Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tre Funghi by Amici

Tre Funghi

I am quite smitten by Amici. I love the interiors of their restaurants, the cozy chairs and lighting, and the bustling kitchen open for every diner's eyes to admire. Their food presentation is just as beautiful, even their most haphazard of plating oftentimes looks like a well-thought out abstract painting. And the smells that waft through the place when you first walk in, oh, what can be more appetizing. Nothing like fresh Italian cuisine to prime a person's senses up for wonderful dining.

Risotto di Mare

The first branch I ever went to was the one in Greenhills. They opened beside Abenson, where Red Ribbon used to be. Sharing the space with Amici is Cara Mia gelateria, which I think is the dessert wing of Amici. Cara Mia serves gelato, tiramisu, brazo de mercedes, sans rival, and many other sweet treats. Amici serves upon order so you are assured that your food is always cooked fresh. Casual rather than fine dining, Amici is strictly self-service. If you want water or ice, you are free to get as much as you can from their dispenser (the kid in me enjoys pulling the lever for the ice chute). 

Scampi Nel Alfredo
Prawns in creamy lemon garlic and sundried tomato sauce

Recently, Amici opened a branch at the Alabang Town Center, in the main mall, where Jollibee used to be. It is at the ATC branch where I had my first bowl of Tre Funghi soup, a "rich and warm mix of button, shitake, and porcini mushrooms". And when it says mushrooms, it really means a rough puree of mushrooms, not the usual cream of mushroom kind of soup. It has wonderful texture and an earthy creamy flavor to it. It was quite unlike any soup I've ever had. Tre Funghi had me at first sip. Together with my soup, I ordered one of their special offerings, linguini with sundried tomato and cream sauce and shrimps. I enjoyed that a lot, too. Robin on the other hand is a big fan of Amici's Risotto di Mare, which is "sauteed seafood on saffron risotto."

Amici Branches:

Don Bosco, Makati
Tomas Morato, Q.C.
SM Megamall
Missouri St., Greenhills
SM North Edsa
Alabang Town Center

Contact No.: (02)747-1111


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Philly Cheese Steak by Raybern

This is one good "nuke 'em" food- Philly Cheese Steak by Raybern purveyor of New York Deli Style Hot Sandwiches. Yes, you can heat it in the oven, too if you're not too crazy about the microwave.

This sandwich is packed with thin tender slices of beef, nice, hot, and spicy. My brother adds more cheese before popping one in the microwave. Me, I like it just the way it is. The bun, I am not sure if it's supposed to be soft or crusty. But I like that it's soft. 

We get them in boxes of six at S&R. But like most Philly Cheesesteaks available in the market, they ain't cheap, about Php799 for a box. It's nice having them in the freezer though, for when you need a quick yet satisfying food fix.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Storms are Coming

Like a bad case of a hangover, Typhoon Basyang left a devastating trail of headaches, broken things, and missed deadlines in its wake...

Hope everything went back to normal for everybody.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Crinkles by Melody

A couple of days ago, I went with my mother and brother to a function they were invited to. It was held at Robbie's a restaurant located at the recently opened Seaside Palutuan complex along Daang Hari, Alabang. Though a little smaller in area, a lot of the veteran restaurants at the original Seaside Palutuan complex along Macapagal Avenue, Pasay City have also opened branches at Daang Hari. The complex also has the usual seafood market at the center and a smattering of fruit stands and other food stores typical of the old place.

I pass by Daang Hari a lot on the way to Alabang and I practically watched that complex get built from the ground up. I got excited when I first realized that what was being built was a Seaside Palutuan complex and I swore I would be there when the first restaurant opened. Unfortunately, I kind of missed the train on that one. That was why when my brother asked if I wanted to tag along for dinner, I said sure!

En route to Robbie's I came across Melody who offered a taste of the special home made crinkles she was selling. I must admit that I am not a big fan of crinkles, being more of a chocolate chip cookie kind of girl. I have made an exception for the ADB crinkles though. It had become the standard by which I have judged all other crinkles. (I have been known to spit a couple of bad crinkles, discreetly of course.) Melody's crinkles passed that test. They are big crinkles, around 4 inches in diameter and about half an inch in thickness. It's not too sweet even with the generous coating of powdered sugar that gives the pastry its characteristic look, er, crinkle. Despite this, it is definitely chocolaty. The center is moist but not overly gooey. All in all it's a lovely crinkle.

