There really is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Once December ends and January descends, I’m bloated and distended, much like the hams I’ve gorged on. Bless me Father, for I have sinned, I’m truly guilty of the sin of gluttony.
Because I’m not entirely ready to let go just yet of this “holi-daze” I’m in, I round up and revel one last time in the food I fed on feverishly.
A ham for the holidays
When it comes to cooking methods, I’m an absolute failure at grilling and frying. I am however, quite adept at braising and roasting. Every November, I’m the one in charge of roasting the turkey for Thanksgiving and this past Christmas, I roasted a ham for what I believe was my first time.
The three kilo ham leg was a gift to me from San Miguel Foods, one of the companies that I’ve worked with and whose support I value. The maraschino-cherry-in-pineapple-ring is kitschy but I get joyous just looking at it so I’ll have it no other way. I’m also happy to say that this year, I finally nailed the ham glaze I wanted, something that has vexed me in Christmases past. Who would’ve thought that the only ingredient missing in my glaze was a healthy glug of brandy?
I shot the cover photo after we’d already eaten. Here’s what the other (ravaged) side looked like, post-noche buena.
The ham leg is spiral-cut – see those stark delineations? – so slicing off hefty portions is a cinch. Christmas Eve itself is a quiet affair since it’s just my Bin, Boo, and me. Together with the ham, I served a four-cheese fondue and my two other must-have foods for Christmas: tsokolate and ensaymada.
Caviar in black and red
Dinner on the 25th is when my (extended) family and I all saw one another – a huge, 12-person to-do where dish duties are divvied up among my two sisters, my mom, and I. Because I felt ballsy this year, I volunteered to make (!) a caviar pie, something that I’d never made before. A fine specimen is offered by one of my favorite food purveyors, Kitchen’s Best, but I had the time … and temerity, so I soldiered on.
I’m nothing if not hyper-organized and laser-focused, so after doing some research, I cobbled together my own recipe. On Christmas Day, I put together my caviar pie in between making a monster batch of hot tsokolate and squeezing in a cardio workout – hey, I had to make room for the imminent surplus of calories.
The caviar pie is a layered appetizer. Its bottom is bolstered by a simple egg salad, just mayo and hard-boiled eggs; then a layer of minced onions, its excess moisture drained beforehand. Chopped, smoked salmon is layered atop followed by the cream cheese “batter.” A repose in the chiller for several hours, then the pie is garnished with circles of red and black caviar. Boo chose the little star and asterisk design seen in the photo. Then, fully dressed and all made up, I snapped a quick shot before we hustled out the door to my sister’s house.
I was thrilled but more relieved, really, when the entire family declared my first-time caviar pie a success. They are my fiercest critics.
A ramen that’s not wrong
We didn’t eat out much during the holidays, there was no need to, since there was an excess of good food at home. We did go out for noodles once though at Wrong Ramen, which my Bin is surprisingly, very fond of.
Ramen houses can be rather stodgy, so the irreverent ethos here is decidedly a relief. The F.U. and Sea Men, both ramens, are a hoot, but the Tonkotsu Rich (foremost photo) and Tantanmen (succeeding photo; both P395) are dead serious. Lip-smackingly complex and sip-searingly hot, they give life to the idea that perhaps what is wacky is also delicious to eat. As my Bin declares in between slurps, “It’s so wrong, it’s gotta be right!”
Forbes Town Center, Forbestown Road
Fort Bonifacio, Taguig
(02) 823 8249
Over The Rainbow (Cake)
Some seem to know this bistro’s location – “…there where Seattle’s Best used to be” – but not its name. Brida (BREE-da) Bistro is so unassuming in fact that most Rockwell denizens don’t even know about it. I’ve never eaten a meal there (er, does having tea count?) but I’ve tried almost all their desserts. Their Peanut Butter Cake is midnight dark and moist, while the Strawberry Shortcake in contrast, is pink and delicate.
It’s Brida’s Rainbow Cake however, that I’ve got eyes for, and how can I not? This multi-color marvel in high-resolution is a rave in rapture and rhapsody. Split layers of butter cake – more dense than fluffy – are separated by swathes of buttercream hit with a little bit of lemon. As a fork slides through, the discrete layers threaten to come apart, so easy does it.
There’s some ballyhoo about the excess food coloring involved in this cake, so if you’re one of them, this cake isn’t for you.
My gay friends adore this sweet for obvious reasons, so we gleefully partake of four slices … or more when we’re together. Indeed, it’s with them that I most enjoy eating this particular cake. So we nosh and jokingly hum a few bars of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” and give thanks for our colorful lives … and even more colorful desserts.
2/F Power Plant Mall
Rockwell Drive, Makati
A cup of coffee to calm me
Kuppa’s Café au lait is served the way it is in French cafés: a half milk-half coffee concoction served in a bowl-like cup about 16 ounces deep. Perfect for gazing in and mulling over the new year that’s now here.
Kuppa Roastery & Cafe
Commercenter Bldg., 31st Street corner 4th Ave,
Fort Bonifacio, Taguig
(02) 623 5120