Sunday, March 30, 2008

I cooked Beef Mechado!

. . . And this dish was inspired by the recipe shared by MarketMan.

I actually followed the recipe with some variations. I added a small pack of tomato sauce and I wasn’t able to roast the bell peppers so I just cut them in strips.

I bought three-fourths kilo of beef chunks from Monterey. I cut them in bite size pieces. I sprinkled the beef with salt and pepper and then browned them in olive oil. In the same oil, I sautéed garlic then added the tomatoes from a can of Hunts stewed tomatoes. I brought the beef back, added 4 tablespoons of soy sauce and vinegar; as well as four pieces of dried bay leaf. I allowed the mixture to simmer a few minutes so that the acidity of the vinegar would dissolve (or evaporate). I added the rest of the liquid from the can of Hunts, added a small pack of tomato sauce and a piece of Knorr beef cube. I then added water that was just enough to simmer the beef into. I cooked the entire mixture over low heat in about one-and-a-half hours with occasional stirring as to avoid burning the bottom of the pan. I then added the potatoes, bell peppers and sliced onion. For additional taste, I added about half a teaspoon of Spanish paprika and more pepper. After 15 minutes, it was done. The result was delicious. This was our lunch which lasted until dinner. My brother said it was even more delicious at dinner. As for stews, it gets really good over time.

yum, yum!

Abe at Serendra

As a grand finale to Michelle’s visit, we decided to have dinner at Serendra. Michelle Tan is our senior analyst from Canada and basically in charge of mostly everything when in comes to research in Canadian market. You can try googling her name adding ‘iss canada’ with the search and read further about her.

Serendra was the right place to bring her because of the variety of restaurants in the area as well because FullyBooked was nearby. Given that she’s a lover of books, it’ll surely be a hit for her. Our first choice was to eat at Chelsea. When we got there, we were told that we still have to wait at about one and a half hour to be seated. We had our names listed but we still looked around the area. Right across Chelsea is Abe. The place serves Filipino food cooked in Capampangan style. Again we were on a waiting list but if we wanted to eat outside, there were already available seats. We agreed to that setting but halfway while they were fixing the table, another table became available inside and so we were lucky that we got inside.

Crispy Shrimp Binondo: fried small salted shrimps
Nothing impressive about this dish. But at least it wasn’t oily and the shrimps were fried just right.

Spicy Kapampangan Sisig: wasn’t that spicy.
The dish was a mixture of the pork’s face and liver. I prefer the sisig at Masas.

Lamb Adobo: This one I really enjoyed. I am not a fan of lamb and so I was quite hesitant to try this dish but I’m thankful that I indeed tasted this. The lamb was tender and moist. I love how Abe cooked the adobo. The dish had plenty of garlic. The mixture of bay leaf, soy sauce and chili, which added a spike to the dish, brought a wonderful combination. This dish is a reason to go back to Abe.

Pastel de Lengua: Honestly, I didn’t have that much of this dish to judge it. But Michelle was so surprised that it actually was made of ox tongue. She swore it tasted just like ordinary meat.

We also ordered gising-gising, which I found out was really just kangkong stems cooked with chili fingers and coconut milk. It was supposed to be spicy thus the name, to wake you up. We also had Lechon Cubano, which tasted like any other lechon.

I was excited to try Abe’s bamboo rice as I’ve read about it in other blogs. As described, Abe’s bamboo rice is mountain rice cooked with shrimps, wood ear mushrooms and bamboo shoots steamed in a bamboo shell. I wasn’t able to take a picture of it as the rice was immediately distributed to each plate when it was served. I wasn’t able to taste much flavor in the rice. It seemed it was just rice in a mixture of some sort and not much flavor.

We were all excited with one dish though. It was fried frog (palaka), served with a filling of minced pork. I must admit that being scared of frogs, I wasn’t brave enough to have too much of this dish. I actually only tasted a piece of leg because I knew it was the safest part to eat.

Overall, I find Abe’s food not that spectacular, too pricey and with small servings. Though, I am willing to go there again and try other dishes. A one-time experience is not enough to shun this Filipino restaurant.

Kinky Cakes!

The guys would find this amusing!

If only there is a female version. LOL.

Praises though would be worthy only on what can be seen outside.
The actual cake was quite tough and not as moist and tasty compared to that of other bakeshops. I can't same the same thing though with the 'thing' as I wasn't able to taste it. Hahaha!

The Kitchen. Again?!?!

