Sunday, April 3, 2011

Kare-kare with a Chateau Palmer 1999


Good afternoon from Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport, where I'm waiting for my Sri Lankan Airlines flight to Colombo in about 90 minutes. The Travelife team and I are spending eight days in Sri Lanka and I personally am very excited to finally see this exotic island country.

We're going to be covering most of the country, going to the World Heritage Sites in the North and also the seaside fort of Galle (which is also a World Heritage Site) in the South. You'll be hearing more about our Sri Lankan adventures over the next few days, if I can squeeze in half an hour or so of blogging in between our rather hectic schedule. The itinerary sent to me over the weekend looks like it could kill a traveler with fatigue, but it also looks simply amazing. I just couldn't resist saying yes and taking in all those beautiful sights. I haven't been sleeping very well since February anyway -- so what's a few more sleepless nights, right?

I had a rather late start this morning in Manila, barely making my flight as usual. I checked in about an hour before departure and my travel companion was very patiently waiting at the check-in counter with a pained expression after having stood there for about two hours. But I'd packed, signed checks and did lots of work prior to heading for the airport, so as usual I'd run out of time for everything.

I could've packed yesterday, perhaps, but my day had been taken up with the Peninsula bridal fair, the horse show at Polo Club and then cooking dinner for J who lately insists on inviting himself over.

THANK GOODNESS FOR HUMOR & CHARM

I really should start to feel taken advantage of by J who insists on inviting himself over, but it's rather fun to stay home and cook once in a while after endless days of eating out, and it's so nice and relaxing to just chill over my own cooking, lots of great conversation and a nice bottle of wine. When he comes over, he brings a very nice wine and his friends Humor and Charm tag along, and together they're quite fun to be with.

Last night was a rather sweet evening of travel stories and reminiscing at home over my home-made kare-kare and sisig, accompanied rather conspicuously by a bottle of Chateau Palmer 1999 -- which is a pretty grand Bordeaux wine to be drinking with Philippine food, and especially with kare-kare and sisig.

Such meals are usually and more practically paired with a much younger wine and even a New World wine; but practicality was certainly not the overall theme tonight -- or at any other time with J, who is a world traveler and foodie, and lots of other things besides.

KARE-KARE WITH SOME REALLY GOOD WINE

For tonight's dinner, I'd made Filipino food upon his request. I'd been trying to decide between adobo and kare-kare, but I opted for the latter since I hadn't had some in a long time. But when he arrived with the Chateau Palmer 1999, I almost regretted not making French food instead, especially as I had some very good beef chilling in the fridge that could have made a nice beef stew.

I hesitated to open our wine for a split second because of the mismatch with the food; but there it was on my coffee table, so full of promise, that I just couldn't resist giving in to the moment. It's the kind of wine lots of people would love to talk about as it's very well-rated and the 1999 vintage is considered an excellent one by wine authorities and wine snobs worldwide.

But we opened it without much fuss, and spent barely a minute talking about it as there were a million other things to talk about, and especially about travel. But thinking about that wine right now, I remember how serene and smooth it had tasted at first sip; full of confidence and yet mellow and calm. Almost like water.

Such a contrast to the fieriness of the sisig -- or at least to the fieriness of the sisig the way I made it, with lots of ginger, garlic, onions and sili; and I cooked it on the spot as my guest watched (or rather interfered...we had a running discussion about whether the ginger or the garlic should go into the pan first, as I had placed the ginger ahead and his money was on the garlic...yes, he's a backseat cook with very firm ideas about how things should be cooked.) -- and to the strong taste of the kare-kare, which I'd made with lots of peanuts and oxtail.

Now if only our wine could talk, it would have recalled at least a dozen interesting travel stories discussed over the dinner table. But the evening was over sooner rather than later, and the last time I saw the Chateau Palmer 1999, it too was almost empty.

And in a few hours, I'll be in another exotic country in another continent far from home, for another amazing adventure. As for my friend? Well, I'm almost sure he'll be eating at his usual favorite restaurant...

Just another week in our neverending TRAVELIFE.


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