In the course of a year, my computer’s hard drive accumulates quite a number of food photos; so much so that there are times when I imagine that an internal rupture is imminent, and the next time I turn my computer on, it’ll spew forth a salvo of disjointed images.
Ah, such is the imagination (and computer contents) of a food writer.
Lately, I haven’t been up to the task of describing my various restaurant experiences online or otherwise. A spate of print commitments has left me lagging far behind on blog duty and as I sit here typing, I feel a bit ruptured myself ”“ metaphorically speaking, of course ”“ my creativity seeping out wastefully into a puddle on the floor. Eek, quite the imagery, yes?
When I turn on the computer today, I turn to my food photos hoping that inspiration will strike. The ones that I include here are those that do, they hearten me and imbue my sagging writer’s spirit with remembrances of good meals past and excitement for those to come. After all, eating is the leitmotif, if you will, of my food writer-life, and food is what I live for.
Thus, here are some of my photos that do me proud; and since it’s the photos that I’ll let talk for me, I include only brief descriptions of each. Prices included when applicable ”“ i.e. I still have the receipt lying around here somewhere.
Chelsea’s Cheese Board (photo above)
There’s a pulsating multi-cultural vibe about this place, which chef Sau del Rosario told me was their goal: “We called it ”˜Chelsea’ because it has so many influences that you can find in New York, everything from Moroccan to Italian. It’s very international.”
Though I like Chelsea, I don’t eat there half as often as I want to. But when I do, I often get the cheese board. For a selection of three or six cheeses, I delight in the choices which, last time I checked, included Goat Feta, Fromage de Chevre, Tete de Moine, Petite Livarot, and Edam.
Aubergine’s Meat Trio
Aubergine is where Karen Young and I meet for a full-on “ladies’ lunch.” After starting the meal with the restaurant’s macaroons ”“ which are just incredible, we share a main course, the Trio Of Grilled Australian Mulwarra Beef Tenderloin, Braised Veal Cheek, And Pan-Seared Duck Foie Gras. Quite a mouthful to say but not to eat. Not yet commonplace on Manila’s menus, veal cheeks lend themselves well to long, slow cooking. The meat breaks down and the collagen embedded within the muscles turns to gelatin, which at Aubergine, they cloak in a smoky Port wine glace. Painfully yielding to gentle bites, I discover what the rest of the world already knows ”“ that cheeks aren’t just for kissing.
32nd and 5th Building
5th Avenue cor. 32nd Street
Fort Bonifacio, Taguig
Pia y Damaso’s Nga Nga Beef Salad
There’s plenty to eat at Chef Bambi Sy Gobio’s restaurant, Pia y Damaso, a standing tribute to Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere. Here, the food juxtaposes creativity and playfulness injected with a bit of sass. The Nga Nga Beef Salad is as imaginative as its name: shredded green mango matched with a kaleidoscope of white onion slices, haw flakes (yes, really!), cilantro leaves, arugula, and a salty-sweet beef tapa meant to resemble the red betel nuts chewed on in lore and yore. When rolled up like a tortilla and eaten, the flavors announce each other separately and then sally forth in a flavor unlike anything I’ve tried.
Abbondanza’s Bucatini Alla Amatriciana
Tucked into a hidden corner along Amethyst Drive in Ortigas, Abbondanza reminds me of
Amici, but better. Their Bucatini Alla Amatriciana (P225) is a showcase of noodles that are larger than that of spaghetti, soused with tomato sauce, bacon, pecorino cheese, and parmesan. The dish rides on the bacon, thick chunks of salted pork laced with edges of shimmering fat. The dish sits in an alarming amount of red-orange oil, the color of a glorious sunset. Don’t be afraid. Dip the focaccia into it and revel in the bacon essence that’s leeched into the sauce.
Abbondanza Pizzeria Ristorante
G/F Crescent Condominium, Ortigas
Open Monday-Sunday, 11AM-10PM
633.6336. Delivery available to nearby areas.
Astralis’ Parisian Scrambled Eggs
The egg lover in me believes that I will be eating eggs on my death bed. If this is to be true, then I envision myself propped up on my elbow languorously eating the Parisian scrambled eggs with foie gras (P480) from Astralis.
A restaurant that opened just last September, Astralis is easy to fall in love with. My lunch here with owner and Diamond Hotel president Cecile Ang, allows me to try practically all the dishes on the menu. It’s an experience that I’ll document very soon on this website.
It’s the scrambled eggs, however, that leave a lasting imprint on my mind. “Scrambled eggs?!” I can hear you mutter incredulously. What could be simpler, right? As it is with everything that the French do, technique is everything. Eggs, cream, butter, and salt, when cooked mindfully over a double boiler, transform into something this side of nirvana. Ethereal in every way, I like eating these eggs on the provided-for toast or spooned into the mouth with a teaspoon and plenty of finesse. Just like a Parisian lady.
PowerPlant Mall, Makati