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Posted by Dexter Matilla - - 0 comments

Photo © FAO/A.Benedett

This year will forever be remembered for a lot of things: the Beijing Olympics, Rafael Nadal dethroning 5-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer (and lest we forget, winning his fourth straight French Open title), and the Year of the Potato.

I kid you not. The United Nations recognizes the importance of the potato as “a staple food in the diet of the world’s population and affirmed the role that the potato could play in achieving internationally agreed development objectives, including the Millennium Development Goals.”

What are the Millennium Development Goals?

The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – which range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by the target date of 2015 – form a blueprint agreed to by all the world’s countries and all the world’s leading development institutions. They have galvanized unprecedented efforts to meet the needs of the world’s poorest.

So I thought it would be nice to start my food blog with the four-course all-potato lunch I had recently with two lady friends, one of the best food critics I know and a Hand Doctor, at 9501 in ABS-CBN.

I arrived a few minutes late because I drove all the way from Taal Vista in Tagaytay and I was feeling really tired. But dining with friends always makes me forget about fatigue or other worries for that matter. And of course, it helped that we would be eating potatoes, a good source of carbohydrates, for the entire meal.

You know what they say about how too much of the good stuff can be bad? Well, not in this case. The appetizer was one of the nicest-looking I’ve seen in a while: U.S. Potato Munchkins with Salmon Tartare, Sour Cream, Chives and Salmon Roe and Arugula Salad. First thing I noticed was how the “Arugula Salad” looked like lettuce. So anyway, I knew what I was in for when I took my first bite. The potato tasted like, well potato. Actually, to be more precise, it tasted like the baked potato I used to order at Wendy’s. What gave the flavor was the combination of the salmon tartare, the sour cream, and the salmon roe. The individual tastes, I thought, of the salmon tartare, the salmon roe, and the chives were very mild, barely discernible because of the overpowering taste of the sour cream. (Rating: C+)

Next was the Creamless U.S. Potato Soup with Chili and Basil Oil. I wasn’t able to take a picture of this one because as soon as I had a whiff of it, I couldn’t put my soup spoon down. My two lady friends and I agree that this soup was one of the smoothest to go down. I enjoyed it too much that I forgot that it had chili and one spoonful later, I was coughing and got all teary-eyed because of the spice. But it was all good because I could have had more of it. That’s how good it was. (Rating: A-)

The main course was the U.S. Potato Wedges Wrapped on Bacon with Beef and Chicken Medallions, Black Peppercorn, and Creamy Mustard, and Creamed Spinach. The first thing running through my head at the time was that this was one “killer” meal. I’ll forego talking about the U.S. Potato Wedges because it tasted the same as potato appetizer. And the bacon tasted just like the normal supermarket bacon. (If you want to taste the best bacon, head over to Taal Vista and go for their breakfast buffet but I’ll save that for later.) Between the beef and the chicken, my nod goes to the latter. The creamy mustard (which I was having trouble accepting because it looked and somewhat tasted like gravy—but what do I know, right?) actually went better with the beef but my “beef” with it is that it was a little bit of hard to chew on. But not the type of hardness that would make me push the plate aside. My friends know that I hate a good tasting meat that can pass off as rubber, consistency-wise. For me, meat is cooked best if it swirls in your mouth a little bit, then just melts, and slides down the throat. (Rating: B-)

Now comes the best part, the dessert, the Warm U.S. Potato and Bread Pudding with Whipped Cream and Tropical Fruit Stew. This looked every bit as delicious as it did the first time I laid eyes on it. My two companions were raving just like me. The combined sweetness and tinge of burnt bitter taste awakened my senses (or was it the coffee I was also having) and at the same time made me forget about the taste of not just the appetizer, the soup, and the main course, but also of the breakfast I had in Tagaytay! Believe me, I do not like to hype about food, and I don’t like desserts that much, but this is a must-try. (A+)

9501 is at the 14th floor of the ELJ Communications Center, Eugenio Lopez Drive, Quezon City

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