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Archive for the ‘Food’

Cavite Caviar

July 16, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Food, Places 3 Comments →

bottarga

From Sonny Lua at Asiong’s in Cavite City: Huevos de Pescao in Tinta de Choko), fish eggs in squid ink, or bottarga al nero. Eat it on toast and you’ll feel like the Tsar. Before the revolutionaries showed up. Unfortunately it’s available only at Asiong’s in Cavite City (Sonny, you really need an outlet in Metro Manila). We get our supply from Ige Ramos, who organizes food tours to Cavite. If you want to join a food tour and try Cavite delicacies like quesillo and pansit pusit, send Ige a personal message on his Facebook page.

Is this snacktacular enough?

July 01, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Announcements, Food 2 Comments →

oishi

One afternoon there’s a knock on the door and a messenger delivers this giant bag of snacks. What’s in the baaaaag, you ask, in the voice of Brad Pitt in Se7en. Go to Glorietta on Wednesday and Thursday afternoon to find out.

Your favorite school subject is now a restaurant

May 08, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Food, Places 2 Comments →

dining

Chef Chris Locher of My Kitchen in Paco, Manila has not only overcome his recent health issue, he’s opened an excellent new restaurant on Jupiter in Makati. Last week Stella organized a dinner for six hard-boiled media practitioners who know that when Stella says, “You have to try this restaurant,” the only acceptable response is, “Sure!” It’s like the part in the first Terminator where the T-800 has laid waste to a club and Kyle Reese tells Sarah Connor, “Come with me if you want to live.” You just go.

CoBe
Pinoy Original CoBe

The restaurant is called Recess, and Chef Chris describes its menu as “eclectic comfort food”. To us, all food is comfort food, not eating food being a prime source of discomfort.

Chef Chris is probably best known for his invention of the thin pizza that you eat in strips with alfalfa sprouts and arugula rolled up in them—a genius way of making people like us eat our vegetables. He can’t use the name of his creation because it belongs to the restaurant he used to work with. At Recess, this dish is called The Original. This being the Philippines, we prefer D’Original.

TiTo

The Original comes in a dozen varieties, all named after elements you can see on the ceiling designed as a stylized periodic table. We tried three of the all-day breakfast specials: the CoBe—sauteed corned beef, egg, caramelized onions and potatoes with fresh marjoram; the PoTo—finely-sliced pork tocino, red onions and salted egg; and our favorite, the TiTo—tinapang bangus bits, tomatoes, itlog na pula and fresh red onions.

Recess salad

We were only going to pretend to eat our greens, but it had been a sweltering day and the Recess Salad of mixed greens, grapes, apples, oranges, cherry tomatoes in a grapeseed oil dressing with caramelized almonds was so refreshing.

salad j50

In fact we even tried another salad: the J50 with romaine hearts in gorgonzola, pears, a 7-minute boiled egg, and bacon. Bacon makes everything better. To think that as we trudged towards Recess on that hot night, we were telling ourselves that it was too hot to eat. We were wrong hahahaha.

Risotto orbs

At this point we could’ve ended the meal and gone home happy, but there was more. Risotto orbs—crispy fried risotto balls with two cheeses, chorizo and herbs.

tuna steak

A juicy tuna steak with chimichuri sauce.

bbq lamb

The very tender Carolina-style barbecued mustard lamb ribs. Good thing there were six of us sharing the dishes, or we might’ve eaten ourselves into a food coma. The portions are good for sharing, and by “sharing” we mean “can feed two people who are not on a diet or some other deprivation plan.”

lemon cheesecake

If we’d been responsible adults, we probably would’ve declined dessert. Luckily, we are not. There was lemon cheesecake,

decadent choc

a decadent chocolate cake that went beyond decadent,

pavlova

and a light, delectable Pavlova. Next to it you see our glass—we finished most of a bottle of Chardonnay and were useless for the rest of the evening. Useless, but happy.

A meal for two consisting of one mini-size The Original, one salad, one lamb ribs and one dessert comes to about Php550 per person. With a glass of wine, add Php200. For the whole shebang described above, probably Php1,500+ per person.

Recess by Chef Chris is at 50 Jupiter Street, Bel-Air, Makati, between Paseo de Roxas and Makati Avenue. Visit their Facebook page. For reservations, call (02) 899 1818.

World Domination Food?

April 30, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Food, Television, World Domination Update 3 Comments →

spam tocino
From Stella Arnaldo’s Instagram.

Will this be the supranational anthem, then?

Subtle Chinese Food

April 21, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Food, Places 2 Comments →

DSC_2626

James and Boboy were having lunch with friends in Binondo, at a noodle place called Lan Zhou La Mien. We took advantage of the comparatively light (but not by much, since everyone stayed in town apparently, and Edsa was being reblocked) long weekend traffic to drive to Chinatown.

Even with Ricky’s navigational skills (can moonlight as a taxi driver) and Noel’s GPS-reading abilities, Binondo is a maze and we stopped to ask for directions.

“Deretso, tapos kaliwa sa unang kanto, kaliwa ulit. Yung pula, siguradong makikita nyo.” Straight ahead, then left, then left. It’s red, you can’t miss it.