Look for Melody's stall at the Seaside Palutuan complaex in Daang Hari near the entrance of Robbie's restaurant. The crinkles are sold in boxes of 10 for Php160. Melody makes them in small batches per day, so be sure to come by early.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Calamares at LZM Lutong Bahay Specialties

Yesterday, after a work-related visit to Trece Martires City, Cavite, I decided to have lunch at LZM Lutong Bahay Specialties located along Aguinaldo Highway at By-Pass, San Vicente, Silang, Cavite. 

I knew beforehand that being by my lonesome, having lunch there was a bad idea because every order at that restaurant is good for at least two people. But I figured, for the price, it was an acceptable deal. I have left-over for pasalubong for the folks at home but I pay only as much as what I would pay at other restaurants for a meal that serves only one. 

I ordered Calamares (Php190) and a half platter of fried rice (Php70), both of which I was able to eat only a third of. And I am not known to be a light eater. I liked the Calamares, which was crispy and flavorful. I didn't even feel the need for any kind of dipping sauce for it.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Backyardigans Cupcakes

A dear friend of mine threw a Backyardigans party for her two handsome little boys a couple of weeks ago. It's a double celebration for Ethan, who turned three (Happy birthday!), and Enzo, who was baptised (Happy Christening, my inaanak!). Instead of running to the mall to buy gifts, I volunteered to make a cupcake tower for them. Their mom supplied the adorable Backyardigans cupcake toppers.

These are all chocolate cupcakes made with Dutch process cocoa. I frosted the cupcakes with Mexican vanilla buttercream in different colors- pink for Uniqua, yellow for Tasha, orange for Tyrone, blue for Pablo, and violet for Austin. I originally planned to use common rainbow sprinkles for these until I found pastel colored rainbow sprinkles, which I ended up using instead. Pastel colors always remind me of babies and toddlers.

I've never been truly acquainted with the Backyardigans until that party. Now I can't seem to get Backyardigans songs out of my head. "Shake, shake, shake, shake your body..." Love that song.

It was tiring, but I had so much fun making these cupcakes- all seventy-three of them. And to make it for such special people- it was certainly worth every minute spent in the kitchen.

Photo credits: Tanya

Sunday, July 4, 2010



Traditionally Spanish, Gambas al Ajillo took on a Filipino twist with the use of traditional Philippine ingredients. The Spanish recipe originally calls for lemon juice and some form of alcohol (usually either cognac or dry sherry). The Philippine version, simply referred to as Gambas, replaces the lemon juice with kalamansi juice (Philippine citrus) and omits the alcohol altogether. Either way, it's one of my favorite shrimp dishes.

The recipe calls for very little ingredients, the success of the finished product relying solely on the quality of its components. That is why I make it a point to use the freshest prawns in making Gambas, which fortunately, are always in good supply at the local market. It's great as appetizer and even as a main course.

1 kg (2lb) medium prawns, peeled (heads, tails and shells discarded)
Juices of 3-4 calamansi
1/4 cup olive oil
Cloves of 1 whole head of garlic, peeled and crushed
Dash Tabasco (or other hot pepper sauce)
Salt and pepper to taste
Parsley, to garnish (optional)
Sliced green chili, to garnish (optional)

Marinate peeled prawns in calamansi juice for about 30 mins.
Heat oil in a frying pan or wok and sauté garlic until almost brown.
Add prawns and stir fry until fully cooked, about 2 to 3 mins. Do not overcook.
Season with hot pepper sauce and salt and pepper to taste. Transfer prawns to a serving dish together with the garlic. If desired, garnish with parsley and chili.
Serve as an appetizer, as a first course or as pulutan with drinks.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Grilled Ensaimada by Red Ribbon

Grilled Ensaimada

Sometimes, the simplest food, the most commonly available and oftentimes the cheapest ones are the most delicious kinds of food that you will ever have. For me, it's Red Ribbon's Grilled Ensaimada

I know it's been on the menu of this wildly prolific bakeshop for the longest time, but not once have I given Grilled Ensaimada a second look before. In fact, my love affair with this food item only started a couple of months earlier this year, rather accidentally because I ordered it while I was waiting for somebody in one of the bakeshop's many branches and I thought it was only polite that I had an excuse to stay there. 

