Thursday, November 19, 2009

New Blog!

Hello readers and friends! I am moving into a new blog! Here is the address: Hope to hear from you soon!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Zenses - A taste of molecular gastronomy

Anton started the idea of having a Wednesday foodie group. It is technically eating out with the other foodies here in Manila. It was pretty interesting and I signed up for last Wednesday's food adventure. The venue was held in Zenses and I didn't know that I was in for a big surprise.

From what I have read before, Zenses is famous for its usage of liquid nitrogen with their ice cream. This way, the freezing of the cream is so fast that it will stop the formation of ice crystals. During the meal though, there were more ways of using liquid nitrogen than just instantly freezing an ice cream. It was actually a good eye opener in the world of molecular gastronomy.

We started with a cocktail like food. It was popcorn that has been cooled with liquid nitrogen. It was actually cool eating a cold popcorn with the proper texture of the popcorn. The cold popcorn was actually appropriate to start an evening of knowing other foodies in Manila.

It was also served with gingered beer. I don't drink that much and I do not have an innate appreciation or affinity to alcohol so I cannot comment about it.

The real meal started with an asian like amuse-bouche . It was oyster tempura with ginger gelee, bear foam and ebiko. I think it is more of an appetizer than an amuse-bouche since it had two of those.

I liked the sweetness of the ginger gelee but I thought that the tempura was soggy. I think they could have made it crisper. I like the color and flavor profile but the texture was a little off because of the soggy tempura.

Next, we had curried lychee crab tempura with a choice of mango cream aioli or vinegar.

Again, their tempura was really soggy for my bite and with the lychee and crab meat inside, it was like eating a soft fishball but, then again, flavor profile was good.

Next, we had a dinosaur egg gazpacho. Gazpacho is technically a cold tomato soup. I was amazed with the presentation of it. He made the gazpacho looked like a real tomato.

Nice sense of humor eh? He technically placed the soup inside a balloon bag and dipped the balloon bag in liquid nitrogen thus freezing it and taking its shape. Then, you can crack it and start eating it.

Flavor had too much garlic that time. I liked the toasted japanese breadcrumbs though. It gave a good texture to the dish. But the texture of the outer layer of soup itself wasn't properly executed for my palate. It was like eating some sort of a tomato sorbet when you take a bite to it. If possible, I think the protective outer layer of the soup be thin though I think that is hard to execute.

They then served us an inverted wine glass. The glass had some smoked vanilla in it so when we turned it up, there was a strong vanilla smell that crawled throughout the room. It smelled really great! Good execution of the idea.

I just didn't appreciate it that much since I don't know how to appreciate wine. Oh well, maybe I can drink it again next time. Men... and it was a French wine :(

Now, one of the most interesting dish has arrived! It's shrimp cotton candy! The flavor reminded those of shrimp crackers only sweeter and in the form of cotton candy! Interesting eh?

The chef explained this dish. He said that he used real shrimp and added isomalt with it and let it cure. It will pulverized it self through time and thus crystalizing itself like sugar!

Now, onto the main course! It was pork ribs in coriander strawberry sauce. Good combination. I liked the flavor of coriander here. It made me feel I was eating at Pho Hoa. Nice colors too!

We had fish next. It's pan-roasted grouper with blue cheese and grilled pineapple. I liked the way they cooked the the fish. It wasn't overdone. It was actually a good dish especially with the addition of the sweetness of the pineapple. The other guys were just unfortunate to have bones in their fish.

We now go to dessert! By this time, we were all full already but no worries, it was still interesting. The first that came was a blue cheese chocolate cake. It was really nothing special to me. The only thing I liked about this dish was that the flavor wasn't too rich or too strong.

This is the most interesting part, ice cream on the spot! Table side presentation of making ice cream with liquid nitrogen!

They first put liquid nitrogen in the blow. You will see that the liquid nitrogen evaporated fast giving a lot of 'smoke' when it was poured.

They added the ice cream mixture next.

Whisk it and add some more liquid nitrogen until everything is smooth and frozen!

They scooped out the ice cream on the martini glasses and added more liquid nitrogen to it. They also added some rice crispies for added texture. Talk about generosity! It made me feel that liquid nitrogen wasn't that expensive lolz!

There were two flavors of ice cream that were presented. First was gorgonzola ice cream. It was delicously! I liked the strong creamy cheese taste of the ice cream! The other one was bacon and egg! It was both astounding and delicious! The taste was really clean which I wasn't expecting. It had a strong bacon flavor in there but there were no bacon bits present nor bacon color present. Everything was clean. This is fine food, strong flavors but clean to the palate. Lastly, I liked the creamy texture they had in their. The mouth feel was pretty different than that of normal ice cream.

Lastly, we had coffee, not just any coffee, it was a coffee meringue! He froze the espresso with some liquid nitrogen again and placed it into small cups.

The way to eat this was to crack it and eat it. Texture was really that of a meringue. It was a pretty interesting way to have coffee here.

All in all, the experience here was great. Thanks to Chef Johann Santos, I get to have a glimpse of molecular gastronomy. My bad comment about the place is that some flavor profiles were a little off and the serving of plates were not in unison, meaning, some of us were already done with a particular course, some were not even served yet.

Zenses needs better execution and better ambience and am pretty sure it will be part of Miele Guide. It just needs better execution. It needs polishing in its internal operation and am pretty sure, it was be a big hit in Manila.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Maru - Korean Restaurant

After attending the Philippine Fashion Week a few weeks back, my sister and I thought of eating out afterwards. We also invited her friend to join us with our meal. My sister’s friend, Sebie, suggested we try this Korean restaurant near SM Mall of Asia. Since she was persuasive, we went there and had our dinner there.

