Sunday, January 31, 2010

CASA ARMAS Tapas Bar..." You can never go wrong with this Old-Time favorite !! "

I haven't been to Manila in years but I remember that the original location along Julio Nakpil served the best... and the last time I was there I saw the owner,  the late Jesus Armas, by the bar drinking with some friends. His branch in Malate opened 17 years ago. I remember Casa Armas used to serve good wines.....  Marques de Riscal. It carried Tempranillo ( red ) and Rueda ( white ). I tried it a long time ago when I was inviited to have lunch with my sister and an old family friend. I wonder if that brand still exists in the market today.

The best sellers at his Julio Nakpil location were the SNIPE ADOBO FLAKES ( Agachonas ), Lengua Estofada, Callos, Paella Valenciana, Salpicao,  Croquetas de pollo , Croquetas de Jamon, Churros con chocolate , Bacalao a la Viscaina ( tender and juicy codfish with the right amount of salt in it ) and the Boquerones ...... just listing down the menu I remembered when I used to dine there...made my mouth water........ I  miss CASA ARMAS....

Today, I have gone back to my favorite eating place... Casa Armas.... with my family....

In Casa Armas, there is a feeling of dining inside a "bodega " in Spain. The interior setting is polished with Spanish tiles, bricks, hard wood tables matched with old- world styled chairs as well as dim lighting fixtures.

Casa Armas is known for their tapas menu. You must also try their Tapas which are absolutely fantastic... My favorite tapas are... the ANGULAS ( baby eels sauteed in virgin olive oil ), gambas al ajillo (  sauteed shrimps in olive oil and garlic ), Chorizo Frito ( fried Spanish sausage ), their Manchego cheese platter, Jamon Serrano to name a few.

Here are the Tapas we ordered....

Boquerones ( Spanish anchovies sauteed in olive oil, minced parsley and lots of garlic )..

Angulas ( baby eel in virgin olive oil )... I found this dish a little too  spicy...

Croquetas de Jamon.... my grandson loved this one...

Agachonas ( Snipes adobo flakes )--- this was my favorite... it is still very good... 

Then we had Caesar Salad ....

While we were about to finish our salad ... the  waiters rolled out a small table and placed our next dish.... COCHINILLO al Horno... 

Sinful is probably the most fitting word I can use to describe Casa Armas's cuisine. Their cuchinillo al Horno ala Castellana ( suckling piglet ) involves using a plate to chop the piglet and is really quite a spectacle to behold. The skin of the piglet is  so crunchy while the meat is so soft, lined with a fat that almost drips .... this is SIN!!!  In order to try their Cuchinillo you have to order several hours in advance.

When it comes to food, the restaurant's specialty is is the PAELLA VALENCIANA and since I also cook this dish I think Casa Armas has the best tasting Paella so far.... You must not leave without sampling their PAELLA... They also have other choices like the Paella Negra and Paella Marinara.

Casa Armas's dishes are equally indulgent, since most of them are slow-cooked in oil and drippings. Another favorite is their Filletes de Lapu- lapu al Horno con Bechamel sauce. It is fillet grouper covered in the richest, creamiest sauce you can imagine. It is so good that you might like to pour the sauce over your rice or bread...did your mouth water with the description of the dish???

To end our meal.... we had Canonigo... which was so good.... you should try it!!!

Casa Armas has several branches now... In Podium, Jupiter Street in Bel-Air Village, Trinoma and in Makati at the third level of Greenbelt 3. I have gone to the Greenbelt 3 branch when it opened but the ambience was not like the one in Malate.

For people who love good food, Spanish cuisine is all about flavor and the joys of eating. It is a way of enjoying life by sharing moments and tastes with your family or friends. I have tried other Spanish restaurants but none of them has come close to Casa Armas. Believe me, if you are craving for Spanish food, there is no where else to go but Casa Armas... Try it for yourself!!


