I realize I haven’t raved about a local restaurant in year (or more) so it’s about time.
I’ve had a hankering for Thai food lately, and while Benjarong can fit the bill, a) it’s too far from my house, b) weighs quite hefty on the wallet.
I’ve been driving by Basil for quite a long time now as it’s near my house. I’ve noticed that it’s always packed so I started being curious about it and started asking the food circuit about it. Unfortunately, I only found the time to try it today, because the parking situation there is horrendous and I had to wait until I could drag someone who could park for me (and eat with me) as well. In this case, I successfully dragged my brother (who already ate there and confirmed it was good).
Outside it looks like a greenhouse, as the area surrounding it is known for selling plants for houses. Inside, the restaurant was gorgeous.
It felt like I was in Thailand, and not in Quezon City. Benjarong still feels like I’m in Manila, and it definitely feels like a hotel, so sorry, Basil wins in ambience.
They have a quite a selection on their menu. I was salivating just reading it. They didn’t have Khao Soi though. I really want Khao Soi.
I was extremely hungover today so my brother ordered a Tom Yum to start. The rest, I ordered with my eyes, knowing full well I wouldn’t be able to finish it. The server warned me that portions were for 2-3 people, but I figured my brother eats for 3 people and I eat for 2 people so it would be just right for both of us. I could always take the leftovers to work the next day.
Tom Yum kicked my pounding head to the curb. Especially with the spice!
I ordered my usual fish cakes and pad thai. Pad thai was amazing! It tasted like the pad thai I had in Bangkok which my tour guide said was “the best in Bangkok. I would have finished it except I had 4 other dishes to eat and I mixed in too much of the chile so it got too spicy for me to finish. If I brought my Schloss Lieser Kabinett, then I prob would have finished it.
I was going to get the Crispy Fish but I figured I had that already so I wanted to try something else. My eye caught the Squid in Salted Egg. I’m a sucker for anything with salted egg. So I was sold on it.
So glad I got it! It was so tasty. Would have been better if I ordered rice, but I already ordered too much to start. I ordered my brother not to eat it so I could take it to work tomorrow for my lunch. HAH!
I also got the beef curry, but I didn’t enjoy this one as much as the other dishes. I make a pretty mean curry so that’s probably why. HARDY HAR HAR. Next time I’ll order the green curry for future reference.
By this time, I was stuffed and felt like hurling so I decided to walk around the restaurant and take more photos.
I went to their outdoor seating and it was really nice. Would be awesome to eat there if only Katipunan Ave wasn’t so noisy with all the cars beeping and pollution.
My only complaint is the wine list…or lack thereof. They listed it just as house wine and premium wine. How is that supposed to tell me anything? But I guess I understand because the Quezon City neighborhood are not really wine drinkers, except for yours truly. Since it’s so near my house, I can just lug my stash from my house to the restaurant, and it would still be at proper temperature by the time my food arrives.
Guess I’m taking my Prinz Von Hessen Riesling Dachsfilet 2011 for my next visit!!!! AYEEE!!I Can’t wait!
I’m so glad I came and that this restaurant is so near me. I used to live by Fenway and this restaurant called Brown Sugar Cafe was so near me and I would go there to have some Khao Soi and Pad Thai.
This is definitely a refreshing breath of fresh air amidst all the restaurants opening which have shitty food.
Now if only they can have better parking.
Or maybe I should take my bike?
I was able to get in through trade tickets given to me by The Straits Wine Company and I came early to Whitespace to try the wines before they let the general public in.
See how it’s nice and quiet when I arrived.
The area was well-organized with the table arrangements, matching the arrangement of the wines in the tasting book they gave us. I tried to taste systematically, even spitting at the beginning, but each year, I always fail, and the next thing I know, I’m all over the place.
Took my sweet time in the Germany and Austria section, tasting every single thing that they had to offer.
Found a winner in the Prinz Von Hessen Riesling Dachsfilet 2011 and Laurenz V Friendly Gruner Veltliner. I liked the Dachsfilet for its complexity, although shy on the aroma, had a lot of underlying flavors of old citrus, white peach, lychee with slight oxidative notes (but not to a fault). It was one of the more interesting Rieslings I’ve had since the Grosses Gewachs and Erst Lager lectures of Joel Payne earlier this year.
The Gruner was pretty awesome too, no notes on my tasting book, because I think I just rushed off to reserve myself a bottle of each (Riesling and Gruner).
Decided to then just go off and have a rose which was fantastic. Aix from Provence, France.
I also bought myself a bottle. They were also giving away cute pink cork keychains. I only got one but I should have gotten more.
Then I dropped by my favorites, the Italians.
Really appreciating the Barone Ricasoli Rocca Guicciarda Chianti Classico Riserva 2010 during Joel Payne’s “Masterclass” which we rushed off to attend about 6:30pm. It smelled a lot like foot but had so much complexity which I love about Italian wines. Sour cherry, really earthy, tarrish. I carry the Brolio Chianti Classico in the restaurant so I skipped tasting that wine already.