We had not gone 5 meters when we realized that every sign in Chinatown is red.

“Easier if he’d said yung hindi pula,” Noel pointed out.

So we asked another guy who was watching cars.

“Deretso lang, yung pula na sikat.”

By this time we were close to a hysterical giggling fit.

“What does Lan Zhou La Mien mean?” Ricky asked.

“Yung pula na sikat,” Noel translated.

Luckily we were spotted by James.

DSC_2622

La Mien is deservedly famous for its hand-pulled noodles, which have the best texture of any noodles we’ve tried lately. Along with the Beef La Mien and the excellent steamed kuchay dumplings, the waiter brought a pair of scissors in a bowl of hot water. These scissors are not for warding off diners hovering by your table urging you to leave (It’s a small place). They are for cutting the noodles, which are very long. We stabbed at our bowls a few times, and were ready to eat.

DSC_2620

The Beef La Mien is wonderful: delicately-flavored yet filling. We could only finish half the bowl before throwing down our chopsticks in surrender. Ricky recommends eating the la mien as quickly as possible because the noodles absorb the broth and expand.

Subtle Chinese, and only Php120.

DSC_2631
DSC_2634

Of course no trip to Binondo is complete without a visit to the Temple of Hopia, Salazar, winner of our Hopia Challenge.

Lan Zhou La Mien is on 818 Benavidez Street in Binondo, Manila.

15 years of Bellini’s

April 08, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Food, Places 2 Comments →

sign
Photo by Noel Orosa

A searing Saturday afternoon with traffic gridlocked as portions of the highway underwent repairs was probably not the ideal time for making the trip from Makati to Cubao for an early dinner at Bellini’s. You could say that it was a decision rooted in silliness. But if we behaved rationally at all times, life would not be as much fun. Less stressful, perhaps, but not nearly as much fun.

facade

We take a proprietary interest in Bellini’s, having been among its original patrons. As Mr. Bellini reminded us, Today was the first paper to write about the restaurant (You can read the review, framed on his wall). We have seen it grow from a bare room with plastic tables and chairs into a cozy destination restaurant frequented by celebrities (Some of them have their names on the chairs).

And we can compute the rise of the cost of the living by the prices on the menu. In 2001 we had our birthday dinner there with 12 people, and the bill came to Php2500—just 33 percent more than what dinner for two cost last Saturday. In the case of Bellini’s we are happy to pay, because we can see where the money goes.

dining

The quality of the food has been consistently high: pastas, pizzas, entrees, and the best orange cake in the city. If the large selection boggles you, go for the appetizer buffet and ask them to prepare the spaghetti aglio olio with seafood, which is not on the menu. It’s so rich and flavorful, your taste buds will thank you.

And the service has improved since its clunky beginnings. Mr. Bellini pointed out that the staff are all regular employees, not temps, and they know the menu in detail. We believe him because the waiters have been there long enough to pick up the rudiments of Italian so they can speak Tagliano (Tagalog-Italiano).

bottles

The wine selection is quite impressive—in the inner room are bottles of vintage barolo and chianti.

Some years ago we saw a Tagalog movie set in Bellini’s and were slightly offended that “our” place had gone public. Still, that exposure has probably been thousands of times more useful to the business than our infrequent patronage (It’s so faaaar). Mr. Bellini says one of their regular diners is the President of the Philippines, and P-Noy’s favorite dishes are spaghetti bolognese, Parma ham and arugula pizza, and scallopine marsala.

Historical sidebar: Mr. Bellini met his wife Luisa at Malacanang Palace in 1986, when she was working for P-Noy’s mother, President Cory Aquino, and he was covering the Edsa Revolution for his paper in Italy. (Roberto Bellini was a photojournalist, though he is sometimes confused with Roberto Benigni the Italian comedian.) “In 20 minutes I knew I wanted to marry her!” he declared. “So I asked her and she called me sira-ulo.”

mural

She agreed eventually, and in 1999 Bellini returned to the Philippines for good. He looked for a spot in which to set up an Italian restaurant, and found the space at Marikina Shoe Expo on Aurora Boulevard in Cubao. The rent was Php100 a day. “One room became two rooms and then three…have you seen the new rooms?” he demanded.

Of course we were familiar with the inner dining area featuring The Mural of the Two Colosseums, Rome and Araneta. One of the charms of Bellini’s restaurant is its distinctive interior decor. Between the indescribable interior design and the effusive proprietor, the place positively radiates character.

trevi

Behold the Fontana di Trevi, with Anita Ekberg splashing about. (Where’s the kitten on her head?) There’s a branch of Bellini’s in Marikina, with an upstairs room that can accommodate 100 diners.

Whenever we go to Bellini’s we have to steel ourselves for Mr. Bellini’s expressive manner, but last Saturday he was reflective. “I opened this restaurant 15 years ago last March 4,” he said. “Matanda na ako, I am 74.”

“You don’t look a day older than 64,” we told him.

“I will put your name on a chair,” he announced.

When you go to Bellini’s, could you confirm if said name plate exists?