Flavors of Spain 2011 : Cirkulo in Makati City

After spending the entire afternoon trick or treating with my 3 year old Supergirl niece Julia and 1 year old Peter Pan nephew Jairus, I hurried home to get ready as Paul and I were to double date with.... my parents!

It's funny that all throughout our 8 years of dating, I realized that Paul and I never really had the chance to go out with just my parents. Normally, my sister would join us or sometimes we'd even have the entire clan dining out with us.

More than anything, I just want Paul to feel more at ease with my parents especially with Papa who, at times, thinks I'm still his 5-year-old daughter and is still in the process of realizing and accepting that I am a 29 year old grown woman who has been married for more than a year. I guess my story is nothing out of the ordinary as I'm sure most daughters, especially those who are really close to their dads, can totally relate with me. *nods slowly*

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Since this is a rare occasion, I made sure my choice of restaurant is something different, extra special and one that will totally make my parents enjoy the meal. Call it perfect timing that I also got an invite from the Spanish Institute for Foreign Trade (ICEX) and Fuego Hotels to try one of the six participating restaurant for their annual Flavors of Spain campaign.

I love Spanish cuisine so it wasn't difficult to make me say yes. The challenge was to choose which of the six restaurants to dine in. It was when I saw Cirkulo on the list that I remembered how much my colleague T loves dining there. As mentioned in my previous entry, T has an amazing taste in food and after confirming with the organizers that I'd like to make a reservation at Cirkulo for Saturday night, I ran over to T's cube to get her recommendations on what to order.

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I've been hearing nothing by raves about Cirkulo. In fact, just a few hours ago, I found out that the restaurant has made it to the 2011/2012 Miele Guide as on of the Top 5 restaurants in the country. Thus, I entered the restaurant with really high expectations and a hungry stomach ready for a feast. After all, Cirkulo is part of the Milky Way group that also operates Azuthai and Tsukiji. Let's see how Cirkulo will fare most especially for my dear parents.

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So there we were at exactly 7 in the evening where Cirkulo's kind and helpful manager Girlie led us to our table for four. As soon as we gave her our orders, out came a small plate filled with four pieces of crostinis and topped with freshly made salsa and a piece of cheese. I love how sweet the salsa was and the cheese gave a really good salty contrast that made this tiny piece of starters very interesting. Wish I can ask for more however I know I have to save some space for our appetizers.

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Papa loves drinking wine and beer, of course he didn't pass up the chance to have a glass (or was it two) for dinner. Look at his satisfied smile as he watched the waiter pour the wine into his glass. :P

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We ordered quite a lot of appetizers, actually even more than our main dish. First off was the Gambas Al Ajillo (Php. 365). My mom's favorite. Every time we have dinner at a Spanish restaurant, this  is always part of our menu line-up. I'm not complaining though as I always like biting into the juice piece of shrimp cooked in olive oil, chili and lots of garlic bits.

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The first thing that T told me to order was the Cabeza de Cerdo (Php. 495) otherwise known as spicy sisig made from a suckling pig. To be honest, I was a bit hesitant to order this as my mom totally dislikes eating sisig. I've never had an experience where we would order sisig at any Filipino restaurant that I wouldn't hear her complain how oily, fatty, salty the sisig was. Still, I took a risk and prayed that Cirkulo's sisig will be different.

As the hot ceramic plate of Cabeza de Cerdo arrived, I was the first to take a spoonful and I loved it! It wasn't as oily as the others and it had a little hint of spiciness perking up the taste of the chopped up suckling pig. I held my breath when Mommy got a small portion and what happened next should have been documented and sent to the talented Cirkulo chef. My Mom liked loved the sisig as she commented that it wasn't very oily and it was in fact very tasty. Hats off to Cirkulo for winning my Mom's heart through your sisig.

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The next appetizer was the one included in the Flavors of Spain menu -- 65° Egg (Php. 395). Mommy had to ask why they named this egg dish like so and the waiter replied that they poached the egg up until 65°. At first glance, it looks like a plain breakfast accompaniment but after breaking the yolk and mixing this in the bowl while slicing the Jamon Iberico into tiny strips then that's when the magic happens. It's very light and delicious.

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For our Paella, we decided to get the Paella Montana (Php. 825). How can I resist not having Paella topped with Portobella mushroom, asparagus and roasted garlic and drizzled with my favorite truffle oil. It's a healthier alternative compared to the other Paella options in the menu and it's really fragrant too! I enjoyed mashing the roasted garlic and mixing this into my rice. Mmm.... heaven!

Papa loves steak and he only gave one condition when we invited him out to dinner that evening -- he wanted to eat STEAK. Since my friend T highly recommended the Slow Roasted US Beef Belly (Php. 875), we ordered that for Papa to enjoy with his Paella.

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At present, Paul and I are abstaining from beef for 6 months and just imagine the torture watching my parents enjoy bite after bite of the tender-looking beef with horseradish sauce. I simply had to contend myself by finishing the mushroom and veggies that came with it. *sigh* I'm glad though that this has passed the standards of my Dad as he immediately told my sister, later that evening, how delicious the US Beef Belly was. Hooray!

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I wasn't ready to say good bye yet... After enjoying our paella and my parents cleaning out the US Beef Belly, Dad wanted to have coffee while I ordered dessert. I had the Warm Dark Chocolate Truffle Cake with Liquid Center (Php. 295) or in my words -- Lava Cake. Served perfectly warm, I loved how the rich, gooey chocolate flows out of the moist chocolate cake as I slice it open. It was pretty small but perhaps can be shared by two.

Dinner left me speechless. My parents were very happy with everything that we ordered and so were Paul and I. I love the homey, family feel of the restaurant where everyone seems to know one another. I can't believe that we haven't been venturing into this side of town that often that we failed to take notice of such an amazing Spanish restaurant like Cirkulo. I seriously have to keep my eyes open more next time.

*special thanks to Spanish Institute for Foreign Trade (ICEX) and Fuego Hotels for the delicious dinner! ♥


Cirkulo is located at the Ground Floor Milkyway Building, 900 Arnaiz Avenue (Pasay Road) corner Paseo de Roxas in Makati City. Call them at 810-8735, 810-2763 to make a reservation.

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