This is actually a new experience for me and my sister since we don’t do a lot of Korean food and are not familiar with Korean dining experience.

Before ordering though, Sebie asked the waiter to bring in the appetizers. Wow, free appetizers! Am now really liking the place lolz.

The appetizers consisted flavors of spicy and sour. They also had good texture in them. For something free, it was really good. I liked their pickled aubergine and their spicy clam. The appetizers were cold which I think paired really well with the spicy flavor profile.

First, Sebie ordered samgyupsal.

It is technically grilled pork belly. It also had some grilled potatoes and onions. It wasn’t anything special at first when I ate, then, Sebie taught me how to eat it. You get some lettuce, then dip the pork with some sesame oil with salt and pepper, and add some yellow bean paste. I also added some potatoes with it.

Fold and eat!

It was astounding! I liked the saltiness of the bean paste with the sesame oil! Also, the lettuce gave a great bite to it.
My sister ordered two things. One is grilled mackerel and the other one is dumpling soup. The mackerel came first.

It’s mackerel. You cannot go wrong with it as long as the quality is good. The flavor was great and the texture was great. I liked the flakiness of the fish. The whole fish was also light, yum!

My order then came next, it’s galbi. It is technically beef short ribs. It is pretty similar with the Japanese’s yakiniku which I also blogged about it here.

It was great. Strong beef flavor with some sweet soy. You cannot also go wrong with grilled beef short ribs.

Lastly, which I thought was weird as being last, was the dumpling soup.

It was HUGE! The size was like half of my fist lolz! Anyhow, there was nothing special really with the dumpling. It actually tasted liked gyoza because of the strong garlic taste.

Anyhow, all in all, it was great. I liked the food, the service and the experience. I think am gonna go back again someday or at least try the other authentic Korean places too. I didn’t have some front shot of the place so I will just end it here.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Beef Stew in Tomato Sauce with Mashed Potatoes

I did this dish when Ondoy hit the Philippines. It was actually the day after I made the braised pork belly dish. This is actually a Filipino recipe that is inspired from the colonization of the Spaniards back in the 18th century. I thought of making this dish because I got some gorgeous thyme at that time and thought of making a stew for it. This pretty similar with the pinoy food they call kaldereta I think. :D

Here are the ingredients.

Look at the thyme, this is the first time I have seen something a thyme this vibrant and this size.

First, heat the pan and throw in some bacon.

When it's a little crisp now with all the fat rendered, sear in the beef! I used brisket in this case. Season it.

When everything is seared, add in carrots, bell peppers and some onions. Sweat those vegetables with the fat. The place should smell good by this time.

Add in some tomato paste.

Mix it and make sure the tomato paste caramelizes.

Add in mushrooms, I used canned in this case.

Add in some white wine.

Add some stock, in my case, I added some frozen stock.

Lastly, add in some thyme and let just simmer until tender, probably 3 hours :D

Now, let's go with the mashed potatoes. I wasn't able to get a lot of pictures with this because I just went automatic :D So I was just able to get a picture of it at the end. Technically, boil some potatoes, then throw them in a food processor, season it and add butter and cream. Pulse pulse pulse!

Serve everything


Flavors were really flat. It was as if the flavors didn't merge at all. The whole dish fell apart. It was so bad that it was already the fourth day and it wasn't still finished! However, I have only tasted this dish once during that time when I made this, then, after the fourth day, I tasted it again, and you know what, it was actually better which made me realized that braised food is better to eat it 2-3 days after it was done. It is like marinating it :D anyhow, I will try doing something like this again in the future and will let it sit again for 2-3 days and taste it :D

As for the mashed potatoe, I think its more of a potato puree than a mashed potato. Flavor wise, it's good. It was rich and creamy. Texture, it was gummy.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Serrano Cigar with Mangoes in Red Wine and Cherry Reduction: Amuse-bouche

I very good friend gave me some serrano ham a few weeks back when during my birthday and so often than not, I just eat it as is. Then, I realize that the value of that ham could have been better if I were to do something about it hence, I made a serrano cigar!

This is actually an amuse-bouche. It is something that is served, upon the selection of a chef, in a restaurant as a starter but not an appetizer. It should be small and presentable and it must be bite size. Amuse-bouche are eaten in a single bite, just one bite!

Anyhow, here is the line-up photo.

First, get a saucepan, pour in red wine and some canned cherries with their syrup.

Taste first, if it lacks sweetness, add some sugar, which happened in my case.

Bring to a boil to reduce it.

For the cigar part, cut some celery

Blanch it by putting it in boiling water *picture doesn't look like it is boiling though*

Then give it an ice shock

Lastly, mangoes brunoise. Brunoise is technically super small dices. Which can be seen here.

Then serve it nicely if possible. Mine looked like a phallic symbol lolz. Or, in a different perspective, a tank!


First of all, I will never use celeries from China if it was meant to be chopped! It sucked texture wise. Other parts were chewy. It think it had too much cell wall :)). Flavor wise, the celery was good, but it wasn't good for something eaten this way. I bought it cause it was cheap, well, it's china! Next time, I think am just gonna use China celeries for stock making lolz.

I think, it could have been better if the mango and the reduction was placed on top because when I ate it, I wasn't able to get everything. Moreso, I think it was better eaten with a spork *the utensil that is like a spoon and a fork combine?* Serrano ham is serrano ham and that's it. I think this was a bad amuse-bouche :(

The only thing that was good here was the red wine and cherry reduction. I think am gonna use it again for some sort of a glaze. Lastly, I need to practice my brunoise, it was poorly done :(