8.18.2012

Opus : More Than Your Hang-out Lounge

Opus is another brainchild of the Repuliq Group (the same owners of the Mega-Club Repuliq right across it) and is under the leadership and creativity of celebrity Chef Carlo Miguel. Our very good friend Stephen has been inviting us over for a long time now and last month we finally had a chance to visit. Though it was technically my third time to visit Opus, it was my first time to sample the food. The first two times I was there, I was only able to try their cocktails. 

We were presented their dinner menu where you could choose either a 2-course dinner (Php 780.00) or a 3-course dinner (Php 980.00). They had 3 selections for Starters and Entrees and 2 choices for dessert. We decided to order one of each to be able to sample everything. 

Our meal started out with some warm baguette and sourdough served with truffled butter which was certainly divine (hmm but then again anything with truffles automatically taste amazing, right?). So we were off to a good start...

We were then served our amuse bouche of bite-sized Roast Tomato with Mozzarella and Basil Foam.


Our first starter came and it was the Salad of Bacalao croquets, arugula, tomatoes and capers. The saltiness of the crisp fried bacalao married perfectly with the freshness of the vegetables. My husband really enjoyed every bite!

This was their tomato and basil soup which also didn't disappoint.  
Papardelle Pasta with lamb, olives, rosemary, ragu and freshly grated parmesan. They actually have a similar dish like this served in the other restaurant headed by Chef Carlo Miguel (Draft Gastropub at the Fort) which is one of staple orders. Papardelle is a broad kind of fettuccine which is actually very tricky to cook sometimes because it takes some practice to get the perfect the 'al dente'. Needless to say, the noodles were cooked just right and the rich aromatic sauce with slices of lamb was delightful.


Sous-vide US Angus Beef Flat Iron with horseradish mashed potatoes and Marsala Jus - Kate and I are not exactly meat-lovers so the boys enjoyed this more than we did. One can never go wrong when you cook steak sous-vide! It's an exact science. I will probably do a separate post on cooking sous-vide because it is really quite interesting! ;)

Roast Chicken Ballotine with Risotto, Mushrooms and Truffle Foam

This was our server in action : carefully opening the papilotte and drizzling a little sauce and garnish on top.

Grouper Fillet en Papillote - I have very fond memories of cooking "en papillote" back in culinary school. I was really fascinated with the method of cooking and presenting food in this manner. Cooking "en papillote" (pronounced en- pa-pi-yote!) literally means cooking inside Parchment Paper. You actually put the fish and envelope it inside with your choice of herbs and spices then bake it afterwards. The result is a very juicy (never dry) kind of fish.

This was our dessert  : Banana, Chocolate chip bread and butter pudding topped with vanilla seed ice cream. At this point, we were all stuffed to our faces and we could barely eat anymore. Not wanting to waste anything ofcourse, we all dug in and ended our dinner course on a sweet note.

When we thought we just had enough. We were surprised with MORE! The dinner certainly didn't end with dessert because we were also given their signature cocktails (Oh how I love being spoiled! Thanks Stephen! hahaha!).

 Lychee Martini with Coconut Foam

Strawberries and Lemon Margarita

Magnum Mojito

Dinner and drinks surely didn't disappoint. Opus is definitely more than just a lounge. I know for some it may seem inappropriate and even weird to dine in the same place where you're "going out" but this can be a good exception to that social rule. Keep it in mind the next time you go on a date! ;) 


OPUS Restaurant and Lounge
2nd Level, Newport Mall,
Resorts World Manila
Pasay City, Philippines
02- 8040733
0917-8744438

6.20.2012

ALIVE : Vegan Gourmet at The Farm San Benito

In culinary school, I recall a co-student of mine being a vegetarian. She got a lot of smirks and negative remarks from the chef instructors. To a lot of French chefs it was preposterous NOT to eat meat. One chef even told her tactlessly, " Then what are you here (in culinary school)?". Tsk tsk! I began to wonder what drives people to this type of lifestyle. I tried to imagine life without meat... what a sad, sad life :( It must be really tough to abstain from all the juicy medium rare primeribs, dry-aged steaks, yakiniku jo karubi, pork belly buns, etc. For some, it would be absolute torture. 

