5.12.2008

Kasbah, Boracay


This was the only restaurant that was worth blogging about during my recent Boracay trip (ofcourse I do have my personal all-time musts there such as Aria, True Food, Manana, Gastof and believe it or not Dokito Frito not really for their chicken but for their pork sinigang! Yes, because their sinigang broth is thick, extra sour with thinly sliced gabi just the way I like it!).  

During our last night there, our group had to come up with a unified decision of where to have our last dinner. It had to be special and different...somewhere all of us have not tried yet. One of our friends suggested this place called "Kasbah" located near Discovery Shores. Kasbah serves authentic Moroccan cuisine. Not being very familiar with the said cuisine, I asked the server what she could recommend. My friend Rolls and I decided to split their lamb tagine which was one of their specialties. A tagine is a traditional dish named after the special pot in which it's cooked. This pot is made of clay which is often times glazed or painted. It actually has two parts ; a flat circular base and a large cone cover which is placed on top of the base while cooking. This design supposedly promotes the return of condensation to the bottom while cooking. Tangines are actually slow-cooked stews that are braised over low temperature which makes the meat used really tender. Enough trivia and back to Kasbah's food...the lamb tangine was a pleasant surprise. It's actually difficult to explain to explain because it was an explosion of a myriad of flavors altogether. I tried to dissect the medley of ingredients used in the stew... potatoes, dates, raisins, almonds, ground cinnamon, cumin, definitely paprika and a whole lot more....hence the tangy and overly complex distinct taste and flavor! :) I was happy and content with my last full meal in paradise. So next time you find yourself in Boracay, you might want to check out Kasbah!

5.11.2008

Gullivers of San Francisco : Calling All Steak Lovers!


My family chanced upon a great find in the midst of bustling Makati Avenue. Gulliver's of San Francisco is a classic American restaurant (according to my dad, it's been there for almost 10 years! I just don't know how accurate this is!) located inside Great Eastern Hotel. Gulliver's of San Francisco has an enchanting ambiance of a cruise ship... dim lighting, victorian interiors, and the works. Plus it has a magnificent view of Makati which makes adds to its ambiance and makes it ideal for an intimate date ;) wink! 

We ordered their appetizer sampler for starters composed of crunchy duck confit, shrimp fritters and calamares served with a zesty cocktail sauce. No one ordered salad/soup anymore because we all wanted to make sure we had ample room for the PRIME RIB which is ofcourse the specialty of the house. You can choose from various cuts and have it cooked to your desired doneness. I tried the Gulliver's cut which is quite thick and cooked medium rare - no more, no less! My carnivorous side was strong that night and I was really craving for red meat so I was extra excited. And I was not disappointed at all! The meat was succulent, rosy, tender and cooked just right. Upon serving, they smothered it with deglazed drippings called au jus to keep it juicy. I enjoyed it even without the gravy or horseradish. The course also came with baked potato with sourcream, a light muffin and blanched spinach. The serving size was pretty huge for its reasonable price. Definitely a place I would recommend for hardcore steak lovers. 

2.05.2008

Going Around in SPIRALS

This was my second plate!
                            

Buffets can be exciting once in a blue moon. We usually do this on very special occasions. And last January, we found the perfect event that called for such a celebration... My sister Addie's oath-taking as a full-pledged Dentist.  My ninang and I were there to witness a very important turning point in her professional life. After six grueling years of studying and sacrifice (being away from us because she had to get her own place near UP Manila), she is now officially a dentist. And because this was indeed an extremely special day, we found reason to spoil ourselves through glorious food. After the ceremony, we decided to celebrate and have dinner at SPIRALS situated at the lobby of Sofitel. I believe it offers the biggest and widest buffet selection in Manila. The choices were overwhelming that we first had to think of a good strategy to be able to maximize and get our money's worth (a very pinoy trait! dapat sulit!). We wanted to take it slow and be able to try as much of the courses offered (there was a salad/so
up/pasta/pizza bar, Japanese/Chinese/Indian cuisine and a whole lot more). 

Here it goes... I started with a plate full of salmon sashimi, assorted sushi, 4 kinds of cheese, caviar tartlet and a little salad greens. Then i went back for the oversized peking duck wrap from the Chinese section, 2 slices of medium rare prime rib with generous mushroom gravy, a thin slice of lamb with mint jelly, steamed shrimp dumplings (hakaw), fresh oysters with cocktail sauce and tabasco. I simply didn't care...i mixed different cuisines on my plate. After finishing almost 3/4 of what I got, I wanted more oysters but this time I filled a salad plate with the succulent fresh oysters and handed them over to the standby chef by the appetizer section for baking! Yup, I had it baked with garlic and cheese!  Then I felt I had enough of the main courses and was ready for some dolce. I wasn't gonna let it pass. I sampled their mango crepe, tiramisu and had 3 sticks of fruit that I dipped into the oh-so-rich milk chocolate fondue fountain. After that, I know you could guess...I was officially stuffed! :) 

