Until I visited its Makati branch, I thought Wine Depot was just a wine shop. Turns out, it’s a restaurant as well. The menu lists tempting dishes not ordinarily found in other dining places.
There’s pan-seared barramundi (apahap), a large white fish abundant in the waters of Australia, as well as chicken roasted with dukkah, a crunchy mixture of nuts, herbs and spices. Very interesting are the platters of European cheeses, hams and sausages, which one can order with homemade bread.
Coffee connoisseurs also visit Wine Depot for the rich Vittoria coffee, made from 100-percent Arabica beans that are roasted, blended and packed in Australia.
Tea is now likewise on the menu, due to growing interest in its health benefits. In keeping with its policy of sticking to premium brands, Wine Depot serves La Maison du Thé. Blended and packed in France, these delicate, handcrafted teas come in both loose leaf form and in tea bags of fine silk mesh.
Not only does the silk mesh allow for maximum infusion of the tea, it also acts as a kind of showcase for the tea leaves that had been patiently hand-torn (rather than being machine-cut).
To highlight this luxurious tea brand, Wine Depot now serves high tea on Wednesday afternoons. But in typical Australian laid-back style, there’s no fuss or formality. “Our high tea is very casual,” says marketing and communications manager Monette Atilano. “It’s more of a fun ritual.”
Between 3 to 5 p.m., diners can choose from among La Maison du Thé’s seven classic flavors: green tea, English Breakfast, Darjeeling, Earl Grey, chamomile, peppermint, and lemon and ginger. Each order comes with a generous spread of sweets and savories: meat and seafood rolls, fruit tarts, as well as classic Australian meat pies and lamington cake—a sponge cake with a layer of chocolate coating dusted with desiccated coconut.
Best of all, on sunny afternoons, customers can choose to dine at the outdoor garden.
Though the current rainy weather seems to call for hot brews, tea and coffee don’t always have to be served hot, says Atilano. Iced citrus tea and cold-drip coffee can be just as comforting. Here, Wine Depot shares its recipes for these cold brews.
Iced black citrus tea
Brew the tea in hot water for 30 minutes. If using tea bags, remove the tea bags after 30 minutes. If using loose leaf tea, strain the tea into a large bowl or pitcher. Let cool. Pour into a glass pitcher, then stir in the sugar, orange juice and grenadine.
Put ice cubes into individual drinking glasses, then pour the tea into the glasses. Serve with drinking straws and, if desired, garnish with slices of fresh orange. Makes 4 servings.
Cold drip coffee
Since it takes 18 hours to brew this coffee, be sure to prepare it the day before you are to serve it. If you intend to serve it for breakfast, for example, make the coffee drip at around 1 p.m. of the previous day. With 18 hours of dripping time, the coffee will be ready by 7 a.m. the next day.
Pour the ground coffee inside a cheesecloth bag. Tie the top of the bag with a rubber band or a twist tie. Pour the cold water into a tall pitcher. Leave the cheesecloth bag in the cold water for 18 hours. As the hours pass and the water gets infused with the coffee, the liquid will become darker.
Pour the coffee into a clear wine bottle or a pitcher. Serve with a carafe of cold milk and simple syrup. (Each person can just add his/her own desired amount of milk and syrup.)
To make simple syrup: Bring 1 c water to a boil in a medium saucepan. When the water starts boiling, stir in 1 c white sugar. Let boil while stirring constantly, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the liquid becomes clear. Remove from the heat and let cool completely. Transfer to a bottle with a pouring lip. (Note: If syrup is to be stored, transfer to a bottle with a tight-fitting lid. Close the lid and keep in refrigerator until ready to use.)
Wine Depot is at: 217 N. Garcia St. (formerly Reposo), Bel Air, Makati; 6 Missouri St., Northeast Greenhills, San Juan; Westgate Corporate Center, Commerce Ave., Alabang, tel. 8894889 or 8973220.
For more tips, recipes and stories, visit the author’s blog www.normachikiamco.com, and Facebook fan page www.facebook.com/normachikiamco. Follow on Twitter @NormaChikiamco.
When brewing the tea, be sure to use a heat-proof container since you’ll be pouring hot water into it.
Aside from English Breakfast tea, you can use Earl Grey.
So as not to dilute the strength of the tea, put the ice cubes in individual drinking glasses (not in the pitcher), then pour the tea into the glasses, says Wine Warehouse head barista Michelle Perez.
Grenadine is a non-alcoholic cordial made from pomegranate fruits and available in wine shops.
For the cold drip coffee, Wine Depot uses Vittoria Cappuccino/Latte Ground coffee (available in its store), but you can also use ground barako coffee and decaffeinated ground coffee.