About a month ago, I was enlightened about this through our detox getaway at The Farm San Benito in Batangas. It's about 20 minutes away from my workplace at Cintai Corito's Garden (www.coritosgarden.com). 

The ALIVE restaurant inside The Farm totally changed my perspective about being Vegan.  They serve organic, raw and exquisite cuisine and is described as the healthiest restaurant in the Philippines.

I grabbed this photo from the The Farm's website because I wasn't able to take a picture of the place. I was so engrossed with the food. 

Mantra : Simplicity and Freshness.



We took a stroll in the garden where they harvest their vegetables that they serve in the resto daily.


Joel had the 3-course Dinner Special (Php 950 ++) which started with an eggplant caviar with cheese wheat bread stick and melon papaya salad. It was followed by a

I went with the ala carte menu. For starters, I had the Romaine Lettuce with Caesar Dressing, Sesame Gormacio and Walnut Crumble (Php 285 ++). The dressing was a tad too salty for me but the combination of the wakami strips, walnuts, beansprouts and crunchy freshly-picked lettuce was delectable.

My main course was their  Soba Noodles with Stir fried Veggies (Php 360.00++). It was light, tasty and satisfying.

The next morning, Joel and I were off to an early Yoga session;

The calming scenery

It was an hour and half long session (30 minutes was just pure meditation). Just listening to the sounds of nature and focusing on your breathing was extremely soothing and overly calming. It was something I desperately needed at that time. Namaste.

We were then ready to indulge in a healthy breakfast (which was part of the package) to compliment our yoga session.

For starters, Joel had the Tropical Fruits with Yogurt while I had the Season Fruit Platter (Mango, Pineapple, Papaya and Watermelon). 

Then we both had the granola cereal bowl with nuts, prunes and sliced bananas accompanied by fresh coconut cream. A real treat...and a fibrous one at that! *wink* I will probably start making this a habit at home! 

As for our specials (third course) hubby got the corn pancakes with toasted sesame seeds and bananas.

I sampled the Italian scrambled tofu with roasted potatoes. Again, simple (I'm beginning to sound redundant here but it's really the best word to describe the food) and clean flavors that worked wonderfully together. 

The 2-day experience opened my eyes and allowed me to take a paradigm shift on eating healthy and staying away from meat (seafood/beef/etc.). Joel and I loved it so so much. If we could afford it, we would want to do this detox monthly and make it a routine. Who knows? Maybe in a few years, I will slowly move on to the other side (bye bye cows!)? Just a thought...


Cheers to embracing a healthy lifestyle! :)

The Farm at San Benito
119 Barangay Tipakan
4217 Lipa City, Batangas
Philippines
Tel: +63 2 884 8074
Cell: +63 918 884 8078
Hotline Number:+63 918 884 8080

Hours:
Everyday 7am-10pm

6.19.2012

Casa Marikit : Italian Dining in Lipa

I have been spending a lot of my time in Batangas particularly Lipa because of my busy work at the resort (www.coritosgarden.com). One thing I love about living (partly) in the province is that I get to explore and discover new things every time. Early this year, my husband and I discovered this quaint little Italian restaurant in Mataas na Kahoy, Batangas. It's situated right next to the airbase. We fell in love with it instantly. Casa Marikit is gem in Lipa. It has a rustic and warm wine cellar ambiance which you wouldn't really expect in the middle of a rather remote area. And surprisingly, they have a wide and extensive menu selection. They offer our Italian staples/favorites like Caprese Salad and Beef Carpaccio. The concept is mainly Italian rustic cuisine served in a casual family style setting.