Headed over to Marco Felluga for his Pinot Grigio which I’ve had before but just want to drink again to remind myself.
Then it was time for Joel Payne’s Masterclass so went over to that one.
See my ridiculous scribbles on the tasting mat.
Then we went back in the tasting room so we could finish off the rest of the wines.
I introduced my friend to Brokenwood because Alan, our master somm instructor, gave us a Brokenwood Semillon 1995 as a reward for our class one day to try. I remember it already being a little oxidated but it was still pretty amazing.
This one is obviously much fresher than the one that we had. Still sweet, but not cloying.
Tried a few cognacs.
I could barely get this down my throat by this time.
We still attended the Riesling and Gruner Veltliner Masterclass (we’re such geeks).
Until I finally decided, I should probably head out while I could still walk properly.
I collected and paid for my bottles and set off for home, happy and geeky.
By the way, I really loved that Vina Pedrosa La Navila 2009 from Ribera Del Duero. I forgot to take a photo of the table while I was tasting it but I managed to remember to buy it, which was an awesome thing.
Thanks Straits Wine for another awesome event!
The other day, I had the privilege of attending the industry and press launch here in the Philippines of Mollydooker wines, held at Massetto.
The owners and winemakers, Spanky and Sarah Marquis themselves, came to the Philippines to introduce Mollydooker to the Philippine market. I was really glad to meet them and have the chance to sit down and talk about their wines in depth.
They were both really animated and excited to talk about their wines and got to ask a lot of questions about their winemaking philosophies and views.
Mollydooker means “left handed” in Australian slang terms, as both of them were left handed. All the labels have characters on them that were left handed or had stories about being left handed. The labels are so cute. They hired some artists to to do their labels for them.
We started off the meal with The Violinist Verdelho paired with chorizo puffs and calamari with onion marmalade.
The Verdelho was really different from the Portuguese Verdelhos I’ve had, as this one was high in alcohol and more weighty than the Verdelhos I’ve had. It also had some oak though the high acidity and minerality was there.
This is a modern interpretation of the Verdelho, and though one might not be able to pick this out at a blind tasting as Verdelho, was still quite good in itself.
Sarah and Sparky spoke about the Mollydooker shake and its purpose of releasing nitrogen and minimizing sulfites, making it ready-to-drink, especially for those allergic to sulfites. This is good information for me as a lot of my clients are allergic to the sulfites in wine. It’s quite difficult for me to track down sulfite-free wine in the tropical islands. After all, I doubt it’s going to make it this far from wine making regions without sulfites.
I then found out that Sparky Marquis was a professional photographer before he became a winemaker. I got a little insecure sitting beside him with my too awesome camera (Olympus OMD-EM5) which I’m sure he could tell I could barely use. He didn’t say a word though so I just kept using it.
I then asked him about fruit weight so both he and Sarah explained to us that fruit weight was the measure of quality in wines of the velvety, silky sensation of fruit in wines. In layman’s terms, I’m guessing this was equivalent to fruit concentration. This is a measure from the tip of your tongue for the velvet glove to the prickly structure (acid, tannin).
To further elaborate on fruit weight, we went on to the next wine, the Two Left Feet 2011 which is a shiraz/merlot/cabernet sauvignon blend. This wine was at 70% fruit weight and had ripe cherries, plums, oak and cedar as well as some wet basement aromas. The tannins were soft, and not too acidic but high in alcohol and had both a fruity and earthy finish. It was quite syrupy already and had quite a decent finish with mild oak on the palate.
This was paired with Butternut Squash Soup with Goat Cheese Tortellini.
I didn’t get to take a photo of the soup but it was a decent pairing with the pumpkin’s earthy but mildly sweet flavors.
We moved on to the Blue Eyed Boy Shiraz 2009, which I quite enjoyed, despite the high alcohol content. I could feel it running through my veins and this was lunch time, and I had to get back to work.
The wine was quite fragrant and had a lot of candy, licorice aromas combined with ripe red and black fruit and spices (all-spice, clove and cinnamon. I kept smelling it and smelling it in my glass. The tannins were soft and rounded.
This was paired with my most favorite thing in the world, a cheese souffle.
The Blue Eyed Boy combined with the cheese souffle actually gave off raspberry flavors. I actually thought I could taste a raspberry pie. I even texted my friend who sat across from me about it to double check if she got the same impression and she did.
On a sidenote, I probably like this wine because I have an affinity for blue eyed boys. HAHA!
The wine for the main course was the Carnival of Love Shiraz 2010 which obtained 99+ from Robert Parker. This wine had a heavy concentration and amazing depth and compared to the BLue Eyed Boy would appear to be a “more serious” wine versus the playful Blue Eyed Boy. This was much earthier and had less ripe fruit aromas and more secondary aromas. This was more black fruit like blackberry and black currant versus a combination of black and red fruit as in the Blue Eyed Boy. This wine, according to them, was at 90% fruit weight.
Together with the Enchanted Path Shiraz Cab blend, the labels combined formed a complete picture/told a story.
The wine was paired with Crispy Chicken, Jamon Serrano, Potato Puree and Mushroom Sauce. I loved this dish because the chicken was really crispy on the outside but really tender on the inside.
