It’s about time I do another of my Top 10 lists. I did a Top 10 for April which focused mainly on restaurants. The following list concentrates on food I’ve been loving lately ”“ of course in moderation, otherwise I’d be fat and dead by now (!) The following foods are also by no means new, unless noted. They’ve all been around a long while, although it’s only now that we found each other, in some cases, again.
Read and then enjoy them as I do. But not all at the same time, otherwise you’re in for one memorable stomachache, the likes of which your insides have never felt before.
Note: This list is in no particular order. I love all my food equally, but of course I love some more than others. Heh.
1. Paratha from Banana Leaf Curry House
When the waiter first served this to me, I thought I’d ordered the wrong thing. I took one look at it and all I could think was, “What is that?” It looked like some kind of edible dunce cap, which it is in a way ”“ the cap I mean.
It’s called paratha (pah-RAH-tah), one in a myriad of flaky Indian flatbreads. At its simplest, parathas are made from wholewheat flour and fried on a griddle. Some are flaky and doughy, but this one was crispy and sweet, with sugar sprinkles that melt on the tongue. You break off a piece like so and pop it in your mouth. Other Indian flatbreads are soft and can be used to mop up the last dregs of curry on your plate, but this one shatters, so treat it like finger food.
Banana Leaf Curry House branches
2. Ube* Macapuno* Cake from Red Ribbon
I had to laugh when I read Robyn’s post about ube cake. Over in New York where she’s at, it’s called “Taro Cake.” Heck, I just know it as the cake I grew up on and that I still love to this day. Now there’s an ube cake with macapuno in the topping and filling. It’s still the same ube chiffon cake with the ube crumbs, but the macapuno makes it more fancy and tasty. And it smells unbelievable too.
*Ube (OO-beh) ”“ Purple yam, aka “taro.”
*Macapuno (ma-ka-pu-NOH) – Called “sport coconut,” this is a type of coconut where the cavity is full of flesh. The flesh is usually sweetened to make into desserts and confections.
3. Pata Tim from Mey Lin
Pata tim is a Chinese pork dish that Filipinos have pretty much appropriated as their own. It’s made from pork leg (front or back, also known as pata) that’s boiled low and long. The pata is quite sinewy and the slow cooking brings out its flavor and natural gelatin. Depending on the recipe, after the pata is boiled, it then goes through one or more or all (!) of the following cooking methods: steaming, deep-frying, or braising.
Mey Lin has a mean pata tim. I’ll say it again: Mey Lin has a mean pata tim. You can order a half or a whole pata, which comes to the table glistening, its fat sparkling. As you cut into it, it quivers, its entire being seemingly overwhelmed by its own deliciousness. Eat a forkful of the pata: meat, fat, litid (tendon) ”“ combining and colliding into paradise on your palate. The pata itself is cooked exceptionally, but it’s the sauce that comes with it that’s in a class all its own: thick and viscous and sweet, it’s the color of caramel with star anise, fennel, pepper, cloves, and bay leaf.
The pata tim at Mey Lin is so good it’ll leave you cursing or speechless under its spell. To give you some reprieve between bites, eat rice or order the cua pao, which is siopao dough without the meat. It’s great for mopping your plate clean, but not your conscience.
138 Jupiter Place Bldg.
Jupiter St., Makati
899-6688 / 899-8999
4. My new chocolate playthings
I don’t consider myself a chocoholic, so the times when I do get a hankering for chocolate, it has to be worth the taste and the calories that I’ll have to work off the next day at the gym. The so-called chocolate snobs will shiver in disgust, but I prefer milk chocolate to dark chocolate, and white is quite decent too.
My current faves are Butterfinger Crisp and Nestle Crunch with Caramel. These are new kids in town, and I’ve only seen them at SM Supermarket in Makati. The Butterfinger Crisp is wafers upon wafers layered with the orange Butterfinger candy. I actually prefer this to the original Butterfinger, which I tire of after a few bites. Butterfinger Crisp shatters in the mouth with a gratifying crrrrunchh leaving little bits of the Butterfinger candy to melt in my mouth. My Bin better not lay a finger on my Butterfinger.
I adore caramel in any shape or form, so it was easy for me to fall in love with the Nestle Crunch with Caramel. This bar is thicker than the average Nestle Crunch, and when you bite into the middle of a square, out oozes the golden sludge. If you keep this bar in the fridge and then leave it until it reaches room temperature, you’ll get a most gratifying caramel trail that will dribble from your lower lip to your chin. What I also love is how the entire chocolate bar is divided into large squares, with “Nestle” written on the upper part and “Crunch” written on the lower part ”“ how cool is that?
5. Japanese curry from Zaifu
Curry is not something I particularly associate with Japanese food, with Indian yes. So it was a surprise when my Bin insisted that we go to Zaifu at the Power Plant Mall to try their Japanese Curry. Otherwise known as Katsu-curry, this is your regular katsudon (deep fried pork cutlets), but instead of the requisite teriyaki sauce, you get this pool of curry sauce. Overwhelming for most, but utter delight for people who love saucy foods, this is a dish that surprisingly, tastes Japanese. I certainly wouldn’t mistake it for Indian, even though the taste of cumin is very much there.
The rice that comes with the curry is too small an amount for so much sauce and meat. Order more rice, if you love ”˜em carbs as much as I do.
Out to eat. To be continued…