Las Flores: It’s Blooming Delicious!
Experience Catalan cuisine in full-bloom at one of the best Spanish restaurants this side of the Iberian Peninsula Imagine springtime in Cataluña: the weather is mild and temperate, thanks to the agreeable Mediterranean climate, and streets
Experience Catalan cuisine in full-bloom at one of the best Spanish restaurants this side of the Iberian Peninsula
Imagine springtime in Cataluña: the weather is mild and temperate, thanks to the agreeable Mediterranean climate, and streets bustle with robust activity typical of Spanish culture. Flowers blossom in profusion all across the region, in a riot of happy, subtle color; from yellow jasmine and rockrose to Spanish broom, the air hangs heavy with fragrance. It is the perfect time to visit Barcelona’s famed Collserola Park or to head out to Cataluña’s many equally renowned hiking paths, or, perhaps to catch Girona’s Temps de Flors (Festival of Fowers). Springtime is also the ideal ambiance for a fine meal and a glass of vino (or three!) at one of the region’s numerous restaurants – you wouldn’t want to miss out on regional specialties and traditional dishes like Paella Negra, Bacalao con Callos, assorted tapas, to name a few mouthwatering meals.
So, you can book your trip and fly out to sunny Barcelona, or you can head on over to Las Flores in Bonifacio Global City (or to the branch in Ortigas Center, whichever is nearer to you) for a taste of all that makes Cataluña – and Spain, in general – so very delicious. With new dishes and bestselling favorites on the menu, and an inviting, enthralling atmosphere, dining is truly a delight at Las Flores.
For the love of Catalan cuisine
“Our well-loved menu includes a variety of tapas, sopas (soups), verduras (vegetables), pastas and arroces (rice dishes), specifically our best-selling paellas,“ shared Executive Head Chef Ignacio Alcala Marti. We also have fish, meat, chicken and an array of postres (desserts) that are meant to please. I have further improved the menu, added our Chef Specials which I change every two months,” he added in English that was quite impressive, given that he only picked it up in the last two years he has been in the Philippines.
Chef Ignacio, who is originally from the small village of Calaceite in Aragon, credits his cooking chops to his grandmother, who founded a small restaurant in their hometown. The establishment, now on its hundredth year, is where the talented chef’s love for cooking began; a budding romance which would later on bloom into full-blown passion while on his many culinary adventures in Barcelona.
In Manila, he found an affinity for all things delicioso (of course, the Catalan way would be “deliciós”) in the three Spanish founders of Las Flores: Uri Singla, Sergi Rostoll and Dani Aliaga – and since then, the raved-about restaurant has been offering the best Spanish cuisine, heavily inspired by Catalan cuisine, this side of the Iberian Peninsula.
Favorite flavors and exciting new dishes
Recently, Chef Ignacio introduced several new additions to the menu, which may be ordered ala carte, or as part of a special degustacion for a minimum of two people. I was among the media members fortunate enough to be invited to the special degustacion dinner, hosted by the Bistronomia Group and the Bistro Group, and what an evening of feasting and festivity it turned out to be. After all, that is the Spanish way.
The newly introduced appetite opening Bocadito con Anchoas, a scrumptious flavor feast of anchovies, Manchego cream, green chili and olive oil, atop an air baguette, is a great way to start. While on the appetizers, don’t skip the bestselling Conos de Tartar de Salmon, a creamy, savory concoction of salmon tartar with truffle oil and wasabi, stuffed into delicate wafer-like cones. You’re supposed to wolf these goodness-filled cones down in one bite, so we were told, but I opted to be a bit daintier about it and eat it in two. Now, while you may be tempted to have as many conos as you can get your hands one (yes, they’re that good!), exercise a modicum of self-control so you can also indulge in the equally delectable but downright decadent Angus & Foie Minis, beef tenderloin topped with foie and caramelized apple, open face on pan de sal. Forget the guilt, just bask in the pleasure.
Seafood lovers will rave about the Fritura de Pulpo, a combo of succulent deep fried octopus, placed on a bed of velvety eggplant with honey and kimchi aioli, as well as gush over the Sea Bass a la Plancha. Also new on the menu, this lovely dish of grilled sea bass in Vermouth sauce, piparras (small, semi-sweet peppers from Spain’s Basque region), smothered in white onion, almonds, and black olive powder made its way to my heart before it happily hit my tummy. This dish is sheer genius and perfection in every bite – the herbs, spices, and aroma of the Vermouth give the sauce a delicate flavor kick that perfectly complements the fleshy, tender sea bass. What a tantalizing taste treat!
While I am admittedly not much of a meat eater, the appreciative ooohs and aaahs elicited from those around me upon sinking their teeth into the Costillar de Cordero were enough to convince me that the dish was a winner, too. This new entrée, a rack of lamb encrusted with herbs like rosemary and basil, with a hint of lime, in its own lamb jus, served with the creamiest of mashed potatoes is sure to satiate even the most carnivorous of appetites.
And, finally – though I must admit, I was rather sad to see this meal come to an end – Chef’s Igancio’s exquisite Tarta Fina de Manzana proved the perfect ending to our gustatory trip to springtime in Spain. “Two slices each,” Chef Ignacio said as he served the postre. After one bite of the green apple in the finest, crispiest puff pastry blended with rosemary ice cream and English custard, I found myself thinking of ways to swipe some dessert from the unsuspecting diners at my table.
I’ll drink to that!
Of course, no trip to any part of Spain is ever complete without a glass of wine or spirits of your preference. And, at Las Flores, you will be spoilt for choice of inebriants. The restaurant bar is well-stocked with an extensive selection of Spanish wines as well as vintages from around the world. They also offer an array of exciting cocktails and spirits. I am a fan of their gin and tonics, a must-try being the signature Flores, a smooth and interesting combination of The Botanist gin with elderflower tonic, bay leaf, and grapes. Simply superb!
Go ahead; plan your journey to Cataluña. But while you’re waiting, head to Las Flores for a truly spectacular taste of Catalan cooking. There’s good Spanish food across the Metro, sure; but, then again, there’s Las Flores.
Las Flores is operated by the Bistronomia Group and by the Bistro Group. Check out their branches at G/F One McKinley Place 25th Street corner 4th Avenue BGC, Taguig City and at G/F The Podium Mall, ADB Avenue, Ortigas Center, Pasig City.
By ANGIE DUARTE
Photos by LAS FLORES / ANGIE DUARTE