Abe: Campampangan Fusion at Serendra

I recently had a lunch with a close friend from High School whom I haven't seen in ages. It was a long overdue date! I was so glad it finally pushed through. We chose Serendra (since I have a mission to try out all the restos there!) and ended up in Abe. "Abe" is a Capampangan word for friend/companion and true to its name, they served fusion Capampangan cuisine. It was a Saturday and the place was packed mostly families and big groups. Fortunately, there was small table available and we didn't have to wait. Their menu offered a plethora of Filipino dishes and specialties. ordered Mutton Adobo with Popped Garlic and Calamares en su Tinta. The mutton dish was a sweet-style adobo meal with a kick! It had pieces of Siling Labuyo and tons of crisp garlic and whole peppercorns on top. The other viand we got was fresh squid sauted in olive oil and its own ink. A new version of Adobong pusit on the sweet side! Two different types of adobo (which a classic Filipino dish with Spanish origin) taken to the next level. Tasty meals which we coupled with the staple white rice and Kamias juice (sourness will make you smirk!) on the side. A fusion of flavors, tastes and textures!

Paloma: Modern Spanish Bistro

Bern, Grace and I were off to yet another food adventure. We checked out Paloma Modern Spanish Bistro located at the 6th floor of the Shangri-la Mall ledge right beside Cyma. Bern read a write-up about this resto so she wanted all three of us to try it out. I arrived pretty early and the two were late so I had all the time to scrutinize my surroundings. The walls were painted mustard and rust (truly authentic spanish hues) and colorful murals were placed to give accent. The lighting was yellow and a bit dim to set the mood. They also played Spanish guitar tunes to complete the ambiance.

After close to an hour of waiting (tsk tsk! it's ok, they both had valid excuses for being late!) and munching of the crusty breadsticks with diced olive dip they served, Bern arrived. We ordered immediately because we knew already what we wanted to try. For our tapas, we ordered their highly recommended Manchego Cheese Triangles, Boquerones in Olive Oil (pickled anchovies) and their Gambas al jillo. The cheese traingles were crispy (albeit a bit oily) deep-fried parcels of manchego (I'm a big fan of cheese remember?) and cream cheese presented nicely on a bed of shredded lettu ce. I was a bit more discriminating of the boquerones because we make this at home. I was not impressed because it lacked the usual 'bite' and flavor of fresh de-boned anchovies soaked in vinegar and olive oil. Our homemade one is incomparable. The gambas topped with crispy deep fried spinach was also a treat although I 'd prefer it to be a bit more spicy. Grace arrived in time for the main course. Ofcourse it had to be the Paloma Paella which was their version of the traditional spanish treat with lobster tail! The serving was good for 3-4. We finished 3/4 of the dish which was good enough. It's definitely worth a try! We were all stuffed from the carbo-overload but Bern still insisted on dessert. We had their caramel cheesecake which was okay - nothing stellar but good enough to complete our Spanish dining experience.
Thanks Bern for the treat! :)

Living a "Kobe" Life

I simply couldn't let my recent Kobe experience at the Heritage Hotel pass without raving about\it. Admittedly, I can only count the times that I've had this in my life and the reason for this is obvious...it costs so much! Something I consider sheer luxury and indulgence. And because our Daddy dear looooves us so much, he surprised us with this treat! Kobe beef, hailed as the most exclusive beef in the world, is a type of beef that comes from the black Tajima-ushi breed of Wagyu cattle, raised according to strict tradition in Hyogo Prefecture, Japan. Kobe is actually the capital of Hyogo Prefecture. Wagyu ("Japanese Cattle") are renowned for flavour, tenderness, and fatty well- marbled qualities enhanced by the traditional and well guarded methods of raising Kobe beef. Real beef connoisseurs, however, still refer to it as Tajima beef. This beef comes from an ancient stock of cattle called "kuroge Wagyu" (black haired Japanese cattle).

Today they are raised on only 262 small farms, most of which pasture fewer than five cows, and the largest of which run only 10-15 animals. Each animal is delicately pampered like a spoiled child. Their diets are strictly controlled and during the final fattening process, cattle are fed hefty quantities of sake and beer mash. And get this...each animal gets a daily massage. The theory is that mellow and relaxed cows make good beef. It's believed that the eating quality of the meat is affected positively by keeping the cattle calm and content. Daily massage + sake + beer = spoiled Kobe! So it's no surprise that this beef is very expensive. They're even more spoiled than most of us! The best way to prepare Kobe Beef is to cook it fast over a hot flame. The fat in Kobe Beef melts at a lower temperature than regular beef. It is best to simply sear it to seal in the moisture and flavor. If you overcook it, you risk having all the fat melt away. The fat is essential in providing Kobe the flavor and moisture for which it is famous. Quickly searing it over a hot fire, or in a cast iron pan, reduces the shrinkage and keeps in the flavor. The meat just melts in your mouth! Heavenly!