Monday, October 27, 2008

Terry Selection (2)

I first blogged about Terry Selection it more than a year ago when I first tried the restaurant (read it here), but after several visits I think it's worth another review.  

After several weeks of craving for Spanish food, particularly for some paella and any rustic potaje, my Dear and I had dinner at Terry Selection (see their partial menu here).  Being tucked deep in the basement of Podium actually works for Terry as it feels more like a private and quiet nook instead of your usual noisy and frenetic mall restaurant.  The interior has a more modern feel, which is unusual for Spanish restaurants which tend to go for traditional (or even medieval) decor.  Service is efficient and professional with a bit of stoic.  However, this branch does not have its own restroom and the nearest one is a bit of a walk away.

Here's what we ordered during our last visit:

Lentejas Castellanas (P250)-- a pottage (i.e., potaje) of lentils, chorizos, jamon Serrano, and hardboiled egg served with garlic rice in an oven-hot cazuela.  It's a very classic and rustic Spanish dish, something you'd expect to be served in a farmhouse restaurant.  The lentils take on the strong taste of the sausages, which goes well with the bland rice.  I actually did not expect it to come with rice as it wasn't indicated in its picture on the menu, but it was ok.

Super Paella Parellada (P540, for two)-- the classic Spanish saffron rice dish garnished with pork, seafood, chorizos, pimenton, mushrooms, and peas.  Technically, though, this isn't paella because it isn't cooked in a paellera; rather, this version is cooked in a sizeable cazuela.  But despite that technicality, this version of paella is quite sumptuous and is indeed good enough for two fairly sized appetites.  The rice was amply infused with the flavours of the saffron and chorizo, neither bland nor overpoweringly salty.  Overall a good paella and more than adequate to hit my craving.  However, I have to say that my all-time favourite paella is still Mingoy's Paella Española, which I've loved since grade school so there might be a little nostalgia in this statement.  

In our last visit we managed to keep the bill below P1,000, so it is possible to have a satisfying meal below P500 per person.  However, for a complete meal with soup and drinks I'll have to put the price at P650 per person at the minimum.  Here are the scores:

Quality = 9.0
Size = 6.0
Taste = 8.5
Ambience = 7.5
Service = 7.5
Value = P873.55
Price = P650.00
Sulit Rating = 1.34 > 1

As a final note, I repeat what I wrote about Terry Selection more than one year ago:
Bottomline, Terry Selection offers great food, but it ain't cheap. Surely, there are lots of very good and less expensive places out there, but if you love Spanish food and Spanish cured meats this place is worth a visit.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

3 Greenhills Restaurants, 1 Post

It's been a while since I last did a restaurant review.  The last one I did was in August; for a resto in the Philippines it was in May.  As a sign of changing lifestyles I find myself cooking more and eating out less, trying to go from the theoretical to the applied.  But my Dear and I still do eat out at least once a week, usually near her office.  Here are brief reviews of three restaurants we've visited recently (in alphabetical order).  As usual, an explanation of the scores can be seen here.

Annabel Lee
Promenade II, Greenhills Shopping Center
San Juan City, Metro Manila

Half Italian restaurant half foodcourt concessionaire mutant.  Pretty decent actually, and was one of Tatler's top restaurants for 2007.  Service is good and professional.  I had the Roast Beef Sandwich (P190) and my Dear had the Puttanesca Pasta (P160)-- the entrees had good flavour and they were of fine quality, but the serving sizes were, like the waitresses' skirts, on the small size.  I also bought a soft baguette (P75) to take home-- not bad but not spectacular either, which can also be said for the restaurant.  I don't think any winged seraphs of heaven will covet this Annabel Lee.

Quality = 6.5
Size = 4.0
Taste = 7.0
Ambience = 4.0
Service = 6.0
Value = P267.21
Price = P250.00
Sulit Rating = 1.07 > 1

Choi Garden
Annapolis Street, Greenhills
San Juan City, Metro Manila

This Chinese restaurant is so popular Barack Obama will want to be seen with it.  It is so packed with customers you have to call in a reservation if you don't want to wait 45 minutes to get a table.  They have a fairly sized parking area, but there are just too much cars that have to be parked.  The place itself is big and the service is decent, but the sheer number of people can dampen the overall dining experience.  But it's all about the food.  Our regular (i.e., cheaper side of the menu) orders include siomai topped with sharksfin or siolong pao (dumplings filled with meat and soup) for appetisers, sauteed greens with garlic, and a main course of steamed fish with garlic or spicy spare ribs.  The fare can get easily grander than this, with various kinds of fresh seafood (groupers, lobsters, crabs, etc.) and a selection of Chinese charcuterie collectively called roasting.  Our favourite dessert is mango pudding, which is basically mango tapioca submerged in evaporated milk.  Good food at a reasonable price-- the definition of sulit.

Quality = 7.0
Size = 7.0
Taste = 7.5
Ambience = 6.0
Service = 6.0
Value = P559.38
Price = P250.00
Sulit Rating = 2.24 > 1

Good Burger
Connecticut Carpark, Greenhills Shopping Center
San Juan City, Metro Manila

A vegetarian burger place, for those who like hamburgers but don't like the meat.  Vegemeat doesn't usually inspire confidence in me but this was worth a try, if only to see how not bad vegemeat can be.  The pleace itself is pretty clean but small and not so comfortable; better have your burgers delivered.  The burgers, which are flame-grilled, come in three sizes: good (1 regular patty), better (1 bigger patty), and best (2 regular patties).  My Dear got the Margherita Burger (good, P90) and I got the Persian Burger (best, P95).  The Margherita has tomatoes and basil while the Persian has aioli and bell peppers (they were supposed to be roasted but I guess they didn't bother anymore).  We also had a side of Regular Wedge Fries (P30)-- I think we got eight pieces.  Overall, not so bad considering the price and that it's vegemeat.  It's a pretty decent alternative if you really don't like meat.

