Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sebastian Ice Cream's Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt Divebar

You can almost taste the salt crystals just by looking
The first time I remember salt being used to make sweet things sweeter is with pineapple. It was summer, and I can't remember if the pineapple was store-bought or from my grandmother's backyard. The pineapple was already peeled and sliced, and on the plate was a smidgen of what I assumed was sugar, until i bit into the fruit. A sprinkle of rock salt (quite the rage this days, and one where my hometown's name is based on) intensifies the flavor. This is unlike the obvious pucker-inducing pairings of salt and unripe mangoes or green apples, where you'd tone down the acidity.

Last night I already had dessert, but I wanted something different. I saw Sebastian's, and I remember an article on its unusual offerings a year ago. This is different from the usual ice drops hyped a few months ago. Imagine dense, dark chocolate and rock salt--bitter, not too sweet, and salty. A grown-up's ice cram bar.

Go ahead, indulge!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Surigao City's Seafood, Freshwater Goby and Eel, Tubers, and Ricecakes

If you're wondering where I took the picture in my blog header, this post is for you. Strong community ties characterize many rural areas in the Philippines, and when they welcome guests, they do it in a big way. I was fortunate to be part of a group that was at the receiving end of such a warm welcome at various places in Surigao City, located at the north-easternmost tip of Mindanao.

When I saw the lunch spread at an island community, I felt like it was Christmas in September--fresh catch from the sea, yam and sweet potatoes, durian and papaya. It was breath-taking.
Good-bye, diet!

Here's a pic of what I ate (clockwise, from top): sea-grapes, clam meat kinilaw/cebiche (like oysters, but smoother tasting), saang/spider conch (delicately flavored), raw Pacific white clams (tastes like balut--look it up), and grilled squid. Right smack in the middle is parrot-fish. I find its blue bones interesting. 

At another dinner I ate sea-grapes, grilled prawns on a stick, the best grilled tuna panga (jaw) i ever tasted, seafood chopseuy, pandan chicken, crab laden with fat, luscious lanzones, and rice cake with choco swirls.

At yet another dinner I came across excellent grilled tuna. I also tried, on the left, boneless pidianga (goby), which is cured before being sun-dried. On the right is spicy eel, sourced from Mainit Lake, Surigao, just like pidianga.

At the hotel, we were served espasol (rice cake made from rice flour cooked in coconut milk and sweetened coconut strips), sprinkled with peanut bits, while on the left is kalamay (sticky delicacy made of coconut milk, brown sugar, and ground glutinous rice). The latter reminds me of Leyte province's moron, a type of rice cake. I just love the presentation.
It has been two years since our visit to Surigao City, but memories of the warm welcome and fabulous food remain. Can't wait to return.

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Monday, May 21, 2012

Top Picks at Century Park Hotel's Tsukiji Restaurant

I've been to Tsukiji a number of times, and although I love the ambiance and the service, the quality of the food is inconsistent. When they're good, they're really good. it's all about fresh ingredients. It is the excellent dishes that prevent me from writing the restaurant off.

I usually order salmon for the Yakizakana Teishoku set meal. I should have asked the server, who suggested mackerel instead.
The California maki's always excellent.
The Shime Saba Sunomono (marinated mackerel) was stellar. Each bite was oozing with taste.
Late last year, the salmon for the Yakizakana Teishoku set meal was memorable. I'm still craving for the crispy fried skin.
The Yakiniku Teishoku (pan-fried slices of beef in ginger sauce)comes out consistently good.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

More Top Picks at Puerto Princesa City's Ka Lui Restaurant

Today we continue with the second part of exceptional dishes from Ka Lui's of Puerto Princesa City. You can read the first post here. Pardon the quality of my pics--I've been off the past weeks. Just the same, I still feel the excitement when my gang and I entered Ka Lui, and the wonderful realization that the food tasted as well as they looked.
This cream-based fish dish came as part of the day's special. It's actually fillet folded unto itself. I tried in vain looking over the internet to know what it is. Next time, I'll take down notes. ;-)
Garlic butter prawns. I'm partial to shrimp, specially the rich fat hidden in the head. The accompanying tomato sauce was just lovely.
Eggplant tempura, with the same tomato sauce paired with the prawns.
Tubbataha salad--raw tuna, mangoes, seagrapes, some chilis, and a dash of calamansi--yum!

For more of the dining experience, go here.

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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Top Picks at Puerto Princesa City's Ka Lui Restaurant Part 1

It has been almost two years since my last visit (you can read my post here) to Puerto Princesa City. Back then I was already planning to go to Ka Lui's, but a packed schedule did not permit. This time our schedule was more flexible, and after a call made during the day (better reserve at least a day ahead), we booked ourselves to dinner at 6:15 p.m. We were advised to show up on the dot, with a 15-minute grace period, otherwise our slot would be given to other guests.
Let me tell you that picking the best from dinner is difficult, since what we ordered were all good. So good that we ignored mud crabs done two way-steamed and with butter and garlic. But choose I must, and this, the same way with all entries in this blog, is purely subjective: all I want is that you go out and try these for yourselves.
Crispy tuna fish tail. This is hands-down the group's favorite--it tasted like lechon kawali (deep fried pork). I was skeptical at first, because I thought it was fried mudfish (I don't eat mudfish because I had them as pets :P). We ordered more after the first plate was wiped out. Forgive the quality of the pictures--I was so distracted since the place was just a big photo op waiting to happen.
Sizzling Seafood Sisig. By now you might know that I'm partial to pork, and when I tried this it tasted like pork. This is one good alternative to pair with ice-cold cerveza.

More picks next post. Click here.

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Quezon's Uraro (Arrowroot) Cookies

If there's one cookie a bite of which makes me warm all over, this would have to be uraro cookies. I first tried these as gifts of friends from Lucena. Truth to tell I wasn't impressed with how they looked, but I came around after the first bite. They were light, airy, and addicting.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Legazpi City's DJC Halo-Halo

Just a few days ago we've experienced one of the hottest summers in recent memory. One popular way to beat the heat is eating halo-halo. Halo-halo is made up of fresh and preserved fruits, evaporated milk, and shaved ice, topped with ube jam/ice cream or leche flan (custard). I remember some pouring in red food coloring to make it look more palatable, otherwise you'd end up with the usual purplish mix. The fruits may range from boiled sweetened plantains, boiled sweet potatoes, beans, to jackfruit.

What makes DJC Halo Halo distinct is they top theirs with cheese. Yes, it's that mysterious blend of salty and sweet that comes off just right. Personally I prefer to mix them all (halo halo, literally)before diving in.

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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Top Picks at Legazpi City's First Colonial Grill

Perhaps by now you might have noticed that I love eating out at Legazpi City. You can read my earlier posts here and here.

Today I'm featuring dishes we enjoyed at First Colonial Grill's branch at Pacific Mall, near the bus terminal. We were lucky that what we ordered complemented each other. Of course, advance research helped--these dishes were highly recommended online.

First is the tinapa (smoked fish) rice. For me anything with salted eggs and tinapa is worth waking up early for. This was complete on its own, but why limit your tummy happiness?
Next we had the pinangat, a heavenly mix of gabi (taro), coconut milk and pork, and five-spice grilled chicken. I thought the chicken would clash with the other dishes, but it blended beautifully, subtle and flavorful.
To counteract the spicy dishes, we had creamy pili nut ice cream.
I'll post more soon.

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