El Baqueano – World’s #39 & Latin America’s #18 – Pops Up with PinoyEatsWorld at Your Local

El Baqueano x Pinoy Eats World x Your Local. Photo by Margaux Salcedo.

El Baqueano x Pinoy Eats World x Your Local. Photo by Margaux Salcedo.I finally went to a Pinoy Eats World event tonight. I couldn’t resist when Chef Namee Jorolan said that they were collaborating with two chefs – Chef Fernando Rivaroli and Chef Christina Sumae – from El Baqueano, currently ranked No. 18 Best Restaurant in Latin America and No. 39 in the World by the World’s Best Restaurant Awards jury.

Latin America is all the rage now with Peru being the darling of the international food press so I felt this pop up – though El Baqueano is in Buenos Aires and not the all-trendy Peru – was a must-attend. Plus, the Pope’s from there, so how can you not?! Hehe.

At first bite, it was easy to understand why El Baqueano is part of Latin America’s 50 Best.

First, the commitment to freshness. And you could really taste the freshness of what was served. Earlier today, PinoyEatsWorld posted this on Instagram:

El Baqueano x Pinoy Eats World x Your Local. Photo by Margaux Salcedo.The  shopping spree resulted in this:

Tulingan Escabeche with mango, pickled okra and shallots. The tulingan was salty like anchovies but this was balanced by the okra. Chef Him Uy de Baron, who apparently loved this course, teased the Denny Antonino, “The okra was brilliant. I’m going to copy this!”

El Baqueano x Pinoy Eats World x Your Local. Photo by Margaux Salcedo.Langoustine al Pil Pil. Pil Pil is a method of cooking known in the Basque region where you cook fish, usually cod, in olive oil or the oil in which the fish has been cooked. For this pop up, instead of fish, the chefs used langoustine and it was brilliant. They made a sauce using langoustine roe. Then as Pil Pil goes, they also cooked the langoustine in garlic and chillies. It was very spicy at first bite but by the third bite, you’re used to the spiciness. This was my favorite course for the night because it was just different; there is no dish quite like it in Filipino cuisine.

El Baqueano x Pinoy Eats World x Your Local. Photo by Margaux Salcedo.Secondly, I loved the similarities of some of their dishes with Philippine cuisine.

Sinigang.

This one (next photo) immediately reminded me of sinigang … and true enough, that broth there is from sampaloc albeit Thai tamarind is what they used.

Another interesting tidbit on this dish. My lovely seatmate at the bar Teng Jorolan and I tried to figure out what those little yellow things were. “Ano itong matamis?” Pineapples? No. Melon? No. Sayote? No. It was watermelon rind! Never heard of watermelon rind being used before. We usually just throw them away!El Baqueano x Pinoy Eats World x Your Local. Photo by Margaux Salcedo.

Then of course, the aspiring Philippine national dish: adobo. This was a cuapao filled with pulled pork adobo.

And finally, paella. Teng joked, “Laureat ito eh, last yung rice.”  True enough, carbs were in the end. This dish used orzo, though, and not rice. El Baqueano x Pinoy Eats World x Your Local. Photo by Margaux Salcedo. Finally, I loved the use of ten million ingredients in just one dish. Why have just a piano when you can have an orchestra, right?

This starter was both a beef and a fish dish, with Kitayama tenderloin that was cooked sous vide and seared, and then a tuna and salmon tartare. For flavor, they marinaded the tenderloin in calamansi. Then to accent the dish, avocado mousse and kaffir lime vinaigrette. And, oh wait, what is that punch? Wasabi? It was sambal mayo.

Now I know why El Baqueano is considered one of the best.

Thank you to Chef Fernando Rivaroli and Chef Christina Sumae for gracing us with your presence. Congratulations to Chef Demmu Antonino and Chef Namee Jorolan on this most delicious dinner!

El Baqueano x Pinoy Eats World x Your Local. Christine Sunae. Photo by Margaux Salcedo. El Baqueano x Pinoy Eats World x Your Local. Denny Antonino and Namee Jorolan. Photo by Margaux Salcedo.Encore, please!!!

El Baqueano
Chile 495, Esquina Bolivar, San Telmo, Buenos Aires
+54 11 9 3671 8602
www.restoelbaqueano.com

Your Local.
106 Esteban, Legazpi Village, Makati, Kalakhang Maynila, Philippines
+63 2 823 6206

For events of PinoyEatsWorld, check out their Facebook page.

Blackbird Sees Colin Mackay Flying to New Heights

Blackbird. Scotch eggs. Margaux Salcedo for margauxlicious.

