Monday, November 26, 2012

Sebastian Ice Cream's Green Mango Ice Cream and Peanut Butter

I'm no stranger to unusual food--I fancy myself  taking over Anthony Zimmern's quest for bizarre chow  when I grow up. I'll do anything once, and if it's good, I'll have another serving. One of the things I wanted to try the first time I learned about it through the blogosphere and food columns is Sebastian Ice Cream's Green Mango Ice Cream. Fortunately I live near ginormous Mall of Asia, where lie a branch of the artisanal ice cream purveyor. 

Mouth puckering green mango sorbet topped with warm, sweetish shrimp paste.
It was not that bad at all, pretty well-balanced flavors, and quite the palate cleanser.
The mango reminds me of green tamarind.

Peanut butter toffee. It's peanut butter on a stick, with real peanut bits. This is
a winner, and I'd gladly return for this.
I wasn't keen on ordering the green mango ice cream alone, so to be on the safe side I ordered a favorite--peanut butter toffee ice cream bar. The first one I did out of curiosity, and that satisfied, I hankered down to enjoying the second one. The next time I'd visit, I'll have more of the peanut butter ice cream bar variants.

Sebastian's Ice Cream
SM Mall of Asia
(+63) 915 489 5753

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Best from a Visit to the SIDCOR Sunday Market: Lechon Kawali and Bibingka Galapong

I've been to the Salcedo and Legazpi Weekend Markets, both based in Makati, and let's just say I'm a fan of both. For my post on my visits to weekend markets, click here. I haven't been to the Centris Sunday Market, it's quite a long way from where I live, but feeling adventurous, I texted my favorite weekend market companion to meet up at Eton Centris, right below the Quezon Avenue LRT station. Below were the best from our loot: 

This was Teeny's order: the lechon kawali, a popular pan-roasted pork dish, from
an unnamed stall.  Pork cuts are boiled, air-dried, and then fried to make lechon kawali.
Like good lechon kawali, these were  crisp outside, and soft and melts in your mouth
inside. I could feel my blood pressure hiking just thinking of  how good the dish was.

Bibingka Galapong, a rice cake usually eaten during the Christmas season. This one
was quite substantial, so I ate it installments. It was as straightforward as the stall we
brought if from. The dough a tad sweet, balanced by the salted eggs. Not too greasy.
The fresh grated coconut provided textural interest.
Sidcor Sunday Market
Eton Centris, Edsa corner Quezon Avenue, Quezon City
Open from 6 am to 2 pm

Monday, November 12, 2012

Top Picks from Bacolod City's Aboy's Restaurant

This is my last post on the highlights of my eating expedition in Bacolod City. For related posts go here, here, and here

It was our last day in the city, and we had time to kill before going to the airport. Aboy's came out on top of a quick survey of where to go for lunch. We ordered a storm, and here are the winners: 
Sinigang na pargo/maya maya (mangrove snapper). This I learned from my colleague--
maya maya 's rich strong taste is well suited to a full-bodied souring agent. The secret to good
fish sinigang, then, relies to a great extent on pairing the right species with the complementary souring agent.
I picked this not because it is stellar chicken inasal, but because it shows what for me
is good chicken barbecue--straightforward, moist, flavorful, roasted just right.
Notice the blisters in the skin? It gave the skin just the right crackle. 
It must be age, but I find myself lately gravitating towards fish sinigang. I prefer pork most days, but fish siningang done right is irresistible. I can get lost in the cartilagey, fatty and minerally flavors of this dish, especially the head and the collar, dipped in calamansi and fish sauce.

Aboy's Restaurant
Liroville Subdivision, Singcang
Bacolod City
(+63) 034 435 0760

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Davao City's Galletas de Davao

I'm in training, and one of our lecturers is related to Wency Cornejo, the singer, who's now into a Davao-City based pasalubong business. They met in one of our trainings in the city, and she urged us to buy his crispy wafers called Galletas de Davao.

I bought two canisters from their Davao airport stall: one in durian, the other in ube-langka. I hand-carried these to Manila, and they barely survived intact.
durian, my favorite, now in wafer form
the ube-langka was delicate

Since I'm partial to durian, I tried it out first--it was melt-in-your-mouth and rich, like ice cream. I should have bitten into the ube-langka wafers first. The durian wafers overwhelmed the delicate taste of the latter. I tried these a few days later, and they're quite good, too. 

If you've ran out of ideas on what to bring from Davao City, consider these wafers.  

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Bacolod City's Calea for Cakes!

Whenever I'm assigned to Bacolod City, I always pray I'd be billeted at L'Fisher Hotel. Right next door is the original Calea Cafe, a sweet tooth's wet dream. It helps that the price points are friendly, too.

