Monday, July 30, 2012

Saturday Night Tapas, Tasting, Etc. @ Terry's 2º Piso.

The evening of Saturday, the 28th July 2012, I took the family to Terry's 2º Piso. We hadn't seen JC de Terry since he left for vacation in Spain this past April, and, my youngest insisted on a Terry's dinner anyway. In addition, the previous week, JC asked if I would try out a new tinto Riojano for him, so the subject dinner was hitting 3 birds with one stone.

We had made reservations for 7:30pm, and it's a good thing as the place was absolutely packed that night - mostly, like us, families out for a Spanish weekend dinner. The kids, as always, wanted their many favorites from the regular menu. Unless otherwise stated, we had 2 orders of each depicted dish.

Fresh Oysters!
Morcilla on Piggyback
Moderately Spicy Gulas al Ajillo
The Gambas al Ajillo were especially good that night - the shrimps exceptionally fresh, plump, and juicy. The kids massacred both orders (with bread, of course) very quickly.
Two orders of Setas (organic shiitake) al Ajillo con Jamón, one as above...
...the other topped with a couple of eggs just before serving, as I requested. Both delicious...
...mopped up with bread, washed down with chilled Bodegas Olarra Otoñal Rosado.
Nephew Zach with my two teenagers.
Jamón de Trevélez Gran Reserva
Croquetas de Tres Quesos
Prawn & Scallop Croquetas
Catha, Joaqi, & Zach
An order of Tortilla de Patatas for me - comfort food.
El Maestro, Juan Carlos (JC) de Terry, pours three reds for tasting...
...all from Bodegas Marqués de Legarda...
...2009 Crianza, 2007 Reserva, & 2001 Gran Reserva.
These tintos all presented old-school, Bordeaux-reminiscent austerity and poise, unlike the (sometimes) excessively (over-ripe) fruit-driven, overly-oaked caricatures of wine that seem to flood the global market these days. Unsurprisingly, JC later on informed us that this is an old-style producer, the manor of which dates back to the 11th century situated in La Rioja Alta between Haro and Logroño.

The 2009 Crianza is austere and reserved (surprising due to the vintage marked by hydric stress) I found quaffable enough, and Catha noted that it was ok with the morcilla. The 2007 Reserva is a notable step up, the wood ageing apparent in comparison, but well in check. The 2001 Gran Reserva is more than decent enough, but, then, vintage 2001 for Rioja is a fantastic one, so one expects a lot.

In all, these wines shared a trait of austerity and an underlying theme of licorice/slight balsamico/worn leather to their reserved, savory dark fruit. The oak-related spice levels gradually increase in prominence across the lines, but always well in check. The balance is apparent. Though I do favor reserved and austere reds (old-school left bank Bordeaux being my palate default setting), I cannot but help wish for a bit more concentration, depth, and palate-push in the fruit.

We did ask to purchase half a case of the 2001 Legarda Gran Reserva as a gift for my wife's uncle, Tito Chito Legarda (who I happen to play golf with), but, alas, it is not yet available in Manila. We did tell JC we'd get some of the 2001 Gran Reserva if/when it is made available though.

2001 Bodegas Marqués de Legarda Gran Reserva ¡Salud!
Catha is related to the Legardas on her mom's (Tuason) side. Aside from getting Tito Chito some bottles of the 2001 Gran Reserva as a gift, we should get a few for ourselves as well. I'd imagine the rest of the Legarda clan would like some too.

Crispy Bacalao

These piquillos stuffed with creamy, lightly gamey cheese, topped with chorizo were absolutely superb. Note that there are two versions of stuffed peppers on Terry's regular menu - the other stuffed with tuna. Both are good, no doubt, the latter obviously a healthier option; but, this one is a blast. Excellent. All of us loved them, and both orders disappeared in a trice.

JC then sent Joaqi a complimentary platter of Joselito Jamón Ibérico de Bellota Gran Reserva...
...which he grudgingly shared with us.

Everyone was already pretty stuffed by the time, but then platters of Shrimp Risotto, and...

...a hunk of US Black Angus Rib-Eye hit the table.
The kids somehow managed to do them justice though.
Joaqi & Zach.

