La Maison Rose | Le Jour De La Saint Valentin Spéciale

Valentine’s and Shark Week of the non-National Geographic Channel kind sure make for a Red Letter Day. Historically, it is associated with multiple martyrs, had a bloody massacre to its name, and it continues to be so of so many innocents. The week leading up to it had me The Matrix-style dodging feline hairballs coughed up by that hormonal rollercoaster whilst making considerations for the many celebration options put out online. Boy, did those offers look more like invitations to Red Cross Bloodletting Drives.

Bacon Roses La Maison Rose Pornografeed Best Cebu Blogs Awards Best Food Blog 2014

“Flowers wilt and fade but love endures forever.” Go ahead and call me a cheapskate but I wear the Practical badge with much pride. If there was one thing The PussyKat and I have in common it would be the love for a good bite. While a dozen roses would probably produce enough heady jam for one breakfast and elbows the upcycling member of that flock of birds, the effort outweighs the substantiality. Still quite the romantic, I straddled the fence and made her Bacon Roses. “A moment on your lips, a lifetime on your hips.” Beat that De Beers!

La Maison Rose Pornografeed Best Cebu Blogs Awards Best Food Blog 2014

To recoup last year’s plans marred by transport delays and bad weather, I made good on making a reservation at La Maison Rose and scored a spot on the 6PM dinner service. Traffic to the Lahug location was strangely light for a weekend and a big night at that. Six on the dot and first to arrive, we were ushered to our table on the patio overlooking the garden of light-up cherry trees. The table was set for a three course meal and, cheeky to me, strewn with rose petals.

Amuse-Bouche La Maison Rose Pornografeed Best Cebu Blogs Awards Best Food Blog 2014

La Maison Rose’s special Valentine’s menu came in three sets of three coursers. I opted for the latter two for better variety. A complimentary Baguette Basket was served first followed by an amuse-bouche of Squash Soup with Black Sesame, Salted Éclair and, Pork Pate Crostini. The pure puree of squash only had the vegetal sweetness broken by the nutty crunch of sesame. The delightfully soft éclair piece introduced the savories. The smidgen of pork pate was a tease enough for what was to come.

Lobster Ravioli La Maison Rose Pornografeed Best Cebu Blogs Awards Best Food Blog 2014
For starters, we had La Maison Rose’s Ravioli de Homard, Amoricaine a’la Coriander. Seafood-sweet Lobster pieces were encased in plain Ravioli and bathed in “American- style” Sauce of tomato, white wine and coriander. Like saltine bobba popping balls, a dollop of caviar rested on top to further tie-in the seafood flavor.

Smoked Salmon Mille Fuille La Maison Rose Pornografeed Best Cebu Blogs Awards Best Food Blog 2014

The PussyKat isn’t a fan of salmon but enjoyed her Mille Feuille de Saumon Fumee. Smoked Salmon alternated layers with cream cheese and puff pastry sheets. The naturally rich flavor of the fish, which can be too aggressive for some, is slightly dulled by the smoking and cut by the tang of the cream cheese which in turn bound all the above flavors onto the pastry. Again, some caviar figured into the seafoody picture.

Honey & Tandoori Glazed Duck Breast in Coriander Sauce with Mashed Carrots La Maison Rose Pornografeed Best Cebu Blogs Awards Best Food Blog 2014

I fell in love with duck in Beijing what with the paper-thin crisps of skin, the velvety meat and, the buttery fat. That love now translates to French in La Maison Rose’s Magret de Canard Laque Aumile et au Tandoori et Veloute de Asperge. Meaty Duck Breast was glazed with Honey and Tandoori Spice. The smell of duck was neutralized by the smokiness of the spice which also gave it an almost indistinguishable heat on the caramelized honey. The meat inside kept juicy, soft and unadulterated by the treatment with the gamey flavor full-on. A Cream of Asparagus sauce helped marry the steamed vegetables and the crispy grated Potato Fritter the duck sat on to the entire dish. At that point, not that it distracts from the main flavors, I noted the chef’s preference for the use of black sesame. And was that a chocolate sauce stripe there? Surprising little touch.

