Friday, November 29, 2013

Be Under the Tuscan Sun and Go on a Foodie Retreat


Whenever my family and I pass by McKinley Hill every Sunday, going home from the church service, it stirs up fleeting nostalgia of my first and only trip to Italy (for the moment).  One particular aspect of that tour was our flight from Qatar to Milan which was agonizingly long but what kept me all pepped up was the movie Under the Tuscan Sun.  The movie was, well also long, the plot was not that captivating and I can't seem to recall any part of it, however what made mark on my mind was the beauty of Tuscany highlighted.

Tuscany evokes appealing images of a centuries-old civilization with a mixture of contemporary rural lifestyle. It's a place where nature itself appears tamed and enhanced by the presence of man.  Visitors travel along country roads that wind through prosperous villages with medieval centers, enticing shops and well-dressed women.  I'd always thought of going to Tuscany as my best dream ever!!!  (Hope my parents can read this!)

Going back to reality, it's been nine years since I saw that movie and here in Manila every corner seems to be changing drastically with the emergence of new villages and places of interests, and of course havens for foodies.  That being said let me give one such beautiful example- Tuscany in McKinley Hill.

And what great news I have for you, dear fellow food lovers!


Megaworld Lifestyle Malls have organized another food-coma inducing event that would really satiate the gourmand in you!  "An Awesome Secret Foodies Tour" is a degustation retreat at the newest dining destination, Tuscany at McKinley Hill.

With such images of Renaissance architecture given the contempo touch, sans terraced hills neatly planted with vines and olive trees, monasteries and villas surrounded by woods and enclosed gardens all come to mind at this side of Taguig, Saturday dining can never be the same again.

The degustation menu is a treasury of 20 sampling dishes from 7 restaurants plus wine pairing at Planet Grapes.  Let me give you a sneak preview of the trip and what the restaurants will be serving.

1. Planet Grapes 

As I have said, they will only be providing wines, "New World wines" that is.  

You have a choice of one red wine and one white wine from a plethora of wines from Merlot, Chardonnay, Shiraz, etc.

Planet Grapes has a wine connoisseur on standby to guide your way through learning about the art of  wine drinking. Adding a great new twist is their "wine meets street food" concept and a wine vending machine that I find fascinating.

Who knew that our humble street foods, like balut, siomai and the likes have found their way being partnered with imported wines.




2. Trattoria Poggio Antico


From my very reliable translator (my brother), Trattoria Poggio Antico in English means  old tavern in Poggio (comune di poggio).  It's a Filipino-owned restaurant inspired from the very street side cafes of rustic Italy.


On the plate:  From Top left clockwise, Prosciutto con Melone, Pomodoro e Mozzarella, Oyster Sur Pate di Fegato

3.  B &T Mexican Kitchen


So, is it turning to be like a food trip across the globe?  After Italy, have a taste now of the exotic flavors of Tex-Mex cuisine.   Let B & T blow you away with this humunguos  platter filled with what else of course, Burritos and Tacos, it's namesake.

On the Plate: Chipotle Chicken Pizza, Mango Glazed Habanero Chicken, Taquitos Especial with Barbacoa and Nacho Chips with Assorted Dips

4. L.E.S. Bagels



L.E.S. is an abbreviation for Lower East Side, the most "New Yorky" part of The City, so they say.  Now, a speck of that experience is in McKinley and we can sample bagels in all its glory just like how it is sold in Manhattan cafes.

It's also written that the best bagels are still found in New York, I don't know about that, all I know is I found my kind of bagel and a plethora of flavored cream cheese to fill it with.



Pastries are also served, so do grab your choice and make sure to try their sinful, kick-a** brownies!

5.  Sauceria


Sauceria believes in the art and science of preparing food, dishes rich in sauces made from scratch with ingredients locally farmed, low in carbon footprint and has minimal pesticide content possible.


And when science and passion in cooking collides an explosion of flavor that sparkle with personality yet all harmonize on the plate.  See how colorful the coca is on the photo?   It's one of dish that you will be sampling on the "secret foodie tour."   Feta Cilantro Tomato Coca is a Spanish-style flat bread pizza.