Since Zach is glucose-challenged, and there was no Sugar-Free Chocolate Marquis available that night, we, instead, got him from the downstairs Terry's deli...

...some El Almendro Turrón Chocolate con Almendras Sin Azucares Añadidos.
The teenagers and I shared a regular Chocolate Marquis...
...while Joaqi had his usual Picatostes con Chocolate.
Yet another excellent meal at Terry's. ¡Ole! Until the next!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Impromptu Mamou Friday Lunch.

This past Friday lunch, the 27th July 2012, was an impromptu one at Mamou. After finishing up at the firm slightly before noon, I was actually supposed to proceed to lunch at Terry's 2º Piso to catch up with JC de Terry (who I've not seen since he left for Spain in late April).

I hopped over to LBC Express' nearby corporate offices to see if any of the guys would join me, but, due to various reasons (i.e., schedules and the fact that Catha had asked me earlier to pick up some fresh eclairs at Gourmandise Patisserie in Serendra), it turned out that Enki and I went to Mamou instead. Not having planned this, I had no bottles of wine with me...

...but, no matter, as I knew Mamou carried a few of Jim's Global Beer Exchange's fine brews. To start off lunch, we had a bottle each of cool, refreshing, relatively light, yet definitively flavorful Gordon Biersch Hefeweizen - very nice as a lunch apéritif...

...followed by a Healdsburg Harvest Salad para healthy (file photo).

Mamou is all about steak, so we got the usual Double-sized Dry-Aged USDA Prime Grade Bone-In Rib-Eye - medium rare of course, with sides of Steak Rice (white for me, red for Enki) and Creamed Corn. Delicious as always. That is why Mamou, hands-down, is my favorite steakhouse in the country.

By way of wine, since we both had stuff to finish up in the afternoon, I looked through the wine list and was pleasantly surprised to find available by the glass...

2009 Domaine Anne Gros et Jean-Paul Tollot Minervois Les Fontanilles - Minervois received its own  AOC in 1985 and is situated in the Languedoc Roussillon region of far southern France, north of Corbières, near the Spanish border. Approximately 94% of the wines produced here are reds, the allowed grapes being syrah, grenache, carignan, cinsault, and mourvèdre. The vineyards (14 hectares) of this domaine are located in tiny Cazelles in the northern part.

Though, honestly, I do not really seek out any Minervois wines, I had my eye out for this particular one as Catha & I stayed at Anne Gros' charming Maison La Colombière in sleepy Vosne-Romanée back in October 2007 (the Stockbroker, whose Premium Wine Exchange distributes Anne's wines, tipped me off that Anne had ventured into Minervois).

That aside, I found the wine to be full-bodied, robust, slightly rustic, with deeply-veined, concentrated, minerally, slightly peppery midnight red fruitiness. This is a sturdy wine with healthy acidity that balances off the typically forward, warm fruit (the wine actually called to mind Priorat - the grenache? - but with better acidity). Oak treatment is quite apparent (caramel, café crème, vanilla - though well-folded-in and not bothersome) detectable in the sweetish syrah component. The acidity, I'm pretty sure, comes from carignan. No meaty-sanguine-animal notes detected that usually marks mourvèdre's presence. Big, sturdy, surprisingly pleasant wine (nb: they opened a fresh bottle for us).

In all, this is a perfect house red by-the-glass for Mamou's steaks as the former stands easily with and complements the latter (the acidity providing some cut to the luxuriously rich beef), and, at around P450 per glass (generously poured), it is very well-priced. For those who want to get this at retail, this goes for a mere P1232/bottle at PWX. Good for steaks, rich/hearty stews, roasts, game (roasted venison comes to mind).

We took our dessert of Pecan Pie w/ Schlag and double espressos at one of the outside tables and chatted with Annie. Finally done, we picked up Catha's eclairs and headed back to the office. Very pleasant, easy Friday lunch. Until the next!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

IWFS Manila Ladies Branch French Dinner @ Ciçou.