I love the cheery vibe of the cafe--colorful, funky tables standing out from the minty interiors, a big mirror that's actually the door. It's a perfect place for groups to hang out. For an introvert like me, I pick a corner table, order tea and whatever cake suits my fancy, and get lost in my thoughts. 

Pictured below are two of the cakes I tried.

I've always been partial to blueberry cheesecakes. I like Calea's version because it's not too sweet, it's cheesy, and the almond base is very crusty.

The choco crumble cake came highly recommended. The caramel crunch covered in chocolate is a honeycomb of bliss. It was fortunately not too sweet, the opposite of which is the case for those produced by more commercial establishments. I love how the caramel contrasts with the choco sponge cake, which was a little on the dry side. 

You may contact the cafe at (+63) 034 433 8664.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Bacolod City's Chicken Deli for Inasal

There was a time I went chicken inasal crazy. I would frequent the many dedicated inasal restaurants in Manila and get lost in  the chicken's smoky sourly-sweetish goodness. The zenith came when I went to ground zero of chicken inasal, Bacolod City. Read about it here

One distinct characteristic about the grilled dish is it is yellowish from achuete or annatto oil. Components of the marinade are garlic, pepper, brown sugar, ginger, calamansi, lemongrass, and sinamak. Sinamak is cane vinegar mixed with bird's eye chili, onions, and garlic. Annatto oil is used in the basting sauce.

As I posted earlier, I was in Bacolod a few week ago. Chicken Deli Inasal was walking distance from the hotel, and my colleagues highly recommended it. I was hesitant at first, since what was served looked dry, but this version turned out the best from the three restaurants we went to. The pieces were flavorful and smoky. Because of the smaller size, we suspect they used native chicken. While waiting for our orders to arrive, we busied ourselves making our own dipping sauces from the complimentary soy, vinegar, calamansi, and bird's eye chilis. I prefer my dipping sauce vinegary, adding only a dab of soy to the sinamak. 

The restaurant can be reached through (+63) 034 433 3506.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Bacolod City's 18th Street Palapala for Barracuda Kinilaw and Lapu-Lapu Siningang

When my friend heard I was in Bacolod City for work, she recommended I try Palapala restaurant. Upon asking a local, it turns out there are two restaurants bearing the same name. One is near a mall, and the newer one was just a stone's throw (a long throw) away from our hotel. We went to the latter. I wanted to try what my friend recommended, but we were pressed for time. Perhaps next visit. 

18th Palapala, like many seafood restaurant in the south, offers their produce for the customers' perusal, to underscore they serve these fresh. I let my friends do the inspecting--I rarely go to the wet market, thus I left these to the experts. After making their choices to and leaving the cooking instructions to the staff, we were led to our table and waited for our orders to be ready. 

These are the stand-outs. 
Barracuda Kinilaw (Ceviche). This is the first time I tasted barracuda, and the combination of
the fish and the salted eggs was stellar: tangy, salty, pungent, and creamy. Who knew?
Lapu-Lapu Sinigang (Grouper in Sour Broth). Fresh is always best when it comes to  fish,
and this dish hots the rights spot. The acidity didn't overwhelm the delicate flavor of the fish,
 thus the creaminess of the grouper shone through.  The vegetables were firm, not the usual
soggy mess  in many siningang.
You may call the restaurant at (+63) 034 433 9153.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Davao City's Marco Polo Pool Bistro for Pizza Prosciutto

I love a good deal. Since I'm a sucker for fancy hotels, Marco Polo Privilege Club need not do much to convince me to join. They had me at free overnight stay. 

And thus, during work that brought us to Davao, I rustled up the necessary vouchers to treat a dear colleague to a birthday dinner. "Would it be okay if you stay by the pool? The bistro's closed for a private function," the Club staff inquired. I said I didn't mind. With a view like this, who would? 

Now on to the food post. The stand-out for us was the pizza prosciutto--it was the first item that we wiped out. The cheese was sweetish, tempered by blue cheese and the delicate flavor of dry-cured ham. It was a delight wrapping the leafy green with each slice, just like a panizza

Great company, wonderful ambiance, good food. I can get used to this. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Emerald Garden Restaurant's Beef Brisket and Sat-and-Pepper Squid

As you might have noticed, I go to Emerald Restaurant often. You can read my earlier posts here and here. The last time I tagged along my friends, these were the stand-outs.
Beef Brisket. Imagine all-meat beef pata tim. This was slow-cooked,
resulting to meat so tender.

Salt-and-Pepper Squid. Because of its soft buttery flesh, I thought this was
fish fillet or cuttlefish. 
For inquiries, call (+63) 02 523-8150

Friday, October 12, 2012

Dakak's Curious Coco Cake and Quattro Formaggi

A curious thing happened during my stay in Dakak Park and Beach Resort. I chanced upon this coco pie and cake hybrid.