Greenbelt 3, 3rd floor
Ayala Center, Makati

tel. nos. (632) 757- 4961, 757- 4996

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Recently renovated Neilsen's at the Manila Peninsula Hotel has opened once more.... under the name " ESCOLTA ".....

Today, I joined my son Iggy and his family for merienda at ESCOLTA to celebrate the 6th month birthday of little UNA... When we got there ...the main dining room was empty...... I found out from the maitre'd  that there was a photo shoot and we had to sit in another area.

This is the first time I have gone back to NEILSEN'S now ESCOLTA at the PEN... I noticed they have enlarged the whole place... the small lobby between SPICES ( the Indian restaurant at the Pen ).. and the old restaurant... was now a part of ESCOLTA... and I was very impressed with what I saw...

Its interiors are contemporary with Filipino motifs--- cane-backed chairs, fish-trap lightings and contemporary artworks by local artists.

I liked one of the paintings there and when I went closer to see who painted it ... this scene " ESCOLTA " was done by Dominic Rubio... whose forte are paintings of " OLD ASIA ". Women dressed in elegant  terno blouses, his signature striped indigo tapis-skirts and ankle-length pleated undergowns.. while men are dressed according to their social status.

We ordered coffee and pastry ... here is what we ordered....

I highly recommend their "ESCOLTA" ricotta baked cheese cake --- it had limoncello liquor and was served with basil sorbet..

I paired it off with their hazelnut cappuccino ... which was very good... and it came with a slice of fruit cake ....  the fruit cake was moist unlike other places.

Iggy ordered brewed coffee...

and Cris tried their iced Raspberry Latte....  a shot of espresso with raspberry puree topped with whipped cream and fresh raspberry...

I will be back to try their buffet lunch ( 1100 PHP ++ ) or dinner buffet ( 1200 PHP ++ )... what about you.... have you been to the new ESCOLTA at the PEN???

The Peninsula Hotel 
1226 Makati Avenue corner Ayala Avenue

tel. nos. (632) - 887 - 2888

Sunday, January 17, 2010

LE PETIT ARTISAN at Greenbelt 5........

 To all the Coffee and Bread Lovers !!!!

After dinner one evening at Greenbelt 5,  my son Iggy together with his wife, Cris and I went for coffee. We discovered a new place where you can enjoy a cup of good coffee.... the place is called LE PETIT ARTISAN.. owned by James Romdane, a French man.  I found out that they only opened a few days ago.  James started selling his breads 3 years ago. He used to sell his breads at the Saturday Market in Salcedo Village and the Legaspi Sunday Market at Legaspi Village.  He has teamed up with the Max Brenner group which operates different outlets like Haagen Daaz, Oliver's Super Sandwiches, Thai Patio, Tea & Therapy, Zing Juice Bar and Madison Grill.

Le Petit Artisan is a small cofffe shop right beside Madison Grill . He serves all kinds of breads and his famous croissant. I was fortunate to see him in his coffee shop and got to interview him... He boasts of his breads which are sugar-free, no yeast, no fat and no preservatives.

His croissants are hand made unlike other places that uses machines.  While we were there... we were able to see his worker prepare / bake croissants.

You should try his coffee... that night my son had his espresso, I ordered decaf and both coffees were very good. I have tried different coffee places here and abroad, but this one was different. The aroma and body of his coffee is different.

Iggy seems to have a hard time on which flavor he should try.....

I also saw that he sells muesli bread which was good.

The best seller is his Authentic French Bread....This bread is entirely made of unbleached wheat flour, water and salt. It does not contain any type of refined sugar in its recipe.


According to James,  his motto is...... " If you like my breads... SPREAD THE WORD..... if you DO NOT LIKE MY BREADS... spread the word too!!!"

Want to have a good cup of coffee today???  Why don't you try LE PETIT ARTISAN  .... Be the Judge!!


Le Petit Artisan
Phase 2  ( ground floor beside Madison Grill )
Greenbelt 5, Makati

tel. nos. ( 0929 ) 486 - 0234