Rediscovering Casa Armas

- Joy Angelica Subido, Joy Angelica Subido, Karla Alindahao () - September 14, 2006 - 12:00am
Four hundred years of Spanish colonial rule did not make us a Spanish-speaking nation, but the flavors of Spanish cuisine have certainly become an integral part of our culinary heritage. This is perhaps why Casa Armas continues to be a favorite dining destination. The rich, full- bodied aromas and flavors of dishes served there reflect the various influences that make Spanish culture opulent and profound.

Casa Armas, of course, is the restaurant conceived by Señor Jesus Armas, a former chef and native of Rioja, Spain. It is best known for succulent cochinillo, or roast suckling pig, Than Long crabs, and delicious chicken slowly roasted to perfection. Of course there is also paella, the complete and quintessential Spanish dish that is cooked in hefty portions for larger groups to enjoy. For grazers who would rather have small portions of food to go with their sangria or wine, a variety of hot or cold tapas are the alternative.

Whether one opts for a full-course meal or smaller portions of appetizers, however, dining is always more pleasurable when shared with company. Recognizing this, Casa Armas is offering a lunch group package for groups of four.

It had been a while since we last visited Casa Armas, and a recent visit allowed us to rediscover why the restaurant has remained popular throughout the years. At the Casa Armas in Greenbelt, we tried the parilladas de pescados y mariscos (assorted grilled seafood) and parilladas de carnes (assorted grilled meat and sausages), and were pleased with both.

The fillets of fish were tasty and undoubtedly fresh, with no hint of the disturbing odor one usually associates with fish. A squeeze of lemon was all it took to liven up the flavor of the delicious fish fillets that were unsullied by thick coatings of batter. The squid was perfectly grilled to the right degree of doneness, so that the morsels remained tender, while the shrimp was fresh and faintly sweet. Delicious mussels completed the seafood platter.

The grilled meats were tasty and grilled perfectly as well. The beef and pork cutlets were seasoned simply, without the complicated flavorings that confuse your taste buds. The sausage was savory, and the vegetables that came with the dish were cooked but crisp.

We tried chuleton segoviano, which is certified grilled Angus beef that is served on a griller. Expectedly, the meat was tender, but the best part of ordering this meat dish is that one can savor the delicious aroma of the beef while the meat is cooked on a griller plate tableside.

The company of Pilar Tuason made luncheon at Casa Armas more enjoyable. Born in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, but raised in the Philippines, Pilar, who is photo editor of Digital Photographer magazine and co-owner of Bella Luce Studio on Rada St., Makati, is set to hold a photo exhibit called "Rincones de Espana" at Casa Armas soon. Although the opening date of the exhibit is still uncertain, we look forward to the exhibit of black and white photographs taken with infrared film. Perhaps, the images taken off the tourist trail and throughout the Spanish countryside will allow us enthusiasts to understand the richness of Spanish culture and cuisine even more.
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The lunch group package with meals good for four persons is available at Casa Armas Tapas Bar y Restaurante branches at the ground floor of The Podium, Ortigas Center, with tel. nos. 687-3663 and 687-3370; at the third floor of Greenbelt 3, Ayala Malls, Makati City, with tel. nos. 757-4996 and 757-4691; and 132 Jupiter St., Bel Air Village, Makati City, with tel. nos. 897-3532 and 897-3605.

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