2 Simple Lunches with Wine by the Glass in Manila.

Time was, one couldn’t get a glass of halfway decent wine to go with one’s meal in the Philippine restaurants. I’m referring to wine by the glass, of course. Much as I would like to be able to have a bottle or two of wine every time I eat out, work, time constraints and health concerns conspire against me. Well, those factors as well as my view that a bottle of wine, once opened, has to be finished because it will never be as good later on. Thankfully, the local vin au verre situation has changed dramatically over the past 5 years.

7th August 2009, Working Lunch at Restaurant Ciçou with the Vigneron.

On the table for me were…

Chanterelle and Truffle Cappuccino, and,

Roasted Sea Bass Crusted with Powder of Assorted Nuts, Chanterelle and Asparagus, Smoked Ham and Parmesan Sauce,

…with a glass of 2008 Château de Roquefort Côtes de Provence Corail Rosé. I’ve mentioned recently that this is:

…a fresh and commandingly structured, red-fruited rosé with oh-so-slight, yet distinctive, pepper and dried herb nuances. Very accessible, charming and easy to drink a lot of. I’ve had this several times in Je Suis Gourmand with Marc’s cassoulet, couscous with trio of lamb (a particularly good pairing), etc. I’ve also had it in Ciçou as well with Cyrille’s version of cassoulet. My two teen-agers like this too with Marc’s escargots.

Due to the ingredients of the two dishes involving delicately earthy chanterelles, truffles and a relatively commandingly flavored fish, a rosé was a fine match for both. It had enough structure not to get lost in the creamy cappuccino (and underlying truffled mashed potatoes) yet was light-handed enough to allow the fish to shine. Lovely.

11th August 2009, Impromptu Lunch at Terry’s 2º Piso with my wife.

There to pick up some sobrasada, rosado, Pedro Ximénez and, eventually, some oloroso, we decided to have a light sandwich lunch, sharing an appetizer of…

Gambas al Ajillo with…

2008 Bodegas Marco Real Homenaje Blanco - Surely dominated by viura, presenting fresh, drily crisp, virtually snappy character with light, white floral notes in its green apple and appetite-enhancing slight almond-bitterness past mid-mouth. Though brightly edgy, it’s not sharp at all as there is a distinct, though discreet, rounded weight in the middle that 100% viura’s do not possess (none that I’ve tried anyway). Nice balance. Simple, good, and simply good.

Bocadillo of Joselito “Gran Reserva” Ibérico Bellota ham, extra-virgin olive oil and freshly marinated crushed tomatoes

Upon opening this indulgent sandwich, a friend’s post on Paco Meralgo in Barcelona, specifically, the pictures of the typical pan con tomate with jamón Ibérico, came immediately to mind. I remember because he told me how to make it at home. With this, I had the latest vintage 2008 Bodegas Marco Real Homenaje Rosado. I’ve written about the 2007 vintage of this grenache-based rosado so many times and have opened countless bottles of it myself, so there is no need to belabor the point that I consider it the very best value for money rosé locally available.

What I can say is, aside from it being a fresh, lively, and deeply fruited rosado, it seems more concentrated yet lighter in alcohol than the 2007 vintage (and that is a good thing). I bought some bottles of both the rosado and blanco for the house that day, and I shall certainly buy more.

As a pairing for my Iberico Bellota ham sandwich, the rosado’s red fruit played with the ham’s savory-sweetish-saltiness, both underscoring the latter’s savory flavors and cutting it’s delightful fattiness. Couldn’t ask for more for a lunch. Simple, hearty, natural, excellent. That’s the way I like it.

I was also in the market for a Pedro Ximénez based wine to go with a chocolate dessert for a dinner by a visiting Taillevent cook last night (which I wasn’t able to attend due to a bad case of the flu) - specifically, I wanted to buy some Bodegas Gomara Lacrimae Christi PX Moscatel that I had at JC de Terry’s 2nd July 2009 dinner. That being out of stock, however, my wife and I tried out a glass each of the Leyenda Pedro Ximénez Sherry with the Chocolate Marquis.

Though the Leyenda PX was not quite as deep, complex or graceful as the Lacrimae Christi (JC emphasized that the former is not made or aged the same way as the latter after all), the Leyenda shared some of the Lacrimae Christi’s hallmark PX flavors of raisins, dark molasses (Rene said more like muscovado to him), licorice, and dark chocolate. Still and all, I found it to be a good match with my rich chocolate dessert.

At a mere P700+/bottle (approximately US$15), it’s an absolute no-brainer casual pairings of similar chocolate desserts. I really can’t understand why PX wines haven’t caught on in Manila. Anyway, that just means more for me.

Wonderful write-up Noel. That “cappuccino” in particular looks delicious!

Great notes, awesome pics. But calling truffle cappucino, roasted sea bass with chanterelle, etc. a “simple lunch”?!?

Thanks, Melissa and Alan.

Yes, the cappuccino of chanterelles and truffle was particularly good and very reasonably priced (around the equivalent of US$14.50). The chef, Cyrille Soenen (a.k.a., “Ciçou”), is one of the best chefs we have in Manila. JC de Terry, another one of our best here (the best in fine Spanish cuisine definitely), considers Cyrille the very best here in fine French cuisine.

I call it “simple”, Alan, because no previous planning on the menu or wines were involved. The lunch at Ciçou was a work-related lunch (I am counsel for the Vigneron’s family’s Philippine business interests), while the sandwich lunch at Terry’s was impromptu - we were really just there to buy some things from their downstairs deli.


Another sparkling post from my fave wine drinker and gourmet there in the far east!!

Sounds delicious, Noel. Thanks for sharing.

Noel - another mouth-watering post! Are these two places in Makati?

Best, Ramon

Bob, Douglass and Ramon,

I apologize for the delay in replying, I have been unable to connect to this site for the past 2-½ days. Many thanks for your kind words, they are most gratifying.

Yes, Ramon, both restaurants are in Makati.

Best to all,