How can one spoil a pasta dish? Perhaps by overcooking the pasta? Or by overcooking the seafood and making it tough? Or by scrimping on tomatoes or cream or whatever was used for the sauce?

And so what did the Kitchen do wrong?

None of the above actually. It was just that the pasta was so oily. It was way too oily that you’d lose your appetite halfway through the dish because all you can taste is the oil.

It was quite an appalling experience especially since I’m a fan of Kitchen. I love their rice dishes. I have practically eaten half of the rice dishes on their menu. I’m hoping it was just a one-time experience.

Pancake House. Again?!!!

As I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, Pancake House is a special place for both E and I. It really was an obvious choice: it’s near my office and we both love the food. Last month, we celebrated out monthsary by eating lunch there. For this month, we had our lunch there again. E would usually have Pork Vienna while I order Beef Tapa. Those are our favorite Pancake House food. This time I told E that we should be adventurous and deviate from what we’d usually have and so we opted for hot roast beef and chicken. For the past week we have been avoiding eating rice so that we might lose those extra pounds that we have been getting. What the heck? This time we felt that we can reward ourselves with rice since we were actually celebrating. The monthsary was quite an excuse for us. The menu said that the hot roast dishes do not come with rice and so we ordered extra. Much to our surprise, it was served on top of a white bread. We are so ignorant about these things. Di talaga kme soyal. Hahaha. Anyway for the verdict: I found both hot roast dishes delicious. I’d still ocme back and have those again. But then, those are not recommended for those who want the typical kanin and ulam and for those who are really starving and want big servings.

L: hot roast beef with mashed potatoes and buttered vegetables
R: hot roast chicken with potato salad

One can find a Pancake House almost everywhere. Here is preview of their menu. Enjoy!

Friday, March 28, 2008

5 Days of Michelle's visit

Lunch at Kitchen, Greenbelt
(Topmost Right: Under the Sun - seafood dish with chili cream sauce)
(Bottom Left: Grounded for Life -
A hearty mixture of ground beef, carrots, potatoes and peas with fried sweet saba ala 'arroz ala cubana')

Grand Pakain sponsored by The Canada Team
Halo-halo Bar and banana que by Dacar, 9F PhilamLife Tower
pansit by Ado's, Malinao, Pasig City

Bowling at MOA

Michelle's Surprise Bday Celebration
Cake by Red Ribbon
Dinner at Jollibee

Dinner at Abe, Serendra
(Top: Crispy Shrimp Binondo)
(Bottom Left: Lamb Adobo Bencab, Right: Betute - frog with pork filling)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Como Agua para Chocolate

I haven’t read a book in a really long time. I have all the books I bought piled at home, left unread. I just do not have the time for it. For some, I lose interest as early as just a few pages. I’ve been searching for that really good book that would put me back on track. It was quite a difficult thing to do. I’m way past my Judith Mcnaught days (those cheesy romance novels), my Sidney Sheldon phase (I have read all of his books), the Jeffrey Archer period (a British author). Paulo Coelho books and my chick flick phase (yup, this is with Sophie Kinsella). I also want to buy the latest books by Kinsella and Coelho but they are still on the hardbound issues. They are still expensive. Last Saturday, I chanced upon a book on sale at National Bookstore. I bought it with a 20 percent discount. Every time I buy a book I don’t only read the summary at the back, I also read the first few pages to see if my attention will be drawn to the book. This way I am sure that the book would be worth my money. This is what I did when I grabbed the copy of Laura Esquivel’s “Like Water for Chocolate” and why wouldn’t I be not drawn? The first pages after all talked about a recipe. I knew immediately that I would enjoy reading it.

Like Water for Chocolate had been a sensation. It is a best-seller. Even in college I knew that already. Somehow I just did not find a way to put my fingers in the books’ pages until now. The book was divided into 12 chapters, each corresponding to each month. With each chapter came a recipe as the main character, Tita, expresses her emotion through cooking. The book was the love story of Tita and Pedro, which was suppressed and forbidden by old beliefs. Tita was not allowed to marry for being the youngest child and destined to take care of her mother. Pedro married Tita’s sister Rosaura as it was the best way he could do to stay close to Tita. It was something which I find so stupid and cowardice. As the story progresses, the fate and struggles of the two lovers were revealed.

The book was a light read and it was entertaining. The book uses magical realism. Here are some excerpts to prove that:

“Her body was giving off so much heat that the wooden walls began to split and burst into flame. Terrified, she thought she would be burnt to death, and she ran out of the little enclosure just as she was, completely naked.”

