Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Lunching & Wining at M Café

A good meal and a few glasses of wine seems to be the norm nowadays. The month of November has brought me to so many wonderful events with good wine, I'm just really happy to be a part of it and taking it as an opportunity to refine my palette.

Another opportunity popped up last week when Jericho and I were invited to lunch at M Café in Ayala, a Raintree Restaurant, to enjoy the good food as well as the overflowing glasses of vino from their partner, Future Trade International.

While waiting for our other friends to arrive, Jericho cooled off with a refreshing Watermelon Green Mango Smoothie (P175) while I got myself a sweet Pineapple + Ripe Mango Tropical Shake (P175).

The others arrived after a time, and we all tucked in to a lovely lunch. Although we were at M Café, we mostly ordered from their sister restaurant that specializes in Filipino cuisine, Kabila.

The Shrimp "Ukoy" (P195) was crispy, light, and not at all greasy. This comes with sukang Ilocos and sili rock salt for that tart taste as well as a bit of heat.

The "M"panada (P195) was simple yet surprising. Stuffed with Vigan longaniza, shreds of papaya, and salted egg, this was a mouthful of savory, sour, and salty all at the same time. The flavors are best enhanced with a teaspoon of sukang Ilocos and a touch of sili rock salt.

From the Café we ordered the Asian Roti Platter (P350) that came with a red curry dip and Szechuan cucumber. The curry dip was sour, not like the thick, slightly spicy ones you get in Malaysia. Still, this was pretty good, and I managed to polish off the plate.

To whet the appetite, we also had an order of Pork Crackling Sisig (P250). To my dismay, this wasn't at all crispy and even quite gummy even when topped with pork belly chips, native onions and the native siling labuyo.

I enjoyed quite a few glasses of Monkey Bay's Sauvignon Blanc while enjoying the appetizers. The taste is fresh, lively, and citrusy overflowing with ripe grapefruit, lemon, and passionfruit with an infusion of delicate herbaceous characters. This New Zealand wine almost tastes like a sweet Riesling - definitely something I'd stock up at home.

Jericho, on the other hand, appreciated the Shiraz-Cabernet of Penfold's Rawson's Retreat more. This medium-bodied wine has a juicy freshness and a lovely balance of summer berries and light spices. I had a glass of this and then went back to my Monkey Bay. I find red white to be too heady for this weather, but then, that's just me.

For the main courses, we all enjoyed Kabila's Pork Bagnet (P395) that was served with a side of fresh tomatoes, sukang Ilocos, calamansi, and sili rock salt. The rock salt really gives the crunchy bagnet and the plain tomatoes a lot of character, so be generous when you sprinkle this on top of your deep-fried porcine! Each bite of crisp skin gave out a melodious crunch, making me one very happy mother mucker!

The Tinta (P195) pasta looked absolutely beautiful on the plate. Angel Hair pasta is cooked in squid ink and topped with lots crispy garlic and baby squid. I almost didn't mind it being so messy to eat! The delicate flavors of the squid were enhanced by the citrus of the calamansi, I kept thinking it tasted like some kind of squid-based palabok, if there ever was such a thing.

Everyone agreed that Kabila's BBQ Chicken Inasal (P350) was a winner! Chicken thighs are marinated and served on a charcoal frill with a side of sinamak and chicken oil for added flavor.

I was stuffed to bursting, but we also had a lot of dessert to get through!

Naturally, I gravitated towards the rich and decadent Tablea Cake (P295).  The rich, dense chocolate cake was covered in an equally rich dark chocolate with a few pieces of candied pili nuts on the side. The perfect ending to a big meal in my book.

I was so entranced by the Tablea cake, I didn't pay the Impossible Cake (P275) much mind. This looked to have a sort of cheesecake on top.

Jericho went gaga over the more Pinoy desserts, like the Frozen Brazo de Mercedes (P295). The fluffy light brazo sandwiched both layers of ube and mango ice cream, all of which was topped with toasted coconut shreds and pinipig. This both looked and tasted marvelous!

The Minatamis na Saging + Sago (P150) didn't look like much compared to it's very colorful counterparts, so I didn't really try this.

Jericho's favorite was the Mango + Ube Sticky Rice (P195). A bed of kakanin and sago supported a very generous helping of ubeng halaya, which was then topped with slices of fresh mango, and sprinkled with toasted coconut, pinipig, and sesame seeds. This was light and refreshing.

The Leche Flan Turon + Chocnut Sauce (P195) was Jason's favorite, the creamy leche flan center oozing out of the center and the sweet chocnut sauce lending another layer of very Pinoy flavor to the dessert.

With their 'I'm Dreaming of a Wine Christmas' promo, you  get one raffle entry for every bottle of  Future Trade International wine (Penfolds, Robert Mondavi) you purchase at any Raintree Restaurant (Chelsea Market Cafe, Mr. Jones, Stella, etc.) between November 22 - December 16, 2013.

When mucking around Greenbelt, enjoy your meal with a bottle of your favorite wine from FTI! I definitely have a better appreciation for wines that come from New Zealand, Australia, Chile, and Australia. I used to think that European wines were the standard for the good stuff, but in this tropical weather, they just don't work. The lighter, sweeter wines are definitely better.

Just mucking around Manila,
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Images taken by Jericho San Miguel of Lightbulb Photography

M Café
+63 2 757 3000
Ground Floor, Greenbelt 4,
Ayala Museum, Makati
Open Daily: 10am - 10pm