Back in the Mediterranean

15 02 2011

Mediterranean Pasta

“ALL THAT you want, Brother!”  Brother said with a wink when I sheepishly opened, “Brother, I’m starting with a salad… (pause) and the marinated olives nobody loves.”  (I’d understand if you got lost in the exchange as my friend Edu and I do call each other ‘Brother’.)

CAFé MEDITERRANEAN is turning out to be a new favorite.  We said farewell to Giant Paulo over dinner at their Mall of Asia branch.  Last Friday night, this was where Brother hosted a more intimate gathering.  But this time, at Town.

I’m quite obedient – especially when I’m told I can “have it all” – so I had the antipasto, a salad, soup, and pasta two ways.  I downed everything with hot Moroccan mint tea served over ice.

Marinated Olives

I’ve loved olives eversince I saw Linus Larrabee fixing himself a dirty martini in the original version of the movie “Sabrina.”  I give myself a pat on the back for picking up the fascination for olives – not for the martini.  Hahaha!  Otherwise, I would be spending time bobbing for them in vodka or gin against just popping them in my mouth.  Café Mediterranean marinates pitted kalamata and green olives in fragrant extra virgin olive oil and herbs.  They serve a generous portion in a low pristine white saucer, sprinkling the glistening olives with dried rosemary leaves.  They’re nicely chewy, earthy, and as already said, fragrant – heaven in my mouth.  Though I won’t mind munching on olives straight from the jar.  Which I actually do when watching TV.  It’s just an expensive eating habit.  Hahaha!

Greek Salad

 

Antipasto

 

Just one more shot right before I cleaned the plate!

Well, that’s Greek to me!  That’s exactly how I feel everytime I would have Café Mediterranean’s Greek Salad.  Theirs stay true to the rustic simplicity I expect.  Just the best tomatoes, cucumber, green bell pepper, Vidalia onions, kalamata olives and feta cheese, seasoned with salt, pepper, and dressed in olive oil.  The tanginess hints on a splash of vinegar or the brine in which the olives were cured.  Café Mediterranean serves their version on a bed of delicate lettuce greens (I espied a few Lolo Rosa leaves) but its most significant quality remains to be the crispness and crunch that each wedge of vegetable promises to please the mouth with.  The serving is huge.  But.  I.  Never.  Share.  Hahaha!

Soupe au Pistou

 

The soup is chockful with chunks of fresh vegetables, baby potatoes, and shell pasta!

Soupe au Pistou has been a favorite.  Akin to the Italian ministrone, it’s a medley of vegetables and shell pasta in a tomato broth, topped with a dollop of basil pesto and a grating of Parmesan cheese.  It’s served with nicely toasted bread that I always ignore.  But that’s just me.  I didn’t share the salad, save for a couple of forkfuls that The Flash managed to pierce.  But the soup, I had it separated into two small bowls – one for me, and one for Iron Man who joined us a half hour later after exorcising all the many issues at work.

Mediterranean Pasta (penne)

 

Mediterranean Pasta (linguini)

The Mediterranean Pasta was a little bit of a miss for me because I wasn’t expecting the bitterness from the grilled eggplant and zucchini.  I doubt that the zucchini was bitter to begin with – served on the side of steak or lamb chops, they’re always sweet – so I highly suspect the flavors of the grilled eggplant to have rubbed off.  But I did try to finish it off, and I did about two-thirds of the way through.  Quite an accomplishment as I had the sauce on both penne, and then linguini.

Iced Moroccan Mint Tea

 

Blended Iced Moroccan Mint Tea, together with the pasta.

The Moroccan mint tea is usually served hot in a teapot.  Served over ice as I requested, it was enough for two tall glasses they’d use for the regular lemon iced tea.  I downed the first one as is – just laced with a little sugar syrup – but for the second one, I had it whizzed in the blender, together with lots of fresh mint leaves as our efficient server Red suggested.

Thanks, Brother for the wonderful treat!  A first in a series, I know, ‘til you leave this end of the month.  Your generosity is just one of the many things I will surely miss about you!

Iron Man's Grilled Tuna Gyro

 

Brother and the Iron Man each had the Moroccan Lamb Stew over Buttered Rice before sharing this Smoked Salmon Pasta!

 

Regular Pita

 

Loved... Loved... L-O-V-E-D our dining table!

 

The cutlery

 

Lovin' the lighting fixtures hanging from the ceiling.

 

A friend from way back stopped by! This is his Omega Speedmaster! Ayluvet!

 

"Puttin' on the wrists!"

 

Iron Man and The Flash

 

Thanks a lot, Brother! You've been treating me kind for close to 15 years now!

 

Drinks and dessert at Starbucks

 

Copyright © 2011 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





All the best, Giant Paulo!