As published in Inquirer Sunday Biz on December 7, 2014.

Here’s a bit of trivia for the executive jet set: Philippine Airlines mounted its first flight not from the Manila (now Ninoy Aquino) International Airport, but from the City of Makati.

It was 1941 and the very first PAL flight, bound for Baguio, took off from what used to be the Nielson Airport on Makati Avenue.

margauxlicious. Old Nielson Tower. Source: Wikipedia. When airport operations were moved to Villamor Air Base, the property was then returned to its owners, the Ayalas. The runways were then converted into the roads we know today as Paseo de Roxas and Ayala Avenue. The passenger terminal and control tower, however, were kept intact.

Today—almost 70 years later—the airport facility has come alive once again, becoming the restaurant Blackbird.

Jetset sleek

The restaurant no longer feels like a terminal at all. But it is interesting to note that the bar and lounge section, right by the entrance, is where the departure area used to be, while the second floor dining section used to be the control tower.

Thanks to the genius of designers Damien “Coco” Anne and wife Baby Imperial-Anne, the interiors today reek of sleek. The lounge, with its teal and purple hues and art deco pieces, could make you feel like a Gucci model should you find yourself having a cosmopolitan there.

But don’t mistake the place for stylish jetsetters alone. It is also quite the venue for a power lunch, with power visitors like former Transportation Undersecretary Dante Velaso to business tycoon and possible presidential contender Manny Villar, spotted with the Ivanka to his Donald Trump, Camille Villar.

East meets west

That celebrities and tycoons flock to this space is not due to the design alone. There is also the exceptional menu prepared by Colin MacKay, one of the most revered chefs in the industry.

Blackbird. Scotch eggs. Margaux Salcedo for margauxlicious. Take his scotch eggs, a simple English picnic favorite. It’s a boiled egg, chopped in the middle, sometimes wrapped in meat, before being dipped in raw egg and bread crumbs then deep

fried. MacKay, however, exhibits his worldliness by merging this with the concept of the Thai Miang Kham. Hence the egg arrives not alone but sitting on a betel leaf, with a coconut chili sambal for extra bite.

His genius is evident throughout the menu: MacKay serves crispy soft-shell crabs, a joy to eat on its own, with a delightful apple chutney and a cauliflower puree. Salad that is hearty enough with just lettuce and parmesan cheese is given a smile with caramelized pecan nuts and the light sweetness of apples, and then further given character by something the kitchen calls a “green goddess”—a sauce composed of a variety of herbs that are kept secret lest the goddess lose her mystery.

margauxlicious margaux salcedo blackbird duck ragu 2A pappardelle is made savory not with beef or lamb, but with duck. The shreds of duck meat is beautifully balanced by the chef with arugula. And a flat iron steak is served with kimchi!

The mains are more on the lines of comfort food, presented in servings large enough to share. There is a generous plate of lamb rendang. The fish pie of salmon and trout is another hearty and homey dish.

The great thing about MacKay is that he is confident in his stride and stands on his own. While restaurant newbies jump on the Wagyu ribeye bandwagon, he presents a hanger steak. Though a good ribeye will have the most distinguished gentleman stick his tongue out for more, MacKay proves that you don’t necessarily need this cut for a tender yet flavorful meat.

Blackbird. Photo by Margaux Salcedo for margauxlicious.com.

The only setback is the service, which may not be good sometimes. They have rotating managers. Pray that you chance upon the alert lady manager and not the grumpy man with bad English, who is quite the snob. Also, bring a driver, especially now that the weather is often wet. There is no valet service—perplexing for such a high-brow establishment—and parking, while available in the lot right beside the restaurant, becomes limited for a weekday business lunch.

On a date night, ask for the second floor. It’s far more romantic than the see-and-be-seen dining area on the ground floor.

Aviation enthusiasts

I am told the restaurant was named Blackbird by MacKay after the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, which held the world record as the fastest air-breathing manned aircraft since 1976. It seems MacKay shares the love for aviation of Laurie Reuben Nielson, who built the Nielson Airport in 1937.

Nielson should be happy to know that the tower he built continues to stand tall in the hands of a fellow aviation enthusiast—who just happens to be a brilliant chef, as well.

Blackbird. Makati Avenue cor Ayala Avenue, Makati. Reservations strongly recommended. Walk-ins accepted but they are usually fully booked. Tel. 8284888. Mobile 0917-8892782. Parking limited though there is a pay parking lot right beside the restaurant. Wheelchair accessible. Major credit cards accepted. Open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., extending to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.

Follow the author: @margauxsalcedo on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook. More in margauxlicious.com.