Thursday, May 29, 2008

Martin's Cinnamon Toast

super, uber sarap nito!

As described in the menu: bursting with cinnamon flavor, sprinkled with powdered sugar and served with whipped cream.

I love, love the taste of this. It has the exact hint of sweetness!

P68 @ Pancake House

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Litratong Pinoy: Ihip ng Hangin

Ito ay kuha ko gamit ang aking lumang kamera bago pa man siya tuluyan ng bumigay, masira at di ko na magamit upang kumuha ng larawan. Nakakalungkot dahil marami rin kaming napagsamahan -tulad na lamang nitong isang paglalakbay sa Subic na ginawa naming magkakaibigan sa opisina.

Bawat taon ay binibigyan kami ng kaukulang salapi ng aming kumpanya upang gumawa ng kahit ano na para sa amin ay masaya. Naalala ko noong isang taon may mga grupong umakyat ng Mt. Pinatubo, mayroon naming umakyat ng Taal, may iba na sumisid sa dagat, naligo sa dagat, nag-wake-boarding, nag-rafting sa Cagayan de Oro, mayroon din na kumain ng buffet sa Spiral at iba pa. Ang naisipan naming gawin ng aking mga kaibigan ay dumayo sa Subic at makiisa sa kalikasan – binisita namig ang Zoobic Safari Zoo, Ocean Adventure at ang huli nga – kami ay nagparasailing.

ang aking mga kaibigan sa kanilang paglipad

Ako ay nakaakyat ng mataas at habang ito ay hila ng isang mabilis na bangka – naramdaman ko ang hangin na umiihip sa aking buong katawan. Kasabay nito ay ang pakiramdam ng kapayapaan. Ito ang pinakamataas na narating ko kung saan pakiramdam ko ay malapit ako sa langit. Habang pinagmamasdan ko ang malawak na karagatan – napagtanto kong malawak at maganda pala ang mundo. Tahimik at payapa. Nawala ang aking takot. Ang humigit kumulang na apatanapung minuto na iyon ay ilan sa mga masasayang minuto ng aking buhay. Hindi ko ito malilimutan at sana ay maulit ko uli.

Ito ang aking unang lahok sa Litratong Pinoy.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Big Little Store of Gilmore

The Chinese food trip saga continues! Since that day (several months ago, sometime last year) where we went to Gilmore to have my computer fixed, Gilmore became to me more than just a computer mecca. I associate Gilmore now with authentic, really good Chinese food. Amidst the bustle of the techie industry lays this quaint store and restaurant. It’s called The Big Little Store of Gilmore – the irony of which amuses me.

Pardon me for the lack of research. Perhaps on my next visit, I would set aside my hungry stomach and chat for a while with the owner or some people there. Now my curiosity of how the store came to be bothers me. I’d make a mental note to know about that on my next visit (perhaps it’ll be when I buy my own baby - a new lappie!).

The Big Little Store is divided into three sections. The left part is where the store is where they sell a variety of Asian food products and some local products even. The center is where the counter for ordering is – as well as for the display of food. The setting of which resembles that of a canteen. The right part is the restaurant – where one is seated and waits for the food upon ordering.

The grocery section sells a variety of products. They offer a variety of Asian condiments (like chili paste, soy sauce, and curry pastes), herbal teas, dried mushrooms, vegetables and frozen dumplings. I am not sure though if the prices are cheaper compared if you buy them at stores from Chinatown in Binondo. My eyes feasted though on the assortment of products – half of which I do not even know on what dishes I should use them for.

E and I opted for beef noodle soup, Chinese lumpia and siomai. How I loved the taste of what we ordered!

As the soup was served to use, its gingery scent immediately emanated. It just felt relaxing to put my hands on the hot bowl and smell that ginger scent. The soup was definitely better than what we had at Mongkok. Although I found the soup a little oily. But just that – it still tasted good and I enjoyed eating it.

I first tasted Chinese lumpia at a trip at the Salcedo weekend market. It was an instant hit for me. I don’t usually find Chinese lumpia as part of the menu so I only knew that if I wanted one – I will be getting it at the Salcedo market. When I saw it at the menu at The Big Little Store, I knew I’d be getting it. I was not disappointed. The mixture of fresh vegetables was just succulent. E also loved it.

And of course – the siomai! My top two favorites would be siomai from North Park and from this store.

If you are a Chinese food lover like me – or just looking for good tasting food – I would really recommend eating at this place. Reasonably priced food that would give you a remarkable Oriental experience – that is definitely worth trying!

The Big Little Store is located at:
Ground Floor, Gilmore IT Center
Gilmore, New Manila
Quezon City

Saturday, May 24, 2008

I cooked Beef Caldereta!

It may not look good at the pic but both E and my brother said it tasted good.
Check my recipe blog for a copy of the recipe.

