A tribute to new dishes and some old favorites at CPK.
I'd like to believe that due to my blog, my family has somewhat become more adventurous when it comes to ordering new dishes at restaurants. Never mind that one may argue they didn't actually have a choice, seeing that I make it a point to have them avoid dishes that have previously been taken food photos of and published here in FRM. The crucial thing is, we have gone from ordering the usual to foraying into new gastronomical fares. But then again, there are simply favorites that are too good to pass up even for one meal. So, here we go - some things old and some things new...
As the server gently laid down the platter of Roasted Duck Salad (P235), it was pleasantly surprising to see it covered with tons of shredded duck meat. Initially, it looked a bit dry with sesame seeds intermittently scattered all around. Peeking from underneath the pile were lots of greens, sliced celery, some green beans (dare I say edamame?), ribbons of crispy wantons, and a scanty serving of hoisin sauce. Tossing the salad proved to be profitable as the sauce sufficiently besmeared the duck tatters. Its sweet taste coated and moistened the meat -- a pairing so obviously good, you just have to take another forkful. A loud crunch was heard on the second bite; the wanton strips retaining its crispness even under the sauce and vinaigrette. The vegetables provided a little cleansing for the sweetened palate, preparing it for more salad consumption.
The White Pizza (personal P195; regular P290) consists of an olio of cheeses -- mozzarella, ricotta, parmesan, fontina and pecorino romano (drooling yet, cheese lovers?). A blanket of this medley partially covers leaves of sauteed garlic spinach. There's something inviting about the unevenness of its crust, slightly tanned from the brick oven, with shades of white from the baking powder. The small blocks of melted ricotta cheese a stark contrast to the dark, green spinach. And the taste, oh the taste. The different types of cheese furnish various layers of flavor. Sweetness from the mozzarella mixed with a faint acidity from the ricotta, entangled with a bit of saltiness from the pecorino and the sharp taste of parmesan, all fall into a harmonious fusion that tantalizes the palate.
The Baja Fish Tacos (P295) I didn't enjoy much. The finger-thin sauteed cream dory was hidden beneath a rubble of chopped green and purplish red cabbage, which made up three quarters of the tacos(!). Biting through the soft tortilla bread blemished by brown burnt spots was rather challenging as the ranchito sauce made the soft taco flaccid and limp.
I like cranberry -- in my juice, on my baked chicken and even in my frappuccino, so the Cranberry Walnut Chicken Salad (P195) was a welcome treat. Charily sitting in the middle of a sliced focaccia bread were chunks of grilled chicken, dried cranberries, walnuts, chopped celery (?), slices of tomatoes, onions and lettuce, all slathered with mayonnaise. A sizable portion of caesar salad rests on the side, with bright green Romaine leaves and garlic-herb croutons mingling under a precious few shavings of parmesan cheese. The sandwich was graciously abundant; the hodgepodge of ingredients had a surprise flavor with each chew, from the robust grilled chicken to the sweet cranberries, and all the savory and acidulous stuff in between. I'm a fan of their caesar salad mainly because of how the leaves retain its crispness plus the shaved parmesan, the sharpness of which is an acquired taste, one that I've never had until recently.
Two kinds of sauce were available for the Baby Clam Linguini (personal P195; family P385) -- the light lemon cream sauce or the tomato basil sauce (which we chose). I twirled a few strands of linguini around my fork and my mouth closed in on a tomatoey sauce with a spicy undertone towards the end. I pierced a piece of baby clam out of its shell, its meat providing more texture than flavor to the dish, but I don't complain. The sauce was flavorful enough and appetizingly good for the dish to merit acceptance and appreciation.
And finally, my favorite CPK dish -- the Portobello Mushroom Ravioli (personal P315; family P595). It's a dish I could finish off on my own; bring on the family size, I'm game! Just look at those plump, globular pasta, drenched (some even fully immersed) in a sensuous garlic parmesan cream sauce and sprinkled with finely chopped herbs. Enshrouded inside each ravioli pasta is a generous amount of minced mushrooms, its earthy flavor harnessing the luscious cream to bring about a taste so yearn-inducing, a few pieces won't be enough to satiate it.
California Pizza Kitchen (CPK)
Spot: 2/F Activity Center, Alabang Town Center (ATC), Alabang Zapote Rd, Muntinlupa City
Contact No.: 850.5771