Monthly Archives: April 2015

Manzanilla and the Tapas Culture

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When I went to one of my favorite hangouts, Poco Deli, (good food, good wine, friendly service), I was surprised to find a Manzanilla Sherry, specifically the Tio Pepe.

I say this because it’s unusual for a restaurant in Manila to carry the stuff.

It’s a shame, really… It’s one of my preferred go-to wines to imbibe the Spanish Tapas culture.

To have a better understanding of this, it’s best to define and differentiate what tapas are to the Spanish as opposed to us Pinoys.

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Poco Deli’s Gourmet Tapa (I love this with Pinot Noir)

We Pinoys can visualize tapas as part of one of our favorite dishes, the tapsilog: cured beef or mutton (TAPa) with garlic fried rice (SInangag) and sunny side up eggs (itLOG) (Poco Deli, BTW, serves one of the BEST Gourmet Tapas on earth, served tapsilog style).

The Spanish, however, define tapas as snacks. They can be cold cuts (like chorizo), cheese, gambas, olives, or basically any bite-sized Spanish food you can eat with your hands. The word “tapas” is derived from the Spanish word “tapar”, which means to cover something. This comes from the practice of using a small plate to cover their sherry from fruit flies, and the need for little pieces of food to fit the tiny plate.

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Tio Pepe with Poco Deli’s Cheese Platter

Which brings us to the bit about the Manzanilla. It is a fino sherry, which means it is dry (not sweet). It’s not something I would recommend to drink alone, it’s meant to be consumed with, well… Spanish Tapas. The Tio Pepe is a quintessential example of a proper Palomino Fino sherry made using the Solera system. One can enjoy its nutty aromas, and delicate, dry taste.

In Poco Deli, you can pick anything from their cold cuts menu, their cheese platter, or even their sausages, gambas, or salpicao to use as Tapas.

What tapas are you willing to try with your sherry? Salud!

*To find out more about Poco Deli:

Website: pocodeli.ph

Facebook: PocoDeliOfficial

Instagram: @PocoDeliOfficial

#PocoDeli

Juicy News

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So, I got into juicing.

It all started when our wonky old refrigerator decided to act strange when maintaining a constant temperature (to this day, it still does that) and ruined most of our vegetables and fruits.

I decided, to minimise waste, I would juice some of the fruits before they became icky masses of mush.

A blender, however, was not the most efficient way to do it (it produces a pulpy juice, absolutely not fun to drink).

Chad saw my frustration and decided, to heck with it. We would replace the fridge, and buy a Braun Multiquick juicer.

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Clockwise from top left: peeled pomelo from Rustan’s supermarket, Braun Multiquick juicer from Abenson’s The Link, and the pinkest pomelo juice I’ve ever seen.

The technophobe in me initially balked at the sight of its many parts, but I discovered it’s a breeze to use.

The juice it produces is so pure, rich, concentrated, and delicious that it’s absolutely worth the purchase. No part of the fruit goes to waste, too. So far I’ve juiced green apples, tomatoes, and pomelo, but I’m looking to juice green vegetables too (I should really drink more healthy stuff to compensate for the amount of alcohol I drink).

I mean, I might as well go all the way and start juicing kale (good source of calcium sans dairy… I am determined to make my yogi proud). Here’s a good recipe I’m keen to try out soon (source: www.elizabethrider.com):

Kale-Aid Kale Juice Recipe:

  • 5 large kale leaves
  • 1-2 large cucumbers
  • 1 lemon (peeled)
  • 1 apple
  • 1 inch knob ginger (peeled)
  • 1-2 large ribs celery

You just need to stick all the (clean!) ingredients in the juicer, then serve over ice.

What’s your favorite juice recipe? Cheers!

Obrigado, Brazil!

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I have been looking at the 2shots readership data and was so wonderfully surprised to find out that I have regular readers from (gasp!) Brazil.

