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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

THE MERCATO CENTRALE CHRONICLES DAY 3 & 4: FRIENDS AND FAMILY!




His name is "Enzo".. ENsymada & ChoriZO..

    I'm not a night person at all. I don't go out very much at night, and i'm notoriously "antukin". When the clock strikes around 10pm, I begin to yawn like crazy and start spacing out. So as you can imagine, I've never been to any of those "Super Clubs" that people seem to be crazy over nowadays. In fact, if you ask me of what my idea of "Going out at night" would be, The first thing I'd tell you is "Midnight Mercato".

     I haven't been to the night version Mercato Centrale just yet, but I intend to soon. But truth be told, I'm enjoying the morning market a little bit too much, so I don't feel the urgency to go to the midnight version just yet. 

    Rina and I try to go to Mercato Centrale at least once a month, and every time we do,we try to make it an event with friends and family.. Cuz lets face it, with the amazing choices of food, how can you NOT enjoy?





DAY 3: FRIENDS TIME

OFF BEAT CAFE


It looks like it's smiling at me

      Perhaps the main purpose of my March trip to Mercato Centrale last March (Day 3) was to try Offbeat Cafe's Ensaymada-Chorizo (Enzo) Burger. I've had their famous Krispy Kreme Donut "Off Beat" Burger already, but I haven't done a review of it yet because I tried it at the actual Off Beat restaurant at the Collective during their soft opening stage and their menu wasn't the final one yet. I haven't been able to go back yet, so I wanted to do a more updated entry, instead of working on a post that consists of dishes that are no longer on their menu (Haba ng explanation).

  Since the Krispy Kreme Burger isn't exactly an original idea, (it's been an urban legend for quite some time now, more famously known as the "Luther Burger" on behalf of the Singer Luther Vandross who, believe it or not, died of a heart attack a few years back) Off Beat decided to come up with their very own burger that was undoubtedly Pinoy, but still had "shock value" for marketing.


Just looking at it gave me pimples

        The "Enzo" Burger (P180) achieved exactly that. I'm a guy who loves the mixture of sweet and savory, so this was a delectable treat for me. Before I tried it, I firmly believed that the Ensaymada they used was critical.. It would make or break the dish, but thankfully, it was rather soft and moist. Sure it made a mess on my plate, but that was the beauty of it. If I wanted Fine Dining, I wouldn't have gone to Mercato Centrale in the first place. The Chorizo burger was thick and meaty, and had a spicy kick to it, but nothing even the weakest of tongues wouldn't be able to handle. My burger could have stood to have stayed in the grill for a few more minutes, as it was undercooked just a tad, but it overall, it was still a very good burger. 

      In my opinion though, I think one of the best elements of the Enzo Burger, is its most unheralded one. You hear about the ensaymada, and people talk a lot about the chorizo burger patty, but no one really makes a big deal about the big slice of ham crammed inside the burger. If you thought that the combination of the Ensaymada and Chorizo patty wasn't sinful enough for you, adding the ham made sure that Enzo's soul will forever burn in hell. Be prepared though.. it's really heavy. A lesser man would not have been able to finish this.. AND eat yet another dish (I don't know whether i'm supposed to say that proudly, or be ashamed of myself?)

       Compared to the Krispy Kreme Burger though, I'm still gonna have to go with the Glazed Donut version for two obvious reasons:

       1) It's got Bacon in it 

       & 

      2) I love me some Krispy Kreme glazed donuts! 





MAD ABOUT SPUDS


       I haven't tried the famous Cheesy Potatoes of Mad About Spuds yet because, although I'm a big fan of Potatoes, Cheese and Bacon, I've never had a good marble potato dish that I've actually liked. They're usually undercooked and too hard. However, my friend Rain, who is a fellow lover of all things, Cheesy, Potatoey and Baconey (I made up two of those words), assured me though that Mad About Spuds cooks the cheesy potatoes rather well. However, I decided to spend my money on something else from their menu. 

      Being the carnivore that I am, it was their Pork Baby Back Ribs (P100 w/ rice) that grabbed my attention. It looked fatty and oily... just the way I liked it (I obviously didn't get enough cholesterol from the Enzo Burger). Honestly though, given its sweet oil based sauce, it felt more like a "Humba" dish, and the cut of meat made it closer to Liempo than a Baby Back Rib. Admittedly, The meat was soft and tender, but It could have used a few more dashes of salt, to help bring the flavor out more. Not a bad deal for P100 bucks!




        I was a little dissapointed that, of all the places that Rina could order from, she chose to go with "Jap-Ok!". Of course, since she's pregnant and was craving for Shrimp Tempura, I was powerless to stop her, because my mom gave me explicit instructions to give in to everything she craves for (In fact, her favorite line nowadays is "Sumbong kita sa mommy mo"). 



