Monday, February 13, 2012

Pizzeria Mozza -- Wickedly Good Pizza

Nothing like having a little "me" time during a business trip. I was in Singapore for a quick meeting and took the chance to see "Wicked" at the Marina Bay Sands. But first, a pre-show dinner at Mario Batali's Pizzeria Mozza!

The last time I watched a play at the MBS, Mozza was fully packed. I ended up at BD -- Daniel Boulud's bistro right next door. This time, the No-Reservation-Walk-In gods were kinder to me and I was able to get a table for one.

The place was jumping with people at the early hour of 6:15 pm. This restaurant is so popular, it's almost impossible to get in during mealtimes unless you have a reservation or you're willing to sit at the bar.

Pizzeria Mozza serves antipasti, salads, some choice meat dishes but the pizzas are what bring the crowds in.
Mario Batali has a Filipina chef in the kitchen -- Karla Mendoza used to work for him in the US and he brought her to Singapore to head this new venture.
Aside from the chef, most of the waitstaff are young, friendly and very efficient Filipinas.
My server says the wait for my pizza will be at least 30 minutes but assures me that I will have time to eat it before the show.
Meanwhile, she leaves me with a small paper packet of cheese triangles that helps dull the pangs of hunger while I sit, people watch and wait.

And here is my funghi misti, fontina, taleggio and thyme pizza. It looked and smelled terrific the minute it was placed before me. And when I cut off a small bit of the golden crust for my first bite - I nearly swooned with delight.
Such a golden good crust this pizza has!
The thick cut, almost meaty mushrooms were a combination of portobello and shiitake.
The Italian cheeses fontina and taleggio were strongly flavored and quite salty, just the way I like my cheese.
It was best pizza I had ever had ... in a long, long time.
But alas -- it was too big for me to finish and sad to say, I had to say goodbye to a third of it.

There were just a few minutes left to spare after dinner before the show started. Thankfully, Pizzeria Mozza is strategically located, right across the MBS Theaters.

After that delicious pizza, it's now time for a dose of deliciously wicked wit.

The show is about to start -- time to put my trusty camera phone away!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Mechado and memories of my father's recipes

This blog has been mainly about eating out and traveling -- my readers (yes, all 4 of them) might think that all I do is go some place and eat.
I can cook. I love to cook. I just don't have the time to do so.
My father was the great cook in the family -- my mother didn't even know how to cook rice. Although she was terrific at teaching someone from a recipe -- but that's a story for another time.
Ever since I could remember, my father ruled our kitchen. He cooked from ouido -- by taste, by feel, by look, by gut.
No recipes for him. If I wanted to learn how to cook something, all I had to do was stay in the kitchen and watch.
He had his favorite dishes and his "most requested" foods. These were the ones I picked up and learned -- nothing was ever written down... the ingredients, the process, the tastes -- they're all part of my memories.
Thus, I can cook morcon, embotido, a unique meatball or bola bola recipe that I have yet to find anywhere else plus the other stand bys ... sinigang, pochero, asado, humba, menudo, afritada ...
So much meat!
But daddy also loved fish and seafood so I can also cook paksiw na kitang, sinigang na kanduli, pesang dalag, adobong hito and tocho with tahure.
In my mind, he "invented" lumpiang bangus, which we were eating long before I saw it on any restaurant menu. I spent many afternoons deboning the steamed bangus -- which would be mixed with gisantes, minced fried potatoes, plump raisins and then sauteed, rolled up in lumpia wrappers and fried -- a typical meatless Friday dish!
From him, I also learned to make adobong alimango, made only with the freshest and fattest female crabs from his hometown, Orani Bataan.

But for now, this post is about mechado, cooked the way my father used to do it.
My son had been badgering me to make this dish -- one of my father's favorites.
So I hied off to Cash and Carry supermarket where they can insert a whole, uncut length of pork taba or lard in the center of a roll of beef.
This is the "mitsa" or wick -- hence the name mechado.
A lot of people think mechado is just beef stew with beef chunks but daddy never used anything but this roll of beef with the "mitsa" of pork lard in the center.
After cooking and simmering this more than 2 kilo cut of mechado beef for over 4 hours, it's tender and flavorful, having soaked up the goodness from the tomatoes, onions, chorizos, carrots and potatoes, not to mention, the beef stock made from scratch using beef shin bones.
The "mitsa" of pork lard in the center which extends throughout the beef roll -- helps makes each slice just a bit more juicy and savory.

I serve the mechado sliced with some of the sauce, the potatoes, carrots, chorizos and the beef shins which yield a good amount of sinful yet utterly delicious beef marrow.
Scoop out the marrow and put it on top of rice for the total mechado experience!
My father sure knew how to eat!
See that small piece of pork lard or "mitsa" at the center of the beef slice -- daddy and I used to enjoy that as the last melt-in-your-mouthful treat ... truly a great finish to another memorable meal!