I honestly don’t know anyone from Brazil… Except for the cardiologist named Bruno I met on the plane for my flight back to Asia (who is also into wine).

It is, however, one of the places Chad and I would want to go to at one point in our lives… See the Carnival, live like a cariocca, and just chill out in Rio with a cocktail in my hand while listening to samba.

Needless to say, I would like to dedicate this post as a means to be able to say, Obrigado Brazil!

With that in mind, I decided to research and attempt different cocktails using Brazilian ingredients (that I could find in our stores here). To be specific, I made a cocktail using coconut water, and another using Acai berry.

Acai berry is a small, round, grape-looking fruit. Weight-loss aficionados credit drinking copious amounts of this juice to maintain svelte figures.

Admittedly, it was tough to find the 100% pure Acai berry juice in Manila, so I had to make do with one that is blended with other fruits (boo).

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Acai Berry Sour

To make a glass of Acai Berry Sour, you will need:

  • 1 jigger Vodka
  • 2 jiggers Acai berry juice
  • 1 jigger lemon juice
  • ½ jigger simple syrup (1:1 ratio of water and sugar)
  • Ice

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Use a cocktail shaker to mix all the ingredients together. Shake well. Strain and serve in a rock glass. Garnish with a lemon wheel.

Coconut water is the clear liquid inside young green coconuts. This beverage is found to aid in weight-loss, boost hydration (hence, it’s AWESOME for hangovers), facilitate digestion, reduce blood pressure, and restore electrolytes.

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Coconut Fruit Cocktail

To make a glass of Coconut Fruit Cocktail*, you will need:

  • 1½ jigger coconut water
  • 1 jigger white wine
  • ½ jigger orange juice
  • 1 drop pink or red food coloring (optional)
  • Fruits (I recommend passion fruit, pineapple, strawberries, and/or mango, all cut in small, bite-sized pieces)

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Use a cocktail shaker to mix the coconut water, white wine, and orange juice. Strain into a tumbler or wine glass with chopped fruits. Garnish with a fruit slice (or if you find the fruits in the glass attractive enough, you can skip this).

I hope you enjoy the cocktails. Saúde!

*In this particular experiment, I used Lipa, which is a sparkling coconut juice to add a little dimension. I decided to use it to top up the orange juice and white wine I have shaken and strained on the pineapples. 

Booze With Friends

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I only drink alone under three circumstances:

  • I’m having another attack of extreme introversion (it normally calls for a good red and an old Hollywood flick)
  • Chad is traveling (Scotch is a must-have after dinner to sleep)
  • Work (which involves analysis, concentration, and tons of alcohol books)

However, I think alcohol is best consumed with good friends.

Celebrations involving wine (preferably a Sauvignon Blanc in this heat) and rowdy conversations about misadventures with the city’s traffic enforcers are hilarious. Scotch (the bottle of Glenfiddich we have at home is reserved for a specific group of geek friends) and Cards Against Humanity produce the most bizarre, cruel answers and make you question your friends’ sanities (“panda sex” is still our favorite card to play). Stories about the men in our lives are best told over copious amounts of cocktails (totally SATC), or even more Sauvignon Blanc.

I even enjoyed a good round of “F*ck, Marry, Kill” over beer with my GBFF al fresco in SoHo, Hong Kong.

My point is this: There is just something incredibly satisfying about drinking with good company.

I especially love drinking with fellow “educated alcoholics” because you can trust that the drinks are good, and they come with an interesting story.

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Beautiful bottles of Gigondas**

One of our dearest friends is a photographer/wine importer based in Cebu. Dondi normally comes over with a bottle of Gigondas, one of his favourite wine appellations* (along with Côte-Rôtie and Hermitage) from Rhône. It is a beautiful, robust and elegant wine, made for people like us who are “bored with Bordeaux – not that (we wouldn’t) drink a good one”. 2011 is an awesome vintage well worth trying.