Baguio Eats : Old and New


Baguio will always be close to my heart because of the many memorable moments I spent here with both family and friends. We spent a lot of Holy Weeks/Summers there as we were growing up primarily because it is a condusive place to reflect and spent quiet time with yourself and with Him which is what the the Lenten Season is all about. At the same time, Baguio is a fun place to be in during the hot summer days. The place offers a lot of activities especially for kids from horseback riding at Wright Park to rowing/biking/skating in Burnham Park... we did all that! And for a person like me who loves to eat, Baguio has a lot to offer as well. I actually have a standard list of what and where to eat when I'm there. Let me run through my top picks:


STREETFOOD/PASALUBONGS

1. Strawberries - Baguio market at the end of Session Road
2. Sliced Manggang Hilaw (Green Mangoes) with vinegar and chili salt placed in a small ice plastic bag and eaten with a bbq stick- they sell this on the streets
3. Inihaw na Mais/ Grilled Corn painted with margarine and salt - Mines View
4. Grilled Dried Squid with vinegar- also inside Mines View
5. Good Shepherd Ube Jam which is a classic (also try their peanut adobo, strawberry jam and snowballs)

RESTOS
1. Cafe by the Ruins near Burnham for their Ruins salad, camote bread with butter and fishroe and slow-cooked beef Sinigang
2. Dessert and Drinks ( and fine dining al fresco dinner if you wish) at the Manor Lobby inside John Hay for its enchanting ambiance
3. Star Cafe along Session Road for their cinnamon raisin bread
4. Carlos Pizza inside John Hay (this is the same one in Tagaytay)
5. Healthy Shabu-Shabu inside SM
6. Brod Pitt if you want grill and bbq ( also along Leonard Wood Rd)
7. Cafe near the grotto - owned by a certain artist (painter) but I'm not sure if this is still open
8. Sizzling Plate - not so much for their steak but for their sansrival cake

NEW FINDS

Here are some of my new discoveries when I was there about a month ago:

BLISS Cafe

I actually read about it in a blog and was intrigued. BLISS is a small vegetarian cafe and art space inside Munsayac Inn. It's a cozy little nook where you can rest your soul and enjoy a healthy meal. The place is surrounded with colorful walls and decorative paintings given to the owners by friends. There were also a lot of unique trinkets and books which the couple collected from their many travels around the globe (many were actually from India). As for the food, I'm not too familiar with vegan cuisine but we sampled their veggie chicharon which was actually a good appetizer (it was close enough to the real thing but ofcourse was way healthier except that is was also deep fried!). And for the main course, we tried the vegetable curry and the tofu with chicharo which were both served with plain rice. Well, it was..er...healthy and filling but nothing stellar. However the ambiance of the place and the friendliness of the owners made up for it. As I ended the evening there, one thing was on my head, "I still love being a omnivore!". Hahahahaha!


Bliss Cafe is at Munsayac Inn, 21 Leonard Wood Road, Baguio City
074-4422451


HALFMOON Bibingcrepe
We actually found this be chance as we were driving back to our place from Mines View. They had an extremely huge and distracting signage by the road which patently got our attention. And since we wanted to have merienda, it looked like a good place to stop. We ordered the Bibingcrepe with cheese and chocolate. The bibingcrepe (literally bibingka mixtured turned into a thick crepe) reminded me of the small japanese pancakes they used to sell in our Highschool with 2 choices of filling; cheese or chocolate. Anyway, the combination of chocolate and cheese with the bibingka dough blended well. The sweetness and saltiness was a good combination.


They also have a branch in Timog Ave. so no need to go to Bagiuo just to try this unique Filipino treat.

Strawberries and Ice Cream

This place is inside the Filling Station (food court) inside Camp John Hay where Brothers Burger, etc. can be found. They have a mouth-watering menu of ice creams paired with strawberries and other fruit combinations. We ordered the classic "Very Strawberry" which was heavenly. A large and generous scoop of strawberry ice cream on a bed of cream and neatly surrounded by sliced fresh strawberries. One order is good for two!




...until my next Baguio trip! :)


2.01.2008

Rediscovering Takoyaki Balls

My first memory of this japanese snack was in the old Rustans supermarket in Makati. There was a kiosk beside the classic Yumyum Tree place that sold these "Samurai Balls" as it was called then. I looked forward to going to the grocery with my Mom because I knew that I would get to eat this after doing the shopping. The kiosk eventually closed and the whole new Rustans/Glorietta took over.
Just a little background on this, Takoyaki (literally fried or baked octopus) is a popular Japanese dumpling made of batter, diced octopus, tempura scraps (tenkasu), pickled ginger, konnyaku, and green onion, topped with okonomiyaki sauce, green laver (aonori), mayonnaise, and katsuobushi (fish shavings), originating from Osaka. Making takoyaki requires a takoyaki pan, a special frying pan made of cast iron with hemispherical molds. There is a similarly named dish called ikayaki but it is a broiled whole squid and bears no resemblance. "Yaki" is derived from "yaku" which simply means "to bake or grill" in the Japanese language, and can be found in the names of other Japanese cuisine items such as teriyaki.

