quite good but not hot enough so I asked for their hot sauce.

Next on the list was the Tamales. Tamales is sort of a filling made with Masa and pork, which is then cooked wrapped in the corn husk. Ours was filled with Beef, with lots of cheese and cream. This was very good and as per the server, one of their best sellers.

Then we had to kinds of Tacos: Carnitas and Fish Tacos. I loved this ones, soft, Juicy, tasty and with a little crunch...this was delicioso! The carnitas, tiny bits of different cuts of Beef and the Fish, deep fried Sole with a very light batter.

Last, we had the Rolled Tacos (Chicken). They mentioned to us this was one of their best sellers also, these are crunchy rolled tacos with Chicken filling. I'm assuming they roll this first then deep fry them. Also very good and crunchy, a good break since all the tacos we had were soft ones.

I had the intention of doing a Mexican eating marathon by going to Ristras after to try their food, but I was just too full to eat anything else. Over all, I think this is quite good. Like I said, I'm no Mexican food expert, but this seemed pretty authentic to me. I will definitely come back here if I am by the area.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Spaghetti alla Carbonara - the real deal

As many of my friends would know, I can get quite obsessive when it comes to food and wine and once a certain dish gets in my mind, I can't get it off until I've had it several times over. This time its Carbonara. I travel quite of then to Italy and I'm lucky enough to get to try the best pasta dishes while I'm there. My favorites are the 'simple' ones, like Carbonara, Bottarga, Cacio e Pepe, etc...I dont like creamy pastas and neither the tomato based ones, with some exceptions like the Bucatini All 'Amatriciana and a few others.

My disappointment comes when I've been to several Italian Restaurants in Manila and none of them serve authentic Carbonara (egg based and not cream based). So I decided to just make my own. I took it one step further by ordering the base ingredients from Italy. The basic and original Carbonara is made with Spaghetti, Pecorino Romano Cheese and Guanciale (cured Pork Jowl) and Egg. Basically, you cook the bacon, toss the pasta in the pan. Once warm, you toss the pasta in a big bowl of raw egg (ideally one whole egg and one extra yolk) mixed with the cheese, salt and pepper. Give it a couple of quick turns and voila! Carbonara!!

What you have is the most delicious, creamy tasting pasta, mixed with the strong nutty flavors of the Pecorino Cheese and Bacon fat. Really, I could eat this everyday and not get tired of it. I wanted to pair this with wine or Beer but since it was a quick lunch at home while I was alone, I decided not to. Will try this next time with a Pinot Grigio maybe or a light Ale.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Steak with an Aged Imperial Russian Stout

I Had lunch at Mamou yesterday with the usuals. Aside from all the wine we had with the steak, the Beertender (Jim) brought a bottle of an 2008 Rogue Imperial Russian Stout. This is not sold locally as this is from his personal collection.

This beer was quite robust/full bodied with lots of chocolate and coffee notes. With the steak, I found it at first quite overpowering, but as it warmed up and stayed longer in the glass, it sort of opened up and was actually a good pairing. As Noel mentioned it was perfect for the steak slightly charred.

I liked this pairing and will definitely experiment more with steak and beer. Maybe a lighter stout or a non aged one. Or maybe decanting it will work? Can you really decant beer like it were wine? I will keep all of you posted.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Cabrales Cheese with Rogue XS Russian Imperial Stout

I've been wanting to try this pairing actually for months now...this was supposed to be done with the Sam Smith Imperial Russian Stout I have, but I'm saving to open those with the Beertender. Cabrales, for those of you who might not know, is a Spanish type of Blue cheese. It is very strong and spicy, made with unpasteurized cow's milk, then aged in Caves for about 5 months at temperatures between 7 to 14 degrees C. This ageing gives the cheese the very strong smell/taste it has. Its quite spicy as well, which comes from the ageing in the caves. Cabrales paired with the Rogue XS Russian Imperial Stout, is a perfect match. I don't think any other drink will stand up to this cheese, unless it's a very sweet dessert wine, like a PX. Both the Beer and the Cheese are very potent, so be ready to grow some hair on your chest!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Indian food with an IPA

A very relaxing Sunday lunch today since we were quite tired from the weekend. I decided to cook Biryani Rice and Rogan Josh for lunch, served with some cucumber and Yogurt. I paired this with beer. A Southern Tier India Pale Ale. Pairing was great this beer is quite light and refreshing contrasting the spiciness of the Rogan Josh and the spices of the Biryani.

