If you still haven't tried Calderon along F. Calderon Street in San Juan, here are nine good reasons to check it out...
After sampling some of Calderon's signature dishes some months back (see my previous post on my first time at Calderon here at http://dude4food.blogspot.com/2013/06/calderon-cocina-tapas-y-bebidas.html), I knew I'd be back. And each time I go back, I run through a mental checklist of Calderon's signature dishes that have become personal favorites. Here's my list of mandatory must-try dishes, and if you still haven't checked out Calderon, feel free to use this as a guide...
1. Bacalao ala Vizcaina (P 280), a traditional Basque dish with salted cod and a rich olive oil and tomato based sauce, with red peppers and potatoes. I remember this dish as a family favorite during holy week, and Calderon's version has that comforting flavor that just brings back so many memories. The familiar saltiness of the fish is tempered by the rich sauce and potatoes, great as is or with bread.
2. Paella Valenciana (P 700 for a 24" paellera good for 2-4 persons), with shrimps, mussels, clams and chorizo. Calderon's version is moist, absorbing the rich blend of flavors from the seafood and chorizo, and one of the metro's best. You'll need to allow 20-30 minutes for the preparation of your paella, since everything at Calderon is made from scratch, and made to order. But it's definitely worth the wait. Have a Sangria Calderon to pass the time.
3. Paella Negra (P 500 for a 24" paellera good for 2-4 persons), a richly flavored squid ink paella topped with shrimps, mussels and aioli. And like Calderon's signature Paella Valenciana, the rice is deliciously moist. Squeeze a little lemon to add a contrast in flavor. Seriously good.
4. Callos Madrilena (P 300), a personal favorite, with tender ox tripe that almost melts in your mouth with a rich buttery flavor contrasted by the sharp note of the chorizo, slow cooked to perfection. Great as is, or with bread or rice, no visit to Calderon would be complete without this. And I'll just have to say it, this is way better than my mom's callos...
5. Pasta de Chorizo (P 220), Calderon's unique take on pasta with Spanish chorizo topped with egg. The rich flavors of chorizo works well with pasta and a tomato based sauce, and the egg completes the rich flavors. Hearty and comforting, a meal in itself.
6. Pollo Iberico (P 800), a whole chicken freshly dressed just the day before and baked for hours with olive oil, marble potatoes, garlic and herbs. The long baking process results in unbelievably moist, fall-off-the-bone goodness. And the best way to enjoy this dish is to carve a few juicy slices of chicken, mash up some marble potatoes and garlic, and add some of the richly flavored olive oil infused with the chicken. Slow food at its best. If you're thinking of having this dish on your next visit to Calderon, be sure to call in advance, Calderon requires a 24 hour lead time to prepare this dish.
7. Cangrejos ala Calderon (P 1,000), succulent crab steamed with olive oil, garlic, lemon and herbs. The aroma and flavor of the dish is enhanced by the garlic, lemon and herbs, and the delicate crab meat has a subtle sweetness. Steamed crab with a distinct Spanish flavor, and I think one of the best crab dishes in the metro. And when in season, another must-try at Calderon. For dessert, Calderon's got that covered too, so save room for dessert...
8. Torrijas con Helado (P 250), a classic Spanish version of French Toast, topped with fresh fruits and ice cream. Perfect with a cup of coffee, and a perfect dish to cap a Spanish meal at Calderon.
9. Churros con Chocolate (P 250), another classic, with light, crisp and mildly chewy churros sprinkled with cinnamon and served with thick Spanish chocolate.A great afternoon snack, just one more reason to drop by Calderon.
That's my list, but Calderon offers so much more. Then, there's Calderon's signature tapas, and that's an entirely new and different list. Stay tuned for the next post on Calderon's signature tapas, coming soon. Special thanks to Angela Melo and Chef Rafa Ysip for an awesome lunch.
Calderon Cocina Tapas y Bebidas is located at 403 F. Calderon Street, San Juan, Metro Manila or call 238-2264 for inquiries or reservations.
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