Grill Scallopsi n Anise Sauce and Mashed Carrot La Maison Rose Pornografeed Best Cebu Blogs Awards Best Food Blog 2014

In the St. Jaques Grille Et Son Fume al’ Anis Etoilee avec Puree de Carot Au Cumin, grill-seared Scallops were served on Star Anise sauce, giving some earthiness to the unseasoned, bright, briny sweet flavor of the shellfish. Mashed Carrots with Cumin looked like and registered the taste of butternut squash. Potato wedges with skins on added weight. I loved the combination of very clean tastes but was thoroughly annoyed by the melaware this particular dish was served on. The sound it makes with the utensils against it and the thought of having paid a premium for fancy food served on what is basically a plastic plate just threw us off.

Poached Pears La Maison Rose Pornografeed Best Cebu Blogs Awards Best Food Blog 2014

On our refill of the complimentary Lhuillier-brand Sparkling Wine, desserts were served and that helped in appeasement. La Maison Rose’s Poire Belle Helene was Pears poached in wine served sliced in Hot Chocolate Sauce with a scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream. The pears had a bit of buzz from the alcohol going with the soft crunch and the fruit’s distinctive flavor. The ice cream and chocolate sauce tickled the insides of the mouth with the temperature contrasts and that of the plain vanilla and rich chocolate flavors.

Chocolate Coulant La Maison Rose Pornografeed Best Cebu Blogs Awards Best Food Blog 2014

A fitting finale was the Moelleux au Chocolat et Son Coer de Fruit Rouge. Molten Red Mixed-Berry ganache (as I suspected it to be instead of an actual molten batter center) spill out of the spongy, darkly chocolate cake. Sweet sours from the red berries liven up the hot chocolate in an exciting combination.

La Maison Rose Pornografeed Best Cebu Blogs Awards Best Food Blog 2014

Happy, we basked in our own glow and that of the light-up cherry trees while enjoying the last few swills of wine. Some Euro guy went around to request the other patrons to clap when he proposes to his Pinay girlfriend. We hope she said yes. Well, of course she did. But we didn’t stay for that. The adjacent La Vie Parisienne was starting to fill up with the after-dinner crowd and the night was young. St. Valentine’s scored multiple wins that night and Roy Schneider survived to make it to the next sequel in the franchise.

*Cue in the two-note E and F ‘da-dum’ cello and bass chords*

Meximama Cocina Latina

Our passports were about to expire and we were trying to make it to a wedding in Jakarta next month so an expectedly excruciating trip to the Department of Foreign Affairs was in order. The new, “streamlined” process required people to line up outside the mall location the night before to score earlier priorities. Thanks to my confused Oriental features and with the English language as my weapon of choice, we sauntered in after lunch and finished the entire application about three hours later along the Foreign Assistance Priority Lane. We had to celebrate this little triumph against the system, were already on the border to The Other Island and have been planning to check out this little Mexican street food affair. After all, a food tip from someone behind a joint that is unabashedly named Everything Yummy, and truly so, is one that is to be taken seriously.

Meximama Pornografeed Best Cebu Blogs Awards Best Cebu Food Blog 2014

Into the Marina Mall parking lot, across the SaveMore delivery bay and through a small walkway, we found ourselves in a backlot food court. Meximama stood the lone stall among those that seemed occupied not so long ago. Mexican was limited to the signage and the shop’s colorway in favor of utility and a street feel. Letting go of thematics to focus on kitchen functionality, service and the food, you have no costumed waitresses here nor the geoculturally misplaced songs in Spanish.

Empanadas Meximama Pornografeed Best Cebu Blogs Awards Best Cebu Food Blog 2014

The pair in an order of Meximama’s Empanadas packed beef and pork filling with chunks of cheddar and oozing mozzarella. Potatoes here were kept only as respect to tradition and definitely not as an extender as in what seems to be a local standard. Additional flavor twists came by the dousing of crema and Salsa Rojo making these definitely not your office building Manang-Merienda’s sinuroys.

