August 23, 2009

Sunday lunch

It was my husband's birthday last Sunday and we decided to try the new Filipino restaurant of chef Florabel Co at Eastwood City. Crisostomo, which boasts of "turn of the century Filipino cuisine," is named after the main protagonist of Philippine national hero Jose Rizal's "Noli Me Tangere." All of its dishes are named after other characters in the book and even the servers and busboys wear name tags of characters in the book, not their own names. One thing you have to remember about Filipino meals, whether it's Filipino cuisine or not: food is meant to be shared. In Crisostomo, the dishes are served 'family style,' which means that they are placed in the middle of the table and each person is expected to serve himself. Actually, even in non-family style restaurants where your entire meal is on one plate, it is not unusual for Filipinos to dip into each others' plates. Anyway, enough about Filipino eating customs—let's eat!

The appetizer: Ostra Maestra, Elias' Choice – oysters with garlic and cheese. There were two other choices available for the oysters, one of which was raw. In fact, I suspect that Elias' Choice was not baked either but that melted cheese was spooned over raw oysters. Very fresh.

oysters with garlic and cheese at Crisostomo

The drink: fresh buko juice. With the coconut meat sliced and served in the glass too. Of course, you'll have to use a fork to eat the slices. I think that coconut juice (some call it coconut water) is pretty good for cleansing the palate between dishes with strong flavors. Filipinos will also tell you that buko juice is very good for the digestive system, but I have no idea how true that is since I have never read a medical report about it.

fresh buko juice at Crisostomo

The rice: fried garlic rice. No Filipino meal is complete without rice. Crisostomo has different kinds available and if you order the basic steamed rice, you can have as much of it as you want.

fried garlic rice at Crisostomo

The vegetable dish: Noli Me Talong – tortang talong (eggplant omelet) with kesong puti (white cheese). Kesong puti is a local Filipino cheese traditionally made out of carabao's milk. The carabao (Bubalus bubalis carabanesis) is a type of water buffalo important to Filipino farmers as a plow animal and as a means of transportation.

tortang talong with kesong puti at Crisostomo

The fish: Bella Bandida – panfried bangus (milkfish) belly with burong mangga (pickled green mango). The green mango was mixed with a little bagoong (shrimp paste) too.

panfried bangus belly with burong mangga at Crisostomo

The prawns: Doña Victorina – prawns in aligue (crab fat) and gata (coconut milk). Cholesterol heaven. And yes, the prawns are served whole. I don't think I've seen a restaurant here serve prawns that have been shelled or deveined. It's just not done. The butterfly cut is acceptable though. Of course, it takes some practice to learn how to remove the shell with a knife and fork.

prawns with aligue and gata at Crisostomo

The dessert: Kapitana Maria – frozen Brazo de Mercedes. The traditional Spanish-Filipino Brazo de Mercedes is a log-shaped pastry of meringue (egg whites and sugar) with a cream filling made out of egg yolks, sugar and milk. Admittedly, Brazo de Mercedes is not a very flattering name for a pastry—it means Mercedes' arm. Use your imagination. Kapitana Maria has a cookie crust, is frozen and drizzled with caramel sauce. I think it's better than regular Brazo de Mercedes.

frozen Brazo de Mercedes at Crisostomo

28 comments:

James said...

That was a fine meal. It's now time for a nap.

Ken said...

Wow, that looks like a great place to eat. I find it interesting that that everything is themed around a book especially the waiters names.

I only took one photo of the Sphere because it was pouring rain. Maybe I'll have to visit again;)

Sara said...

Dropped by from the Tampa FL photo blog...to find your gorgeous photos of food...

Do you have a recipe for the fried garlic rice? It looks totally awesome...And, I think I would love those oysters, too!!!

hadv said...

oh god, that is one delicious meal.. i love all of it.. i'll go there when i visit manila.

happy birthday to your hubby!

Don and Krise said...

Wow Hilda, you took us on a food vacation. I have to admit, I'm really a meat and potatoes kind of guy, but you showed us some beautifully prepared dishes. Really a unique theme for a restaurant too. Thanks for the trip down culinary lane.

Rob said...

Not sure what I liked more: the photos orthe description. You could make a career as a food writer, Hilda! Anyway, happy birthday Elya!

Andreea said...

Yummy :) Come to think of it I don't think I ever had Filipino food. I'll have to remedy the situation.

Vogon Poet said...

I won't eat half of the dishes, but your description and photos could even convince me. You did great, and the name of the place is an omen: Crisostomo comes fron the Greek Mouth of Gold.

Dina said...

Sounds like a fun restaurant.
I could try that coconut drink.

Layrayski said...

You're a sadist. =P Mouthwatering photos! And I hate you for it! hehehe I'll try and make that oysters when I have the chance- but I'll make mine baked. Totally.

Lois said...

It all looks so delicious Hilda! I would have to say that those oysters look like they would be my favorite though!

brattcat said...

I would be full after the second course in real life but traveling through the meal with you gave me all the pleasure of eating without the stuffed tummy. This was a wonderful tour of the birthday dinner. I hope your husband enjoyed every minute. Thank you for sharing the meal with us.

GreensboroDailyPhoto said...

You are making me hungry on this sacred Sunday! The restaurants in Manila sound like they do very creative things. Either that or you have extremely discriminating tastes and seek out these special places.

The photos of the food look YUMMY!

Jacob said...

My goodness. It could take all day to eat such a meal! Thank you for such a detailed account of these particular Filipino dishes...very interesting, especially having never heard of them before.

Your photos are excellent, too, which helps give us a better understanding of what they look like.

Must be a very interesting restaurant. Is it popular and doing well?

Frank said...

Your description is wonderful and so detailed but I too wonder how I would get through the entire meal without overeating. Your garlic rice sounds delicious.
I added a link to you at Tampa Daily Photo after you suggested I feature some of the homes of Tampa's Hyde Park historic neighborhood.
I always appreciate you visiting and leaving your comments.

arabesque said...

that's one hefty mouth watering feast you've got! ^-^
yummiest!

Cezar and Léia said...

I definitely need to find out where there's a Filipino restaurant to take Léia to! It looks so yummy! I feel like biting the computer screen! Oops...
God bless you!
Cezar

marley said...

You are just teasing and temkpting me with all these delicious looking dishes! My favourite? The dessert! I have a seriously sweet tooth!

Sharon said...

Now I am really, really hungry. What a fabulous assortment!

Ming the Merciless said...

Everything looks soooo delicious! The presentations are amazing too.

Your EG Tour Guide said...

The eggplant dish sounds wonderful to me.

Did you eat all that? Looks delicious but it's a HUGE meal!

bfarr said...

It all sounds delicious. I'm not real crazy about oysters, but the looked really good. After a meal like that, you need to take a long walk and a short nap...or maybe a short walk and a long walk.

George said...

You're making me hungry! Everything looks delicious. We have quite a few family style restaurants here in the south of the U. S. as well.

the donG said...

the fish and the prawns will definitely be my choice! now im thinking of visiting that place. i actually like how they named it.

. said...

All this looks so good.

JM said...

Everything looks fantastic, but my mouth is watering from the moment I looked at the ostras! :-)

Merry@St. Louis said...

Wow, I'm ready! Thanks immensely for this culinary stroll.

White Oleander said...

I'm drooling already :D