During the weekend, family and relatives drove south to spend time in my parent's house in Tagaytay. Since my mother invited a number of relatives to stay, she thought of having the house blessed on that weekend too. So after contacting the parish priest in a nearby church, the house was scheduled to be blessed at 4pm that afternoon.
The cook eventually needed to prepare snacks for everyone. And having the house blessed was just another reason to prepare them extra special.
After the casual and at the same time, intimately prayerful house blessing, relatives grabbed their plates and settled anywhere to eat.
It's that time of the year again when giving and receiving tikoy spells good fortune for the year. I love tikoy or nian gao (whatever descent you are on). It is made of glutinous rice. And it's chewy and heavy on the tummy.
Mom recognizes how good a cook ate Sally is especially when she cooks paella, my favorite. .
They bought a number of french bread early that day. It was served sliced, buttered and toasted. I love how it remained slightly chewy for my taste
Doughnuts dipped in chocolate is nothing new. But when they make it in the form of soft bread sticks, it creates a more fun experience.
Last week, I get to taste them from both local doughnut brands - Dunkin Donut and Mister Donut.
Dunkin Donut's Dunkin Yan offers soft bread sticks already dipped in their chocolate and dried (excuse me for lack of a better term). They're placed in cardboard pockets exactly like that of french fries. Also, I noticed that the bread was already sweet. It's like you're eating an elongated Dunkin Donut honey-dipped munchkin. The chocolate is not too sweet. On the other hand, Mister Donut's bread-dipping version is placed on a cup like that of Yan Yan. And the melted chocolate is sweet (if not very sweet). And it's easy to make a mess if you are like me - a messy eater.
The way they're called is quite confusing. Dunkin Donuts' should have been called Donut Fries while Mister Donuts' should have been called Mister Yan.
Here's the thing: Dunkin Donuts' bread is much better while I like Mister Donuts' Chocolate dip more.
Too bad, I wasn't able to take a picture of Mister Donut's version.
When I hear Cinnabon, I think of the creamiest and sweetest cinnamon rolls I have ever tasted. These days, I get to eat them only if we're going out of town. I don't know why but I only get to buy them from gasoline stations. It's a perfect alternative to doughnuts or cake (whichever you usually decide to bring along with you as pasalubong).
Something as sweet and as creamy as this may not be so good for our health. Good thing, one roll will do the trick. The cream cheese on top makes these distinctly Cinnabon. I wonder who thought of that amazing idea of using sweetened cream cheese. The soft bread and the cream makes you think you're eating one of the best tasting cinnamon-flavored bread pudding.
I usually prefer to eat this warm and with coffee which is almost cream- and sugar-free since the cinnamon roll provides more than enough cream and the sugar with every bite.
Of all dimsums, I enjoy lumpia shanghai most of all. Although it has originated as a Chinese cuisine, it has been developed by any Filipino cook. I like lumpia shanghai filling best when mixed with kimchay or wansoy. I also love it when it is slightly flavored with sesame oil. The possible variations for its filling are limitless.
The best dipping sauce for it (for me) is tomato ketchup. The chili sauce is also okay.
Two nights ago, I was able to visit A Taste Of LA in Roces Ave., QC for a light after-dinner meal with family and some friends. Even though, the restaurant has been there for a long time already, it was my first time to visit them. The place was dark and cozy. There was minimal lighting. Most of the light in the room came from candles set on tables. My eyes needed to get used to the dark for a minute or two. That was how dark the place was.
The interior was somehow rustic. We chose to sit in a long and heavy wooden table that you would have seen in a kitchen of some old western home. Wines were placed in an old fashioned cabinet that made up the counter of a bar. I believe they were about California wines which unfortunately, I wasn't able to try out.
Note: I've always thought that wines from California came mainly from Napa because that was what I was told during a visit in that area years ago. Well, maybe wines from Napa are mostly sold to LA. Well, I can't really be sure.
It wasn't for a family dining experience though. It was more like a place for couples because the place was just too romantic with the candles and the bunch of deep red roses placed on the tables.
