Life is, oh, so Delicioso!

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Saturday, January 7, 2012


THE list of good eating places in Bacolod City is getting longer and longer. Whatever list you’ve made, include one of the newest - a deli along Lacson Street in front of the Carmelite Monastery. Delicioso is Team Tikim’s first tikim this year and what a way to start 2012 - with a merry heart and a full stomach.

She is Maristel Estrella, a 33-year-old chef who would be good on a magazine cover but who prefers to sweat it out among the pots and pans. Her love for cooking got her to enroll at the American Hospitality Academy in Makati where she graduated from in 2008. Then, this brought her to a study-and-work stint at the American Hospitality Academy in South Carolina, U.S.A.

She developed her talent there which made her confident enough to join cooking competitions (and winning some of them) with another chef. She also joined a week-long Chinese cooking course in Beijing. A late-bloomer in the kitchen, she now displays her cooking prowess with a vengeance as Delicioso’s chef.

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Delicioso was put up by four friends who love good food. Jethro Javellana, Charles Dumancas, Marlowe Cortez, and Jonathan Lo renovated and refurbished the former site of Café Breizh to give it a modern and sleek appeal. What we have now is a cool place to hang out. A whole wall of shelves displays deli items for sale from pasta, to herbs, to condiments, and a good assortment of wines.

Varieties of cold cuts and cheeses are plentiful enough for meat and cheese lovers. I counted at least 17 kinds of cheeses yet Maristel said there were more before the Christmas season. Hurray! Business is good with gouda and sage as the best-sellers.

Let’s get down to business and that’s the business of eating at Delicioso. Team Tikim and the three crew members of Channel 13 which Emily Villanueva sent over to cover the “tikim” (Hi, Mom I’m on TV!) sat down to a dinner of, hold your breath, Chicken Maryland, Paella a la Valenciana, Shrimp Arrabiata, Philly Cheesesteak, Delicioso Panizza, Bailey’s Cheesecake, and Lava Cake.

Bambi Borromeo generously treated us girls (Glady Tomulto-Reyes, Maricar Dabao and me) to a bottle of Chilean cabernet sauvignon. Okay, you may now relax and grind your teeth in envy.

The paella was served in a mini-paellera. We fussed over the size of the pan like grandmothers cooing over a new grandchild. It was small enough for two though Maristel said that some diners have one paella to themselves. Delicioso uses paella rice. These are short, fat grains that were cooked with clams, squid, pimento, jamon Serrano and chorizo which, though not the usual Bilbao kind, had the smoky and not-too-salty taste that Ms. Low-Salt Me is used to. It was very good and was cooked well enough without going over the desired firmness. It wasn’t too soft so I could chew it.

Chicken Maryland is mainly chicken leg stuffed with sausage made right in the kitchen of Delicioso and wrapped in bacon. A sauce accompanies this and the dish is sprinkled with finely chopped parsley. The stuffing is a heavenly mixture of herbs. Chef said that she is an herb-lover and those who are, too, will enjoy this dish. The herbs just took out some of the guilt an herbivore like me felt. I detected a strong helping of thyme yet Chef assured me that there are many other herbs mixed in as well.

If you like pizza, you will like Panizza because it’s basically that with a marked sophistication in the form of lettuce leaves and a spicy hot pico de gallo to top it with. First, you tear a piece off, lay the small romaine and iceberg, and dab on the pico de gallo (onions, hot pepper, tomatoes) and roll. The original version is usually done with arugula, alfalfa sprouts and pico de gallo but the greens can be difficult to source so Delicioso smartly came up with their own version. Word of advice: eat this hot enough for you to roll the panizza.

We also had Philly Cheesesteak. Thick meat and cheese sandwiched between two slabs of bread. It’s so American by its serving size and perfect for meat lovers. Very filling.

The surprise of the evening was the Shrimp Arrabiata made of bavette pasta mixed with a fresh home-made tomato sauce and succulent shrimps. It was hot! As in spicy. And that evening, we had a little Italian lesson –- “arrabiata” means “angry” in Italian.

And dessert? How could we be “arrabiata” when we had our lava cake and ate it, too? This thick round of moist chocolate with a gooey center that oozes out when you slice it made us love our lava. Again, Chef said with a little apologetic note in her voice that this is best eaten warm.

Don’t worry, Chef, it’s not Delicioso’s fault that we were late in beginning our dinner. Picture-taking and interviewing took a good bite of our eating time. Next? We equally love (but I love this more) the Bailey’s Cheesecake. Baked and served only at Delicioso.

Delicioso can seat from 40 to 45 people, including the 10-12 seater boardroom at the back for private events and meetings. It really deserves its name and we wish it a Happy and Prosperous New Year. Cheers and all the best!

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on January 07, 2012.

Lifestyle

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