The top was crusty and quite heavy, like buco pie and cassava cake, but underneath it was all chiffon. But it was delicious and new, and again I'm sorry I didn't take down its name. I hope I can visit the place again and make a better acquaintance. 
Help! What is this cake?
I was wary of the restaurants inside the resort. The place is quite isolated, and they discourage bringing in food. The breakfast was unremarkable, but the Italian Restaurant, Il Ristorante was quite good and good value for money. It made me rethink my aversion to Meatballs Spaghetti.
We fell in love with the Quattro Formaggi Pizza., which we paired  with Pizza Margherita.
The Four-Cheese Pizza was a home run--straightforward and delicious

Friday, September 21, 2012

Emerald Garden Restaurant's Siopao

I apologize for the intermittent posts. The past weeks have been crazy, and much as I wanted to write more regularly, I still have to attend to work (yes, I do have a day job) and other obligations. By the way I have set up this blog's Facebook page. Clink the link here, and if the posts leave you hungry and hankering for more, please be a dear by hitting the like button. By liking it you'll receive posts from me in your Facebook wall on my recent blog-posts, as well as snapshots of all the research I have to do for this blog (smile). 

Now to the task at hand. This month's posts, if you have noticed, have been quite Manila-centric. This is not deliberate, but it lends itself to addressing my ignorance of food hotspots in the metro. Today's post is all about Emerald Garden Restaurant's ginormous siopao. You can read about my other entry from the restaurant here
this  could easily feed three
Siopao is derived from the Hookien baozi, meaning steamed buns. The filling  comes in two variants: asado (sweetish pork or beef cooked in soy sauce) and bola-bola (chopped pork or beef, chorizo, and salted eggs). 

I'm partial to siopao asado, and it's always a treat to have this in Chinese-style restaurants. Aside from ensaymada and hopia, this is one of my favorite childhood snacks. I usually take a preliminary bite or two before pouring the sauce inside the bun, being careful not to let it spill. Emerald's siopao bola-bola is huge, already a meal in itself. It's filling is generous, and the bun is soft and packed. I had left-overs the next day and it was still delicious. 

For orders call (+63) 02 523-8510

Thursday, September 13, 2012

My Kitchen by Chef Chris' Panizza

The night before I had panizza from another establishment. It was bland and forgettable. On a whim, I dragged two office-mates (they came willingly) to Oasis Hotel in Paco to try My Kitchen's panizza. Panizza is thin crust pizza rolled with aragula leaves and alfalfa sprouts. 

We asked for the bestsellers. Kristina, made of bacon, ham, caramelized onion, sun dried tomatoes, and mushrooms, was tops among the panizza. We paired it with Paco, made of herbed chicken fillet, smoked bacon, portabello and golden mushrooms, capers, and kalamata olives. Kristina didn't disappoint. Perfectly balanced, it made our hearts sing. All thoughts of bringing some slices back to the office were forgotten. 

I thought the panizza was already excellent, until my companions said I try it with a few drops of chili oil. The  combination was divine.

We also tried other popular items, like the sphagetti con frutti di mare, made with salmon, dorado, snapper, prawns, and mussels sauteed in olive oil, tomato, olives, and capers.  Again, the pasta was well-balanced and multi-layered, reminding of the superb spicy tuyo pasta of the Bencab Museum's Cafe Sabel.

For dessert we had two. The decadent cake, made of chocolate cake and caramel sauce, made me rethink my indifference to chocolates. I like that it was not too sweet, and the caramel sauce was a perfect foil for the chocolate.

I was partial to the lemon and lime cheesecake--baked cheesecake with a crust of fine almonds, sweet lemon lime sauce, and almonds. Sweet, tangy, and nutty, smooth, crunchy, and crisp.

We were fortunate Chef Chris Locher was at the place, and he graciously joined us for a photo. Chef Chris used to pack them in at C Italian in Angeles. 

notice the country's map on chef chris' uniform? 

This is quite pricey, so dress smart. This is perfect place for dates. 

My Kitchen by Chef Chirs
The Oasis Paco Park Hotel
(+63) 02 521-2371 to 75

Friday, September 7, 2012

Myron's Place for The President Steak and Caesar Salad

It was my friend Lulu's birthday, and for her we'd brave Friday traffic to be at Powerplant, Rockwell. Our first pick for dinner was packed--we forgot to make reservations, so off to the basement we go. Myron's Place was not bad at all. We ordered Oysters Rockefeller and two soups, Cream of Pumpkin and Cappuccino of Mushroom, but two items stood out: the President Steak and the Caesar Salad.  
see the pink himalayan salt crystals sprinkled on top of the steak?
by the way, the  onion rings were ginormous
this was the prettiest caesar salad i've seen
We ordered the President Steak, made of  US certified Angus beef rib-eye, medium rare. It was soft and juicy. When served, they tilted the plate to allow the juices to settle at the bottom. The fried rice that went with it was divine--perfectly cooked, a little on the dry side, just like what my grandmother's household do. The garlicky rice helped cut the richness of the steak. Pink Himalayan salt added a nice touch, but I don't know if it added to the flavor at all.

