Barcelona food

 

 

BARC FEAST TILE

 

Last December, just before the Christmas rush, I travelled to Barcelona with a 2-person team from Lifestyle Network. It was a surprise bonus from being Samsung Digital Home’s brand ambassador at the time. We filmed some interstitials called “DAPHNE Diaries” that will soon air in Lifestyle Network. I have quite a few stories about this trip that I’ll be sharing in future entries.

Barcelona is one of those cities you can just lose yourself at while wandering through its streets. There are the must-see sites for visitors, those listed in all travel guides. But the true beauty of Barcelona is in what you discover while walking around. This is what happened to us in terms of food. We had a couple of pre-planned dining spots, but we left a lot of our meals to whatever came our way, wherever we were. Hope you like my list.

 

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Our hotel Hotel Silken was located just off of La Rambla, the main tree-lined promenade with kiosks that sell newspapers, flowers and souvenirs. We were within walking distance from La Boqueria and other great spots.

 

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When in Barcelona, must have churros at any random xurreria. Found this stall while walking around Placa de la Sagrada Familia, outside the church.

 

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Thank you for our guide, Fabio Bugna, for showing us some his favourite spots in his beautiful city.

 

 

FEAST - EUSKAL

 

We arrived in Barcelona on an afternoon flight and found ourselves famished by 5pm, too early for dinner. Euskal Taverna was a random discovery on our way to the Picasso Museum. They had a pintxos bar! Pintxos (or pinchos)  are little snacks served in bars common in the Basque country. They are like tapas, but pintxos are spiked with a skewer or toothpick on a piece of bread. They are served and billed individually. You may either order them or just pick them up in a buffet setting. You are then charged for each pintxos based on the number of toothpicks on your plate.

 

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Euskal Etxea Taverna

 

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The pintxos are presented over the bar. You just get what you want. This is what I love about Spanish dining. It’s so casual and social.

 

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For my first meal in Barcelona… of course, jamon iberico and tortilla de patata.

 

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Euskal has over 80 varieties of pintxos, depending on what is available and what’s fresh.

 

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Happy tummies. Our producer Dianne Sibal and director/videographer Carlo Lina.

EUSKAL TAVERNA, Placeta de Montcada, 1-3_08003. Tel +34 933102185

 

 

FEAST LA BOQUERIA

 

I can just imagine living in Barcelona and having La Boqueria market right there. I’d be picking up fresh food every single day. There would be very little cooking done, just tossing of all the fresh ingredients in hot olive oil and everything would taste so good. This is a place that is frequented by locals and tourists.

La Boqueria’s full name is Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria. The earliest record of La Boqueria dates back to 1217. It went through many names and changes. It wasn’t til 1826 that the market was legally recognised. The construction of the permanent market structure started in 1840 under the direction of the architect Mas Vilà. The metal roof from the 1914 fish market still exists today. .

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My happy place in Barcelona.

 

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Seafood

 

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Fresh catch

 

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Being touristy in the market.

 

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Then I found what I was looking for.

 

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Acorn-fed Jamon Iberico. This one’s from Salamanca. The ones I bought were from Jabugo.

 

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I was so happy just tasting all the different legs!

 

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Seriously. This is my joy. I could never give up eating jamon.

 

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There’s my baby. I bought a big chunk of this and had it sliced and vacuum packed. Bellotas means acorn. This Iberian pig ate only acorns. It came from a farm in Jabugo. The ham was aged for 5 years. That’s the story of my jamon.

 

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My precious jamon iberico 5 jotas. I still have one pack in my fridge. Hmmm.

LA BOQUERIA, La Rambla, 91, 08001 Barcelona. Telephone +34 933 18 2584.

 

 

FEAST -ELQUIM

 

One of my unforgettable meals was in this amazing market stall at La Boqueria. El Quim does not take reservations. We took our chances and got there in the morning before the lunch rush started. El Quim started in 1987 with a three-metre long bar and just five stools. It now is one of the most famous eating spots in La Boqueria.

El Quim specializes in fried eggs, hence the egg emblem on the chefs’ jackets. They also have sandwiches, seafood and basically whatever fresh comes in to the market that day.

 

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You won’t miss El Quim when you are at La Boqueria. It has a choice spot in the middle of the market with a 16-metre wrap around counter and 18 stools.

 

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Chef Quim and his fellow chefs in the open kitchen.

 

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A must!!! Two fried eggs with baby squid. Yes fried eggs. The best I’ve ever had!!!

 

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Totally simple but oh so good – fried artichoke with a drizzle of sea salt.

 

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With a glass of cava, early morning.

