Many Manila wine connoisseurs know about the wines of Bacchus. But not as many foodies know they carry several interesting food lines as well. First on the list is carbohydrates. Bacchus carries an extensive line of De Cecco pasta and rice for risotto. While everyone assumes that there is little distinction between dried pastas, they are mistaken. De Cecco is one of my favorites and I am thrilled that Bacchus carries a fairly comprehensive line. They also at one point carried three different types of rice for risotto (Arborio, Carnaroli and Vialone Nano) but they seemed to be down Carnaroli at the last visit. Boohoo, as that is my rice of choice for risotto. It has a higher amylose content that allows it to absorb a lot of liquid that results in an ultra-creamy risotto. A fourth type of rice for risotto, Baldo, I have yet to find in Manila. Oddly, despite the generally accepted popularity of Arborio, most top chefs seem to prefer Carnaroli and Vialone Nano.
Most of the food products that Bacchus stocks are either dried, canned or bottled. Long shelf life is critical as you can loose your hat on perishables in a fickle town with erratic turnover and demand for specialty food items. At the last visit I spied a strange sounding CUCA brand for sardines and other canned fishy foods. Also, a terrific line of artisanal jams, jellies and preserves from an Italian company. The store also carries Lavazza coffee which I am told is excellent (sorry, I am a tea drinker) as well as olive oils and vinegars. FABBRI fruit syrups in several flavors were also available and they said they were used for various mixed drinks.
Particularly interesting were three flavors of honey from the Italian brand Agrimontana: acacia flower, Alps flower and Eucalyptus flower. How they separate the bees that just suck on one kind of honey is beyond me. But how neat to find something so unique and specialized right in the heart of Makati where no bees could survive the car exhaust… Bacchus has just started importing chilled (not frozen, big difference) USDA Prime and Choice cuts of beef. Prior to the Christmas holidays, they were selling it in bulk but now you can ask and buy smaller portions.
Finally, Bacchus appears to be the distributor of Valrhona chocolate. Superb for eating, it is also superb for cooking. Nothing like a chocolate souffle made with Valrhona. One Christmas several years ago we had dinner guests who were dining at our house for the first time. They arrived with nearly a kilo of Valrhona, the largest box I had ever seen, and I think they got it at Bacchus… yum! I can see a superb meal just from what Bacchus carries… A starter of sardines on toast, a yummy risotto with saffron, roast beef and a chocolate souffle to end it. Of course, let’s not forget a bottle or two of that Domaine Romani Conti… Lavazza coffee and a brandy to bring it to an end.