Saturday, July 27, 2013

Satuday Night Japanese (Para Healthy).

After the usual Saturday 18 holes, I took my 2 older sons to a Japanese dinner at Hanakazu - an increasingly popular restaurant owned and run by Chef Hiroaki Otsuka. Otsuka-san is extremely hands-on, nobody but he makes the sashimi or sushi. Every weekend, he has fresh seafood flown in from Tsukiji market, Tokyo.


The usual complimentary appetizers of Deep-Fried TunaKinpira Gobo, Baby Squid, & Marinated Octopus.


We always get an extra order of the Baby Squid.


Sashimi Course: 2 orders each of Japanese Toro & Hamachi. The extra Japanese Akami (the bright red one at the bottom left) was compliments of the chef-owner.


Sushi Course: 2 orders each of Anago (sea eel), Uni (sea urchin), &Ikura (salmon roe).

Crispy Deep-Fried Crablets with Macha Salt.

Grilled Hamachi, again compliments of the chef-owner. Domo, Otsuka-san.


Always have to have their excellent Ebi Tempura as well. Lorenzo & I skipped dessert. Mauro had some Meiji Chocolate Ice Cream. No, we had no alcohol tonight. I just had a few glasses of cold green tea. I'll give drinking a rest until this coming Tuesday or Wednesday. It's detox time.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Dinner w/ Apple @ Champêtre.

Apple is currently in town, so, last night, Thursday the 25th July 2013, Catha & I took the opportunity to catch up with her. Since she just came from a long trip to Spain, we figured she'd fancy French cuisine for a change, so I booked us at old favorite, Champêtre.

Our starters were the indulgently rich, silken Terrine of Goose Foie Gras with Blueberry Compote & Brioche - definitely a must-have (and we always do have it).

One of the night's specials was French Chanterelles, Duck Foie Gras w/ Puff Pastry. It was absolutely delicious - an ingenuous blend of earthy, luxurious rusticity.

Naturally, I also had to have a couple of orders of Marc's signature Escargots à la Bourguignonne, without which no visit to Champêtre is complete.

For dinner, I brought along a white and a red from Burgundy. To pair with the above-mentioned starters was a bottle of 2001 Domaine Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Pucelles - Puligny-Montrachet AOC's Les Pucelles premier cru lieu-dit is bounded to the south by grands crus Bâtard Montrachet and Bienvenues Bâtard Montrachet, and, by fellow premiers crus Clavaillon (to the north), Le Cailleret (to the west), and Les Meix and La Rue aux Vaches (to the east).

Its wines, I've found, are generally more masculine, more rigid in structure and less "pillowy" and buttery than those of Chassagne-Montrachet 1er crus. Many consider Les Pucelles one of the top vineyards of Puligny-Montrachet, on par with Folatières and Combettes. Domaine Leflaive (not to be confused with the wines of Olivier Leflaive) is widely considered one of the area's top producers.

After some time to breathe and warm up in glass (approximately an hour), the 2001 Leflaive Les Pucelles displayed a captivating bouquet of white flowers, slightly honeyed and truffle-touched ripe pear and apple, with a suggestion of nuttiness. These scents were mirrored on the palate with an added subtle lemon-drop note which made its presence known more past mid-mouth and towards the back, and discreet white minerality. Admirable backbone, very polished, very elegant. Loved it. I definitely need to buy more of this for both ageing and current enjoyment.

For the mains, a bottle of 1992 Domaine Faiveley Grand Cru Latricières-Chambertin (a wedding year wine for Catha & I) - this was a much better bottle than the one I opened last month at Impressions, in that it held well and showed no signs of falling apart after 45 minutes or so. Sous bois and wistfully nostalgic Burgundy decay are present in the ripe, virtually preserved/dried black cherry and dark raspberry notes. There are underlying suggestions of ceps as well. Notably more volume, body and push than most other Latricières-Chambertins I've had. Cerise sauvage emerges towards the back and continues through the finish.

This is a good wine, and should continue to improve for some years more (though I'd not plan more than 6-8 for the time being). With the previous bottle I opened, I didn't plan to buy more of it. Now I do. My main course was the ab0ve depicted Grilled Lamb Chops, while Catha & Apple opted to share the large Dry-Aged USDA Black Angus Rib-Eye.

Dessert was a couple of orders of off-the-menu Dark Chocolate-Grand Marnier Soufflés, which were superb as always.