 

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With the gracious and famous chef Quim.

EL QUIM DE LA BOQUERIA, Stalls 584-585-606-607-608-609, La Boqueria Market, Rambles. Telephone 93 301 98 10

 

 

FEAST ESCRIBA 5

 

Escriba is a pastry and chocolate shop with a lot of history and awards. We visited its second shop situated along La Rambla. The main confectionery showroom is at Gran Via. This shop along La Rambla was formerly Casa Figueras, makers of pasta and semolina. The corner shop shows beautiful Art Nouveau decor, with the founding date 1820, laid out in mosaic. The shop was refurbished in 1902 by stage designer Ros Guell who supervised some of the best craftsmen in the Art Nouveau movement.

 

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Escriba’s pretty art nouveau facade.

 

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The original corner mark of the building.

 

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Beautiful chocolate shop.

 

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We zeroed in on the xuixo, the sweet pastry beside the croissants.

 

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Creations of Chef Antoni Escriba, which have been winning awards since the 1950s.

 

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An image of the Virgin Mary guards the main shop.

 

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Dianne, Carlo and I with our xuixo purchase.

 

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If you don’t have time to sit and have coffee and sweets at Escriba, just drop by and get some xuixo, a pastry filled with crema catalana that is deep fried and covered with crystallized sugar. It was so good, I had to snap this selfie while walking down La Rambla with some crema in the corner of my mouth! Oops.

ESCRIBA, Rambla de les Flors 83, 08001. Telephone 93 301 6027

 

 

Feast formatgeria

 

One of the most charming places we went to was Formatgeria La Seu in Barri Gotic. This was highly recommended by our guide, Fabio. Formatgeria La Seu, a lovely cheese shop, is run by Katherine McLaughlin who personally picks the variety of cheeses from all over rural Spain. Her passion has brought her to some of the best cheese farms in Spain. At Formatgeria La Seu, you are guaranteed carefully selected cheeses, presented in optimum conditions.

We sat at the tasting room in the back, where we sampled a couple of palettes of cheese and a glass of vermouth.

 

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A lovely cheese shop in the narrow streets of Barri Gotic.

 

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The cheese at Formatgeria La Seu are stored and displayed in a temperature and humidity controlled cool-room, which one can enter, to view and sample.

 

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The tasting room at the back still has equipment for churning butter as this was one of the first butter-making factories in Barcelona.

 

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It was a very cold morning. This is Fabio and me trying to warm up with a glass of vermouth. It took me a while to peel off my trench coat.

 

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Vermouth was having something of a revival in Spain. It was an old-fashioned aperitif that was eventually replaced by beer or wine. But now, it is again in vogue in the Barcelona brunch set. People drink vermouth straight up before a meal or on Sundays after mass. Some say, vermouth’s resurgence has to do with the poor state of the economy. Vermouth has 15% alcohol by volume, offering the best value for your euro. The vermouth at Formatgeria La Seu was homemade, sourced though Katherine’s exploration of rural farms in the region.

 

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Each cheese in our palette came with a story about the farmer, the farm, the region. I was amazed.

 

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The backroom was kept as close to authentic as possible, with the old tiles and dairy-churning equipment.

 

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Wine and vermouth decanters in every shape.

 

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We really enjoyed this stop. I could have stayed longer. I’ll definitely be back. This is so Patrick’s thing.

FORMATGERIA LA SEU, Carrer Dagueria,16,08002, Barcelona. Telephone 93 412 65 48

 

 

FEAST - NACIONAL

In one of our walks home to our hotel, we stumbled upon El Nacional. At the time, it was just newly opened. El Nacional is located in a huge warehouse-like structure that dates back to 1889, the height of the industrial revolution in Barcelona. It used to house a cafe, a theatre, a fabric dye factory, a car dealer’s shop before the Spanish Civil War. Then it became a garage.

The building of El Nacional has now been converted into this beautiful dining hot spot with six different food specializations that reflect various recipes from the around the Iberian Peninsula. Loved the interiors!!! We didn’t get to try anything here, so feel free to let me know in the comments section how the food was. I just wanted to show photos of the stunning space.

 

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Narrow path that leads to El Nacional

 

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The cocktail bar.

 

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The oyster bar.

 

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La Llotja, specializing in fresh seafood.

 

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There is a mini seafood market where diners can choose their catch of the day and request for it to be cooked.

EL NACIONAL, Passeig de Gràcia, 24 Bis 08007. Telephone +(34) 93 518 5053.

 

 

FEAST - STOP MOS

Stop & Mos was  random find while shopping at the Mercat dels Encants, one of the oldest markets in Europe, dating back to the fourteenth century. After going through stalls of peddlers in the antique market (I will share with you my finds later), we went up to the mezzanine and looked for a place to eat.

