Bits and Snippets of the Philippines

Basic Reading of Global Filipinos

The Food Tour of Tuscany

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I’ve lived a stone’s throw away from Tuscany at McKinley Hill for the past three years but I never imagined it to be this good. I experienced the so-so of the Venice Piazza – I guess it was just over-marketed that my level of expectation was just too high. But the surprise of being asked to go through a walking tour of eight of the dozens of bistros and restaurants was a delightful experience. It is now a must to be roaming around that single stretch of road where creative culinary and gastronomic science both meet Juan, the average man.

Tuscany at McKinley Hill is Megaworld Lifestyle Malls’ newest addition to its style to dining nirvana in the heart of the metropolis. If in the early millennium started Eastwood City, that large parcel of land in Quezon City that used to house General Textile Mills then converted into what really looked very similar to the dining streets of Universal Studios in California, here’s its newest culinary sanctuary from the folks that also gave you Venice Piazza at McKinley Hill, Burgos Circle at Forbestown Center, Lucky Chinatown and Newport Mall at Resorts World Manila.

It’s been hours since the walking and dining tour or #TuscanyFoodTour organized by veteran food, travel and lifestyle blogger Anton Diaz, and TV and events host and best selling author RJ Ledesma, both additionally famed for their successful Mercato brand of street food fairs. Our tour guides from Megaworld Lifestyle Malls Rachel and Cam (or Kam) gathered us as one small group, starting off at Planet Grapes and moving on to seven more stops. At the end of it all, it’s #burp and letting all that food and drinks simmer down and out of my system before I could get a good night’s rest.

PLANET GRAPES

It’s a wine shop with the modern touch of prepaid cards and its wine stations (or wine serving machines) that gives a demure filling or a hearty half-a-glass for white wines. Its friendly servers offered us a plate of single-piece appetizers, including a choice of Penoy or Balut, the staple of Filipino street food and a foreigner’s exotic nightmare. The servers said red wine goes great with Balut. That I have to remember the next time around.

TRATTORIA POGGIO ANTICO

The owner of this Tuscan-inspired restaurant Roland Lorilla was there to greet and orient us with the menu selections of his Italian cafe. We were told the word “Poggio” means “hills” and the hillside Italian sources of fresh farm ingredients makes the speciality menu items that his chef of 15 years experience provides diners. We were served white wine together with delectable hors d’oeuvres. The Prosciutto con Melone (ham and melon on pizza crust) was a surprise – ham and melon? Who ever thought that tasted great? There was also Crespella del Poggio Antico or crepe stuffed with ham and cheese, and mushroom in truffle sauce where anything with truffles is a gastronomic wonder. The mozzerella crostini or Promodoro e Mozzarella Crostini and Oyster Sur Pate di Fegato (oyster on liver pate) was also great.

B&T MEXICAN KITCHEN

Who doesn’t care for Mexican food even if our country hero Manny Pacquiao keeps fighting the Mexicans here and there? Burrito, taco salad with corn (now, that’s new), Mexican pizza and mango glazed chicken were the entrees served to us at this Tex-Mex restaurant. One rare find some of my blogger-friends knew they had was the hotter than the hottest hot sauce. Was that called “Ghost Sauce?” Or it sounds ghost-something similar. The tongue isn’t where the zing is, according to one who tasted it. The after-effect makes you sweat like an oven.

L.E.S. BAGELS

Finally, the resurrection of an authentic New York style bagel shop. Lower East Side is where the American owner (cute, single guy according to the girls) says his freshly boiled-then-baked bagels is patterned from the real, authentic New York way. In the early 90s, the first bagel store in the Philippines by my experience opened at Greenbelt 1 called Bagel & Co. That didn’t last long seeing that the dough looking like donuts didn’t hit the simple food culture of the Filipinos then. The last bagel shop I know (that also closed down) was located in Filinvest Alabang. Thank goodness a revival is alive here at Tuscany in McKinley Hills. Of course, every cream cheese flavor served owes its basic ingredient to the Philadelphia style. This is a must-keep-going-back breakfast-till-midnight-snack hangout.

MARCIANO’S PIZZA PASTA STEAKS

By this fifth #TuscanyFoodTour place, I’ve been stuffing myself with a fiesta of wine, appetizers and small-portion entrees. Now comes the big boy – steak! And pizza, too! Not the most tender I’ve tasted but considering the shared environment of the food tour, it wasn’t meant to be. I’ve eaten at Marciano’s in Greenbelt and the steak I ordered there was tender. However, warm pizza still tastes good nonetheless. Their kitchen is managed by Giorgio Buciarelli, an Italian chef who creates these al dente pasta creations (I didn’t touch the linguine anymore) and freshly carved pizza delights. But I had to get their Panna Cotta dessert on a shot glass to wash away the rich tastes of all the appetizers and entrees through these five restaurants.

MAIN STREET

What’s food that’s Canadian? Umm… maple syrup and Canadian bacon? Would you believe French Fries from Quebec? They call it Poutine, french fries with a heavy serving of beef gravy and cheese curds. They cut a what-looked-like a pound of Wagyu burger into six slices but that Wagyu beef served any style will always hit that excited tongue receptor buds. Ahh… ice cream was served last. Now, here’s a gelatto that’s maple syrup flavored with bacon bits. Huzzah! The Canadian experience is complete. The restaurant’s Filipino-Canadian owner spent his little less than 10 years going around the restaurant market of Greater Vancouver in B.C. before going back to the Philippines to open Main Street in Tuscany at McKinley Hill.

SOPHIE’S MOM

It’s a pink store and my daughter would love eating here with her Canadian friends. And it’s a cupcake store. I think the story here is that the Mom kept baking cupcakes to her daughter Sophie and her high school friends, when cupcakes were all the craze and wars about it began on primetime television. My colleagues said they were good. I’ll leave the ladies and girls to their passion for cupcakes and trust them on their word that it’s a must visit.

SAUCERIA

Finally, the last of the eight restaurants we were being toured at. Our Megaworld Lifestyle Mall rep Rachel was still with us (minus Cam), ever so patiently guiding us to where to go next. And she saved the best for last. This is the second branch of Sauceria – the first was put up three years ago in San Juan. The owner whom I didn’t get the name says they cater to the artisanal way of preparing and cooking food – nothing artificial will ever get into their food. And the owner’s explanation makes food cooked in Sauceria sound like rocket science. Research on the number of taste buds we have, categorized flavors, fresh versus not-so-fresh, and the mix-and-match that goes into each delicacy item I think makes this newly opened restaurant a true winner. “The rich flavor of food begins with the right sauces,” as how the place gets its name and the literal reason why. Definitely, a two-thumbs-up, must-come-back place.

HOW CAN YOU EXPERIENCE ALL THESE AND MORE?

The Megamall Lifestyle Malls will be running this kind of tour with all the restaurants along the Tuscany mall street participating starting on Saturday, November 30, 2013, starting 2:00PM till 5:00PM. It will continue at the same time span on December 7, 14 and 21. Ticket price is 1,000 Philippine Pesos (roughly $22) per head. You may call fixed/landline numbers +63 (2) 709-0888, +63 (2) 709-9888 or +63 (917) 838-0111.

Trust me to say that you have to prepare yourself for an experience you’ll need to diet the previous days before engaging yourself in this kind of feast. I didn’t, I should have and the next time around, I will.

Bon Appétit!

Image poster courtesy of Megaworld Lifestyle Malls | Photos by Raffy Pekson II for Miniphilippines.com

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2 Responses

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  1. I like your post,, thanks for sharing…

    Like

    Josh Mercado

    June 13, 2014 at 8:50 am


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