Friday, June 28, 2013

The Toasted Brioche Dessert at Vask Manila

I wasn't going to write about Vask Manila again so soon but something compelled me.  I am not a foodie by nature, as I mentioned I am at my element lining up at a stainless steel counter where I can see the food ready in front of me with the option to dine in or to go.  I write here just because I happen to eat out more.  Matter of fact I should have written about my dating life before I would have gotten a million readers for that at least but that is a different story.

So what compelled me? This:

The Vask Toasted Brioche with Ice Cream

Soft, rich yet light.  The sweetness is delectable and not at all overpowering.  The ice cream is infused with star anise - said someone who tried it too.  I don't even know what that is but this certainly tastes like it was made in God's kitchen and this is what you would eat in heaven.  I must say congratulations to their Chef on one of the few desserts I feel compelled to tell everyone to try.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

SM Aura and Tamarind Thai Restaurant

A very rainy last week left me longing for something new to see on Saturday and so I quickly decided that I would like to go to SM Aura.  As you all know, SM Aura is the newest Shoemart Mall that was envisioned to be more upscale and originally was not to carry the "SM" branding but to be simply called "Aura".  The full name is "SM Aura Premiere" which for me is a tad long and unnecessary as there is no SM Aura "Basic" :D

Long story short it was still raining that Saturday and we made our way to Aura and in the confusion did not make the turn from 26th street (when you see Market Market on the left - turn right on that intersection) and ended up on C5.  I then merrily had to swerve to the rightmost lane to re enter the Fort at Mc Kinley Hill.  Since it was a Saturday there wasn't any of the usual awful traffic of that area and I got us to Aura in another ten minutes.

Aura looks massive on the outside but somehow not as long as Megamall.  Walking Aura from end to end feels significantly shorter than Megamall.  The short walk made me quite hungry and I was searching for something to eat, the usual suspects in retail are all there but shockingly there is no Mc Donald's, Jollibee, Greenwich, Mang Inasal and the like.  The only fastfood I saw was KFC and that was packed to the brim.  Going upstairs I only saw Brasas (yum), Cabalen, Slice and the always full yet doesn't expand Sbarro at their very nice looking food court.  We went to the deck and saw Yabu (I had eaten there twice recently), Coffee Bean and Tree Leaf and Tamarind.  As I had recent excesses I wanted to eat something organic so we went to Tamarind.

Tamarind is a Thai restaurant by Jatujak, I know this because the napkins are folded in reverse to hide the printed Jatujak logo.  I do know from a restauranteur friend that Aura did invite food establishments but wanted a unique brand just for them and it looks like Jatujak bit in (doesn't look like anyone else did).  Now Jatujak is actually pretty good, I've eaten in both SM North Edsa and MOA branches - now what is it with some brands who have to be in all SMs?  So to play the SM game they created "Tamarind" which is an upscale version of Jatujak.

To summarize the menu, think of Jatujak's menu and increase the price by 30%, the food seems exactly the same.  The model did change as this is a sit down service restaurant as opposed to just being brought your order.  Its cheaper to order a San Mig Light than a Coke here.

As I have been living in excess recently (think all fastfood - burgers and hotdogs) I wanted to cleanse myself and so we ordered two fruit salads the Catfish and Mango and Shrimp and Pomelo and a mixed Sate for protein.

The Crispy Catfish Salad

Shrimp and Pomelo Salad (in case you're wondering those two shrimp on top are all you'll ever see)

Mixed Sate

Everything was sooooooo SWEEEEET.  Its as if the cooks had a quota and get bonuses if they use a kilo of sugar with each dish.  It could be just my taste but dang!

The Catfish Salad is good and is something I always order at any Thai Restaurant, I enjoyed it and no complaints.  It cost far more than it would at Jatujak for the same portion size but then again this is a full service restaurant and so you pay a premium.

My main complaint with Tamarind is that they are stingy with the good stuff.  That Shrimp Pomelo Salad had exactly two pieces of Shrimp, my girl was first to notice and I went digging through the Pomelo in a quest to find more shrimp but alas my search was in vain.  For 300 pesos I expected more, they should name it Pomelo salad with shrimp.