Stop & Mos is one of those market stalls that caters to people on the go. Their logo says “natural take away food.” So this is not your typical fast food joint. We found a picnic table and seats, where we ate our food in take out containers outdoors. It was December and it was cold. Everything we ordered was so good.

 

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Mercat dels Encants.

 

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There was a fantastic view of Torre Agbar from the market.

 

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Me and Fabio ordering our tapas and pintxos.

 

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The chef himself was taking our order while preparing our food.

 

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We had tortilla, tapas, croquettas, sardines and these amazing fried peppers. I could have eaten the whole dish.

 

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Layers of aubergine with goat cheese, tomatoes and olive oil.

 

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And my favourite Spanish comfort food, tortilla de patatas.

STOP & MOS, Castillejos 158, Fira Bellcaire Mercat dels encants, Barcelona.

 

 

feast casa 1

 

Casa de Tapas is an interesting concept restaurant that put together award-winning, Michelin-starred dishes from other Barcelona restaurants and chefs, all under one roof. It’s like being able to have a sampler of all the best dishes at one time. This was our only scheduled meal in Barcelona where we actually had reservations. Excellent.

 

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We started with bruschetta using fresh tomatoes and garlic and a bottle of award-winning olive oil from Tickets.

 

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Casa de Tapes staff demonstrated how to rub fresh garlic and tomato on toasted bread. Then we drizzled extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled salt and pepper on our toasts. Delicious.

 

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Salad with burrata.

 

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Steamed tomatoes. So simple yet so out of this world amazing. What’s in their potatoes in Barcelona?

 

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Beef stew that just fell off the bone.

 

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Dani Garcia’s Burguerbull, with two Michelin stars. Oxtail burger, beef, arugula, havarti, cheese and Dani’s magical mayonnaise.

 

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Chocolate cake

 

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Russian roulette chocolate by Escriba. One of these chocolates is filled with pepper. Dianne was the lucky one.

 

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A memorable farewell dinner with new friends Fabio, Dianne and Carlo.

CASA DE TAPAS CANOTA, Calle Lleida 7, Barcelona. Telephone +(34) 93 3259171.

 

 

Taza Fresh Table

 

 

TAZA FRESH

 

We recently spent a weekend at Taal Vista Hotel. My parents had been in Manila since January and since they were about to leave soon (they left a few days ago), we thought a stay in Taal Vista would be a guaranteed special time. Our last stay there was in 2012, and both my parents were with us too. This time we had an extra treat. We got to sample the hotel’s new restaurant Taza Fresh Table.

 

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It was a foggy couple of days. We didn’t get a clear view of the volcano, but we loved misty the atmosphere.

 

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There’s something magical about fog settling in like this.

 

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No rain. Just dew drops and lots of mist.

 

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This is TAZA Fresh Table, located right at Taal Vista Hotel, just off the garden.

 

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It is a hexagonal structure surrounded by glass walls, giving diners a wonderful view of the ridge.

 

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Before our dinner at TAZA, we got comfortable at our hotel rooms.

 

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The rooms were spacious and comfy. The highlight was the balcony with a gorgeous view of the lake and volcano.

 

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The hotel staff surprised me with a cake. My birthday had passed a couple of weeks before this. But I thought it was so nice and thoughtful.

 

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A very special touch.

 

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My dad and mom taking a selfie with the volcano behind them.

 

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TAZA is a country garden-inspired restaurant with a 180-degree view of Taal Lake and volcano. TAZA is derived from the Arabic word “taaza” which means fresh.

 

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The idea of TAZA Fresh Table is to offer innovative international cuisine using the best locally-sourced ingredients — duck from Laguna, lobster from Batangas, mangoes from Cebu, coffee beans and black rice from Negros Island and organic herbs and vegetables from Benguet, Cavite, Batangas, and the Taal Vista Hotel Garden.

 

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We started with the Mezze, usually served in smaller pots. The chef gave us bigger servings because we were a family of seven. Mezze is served with glad breads and a choice of four dips/sauces. We had Spinach Bacon Jam,  Boquerones, Chorizo with Garlic, and Sauteed Chicken Liver and Garlic Confit.

 

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The Spinach with Bacon Jam was incredible.

 

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The kids shared a Four Cheese Pizza -Tomato sauce, Laguna kesong puti, Pato quezo de bola, Laguna mozarella, homemade ricotta, olive oil. The girls couldn’t stop raving about this.