    As expected from a Japanese fast food restaurant, the tempura wasn't exactly the best quality. There wasn't anything really wrong with the fish and it was actual a good effort from a local fast food chain, but the coating seemed more like regular flour than actual Japanese bread crumbs. Rina said it wasn't really anything she would go back for. 

Scenes from Day 3



        The lovely Lia ordered JM's Burger from Johnny Steams, but asked them to take out the Onions, tomatoes and cucumbers. She then asked, "Wala bang discount since wala nang gulay?"
        


       Love Birds Melay and Jo followed, 
and he sure did a number on that Sausage from Edible Options.
      


My wife always looks radiant.. 
Even when she's not too crazy about the shrimp

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DAY 4: A FAMILY AFFAIR

        My siblings and I are planning to go full blast with Oz Cakes, so I recommended they check out Mercato Centrale to see the competition, as well as scout the place as a possible venue for our business. So just before Holy Week, Raquel, her husband Julio, and my Dad(!) joined Rina and I for (a heavy) breakfast.




RODRIGO'S ROAST





Sort of like opening the ark of the convent       

          Anyone who walks past the slab of roast beef at Rodrigo's Roast and does not stop for a second to gaze at its glory, is probably vegan. It's really hard not to be impressed with these beautiful pieces of meat. However, no matter how good it looks, it won't matter unless it tastes awesome.


With a dash of Knorr or salt, this would be more kick ass

        P180 bucks will give you an order of roast beef, with a choice of rice or mashed potatoes. First off, the meat was beautifully cooked, but sadly, very under-seasoned. Instead of giving gravy or mushroom sauce, Rodrigo's Roast gives you Au Jus (The meat's own juice for those who don't understand French),  Which i believe was a brilliant idea.. except even the Au Jus tasted a little bland. The mashed potatoes also had a nice texture to it, but it too was sadly lacking in a flavor that would knock you out.



RETURN TO MANANGS CHICKEN



I Allowed Raqs a little smell, provided she doesn't suck up all the taste units

        After my Giant, Joel, brought a whole box of Manang's Chicken to work one day, I had been craving for it but never got around to getting my wings on. I was happy to see that they removed anything mentioning Bonchon from their merchandising materials, and marketed their chicken based on their own merits. If you guys haven't tried Manangs Chicken yet, I strongly suggest you do, because it will easily be among the best chicken wings you'll ever try!Box of 6 wings will cost you P120 bucks, and it's TOTALLY worth it!


EDIBLE OPTIONS: ROUND 2


A two pronged attack

      Though it was among the first stalls that we tried during our first visit to Mercato Centrale, Rina could not resist the call of Edible Option's Cheese Sausages. They have a promo: Buy one for P150 and get another sausage of any kind for free.. But Rina was so entranced with the sight of the sausages on the grill, that she inadvertently ordered two of the same type of sausage instead.. which turned out to be a blessing in disguised, because she absolutely loved them, that one would not have been enough.

      She loved them so much, I didn't get to try a single bite.. and when I told her, "You didn't give me a bite.." she played the pregnancy card once again and said, "The baby needed food, hun..". How do you argue with that, right?




Corned Beef Brisket + Sinigang = 1 Happy Julio

            My brother in law, Julio, is a Sinigang Junkie. Sinigang to him is like Bacon to me. One time, his mom challenged him to have Sinigang for a month straight. After two weeks of him religiously having sinigang for dinner, it was his mom that ended the deal.. because she couldn't stand watching him eat the stuff anymore. The thing was, he swears he could have lasted longer than a month. So when he says that the Sinigang na Corned Beef was kick ass, I believe him.

               Too bad he can't remember the name of the place that served it. (Manila Q? Kitchen Q? If anyone recognizes it, please feel free to fill me in on the details!)


BALE DATUNG


Raqs excited with her find
         My sister, Raquel, had heard a lot about Chef Claude Tayag's Pan De Bagnet (P150), so that was on her "Must Try" List. I had seen it many times before, but i never got around to trying to for two reasons.. The first being it's loaded with, what I can only assume is "ensalada".. Meaning lots of tomatoes and vinegar.. two no-no's for a hyper acidic guy like me. The second is, the line for the "Bale Datung" stall is usually the longest in Mercato Centrale, so it becomes a hassle to queue up. 

That is a pretty looking sandwich
         
        Frankly speaking, I didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would. Naturally, i enjoyed the fatty bagnet, although it could have stood to be a bit crunchier, especially the at the ends where the pork skin is. I took a bite off Raquel's sandwich, and it took me around a minute to chomp through the skin, because the texture became sort of like a rubber band. The taste of the thinly sliced bagnet though, was superb. Had I been able to bite through the sandwich cleanly, and it had a wonderful crunch to it, it would have totally changed my perception of the sandwich.


