Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A word on Cheesecakes

I haven't written in a while so I thought I would chime in on a topic that is close to all our hearts: Cheesecake.

The perfect cheesecake is full of adjectives, creamy, dense, moist, tart yet sweet, sour with a hint of citrus, and is NEVER, EVER served with a topping.... It's hard to say why one likes it, one just does.

Lots of articles have been written on who serves the best cheesecake. A lot of people give credit to Miss Deserts, found in trendy Serendra right beside Cupcakes by Sonja. Miss D's cheesecake is indeed praiseworthy, the only major drawback being the fact that its too small.

Some of the best cheesecake I ever had was home-baked before my very eyes by my wife's best friend. There is nothing like eating fresh cheesecake hot from the oven. You will never eat no-bake cheesecake ever again.

Still, the best cheesecake I can find reliably these days (I'd have to go to Canada for more of my friend's cheesecake) is that offered by the Manila Diamond Hotel. You don't have to go all the way there, their cafe' outlet in Rockwell can answer your craving. 

Diamond's cheesecake beats Miss D's in practically every category, consistency, color, creaminess, and size. I've been known to eat an entire (large) slice and beg for more. My wife has been to Rockwell at least twice without having brought some home for me, knowing full well how much I love that velvety-white pieces of heaven. Hala, malapit na birthday nun! 

Monday, June 16, 2008

Admirin’ Myron’s

The original love of my life took me out to dinner last Saturday night in anticipation of Father’s Day. Since we were going to be in Makati that night and I’d never been to the newly-opened Greenbelt 5, she chose to take me to the equally new Myron’s Place.

Now before we get into the meat of the article, I will disclose up front that I’ve known the proprietor, Mon Eugenio since my undergrad days at UP back when he was still deciding what to do with life (as were we all).

Myron’s is located at the ground floor of Greenbelt 5, tucked away at the far end of the mini-mall. It’s a cozy little “L”-shaped affair with subdued lighting and functional décor. So far, so good. No delusions of grandeur here. I hope this goes for the pricing too…

The menu is fairly comprehensive and the prices are (dare I say?) affordable. They have some really pricey steaks, to be sure, but they had other cuts of meat more suited to those on a budget.

We started with a black-olive and roasted garlic dip. It was quite tasty and the serving size was excellent (a couple of more slices of bread would have been good, though I’m sure I could have asked for some if I really wanted it). Oh, I’m sure some of you are going to ask whether or not I thought it could use more garlic (whoever had too much garlic anyway?). Yes, now that you mention it, but then you’d have overpowered the olives so I guess I will let it go this time.

We also had Sisig Samosas. Unlike different iterations of this dish I’d tried before, Myron’s’ version came in quite moist and tasty. I suggest having some Tabasco handy when you order this for some extra kick.

As per our usual practice, Jen and I ordered different soups and traded half-way through them. I had the Cappuccino of Mushroom soup (excellent) and Jen had the Barley-Bacon soup (also a winner). As I’ve found on several occasions, soups like these can save a dinner all by themselves. They were also reasonably priced. Don’t skip the soups when you come here.

Jen had the Black and Blue Wagyu Burger. Black referring to the liberal application of black pepper and Blue pertaining to the Bleu Cheese garnishing. She had it medium rare (I generally prefer my burgers done to at least a medium but this was her’s after all) and it came just flowing with juices with liberal sidings of fries and onion rings. In Jen’s words, this was a winner.

For myself, I stocked up on the appetizers beforehand so I forbore ordering my usual steak (the price tag for the medium-sized cut may have had something to do with it) and settled for the Medallion of Angus beef with Cepes (which, according to Wikipedia is a wild mushroom of the boletus family know for their meaty texture and full flavor). I must say, the meat had very decent flavor and was very tender for such a lean cut of meat.

Price-wise, the place was just fine. Jen’s Wagyu burger was P450 and my Angus Beef Medallion was P500. The Soups were around P100 each and the appetizers were around P150. I would say very decent pricing for the fare and the location.

Thanks for the treat hun!

Myron’s Place, Greenbelt 5, 757-9898 or 757-8898.

Friday, February 29, 2008

VDay 2008

As much as possible, the wife & I try to stay away from fancier, more costly restos during Valentine's.  This year, I had a brainstorm.

Located at 21 United Street, Barrio Kapitolyo, Pasig City, Cafe Juanita is the kind of restaurant that makes it fun to be a foodie.  First of all, its location is certainly off the beaten track but is just a stone's throw away from Shaw Boulevard.  Second, its décor is, err, unconventional as well.   

Stepping inside makes you think you stepped into a bric-a-brac store from the sixties or something.  Actually, that’s not too far from the truth.  All the décor in the store is actually for sale (if you look closely, you will notice that everything seems to have a price tag, LOL).

Oh, the food, you say? Well, the menu is as unconventional as the rest of the place, with European dishes such as pasta and Fabada being served with asian favorites like Curry Rendang as well as local favorites like Kare-kare.

What’s even better, they didn’t have one of those “special” fixed priced menus for Valentines. One simply orders ala carte like any other day.

We started with Fabada (one can never go wrong with this) and moved on to a salad of local vegetables with sweet chili sauce. It had a little gata in it and I was very surprised to find myself eating the whole thing (sorry honey).