The Artisanal All-beef Burger is a tiny one yet packed with beefy-goodness with a spread made of tuyo blue cheese in a very soft sesame seed bun.

Then, there's Tuna Tataki, with the Zaru soba complementing the freshly slice raw tuna served with home-made wasabi sour cream dip.

6.   Marciano's
Care for another round of Italian dishes?

One of the famous Italian resto chain has opened a branch in Tuscany and they are very much ready for your modern take on Italian appetite.

It's going to be one long afternoon of binge-eating so let me warn you to take it easy, get a few minutes of rest after every resto.  Let me assure you, the stroll along Tuscany can be beckoning and though 8 restaurants are featured in this secret familiarity tour, there are a couple more that will lure you to eventually pack your stuff and move in this side of town.

Take heart as the serving of another batch of Main dish is set here at Marciano's.




You get a sample of West Side Four Season Pizza, Woody Allen Linguine and Dow Jones.  Dow Jones is the T-bone steak with sausages, roasted vegetables, mashed potato and gravy.

The Panna Cota with berry coulis is just an added treat for us.  Don't worry there are desserts!

7.  Main Street



If you still feel the tour to be meager, what if I tell you that a piece of Canada have found its little spot here in the Italian-vibe community, that is soon to be home to many modern families.  Main Street is the breed based from the marriage of French and Canadian culture.  With old comfort favorites given new twists, which have delighted my blogger friends during our review.


An instant crowd favorite is the Poutine.  Their version of home-cut French fries drenched with dark brown, syrup-looking beef gravy and cheese curds.


Our second burger on the list is non-other than the Kitayama Wagyu Burger served with the usuals but has that tricky house sauce, leaving you wanting to eat more.

Our tour was steadily moving deep into the night and I started to feel being fattened up, heavy on my tummy, my brain cells are starting to tell me that food coma will start to kick in, in about...wait...I overheard Rj Ledesma our host saying you can not miss their home-made ice cream.  I thought I wasn't cognitive anymore, overhearing bacon on the ice cream.
Then, the Organic Maple and Candied Bacon Artisan Ice Cream was served to each of us camped on the dining tables at the ground floor.  The sound of bacon, maple, and artisan lulled me and I said to myself I must have been dreaming already.
Well, you'll know what I meant with these words of mine when you get face to face with the lovely cold dessert from Main Street.

Ahhh, makes me want to go back now!

8. Sophie's Mom


 And the perfect sweet ending...'nuf said...





I hope these photos of Ms. Tonette's pastry creation pay justice to the real deal.
It's every little girls ultimate happy place, check my blog when they had their soft opening at this link:

http://www.gastronomybyjoy.com/2013/07/sophies-mom-my-girls-new-happy-place.html

So, itching to get your very own "Awesome Secret Foodies Tour?"

Buy your tickets for only P1,000 at the Redemption Booth near the Tuscany Grand Villas' Gate. One ticket admits one (1) person and is sold on a first come, first served basis.  Tickets being sold for each Saturday are very limited.

Participating Tenants:
1. Sauceria
2. Planet Grapes
3. L.E.S. Bagels
4. Main Street
5. Sophie's Mom
6. B & T Mexican Kitchen
7. Marciano's
8. Trattoria Poggio Antico

For the full mechanics of An Awesome Secret Foodies Tour, kindly read below:

1. An Awesome Secret Foodies Tour will run on Nov 30, Dec 7, Dec 14 and Dec 21, 2013 from 2PM – 5PM in Tuscany at McKinley Hill.
2. Tickets for the tour are priced at P1, 000. One ticket admits one (1) person.
3. Tickets are sold at the Redemption Booth near the Tuscany Grand Villas Gate on November 26 & 27, 2013, 11AM - 6PM.
4. Participants may choose their preferred date for the tour on a first come first served basis.
5. No rebooking of tours.
6. No ticket reservations will be entertained over the phone.
7. Tickets must be claimed in person on a first come, first served basis.
8. Each participant will be given a tour kit including the tour ticket, tour pin, degustation menu and the McKinley Hill Gourmet Guide.

For ticket inquiries, please call 709-0888, 709-9888, 0917 838-0111




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