Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Tourné at The Fort Strip

This Monday, I ran some errands with my mom and we decided to stop at Tourné for lunch in between running around. I'd been talking to her about this restaurant for quite some time now, as I've seen it pop up on so many of the blogs that I read. They also did the catering for the Rex Reloaded show that we caught the other week - Rex Navarette is amazing by the way.
Tourné by Chef Sandralyn Hataway is so refreshingly decorated that you can't help but feel a lightness when you walk in. Bright white walls with doodles and notes, rustic woven white seating and very simple checkered tablecloths all work to create a somewhat canvas and paint theme for me.
I also love their open kitchen!

And it seems that they sell a lot of the produce that they're advocates for - their concept is based on locally sourced fresh ingredients and slow food; wanting to prepare dishes to help preserve regional and traditional cuisine, encouraging small organic agricultural businesses, educating about the risks of fast food and the like.
While waiting for us to order, they gave some cassava chips and tomato salsa. The chips had a very subtle sweetness, and the pair were good together.
I really wanted to try the Smoked Gg Grilled Pizza, and explained to them that I couldn't eat galunggong, which they very happily replaced with some shiitake mushrooms! Already, a great impression of their service here. It's always such a disappointment when restaurants don't care for your personal choices (vegetarianism, specific diets etc.), and say no changes can be made. This unfortunately happened to me recently at one of my favourite Chinese haunts, and it very heavily changed my view of them.

From the things I've seen on other bloggers' posts on Tourné they've had a great array of different pizzas, showing the menu does change to suit their produce options. So lovely.
I ordered some organic lemongrass tea, which is served 'loose' in a tea steeper.
After about 10 minutes, the waiter came back to release the water (press a button at the top!) and pour it for me.
It was delicious - very clean and not bogged down by other flavours! And I felt great knowing (and seeing) that the lemongrass was fresh, and not some kind of packaged and flavoured mix. The water should've been hotter though.
To start, we both ordered the soup of the day, which was a sweet potato soup. Originally, we were told it was a pumpkin soup, but almost immediately after ordering, a waiter came up to us to correct his mistake of saying so in a very polite manner. We did not mind at all! We loved that he corrected this instead of just letting it be and hoping we didn't notice. *applause*

The soup was a little bit too salty, but otherwise quite yummy. It wasn't very thick or heavy, as you may expect a sweet potato soup to be. There was a strong basil flavour, and some leaves in the soup, but it wasn't obviously sweet potato-y to us. I liked it though, and the presentation was beautiful.
We both enjoyed the pizza! It's the perfect serving size for an appetiser. I loved how fresh it tasted, again going with the overall vision of the restaurant. The ingredients are simple, yet work together very well to create something a bit more sophisticated.
I did wish that there was a bit more colour on the pizza though. The crust did not hold the toppings too well, it got very soft especially towards the centre. We found it a bit undercooked. For a grilled pizza we were missing the grill marks and toastiness!
I ordered their vegetarian lasanga roll - stuffed with mushrooms, ricotta and spinach. The presentation was so lovely! The roll is placed on layers of pesto then marinara / tomato sauce, then topped with more marinara / tomato sauce and a slice of cheese and some grated parmesan.
The pesto was really good - chunky and well seasoned. There was a generous amount of filling inside the roll too! Lots of spinach, especially. I loved it. The marinara / tomato sauce was lightly sweet. The pasta not covered by sauce did get a bit toasty though, but I like it like that. Added a bit of a bite.
My mom had the beef brisket over mashed sweet potato with basil. I tried the mash and really liked it! It wasn't too smooth and felt quite rustic and home-made, it was not overly sweet and was perfect. My mom said that the beef could've been softer though, but overall was happy with the dish.
The service was delightful. The staff was very attentive and professional - once they saw we were finished with a dish, they asked if they could take the plate. Each plate served was appropriately very warm, and all courses were served at the same time. We were so happy about this as it's a nice change from having to wait for each other's orders to come before we start eating! We were definitely well taken care of.