28 01 2011

A pensive Giant Paulo

IT DOESN’T come often in a person’s life that he or she could claim to be really proud of his or her direct manager.  It just is hard to come by.  But as a direct manager for a while now – to a total of 44 bright young minds, as of last count, spread over five years – this sense of pride has surfaced often enough from my end, allowing me to appreciate those who have spent time in making my team at work a winning team.  If ever I have been regarded to have performed well, I was just a mere reflection of all of those who have been making things happen.  Giant Paulo has been there eversince I got my promotion.  And apart from the exceptional performance he has delivered year in and year out, I guess I owe him a loyalty medal if ever I would give one.

So, for all those times he stood by me, for all the truth that he made me see, for all the joy…  Oh, I got carried away.  I’m not quite sure about the joy part.  Hahaha!  Ok, seriously now.

So, quite naturally, I couldn’t let him move on to a better and more challenging phase in his career without at least hosting a dinner in his honor.  Brother and The Tycoon – themselves Mr. Pure Energy and Mr. Total Performer, respectively – had been in on my plan.  We told Giant Paulo it would be nothing less than a fab steak dinner.  A warm, succulent, plump, and juicy steak dinner.  We made a shortlist – Mamou at the Serendra Piazza, Mr. Jones (they have beef after all!) or  Myron’s Place at Greenbelt 5, or Highlands Steakhouse at the Mall of Asia.

And then that bus bombing happened.  While nothing would come in the way of our planned dinner, common sense prevailed and we had to scratch off Mamou, Mr. Jones, and Myron’s Place from the list.  We eventually decided on Highland Steakhouse.  Unfotunately, after I had made the ounces-to-grams conversion of the meat portions on their menu – I was asked, I don’t usually do the math when it comes to food – another round of check with our common sense led to a reasonable concensus – Café Mediterranean.  It’s one of my own favorites so I was ecstatic with the choice.  Besides, the mere mention of “kebab” and “lamb” did put a smile on Giant Paulo’s face.  So I knew that with every step we were taking, we were inching closer to gastronomic heaven for the guest of honor.

I won’t be commenting in length about the food.  I have done that, to a different spread, here.  Suffice it to say that it was a well-received dinner.  I was quite happy with my Roasted Vegetable Soup, creamy in texture and robust in the smokiness of a melange of vegetables most likely roasted for hours to caramelized goodness in the oven.  I found it interesting that while the flavors came from the bounty of the Mediterranean Sea, my dinner pairing of this soup with the classic Greek Salad echoed thoughts of a belly-pleasing combo that was so American in nature.  I got reminded of this juxtaposition while I unconsciously rubbed my expanding tummy as wedges of deep red roma tomatoes burst with their juices in my mouth, marrying perfectly with the coy sharpness of the Vidalia onions and the creaminess of the crumbled feta cheese.

Roasted Vegetable Soup

 

Greek Salad

 

Salmon Linguini

 

Marinated Olives

 

Barcelona Pizza

 

Complimentary Side Salad

 

Iced Mint Tea

As Giant Paulo’s dinner was conceived with unapologetic carnivorous thoughts in mind, I gave in and asked for my own Lamb Stew served over Mediterranean Rice.  The stew was wonderful – though I realized right there that cinnamon suppresses The Flash’s appetite – bringing to Iron Man’s mind an unavoidable comparison to the Filipino beef mechado.  I devoured all the tender – almost gelatinous at times – chunks of lamb, unfortunately picking through my Mediterranean Rice as slivers of almonds turned out to be my cinammon.  Note to self:  say, “No almonds, please,” next time.

Lamb Stew over Mediterranean Rice

 

Giant Paulo had the Lamb Kebab with Pita

 

Lamb Kebab with Mediterranean Rice

 

Moroccan Grilled Fish with Pita

 

Lamb Stew with Couscous served on the side

The full (security) alert status notwithstanding – that turned EDSA to a giant parking lot, yet again – the evening’s only rose, the very lovely K-Girl arrived, well into just the meal’s start.  She started with a little of the salad then asked for the Pesto Basilico pasta.  While waiting, she got into all the catching up, not parrying any questions at all.

Pesto Basilico

I knew that the dinner was thought of as just a fitting gesture to say farewell to Giant Paulo.  But as I skewered yet another wedge of tomato and a chunk of Vidalia with the tines of my dinner fork, I looked up and saw everybody gathered around the dinner table – swapping stories, throwing knock-knock jokes, spilling the latest on what-not – and I knew I was right where I wanted to be.  And that we had fulfilled what we wanted to convey:  it was a celebration of the good times and a silent commitment to recreate the same.  Some other time.  Some other place.

Bon voyage, Giant Paulo!

Here's to more times together!

 

Copyright © 2011 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.