E ate it with wheat bread and added chili pepper for that extra zing!

Dinner at Conti's

I’ve been eating at Conti’s for several times now and I realized that it’s a hit and miss. Yes, as much as I can rave about their dishes – some simply just seems ordinary. Nothing to rave about. That’s how it went when E and I ate at their Serendra branch last Friday. I ordered callos (my first time to try the dish) while E ordered pasta allegria.

The callos made of ox tripe, knuckles and chorizo bilbao cooked in tomato sauce tasted just fine. I finished it off in a flash as I was really hungry that time.

E had the pasta allegria – oil-based pasta of spaghetti noodles with chicken, shitake mushroom and sun-dried tomatoes. I loved, loved that pasta! It specifically loved the combination of oil and sun-dried tomatoes which created such a flavorful taste. E wasn’t that satisfied with the pasta though. He said that he prefers those from Amici.

For dessert, we shared a slice of choco mousse. I’ve already tried their mango bravo, strawberry shortcake and banana cream torte (and loved all of them!). For this visit, we decided to try something we haven’t had before at Conti’s. I like the base chocolate cake of the choco mousse but otherwise, it wasn’t near spectacular.

This visit was probably more of a ‘miss’ but I still won’t discount how I loved their grilled herbed porkchops served with paella rice, NZ baked mussels and the desserts I previously had there. If you are really hungry though, you might want to eat somewhere else. One dish just won’t satisfy you. As E said, Conti’s really stands for few. LOL.

After dinner, we strolled along Bonifacio High Street and window shopped. After a time, I got tired and so we sat down to rest. I told E I was craving for balut and pansit. Off we went to Market Market and ordered a serving of Pansit Lucban at Buddy’s. It was so goooood and the pansit only costs around P120. At last, we felt full.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Reading and Wifely Steps!

I love reading books . . . as a kid, while I was growing up, and up until now. I absolutely love my book collection and (as most of those who know me know) I can just sit on my bed and stare at my books for a time. I’m happy that way.

- one of my bookshelves -

Lately though, I find it difficult to have the time to read. As well, with so many things to do – graduate school, work, dates with E, household chores – I find it difficult to read and decide which book to read. You see, I undergo a phase when it comes to books. There was a time when all I read are books by Judith McNaught and then Erich Segal and then Sidney Sheldon and then Paulo Coelho and then Jefferey Archer and harry Potter series and the list goes on. I also went through a phase where I seem to be reading books with serious themes that I then underwent a phase where all I read are the ‘chick flicks’ or the Sophie Kinsella and Marian Keyes books. The last book I read was Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel. I still can’t find (can’t decide) on my next book.

I’ve discovered though that I love blogging and reading blogs. It feels like every entry is a chapter. I just have to keep reading and reading. One of my daily reads is Toni’s Wifely Steps. I remember that the first entry I’ve read was of course – about books. It was an article about “The Painted Veil.” From then on, I checked Toni’s oldest entry and read the articles thereafter. I realized then that reading online and reading books are two totally different yet related experiences. I find each entry entertaining and I’m glued and I just have to continue reading it.

Here is a link to Toni’s blog – definitely a part of my daily reads.

And she’s celebrating 5 years of blogging (that is such a feat!) And she has a gift for her readers . . .

Happy anniversary Toni!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Mom and Tina's

It might be quite difficult for E and I to shed off the way extra pounds we so badly to get rid of. Yes, we’ve eliminated (he did) and lessened (I did) our intake of rice. BUT we’ve substituted another carb for it. E is more religious with eating his wheat breads but we both don’t say no to any pasta, potatoes, and noodles served to us. The late lunch we had earlier is a testimony of that. We ate at that dainty bakery cafĂ©, Mom and Tina’s, located along E. Rodriguez Ave. (C-5) at Pasig. We only ordered two dishes and dessert but they left our stomachs full. So full that until now, that I’m typing this, I can still feel my stomach digesting the food we just ate. Hahaha. Seriously, it was already 8pm and I was still not craving for dinner. All probably because of the starch and sugar overload we had there.

If you live at the east part of the metro or if you’re just heading to QC, you’ll find that Mom and Tina’s is always packed during dinner time. The place is bustling. Seeing that everyday, I know I must try that place too. Probably avoiding lunch and dinner hours would be the best time to visit the resto. Mom and Tina’s occupies a small space so it tends to be filled up immediately by hungry customers during meal times.

What did we have? E went for the roast pork served with steamed veggies and mashed potatoes. We asked the rice to be substituted with bread, so we had garlic cheese rolls instead. The meal costs P175. I had chicken and spinach lasagna, also served with garlic cheese rolls (P110 I think).

Oh, I’ll be raving about the mashed potatoes that came with the roast pork. It felt so smooth and soft in my mouth. It did not have any strong flavors like butter or milk or chives. It tasted simple yet really yummy – like a secret recipe of home-made mashed potatoes! E is crazy about it!

