Re-create late night food and drink binges at Barcino, with the restaurant’s new Paella Making Kits, Ready-Made Meals, and bottled Signature Sangria
December 2017, Barcino, City Golf—the One Mega Group Christmas Party had just ended, and my work barkada and I wanted to pay tribute to tradition. Whenever we would close an issue of Lifestyle Asia, we always celebrated with an all-night drinking and eating binge. Great people and interesting conversations are always nicely complemented with delicious food and cold drinks. As we were celebrating the end of the work year, we knew that there was only one restaurant we wanted to go to, and that was Barcino. In fact, in the four years I was working with the luxury magazine, our Happy New Year celebrations (what we liked to call our post-closing inumans) were always held in the Spanish-specialty restaurant. They always had rich food that hit the right spots, and their selection of beverages is wide enough to suit everybody’s palettes. The fact that we had a Barcino so near the office (it’s a five-minute drive away), also played a huge factor. The ambiance of this particular branch at City Golf Ortigas was hip and dark, and the crowd of professionals was loud but never rowdy. They were merely enjoying themselves after a hard day’s work. Being there was as if you were enjoying a night out in Spain, in an eatery you stumbled upon after a long day of sight-seeing. Simply said, this Barcino was our comfort zone.
Three years later, in the world’s longest lockdown, those memories of chugging sangria and chasing it with croquetas seem like a lifetime away. We are all cooped up at home, ordering food from friends and family who have magically turned into chefs overnight. And that’s not a bad thing. Supporting local is good, and supporting loved ones is even better. But it’s difficult not to reminisce about old times. The energy of a fully booked restaurant is on a different level. Conversations overlapping each other, wine spilling on the table after a good laugh, and food arriving fresh and hot from the kitchen are all memories that I miss. The experience of actually dining in and sitting down at one of your favorite restaurants is unmatched. And oh, how I miss it! Luckily, Barcino has heard the cry of many of their diners and has recently launched their new website to make it convenient to buy their famed Spanish dishes for home consumption. I decided to give it a try to see if I could recreate my Happy New Year experience from my little corner of Manila.
Turning Home into a Spanish Restaurant
Like many established restaurants in the Metro, Barcino has made the transition to selling their products online. Upon entering their new website, you are greeted with the flaring colors of Spain! Hot yellows, reds, greens, and blues greet you in the banner—a welcome sight, as if you were watching the opening sequence of a film by Pedro Almodóvar. The rest of the site is very easy to navigate. After checking out your food items, you are led to a page where you give your personal and delivery information. It is then followed by your payment options. A few clicks later, adding in details here and there, and you’re finally done! The process is so easy, especially since you don’t have to make an account to be able to do it. It’s also important to note that Next-Day Delivery is guaranteed if you process your order before 5:00 PM and that delivery fees (within Metro Manila and Cebu) are waived if your total bill exceeds PHP 3,500.
The selection of food offerings on the website is quite extensive. This includes a wide variety of wines and beverages (including everybody’s favorite Barcino’s Signature Sangria), Cold Cuts and Cheeses (their NICO Jamon Iberico Cebo is a favorite), and Bottled & Canned goods (items such as pate, canned Spanish peppers, and sardines in oil). However, when I ordered, I decided to try out their latest releases: The Paella Making Kits and the Ready-Made Meals. These were created by Barcino as an effort to give their clients the same high-quality of food that they would normally serve, but this time with all the comforts of home. True, it might not be the same (since you have to cook/heat the food yourself), but think of it this way: it’s a fun activity for all of us aspiring home cooks, plus the food is as fresh as it can be when it reaches your dining room table. Most importantly: you get restaurant-grade food in the SAFETY of your residence.
Three types of Paella Making Kits are offered on Barcino’s website. The Paella Chorizo y Pollo (priced at PHP 630.00) is an all-meat varietal that includes chicken and chorizo. You can also opt for the Paella Negra (PHP 550.00), a richer option cooked with squid ink and seafood. Finally, the most premium of the three is the Paella Mixta (PHP 840.00), which includes more protein than the others. It has chicken, pork, and seafood. As for the Ready-Made meals, most of Barcino’s best-sellers are readily available for purchase, such as their Croquetas de Chorizo (decadent chorizo croquettes priced at PHP280.00/for eight pieces) and the Fabada Asturiana (delightful Spanish bean stew at PHP420.00/serving). This ready-made line is very friendly to those who don’t know how to cook. Each package has re-heating instructions (in the case of the croquetas, frying instructions) that are easy to follow. A combo of these dishes, plus your favorite wine, is like bringing Barcino right into your home.
A Delicious “New Year”
In an effort to re-create my Happy New Year inumans, I ordered enough food for five people. Since there is a Barcino near my house, I opted to pick up my order since I was going out for groceries anyway. I ordered through their website, and the branch I selected texted me when my package was ready for pick-up the following day. As a home cook (who cooks Filipino-Spanish food for a living), I was ecstatic to try and create Barcino’s version of a paella. Their paella dish is more traditional than the one I offer at Delicachino (my brand), so it was a welcome change to my palate. Following traditional Spanish paella, Barcino’s allows their rice to burn in the bottom (this delicious part of the paella is called soccarat) while cooking it with just the right amount of broth that gives the rice a diverse texture (some soft, some al dente). Cooking Barcino’s Paella Chorizo y Pollo was extremely easy and fun to do. It was as simple as adding in the individually packed ingredients into your pan, one-by-one, during a particular time. Just follow the given instructions, and you’ll be fine.
As a side dish, I also ordered the Croquetas de Chorizo. I’m used to cooking croquetas in a certain way, so I clumsily did not follow the instructions Barcino had provided. That was a big mistake because I ended up burning it a little. My one suggestion to home cooks: don’t leave croquettes in the oil for too long! As soon as it’s golden brown, it’s ready to be removed from the fryer. Still, the croquetas were bursting with flavors. Each small bite had my taste buds leaping like tango dancers drunk on tequila. Finally, lunch was not complete without the restaurant’s Signature Sangria. Barcino has packaged its famous drink in generously large bottles, ideal for home celebrations. Whether you like it pre-chilled or with a lot of ice, just make sure you add fruits (apples and oranges, even lemons if you wish!) to get the complete Barcino experience.
Simply put, lunch was delicious. The food was of top-quality, and the instructions are quite simple to follow. The paella was filling and just the right amount for the five people, while the croquetas were rich and very satisfying. Putting my food down with an iced glass of flavorful sangria was just the icing on top of the cake—or should I say the seafood on top of the paella? It was a nice, decadent treat for someone who is on a perpetual diet. On a final note, I just want to say how amazing it is that local restaurants have really transformed themselves to fit the needs of their diners during the pandemic. Was the experience as great as my late-night Happy New Year celebrations at Barcino City Golf? Admittedly, no, it wasn’t. But it was pretty damn close for the time being.
Chino Hernandez is a former editor at Lifestyle Asia, who left publishing to start his dream of owning a food business. His brand Delicachino serves Spanish-Filipino favorites inspired by Pinoy family meals. He is a foodie who enjoys sinful, decadent eats. Chino’s other hobbies include collecting physical home media, and recently, working out and staying healthy.
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