Achiote and Lime Chicken Quesadillas Meximama Pornografeed Best Cebu Blogs Awards Best Cebu Food Blog 2014

Meximama’s Achiote and Lime Chicken Quesadilla Negra came next. Grilled homemade flour tortilla wedges housed meaty chicken chunks steeped in the earthy Achiote flavor with a hint of lime all glued together by the molten cheese. A salsa on the side gives it a fresh punch.

Chuletas Meximama Pornografeed Best Cebu Blogs Awards Best Cebu Food Blog 2014

That rather catchy song, Chupeta, started looping in my head when I ordered Meximama’s Chuletas. The phonetic association then went full blast in the fruity play of the Mango & Pineapple Salsa on the ever so slightly spicy Mexican marinated pork chops, deftly shaking a hip into the direction of the tangy vegetal taste of the Pickled Vegetables and grounded by the bed of Mexican rice.

Tacos Carnitas Meximama Pornografeed Best Cebu Blogs Awards Best Cebu Food Blog 2014

I would have stopped at the rice dish but Mexican wouldn’t be complete without Tacos. Meximama’s Street Style Tacos came in varieties and we opted for Carnitas. Six-hour braised pork shred into succulent, meaty fibers ensuring maximum porcine flavor per square inch of tongue. Caramelized Onions, Salsa Rojo, Cheese and Pickled Vegetables add layers of flavors and textures on top of the pork all held in traditional Mexican Masa Jarina soft shell tacos. Calamansi is served alongside to brighten up each bite.

Churros Uncooked Pornografeed Best Cebu Blogs Awards Best Cebu Food Blog 2014We were wanting some of Meximama’s Churros to cap off the meal but they were still preparing the mix as of that time of our visit. Through the small walkway, across the SaveMore delivery bay and into the parking lot, we were already planning our return.

My friend Rafael, who is Ecuadorian through and through, swung by The Island as part of his CNY holiday excursion. Billeting him at the Islands Stay Hotel across Marina Mall made it easy to refer him to Meximama. When we caught up for a Downtown Heritage Walking Tour that Sunday, effusions for Meximama in the most emphatic Latino accent quickly followed pleasantries. “Muy auténtico! Just like in Mexico! Everything so good! I ate so much.” An endorsement from one more culturally familiar with the cuisine had us wasting no time in scheduling our next bridge crossing. Surviving the Cebu-Mandaue Friday rush hour traffic, Latino music blaring from the regular mall Zumbathon nearby welcomed us to another Mexican feast.

Three Cheese and Jalapeno Quesadillas Meximama Pornografeed Best Cebu Blogs Awards Best Cebu Food Blog 2014

We opened with Meximama’s Three-Cheese and Jalapeno Quesadillas. The bite from the Cheddar, milky chewiness of Mozarella and creamy mild flavor from Monterey Jack tame the heat from the pickled Jalapeno in this cheese overload. As with everything Mexican, salsa on the side was very appropriate.

Elotes Meximama Pornografeed Best Cebu Blogs Awards Best Cebu Food Blog 2014

Grilled Corn gets the Meximama treatment with Jalapeno Butter, Chilito, Crema and Salsa Roja in their Elotes. The familiar Pinoy flavor turns into a Mexican fiesta in the mouth with more flavors and textures on top of the gritty, kernel crunch on the cob.

Tacos Carnitas Meximama Pornografeed Best Cebu Blogs Awards Best Cebu Food Blog 2014 2

Tacos Carnitas came into play once again with the succulent, stringy pulled pork consistently flavorful as the last time we had it.

Costillas De Cerdo Meximama Pornografeed Best Cebu Blogs Awards Best Cebu Food Blog 2014

Costillas De Cerdo were charbroiled baby back ribs slathered in Orange Barbecue Sauce. Citrusy-sweet with the definite smoky-spice flavor of barbecue, the sauce complimented the natural “sweetness” of the fall off the bone pork. Chilito added further zing all to be balanced by the earthy starchiness of Mexican Rice.