As for the lasagna – it has both of the good and negative sides. Remember when you were a kid and you wanted your pasta to be swimming in the sauce and have tons of cheese? That’s how the lasagna tasted for me. It was served hot and the cheese just melted in my mouth. Kudos for that one! The only down side was I found the pasta soggy at a certain point. The dish tasted good but overall, the pasta was overpowered by the sauce. If they can probably retain the al dente consistency of the pasta – the dish will be perfect.

And then we had dessert. E had chocolate profiteroles (P35 for the cup). Being a fan of strawberries, I had strawberry walnut torte. If you plan to have chilled dessert at Mom and Tina’s, I suggest you have dessert taken from the fridge while you are still enjoying your main dish. That shall provide enough time for the dessert to soften enough in time for the ‘actual’ time of having dessert. Both of what we had were frozen and not chilled. It was so difficult to eat the dessert continuously. What I did with mine is to leave it for a while to allow it to thaw a little. Again, they should have been chilled and not frozen. But still, I have good reviews for the strawberry walnut torte. I loved it! As for the chocolate profiteroles – I didn’t enjoy it that much because it was hard.

They offer a variety of pastries and dessert. After all, it is foremost a bakery. For an extensive explanation on how Mom and Tina’s came to be, you can read on the insightful article written by Lori Baltazar of Dessert Comes First about Mom and Tina’s. They have breads, torte, cupcakes, cakes and cookies. I noticed that they have sugar-free cupcakes.

Mom and Tina’s is a homey place. I particularly enjoy eating at the couches. Prices are reasonably priced. And they have an extensive menu of desserts waiting to be tried. This place is definitely worth a second visit.

Mom and Tina's is located at:
along E. Rodriguez Ave.
Ugong, Pasig City
just right across Tiendesitas

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Stop-over at Bay, Laguna

I can’t exactly remember if it is “Kamayan at Kainan sa Palaisadaan sa Bay” or the short version of “Kamayan sa Palaisdaan sa Bay.” I might even be completely wrong with the ‘kamayan’ part. The name might be confusing and forgettable but the food surely was memorable!

This was our stop on the way home from Caliraya, Laguna. Having scrimped on just a kilo of chicken and pork chop for 16 people (can you imagine that?!), we were craving for a complete meal that shall leave our stomachs full.

E had brought me to this place before when we visited several places at Laguna. The restaurant offers Filipino cuisine – the menu is not that extensive as the grills that we have here in Manila but the basic dishes are there. When E and I had our lunch there, we ordered inihaw na tilapia cooked in gata, ginatang kuhol and steamed okra. With the food tasting good and the surroundings homey and serene, I just had to convince my friends that we have lunch there.

Kamayan occupies an extensive space – the first part of the restaurant is the covered section. At the center are the nipa huts floating on the palaisdaan. At the back part are even more dining tables on a covered section. The place is still being constructed (or improved) so one might find a few construction on some parts. At lunch time, the place is quite packed so the nipa huts are already filled with people eating. At a much later time, it is easier to spot a vacant nipa hut to eat at. Our group occupied two nipa huts.

At our table, we had sinigang na tuna belly, pata tim, sisig, steamed okra (I ordered it again!) and several servings of halo-halo and buko juice.

The food was all yummy!!

sinigang na tuna belly

I specifically love the combination of the steamed okra and bagoong isda – simple cooking, not doing that much to the dish yet creating the tastiest effect!

The sisig was good and not at all dry which some grills here tend to do. There’s not much oil or fat to it either, something I like.

The surprise of all was the pata tim. They had bell peppers and other veggies at their version of the pata tim. I don’t put anything at mine when I cook that dish – just soy sauce, vinegar, bay leaf and banana blossom. But then it was sooo succulent and full of flavor. The meat was soft that it must have been slow cooked.

The halo-halo though didn’t have much ‘sahog’ as one would usually have at Chowking so my friends weren’t satisfied with that.

The only negative part about our whole experience was the inefficient customer service. The other table was only served drinks and appetizers and then the food just stop coming. We were already halfway through our people yet there was still no waiter in sight carrying a food to their table. Already irritated, one of my friends approached the Kitchen to inquire and learned that they are still waiting for the rice to be cooked. If that was the case, they should have admitted it from the start, informed the table or even offered something while waiting. My friends from the other table just had to cancel all their orders because it really was futile to wait that long for food. If their staffs are not trained that well, perhaps they might think it over if they want to expand the business elsewhere. I would not even blame it on catching them on a bad day. There are no excuses for that.

Good food. Dreadful service. But I would still say, that if you are on that area, try the place. Dining there is surely unique!