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Swanky looking bottle of Kavalan**

Another person we love is Girley (not her real name). She kicks a$$ by day (literally; she’s into BJJ) and is a foodie/wine-o by mid-afternoon (not even by night… What is “moderation” again…?). She went to Taiwan and came back to Manila with a beautiful, rich, strong bottle of Taiwanese single-malt whisky called Kavalan. Made in a sherry cask, this potent liquid needs more than a splash of water to get the smooth, gorgeous, burnt-wood, smoky-caramel flavours out. It makes me think of a tough chick (much like Girley!).

Whatever your poison is, wherever you feel the most comfortable boozing, I hope you are able to do so with good friends. Trust me, it makes drinking much more entertaining and memorable. The stories you come up with the following day are priceless, too! Just remember to drink responsibly. If you’re drinking with a group of people, be with people you trust. Real friends will make sure you get home in one piece.

Cheers!

*appellation = a legally defined geographical region used to identify where grapes for a wine are grown

 **gorgeous photos courtesy of Dondi Joseph

Beer and Fast Cars

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I have a few aspects that are surprisingly masculine: Proper fast cars and beer.

I’m not just saying that. I learned how to “adjust” some driving skills from a childhood friend. He taught me the art of check braking and how to appreciate beastly machines (I still dream of owning a proper American muscle car, and I’m torn between a Dodge Charger and a Ford Mustang). I baffle friends with my ability to park with nothing but a couple of inches between my car and the next, as well as being able to make it from Katipunan to Makati in 15 minutes (after dinner, of course). I legitimately fawned over a German acquaintance’s Nissan Skyline, and I can tell if your car needs a new fan belt (or readjusting) just by hearing you start it up. Chad and I have paused in the middle of a conversation to figure out if a car that rolled by roared a real engine or a muffler.

I also love beer. I love living in the ultimate beer place on earth (San Miguel is Pinoy, awesome, affordable, and perfect for our humidity). Beer is so diverse that there’s a beer ranging from everyday frat boy to absolute gourmand.

I guess it goes without saying that we just saw Furious 7 and were surprisingly moved by the film (corny segue, I know).

For one thing, the tribute to Paul Walker was perfect: masculine and poignant without being cheesy. I realised it touched me so much because I grew up watching the franchise, and I felt that the good old days died along with Walker.

The first film came out when I was still in (gasp!) college, long before I decided to make a living out of intellectualising alcohol. This was the era when drag racing was cool, and beer was all I could afford (and consume in large amounts, preferably after our grades were given out/THESIS).

That being said, I grew up watching Walker’s Brian O’Connor character tear up the road, fully immersed in the culture of underground racing. There were THE cars (souped up rice rockets and muscle cars), pretty and awesome lady drivers, superb hip-hop music, and TONS of beer.

Another reason I was personally struck by Furious 7 is the mini-debate Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto had with Kurt Russell’s Mr. Nobody: Belgian Ale versus Corona beer.

Trust me to get enthralled by beer talk amidst all the high-octane action.

Just to add some facts to this argument, here’s a side-by-side comparison:

Corona Chimay Gold
(Mr. Nobody never gave a specific brand, but this is the closest I could find to compare with Toretto’s poison)
Alcohol Percentage: 4.6% alcohol Alcohol Percentage: 4.8% alcohol
Style*: Lager Style*: Ale
Country of Origin: Mexico Country of Origin: Belgium
Characteristics: Mild flavors, very refreshing Characteristics: Spicy aromas, full flavors
Trivia: Best consumed with lime Trivia: Made by Trappist Monks that make beer under specific criteria

So, which one is better? Toretto did promise Nobody that he would try a Belgian Ale.

Maybe in Fast 8?

Will there even be a Fast 8?

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Both from Rustan’s Supermarket

Meanwhile, we can decide. Chimay and Corona are available in reputable supermarkets and liquor stores (the gold one is harder to find, but they have a pretty respectable Belgian beer selection, as well as in Landmark).

