Last holiday hurrah: roast duck, Maple, and mmmilk.
Holiday Food I’ve Enjoyed (Part 1) here
One of my yoga teachers is a vegetarian “…except when there’s duck,” she tells me during one of our many pre-yoga discussions where we talk about food, and she’s constantly having me try some vegan sweet or other. I laugh at the recollection but I understand, duck is one of the most pleasurable of poultry and it’s always special to partake of one.
Lunch last New Year’s Eve is made more memorable because of a roast duck given to me by my friend Suzy Lee. I’ve talked about Suzy before, a skilled mooncake maker whose family owns Chinese-Filipino favorite, Ha Yuan.
The Cantonese Roast Duck is made to order and is a study of browns fanned by flame: bronze limbs melding into terracotta for the meatier parts. And beside it, a set of sauces, each contributing nuance and accompaniments – plum, ginger oil, and hoisin. Suzy explains that they use smaller ducks which are cleaned well to avoid any rank flavors or excessive gaminess.
My family enjoys the duck as is: fingers alternating with utensils; mixing, matching sauces; parts preferred over others for a variety of tastes and textures. Duck isn’t as tender as chicken but its flavor is remarkable, and roasted in the way it is here, it’s a resultant harmony of distinctively layered Chinese flavors of Shaoxing wine, star anise, five-spice powder, and soy sauce.
Cantonese Roast Duck by Spring
Available made to order or packaged as seen in photo above. Comes with sauces and steamed buns.
Orders and inquiries:
(02) 585 2512
No Maple at Maple — Yet
I like wandering through the refurbished San Antonio Arcade. It’s so new that I’m alternately assaulted by smells of new paint and light sprays of wood dust. I’m ecstatic that Purple Oven has opened here but I’m not too keen on the commitment required to purchase something: whole cakes or cookies by the dozen only, please.
And then there’s Maple, the “high-end version of Pancake House,” as it’s described to me by head chef Patrick [last name forgotten]. Stunning place it is with a vermilion-hue, the most gorgeous paper place mats I’ve seen in Manila, and a wood motif flanked by bottles and bottles of what I assume to be maple syrup. Alas, maple syrup isn’t served here, it’s just pancake syrup, but to give credence to its name, I hope that perhaps they’ll offer it in the future, even for an extra fee. Maple syrup is expensive after all.
Chef Patrick tells me that Maple’s pancakes are different from those in Pancake House; here, flapjacks are the rather involved affair made with all dairy and separating eggs and whites for utter lightness. They tantalize from their photo on the menu. I’m willing to have breakfast for lunch and/or dinner but today I’m trying to keep it light and am craving warmth.
Hot chocolate it is then and while I’m expecting a mediocre mix, nothing can prepare me for this concoction in a cup. If you’ve ever had the taza de tsokolate at Terry Selection, this is similar. A potion conjured from milk and the thickest chocolate, whether it be bars melted down or from a powder, I know not, but I know it’s so good. So thick it licks back, and possessing a hint of a body thickened slightly by cornstarch, the marshmallows and cream on the side are a thoughtful gesture. I highly recommend stirring the cream – yes, all of it – into the hot chocolate. It’ll lighten its consistency and imbue a more lush texture.
It seems redundant to order a bowl of champorado to go with hot chocolate, it’s practically the same thing, yes? Um, no. And really now, can a girl ever have too much chocolate? Maple’s Champorado is what I’d expect a bowl of chocolate rice porridge to be: sweet and stoking stomachs. It comes with two mini jugs of evaporated milk and my choice, the condensed milk. There’s a lone and frankly pitiful little tuyo, its saltiness is a welcome salve to the porridge, but why just one? Easy enough to remedy: I order another little plate of tuyo; I receive three more fillets of the tiny fish.
The photo above of the Prime Rib Angus Tapa (yes, that’s what it’s called) is so in-your-face that it startles even me with its brazen meatiness. But brazen it is in appearance and flavor. This is what Boo, my pre-teen daughter orders, and so enamored is she with it that she and my Bin almost have a fork fight over the remainder of it. Properly meaty, sufficiently fatty, and with two eggs and a cup of rice to boot, this is a man’s meal or a meat lover’s idea of damn good tapa. It’s smoky-salty and thoroughly beefy. I’m not fond of tapa but this one I see myself enjoying immensely and coming back for. Along with the pancakes of course.
Hooray for another breakfast place!
San Antonio Plaza Arcade
50 McKinley Road, Forbes Park, Makati
Open daily, 6.30am-11pm
I’m absolutely delirious for dairy as you might have gleaned from the related posts below. Though I buy milk in cartons for its long shelf life and the convenience it affords me, I despise that it’s been homogenized and UHT’ed to death. Delicious drinking it isn’t. So when Sunday morning rolls around again, I’m in Yamato peering through the glass display case. I have to hold back a squeal when I see it: Cow’s Milk (Non-Homogenized).
Upon inquiring, I’m told that the milk is produced on a farm in Bulacan owned by a Japanese man. It’s P90 for the 500-ml bottle so I buy one and rush home. Before the advent of those fancy milk processing machines, all milk was non-homogenized. This is the milk that used to come in glass bottles with the sheen of cream on top, a plug of sorts for the more watery milk beneath it. Even shaken, the liquid is speckled with mini halos of yellow: cream.
The milk I buy from Yamato shyly shows its flecks only when heated. Drank cold, it’s smooth, its appearance no different from its homogenized counterpart. But its flavor is something else – creamy and somewhat grassy. No, it’s not unpleasant, but it takes some getting used to. Think: grain-fed versus grass-fed meat.
If you like milk, I urge you to try this one and taste just how good milk can be. I make marvelous lattes with it, use it to steep a vanilla bean for a custard sauce, and of course, reveled in it as a cold beverage. It has a short shelf life. But then all good things do.
Yamato Bakery Cafe
22 Jupiter St., Brgy. Bel Air, Makati
(02) 823 0960
Open 7am-9pm, Mon-Sun