The bill came to P780, which is not bad although though not the best value.  I found some of the Tamarind staff lacking in social graces, we were near the door and they were talking over our heads across to each other like monkeys in the jungle.  Some would not acknowledge us when spoken too - not a nod as they scurry away to fulfill the order, just a blank stare which conveys "I don't want to be here, f u", I don't care how packed the place is, if you choose to be in the service industry show some respect.  I couldn't see any manager so we just left.    

I can forgive all of this, this place is new and subject to birth pains.  Try it in a month or two.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Mc Donald's Drive Through VIP! More important than any entrance or security sticker!

I eat Mc Donald's often.  Seriously, like at least thrice a week, primarily because I get their longganisa meal which is only available on their breakfast menu to eat for lunch (clever huh?).  And recently I've only barely discerened through the unintelligible crackle of the drive through speaker system "Sir!  may VIP sticker ba kayo?".  The first time I heard that I was too sleepy to mutter anything more that I didn't have it and my regular order but today it dawned on me that I should be VIP of VIPs at good old Mc Do so after being asked at the drive through today if I had a sticker I then demanded one.  I was then told I would receive one with my food, well, I wasn't given one so I demanded one again.  


Love ko to'
I was given a sticker and told that it entitled me to a free drink upgrade.  The Mc Donald's Philippines page basically says that you get a free drink upgrade up to August 2, 2013.  Since the promo runs to December 31, 2013 I imagine the freebie will change.  Naturally only one freebie per order - now if you can get another freebie by driving through the drivethrough again I will leave to you to find out.

Demand your VIP sticker at any Mc Donald's drive through today!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

My Lamentation: Where have all the Butterflies in Metro Manila gone?

Long ago, when I was much younger I remember that in the not quite urbanized past there abounded butterflies, moths, dragonflies and even fireflies on occasion in Makati.  I'm sure all you older folks remember what it was like staring in wonder at the fluttering of delicate wings, sometimes catching them and hopefully releasing them.  But now they are a rare sight in the now fully urbanized concrete jungle of polluted greys and browns with pathetic excuses for parks.  Now you'd be lucky to see the tiniest butterfly on a random flower.  I remember Tukos in Quezon City and in Fort Bonifacio before it became "da Fort".  Sadly most of plant life is gone and it follows with the loss of valuable endemic food and shelter plants that insect life would decline which leads to decline of reptile and avian species that in turn feed on the insects.  This calamity is what led to a butterfly sighting becoming something rare as opposed to a precious everyday moment.

The reason?  Loss of environment.  The loss of many of the endemic plant species have caused this drastic decline in the butterfly population.  What I realized only recently is that Butterfly caterpillars are dependent on specific host plants for food.  Read more about that here, what caterpillars eat.  Even in subdivisions with gardens in each home, the native plant species have been replaced by whatever plant is fashionable, well, the butterflies can't eat those, they can't evolve fast enough to.  There is also a loss to flowering plants on which the adult butterflies must feed. The new plants leave the butterflies with no alternative but to move away and/or die.

I was fortunate to have visited the Bio Research butterfly breeding facility in Laguna and saw pen after pen (rather enclosures) covered in fine mesh net.  In each enclosure was a different host plant and butterfly species that would lay their eggs on the plant inside.  Remember, specific butterfly species caterpillars may only eat a particular plant.  The most noteworthy was the calamansi which this beauty needs .

I have since bought three calamansi plants which I will grow and hopefully attract butterflies back into my home.  I will update this post as soon as I have results and when I am able to do more research on where to get a first batch of butterflies for the mini environment I will be creating.  I will create a section with all the host plants and flowers.  Bear with my post as it is more rant but I will see if I can do something about it and if my experiment can be replicated in any home with enough space to spare for a few plants.

Worthy of nostalgia are these butterflies of the Philippines and this links.  Now here is a possible supplier of butterflies to begin a new population

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Brasserie Girolle - A Place to Sit and Sip Wine in Style

I went to the soft opening of Chef Ian Padilla's newest baby, the Brasserie Girolle last Friday and was amazed to find one of the nicest looking new restaurants in Metro Manila.