For entrees, we had an Ilocano favorite: Bagnet garnished with fresh tomatoes, as good as anything I got in Laoag. Along with this we ordered their ginataang gulay. This too was excellent. The coconut-flavored sauce was perfect, tasty without overpowering the veggies. The way they roasted their eggplant was simply perfect. Finally, we had Chicken Padang (sic?), which is a Thai dish that surprisingly tasted very much like my favorite green curry chicken.

For dessert, try their cassava cake. I usually go for more fancy fare but this was served warm and buttery and just hit the spot.

Our bill ran up to a whopping 1,500 for the pair of us. Not bad for a valentine’s meal we could barely finish, right?

If you’re coming from EDSA, take Shaw Boulevard until you hit the rotunda at the provincial capitol. Take a right at the rotunda and right again at the second corner. Café Juanita will immediately be on your right.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sincerity

Every now and then you hear about one of those little restaurants tucked away in the strangest of places. You know--the ones you never even heard of but the locals are lining up around the block just to get a table?

This is about my visit to one of them. Sincerity is a little Chinese eatery on Yuchengco Street, just off Ongpin, not far from Binondo Church. It is surrounded by distributors of stationary and school supplies and you wonder why it’s there. The obvious answer of course, is to serve the locals. And serve them it does.

It sure seemed like a long way to go for lunch (we live in San Juan, and my parents-in-law took me). Like most restaurants in the area, when you walk in, it’s all business. It’s a clean, well lighted place. You go to the counter and place your order (tell whoever’s with you to grab a table, quick!); no atmosphere or ambiance here, just good old fashioned Chinese food.

I guess I could best describe the fare as “Chinese comfort food”. Sort of like a pinoy Aristocrat. If you’re coming here for the first time, there are 3 things (with me, there are always 3 things) you should always order: the fried chicken (don’t bother with ketchup), the oyster cake (ok, you can use ketchup with this) and the chami.

The fried chicken is buttery and flavorful. You know its probably bad for you, but you just reach for another piece. You came all the way here to watch your diet?

Oyster cake is an acquired taste for a lot of people. I first learned to eat it in Taipei, where it was the highlight of every street-food dinner. This had the same, unpretentious-but-wholesome feel to it.

As to the noodles, I prefer the sate bihon myself, very very flavorful.

With places like this, the proof is really in the eating, words can only say so much as they are intended to speak to one’s brain and not one’s palate. So the next time you set out for (or get dragged to) 168 for your Christmas shopping, make sure to drop by this place on your way back.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Massimo's

I’ve been wanting to write about Massimo’s for a long time, so when my work once more took me to Tagaytay, I had little trouble convincing my wife to come with me so we could sample its cuisine.

Massimo is run by a husband and wife team, the restaurant has an Italian theme, the wife, Hazel Lu Galvez having trained in Italy. The restaurant is located a short distance from the main ridge road, halfway between the Tagaytay rotunda and Taal Vista Lodge.

Massimo’s located on the second floor of tall, imposing house; the smell of baking bread greeting you as make your way up the stairs (definitely not senior-friendly, though.)

Oh, by the way, if you notice me speaking in the present tense, it’s because I’m experimenting with bringing the laptop with us while we try out new places, so as to be able to immediately translate what goes on from the palate to paper.

We ordered a medley of prosciutto ham and bread for appetizers, creamed spinach soup for me and tomato basil soup for Jen. We are going to share their (pricey but expensive) salad with foie gras, then Jen will have the Russian Sea Bass and I will have the Angus Tenderloin! Mwahahahaa!

The prosciutto came and went, but not without a fight. There was a good-sized platter of it, only fitting since it cost P295. The soups were dead on. The tomato basil soup is so good (such sweet basil!) you will want to order more. The spinach soup was very fresh and tasty.

Then the salad came. I’ve had this before, and my advice to you is – if you can afford it, don’t even think of sharing it! The foie gras was perfect, as always: just barely crispy outside, rich and creamy on the inside. The salad greens, as they often are in Tagaytay, tasted like they were picked just before they were served to us.

The entrees came. Jen’s seabass was decent, tasty, but had too many bothersome bones. The steak, on the other hand, was a revelation. Unlike most tenderloin that was all about being tender and not enough flavor in their loins, this one had flavor coming out of every tender morsel. This was as good as any steak I’ve had in this country, served in a mild pepper sauce, I recommend it to anyone willing to shell out the P1,000 bucks for a slice of meat-lover’s heaven.

Dessert, for its part, did not disappoint. Our set menu came with a generous slice of strawberry shortcake and fresh mint tea. And, get this, the chef makes her own gelato! Bless her little heart! I quickly settled for an order of peanut butter gelato (not a very common flavor), and was immediately overcome by its creamy gooey goodness. I’ve had peanut butter ice creams in my time, and this Italian twist is as good as any I’ve ever tasted.

Boy, do I love gelato! Remind me to tell you about the time when we were honeymooning in Tuscany, I made it a point to stop by the local gelateria in every town the bus stopped. The kids in our tour group knew that if they just followed me I’d lead them to the nearest handy ice cream store. But that’s for another story.

Anyway, back to the present. Our meal at Massimo’s was one of our more memorable ones to date. Nice ambiance, excellent food. It’s small; out of the way restaurants like these that make going out to eat worth it. I highly recommend it to any food lovers who find themselves looking for sustenance in Tagaytay.