Tuesday, January 6, 2009

New Year, Old Habits



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
Polaris St.
Brgy. Bel-Air, Makati City
Tel. no. (632)8904123

9 comments:

Socky said...

I haven't been to La Tienda for the longest time! After reading this post, as well as those of Noel and Miguel, I feel compelled to try this place once again.

Talk about trying to lose pounds gained over the holidays, I have embarked on a 7-day cleansing diet, which I hope to follow up with a Southbeach diet. Wish me luck! Am already feeling miserable. And reading your post isn't helping at all!

Miguel said...

You should have told me you were going...I could have told you other dishes to order that are excellent (besugo, escalivada, chuleton, Paella de verduras etc...)

The next time you definitely have to bring your own wine unless you are happy with Marques de Caceres (which is not bad). You can also go for reserva which is good also.

Miguel said...

Regarding the paella some people like it dry and some people very moist. There is no real way of how it should be served but in my experience when I was in Spain, many of the paellas were on the 'dry' side compared to the more moist ones....

Chinkee said...

Hi Socky! Cleansing diet... Hmm, I think that's what I need. I have not been eating carbs since Monday (except last night's dinner, where in a moment of weakness, I had dinner at Carpaccio)and now I'm incredibly cranky. My poor, poor fiance...

I would really want to try La Tienda again, next time with proper endorsement and recommendations from Miguel, of course. :-)

Chinkee said...

Hi Miguel! I know, I know... I really regret not telling you. And at least you would have been able to warn me that the Chef was not there.

As for the food, my family was the one who did most of the ordering, as they are not as adventurous with food as I am. Those are the dishes we grew up with, so that's what my sisters and parents order over and over and OVER again.:-) The next time I go, I will surely order the ones you recommended.

The Caceres that I got to try before was actually a reserva, can't remember if '96 or '95. I remember liking it...

Yup, there is really no right and wrong way of doing paella. Everyone has their own interpretation and preferences. Although I've always enjoyed mine a bit moist and crunchy at the bottom, the one at La Tienda was still quite good.

I will surely be back there, ,maybe after I lose 10 pounds first. Hehe.:-)

Noel said...

Heh heh. I'm having lunch there tomorrow. As usual: escalivadas, paella de verduras with Basmati, besugo, chuleton. Predictable, but too good not to have over and over.

My wife usually complains that I eat the same things at the same places too often (we were just there this past Saturday), but when it's La Tienda, she's more than game.

I, personally like my paella a bit on the dry side myself, and, as Miguel says, en su punto.

Chinkee said...

Noel- Darn it! I really want to go back asap, but I'm trying not to take carbs for at least two weeks. I see no point in going back to La Tienda if I won't be having that famous paella de verduras with Basmati rice.

For sure I want to try the chuleton and the besugo, too. Which also reminds me that I have to stock up on Homenaje pala...

Dieting is TOO hard when you have a food blog. I'm in a really bad mood right now. @#$%!

Miguel said...

Yes same here - if I like the food I'll have it on and on and on....

I'm also trying to not have carbs for now but it's really really hard....

Noel said...

I almost feel guilty to mention that the carb-loaded Basmati paella was excellent as usual...almost. Three of us (C, myself and an old friend from out of town) finished all the dishes, a bottle of white and we ordered desserts and coffee pa.

¡Que rico!