Now, I would go to Red Ribbon precisely for that reason- the Grilled Ensaimada. I often pair it with black brewed coffee, to complement if not cut the sweetness of it. 

The heat of the grill does something magical to the classic Filipino pastry, transforming the otherwise already tasty ensaimada into something so delightfully complex yet comfortingly familiar. I love the crunch and salty-savory flavor of the cheese topping that gets toasted during the grilling process and the disarming flavor of the grilled sugar and butter crust- almost burnt, but not just yet. Add to this the fairy-dusting of powdered sugar and solid dollop of butter- just... perfect.... There's nothing like the sight of cold butter slowly melting into the hot ensaimada.

It's a good thing there's a Red Ribbon branch just outside the gate of our house. Nevermind I have to cross a four-lane national highway to get there. Gotta have my Grilled Ensaymada.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Tasting the World at Oceana

Tasting Mumbai
I was introduced to Center for Culinary Arts cuisine a couple of years ago when my friend Leen invited me to one of their charity dinners when she was studying there. I didn't know what to expect but maybe your ordinary regular run of the mill type of food you normally get when you go to fund raisers. 

I remember one particular fund raising breakfast buffet that I failed to attend. My friend Mich who attended the breakfast told me later that the food was so horrible that even in cooking an egg, the caterer failed miserably in. I mean, seriously, how can anybody go wrong with breakfast? And for Php500 per head, at least cook a proper egg! Good thing I never wake up that early so I missed that disaster. 

The CCA benefit dinner was one buffet I had the good fortune of not missing though. The food there was amazing.

The whole event was a very memorable experience for me. I remember when we first arrived at the venue, I approached one of the students there and asked if she knew Leen and where I could find here. Only after the conversation was over that I realized I was talking to a local showbiz personality who was also enrolled there at the time. Although she does not know Leen and ultimately wasn't able to help me find my friend, she was very nice. 
There was a dessert/chocolate station that oozed decadent chocolate creations. It was such a crowd drawer that when I got to it every morsel of the sweets there was gone. There was a soup station where I had the best soups I have ever had. I remember the chili soup (as in not the traditional thick variety) which was such a nice belly warmer during that rainy night. The soup station had a vertical basket containing giant breadsticks. "Go ahead, have one." One of the students urged as while we marveled at the enormity of the breadsticks. We thought they were just for decor.

Every dish was well attended and you would be very lucky if there were any left-overs when you go back for seconds. The Le Cassoulet was one of those dishes that still existed long enough giving us the impression that it might no be up to the same calibre as the rest of the citizens of the CCA buffet. But lo and behold, it was one of the most delicious and most remembered dishes of the night for us.

Tasting New York

That dinner made such an impression on me that when I found out about Oceana (the CCA Manila Restaurant School & Events Place), I knew instantly that I had to visit soon. As of this post, I had been there twice. Already, I am looking forward to my third.

Tasting Bangkok

Tasting San Francisco

Just a tip, when the waiter tells you that the servings are good for two. Believe him. We made the mistake of not believing ours and ended up calling my reinforcements (i.e. my mother and brother) to help us finish what we ordered.

Tasting Sao Paulo
Oceana is located at Seaside Boulevard, SM Mall of Asia Complex.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Yasubei's Ebi Fry: Still the Best

Ebi Fry Set
served with rice and miso soup

Yasubei underwent some renovations a couple of weeks back and last week, it finally reopened. It retained its traditional Japanese restaurant charm but the new interior is smaller but in my opinion cozier than before. They've added some couches rather than just all wooden chairs, which I like. (I don't know about the next guy but I am a couch person when it comes to restaurants.)

 Also the same is its menu. We had dinner there last Monday and I am happy to report that the Ebi Fry at that place is still the one to beat. Just one look at that photo above should seal the deal. I mean come on! While other Japanese restaurants would serve you shrimps in their Ebi Fry, Yasubei goes the extra mile and gives you top quality tiger prawns. I can assure you that it's not all bread crumbs in there. Those prawns are simply that huge. And when you think about the quality you get, Yasubei really gives you fantastic value for your money.

Welcome back, Yasubei!

Yasubei is located at the Power Station, Macapagal Blvd., Paranaque City.

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