“John interrupted these memories by bursting into the room, alarmed by the stream that was running down the stairs. When he realized it was just Tita’s tears, John blessed Chencha . . “

“At that moment the fiery bodies of Pedro and Tita began to throw off glowing sparks. They set on fire the bedspread, which ignited the entire ranch.”

I almost finished the book in just one sitting (almost two hours). I just had to stop so that I still have something to look forward to the next day.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

My first Time at Mang Jimmy's

E had long wanted to bring me to this ‘kainan’ at Balara. He is a graduate of UP Diliman so he knew the nooks and places where to eat at that area. The only place I am familiar with at UP Diliman is The Chocolate Kiss Café. When one of my close friends from college, Joanne, transferred to UPD from UP Manila, Zarah and I would occasionally visit her. We would spend hours at Chocolate Kiss, enjoying their iced tea, chicken fingers, taco salad and varieties of cake. I definitely miss those times. When I am with E, we would usually eat at Rodic’s then have isaw at Mang Larry’s and for more binging have balut at the Shopping Center. We have also tried Chateau Verde, where I also love the food.

Last Saturday, after attending mass, we headed to the ‘kainan’ that E has been telling me. As I found out, it was Mang Jimmy’s – a place which I know was famous for it’s eat all you kanin even before Tokyo Tokyo introduced that concept. I was really excited since it was my first time to eat at the really famous kainan ng lutong bahay.

The place has a typical carinderia setting. They have monoblock chairs and tables were set up on what I assume was the front part of the house. There were no tiled floors. The place was busy with students chatting and other young people who were perhaps graduates of the university already.

Once we were seated, we were immediately served with plates, glasses and a small bowl with calamansi and siling labuyo (chili pepper) as well as with the menu. I noticed that they have a limited variety of food and mostly were sizzling dishes. E explained that they have a promo wherein if you order three dishes, you get one dish free. We originally ordered sizzling pusit (squid), sisig, lechon kawali and bulalo. They didn’t have bulalo so we opted for beef with young corn. The sizzling pusit and beef with young corn were served first. I noticed that both dishes were topped with a white sauce. I am not sure what it was made of but it was not creamy. Both dishes did not taste good. The beef was tough and it was hard for us to slice through the meat. At first taste, the pusit tasted fine but somehow as I had more of it, I did not like the taste anymore. To add flavor to what I was eating, I was adding more of the toyomansi we made. We already finished the plate of rice which was served to us. We were waiting for the sisig to be served to somehow redeem those two dishes. When the sisig was served, it did not look like the typical sisig that we usually have at other restos. It looked dark and so I assumed it had too much soy sauce. When I had a taste of the sisig, I though that it was not made from the pig’s face but rather just that of the pig’s ears. I told E that I did not find the food delicious. I was also hoping that they’d have more lutong bahay dishes and not limited to those cooked sizzling. E said that it had changed a lot since his college days. He remembered that the space then was not that cramped and the food was more delicious. He said that perhaps they have expanded the place to accommodate more people eating there. I prefer eating at Rodic’s. The visit was really quite disappointing for me.

Mang Jimmy was there and we were able to have a shot with him. Mang Jimmy, san na yung 'good food' everyone was raving about?

The Old Spaghetti House (TOSH)

E and I went to Robinson’s Galleria last Saturday because the mall was having a sale! All of my friends knew that I love to shop especially going on sale-shopping. Although I am no longer impulsive when it comes to spending, I still enjoy going to malls on sale because there is always that chance of buying something on a lower price. This time around I only buy those which I think I really need and not just want. (Although I still went to VNC to satisfy my shoe fix and even at CMG for my bag fix – but I didn’t buy anything! :P)

We got hungry at around 4pm. At that time, I already bought a book at National Bookstore, some groceries and something from Plains n’ Prints. I suggested eating at Mongkok – well, because I love Chinese food. He said he was craving for pizza and pasta. I agreed to pizza and pasta since most of the time, he relents to what I like when it comes to food. Also because if we eat at Mongkok, we might be ordering Yang Chow rice and I’m refraining form eating too much rice. We passed by TOSH and I asked if he has eaten there. As expected he still hasn’t tried TOSH and so it was an obvious choice for us. We ordered arabiatta and chicken fingers.

TOSH offers food at a relatively cheap price. The arabiatta only costs P100 and the chicken fingers costs P130. Most of the dishes in the menu range only from P100 to above P200.