Let’s see if I’ll eat there again on my next visit to Laguna (next week?)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Caliraya, Laguna

When you want to stay for a night at Laguna, perhaps you can think past the ever famous private pools of Pansol or the hot springs of Los Banos. I have nothing against those really. It’s just that Laguna is quite a large place to explore and surely discovering new places to go to won’t be that difficult.

My friends and I spent one weekend at the Calirana Resort situated at the Caliraya Lake at Caviniti, Laguna. About two-and-a-half hours away from Manila. The lake is actually huge as it is situated along three towns of Laguna. To describe the place – far-off, close to nature and tranquil.

It is actually quite easy to go to the place. One just has to follow the road from Los Banos that leads to the tourist capital of Laguna – Pagsanjan. Cavinti is the town after Pagsanjan. In between Pagsanjan and Laguna, one would pass the towns of Bay, Calauan, Victoria, Pila and Sta. Cruz. Just be cautious of the tricycles and jeepneys that would stop in the middle of the road to load and unload passengers. Provincial towns are after all not governed by MMDA polices. A few more minutes of driving from Pagsanjan and one can see a paved uphill road. Following that road leads to a zigzag travel within the hill that somehow leads to borders of the lake where a boat would be waiting for you (if you reserved early).

The waters at Caliraya Lake stretches far and there are several islands that one can see during the boat ride. Our resort was quite far so we enjoyed a leisurely 30-minutes of sight seeing and picture taking in the boat. The lake is a venue for several water activities like boating, water skiing, jet skiing and well known for Bass fishing.

Here's what a largemouth black bass looks like (image from

Calirana Resort
CaliRana Booking Office
S-201A Culmat Building
1270 E. Rodriguez Sr. Avenue near T. Morato St., Quezon City
(632)726-1812; (632)416-4130; (632)416-4131

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Mongkok, a Chinese resto

E fetched me from work last Friday, then we went to Rockwell to have dinner. It was his idea to go there. It was quite understandable that he decided to go there since it was his first time at the Power Plant Mall. I was having a grand time that night teasing him about it. LOL. The Power Plant Mall is a relatively small mall compared to the other super malls like SM and those Ayala-owned malls. E prefers small crowds so the mall was a hit for him. We decided to have dinner at Mongkok since I very much enjoy eating Chinese food. We both are still on for the no-rice diet so we opted for noodle soup and dumplings. I wonder if choosing another carb for rice will do us good but anyway, we did not want to break our no-rice record. As we were waiting for the food, we noticed that several of the crew was looking at the table next to us. We really could not guess why but on the table were a guy (which E said looks like the driver or body guard), a gay man (politically incorrect), a mom and a young girl. The mom and the young girl were seating on the same direction as we were so it was quite difficult to recognize them. It was only halfway through the meal that I realized it was Sarah Geronimo! Deep inside I wanted to take her picture but I have to be composed or else E would tease me to death about being jologs. Hahaha! Sarah (feeling close!) was really polite, charming and friendly.

pic taken from

Anyway, back to the food. E and I both didn’t like the noodle soup. The noodles were thin and mushy and not the usual type of noodles one would normally have in other Chinese restaurants. There was nothing special with the soup. The broth just tasted that of boiled beef. My best noodle soup so far was the one I had in Seven Corners, Crowne Plaze Hotel in Ortigas. The soup was light yet really tasty.

But we both like the dumplings. They have several varieties of dimsum that one can choose from. They even have carts strolling around the resto where one can just get there without having to give the waiter the order and wait.

Overall, I still prefer North Park over Mongkok and other Chinese restaurants. Although just for the dumplings, I would go back here.

And also, given that I love Chinese food, I still haven’t explored much of Chinatown. I’ve already eaten at President’s and food there is absolutely delicious. E and I have also eaten at this authentic Chinese store at Gilmore, and I also loved it there. I can’t wait to try more authentic Chinese restaurants. Any recommendation?

Mongkok is at:
the lower ground floor (basically the basement) of the Power Plant Mall
Power Plant Mall is @ Rockwell Driver cor. Estrella St.
Makati City

Trek to Mt. Pinatubo

I went trekking to Mt. Pinatubo last last week. I must say that the hike was demanding and even grueling but getting to the top was worth every step I took. When I went for a dip to the crater’s cool blue water, it was completely relaxing. I was just floating on the water and felt so peaceful.

We had an hour ride in the 4x4 in the grimy, jagged, and rock-strewn path leading to Mt. Pinatubo. It was such an adventure on itself. Then we hiked to the crater for about 3 hours – that’s inclusive of several breaks to rest and take pictures. The first part of the path was mostly sand and rocks. The second part was sand, rocks and water. The third part was rocks, water and foliage. The view on the summit was spectacular. The water was greenish-blue and chilly. The downhill trip was easier since the sun was already setting. As we rode the 4x4 on the way home, it was beautiful to see the sun setting and ending that perfect day.