To end this, it has to be said that I felt quite nostalgic with the Paul Walker/Brian O’Connor tribute towards the end of the film. Tasteful, respectful, powerfully restrained… Just like a good beer or a good engine.

MEANWHILE (and I hate sounding preachy), as with operating any heavy machinery, PLEASE do not take this entry as an excuse to drink and drive.

Anyway, #spoileralert, enjoy the video to fully grasp what I’m talking about (special thanks to YouTube). Cheers!

*ALE VERSUS LAGER: two main families of beer, main difference being the species of yeast upon fermentation

Not Everything That Sparkles is Tonic

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I was asked a couple of questions when I visited Debbie (see a previous post to find out who Debbie is): What is the difference between San Pellegrino and tonic water? Is there a difference between those and soda water?

Debbie just moved into his new apartment, and like I normally do, I brought over alcohol (Tanqueray gin, to be specific).

We then looked around his (swanky!) new pad for something to mix it with.

As I’m not the type to mix decent gin with Coca-Cola, we decided to go on a more classic route and mix it with the first clear sparkling liquid we could find.

Unfortunately for this case, it was a bottle of San Pellegrino sparkling mineral water.

I have nothing against San Pellegrino, but sparkling mineral water isn’t the best thing to put with gin.

But for that moment, it had to do. We desperately needed some dimension for the gin.

“It would have gone significantly better with tonic water”, I said.

This is when the questions about differences of everyday clear sparkling beverages came about.

This is how I could best explain it:

  • Sparkling Mineral Water (ex: San Pellegrino): Literally mineralized water with naturally produced bubbles
  • Soda Water: Sparkling water with mineral-like ingredients added to it to give it some flavor
  • Tonic Water: The bitter sparkling water which I absolutely discourage you to drink alone (pair it with gin for a cocktail classic)

I hope this helps you decide what to get for your next cocktail experiment.

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Gin and Tonic with cucumber, using Hendrick’s and Schweppes

Try adding cucumber to your gin and tonic for a truly refreshing drink. Perfect for lounging around the pool in this summer heat.

Let me know what your favourite cocktail mixes are with these babies. Cheers!

Shamelessly Going Print!

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Hello readers!

In observance of the Holy Week, I will not be posting anything this week.

I do, however, invite you to go to your friendly neighbourhood newsstand and pick up a copy of Lifestyle Asia on Easter Sunday. I hope you have fun reading about my food and wine adventures in beautiful Chile as I did recounting it.

Very, very special thanks to the team of One Mega Group for turning my ramblings into a delectable tale, as well as making a non-writer’s impossible dream come true. 😉

Muchos Gracias to all the winemakers, brand representatives, and all the warm people I’ve met in Chile. You made myself feel at home on the other side of the Pacific Ocean in your breathtaking country. I especially would like to extend my thanks to Patricio, Maria Jose, and the rest of the awesome team of ProChile for accommodating me (and meeting me halfway with my little Spanglish). You have redefined hospitality in so many amazing ways.

Muchos Gracias to Ambassador Luis Lillo and Ms. Fernanda Vila of the Embassy of Chile for the kind consideration and assistance.

Thank you very much to the wonderful team of Smart Travel & Tours* for assisting us in booking everything we needed for the trip. Your team is very much a part of this project.

Thanks and Namaste to Paul Catiang for (virtually) holding my hand through the entire process (and patiently letting me have mini-meltdowns).

Most especially, thanks so much to my dear husband for understanding my need to do this trip. I love you for all the support, taking care of Schrumpf while I was gone, believing in me, going extremely OC with my travel plans, and just for being the best husband in the world.

Cheers!

P.S.

For my friends living abroad, you can pick up a copy of Lifestyle Asia (and the rest of Mega’s magazine lineup) through the Magzter app (for smartphones and tablets).

*To book tickets and/or tours, please contact +(632) 254-5011 to 13