Honey and Chili Wings Meximama Pornografeed Best Cebu Blogs Awards Best Cebu Food Blog 2014

Wings are not my favorite chicken parts given the minimal meat distribution. Meximama’s Honey & Chili Wings thankfully cut into the breast at the axilla for heft. While most Chili Wings seem to take pride in mouth-numbing obscenity, the soulspeak goodness of this Buttermilk Fried Chicken is tossed in Aged Chili Sauce and Chilito for a slight hint of heat allowing the appreciation of the chicken itself.

Tres Leches Flan Meximama Pornografeed Best Cebu Blogs Awards Best Cebu Food Blog 2014

The meal came to a close with a serving of Tres Leches Flan. This all egg-yolk flan with condensed milk is oven-steamed giving it a more dense custard quality. The caramel sauce was only ever so slightly browned for a less bitter lean on the burnt sugar flavor.

Churros

We couldn’t let the Churros pass again this time. Freshly fried Churros came dusted in Cinnamon Sugar with a Spiced Dark Chocolate Sauce, Con Chocolate, and Caramel Crème, Con Dulce De Leche. Delightfully dark chocolate flavor first inundates the mouth and followed by the zing of sweet Mexican Spice. The Dulce De Leche was of a more tolerable sweetness and consistency than the regular gel-like.

Through the small walkway, across the SaveMore delivery bay and into the parking lot, we were still thinking about the burrito line we just could no longer fit in. The 9PM Mandaue-Cebu traffic seemed no better than rush hours’ on the way back but supreme satiety of our palates and bellies made it worth the trip. Hasta pronto, Meximama. See you again, soon.

 

Ipar’s Restaurante Y Bar De Tapas

Ruby announced her coming, shortly after a visit from Queenie, and, like all tempestuous women, taunted everyone with some furious flutters and flicks of her whirling skirt. Local government answered schoolchildren’s prayers by cancelling classes as early as Thursday. A circular encouraged businesses to close shop clearing most offices by Friday afternoon. Some events and dinners had to be moved around to accommodate logistical delays. Kitchen Matador as he is, Chef Ipar Miranda pushed through with his intimate invitational at his eponymous Spanish restaurant for the seven souls who braved the eerie calm before the storm: myself, Gerald & MJ, Toni & Taylor of The Cebruery, The PussyKat and, Golda May.

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The thematic interiors of Ipar’s played up the anticipation. Large dining tables out of wood from the Miranda farm held down the decorative tiles of the lofty space. Assorted paintings and prints in the Spanish bullfighting theme echoed a large divider drape with Picasso’s The Bullfighter and Don Quixote in applique. Entire walls were dedicated to Iberico pigs and matadors as were wooden fixtures bearing frying pans that have lived out service lives to the fullest.

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As in a bullfight, in Tercio de Varas — the part of lances, the seven speared through an assortment of tapas. The earthy meatiness of mushrooms played well with the pungency of garlic in Champignones Al Ajillo where mushrooms were sautéed with garlic in oil. Ipar’s Gambas Al Ajillo, a classic tapa, is yet another sauté with the profusion of garlic masking the natural seafood smell while bringing out the mildly buttery, briny flavor of the shrimp. Paprika and red pepper gave it a bite.

photo credit: Toni Marie Despojo

photo credit: Toni Marie Despojo

Definitely to share was the Tortilla de Patata, a thick Spanish Omelette with potatoes and onions, mellowing out the intense garlicky flavors of the two previous items.

photo credit: Toni Marie Despojo

photo credit: Toni Marie Despojo

Croquetas De Pollo came in bite-sized shells of light, fine breading with enough crunch to highlight the creamed chicken texture. Ipar’s Calamares Fritos sported a similar coating on the succulent squid rings with the complementary plus of the Garlic Ali Oli.

photo credit: Toni Marie Despojo

photo credit: Toni Marie Despojo

Taking up the rear end of the tapas parade was one of the house specialties, Chorizo Menudos Con Ajo — Chorizo without casings sautéed in olive oil and garlic, differing from our local varieties from the lack of sugar.

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In Tercio De Banderillas, the seven picked up their knives to cut through the mains. The Bacalao was a salted rock cod soaked and washed of its intense saltiness prior to a good sautéing in garlic to leave the moist, flaky fish flesh still well-seasoned.

