Thursday, October 29, 2009
Antonio's in Tagaytay is one of the country's most popular restaurants. It is certainly the most prominent having been the only one from the Philippines to get into the top 10 of the newly-launched Miele Guide last year.
Chef Tony Boy Escalante is a jolly fellow who loves nothing more than giving a good party, and this can be felt in every aspect of the restaurant, from the staff's crisp uniforms, the restaurant's festive old house feel, and of course, the food itself.
The Scallop Tasting (P250), giant scallops sealed in puff pastry are soft and fresh, pliable with a fork, like a seafood marshmallow, a savory contrast to the salad that comes with it – fresh Tagaytay greens like lettuce, radish, and arugula, probably picked earlier that day.
Another savory starter is the Baked Brie & Cranberry in a Puff Pastry (P300) with Pan Seared Foie Gras (P550), melt-in-your-mouth brie enveloped in soft puff pastry served with foie gras, the liver light, evenly textured, its caramel-like flavor sliding beautifully of the tongue.
It comes with greens drizzled with a raspberry vinaigrette, some sweetness to cut through the subtle yet intense flavors.
I particularly liked the Steak Taretare (P700).
Served chilled, it was quite a refreshing dish, the grated radish cutting down the beef's saltiness while onions gave the dish crunch and zing.
Despite the vegetables, the dish was still too salty for my taste, so I recommend pairing it with bread.
The Tomato Broth with Coriander Dumpling is served hot.
The broth is light and slightly tart, the dumpling akin to ones found in chicken dumpling noodle soups.
The effect is stomach-warming and palate cleansing. Scooping up the melted cheese at the bottom of the bowl is a treat.
The Grilled Pink Peppered Chilean Sea Bass on Tomato Risotto, Saffron-Kaffir Sauce (P1,600) is lovely, the fish soft, grilled just right on the outside so that it has a crisp exterior while its inside stays moist.
Paired with the tomato risotto, it is a dish you will not want to share with anyone else.
The Beef Fillet on Plancha with Black Pepper Sauce, Pappardelle, Tossed Baby Arugula with Honey and Lemon Truffle Vinaigrette (P1750) was also good, the beef tender, and tendon-free.
If you want to try the sea bass and the beef, plus Honey Glazed Lambloin with Goat Cheese, you should get Antonio's Trio (P1,900).
Even people not fond of lamb will take to the latter, as it doesn't have a gamey flavor.
Eating at Antonio's may not be cheap, but each bite is worth every penny spent.
And if you like food as much as I suspect you do, you know that there is no price too high for good quality and great cooking.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Hidden behind the building fronting V Mall in the Greenhills shopping center is Southern Deli, a modest cafeteria frequented by the area's Muslim community.
Small and clean, the restaurant specializes in Maranao cuisine. The restaurant may look humble, ut the dishes – all Maranao home cooking – are anything but.
Diners get a free bowl of soup. Made from carabao (water buffalo) ribs, this translucent broth is warm, its beefy base enhanced by a coconutty taste. It warms the stomach and prepares it for the dishes yet to come.
Dining is no frills, no nonsense. You pick your dishes from a cafeteria lineup, sit at one of the plastic tables and eat. All the dishes cost Php50 for a small saucerfull, the rice, Php15 a bowl.
The Rendang Beef tastes like a cross between adobo and beef stew. It's pretty tasty, but has a slightly overpowering saltiness that is masked once it is paired with rice. This saltiness occurs in a lot of the canteen's dishes, and when asked about it, the owners explained that it is actually a hallmark of good Maranao cooking.
My favorite dish was the Fresh Tuna Kinilaw (what they call kilawin in the South), which was very, very spicy. Since my companion and I had gotten there early, the tuna had not yet “cooked” in its vinegar marinade. What makes this cerviche-like dish stand out is the addition of coconut milk, which lends the dish a sweet edge. The kinilaw also contains chopped cucumber, onion, chili and ginger. This, I have to say, is one of the best I've had in the city.
We also had Bakas, which, unlike its name implies, is not a beef dish but is actually tuna grilled with tumeric and grated coconut. It was dry and a bit tough but with a mild taste, quite the opposite of the Beef Rendang!
The Chicken Curry was more salty than curry-shy, but also very very spicy. Another dish that has to be eaten with rice.
Another favorite of mine was the Badak, a vegetable dish made from leaves not found in Manila. The dish also contains langka (Jackfruit) and daing (smoked fish) and tasted like laing with the texture of labong. Could a dish be even more perfect?
I wouldn't mind going back there again, especially if I'm in the mood for kinilaw. I have to wonder about what the mainly Muslim clientele will think of a non-believer being there though, as we got a few strange looks during out trip there. Still, I'm glad we got to try it.
Greenhills Shopping Center
10.30am – 9pm daily except holidays
Friday, October 09, 2009
"Seek Ye Whore," which was published in the July 2008 issue of Rogue magazine (the one with the just-got-out-of-bed Anne Curtis), is an honorable mention in Ellen Datlow's new horror anthology "Best Horror of..."
You have no idea how happy this makes me.
"Seek Ye Whore," by the way, is the story that made Gilda Cordero Fernando say to me: "You're such a pretty girl and you write such bloody stories!"
She said I was pretty, hehehe.
Thursday, October 08, 2009
It's an exciting October!
Not only am I Uno magazine's guest editor (the issue with the lovely, bloody, mostly naked Ornusa Cadness on the cover), my book is also featured in this month's issue of Garage magazine and on the FHM website.
Hmm... all of them seem to be men's magazines...
But wait, there's more!
My dream of my clothes being commended on a fashion blog has come true! Check out What KT Did (I'm not linking to the post I'm in but check out the blog, which is awesome) for a look into the fun, exciting life of fashion designer Kate Torralba.