Quality = 5.0
Size = 5.0
Taste = 5.5
Ambience = 2.5
Service = 3.5
Value = P113.12
Price = P100.00
Sulit Rating = 1.13 > 1

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

La Cuisine Française in a can

More than elaborate sauces, expensive wines, and Michelin stars, the heart of French cuisine is really the common man's fare: the staple baguette, the hearty cassoulet, the cheap and easy ratatouille.  And of course there's choucroute, which I just tried from a can.

Choucroute is basically sauerkraut from France's Alsace region, which borders Germany.  The name itself is a francicised version of the German dish, from German Sauerkraut to Alsacian Sürkrüt to French choucroute.  Choucroute garnie is choucroute garnished with sausages and ham, and choucroute royale is choucroute made with premium charcuterie and wine.

I first heard of choucroute from Anthony Bourdain, so when I saw a can of it at Rustan's Fresh I just had to buy it.  The big can of choucroute, good for at least two servings, costs around P250.  Made by Belle France CIBON, it is marketed as authentic Alsacian choucroute royale made with Riesling wine.  The charcuterie is composed of two pieces each of smoked pork belly chunks and three kinds of sausages (Montbeliard, Frankfurter, and something that tastes like a mild chorizo).

I did not have particularly high hopes for choucroute coming from a can, so I was pleasantly
 surprised that this one actually tasted good.  The choucroute itself was mildly sour and matched well with the meats; however, it had a greasy aftertaste, surely because of the lard.  I ate it with slices of soft baguette from Annabel Lee (P75 for a big loaf).

At around P125 a serving it is quite expensive for a meal from a can, but it's quite reasonable for the closest thing to authentic French cuisine you can buy from a supermarket.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

guisado de chorizos, patatas y berenjenas

A stew of chorizos, potatoes, and eggplants.  I think it sounds better in Spanish.


2 large links smoked Spanish chorizos (about 250 g)
150 g potatoes
4 medium eggplants
1 garlic, crushed
1 lemon
olive oil
dried chili peppers, crushed
coarsely ground black pepper

1.  Slice the chorizos about 1 cm thick, cube the potatoes, and cut the eggplants into thick strips.  I recommend using fresh chorizos instead of dried chorizos.  Sprinkle some black pepper and paprika on the potatoes and eggplants.  Heat up some olive oil in a wok.

2.  When the oil is hot enough, fry the chili peppers and black pepper until you start to smell them.  Throw in the garlic and saute until they start to soften.

3.  Cook the chorizos until they're light brown and the oil turns red.  

4.  Throw in the potatoes and stir-fry until they've started to brown but are not yet cooked.  Pour in a cup of water and bring to a simmer.  Add more pepper or paprika as desired.

5.  When around a third or half of the water has evaporated throw in the eggplants and continue cooking until most of the water has reduced and the potatoes and eggplants are cooked, leaving you with a thick oil-based sauce.

6.  Squeeze in the juice of the lemon and continue cooking for about three minutes.  Garnish with fresh parsley or cilantro.

Serve with steamed rice.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

i can has paneer

Paneer is one of the oldest of cheeses and has been made since milk started turning sour. Born in Persia (پنير) and raised in South Asia (पनीर) and Turkey (peynir), paneer is often made daily in households and is a common ingredient in the cuisines of Iran, India, Pakistan, Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Tajikistan.  Credit to BBC and fxcuisine as my source sites.


1 litre full cream milk
1 to 2 tbsp lemon juice (15-30 mL)

1. Gently warm the milk. When it starts boiling add the lemon juice and stir well with a wooden spoon. Don't use a metal spoon because this will react with the lemon juice and influence the taste. The milk will start to curdle.

2. Continue stirring and after five to seven minutes the curds* will have totally separated from the whey*. Those curds will be your cheese.

3. Line a large bowl with muslin, cheesecloth, or any clean cotton cloth (I used an old white shirt) and pour the curds and whey.  The whey will filter out and leave the curds in the cloth.  Allow it to drain for around 30 minutes.

4.  When it's cold enough to handle, squeeze out more of the whey by wringing it through the cloth.  The more whey you squeeze out the dryer and harder your paneer will be.

5.  Place your yet unformed paneer between two plates, press it with a weight, and leave for a few hours.  This will squeeze out yet more whey and form the paneer, filling in the air holes.  As is obvious in the picture, I skipped this step thus my very crumbly paneer.

My one litre of milk produced a fist-sized amount of paneer (I guess around 150g to 200g) and about 900mL of whey.  As it wasn't fermented, the paneer was expectedly bland but it still had that hint of milky/cheesy flavour which will only get stronger with age.  The whey was essentially cheese-flavoured water which I still keep in my ref pending some idea on how to use it.  I ate around half of the paneer on its own and the other half I used in an omelette with Vienna sausages.  

* Milk is basically an emulsion of butterfat and water held together by proteins (primarily casein, alpha-lactalbumin, and beta-lactoglobulin).  When milk is acted upon by heat and acid (in this case the lemon juice), some proteins curdle with the butterfat to form the curds (which, when formed, become cheese) while some proteins stay dissolved in the water to form the whey (the yellowish liquid in the picture).  This process is called acid coagulation, as opposed to the more frequently used method of coagulating milk using rennet (enzymes extracted from mammalian stomachs).