Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Meal in the City: "Pork Tocino Breakfast" at Cara Mia Gelateria, Tomas Morato, Quezon City

I really love Amici and Cara Mia and I'm not ashamed to tell the world about it.

Other than filling people up on their gorgeous and yummy gelato concoctions - which reminds me that I must try their affogato delights very soon - Cara Mia has also taken to serving breakfast. This means that the kitchen and particularly the massive wood-fired oven that they have in every Amici/Cara Mia branch gets its day started really early. The oven not only makes the day's bread, pizzas, and certain lunch/dinner dishes, but is also used for preparing a few dishes on the breakfast menu.

I caught a lucky break early in October and was there at Cara Mia on the day they started their breakfast service. Here's what I had to eat on that day: baked Italian sausage links! A good first impression, though the sausages had some flaws....

The previous meal having made quite a nice taste memory, I recently returned to Cara Mia for another breakfast. This time I was craving something local to eat. Here's what it looked like.

Breakfast at Cara Mia, second visit: Pork Tocino, fried egg, garlic rice, pickles, and coffee.

Pork tocino is something like a cross between bacon and ham: it's taken usually from the belly part of a pig, cured in sugar and spices, then pan-fried and eaten at the breakfast table. Some restaurants make tocino out of chicken and fish, but many people have memories of eating a properly cured and prepared pork tocino.

The pickles are made out of shredded unripe papaya mixed with carrots and what-not, and called "atchara". I'm not a fan, though, so I left the portion on my plate.

And the verdict? *Sigh.* First disappointment at Amici/Cara Mia, I guess, and most of that centered on the meat. The tocino was too sweet and had too much fat - I had to discard two or three large pieces. I quite enjoy a bite of forbidden fat every now and then, but that serving just had too much for it to be healthy.

Also, the meat seemed slightly underdone - it was a little tough to the bite and too pale, as though the pan were still cold when it was chucked in.

I also wish they'd fried the egg better: either cooked it for just five more seconds or turned the heat up one notch. There was still some raw white floating above the very runny yolk. In theory, that would have been dangerous to eat. No one wants to eat out, then come down with salmonella poisoning. Maybe I should have told them to scramble the egg instead of just cooking it over VERY easy....

Having had many stellar meals at Amici/Cara Mia, this first disappointment really stings. I'd thought they'd already had enough time to settle in for breakfast operations. Maybe they need some more prep time early in the morning? I have no idea how to remedy tocino cures and pan/stove temperatures.

I'll give them another chance soon - I'm nothing if not doggedly optimistic when it comes to food....

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