The very classy interior signage, gotta love bronze accents

The interior with its wine display and hanging lights over the bar

 The Brasserie Girolle Burger P450, 250 grams of beef and thick Canadian Cured Bacon topping it

 St Jacques Poele Scallops P900
I didn't know what that meant so I searched, it means that St Jacques or St James a patron of travellers would give devotees whatever they could get with a scoop of scallop shell and so they wore the shells as a sign of devotion.  - from Wikipedia - you learn something everyday

The Tartare Bouef P650

Like La Girolle its big brother, Brasserie Girolle has a large, impressive wine selection, 15 of which are available by the glass.  They even have an unlimited wine by the glass from 2pm to 6:30pm for P900.  An interesting note is that even their sparkling wine is available as my girl noted that not many places offer this during their happy hour.  I like this much better than those pour your own wine vendo enomatic whatchamacallits - I prefer someone giving me a new wine glass meant to bring out the best in what I am about to imbibe.

I make no pretense, I am totally ignorant with wine.  I don't know much, although I can bullshit a bit to entertain myself since very few "connoisseurs" know what they are talking about. But in the Brasserie, wine selection is easy with Joel Perea the Maitre' D because he really knows what he is talking about, he tells you which wine goes well with your food and with the wine by the glass you can make your own pairing with each dish with complete control over how much you spend.  I really like this as you are not slave to a bottle - sounds funny but its true, a bottle limits you if you order more than one dish since you are forced to make a compromise on which of everything you order you want to taste best.  Brasserie Girolle allows you to have a truly great meal and reminds you that it is not a wine bar with food but rather a fine French restaurant with a great wine selection.

My companions went for the steaks which ranged from P650 to P850.  Brasserie Girolle has an ultimate steak of dry aged beef which I hear is comparable to Mamou's but cheaper by the gram.  Brasserie Girolle carries Restaurant La Girolle quality with Brasserie type food and you can expect excellent plating and flavor.  I personally chose the Brasserie Burger because I literally order every burger I come across.  The hefty Canadian Cured Bacon topping it was a nice surprise as few things please me more than bacon and hamburgers and seeing the two together almost made my eyes a bit misty.  The burger was too thick to eat with my hands and so I ate the vegetables first like a salad, then carefully sliced the beef and lower half of the bread while adding a careful rationing of the bacon to ensure I had a little with every bite - while saving a large chunk for the last bite.

The menu is extensive, the Brasserie is strategically located right below URBN at the Fort Strip and if you go on a Friday night like I did you have a view of all the party people queuing to get in URBN.  People watching while eating makes things a lot more interesting.  The Brasserie will also be a great place for an after party for people winding down from a night of partying out by providing a relaxing ambiance and good food.

The Brasserie Girolle is open 11am to 2am for reservations call: +63(2)4784119.

Read more: P900 Wine Buffet, In Between Deadlines!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Tapeo - Tapas and Wine at a Terrific Price

I heard of this recently opened restaurant at the Fort Strip called "Tapeo" from wine loving friends who proclaimed it as an alternative to Barcino.

My first impression was that it looked "happy" the lighting and interior were far brighter than Barcino's.  The pricing was very friendly, there is a tapas buffet for 450 pesos (mostly bread, tortilla, paella and croquettas). The tapa sampler below was P400.

This excellent Rose' was P650.

Tapeo is nothing fancy in appearance.  Long Spanish style tables and seats with low backrests complete the Spanish bar experience.  The wine list is nowhere as extensive as Barcino's - although to compare the two would be unfair.  The wine selection in Tapeo is simpler and on an affordable level without sacrificing quality.  My girl who is into wine said the selection was quite good.  The P650 Rose' we had was very pleasing while being neither too sweet nor too dry.  I, a non wine connoisseur appreciated not being drowned in a list of wine that rivals the pages of the Bible.  Even with classifications, long wine lists befuddle me and I feel like leaving establishments that make my head spin without yet imbibing a single drop of wine.  Of course others like that - to each his own.  But that is one thing I appreciated from Tapeo.

The food is reasonably priced and are good enough attempts at Spanish Tapas.  That said I wouldn't say you go to Tapeo for the food, you go there for the reasonably priced wine and reasonably priced food at a very nice looking place in a very prime location.  A great place to go to without breaking the bank.

G/F The Fort Strip 7th Ave Cor. 28th St., 1634 Taguig
(02) 556 2668