Catha & Apple
Some espressos and a coffee after, we were far from done enjoying each other's company, so we moved to The Blind Pig for a nightcap and more stories. Fun night, and great to catch up with Apple - we never run out of juicy and animated stories to share. Hopefully, Rocky can join us during her next trip to Manila. In any event, until the next!

Wednesday Cocktails @ The Tasting Room.

Regular readers know I and my friends frequent Jim's Global Beer Exchange Bottle Shop (Ground Floor, Tritan Ventures Bldg., Paseo de Magallanes Complex, Magallanes, Makati City) for craft beer fixes, especially on Thursdays. Lately, however, ever since Jim completed his bartending course at the ABC Bartending School in NYC, I've also been going there for cocktails.

Jim with Bubu Andres, 10th July 2013.
All cocktails are made only with the finest, personally selected craft spirits...
...and fresh from the market ingredients.
Wednesdays are now cocktails nights at Jim's, featuring many mixed drinks made from craft spirits. It's been going on for three weeks now, and I've been there every single Wednesday since it started.

The house's signature "Jim Tonic".
The early birds of opening night.

Though Wednesday evenings are specially for mixed drinks, it is business as usual for all of Jim's other product lines. This past Wednesday, the 24th July 2013, Catha dropped me off, and, while there, picked up a bottle of Kiuchi Brewery Ibaraki Junmaishu Saké for her Japanese dinner that night.

I myself usually start off with a craft beer and move on to the harder stuff after. This past Wednesday, I got a sneak peak at Jim's new line of New Zealand craft ales, namely, the Yeastie Boys Gunnamatta Tea Leaf India Pale Alea lightish, amiably refreshing, notably smooth IPA with a distinctive, lingering, floral tea leaf finish. Very nice to start off with.

The immediately above-depicted Moscow Mule is my usual drink of choice these days. Made from Fugu Vodka, Hitachino Nest Ginger Beer, and Jim's choice of other "kickers", it is refreshing, deceptively amiable, potent, and, therefore, dangerously drinkable. I had a few too many on opening night and, embarrassingly, passed out on one of the tables for an hour or so. Thankfully, neither Tonji nor Sanju posted photos thereof (as far as I know, anyway).

To help stave off a similar precipitate state of decrepitude, Tierra de España cheeses and deli products are readily available on-site. One can, of course, also order one's favored bar chow from nearby Kublai's Rock with which Jim has a special arrangement (my timeless favorites are the Chorizo Sisig & the Buffalo Chicken Wings).

The EO contingent on opening night.
Jim w/ Chris Allison & Dino Araneta.
With tons of great craft beer, craft mixers, tasty bar chow, and friends, it is no wonder I have long been a regular. Check it out, why don't you?* Until the next!

Me, Dino, & the Demonio. Photo by Jim.
* I have no financial or other interest in Global Beer Exchange or The Bottle Shop - Jim owns it. We are, obviously, good friends, but that is beside the point. I and my friends enjoy his products and hanging around his place - and that's it. I always pay for whatever I purchase and receive no consideration for writing about his products or place. His products speak for themselves and do not need me to do it for them.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sunday Brunch @ Mamou.

No Sunday lunch at the in-laws' today, the 14th July 2013, since my father-in-law is out of town. My dad took the kids out to a late breakfast, so they were too full for lunch. Thus, it was just Catha & I who went to Mamou. Since we just had a lot of steak the night before last, we figured to try out their weekend brunch menu.

Catha went for the Eggs Benedict (a favorite breakfast dish of hers). I followed suit, but opted for Mamou's smoked salmon version (in lieu of the ham). To accompany my breakfast, I had the Bloody Mamou (the house's version of a Bloody Mary).

My Salmon Eggs Benedict was ok - I finished it, large as it was. I noted, though, that the poached eggs were a bit over-done, such that the yolks, though still moist, wouldn't run. Catha's was the same. That said, it was still pretty good - certainly very filling. The Bloody Mamou was acceptable, if a bit salty for my taste - but, then, again, I have been on low salt for many years due to my hypertension, so I may be more sensitive to salt than most.

Funny, one of the waiters (named "Rome") said: "Sir, wala kayong dalang wine ngayon." This is the second such comment I've received in 2 weeks (the other from my regular waitress at Hanakazu). Waitstaff at restaurants I frequent must really think I'm some sort of lush.

