Awesome Food and Wine Appreciation Night At Café Ysabel!

It was a gastronomic night for some of the KTG peeps at Cafe Ysabel in San Juan as one of our KTG babes from the south, Justinne of, invited us for dinner that's specially made for her by Chef Gene Gonzalez himself. In a gist, the rather intimate night was full of fun conversations alongside great food and wine pairings.

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We've had some of the best selections from Café Ysabel's anniversary wines, so it was obviously wine appreciation night!

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But before that, we just had to stop by at Whole Pet Kitchen where Chef Gene's daughter is actually the one in charge. If you are very particular with what your dogs eat, you better check this place out because this is the only first natural pet deli and barkery in the Philippines. It's been operating for a number of years already so just in case you don't know yet, they offer naturally made pet treats, a menu for dogs and a special menu for humans too!

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We also got a chance to meet Jack, the owner's official "endorser" and "PR Head" in the store. I love dogs! It's nice to know that Jack is well behaved and very polite, so yeah, I hope that when you get to visit the place Jack is there to greet you when you come in :))

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First appetizer: Duck Rillette that you can smear as much as you want on freshly baked baguettes. It's similar to pate but instead of blending the meat into a paste like consistency, this one is chopped or shredded and cooked slowly in fat. It's a bite you will never regret.  

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Fat juicy shrimp cooked Gambas style. The sliced chilis gave that kick that it needs. The sauce is as fiery as it looks. Scrumptious.

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Smoked Fish Wontons came next, served with a fresh salsa. It's something I would want to do at home, if only Chef Gene can tell me how to. Hahaha!

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For our first wine: a 2011 Sparkling Pinot Noir from Bird In Hand, which has a light and refreshing mood to it. As expected, the wine went very nicely with the appetizers.

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It's actually the kind of wine that I should drink when I'd probably get promoted at work.

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More appetizers: Four Cheese Pizza! It's warm, oozing cheese explodes in my mouth. A bite of pizza, a sip of wine. Aww, I love it so much!

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Next up: Bobby Chin Pizza which was actually named after the famous celebrity chef. He did try this pizza, but during our dinner we had it with extra slices of prosciutto. My reaction when I saw this? My ears where secretly flapping on the sides with happiness. Yum!

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For our next course: their in-house Sopa Ysabel En Croute paired with a glass of KyohoYamabe 2013 Rose Wine. The mildness of the grapes from my drink paired nicely with the seafood flavor notes from the warm soup. Add the flaky texture of the pastry on top of the soup and every element compliments very well each other.

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Next up: the Pasta Trentissimo Anniversario that's made with fresh thick pasta, eggs and cheese over a bed of the most wonderful crispy parmesan disc which slowly softened (and doubled as a replacement for bread) as I slurp my way into the noodles (I know, it's not ramen but I loved how the thick pasta enabled me to appreciate it by slurping it hehe).

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The Seabass w/ Seafood & Vietnamese Butter is stunning, filling, and insane. This thick slab of fish looked like it's carefully seared then finished off in the oven, and served with an assembly of shellfish and squid, and served in a tangy and lightly herbed butter sauce. Both these dishes was paired with Café Ysabel's 30th Anniversary 2011 Riesling by Bird in Hand at Clare Valley.

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Man was I so full after the seabass was served; if it weren't for the two-piece chicken that I downed earlier that afternoon after my trip to the spa, I would have easily gone through the dishes during the dinner, so I thanked the Food Gods that this sorbet helped me cleanse my palate....

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...only to find out that we were just half way through the menu. My gosh! This is even harder than going on a buffet restaurant! This majestic plate of Filleto ala Gino (named after Chef Gene's brother, Chef Gino of course) which was served along with a glass of another 30th Anniversary wine fom Café Ysabel - a 2007 Petite Sirah by Corte Riva Winery.

A shout out to my foodtrip dude and fellow KTG Jeng of for always saving me with photos that I can't take anymore during that night since my phone died.

However, having a dead phone didn't stop me from keeping up with the desserts. After we're done with the steak, a fresh batch of the most delectable chocolate soufflés were served to us. Soufflés and Crème Anglaise with wine is love! Oh, and by the way, this was just PRE-DESSERT. How many courses did we have so far? I can't remember. I think I'm having food coma now. 
Chef Gene, the next time we have dinners like this, I'll make sure that I'll be SOOO ready! Hahaha!

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Ladies and gentlemen, this is the final course of the night: a Mini Strawberry Shortcake and Peter Pan Caramel, Chocolate and Vanilla Custard Sauce Dessert to cap off everything that we have had in past couple of hours! Partner this up with some homemade mead that Chef Gene made especially a few years back (and it's made with only his own honey fresh from his mini bee farm - how cool is that!?!?). Mead is considered one of the oldest drinks known to man so to make it in your own restaurant is just a notion on how passionate you are to achieve something good and tasteful with just simple ingredients. One small glass and we're so done. We were so full, our tummies were so happy - plus, we heard "My Way" from Frank Sinatra from the private event on the other side of our walls, which signaled that the party was almost over, but definitely worth remembering! 
Thank you Justinne, Chef Gene and KTG friends for one of many awesome dinners that I will never forget!

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Café Ysabel is open everyday and is one of the premier destinations for awesome dishes made with tradition and inspiration. No wonder some of their dishes are named after their loyal customers. Have a date or gather up your family to dine here sometime soon!
Heading down to Cebu? Don't forget to visit to check on some awesome food finds down south!
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*This post was created by the writer's own thoughts about Café Ysabel.

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