Saturday, July 27, 2013

Eating through Mactan: Giuseppe

Carpaccio Di Manzo
Black Angus tenderloin topped with lettuce, mushrooms, parmesan,
and olive oil balsamic dressing

Php300 or Php520 for sharing
A couple of weeks ago, we went on a holiday in Mactan Island, Cebu. Being the one who suggested the trip, albeit inadvertently, I took on the responsibility of making the itinerary for the trip. It was a task I took seriously, and I made a very detailed schedule from distances in kilometers from place to place to hyperlinks to websites with information about a particular stop. 

As expected, I paid special attention to the places where we would eat. I scoured the net about what Mactan is known for in terms of food and the answer I got is sutukil. Sutukil is an acronym formed from the first syllable of three Cebuano words, sugba, tulaw, and kilaw, which means, grill, stew, and eat raw, respectively. And that is precisely what you get in sutukil restaurants, seafood that are either grilled, stewed, or eaten raw (or perhaps "cooked" in either green mango or citrus juice or vinegar). Sutukil restaurants appear to be mostly open-air seaside establishments built with light materials like nipa and bamboo. Kind of like dampa.

 When we got to Mactan however, the sutukil restaurants near Movenpick Hotel (our home away from home for the weekend) did not inspire confidence. What we found very inviting instead was Giuseppe Pizzeria and Sicilian Roast. Run by a brother and sister team from Sicily, Giuseppe in Mactan is a cozy little restaurant just a stone's throw away from Movenpick.

Giuseppe has an open kitchen and it was such a treat watching Chef Moreno Benigno and his staff go about their business. They have a printed menu, but daily specials are handwritten in chalk on the board right above the kitchen counter. While we settled in our table, we were welcomed by Floriana, the chef's lovely sister, and she patiently walked us through Giuseppe's menu.

Cocktail di Gamberi
Php230
All our food was executed expertly. The star ingredient in every dish is allowed to shine, and for good reason. The shrimps in the Cocktail di Gamberi for instance are as fresh as can be. 

Pizza Alla Gregorio
Tomato, Mozzarella, sausages, salami, smoked ham and Parma ham

Php500
And they do not scrimp on the good stuff here. Just take a gander at the Pizza Alla Gregorio, teeming with premium quality sausages, salami, smoked ham and Parma ham. The crust, on the other hand is out of this world. Perfectly crackly and chewy, it owes its impeccable form to a traditional wood-fired oven.

Tortellacci di Pollo al Tartufo
Chicken tortellacci with truffle sauce

Php380
Spaghetti Bolognese
Spaghetti with classic Italian meat sauce

Php330 or Php460 for sharing
Tagliatelle Porcini
porcini mushroom sauce and cream

Php320
The pasta, on the other hand are hand made. The tagliatelle was nice and al dente. The tortellacci di Pollo al Tartufo was superb. I've always adored tortellini and the tortellacci, the big kahuna of tortellinis, was a real feast. The truffle sauce that the chicken-stuffed tortellaci was draped in was exquisite.

No overly complicated flavors here to confuse and overwhelm the palate, just seriously good home-cooked Sicilian cuisine.

Giuseppe Pizzeria & Sicilian Roast is located in Mactan Seaport Village, Punta Engano Road, Mactan Island, Lapu Lapu City, 6015 Cebu. Contact Giuseppe via cellphone at 0917-3163207 or landline at 032-4062432, or send an email at info@GiuseppeMactan.com. Visit their website at http://giuseppemactan.com/

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Chicken Kare Kare Roulade

Chicken Kare-kare Roulade
Php250
I know there are a lot of very good specialty restaurants in Tagaytay but whenever I go there lately and it's time for lunch, I go to a spa. Nurture Village though is more than just a spa. At its Organic Cafe, the meals served are not only healthy, they are delectable, too.