I need to stock up on more IPA's at home...

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Tickets Bar, by Ferran Adria

Adria's latest concept: Tickets bar, a melting pot of many different kinds of tapas, some new and some from the famed El Bulli. It's not quite as hard to get a table as EL Bulli, but you will need at least a month or 2 in advance to get the desired date, time and number of people for the reservation.

We were lucky to get a table on a Friday night, though we had to settle with a 7:30 PM reservation. This is very very early by Spanish standards, but we had no other choice. As we got there and they verified we had a reservation, we were escorted by the maitre to our table. They are very friendly here. Its quite alive and has like circus feel to it.

They give attention to the most minimal details, from the plates, glasses, service, etc..

The menu is quite extensive and divided into 7 categories, from the Ibericos, to the Oysters, Picoteo, Xuxis (bite sized tapas) and desserts. Of course, at this point when you see the menu, you would want to try everything, which would be virtually impossible and very bad for your wallet (although mind you the prices are quite reasonable). So this is what we had:

First, the famous Olive Spheres that were served at El Bulli. This are spheres made with gelatin. Once you bite, the explosion of flavors in your mouth is like a roller coaster ride. This is made with 5 different flavor variants of olives.

Even if this is not a real olive, it sure tastes like a real olive, with a more intense flavor than any olive I've tried before. Below, Jamon de Toro, this is Tuna Belly Carpaccio, 'painted' with the fat of the Jamon Iberico. One of my favorites of the night. I could have had 3 orders of this probably.

Next, Pescaito Frito con polvo de Algas Gallegas. Fried fish with Galician Seaweed powder..I think this could have been his version of fish and chips sans the chips.

Food was coming quite fast so we had to keep up the pace. Our next was Spiced Tomato Tartare with crunchy bread. This was quite interesting the Tartare of Tomato actually tasted like regular Steak Tartare.

Next was Tuna Belly with Sea Urchin and crunchy Green Apple Toast. This was a very nice combination. The Green Apple Toast gave this dish another dimension..

Still on the Sea food, we had Coca de Bacalao with Tomato Nectar and powder of Black Olive.

Next was the Artichoke with crunchy cured Jamon Powder.

Followed by the Liquid Ravioli...

We had a nice refreshing salad to cleanse the palate before the mains arrived, an Orange Salad with Gordal Olive, Cumin and Mint.

We had 3 more dishes before dessert: First was the Torta de Queso Canajeral con Trufa Negra (Soft warm cheese with black Truffle)

Pulpo Picante con Patato Mallorqui (Spicy Octopus with Potatoes from Mallorca)

And our last and another one of my favorites, Pipas de Conejo con Espuma de All i Oli. (Baby Rabbit ribs with All i Oli Foam). See how tiny those are...

Then came dessert...we had several desserts to try from. First up was the Cotton Candy Tree..

Hot Chocolate Fritters

We also had Ice cream, which I failed to take a picture of..I must have been dizzy with all the food we had. We had a couple of bottles of wine, a young Luis Canas Reserva from Rioja.

After dinner, we moved to the Cocktail bar they have (hidden behind the kitchen). They serve classic cocktails prepared to perfection. It takes almost 15 minutes to make on Cocktail, from Manually Cracking the Ice, airing the glass with mint leaf, etc...You can just imagine how they prepare these, of course using the best ingredients.

I had a Dry Martini, of course served with another Olive Sphere. This was a classic dry martini very well made.

Over all a good experience. This is not a place I'd go back very often, but a place I'd like to go back once in a while. I still have to try the other half of the menu, so definitely I will be back.