Anyway, I've been craving for this snack for a long time but didn't know where to find it here in manila ( In Hong Kong this is everywhere - you can find this delicacy on the streets and alleys) until recently. The first one was in Robinsons Galleria where there is a strategically situated Takoyaki stand at ground floor level (food court area) right beside Jungle Tree Ice-cream. I got curious because a lot of people were in line that time (so I thought, this must probably be good!). Hence I took the bait and got in line. Hmm...the balls weren't something I'd rave about but it gave me nostalgic memories of my childhood days doing grocery on weekends. And just a few weeks ago, I discovered an even better place that sells Takoyaki. I found it in a Japanese mart in Pasay where I buy reasonably-priced Japanese ingredients. Turns out they sell this every Saturday only so I took advantage of the treat and got myself one full order (8 pieces for P60). Yum!

Spicy Tuna Salad

Spicy tuna ala Pattie :)

My friends and I had a mini japanese party to celebrate my birthday salubong a few weeks ago. Aside from sake which I just bought from the japanese mart, I decided to make my own version of the spicy tuna salad which I created from scratch. The key ingredient ofcourse is the tuna sashimi itself (it should be really fresh!) which is the heart and soul of this appetizer. I told our ever reliable cook "Ate Minda" to get the freshest meat from Farmers market that morning. Then I just worked on the dressing which consists of japanese mayo, some wasabi and secret spices (shhhh secret nga!). I served it with shredded nori (seaweed) on top. Everyone enjoyed it that's why I had to share it! :) I'm thinking of selling this (food orders). I'll keep you posted!

Cuillere : French Cuisine at Serendra

My Entree of Choice : Tenderloin with Fromage Blue

Finally! After almost half a year of "silence" , I am writing my very first entry for 2008. I promised myself to be more prolific this year since I certainly have more time to do my reviews. And what better way to begin than to write a review about my dining experience on my special day. It was actually a last minute decision because I really couldn't decide where to take my family to celebrate my turning 27 (gulp! not to mention that I was not exactly ecstatic about turning a year older and getting closer to the 30 year mark!) . So I figured that a safe choice would be Serendra simply because there were still a number of restos that we haven't sampled just yet.

It was a Sunday night and at around 7:30, Serendra was packed. I shouldve known a lot of families were out for dinner. I realized it was actually a bad choice because 1) there were a lot of people (and I wanted a quiet dinner) and 2) I didn't make any reservations. Our first choice was Mamou but as expected there was no available table for us. We were clueless and hungry already. No one wanted to decide where to eat so I had to think of an alternative. We walked around and most of the restos were full. We were running out of options until we came across this small place called Cuillere (pronounced as kweeyer). I scanned the menu quickly and thought it was worth a try (plus the fact that there was only one table occupied). That actually made me worry a little because less people usually means lousy food/service. However in this case, dining there actually turned out to be a good choice :)


Moules Frites

We were served freshly baked baguette (crusty on the outside and delightfully soft on the inside) as we studied their menu. Everyone ordered a different entree so we could taste from each other (this is our usual strategy when dining as a family). We started off with their moules frites (steamed mussels in white wine sauce served with fries) which we all enjoyed to the last mussle! For my entree, I ordered their filet de boeuf fromage blue (tenderloin steak with blue cheese on a bed a spinach and artichoke) since I was craving for steak. The presentation was lovely and the steak was cooked perfectly (and for me that would mean medium RARE). My brother tried the grilled lamb which they served with ratatouille and mustard butter and gratin dauphinois. The lamb serving was huge and i loved the mustard sauce (it had whole mustard seeds which reinforced the unique tangy taste). My boyfriend ordered the gambas thermidor in risotto a l encre noire (blank ink risotto with grana padano slivers). The serving was a bit small but it he surely enjoyed it to the last piece. Ofcourse the black ink risotto is not exactly something you'd want to order on a first date. Also, you better check your teeth before smiling for the camera after eating this meal. And lastly, my sister sampled their pan seared sea bass with risotto which she equally enjoyed. The meat was cooked just right and the risotto was oh-so-creamy. All of us moved forks to sample each others food and we all came up with a verdict that the food was sumptuous. And so we were left with the question of why there were only a few customers that night...maybe people still haven't discovered the place. We're glad we did...by chance that is! :) Bon Appetit!




Prawns Thermidor with Blank Ink Risotto


Pan-seared Sea Bass on a bed of Risotto