Before he became the General Manager of Discovery Primea, in his previous life, David Pardo de Ayala was a renowned Chef in his own right. To this day, he carries his love and passion for food still, and the new Tapenade menu is close to his heart.
Recently, Tapenade revamped its entire menu while still keeping the hearty, healthy Mediterranean cuisine that makes the restaurant a fun Makati dining destination.
In his own words, here are Chef David’s favorites from Tapenade’s new menu:
Porcini Rib Eye
Nothing beats a solid steak when celebrating a special occasion, and to me Tapenade’s Porcini Rib Eye is the absolutely best steak in town. 500 grams of Prime-Grade U.S. Rib Eye, seasoned with a dry rub featuring ground porcini mushrooms, brown sugar, sugar and pepper flakes, it will hit all the notes of salty-spicy-umami that make for a delicious bite. Topped with fresh Arugula leaves, parmesan cheese shavings and a simple balsamic vinaigrette, this rib eye steak is an elevated version of the classic Italian “Tagliatta di Manzo”, a true showstopper and the favorite item for families dining in Tapenade during weekends.
Lamb Chops Scottadita
This a very Mediterranean approach to eating: top quality lamb, simply grilled and served without much adornment and a fresh salad next to it. I must admit I only order this dish during weekends, because to really enjoy it one must pick up the chops by the bones with your fingers (hence the name “scottadita”, or “burnt fingers”), and not put it down until the last tasty morcel of succulent lamb is gone. I’m a big fan of fresh herbs, and in this case the combination of rosemary and lamb shows they were truly made for each other.
One of my favorite tapas is “Chipirones en su Tinta”, but unfortunately they are not very substantial as a main course. To address that we came up with this hybrid, half way between the classic squid ink risotto of Italian cuisine, and the “Chipirones” and “Paella Negra” of the Spanish tradition. The result is a creamy rice that is finished in the oven in earthenware cazuelas, and topped with tender garlic squid, parsley and a dash of lemon juice for acidity (there it is again!). To me, this is absolutely delicious.
This recipe is a Spanish flavor association, brought to a higher level with profound depth of flavor. Octopus and potatoes are normally simmered until tender, dressed with olive oil and dusted with Spanish Pimenton. In our interpretation we add an additional layer of flavor by grilling the octopus, and making an intense vinaigrette with its cooking liquids, pimenton and extra virgin olive oil. I am a big fan of acidity: people often forget that to season, you must adjust salt, pepper AND acidity, for it brightens the flavors while lightening the feel of the dish. The vinaigrette in this preparation is positively delicious.
Arroz con Pato
We had always wanted to do this Portuguese classic in Tapenade, taking a bit of a poetic license since Portugal is more Atlantic than Mediterranean… however, we said “close enough!”. Chef Luis brought in his wonderful Asian techniques to make this recipe even more special, cooking a crisp “chicharron” of duck skin and adding a “floss” of duck breast like you find in rice preparations in this part of the world. The result is delicious: substantial and comforting, full of varied textures and bursts of flavor from the briny olives and salty chorizo.
I love eggs. Especially runny eggs. Especially runny eggs that are enhanced by a carefully-chosen partner. In this case is the salty cured flavor of Italian guanciale and earthy, musky black truffle crema. Our pizza crust in Tapenade is deservedly famous, and it really shines in this Pizza because it provides the perfect backdrop for the toppings to shine. This pizza is all about balance of flavor: the very aroma punches you in the face before the first bite, and you know you are in for a delicious ride. This is basically eggs with bacon and bread, in a very sophisticated guise, so I think it makes the absolutely best brunch one can have.
Spaghetti Alla Tornola
Mediterranean cuisine in general, and Southern Italian cooking in particular, is very ingredient driven, very simple. A cuisine of freshness, based on few ingredients singing in harmony. That is the case with this delicious pasta. Fresh seafood, fresh tomato, fresh garlic, fresh herbs…. Olive oil and very little chili. That’s all you need for a memorable Italian main course.
Angry Mussels with Chorizo & Toast
Combining seafood and chorizo is a very Mediterranean thing… very Catalan and very Portuguese as well. I love the familiar comfort of bread soaking up the intense cooking juices of the mussels, spiced up just enough with fresh chili. It is a similar feeling to French onion soup, or sopa de ajo: the bread gives substance to an otherwise light appetizer.
People in Spain take their croquetas very seriously. Nobody makes them better than everyone’s mom and yet some of the best chefs in the world keep trying to perfect it. What makes it so fascinating to me is that at heart, a croqueta is just four ingredients, so excellence is squarely in the hands of the chef and his technique. Perfection in simplicity is one of the most difficult things to attain in a kitchen, and my chefs by now know I’m extremely picky with the croquetas. We have flavored ours with diced roasted chicken, Spanish jamon and hard-cooked egg, in the style of Spanish master Francis Paniego, with the addition of black truffle to elevate them and have a sense of special occasion. There are six little croquetas in a plate… and you can finish one in two bites, making them the perfect appetizer to share, although I can finish the full set myself. They are that good.
Greek Chicken Tacos
My latino background may have gotten the better of me with this dish, but I love it anyway. A good taco has just four components: tortilla, grilled protein, a salsa of some type and a herb of some type. For our tacos, we feature grilled chicken in a herb and lemon marinade, sun dried tomato crema and top it with a Mediterranean veggie salsa. Like any real taco, this is meant to be eaten by hand and carefully, so that the salsa doesn’t end up on one’s Italian necktie… however, for a comfortable, light yet fully satisfying meal with a touch of the New World… this is the one for me.