Alice’s food diary: ‘Deli Delights’

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ALICE BUSTOS-OROSA

ALICE BUSTOS-OROSA

The abundance of dining choices in the city now makes for fantastic casual lunch and dinner adventures. By chance, delis that have been sprouting about town are welcome add-ons to these dining choices. The “deli” short for “delicatessen,” a word that has gained various meanings worldwide, denotes a shop that sells cooked or prepared foods ready for serving. To me though, a deli is the perfect place to enjoy a large mug of ale or beer with hearty sandwiches. When we think of deli food, what comes to mind are Reuben’s, pastrami sandwiches, and corned beef with Dijon mustard in rye bread.

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I remember the time when delicatessens were exclusive to hotels like The Peninsula Manila and The Mandarin Oriental Manila. With freshly baked breads displayed in wicker baskets on shelves, we were quite fascinated with the braided breads and hard-crust rolls when we were kids. These breads after all were seemingly different from Pan de sal and Pan Americana that we only knew back then. Hence, having sliced Farmer’s Ham served in Brioche was exciting enough.

By the early ‘90s, a new deli called Almon Marina opened a few branches in the growing mall scene. With quite reasonably priced soups, sandwiches and pastas, the deli earned its share of fans for many years.

Then again, there is a less upmarket deli first known in the ‘90s called Treffpunkt, a German word for “meeting place.” Just right off Edsa-Cubao, this unassuming restaurant has served its hearty selections for almost three decades now. To this day, many still regard Treffpunkt as the place for authentic German food and beer.

Thereafter, Santi’s Deli became quite popular and held a big client base because of its wide selections of cheeses, sausages, and fine meats. Some of their branches matched their shops with a few cafes serving roast beef and pastrami sandwiches—perfect choices for light lunches. Then, for a few years, my family and I enjoyed the former Mickey’s Deli on Jupiter St. for its grilled sausages, potato salad, and artisan breads baked on site. However, Mickey’s closed unexpectedly but remains one place we do miss for late dinners.

Lately however, the strip along Capitolyo in Pasig and the newly built Capitol Commons has made this area an upcoming restaurant row. Our recent favorite has been Poco Deli on East Capitol Drive, a cozy spot tucked in one of the renovated houses along this main street. Save for the parking woes, Poco Deli is worth a visit.

Do remember to leave behind diet woes before going in to this new find. Try the German meatloaf and sausage platters—all-day heavy and hearty breakfast favorites and match these with wine or beer, as the deli carries a wide selection of beers and wines as well. You may also love the bacon slab platter with its half-inch slab of fatty bacon grilled stovetop and served with bacon rice and fried eggs.

Equally pleasing is the sardine pasta, with its salty and spicy flavors. The Irish beef stew with its strong red wine undertones was quite good too. The sweet tooth I am, the best part of the meal is dessert, with my favorites being the White Mountain Chocolate and Carrot cakes topped with whipped cream cheese.

Poco Deli serves gelato for those who might just want some icy treats after a really sumptuous meal. Interestingly, the place also has a coffee shop called Epic a few steps up the road that serves the same menu plus a few coffee concoctions.

Perhaps, the deli has now become a fine, albeit common feature of the dining scene in the city. And with so many good picks around, I hope your deli experience will turn out to be a delightful one!

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