As you can see, I pretty much wiped out the contents of my glasses.
I actually wanted more (chicken) but I’m glad they didn’t give us a large portion or else I wouldn’t have walked out. The mushroom sauce completed the serious earthy flavors in the Carnival of Love. I think I asked for a refill, twice. Plus, refills of the Blue Eyed Boy. I’m glad I asked for refill for the Blue Eyed Boy because it went REALLY WELL with the dessert, a course I normally skip.
They served a chocolate hazelnut tart, which had the magic word hazelnut in it, so I ate it versus normally chucking it or giving it to my seatmate.
It went great with the Blue Eyed Boy shiraz so I told Sparky and he tried it and agreed with me.
I’m pretty sad I didn’t get to try the Velvet Glove as they didn’t serve it for that meal. They served it the night before at the wine dinner at Shangri-La but nobody wanted to go with me so I skipped it. It’s pretty sad attending a wine dinner by yourself.
Hopefully, I get to try it next time.
Thank you Erin and Premium Wine Exchange for the invite!
Finally managed to drag my buddies over at Brotzeit, at the Shang mall.
My friends and I hang out in makati so we rarely frequent the bars and restaurants everywhere else in the metro.
Brotzeit is a German beer bar, serving German grub.
Love the ambience of the place cause I don’t like hanging out in trendy clubs and bars anymore.
Plus, I love any place that serves schnitzel and spaetzle. Even though I’m not a beer person, I liked their draft lagers. I’d ask for Rieslings from Mosel and Rheingau, but that kind of defeats the purpose of going to a beer bar.
Ready for Oktoberfest this year!
I woke up with a craving for pasta with a rich Gorgonzola sauce so I taught my cook yesterday how to make the sauce. I bought the ravioli cause I’m lazy.
Look how awesome it is!
The sauce was perfect!
Last May, I took a month leave from work to go to my friend’s wedding in Albuquerque, as well as to relax and visit my friends and family in Chicago.
It also so happened that the day my flight arrived, Wine Spectator was hosting Grand Tour at Navy Pier.
I bought my ticket for it around March when I had my flight ticket to Chicago and thought it was genius to go straight from the airport to the wine tasting.
Obviously, it wasn’t a genius idea, because I only had a couple of hours between my flight arrival till the event starts. I still had to go to my cousin’s house in Hinsdale and deal with rush hour traffic going downtown. Plus, there was my massive jetlag, dragging me down.
Anyhow, I made it to event, severely underdressed (but warm and fuzzy). I also looked out of the place, easily the shortest, and maybe the youngest-looking. I kept getting stopped every turn I made to “double check my ID” even though I already had my wrist band.
As soon as I stepped into the grand ballroom, I gasped. SO MUCH WINE. SO MUCH AWESOME WINE. SO MUCH 90+ POINTS WINE!!!! My crazy eyes returned. And out comes my camera.
I really tried to taste carefully and discerningly, but I don’t get these wines at home. Since i paid for my ticket, I might as well drink it. It was a bad idea but my jetlag was clouding my judgement. I did try to choose which wines I would drink but there were so many, I still ended up tipsy.
Below are the photos of wines I tried. No notes because some of my notes in the notebook they gave me are quite long and the others are illegible.
I started with the Champers.
I was a little disappointed with the Dom. I didn’t expect it to taste that way. I didn’t like it so much. I didn’t even finish it.
After the Champers, it came in a random order, depending on whose table had less people and whom I could ask from. I’m small so it takes me a while to get noticed. HAH!
I did try to get through all my best friends’ wines…the Italians….
Dropped by the Banfi booth…
Stopped by Barone Ricasoli, where they had the higher end wine of the one I carry in the restaurant.
Checked my notes and this one stunned me for some reason. “Amazing depth”.
Tried an Ornellia…just because I can….
Tried Felsina’s Chianti Classico which I really liked.
Somewhere in the middle of this, I was in the same table as James Molesworth of Wine Spectator. I didn’t have the guts to talk to him so I just watched him taste. HAHA! I really just wanted to ask for a job. “Hi Mr. Molesworth, can I be your assistant? I can cover all your wines with brown paper for blind tasting…and maybe I can try some?”
This Barolo by Poderi Aldo Conterno drove me wild. My notes has a giant OMG on it. with rhubarb, ripe plum and potpourri.
Drank this one to check because the last one I had was in school.
Then I hit my other friends, the Australians…
By this time, i was upstairs and already woozy. So I had to go REALLY SLOWLY but also quickly because I had to catch my train back to Hinsdale, last train.
I finished off the night with my American friends…
Oh, don’t forget the Argentinians…
Yeahh…Catena Zapata….I love their wines!
Some Spanish wine?
I think I stopped taking pictures towards the end because my eyes were closing.
I finally left because I still had to find a taxi to take me to Union Station and then take the train. I fell asleep on the train and the conductor had to wake me up.
Wouldn’t trade it for the world though.
I’ll try to catch the next one, next year. Hopefully, I’m in town again.