Someone ordered buffalo wings, pasta, salad and pizza. The pizza was more than delicious. I think it was made of pepperoni, anchovies and a lot of cheese. (I wasn't able to take good pictures of it though because it was just too dark.)
I ordered oysters. (What is with my obsession with oysters these days?) I ordered the Formaggio from the list they gave me. And enjoyed the baked preparation immensely.
I ordered Orange Fizz for my drink that night. Non alcoholic, of course.
Service wasn't too bad. It took a long time to serve the food though. Probably because clients were not supposed to rush through their meal. It was a good place to spend a couple of hours dining over well-prepared food and fancy wines.
I'm trying to keep an open mind regarding the restaurant owner and the blogger's side. What if the restaurant owner just didn't like the review she received and started bad-mouthing the blogger's credibility? What if the blogger really is an extortionist? Or what if there's a third person behind all of this and is using the blogger's post to extort the restaurant owner? All I have are mere speculations right now.
It raises the issue of credibility and ethics in writing a food review. Honestly, I wasn't troubling myself with both the former and latter because this blog is all about appreciation of food. How can I bad mouth food? Unless it is adulterated with some kind of poison, I rarely have something bad to say about any meal at all.
Let me equate sponsored food reviews with prescribing medications. Pharmaceutical companies have been giving all types of perks to physicians ever since time immemorial. The more frequent they are giving these perks, the more the physician becomes familiar with that brand of drug and eventually knows nothing else. And the doctors start prescribing this brand of medication even though it's hard on the patient's pocket.
It is also the same with politicians. When people find out that they have accepted "gifts", it dampens their credibility and they can get into a lot of trouble.
Sponsored food reviews make it easier for the food blogger to "discover" good food. Restaurant owners make it convenient for food bloggers to write about a new food experience. Unfortunately, it may lead to blog posts that are biased and misleading. It may lead the blogger to write a review out of indebtedness. They may testify to something and make it seem to be what they really are not.
There's nothing wrong with being invited to discover a new restaurant dish. It only becomes indecent when we start writing crappy posts just because we are thankful of the free stuff.
I never knew blogs has turned out to be this serious. What a downer.
Unlike in some restaurants, buffet in Tong Yang include drink that ranges from sodas, juices and coffee to ice cold beer. I used to mix mango juice with their ice tea or pineapple juice with apple juice or sprite with different kinds of fruit juice. I never had the chance to try their beer though.
But what I like most of all is the brewed coffee and available vanilla ice cream. You get to have chocolate chips, colorful sprinkles and M&M bits too.
During my last visit, I was able to finish three cups of this:
I had chocolate chips for sugar and vanilla ice cream for the regular cream. And it was so yummy. The hot brewed coffee wasn't able to melt the chips entirely and every sip included bits of chocolate. It was so good.
What I love about Tong Yang's buffet is that I can cook and eat all the oysters that I can eat. I love it grilled and well-done. I tried grilling it in their sate sauce and afterwards dipped in Yakiniku sauce before letting it ooze inside my mouth.
I also tried the Taiwan-style sate. But it wasn't as good as the regular sate the restaurant prepared.
Along with the oysters, I grilled my regular favorite, lamb skewers. I know some people who can't get used to the smell of lamb, more so the taste. But for me, lamb meat is so good to eat and that goes the same for goat's meat. LOL! You got that right. I love eating them both. I've always thought they're more safer to eat because they're two of the cleanest animals.
(Off topic: I visited a seminary up in Antipolo and they had lamb running all over the place. My father was laughing at me for being scared of them because they're one of the meekest animal on earth)
I'm used to eating instant cup noodles. Soups are my thing. And in Tong Yang, I get to cook my own bowl of noodle soup. It makes me feel like I'm a cook even if I'm really not.
We usually enjoy the shabu-shabu with two types of broth: sinigang and spicy broth. I usually eat the corn on the cob at the end of every meal. I like it much more if all the flavors of the vegetables and dimsum and broth goes into the corn and that would only be possible they are submerged in the pot for a long long time.
And that's another gratifying visit in Tong Yang (Megamall Branch).