Chuletas De Cerde Al Ajillo Pornografeed Best Cebu Food Blog 2014

You’d think the Chuletas De Cerde Al Ajillo went through a sous-vide before a pan-finish from its buttery softness but it owes its texture only from the good cut of pork it began with, brining and a steady heat to a well done. I’d usually shy away from the fat but the aromatic flavors from the garlic permeated that good strip too well to pass it up.

Pork Chops Ipar's Pornografeed Best Cebu Food Blog 2014

Lengua is one of those dishes of which the taste for I have slowly acquired over the years. I still wouldn’t make a beeline for this dish on any menu but Ipar’s Lengua Estofada is an exception I would make. Reminding me much of the consistency of steamed ham, this one takes the savory flavor of its sauce with nary a thought of tonsil hockey with the bovine species to mind.

photo credit: Toni Marie Despojo

photo credit: Toni Marie Despojo

Similarly, Callos or Ox Tripe wouldn’t be high on my list but by and by it has worked its rather, what I could best approximate as, “game-y” charm on me. Like the Lengua, Ipar’s smothers his dish in a flavorful sauce that works rather well with the chewier texture of this offcut.

photo credit: Toni Marie Despojo

photo credit: Toni Marie Despojo

As a tot, my grandfather would gift me a kid every January only for it to die of mysterious causes a few months after — right on the morning of my birthday. Needless to say, roast goat and Caldereta is served by dinner. Ipar’s take on what has now become quite pedestrian (with dedicated kandingan joints in back alleys all over the metro and the su’rbs) was enough for me to get over that deeply-rooted childhood trauma. Ipar’s Caldereta was decidedly different from the usual stringy dry meat prep with sizable, succulent cuts yielding to the fork and quite the toothsome softness in the mouth with the hearty flavor of the sauce inside and out.

Paella Ipar's  Pornografeed Best Cebu Food Blog 2014

photo credit: Toni Marie Despojo

photo credit: Toni Marie Despojo

Besting others in a blind taste test to receive note as Sun Star’s Best Of Cebu 2014- Best Paella, his take combines meats and seafood in a smoky, aromatic dish. Simply seasoned with salt, saffron, garlic and paprika for depth of flavor, each individual component performs an intense flamenco solo culminating in the grand baile of, as it is the mark of a great paella, very flavorful rice.

Paella Negra Ipar's Pornografeed Best Cebu Food Blog 2014

Ipar’s Paella Negra takes on much of its savory-seafood flavor from the profuse use squid ink seen in its markedly black rice as it is in authentic preparations. Chunks of squid and fish give it more meaty heft with Garlic Ali Oli rounding out all the flavors.

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Weakened by the previous welcome gustatory assaults, we entered into Tercio De Muerte where Chef Ipar performed a virtual suerte de muleta to reveal our sweet finish. His faena began with an Espuma — a deeply chocolaty mousse followed by the Sorpresa — where an extra rich cooked Spanish cream, much like a panna cotta, met the tropical sunshine of local mango sauce. In his remate, literally a pase de pecho, Chef Ipar takes a Lagasse quote to heart and serves up hedonism in a few spoonfuls in the most decadent leche flan in the city yet. As to its secret ingredient on top of it’s all egg yolk composition,  let me just let loose the classic “it’s a whole lotta love.” The house specialty coffee Café Bombon, an espresso shot of Arabica with condensada, made for an even more guilty coffee pair to the above trio.

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It didn’t take as long after the Spanish Colonization for us to take their recipes and run wild with it. Chef Ipar made it his mission to reintroduce authentic Spanish flavors to the local crowd. Four solid years of study and exposure on Spanish soil and five years of local operations are more than enough credit to back up his unwavering resolve not to bend to our bastard tongues. For that, I laud his effort. Ole’!

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The night extended with stories fueled by Calimocho, a red wine and cola mix, and the Spanish meal staple, Sangria. The educated seven later bid each other with equally heavy hearts and bellies but with much excitement to share our experience and, of course, to return. Muchos gracias, Ipar!

Ipar’s Restaurante Y Bar De Tapas is located at 157 F.Ramos St., Cebu City. Tel # (032) 410 7727