Julio, on the other hand, seemed to enjoy the sandwich a little TOO much..

MERRY MOO

This is why the call it "Meat Candy"
         Yes, I'll be the first to admit that the thought of mixing Bacon with Ice Cream sounds incredibly strange.. But I'm a slave to the allure of the Meat Mana from the heavens, so I HAD to try it. Merry Moo takes pride in creating Out of the box ideas with ice cream. One scoop was P60 bucks, which technically was a little bit pricey for ice cream, but alot cheaper than Haggen Daz and other gelato places, so I figured it was worth the "risk".

 
It's a good thing i'm blurry cuz I kinda look like Jabba the Hutt 

         Gawd Dang was it good. It had a certain smokiness to it that invoked the taste of bacon, without losing the sweetness and creaminess that you look for in an ice cream. The base of the ice cream tasted similar to Mocha ice cream, but a richer version that was amazing. Honestly though, the little bits of bacon didn't really do much to enhance the taste.. I'm guessing it was more for shock value than anything else (Hey it worked.. I bought it, Didn't I?)


 CHUCKS GRUBBERIE PART DEUX


Like father, like son!

          I was happy to see that my dad was able to follow us in Mercato Centrale. He was leaving for Cebu that same afternoon, so he decided to make a pit stop before he headed off to the airport to join us for Brunch. He tries to avoid eating red meat, so when he asked me what fish dishes I could suggest for him to eat, there was only one clear answer on my mind.. The Fish and Chips of Chuck's Grubberie. 


 
 When they ask where we get it from, we always say, "We get it from our Daddy!"

        He got the Mahi Mahi fish and chips, and he absolutely loved it. It was freshly cooked, so it was a little bit too oily compared to the other fish dishes that he's used to but, he enjoyed it nonetheless. Word to the wise though.. I had their Red Snapper, and it wasn't freshly cooked, and the coating got a little bit soggy. I would go to Chuck's again, no doubt, but I would make sure next time, that it's freshly cooked.

        My favorite though, would definitely have to be the cream dory still.. and though I don't usually like thick cut fries, I make an exception for Chuck's "Chips".

      Raquel and Julio were convinced that Mercato Centrale was an awesome place to bond with friends and family, so we're definitely looking into getting a spot there for Oz Cakes some time in the near future.. Stay Tuned!!



MERCATO FAVORITES WEEKEND TREAT


       Funnily enough, This Mercato post was scheduled to be my first post after all my Singapore entries were done. It was a nice coincidence that Mercato Centrale also had a bloggers contest this week. Actually, if you look at the deals down below, they are pretty awesome, so I'll probably be going back on Sunday to make the most of it.



See ya there!

13 comments:

  1. WOW! Because of this post, I am going back to Mercato! It's funny cos I haven't been to the morning market, we've always visited the midnight Mercato. Been wanting to try that Candied Bacon!

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  2. Thanks Chief! If you go this Sunday, you'll probably see me there! Don't judge me, ok? I really DO eat like that hehe

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  3. ooh, i want to try the corned beef sinigang. i love manang's chicken! i think it's better than bonchon. anyway, update us when your family business opens at mercato, so we can try the food. good luck!

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  4. Thanks meedge! You have to try my bro's lava cakes.. they're the best in the universe!

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  5. The food at Jap-OK is definitely not okay in my book! Manang's Chicken beats BonChon any day, and the pan de bagnet looks like something I'd eat everyday - if cholesterol weren't such a problem!

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  6. Haha Midge! Yeah.. Im pretty sure Rina echoes your sentiments about Jap-Ok.. I didn't try it though.. So i guess i'm a lucky one hehe

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  7. Haha of course I won't! :) If ever, see you!

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  8. Thanks for visiting Merry Moo! :) We're still looking for really good smoked bacon for the bacon bits to really shine. Any ideas on where to get good ones? :)

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  9. Merry Moo, Bacon is ALWAYS awesome, so you don't have anything to worry about! I wanna try your ice cream sandwiches next!!

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  10. Congratulations! Your blog won in the Mercato Favorites Weekend Treats:) Pls check this link for details:

    http://www.mercatocentrale.ph/congratulations-to-the-winning-bloggers-of-the-mercato-favorites-weekend-treats-contest/

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  11. Thank You awesome people of Mercato Centrale! You better brace yourselves cuz I'll be back next weekend!

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  12. hi, is midnight mercato open every friday night? thsnks

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  13. As far as I know, it's opened Fridays and Saturday Nights :)

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