This is what I have been missing all these months that we were away from home. Finally, my boyfriend had the time to send me some of his cooking. He has been using Gata (coconut milk) in most of his dishes. This one is my favorite of them all.
I only started eating Sigarilyas or winged beans when he introduced this to me. Unlike other vegetables, this one is really tasty.
He's Bicolano so he makes it as spicy as he and I can take it. He loves to put capsaicin on almost all of his dishes so I need to take taste test everytime and have a glass of water ready just in case.
I don't know if it's just me but Gata makes any dish a heavy and somehow, warm experience. Boyfriend told me that in their province, during the rainy season which is almost all year long in their area, chickens and coconut are in demand to make ginataan or tinola.
Even if this is a vegetable dish, it's not advisable for me if I'm on a diet because I can only enjoy this dish if there's a lot of warm rice.
I have always been fond of Red Ribbon's chicken empanada. I like it especially when it is freshly baked and still warm. One piece is a meal in itself - very heavy on the tummy. The bread is so soft and creamy to taste that meshes well with the savory meaty filling. The other chicken empanadas do not taste as good. Most of them are a little bit dry and a lot more expensive.
One of the best noodle preparation here in the Philippines is the Palabok. And Red Ribbon has proven that. It is made of miki noodles that are cooked thoroughly to digest it easily. The sauce covers every noodle bit and make you somehow slurp while you eat. You also get to taste some of the egg and the chicharon (ground pork rinds).
I don't often get to eat palabok because people prefer to serve the less expensive Pancit Malabon or good old Filipino style spaghetti. Maybe that is what makes palabok more special - the rare encounters.
I was destined to be served coffee a' la ginger tea.
One breakfast morning, our helper asked me what I wanted to eat and I asked if she could prepare me coffee instead, while I look after my kid. After a few minutes, she had a hot cup of coffee for me. I took a few sips and took note of the unusual spice in my coffee. Initially, I thought it was because it was hot and singed my tongue a bit. But when I was halfway through it, I was sure that I tasted ginger.
I called for the helper and asked what she put in it. She mixed instant coffee, sugar and creamer. I asked what was the color of the sugar she used. She told me it was light brown. And then I knew. She placed instant salabat instead of sugar. I asked if I wanted to replace the coffee and I told her it was okay and that I was going to finish all of it. It was so unconventional that it was so good.
Sometimes, we need to let accidents happen in order to enjoy the good stuff.
I just had my breakfast a few minutes ago which consisted of bacon, egg, a cup of garlic fried rice and a-little-bit-too-sweet coffee. I didn't have any supper last night so I was a bit famished for something as filling as this.
Bacon always sounds good - to dog and man alike. After watching the movie "As Good As It Gets", I've considered bacon also as a dog food. Verdel, Simon's dog in the movie, prefers the person who feeds him bacon even if that person just threw him off the garbage chute. It goes the same for me. I would love anyone who feeds me nice thin strips of crispy bacon just like what I had this morning. It's not often that I get to eat bacon primarily because meat that good cannot actually be good for anyone if it's taken daily.
I want my sunny side up well-done. I used to love eating fried eggs that are half-cooked in which the yolk is oozing out. These days, I want to make sure I'm eating something safe.
We cannot go wrong with garlic fried rice for breakfast. The aroma is enough to heighten your appetite.
By the way, I wasn't able to finish the whole thing.
I have considered Classic Cuisine a.k.a C2 as a family restaurant. We have been visiting their Shangri-la branch for the past two years. And now that they have opened a branch in Megamall Atrium, there are more chances that we are likely to dine over and over.
Food: 5 out of 5
This restaurant serves the best of Philippine cuisine. It serves meals that even most Filipinos haven't encountered yet unless they have been all over the country and get to taste each one of the delicacies.
My ultimate favorite is the Crispy Kare-Kare, although it is an ultimate no-no for those who are trying to lose weight or starting a healthier lifestyle. The traditional crispy pata is served in a large plate with the kare-kare sauce separate from the rest. The vegetables are also good if you can find them underneath the crispy pata.
