Luckily for the few who follow my blog, I will not bore you with New Year’s resolutions. I have never believed in them, probably because I lack the discipline to stick things out anyway.
Besides, I believe in that saying, “if it ain’t broke, why change anything?” (I can’t remember who said it, but I’m pretty sure it was not Shakespeare.) Life is just too short. (Ok, enough clichés for now.)
So, despite the fact that I’m on panic mode considering I have not in the very least slimmed down for my July wedding, I still cannot resist another let’s-think-of-a-stupid-excuse family dinner. If the Catholic Church sees it fit to celebrate the arrival of the Three Kings in Bethlehem, who am I to question it?
We (“I”, actually) decided to have Sunday dinner at La Tienda, a Spanish restaurant I have been meaning to try for quite a while now. Spanish foodie Miguel and wine expert Noel frequent that place, so I naturally had very high expectations.
The first thing I took a peek at was the wine list. I was surprised to see how limited the selection was, knowing that a Spanish chef was at the helm. I did get to try some Marques de Caceres in the past, so I just ordered a bottle of their Crianza.
Creatures of habit, we ordered the menu items we always have in other Spanish restaurants, starting with the Gambas al Ajillo, Calamares Frito, Chistora, Chorizo and Croquetas al Pollo. As always, the gambas were gone in mere seconds. The calamares were actually very tender and perfectly fried, while the sausages were also quite good. The croquetas, in my opinion, are nothing great. I would have wanted to order the ones with Bacalao or Chorizo, but poor Matt would have nothing to eat with his bread. He really should just convert to Catholicism, but that’s a different blog.
A cute thing happened during dinner that I thought I should share. My two-year-old niece, Rianna, saw that I was taking pictures of the food. So she took the 10th breadstick that she was munching on, put it on her plate, and had me take a picture of it too. In the background, you could see her tiny hands folded as she patiently had her breadstick’s picture taken. IT’S SO FREAKING CUTE! Oh well, she could skin a kitten alive and I’d probably still find it adorable. Moving on…
My family and I shared dishes of Paella (a rice dish with vegetables, shellfish, sausages and chicken), Salpicado (beef cubes sautéed in garlic and olive oil), Pollo al Ajillo (chicken cooked in garlic) and Callos (a stew of ox tripe and garbanzos, among other things). We found the paella a tad dry, being used to the more moist preparations. I’ve read in other blogs that they sometimes prepare paella with Basmati rice (long grain rice popular in India and the Middle East). The salpicado and the chicken- which shared the same cooking method- were both really good. My dad’s sister makes really good callos (the ox tripe is very trender, the sauce perfectly seasoned with paprika, green peppers and other spices) so we compare all other callos in the universe to the one she prepares every Christmas. So far, my Tita Edelyn’s callos, remains unbeaten.
Despite the hits-and-misses, my family still enjoyed our Spanish dinner. I found out later on that Chef Javi is on leave Sundays, so that could be the reason the food was not as good as I expected. It seems that La Tienda’s regulars know that, as we were just one of the only two tables occupied that evening. I will make a second visit for sure, but next time I will inform Miguel so he can give the chef a heads up, and I will also bring my own bottles.
The service was pretty good, as it should be since we were the only ones there. The food came out in fast succession, which was great. We were pretty hungry.
Surrounded by the ones dearest to me, it was a good way to end the holidays and start another year. I seem to be less sentimental than most people, so I have the propensity to look ahead as I consciously close the doors to the past. I do take stock of the year that has passed and ponder on both the good and the bad, trying to work out in my mind how I could make the year to come the best ever.
But, like always, I will trust the current. So far, fate has not failed me. I’m excited to see what comes next.
Happy New Year, everyone!
La Tienda Restaurante
Brgy. Bel-Air, Makati City
Tel. no. (632)8904123