Saturday, May 29, 2010

I Will Remember You

May 29, 2010
Rockwell, Makati City

I've been to Cantinetta a couple of times but I've never gotten to create a write-up on it. Maybe because the last time I was there, our server did not allow us to take photos of our orders. Good thing they have changed their attitude towards paparazzis like me.

For starters, we had the Proscuitto di Parma con Melone. This order may have stemmed from the experience we had during our L'Opera "dinner" so please pardon our redundancy. The parma ham was not as "melt-in-your-mouth" as the ones we had in L'Opera but what was great about this dish was the fact that they stuck with the classic presentation of this appetizer. As you remember with our parma from L'Opera, there was no melons available thus changing the taste dimension of the plate. Cantinetta stuck with the classic and provided us with an above average serving of one of the best appetizers there is.

The Minestra di Verdure was a bit subpar compared to the minestrones I've had from other establishments. The minestrone from Fazoli's (an almost fast food joint) was more flavorful than this. The soup was a bit watery and lacked punch.

The Angel Hair Promodoro was nothing special and just ok. A bit on the tangy side and again lacking in that extra punch.

The Osso Buco was on the salty side but the bone marrow was amazing! The risotto was not evenly cooked since some parts were a little chewy. Good thing the risotto's blandness complemented the salty protein, if not, this would have been another disaster.

The Ravioli is one of my favorite dishes at Cantinetta. It may not be as perfect a ravioli dish as you would expect but it will forever be my comfort meal there. Mushroom and cheese ravioli with truffle oil is truly heaven sent.

Cantinetta has changed a lot since the last time I was here. Some say for the worse. It's a good thing that I will instead always remember this resto as the place where great friends dine whenever they are in the Rockwell area. A cozy place that needs not representation or introduction. A pretty well-known establishment for good food and fabulous service. I will always remember their steak (we had it before) and the ravioli. The food, the service, the company, I will always remember Cantinetta.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Beautiful End

May 16, 2010
L'Opera Ristorante Italiano
The Fort, Taguig City

After that poor excuse for a burger at The Jeepney Cafe, we decided to cleanse our palette with L'Opera's Panna Cotta. Browsing through the menu, our stomachs pointed us to a totally different direction. We were so unsatisfied by the previous meal that we ordered a couple of their hearty appetizers instead:

Fegato D’oca in Letto di Insalate - Probably the best thing ever made into food: Foie Gras. I'd probably eat it everyday if I could. Sadly, the foie gras tonight was a bit overcooked. Looking past that, it's fucking foie gras! How can you not love it?!?

Composizione di Speck Mozzarella e Pomodoro - The speck ham was so thinly sliced that it disappeared each time the heat of your mouth would touch it. The various preserved olives and mozzarella cheese added a different dimension to the dish. It is, as delicious as it looks.

Prosciutto di Parma - A generous serving of melt in your mouth parma ham. We couldn't help but moan after each bite. The only downside to the dish was the fact that melons were not available. It would have been a much better combination instead of the ripe mangoes.

Our appetizer course at L'Opera saved our horrible night. Who would have thought: A perfect end could sometimes be a beautiful beginning.

Worst. Burger. Ever.

May 16, 2010
The Jeepney Cafe
Intercontinental Manila

Each time the Jeepney Cafe was mentioned, I usually get transported back to my childhood. I remember our annual hotel-hops during Christmas and the Intercon would be our last stop. I remember being fascinated with the decor of the "old" Jeepney Cafe. It used to be filled with jeepney replicas (if not the real thing) that doubles as a dinning area and a child's playground. I remember jumping into the driver's seat, acting out my "driving" skills. It used to be a place of refuge, a place of learning for me. Back then jeepneys were good. Back then I loved them dearly.

Fast forward to today. No more jeepney replicas. No more good food. And I loathe jeepneys.

I remember having one of these and loved it as a child. The classic Grandma's Beef Burger. A recipe that was supposed to be untouched since the 1960s. I did not like it. The recipe has evolved into this unpalatable piece of meat. The burger was tasteless. Moist but very bland. I've had better, tastier burgers in sidestreets than this. It was like my childhood was ripped from within me. I could hear it shatter in little bitty pieces. How can you go wrong with a fucking burger?!? I mean, the only redeeming factor in this whole dish was the fries, the mayonnaise, and the bacon.

Utterly disappointing how things we loved as children seem to always change for the worse. Was it just our innocence back then that tricked us into thinking that everything was nice and dandy? Or was this an evil result of change? In this case, I get why some people are afraid of change. Trust me, I get it now.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Bottarga Pasta

Saw some Bottarga at one of our local delis and decided to channel my inner Bourdain. He had this during his No Reservations: Sardinia episode and he loved it. He also cooked it for some friends in Provence when they shot an episode there.

Bottarga Pasta

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Whole Garlic
Chili Flakes

Cook olive oil, butter, whole garlic, chili flakes and a little bottarga to infuse. Remove whole garlic. Put in cooked pasta. Toss. Add more Bottarga. Season with salt and pepper. Top with more olive oil, bottarga, and basil. Enjoy.

Unchanged By Time

May 15, 2010
Power Plant Mall, Rockwell

In my opinion, Kuretake has probably one of the best Tuna Sashimi in town. They used to have also the yummiest Salmon Sashimi but quality has deteriorated since the last time I sampled it. The only thing unchanged was the tuna. I don't know how they do it. How they maintain it throughout the years being in this business. Maybe that's why they are one of the few standing restaurants that side of the mall. Many have closed down but Kuretake has remained the best Japanese restaurant in the Power Plant Mall.

(photo by Aileen Tong)
The Tuna Sashimi was as fresh as the first time I tried it. I remember always how the warmth of my mouth melted the meat. I no longer had to chew the damn thing. Try allowing the walls of your mouth to close gently into the meat and you will experience the very thing that I hold dear about this place. The meat tastes really clean and fresh. No fishy taste. No slimy texture. Just perfect unadulterated tuna goodness.

The Uni Sushi was a little bit slimier than usual. Frankly, I've had better tasting uni than this. Don't get me wrong, it was not THAT bad. It was just ok. Then again, uni is uni right? One of the best gifts that the sea can offer so who am I to question this heavenly masterpiece? It was like questioning the air we breathe.

The Sukiyaki was good but not that great. The beef was pretty tasty and the soup was perfectly seasoned. Not to sweet and not to salty. It lacked a bit of punch in my opinion but the sukiyaki soaked beef made it all better. Sukiyaki was, after all, one of the dishes I hold dear to my heart. It was my mom's favorite dish when she was pregnant with me. I was technically eating this even before I was born.

For me, Kuretake has always been and always will be about the Tuna Sashimi. I've expected it to change in time but thankfully, it has not. They say we should never be afraid of change because in change we become better. In this case, it is the opposite. Change is bad. Never change Kuretake. Never change.
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