And for dessert, we ordered the pineapple and banana foster with coconut liqueur. Can you say YUM!? It reminded me of a lot of desserts my mom would make when I was younger, often a fruit like mango cooked with a bit of booze, cinnamon, sugar etc. then served with ice cream. I love warm and cold together. Nothing on here was sickeningly sweet, which is often such a disastrous end to a meal. Delicious.
Check this place out guys! It's such a nice change to the usual slurry of (really good) restaurants I know we all love to frequent ;) And I am very very into their slow food and organic produce beliefs! Power to you guys!


Tourné by Chef Sandralyn Hataway
Unit 5 and 6, The Fort Strip
7th Avenue cor. 26th Street
Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
+63 2 555 0267

Really excited to see these films!

I love that the twin from The Social Network is in the first film! His voice is irresistible. And Julia Roberts, with her adorable laugh. 

I'm a sucker for these tales. And these look like such wonderful spins of the original Snow White, exploring such polar ends of the entertainment spectrum. A slightly more light-hearted and comedic take against something more sinister and threatening. 2102 will be such an exciting year for films, I think!

What do you think of these two? Yay or nay?


Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Comfort Sundays Pt. 2: Mother-Daughter Kare-Kare

Kare-Kare (ka-reh ka-reh, to all of you unfamiliar to it) is something I was brought up on. It's a dish that comforts me, and I often judge whether I'll go back to a restaurant on how well they make this.

When my mom was pregnant with me, she apparently had a fixation on orange foods. Royal Tru Orange, Kare-Kare and the like. It explains why orange soda is usually my preferred order (though I'll very rarely even touch soda) and why Kare-Kare does things for me that no other stew could. (I hold no scientific claim on this, though).
Weekend events brought me to the decision to re-learn and document how my mom and I cook Kare-Kare. I think it was one of the first things she really taught me in the kitchen. It's traditionally made with ground peanuts, but has grown to be modernised and simplified with the use of peanut butter. It makes use of oxtails and tripe, then buffed up with chunks of beef and an array of veggies.
I needed something familiar this day. Something warm and close to my heart (stomach) to ease a bit of unease. "It's my favourite." would be an understatement.

Again, we cooked with a lot of flexibility - looking, tasting and adjusting as we went, so while I'll be able to give you a base of measurements, it won't really lead you to my final dish (which was heaven, by the way).

But it's better that way, trust me. Make this your own. Make it however sweet or salty, fatty or healthy, robust or tame as you need it to be. Listen to what your heart (stomach) needs. I did.
For those that eat meat, start by cooking the oxtail, beef and tripe in either a stock pot of boiling water with a bay leaf, a quartered onion and some peppercorns for an hour or so til softened or by using a pressure cooker.
Be sure to save the water you used in this, as it'll be added into the stew later on.
This is atsuete powder. Normally, we use atsuete seeds, but didn't have them on hand and this was all we found instead. The atsuete is what lends this stew it's orange-y hue, as well as adding a wee bit of a nutty / sweet / peppery taste.
The smaller black pot to the left was for my vegetarian version, while my mom cooked for everyone else in the bigger silver one to the right. That should help you take note of which is which in the photos.
With atsuete seeds, you'd cook them in oil to release the colour and flavour first. But in this case, add the oil and atsuete water? into a pot, and once that's hot, sauté the onions and garlic til golden brown and soft.
Then, add the stock that you cooked your meat in. If you were using toasted rice to thicken the sauce, which we omitted due to some time pressures, add them in at this point too.
Grab your favourite peanut butter, no need to go artisan or fancy here. It's all about Pinoy quirks.
Add a few spoonfuls of that in and mix well to incorporate.
I used vegetable stock (the same one I used in my I-Love-My-Parents Risotto last week) for my version. I also added a bit too much atsuete, check out that hilariously daunting orange below.
I enjoy a sweet and creamy Kare-Kare, so was very liberal with my peanut butter scoops.
Then add in your meats, mixing everything around to coat them well. Bring the stew to a boil, then let simmer for about 15 minutes. I skipped these ingredients, obviously.