Catha was recently elected to the board of the IWFS Manila Ladies Branch, so, ever dutiful and supportive husband that I am, I attended their French dinner event this past Tuesday, the 17th July 2012. The fact that the dinner was at Cyrille Soenen's Brasserie Ciçou certainly did not hurt. Aside from myself, other guests at the event were Alex Tiu, and Sanju & Cutie Gopaldas.

The Menu
Though the above menu included 2 pairing wines, we, naturally, brought a few of our own bottles. The more the merrier, especially when alcohol is involved.

Alex opening the aged red as Sanju looks on.
Quail Eggs in Tomato Aspic topped with Crab Meat in Snail Butter & Herb Salad. Lovely, and, of course, very French.

I enjoyed this with some 2008 Domaine Émilian Gillet Viré-Clessé (distributed locally by Jerome's Sommelier Selection) - bright, zippy, well-focused, edgy, tense, vibrant green apple and crunchy pear with good acidity - a well-crafted, casual, & food-friendly chardonnay.

Duck Liver Flan, Cream of Squash, w/ Truffle Cappuccino
This dish, to me, was my night's favorite - moreso, paired with Cutie's bottle of 2003 Domaine Huet Vouvray Le Mont Demi-Sec - Just off-dry preserved ginger, peach and mild pineapple with an alluring, fine white mineral, citrus rind and orange blossom base, which base notes trailed in the finish, melding seamlessly with the foie's. Beautiful pairing, the wine's mellowed acidity gave the rich foie/cream of squash precise lift and brightness - a perfect marriage as also enthusiastically noted by Barbara. Thanks for sharing the bottle, Cutie! Without question, my pairing of the night.

An aged red for the meat course.

The main course of Spiced Lamb Shoulder, Fricassee of Carrots, Leeks, & Shallots, Mashed Cauliflower, Truffle Cream Foam & Lamb Jus was harmonious and earthy, the gamey spice playing with my 1985 Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande's discreet beef/sanguine notes. This particular bottle was not as vigorously masculine as bottles I've had in the past (the cork was soaked, indicating that the wine was somehow compromised on its flight from SF), but the flavors and scents were correct - cassis, black cherry, damson underbelly, touch of licorice, cedar, violets, the aforementioned discreet beef blood, walnut skins, slight loam, bit of worn leather, and, as Cutie pointed out, minty topnotes. A couple of shades over medium-bodied, soft, pliable, notably smooth texture - I loved holding/playing with it mid-mouth.

Not the best '85 Pichon I've had, but, still, a very nice wine.

Since Alex, Sanju and I are still growing boys, we had an additional main course in a large US Rib-Eye Steak w/ Roasted Potatoes, Mushrooms, Pumpkin, Lardons, Shallots & Garlic Confit (courtesy of Alex & Sanju - thanks, guys!)...

...with which I paired my 2001 Bodegas R. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia Reserva. Since Aaron and I have already decided to bring in this wine, I will refrain from reviewing it now, but, you may refer to my past notes of the 24th January 2012 (nb: 2001 is a superb vintage for la Rioja, compared by some to the legendary 1964), to wit:

2001 Bodegas R. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia Reserva - excellent fruit with notably pure, ripely sweetish black cherry, dark raspberry and dark strawberry with hints of new leather, violets and discreet/seamless wood spice. Evidently more rounded and heftier than their vintages 1999 and 2000. Excellent balance, precise acidity and notable structure. López de Heredia really hit their reserva out of the ballpark in 2001. My favorite of the evening. We didn't need to re-taste this, we will definitely be bringing this in.

Nicole Panlilio-Morris (far right) and her table of ladies.
Dessert was Cyrille's sublime Kouign Amann w/ Salted Caramel Ice Cream. You simply must.
Mignardises - I loved the Mini Madeleines as always.
"Cheers!" from Tina, Catha, Sanju, Alex, Cutie, & Barbara.

Thereafter, we moved to The Blind Pig, a speakeasy type of bar in Makati, for a few stiffer drinks (Alex and Sanju had more than just a few).

Catha had a couple of Brandy Alexanders, while I had 3 glasses of Dark & Stormy - quite fitting for a rainy Tuesday night. Alex & Sanju treated us at The Blind Pig - thanks again, guys! Until the next!