 

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Chef Jayme Natividad made a special papardelle that was not in the menu, for my girls. He told me he’d whip something up for them with butter and cheese. And my goodness, the kids loved this. They are asking to go back.

 

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Mushroom Soup, Trio of Tagaytay mushrooms (oyster, shitake and button)

 

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Duck and Mushroom Lasagna, Laguna duck, Trio of Tagaytay mushrooms, Bechamel sauce, parmesan cheese

 

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Tomahawk Pork Chop, caramelized onions and banas

 

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Braised Oxtail, seared and braised in red wine, onions and rosemary.

 

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Moroccan Chicken, braised probiotic chicken with spices, served with couscous.

 

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Cannoli with Ube Ricotta and Langka Cream, puff pastry cylinders stuffed with purple yam and jackfruit pastry cream.

 

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Olive Oil Ice Cream with glazed Tagaytay pineapple.

 

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Chef Jayme Natividad

 

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The mariachi trio even sang “Happy Birthday” for me.

 

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And we witnessed the first proposal in Taza. She said “Yes!”

 

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TAZA Fresh Table is a wonderful addition to Taal Vista Hotel’s charming atmosphere.

 

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The next morning we were greeted by more fog and mist, making the place seem more magical.

 

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TAZA Fresh Table is located at that pavilion on the left of this photo, just a walk down from the lobby of Taal Vista Hotel. For reservations, call +63 (2) 917-8225, +63 (46) 413-100 or +63 917 809-1254. Or visit www.taalvistahotel.comFacebook.com/taalvistahotel, or Twitter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beef Barley Soup

 

 

BARLEY SOUP

 

I am far from being the expert cook. Admittedly, I only started liking to cook when I got my dream kitchen. And I only started cooking successfully last year. You Tube played a big role in this big achievement of mine. Gusteau was right when he said, “Anyone can cook.” So with my new found success, haha, I am finding courage to share with you some simple recipes that have become a regular part of our home menu.

 

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Barley is a staple at our house. I store them in these mason jars that I get from pasta sauce. (Why buy when you can re-use jam jars and pasta sauce jars).

 

I grew up with my mom’s barley soup. It’s it also my favourite comfort food in Cibo. So whenever I run out of ideas, this is the dish I whip up for my family. It’s kid-approved. So I always make sure we have barley in our pantry. Another thing that’s a staple in my kitchen is Bertolli olive oils, which is finally available again in the Philippines through Fly Ace Corporation, a leading distributor of food products. I met the people behind Fly Ace when I hosted the launch of Lotus Biscoff, which they also officially brought into the country.

 

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Three types of Bertolli olive oil, available in leading supermarkets in the Philippines, exclusively distributed by Fly Ace Corporation.

 

Bertolli is the “World’s Best Selling Olive Oil”.  There are three types of Bertolli Olive Oils –Extra Virgin, Classico and Extra Light. In the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing recipes using each of the three variants. Basically, Extra Virgin olive oil is best used for marinades, dressing and dips. You don’t cook with it. For cooking, use Classico olive oil. Its is perfect for sauces, roasting or grilling. Then there is the Extra Light olive oil, with its mild taste, making it perfect for sautéing, frying and even baking.

For my barley soup, I used Bertolli Classico olive oil. I based my barley soup on Ina Garten’s basic recipe but reformulated it based on what was available in my kitchen pantry. I also altered the process a bit and it worked fine. I hope you find my easy version to work for you too.

 

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Celery and leeks

 

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Bay leaves, onion, garlic.

 

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Carrots

 

Here’s my recipe for Beef Barley Soup

1 Bertolli Classico olive oil
1/2 kg beef shreds (oxtail tastes better but you’ll need time and patience to make it tender)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chopped leeks
1 cup diced carrots
3/4 to 1 cup chopped onion (white onions work best, but I only had local red onions so I used less)
1/2 to 1 cup diced celery (I like celery so I placed 1 cup)
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
3 bay leaves
8 cups canned beef broth (or homemade from beef or chicken bones)
3/4 cup pearled barley

 

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1. Heat the Bertolli Classico olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. I’m using my new Le Creuset, which I feel I have finally earned and deserved.

 

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2. Add the beef strips, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook over medium to high heat, stirring occasionally, for at least 10 minutes until browned all over. Remove the beef with a slotted spoon and set aside.

 

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3. Add the leeks, carrots, onion, celery, and garlic to the fat in the pot and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, until the vegetables start to brown. Throw in sprigs of thyme and bay leaves.

 

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4. Return the beef to the pot and add the broth, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Once boiling, lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 1 hour. You may discard the thyme sprigs (if you bundled it) and the bay leaves, and skim off the fat.

