Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Exploring Attic: An Adventure in Filipino Fare

A few weeks ago I was offered up an opportunity I just couldn't refuse. A chance to dine at Attic with a group of food lovers. This Pre-Fixe Pan-Asian/Filipino dinner was organized by Tracy from Dishcrawl and Joanne from Jo Boston is a Foodie. What started out as a simple dinner became an adventure for the sense!

I have enjoyed Filipino cuisine for as long as I can remember eating solid food, but I haven't yet had the opportunity to experience it in a setting like Attic. Located in San Mateo, this restaurant offers up a fine dining ambiance with a bar downstairs where you can just hang out. The employees are all incredibly friendly and the food... well... let's explore this amazing food!

First Course
Sinigang Chicharon
Our meals were served family style, allowing everyone to partake in all of the munchable goodness. We started off the evening with chicharon prepared with a house blend spice mix and served with a spiced cane vinegar. For those who are unfamiliar with chicharon, it is fried pork rinds. These were crisp and light and full of flavor.

Bangus Lumpia Cigarillo
Before we had even finished enjoying the pork rinds, cones with Bangus Lumpia Cigarillo were served. These had milkfish and black tiger shrimp and were served with a tamarind sweet and sour sauce. Those who enjoyed them raved about the flavors. Because of a recently diagnosed shrimp allergy, I did not chance it. Which was sad. But I survived :o)

Sweet Potato Fries
Before I could wallow about the lumpia, these sweet thangs were served up around the table. Sweet potato fries sprinkled with crossroads Philippine sea salt and a side of spicy banana ketchup. So good that we were enjoying them by the handful!

Crispy Adobo Wings
Then a mound of something that lit the eyes of foodies around the table. A giant pile of crispy adobo wings. You would not believe the speed in which these disappeared! I only wish I had taken a video!

Second Course
Chilled Tomato Water Sinigang
As we licked our fingers clean from the first course, we were each served a small bowl of chilled tomato water sinigang. Sinigang is a Filipino soup that is often associated with a sour broth, in this case it was a cold soup with a tomato vinegar flavor profile. Served with salmon skin on the side, this soup with a toybox tomato and daikon radish sprouts was a refreshing way to start the second course.

Walu Kinilaw
Remember earlier when I said we were being served family style? The walu kinilaw made many of us wish we had a dish all to ourselves. This "ceviche" made from butterfish, thai chili, and coconut milk disappeared. We managed to save a little bit for Joanne who was visiting another table, although there was serious discussion about how she probably wouldn't notice. Yes, it was so good that foodies on our end of the table were considering sparing her from the desire we had to devour an entire plate! But alas, Joanne also enjoyed the goodness and desire for seconds :o)

Mixed Heirloom Tomato Salad
The bacon lovers gasped with delight when the heirloom tomato salads appeared. Served with salted duck egg, pinakurat malunggay vinaigrette, and thick slices of cebuano bbq pork belly, this salad was rich and briny and porkful of flavor.

Beef & Bone
One of the dishes I was looking forward to most was the beef & bone dish. I have never gotten to taste marrow from the bone and am always down to try something new. And while I may eat vegan-fare most of the time, it's moments like this I remember why I can't go "all the way" with ending my love affair with meat. OMG (yes I went there) -- This dual dish of roasted bone marrow and lengua estofado (braised beef tounge) with cremini mushrooms served with grilled bread was AMAZING. For those of you who may be afraid to try this dish because you have had bad experiences eating tounge (waving sheepishly at my mom) or have never scoped marrow out of a bone... get over it! You need to try the warm rich flavors that this dish imparts. Trust me.

Third Course
Jasmine Garlic Fried Rice
Yes we are on the third course. Yes this is confusing because you have already seen eight dishes. But don't get overwhelmed just yet! Enjoy some of this rice that had just enough flavor to stand on it's own but also paired well with the next four dishes...

Red Horse Shortrib Calderetta
The menu said the beef shortribs were served with roasted marble potatoes and white carrots. I also noticed what appeared to be olives. The sauce was a nice addition, poured table side. This dish was good but it followed the bone marrow dish and just couldn't hold it's own next to the lingering desires for more Beef & Bone and Walu Kinilaw!

Bacon Kale Adobo
Smaller bowls also circled with a vegetable that disappeared quickly! I blame it on the hobbs bacon that adorned the braised lacinato kale. Salty, sweet, and full of flavor!

Crispy Kare Kare
The next dish to arrive made my heart flutter. The crispy kare kare was a hit with the table! Served on a bed of snake beans, the oxtail and baby eggplant was topped with a cashew butter sauce and bagoong (a Filipino fish sauce). I will admit that I did not want to share this dish with my neighbors :o)

Sizzling Sisig with Egg
The final third course dish to grace our table came out sizzling! A medley of pork prepared with chilis and calamansi (a Filipino citrus fruit) and an egg cooked on top!

Check out that egg!
This was a great way to round out the third courses with the richness of the egg, the heat of the chilis and the sweet & sourness that the fruit added to the taste!

Coconut Ube Tapioca
I was sad to see the final course come out because it meant my evening food adventure was coming to a close. Purple yam, tapioca pearls and jackfruit rounded out our evening and added a subtle sweet finish to a wonderful experience.

Tracy, Chef Tim of Attic, Joanne, and LeRoid of Attic
It took me a couple weeks to write this post. I couldn't bring myself to acknowledge the evening had ended! But in all seriousness, a quick and final thank you to Tracy and Joanne for organizing us all for dinner and to Attic for preparing such an amazing feast. If you are in the area, you have got to check them out! And take me with you!!!


medical equipment said...

some rather nice food there, some of fav ones too and some rather odd ones also, nice blog and keep on sharing

Carolyn Jung said...

I'm glad you enjoyed Attic. I love it, too. And I cannot eat there without a huge plate of those Adobo wings. Totally addicting!


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