The rustic and cozy setting complete with mosaic wall art, fireplace and wine cellar

 Mosaic Wall on their Bathroom Sink





I love their complimentary platter of bread with pate and tomato-basil-garlic dip to start off your meal :)



Beef Carpaccio - thinly sliced beef with a light olive oil dressing, fresh arugula and shaved parmesan cheese


Margarita-Pomodoro Pizza - Fresh Mozarella, Tomatoes and Basil Pizza
Php 340.00


Spaghetti Pesacatora - Tomato-based seafood pasta
Php 370.00


CASA MARIKIT
Banay-Banay, Concepcion, 
Lipa City, Batangas
(0917) 869-2354
Email: casamarikit@yahoo.com

Restaurant Hours:
11am-3pm and 6pm-10pm
Everyday except Mondays

Directions: Travel south on SLEX straight to Star Tollway. Take Lipa exit in Star tollway then turn left after the tollbooths. Just go straight and turn right after Fernando Airbase. You will see Casa Marikit on your left. 

1.19.2012

A Well-Deserved Dinner at Masseto

Happy New Year Everyone! I want to begin this year with a bang so I chose to feature something extra special....

Last week, we attended the closing ceremonies and graduation of my hubby Joel from his ME (Masters in Entrepreneurship) Degree. Phew! After 18 arduous months of creating and revising his business plan, he is now a certified Master Entrepreneur... and a true blue Atenista at that! (note: He went to the other school for his undergrad). It was a momentous occasion that called for an extra special dinner. It was a coin toss between Elbert's or this but since we all haven't tried Masseto we decided to go for the new place. We didn't make any reservations thinking it would just be okay to walk-in. They told us that the only space they had was the area by the bar because all the tables were already booked for the whole night. We were just about to turn our backs and try our luck some place else when the Chef and Owner, who happens to be a good friend from New York too, Tippi Tambunting came out of the kitchen. She warmly greeted us and asked if there was something special we were celebrating. We told her it was Jo's graduation and that we really wanted to try her food. I guess she did some magic (rearranged some people  maybe)  and was able to get us a regular table! :) Thank goodness for connections! 

Masseto is actually an Italian Wine which some claim as the Merlot of Excellence. This was the inspiration behind the restaurant. Tippi's partners in this venture are people behind Premium Wine Exchange, a premium wine distributor based in Makati and thus the very extensive selection.  So naturally, we started out with a glass of wine. Joel chose a Cabernet Sauvignon (California). 

When I entered the facade,  the leg of jamon serrano by the bar immediately caught my attention. I knew we were gonna have some of that for starters. We ordered 50 grams to give some excitement to our palates.   Jamon Trevelex 50 grams (Php 490.00)

 Chef/Owner Tippi made us sample the mini chorizo pockets with garlic aioli. So yummy... compliments of the Chef! :)

 I couldn't resist the Tuna Carpaccio (Php 280.00) on the menu! It was delightful... fresh, lemony, light with the wonderful hint of horseradish/wasabi cream and thinly chopped chives!

 Tripe, Lamb Sausage and Bone Marrow Crust (Php 480.00) - ultra rich starter that Jo ordered with different textures playing inside your mouth

 Just what I needed to reset my tastebuds... a tiny ball of watermelon sorbet

 For my main course, I had the Tagliolini (fresh thin egg noodles) with baby squid. It was nothing stellar...oil-based pasta with garlic and baby squid. It was a bit under-seasoned too. (Php 340.00)

 My brother Hip sampled their Tagliolini Bottarga  (Php 560.00) - thin pasta with olive oil and Italian fish roe. He said he wanted to try this because he watched  Anthony Bourdain devour a bottarga pasta dish. Bottarga, sometimes called Mediterranean caviar, is the roe (fish eggs) of tuna or grey mullet that has been salt cured and dried. It imparts a salty, briny flavor to a dish without being too fishy. 

 Justin had the Lamb Rib and Sausage with Couscous and Beans (Php 800.00) which was a bit disappointing. I tried one bite and didn't really taste the lamb. Please excuse the blurry picture. I still really haven't gotten the technique of taking good night shots despite all my efforts :(



Joel had their cream-based crab Tagliolino which was a truly hearty and creamy carbo meal.

Over-all, their starters were great although the main courses we got didn't exactly blow our minds. We spent about Php 6,000 for the 4 of us (so approximately Php 2,000 per person)...pricey if you ask me but because we were celebrating a milestone, I would say it was well worth it! :)



Masseto
(Look for the Red Square with an M)
114 Valero St., SB Card Bldg.
Makati City, Metro Manila
Philippines
02-810 3565