A late post, yet again! My husband's nephew, Joaquin (fondly called "Waxx" for short), celebrated his 12th birthday last September 5, 2009. It's now what...January 4, 2010? But as I always say, "Better late than never." Besides, I have an excuse. Remember my Typhoon Ondoy ordeal? Now sit back, relax and read. I tell you, this will be worth-the-read, gastronomically-speaking. Smile! :)
As I have stated, Waxx turned 12 last September. His mom and grandparents thought it best to celebrate it differently this time by throwing him a surprise party. And they held it, where else? In his stepdad's bistro/bar, Taverna Verde, located at the popular MetroWalk complex here in Ortigas Avenue, Pasig City. Cupid, my hubby, has been there, twice, with his officemates. It has become their office's favorite happy-hour place whenever their bosses from Washington, DC and/or officemates from other foreign offices come over. I was told that the food is really good and moderately priced. So I was excited to go...not just for the food or to finally see the bistro, mind you, but also for the chance to take part in the celebration of Waxx's birthday. Waxx just happens to be my original, favorite "nephew-in-law." This is true.
Taverna Verde is really nice! It's a 2-storey establishment. Located on the ground floor is the airconditioned bar and the restaurant. On the restaurant floor are regular tables partnered with cushioned booth-chairs, long tables and long cushioned benches, and even cocktail tables and bar stools. I give kudos to the architect and interior designer because even if the place was quaint, it didn't seem or feel "crammed" at all...and, mind you, the Romero and Atienza clans are a big group! The upstairs is an open-air area, which I believe is catered more to their "smoking clients" and those who want to drink and hang out, more than eat. It has a trellis, plus tables and chairs under big umbrellas, kinda like the ones you see at Starbucks chains. It's actually quite nice!
As family members started to fill the bistro, Angel, Waxx's mom, seen in this photo, was busy playing hostess and explaining to everyone that Waxx was really looking forward to having a party with his relatives. But Angel told him they were only going to have a simple dinner at Taverna Verde. Days leading to the party, he kept asking if he can invite some cousins and a couple of uncles and aunts to his birthday dinner. Angel just told him that no one was available. That was everyone had other commitments since there was no party. You can just imagine his surprise when, after he opened the doors of Taverna Verde, there was only the light from the bar and from his birthday cake, then he heard a loud "Surprise!" and saw us all there.
Waxx is now taller than me. I remember meeting him when he was only 7. Cupid and I have just started dating then. And I think he sensed my slight discomfort upon meeting the whole clan, that he offered to teach me how to play the slot machine and Pokemon with his Nintendo GameBoy. He was so cute and thoughtful. He endeared himself to me from then on. This time, on his 12th birthday party, he AGAIN played the gracious host. He sat in the table where Cupid & I were. Then proceeded to tell me what food items in the menu are the really good ones and his favorites.
So, may I present to you, just some of the Taverna Verde food I got to taste:
Chili Garlic Chicharones. The name itself sounds so yummy! The pork cooked to its crispy-perfection, the way chicharon should be...only this time, it's meatier (not just pork skin)! The dish's garlic-vinegar "dip" was a perfect complement to the pork's salt, ground pepper and siling-labuyo (red chili pepper) taste. People say it's perfect with beer. I say, it's best with a plateful of rice!
Spinach Dip. I don't know what exactly is in this signature Taverna Verde dish. I know there's garlic and cheese. I know there's cream. But I don't care. I don't want to dissect it any further. All I can say is, it's just really delicious! Taverna Verde partnered this dip with both pita and garlic bread. I think nachos would go really well with it too.
Calamares. I always order Calamares whenever I order appetizers. It's really good to know that Taverna Verde's version doesn't fail in comparison. The squid wasn't rubbery. The breading is seasoned just right. And Angel was right...you CAN eat their calamares with rice! I honestly do not remember what the dip was. It has been 4 months since I visited the place. But I'm sure it wasn't bad since I left the bistro feeling very satisfied!
Shrimp Gambas. One word. Yum. Another word. Fresh. Yet another word. Flavorful. Butter, garlic, shrimps...how can you go wrong with that mix? My only complaint? There's just not enough shrimps in this dish! Best to order again! My husband, Cupid, can eat this, as is. But, as usual, I prefer to DEVOUR this with plain, old rice!
Callos. I will admit...I never liked Callos. I never ever ate Callos in all my 37 years of existence! Maybe it's because I don't feel like eating a poor animal's tripe. Or perhaps because it's too rich. I don't know why. I just don't eat it. I won't even care to know what's in it. Crazy, huh? But my husband and the rest of his relatives eat Callos. And they LOVE Taverna Verde's version. Enough said... :)
Beef Salpicao. Beef/ Steak cubes stir-fried in olive oil, garlic and soy sauce...who wouldn't love that? Beef Salpicao is my all-time favorite comfort food! True story...whenever we eat out, I ALWAYS, ALWAYS order Beef Salpicao if it happens to be in that restaurant's menu. So it was PURE DELIGHT that Angel picked this dish to be served for Waxx's 12th birthday party. Waxx, himself, was so proud to let me know that this is HIS "FAVORITE OF ALL THE FOOD ITEMS SERVED IN TAVERNA VERDE." I tell you, their Beef Salpicao is GOOOOOOOOD! I had to ask the waiter to give us not just extra rice but also EXTRA Beef Salpicao as Waxx, Zoe (Cupid's niece) and I just couldn't get enough of it.
Chorizo Pizza. Imagine your usual pizza but instead of the usual things, add bits of spicy, flavorful spanish chorizo for your toppings. The result? Sheer Genius!
Spicy Sardine Pizza. Repeat after me...Spicy. Sardines. Pizza. Then add tomato slices, capers, and lotsa mozarella. Need I say more? Really now!?! (Sorry about the photo, by the way. The pizza was so fresh and smelled so delicious, we forgot to take a picture of it!)
Wow, this has turned out to be such a long blog. And though this all happened 4 months ago, it feels like I was just there yesterday. I'm so stuffed! Yet I feel I will be back in Taverna Verde pretty soon. :)
To you, Waxx...BELATED HAPPY BIRTHDAY! To Taverna Verde...MORE POWER! Wish there were more family-gatherings and "gathering-places" like this.
(Birthday boy, Waxx...here with his little brother, Seb, and his beautiful cousins, Zoe and Sky)