Be sure to keep tasting as you go along! Season with salt and pepper. Remember that you can always add more stock, more peanut butter or reduce the stew along the way to get to the consistency and flavour you want.
Next, add in the vegetables: your puso ng saging (banana buds), eggplant, string beans, bok choy. Stir everything to coat, and let the vegetables cook in the hearty warmth.
Taste and season and adjust! Don't use eggplant chunks as big as this... Ours were a bit undercooked in the end, heh.
I added a lot more peanut butter throughout cooking, as well as some stock to thin the sauce out slightly. It made everything perfect.
And really... That's it! Of course, there was a lot more tasting, seasoning, adjusting etc. going on but I wasn't going to bombard you with photos of each of those... I'm already a bit worried there are too many photos as is! But indulge me and my love of this dish for now, will ya? Thanks guys, you're the best.
We served these on hot plates in the pots themselves. Alongside was the Vegetarian Pinoy Lumpia we made. We cooked these all at the same time, by the way! I'm proud to say my kitchen multi-tasking has improved! 
Mom brought some relleno as well, and my older brother brought grilled fish.
I could, of course, only eat the things that I had prepared. And was perfectly happy with that! Serve the Kare-Kare with rice and a heaping dollop of...
Bagoong! I've decided that's something I wouldn't give up. I can't eat Kare-Kare without it! Our favourite is the kind that Barrio Fiesta sells :)
I really hope you guys try this recipe! It's warm and comforting and cozy. Sweet then countered with that bite from the bagoong. The recipe is actually quite simple, so don't let my barrage of photos and adjustments deter you, please. It really does not get any better that some home-cooked peanut butter stew, if you will. I could write about how much I love Kare-Kare for hours, and how well it served as a part of my day.

I wish I could tell you all everything that I feel about this dish, and about that day... But I'll leave you to try making this dish or another that means something to you, and hopefully really feel how wonderful it can be.

Food truly nourishes.

Mother-Daughter Kare-Kare

1/2 kilogram beef (round or sirloin cut), cut into cubes
a bunch of tripe
1/2 kilogram oxtail, cut into 2 inch portions
1 cup peanut butter, add to taste (note that we finished the two jars photographed above between both our stews)
1/4 cup ground, toasted rice
2 onions, one diced / sliced and one quartered
1 bay leaf
2 heads garlic, minced (we used a lot more onion and garlic than stated, yum)
4 tablespoons atsuete oil
4 pieces eggplant, sliced into 1 inch portions (we needed vegetables than stated because of my version)
1 bundle bok choy (pechay),
1 bundle string beans (sitaw), sliced to 2 inches long
1 banana bud (puso ng saging), sliced into 1-2 inch portions
1/2 cup oil
8 cups stock (we just estimated and adjusted as necessary)
salt and pepper, to taste

In a stock pot, boil beef, tripe and oxtails in water with a bay leaf, a quartered onion and some peppercorns for an hour or until cooked and softened.

Strain, and keep the stock.

In a big pot or wok, heat oil and atsuete oil.

Sauté garlic and onions until golden brown and soft.

Add the stock, toasted rice and peanut butter. Mix well.

Add the beef, tripe and oxtail.

Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Adjust as needed, +/- stock, peanut butter, seasoning etc.

Add the eggplant, string beans, bok choy and banana buds.

Cook the vegetables for a few minutes - be sure not to overcook them.

Serve everything with rice and bagoong.

*Omit the obviously meaty steps for a vegetarian version, and simply use vegetable stock in the recipe. Omit serving with bagoong as well if you're that hard core. Which I am not.