The salad was flavorful, and almost as good as those of TGIF, the standard by which I measure those of others. I love the way Myron's plated the salad, you have to see it for yourself. My picture didn't do it justice.

In fine the dinner went well and most of what we ordered were good. I appreciate the effort they put in presenting their dishes, and this is as it should be, since the place is quite pricey. From other blogs I noticed that the Greenbelt branch looks better, and I made a mental note to visit it soon.

Myron's Place
Powerplant Mall, Estrella St. cor. Rockwell Drive
(+63) 02 728-9898

Monday, August 27, 2012

Tagaytay City's Amy's Eatery for Bulalo, Beefsteak, and Fried Tawilis

My quest for the ultimate bulalo (beef shank soup) continues. Last time I reported on my find in Mandaluyong City. This time I'll be reporting from Tagaytay. 

This is my second go in Tagaytay. Weeks ago we tried to go to the city's Mahogany Market, which is beef central in these parts. One can buy the freshest beef here, from locally raised cows butchered that very morning. A skip, hop, and a jump away are open-air food stalls popular for selling bulalo. Unfortunately, we reached the place around 9 p.m., and by that time the stalls were closed.

This time we were at Mahogany at 7 p.m. Earlier I polled my colleagues for the best place to eat, and Amy's was a unanimous choice. It was raining hard that day, but nothing's going to stop this quest. Below are the best of what we ordered. 

bulalo--beef shank boiled for hours, flavored with fish sauce,
with cabbage and other available vegetables added to the mix 

bistek tagalog--strips of sirloin beef and onion rings cooked in soy sauce and calamansi juice

fried tawilis--freshwater sardines found only in taal lake

The bulalo and bistek were brimming with beefy goodness. We noticed that the bulalo broth remained clear even in the cool weather. I had posted on fried tawilis before, and this comes close to that wonderful experience, minus the fancy ambiance. Many of my colleagues were preparing for a marathon, but any thoughts on diet were put on hold while we ate to our heart's content. And oh, as a nice touch, we were given fresh pineapple and bananas for dessert.  

This is, by far, the best bulalo yet for me. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Cake Club's Baked Cheesecake and Supermoist Chocolate Cake

During my friend Lulu's birthday get-together, we decided to eat cake. Not just ordinary cakes, dear readers, but those by Diamond Hotel's Cake Club. And so off to the Bonifacio High Street Branch we went. 

We ordered three, two of which were bestsellers. These did not disappoint
baked cheesecake

supermoist chocolate cake
I'm a fan of cheesecakes, so this one had me at hello. It's cheesy, and the almond bits lend texture. I'm not crazy about chocolate, but like its companion this was moist and not cloyingly sweet.

In my next visit, I'm gunning for the ensaymada and the ice cream.

The Cake Club
Bonifacio High Street, 7th Avenue
Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City
(+63) 02 621 3176

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Tacloban City's Penduko's Barbecue for Grilled Chicken Skin

This is one find I'm happy I took pictures of, proof that indeed I ate there. There appears to be no mention of Penduko Barbecue online.  Your best bet is a local to get you there. I fell in love with the skewered chicken skin and longaniza. 
(L-R) skewered chicken skin, pork, longaniza (pork sausage) and chicken 
Penduko Barbecue is one of many stalls facing Real Street in Tacloban. It's the one with the longest line, which is always a safe bet when picking the better eateries.  Offerings included chicken thighs and wings, skin, intestines, liver, longaniza and pork. 

After making our selection, we were led to our table while our orders were grilled. Rice came wrapped in coconut. The locals call these puso. 

The sauce, which was also used to baste the barbecue, came in regular or spicy. I chose the latter.

the secret is in the sauce 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Tagaytay City's Amira's Buco (Coconut) Tart Haus

"Researching" for this blog has taken a toll on my body. The search for the object of the next post has made getting trim quite tricky, so in between posts I adopted some ways to prevent packing in more pounds. One such strategy is sharing my loot.  

Amira's has been a fixture in Tagaytay City for quite some time (it opened in 2003), and many of my colleagues swear by it. They recommend the silvanas, which I find too rich for my taste. The house specialty, on the other had, hits the right spot--not too sweet, just right. 

I bought a box of nine for three sets of friends on different occasions, and the same thing happened--the contents were gone in an instant. Each set costs P170.00, and comes in other flavors like apple, pineapple, ube (purpel yam), and mango. 

Amira's Buco Tart Haus
Aguinaldo Highway cor. SVD Road
Maitim 2nd Tagaytay East
Tagaytay City, Cavite
(+63) 46 413-1491