 

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5. Add the barley. Let it simmer for another 40 minutes. This is where I altered Ina Garten’s recipe. She recommends boiling the barley separately, draining it, then adding it to the soup mixture. I placed my barley directly into my soup.

 

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6. That’s it! Beef and Barley Soup!

 

You can change the ingredients based on what you have in your fridge. If you prefer a heartier meal, choose bigger chunks of meat with bone. If so, you may not even need beef stock. Just use water.

 

 

Maria Luisa’s Garden Room

 

 

Garden Room

 

When our family friend Mrs Ruby Roa invited me to dine with her and her friends at the Makati Garden Club, I couldn’t resist. I had heard about this little pocket of paradise from friends. It is a membership club that caters to (mostly) women who love plants, gardening, and greenery. I had to see it for myself. So glad I did.

 

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The Makati Garden Club sits in a little patch of green right at the corner of EDSA and Ayala Avenue.  You can see the MRT (or is that a bus) on the upper left corner of the photo.

 

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The restaurant is called Maria Luisa’s Garden Room. Named after Maria Luisa Perez-Rubio, the founder of Makati Garden Club.

 

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Around 1955, Maria Luisa persuaded her good friend Enrique Zobel, to “donate a bit of earth” for the Makati Garden Club. She led this informal organisation of women who strongly believed in preserving the environment, conserving open spaces and encouraging the community to do the same. Source.

 

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For over 40 years, the club cafe remained a small discreet place where a few women members would meet. Now there are over 1000 members.

 

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The Garden Room went through a makeover and is now under the management of Sandra Fernandez.

 

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The restaurant feels very homey, like a little cottage with mismatched furniture.

 

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They’ve extended the garden room to accommodate more tables.

 

Click to see more…

(more…)

Spinach and Ricotta Tarts

 

 

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I used to cook with fillo back when I lived in Toronto with my roommate who was very domesticated. I honestly didn’t have the interest in cooking until last year. But as part of my roommatey duties, I helped her with food preparations. Anything in fillo tastes great. All you need is patience, speed, and lots of butter. I suggest you watch some You Tube videos on how to handle fillo if you’ve never worked with it – watch this video.

I am sharing with you a tweaked recipe that I picked up from the packaging of the fillo pastry. I mentioned this in Instagram. And here it is, as promised. Sorry that my photos aren’t top quality. I really don’t know how people who blog about recipes do it. I had to work fast with the fillo and my hands were always covered in butter and filling.

 

Spinach and Ricotta Tarts

Ingredients

6 sheets fillo pastry
1 red pepper
1 ½ to 2 cups of spinach leaves. (If using frozen spinach pellets use 6 to 9)
1 cup ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons cream
2 eggs
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 12-cupcake pan

 

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Instructions

1.  Cut red pepper into quarters, remove seeds. Rub lightly with olive oil, place on oven tray and roast for 25 minutes at least 180 degrees C. Allow to cool then remove skin. Cut into thinner strips. Set aside for later.

2.  Blanch and refresh spinach. Strain and squeeze out excess moisture. Puree spinach in food processor, add eggs, bread crumbs, and stir in cream. Season with salt and pepper. Add half a cup of ricotta cheese and manually stir it in.

3.  If using frozen spinach pellets, you can skip the food processor. Just melt the spinach and squeeze out excess water. You can then just manually mix in the eggs, cream, bread crumbs, ricotta and salt and pepper. Original recipe used breadcrumbs in between layers of fillo, but I didn’t do it that way.

 

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4.  Now it’s time to work with your fillo pastry. Make sure to work with it fast. Watch a few You Tube demos if it’s your first time to handle fillo. Brush your cupcake tin with melted butter.

5.  Work with 2 fillo sheets at a time. Roll up unused fillo or cover with damp cloth. These pastry sheets dry out really fast.

6.  Lay down first fillo sheet on a flat surface and brush lightly with butter. Get the second fillo sheet and brush with more butter. Cut the 2 layers into 12 squares of equal size. You can use a sharp knife, pizza cutter or scissors. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

7.  Place the two cut fillo squares into each of the 12 the cupcake tins. Repeat the fillo layering until you have at least 6 layers of filo for each tin cup(cake). Place the fillo squares at different angles. This ensures the fillo to be flaky once baked. Brush each layer with melted butter. You can also substitute butter with olive oil instead.

 

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8.  Fill each filo pastry cup with the spinach-cheese mixture up to 2/3 of the cup. Sprinkle each cup with the remaining ricotta cheese and decorate with red pepper strips.

9.  Bake at 180 degrees C for 20-25 minutes.