I am particularly smitten by Nurture Village Organic Cafe's Chicken Kare-Kare Roulade. Artfully plated when I first met it, I did not expect that I would come to love it so much. It is partly because I am conditioned to think that if it's healthy, then it probably won't taste good. I must confess that when I first ordered this meal, I was half trying to prove myself right. I mean, chicken kare-kare? How can it possibly work? The Chicken Kare-kare Roulade, "French chicken breast stuffed with Jullien Kare-kare vegetables, with peanut puree sauce," however turned my distrust of healthy food on its head.

The chicken breast is wrapped around vegetables traditionally used for kare-kare then fried (at least I think it is). With the roulade is fried banana heart which, more than making the plate pretty, is really really good. It is served on a bed of peanut sauce which is your good old recipe for kare-kare, and it matches the taste of the poultry and vegetables wonderfully. Rounded out with a serving of steamed rice, it was a filling yet nutritious meal.

Sate Tupa
Php295
Another innovative meal from the menu is the Sate Tupa, which is skewered lamb in beef steak sauce. The lamb is tender and delights with an exquisite yet familiar taste. A generous serving of three sticks with rice, you will want to eat more after the last stick is gone. Delicious!

Nurture Village is located in Barangay Maitim II West, Tagaytay City.
Visit their website at http://www.nurture.com.ph.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Creamy Roasted Tomato and Thyme Soup

Roasted Tomato and Thyme Soup
There is something particularly soothing about watching Miss Sophie Dahl cook. Maybe it's her voice or her personality. Whatever it is, watching The Delicious Miss Dahl makes me want to cook whatever Sophie is cooking straight away. Her Roasted Tomato and Thyme Soup is one of my favorites. I saw that episode during one particularly gloomy rainy day and I was convinced that if I had it for dinner, I will feel all better.

I did not have fresh tomatoes at the time, but I did have a big can of whole peeled tomatoes, so I used that. My soup turned out very nice and so, not wanting to jinx it, I've been using canned tomatoes ever since. Also, I always lean on the creamy side when it comes to soup so while the recipe says that the cream is optional, I never omit it. It does not mean that the soup without it is not creamy on its own as Miss Dahl says, I just like mine extra creamy.

Roasted Tomato and Thyme Soup

Ingredients
2 kilos large ripe plum tomatoes (or peeled whole tomatoes) – halved
one bulb garlic – cut into half
2 large red onions – peeled and quartered
few springs of thyme
1 tbsp golden caster sugar
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
extra virgin olive oil
vegetable stock (optional)
simple cream (optional)

Procedure
Put the tomatoes, garlic, red onions and thyme into a roasting tray.
Season with salt, pepper and sugar and drizzle generously with olive oil.
Place in the oven for around 45 minutes.
When roasted, remove from the oven, allow to cool slightly and mash the garlic and discard the skin, then blend well.
If necessary thin out the soup with a little good quality vegetable stock or single cream.

Serves 4

Source: Lifestyle Food

Friday, July 12, 2013

Found: Jules Destrooper Speculoospasta

Jules Destrooper Speculoospasta
Php199.95
One of my favorite food finds this month: Jules Destrooper Speculoospasta. Cookie butter! Saw this in the middle aisle of S&R the other day and I could not help but snatch up a jar. I must confess that I am a bit of a bandwagon-jumper when it comes to food trends.

I have not tried the much talked about Trader Joe's Speculoos cookie butter, so I do not really know how this particular brand stacks up. But Jules Destrooper has been well-known for their delightful butter waffle cookies for a long time, so I was pretty confident about the purchase. Fortunately, this expertise with cookie and butter translates fabulously to the spread. This cookie butter is rich with the distinct flavor of Speculoos and smooth in texture save for the caramelized cookie crumbs that lend a delicate crunch to the spread.

A teaspoonful of cookie butter on a soft dinner roll is my new guilty pleasure. Yummm...

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin Soup

Soups for my 5-day "non-chewable food diet"
Soup No. 1: Shrimp Bisque
Soup No. 3: Pumpkin Soup

Who could go wrong with pumpkin soup? With its vibrant color and festive flavor that reminds of Halloween and Thanksgiving, I thought it was the kind of food that could inject some happy in the sad state of affairs that my choppers were in. A staple in many restaurants' soup offerings, this popular soup was the first one that popped in my head once it dawned on me that I will not be able to chew for a couple of days.

