IT’S easy to fall in love with this girl named Annie. I don’t exactly know when I first met her. All I know is she’s the wife of a former schoolmate. Perhaps it was on the opening of Spirale, the Italian restaurant the couple first opened north of the city.
The food at Spirale was really good, but the desserts were unforgettable. The Rum Cake had the perfect bitter sweet taste, and the coffee in the Tiramisu was quite defined. Both made love to my palate. I had that smile of a dessert addict that had his dose. When she showed up from the kitchen to greet her guests after dinner, she still had this happy glow as if she knew her best was appreciated by everyone in the room. She got that right.
Spirale became synonymous to good pizza and pasta (and dessert for me, too). Soon she opened a branch in a mall and exchanged it for Pastanni with a fast/street food concept in two malls, but kept one in SM. She also a short resto stint along Torres street where her Gambas and Salpicao were a hit!
Recently, Annie introduced her new baby—ArtisAna, a play on the word “artist” and her real name “Ana”, and a place where food art would be celebrated. If you know her enough, it’s given that she’s an artist in the kitchen (she just proved that she is. Again).
The Modern Filipino resto fitted in a 1950’s restored house is also a space that can hold visual arts. It still exudes the warmth of an old family house, a perfect venue for relaxed lunches and dinners.
Annie’s recipes are born from constant travels and food exploration. She always has her notebook with her to jot down ideas for dishes she could try cooking at home.
“I would eat traditional Filipino dishes and think of how to tweak it to make it taste different but still its basic Filipino flavor,” she shared, and these Filipino dishes are showcased at ArtisAna.
The menu holds exciting dishes. If you’re trying it for the first time, she is recommending the Salad artisAna, where the Kangkong and camote tops share the plate with the lettuce, seedless grapes and local chevre cheese, and drizzled with mangosteen-pineapple dressing.
Her Ilonggo delicacy of Kadios or KBL (Kadios, Baboy, Langka) and is prepared with slowly simmered lechon, along with the regular pork ingredient. The Beed Pares is quite tasty, it was inspired by the Binondo Chinese practice of rice topping with clear broth, and so is the Duck adobado, shredded crispy duck meat cooked in a homemade adobo sauce.
My personal favorite? The Black Linguini with Grilled Squid + Balsamic adobo garlic agilio e olio. The pasta has the hint of the squid’s briny taste and the sourness of the balsamic vinegar gives a nice balance to it.
Now, for desserts. I highly recommend the Keso de Bola Cheesecake that can be shared by two. I love that it bears the right level of sweetness I like, the cake’s consistency is not gelatinous, and the distinct sharp flavor of the edam cheese is present in the creamy confection.
Try the Chuni Cake. It was named after her husband. Made of two layers of chiffon cakes in mocha and butter flavors, with chocolate mousse and crunchy chocolate in between layers. Potato chips topping on mouse icing. The salty and sweet taste is a perfect blend.
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