Though we were both quite full, I couldn't leave without having my favorite Mamou dessert of Pecan Pie w/ Schlagsahne (thoughtfully comped by Annie - thanks again, Annie) and my usual Double Espresso. The pie, unsurprisingly, was as good as ever - but what struck me in particular was that their double espresso was much nicer than ever before.

I most always have a double espresso after meals, and certainly have had countless ones in Mamou in the past, but this one was remarkably full, rich, almost chocolatey, robust, yet velvety on the palate - without the burnt notes many others show. So notable an improvement it was that I told Catha: "The coffee is particularly good today."

Annie stopped by after a few minutes and asked me what I thought of the coffee, to which I replied that I had just told Catha how much it had improved. It turned out that they had changed the coffee brand, and they are now using Tommy's Freshly Roasted Coffee* (for orders: 0917 533 8792 or I do not profess to be any sort of expert in coffee, but this stuff is really good.

* nb., It just so happens that Tommy, the owner, is a friend of mine from high school, but that is purely coincidental. His products' quality speaks for itself, and, credit where credit is due, deserves mention.

Stuffed to the gills, Catha & I headed back home. Next we're free for Sunday brunch out, hopefully my kids will be with us so I can order the Steak & Eggs - which surely would be too big for me to tackle alone. In any event, until the next!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Friday Night Dinner @ Home.

The past couple of weeks were good ones; heavier than usual work over the past few months yielding some nice possibilities. Thus, I invited a couple of my LBC Express buddies (with whom I've been busy on a project) and their significant others to the house for a simple end-of-the-work week celebration of dinner and wine.

Enki Rey, Veronica Schlageter, Paolo Misa, Catha, & Mayette Rey.
Cocktails consisted of Champagne Delamotte Brut NV, with chèvre, reblochon, membrillo, grapes, Parma ham, salami Milano, and baguette slices. As regards the champagne, I have described it from a recent dinner at Sala Restaurant as:

Remarkably fresh, open, welcoming, with notable purity and breadth in its clean lines of white minerally, nicely bready apple, bit of pear pear, and discreet citrus. Just the right touch of lively enthusiasm and openness. Nice balance. What it may lack in complexity is more than compensated for by its sheer charm. Very amiable and dangerously drinkable*. At P4000 on the wine list (which is a reasonable restaurant mark-up from retail), I can easily and do readily recommend it.
That bottle was from the previous shipment of local distributor Premium Wine Exchange. The subject bottle, however, is from their recent shipment which had just arrived and was released barely a week ago. The subject bottle was notably tighter, more "nervous", less fleshy, and displaying much more pronounced/sharper citrus than the previous bottle at Sala Restaurant.

With some time in the glass, it did loosen up a bit, but wasn't as open as the bottle previously described. It was still good, but I'd say give this new batch some time to settle down from its long journey - maybe a month or so, to my mind.

I then attended to grilling the steaks outside as the others had the Tomato & Basil Soup. I rejoined them during the second course of Salad Greens, Tarragon Leaves, Pine Nuts, Parma Ham, and the seafood course of Seared Scallops (hence, no photos of those).

I paired the salad and seafood courses with 2011 Domaine Donatien Bahuaud Vouvray Les Grands Mortiers - a fine, minerally, fuller/slightly heftier more ripely/lushly/pillowy-fruited, fleshier rendition of Vouvray chenin blanc. The pineapple and quince notes were there though, as well as a zippy character and healthy balancing acid. With the salad, I thought it was quite good, but a bit too sweetly ripe for the scallops (but that's just me who favors drier chenin blancs with simply prepared seafood). This wine is available at Terry's Selection at a very friendly and affordable price.

The main course was Grilled US Prime Grade Rib-Eye Steaks with Mashed Potatoes & French Beans. With this I served a couple of bottles of 1994 Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande - a notably rounded, well-curved, full-bodied Pauillac which I've had and posted on many times over several years - one of my favorite examples of how under-appreciated and misjudged vintage 1994 left banks have been by professional reviewers (another favorite example is the 1994 Haut Brion).

Its virtually creamy cassis, black cherry & dark plum dominated fruit is laden with notes of anise and cedar, and an underlying theme of loam and warm asphalt. A rather masculine Pichon Lalande, dry, well-structured, with a consistently good performance from definitive attack to long finish. Thanks to said professional reviewers, this is very reasonably priced in the US (depending where one buys).