The recipe for pumpkin soup I picked from Best Recipes is a quick and easy one. It is a rather basic recipe that allows a bit of experimentation for taste on the part of the cook. In my case, I added a dash of nutmeg before blending, and parmesan cheese before serving.

For a more substantial meal, I made croutons from a slice of wheat bread. I cut that up into little squares and toasted them in the toaster oven for about 3 minutes. Of course I had to wait for the croutons to soak in the soup and turn soggy before I could eat them, but it made for a satisfying meal all the same.

Pumpkin Soup

Ingredients
750 g Japanese pumpkin, diced
250 g potatoes, diced
2 medium onions, diced
3 chicken stock cubes, crumbled
3 1/2 cups water
250 mL thickened cream
Salt
Pepper

Directions
1. Place all ingredients, except cream, in a large saucepan.
2. Simmer until vegetables are tender.
3. Remove from heat.
4. Blend with a stick blender until smooth.
6. Add cream and stir through (do not boil after adding cream).
7. Season to taste.

Serves 6

Source: Best Recipes

Friday, July 5, 2013

Cream of Broccoli Soup

Cream of Broccoli Soup

Soups for my 5-day "non-chewable food diet"
Soup No. 1: Shrimp Bisque
Soup No. 2: Cream of Broccoli Soup
Soup No. 3: Pumpkin Soup

Another soup that I whipped up during my dental surgery recuperation period is cream of broccoli soup.  I figured since I had very limited choices of food for the time being, I should try to infuse as much vitamins and nutrients I can into my diet. And as far as healthy vegetables go, who can argue with broccoli?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Shrimp Bisque

Shrimp Bisque

Soups for my 5-day "non-chewable food diet"
Soup No. 1: Shrimp Bisque
Soup No. 2: Cream of Broccoli Soup
Soup No. 3: Pumpkin Soup

A dental procedure left me unable to eat anything that requires chewing for a couple of days. That meant all I could eat while I recuperate was soup. I know however that I will not subsist with only one kind of soup, so I made several in different flavors. One of them was shrimp bisque.

The recipe for shrimp bisque by Rachel Ray was incredibly easy, and I must confess that I chose it over the lot of recipes online precisely for that reason. Fortunately, the bisque came out delicious. Made with loads and loads of fresh shrimp, it is the heartiest among the soups I have prepared.

Rachel Ray suggests topping the soup with parmesan cheese. I agree completely because it complements the flavor of the seafood beautifully.

Shrimp Bisque

Ingredients
3 tablespoons EVOO
1 pound medium shell-on raw shrimp
Salt
4 large sprigs thyme
1 onion, chopped
1/2cup chopped celery
Cayenne
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup white wine
2 tablespoons long-grain rice
1/2cup heavy cream

Directions
In a large saucepan, heat 2 tbsp, EVOO over high heat. Add the shrimp, season with salt and cook, stirring, until pink and firm, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the shrimp to a medium bowl and let cool slightly. peel the shrimp and transfer to a clean bowl. Return the shells to the pot. Add 8 cups water and 3 sprigs thyme, bring to a boil and cook over medium heat for 2- minutes. Strain the broth into a large glass measuring cup, pressing on the shells to extract any juices; discard the shells.

Add the onion, celery and remaining 1 tbsp. EVOO to the pot; season with salt and a pinch of cayenne. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste then the wine. Bring to a boil and cook until the liquid is almost evaporated. Add the shrimp, broth and rice. Bring to a simmer and cook over low heat, skimming occasionally, until the rice is cooked, about 1 hour.

Remove 6 of the shrimp and slice in half lengthwise; reserve. In a blender, puree the soup with the remaining shrimp in batches; return to the pot. Add the heavy cream and bring to a simmer. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Season with more salt and cayenne. Ladle the bisque into bowls; garnish with the reserved shrimp and the remaining thyme.

Serves 4

Source: Rachel Ray Mag
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