Also, it is frequent that I order something healthier like fish. They include in their menu (boneless) Tilapia seared in coconut oil immersion. It is best eaten when the fish has just been cooked. The fish is tasty on its own. It gets better when it has some gata on it. There are also crunchy potato strings on top of it that you can start to chew on. It is the only plate wiped clean in every visit.
A Filipino meal wouldn't be complete without good old warm rice. C2 kicked it up a notch when salted egg is mixed with it. It is only in C2 that I know that serves salted egg rice. There might be others but I haven't had the chance to visit them. The salted egg rice is good to eat on its own.
In this particular visit, we were able to order Tokwa't Baboy but I wasn't able to try and taste it myself. I'm sure it taste as good as it looks.
I ordered Tsokolate Eh for myself. I have never tried it out before. Instead of the usual preference for cold drinks and fruit shakes, I opted to try something different. I wasn't able to finish the whole cup. I thought it was too sweet for my taste. There were also lumps of undissolved cocoa that you get to dissolve in your tongue. I'm not sure if it's supposed to be that way but it made it more interesting.
For dessert, leche flan is our top choice. The serving is relatively small but it didn't matter because it was so good that you get more than what you need in a bite. It's one of the softest leche flan there is. For something that could melt like that in your mouth, you'd wonder how it hold up in the first place.
Service: 4 out of 5
There is nothing bad that I could say about the service in both C2 branches that I know of. They make you wait for as little time as possible. You can not also complain of them being undermanned.
Price: 2 out of 5
The price of their food ranges from around Php100 to Php700. I thought it is was too pricey for my usual budget. Hence, if I was paying, I would reserve dining in C2 for special occasions only.
Ambiance: 3 out of 5
The branch in Shangri-la is a bit noisy especially during lunch time. Sometimes, it would seem that you're dining in the food court. On the other hand, Megamall Atrium branch is a bit quieter because you get to eat in an enclosed area. Their restaurants are not cozy like some other restaurants of the same rank but still provides a place for a pleasant conversation over really good food for any group of diners.
Yum with TLC is probably one of the best sellers of our "national" food chain in the country. It is one of my favorite burgers around. It is definitely tasty. It may not be as good as grilled burgers but it gives the same satisfaction (and sometimes even more).
Ala Carte P50.00
Upon unwrapping the burger, there is not much to look at. The only thing that is prominent about Jollibee's Yum with TLC is the cheese that is outpouring from the burger's insides. It is not that appetizing-looking in comparison with other burgers. But upon taking a bite, there's immediate burst of creamy taste of cheese that mingles with the subtle sourness of its ketchup and somehow, the taste of fresh tomatoes.
It is therefore surprising when you examine the insides of this burger. You would wonder how it tastes that good with just so little portions of tomato and lettuce. We would definitely not get enough minerals from that burger. Hopefully, the cheese makes up for it.
Jollibee Yum with TLC is a truly enjoyable satisfying treat that is served fast for those people who would want a quick fix of a meal. We may or may not agree that we get our money's worth but my taste buds give it an A-okay grade. A big plus if it is served with an ice cold soda.
My love of food and documentation has led me to start a food blog of my own. I've seen so many food blogs already and mine may not be far different from theirs. Food bloggers everywhere have one thing in common and that is, we all get excited about food. I do hope that readers of this blog will share the same excitement about the food that I post - heighten the curiousity and long for their taste and their texture.
Food when in good company taste a lot better than eating alone. Hunger also does that. A lot of people all over the world are starving. And food that may not taste as good to others may be a goldmine to another who hasn't eaten in days. I may be feature fried fish and describe it like I have eaten the juiciest steak just because I get to share it with someone or just because I was so hungry at that time. So, the greatness of the food experience is relative to what I am going through at the time.
This food blog will feature the simplest to the most exquisite preparation of God-given edible gifts as I go along and encounter them from day to day. I do hope I can do justice by writing the food experience as it is.
"Look but don't taste. Taste but don't swallow" is the exact opposite of what I want readers of this blog to do. It is not often that we find pleasure in something as necessary as eating. So enjoy it as much as I would.