Lorenzo and his high school buddy, Do Puyat (who joined us for dinner and happens to be the nephew of our friend Department of Agriculture Under Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat), both fine young men, are both vintage 1994 as well.

Paolo & Veronica brought over an assortment of cookies...
...which we all enjoyed together with... assortment of eclairs by Gourmandise Patisserie.
Thereafter, we all eventually moved outdoors to the lanai for our espressos/coffees, some smokes, and to finish off the wine. I had some Cuban Hoyo de Moterey Epicure No. 1s on hand for the guys, but there were no takers. The night deepened with hilarious stories that got tears running. I haven't laughed so hard in a long time. Thanks again to everyone for making the trip southward in such horrible traffic.

As always, until the next!

Three Red Burgs Over Dinner @ Sala Restaurant.

Though there have been a few pretty memorable dinners since I last posted, I've been too preoccupied the past many weeks, hence my blog's unfortunate neglect. Having pretty much rested up the whole day today (skipped golf due to the rain, had just a quick meeting at the country club), here we go again.

Tuesday night, the 9th July 2013, Alex & I decided to have a go at a few red Burgs with a few friends (we were only 5 in all). Alex suggested Colin Mackay's Sala Restaurant, and, I naturally and immediately agreed. JC & Mari de Terry got held up in traffic, so we started ahead with the apéritif.

After a tuna-based amuse bouche, my first course was a delicious and "para healthy" Squash Flowers Salad (a night's special a few weeks before, but they accommodated my request for the same though it is not on the regular menu).

With our respective first courses, we enjoyed some Champagne Delamotte Brut NV which was ordered off the restaurant's wine list. This is a relatively smaller champagne producer (vis-á-vis the likes of Pommery, Taittinger, Moët & Chandon, etc.) which, together with the iconic Champagne Salon, forms part of the Laurent-Perrier group.

Remarkably fresh, open, welcoming, with notable purity and breadth in its clean lines of white minerally, nicely bready apple, bit of pear, and discreet citrus. Just the right touch of lively enthusiasm and openness. Nice balance. What it may lack in complexity is more than compensated for by its sheer charm. Very amiable and dangerously drinkable*. At P4000 on the wine list (which is a reasonable restaurant mark-up from retail), I can easily and do readily recommend it.

* This subject bottle was from the last shipment of Premium Wine Exchange, which is the official distributor thereof. They have a new shipment just arrived and released, the bottles from which should be given a little time to rest from their journey. More on that in my next post.

My main course was the Grilled Kurobuta Pork Chop, which was one of the best pork chops I've ever had - certainly the best one I've had so far in Manila. The portion is quite huge, so I shared a bit of it with JC.

The evening's reds.
1993 Marquis d'Angerville 1er Cru Volnay Champans - Alex's bottle. Typical Volnay grace and finesse, JC noted it is comparatively less feminine - thus, more masculine - than most other Volnays. I mentioned that the 1er Cru Champans climat is known to produce Volnays with such characteristics. Beautifully layered and complex, with alluring nuances of violets and ceps in the ripe yet light footed dark fruit. Precise ripeness and acid balance. Lovely wine; as nice as when I had it a couple of months ago in La Tour d'Argent.

1990 Daniel Rion Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Les Chaumes - My bottle. Seductively truffled bouquet of darkly ripe pinot fruit, Vosne spice, hoisin, a whispered suggestion of dark soy sauce, good touch of Burgundy decay, complexed by a meaty-sanguine theme, with a notable loaminess underneath. Typically more masculine and bigger-boned than the previously discussed wine. Good heft, middle, long finish. Slightly lowish on acid, but carries it off well. Excellent wine if I do say so myself.

1996 Louis Jadot 1er Cru Beaune Clos des Ursules - My bottle. Still a little tight and quite primary, with the vintage's typical traits of slightly hard/high-toned acidity, and pronounced tannins. I'd let these rest around 3-5 more years and see from there. Decent enough now though, but paled in comparison to the other two reds of the night.

I chose for dessert my old Sala favorite: Mango & Passion Fruit Pavlova - which I never tire of, though I've been having it for many years. Lovely dinner with good wines and company. I've been missing my wine dinners greatly. Hopefully, they re-regularize soon. In any event, until the next!