Indeed the arabiatta was hot! Only it was oily. After about two tablespoons, my lips were already oily. E liked the arabiatta at Amici better. The serving of chicken fingers was just ordinary. For really good chicken fingers, I would recommend The Chocolate Kiss Café at UP Diliman.

A glass of iced tea to soothe the hotness of the arabiatta.
At least, it didn't taste like Nestea - something which I can make at home.

To this date, my top two places for really good cheap pasta would still be Amici de Don Bosco and The Green Tomato.

The Old Spaghetti House
They have branches all over the metro. As I can remember, they have branches at Valero St, Makati City; at Libis; Paseo de Roxas; and at Robinson's Galleria.

California Pizza Kitchen

It was the birthday of Pam, one of my friends at the office. She treated us for lunch at California Pizza Kitchen. She said she was craving for salad from CPK. I was excited because it was my first time at CPK. I have that impression that CPK offers the same variety of food with those of TGIF and Burgoo. Except of course, their main selling point is their varieties of pizza. I was really eager to eat there. We shared two types of salads, one pasta dish and two flavors of pizza.

The Original BBQ Chicken

This was Pam’s favorite. I’d say that this is a fun pizza. When I say fun, I mean that it has a variety of flavors. It has chopped lettuce, black beans, sweet corn, jicama, cilantro, basil, crispy corn tortilla strips and Monterey Jack cheese tossed together in garden-herb ranch dressing. It was topped with chopped BBQ chicken breast, diced tomatoes and scallions.

This salad was mostly greens served with 4 pieces of breaded chicken topped with cheese. Perhaps I still need to read and broaden my knowledge on food. The greens used in this salad and the cheese were those I often see in cooking shows. I just can’t seem to figure out now what they are. I must admit my friends and I seldom get to taste these kinds of salad. We are those who are typically limited to Caesar salad. What I did in my plate, I got enough greens and cheese and chicken and sprinkled those with juice I squeezed with the lemon served with the salad. I found it really good. I think I was the only one who took a second serving of the salad.

Fettucine with Garlic Cream Sauce

I think this pasta was really creamy and the rest of my friends really liked it. It was just that when I ate some of these, it did not blend with the after taste of the salad and so I just ate a small portion of this.

Five-Cheese & Fresh Tomato

Santa Fe Chicken

I wasn’t brave enough to try the two pizzas. The combination of the salad and the pasta left me with a bitter feeling that I felt like puking. I opted to just not try these at all.

Although my friends didn’t touch it that much. Either they didn’t like it that much or they were already full.

Overall, I wasn’t really happy with my CPK experience. It didn’t leave me full. It didn’t have a satisfying effect on me. And the only reason I might go back is to give CPK a chance to redeem itself. Perhaps, I would try other dishes in their menu. After all, there were a lot to choose from.

California Pizza Kitchen
1st Level, Glorietta 3
Ayala Center, Makati City

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Lunch at Leslie's,Tagaytay

I love Leslie's bulalo! For me, it was really tasty. The rest of the food though was just fine. Nothing to be raving about.

(From T - B)
Pinaputok na Tilapia (with tomatoes)
the ever famous bulalo with free refill of soup
crispy kangkong (not oily compared to that of Dencio's)
leche flan (nothing spectacular)
bulalo and grilled chicken

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Our sweet escape

Guess who ordered the americano? :)

Amici de Don Bosco

I’ve been hearing a lot of good reviews about this place and finally, I was able to try Amici last Friday. I had to finish a lot of things at work that I skipped lunch during that day. I was really hungry when we got to Amici. It was around 4 pm and the place was empty. Only two tables were occupied when we got in but as I heard, the place could be full during meal times. The place has different counters for ordering pasta, pizza, bread and their famous gelato. E and I ordered rosemary chicken and arabiatta. The good reviews I have been hearing were correct. The pasta was so rich and they did not scrimp on the sauce. As I mentioned in the earlier post, I love meats baked or roasted with herbs. Rosemary is my favorite and so the chicken was a hit for me. At some points, E found it salty but I’m sure he agreed that it was good. Their chicken was not at all dry as it came with a sauce which I assume were drippings from the veggies and chicken. We were so full though that we were not able to try the gelato. Ainah, my classmate from La Salle, said that I really should have tried it. Maybe we can try it next time as we would surely be back. I’m hoping to try more pasta dishes aside from the usual that I can order from other resto or I can make at home.

Amici de Don Bosco
1299 A. Arnaiz Ave. (Pasay Road)
San Lorezo Village, Makati City