Saturday, June 25, 2011

One Stormy Morning at Buon Giorno

Trio of Crostini

Thursday morning was spent in Tagaytay, because of work. After taking care of business, came breakfast at Buon Giorno at the Cliff House. It was a gloomy, gloomy day, tropical storm Falcon having reared its ugly head. You can barely see the embattled Taal Lake down below because of the fog.

Cafe Americano
Buon Giorno was actually closed when we got there, equipment malfunction, they say, such that they cannot yet serve any serious food except for some sandwiches. But the staff let us in, bless their soul, when we said all we wanted was hot coffee. We ordered Cafe Americano and Trio of Crostini (thin slices of lightly toasted bread served with pesto, chicken liver pate and mushroom dip).

Good hot coffee is second to none on a cold rainy day, and Buon Giorno serves the really good stuff. And the dips for the crostini- they were all delicious, the chicken liver pate even more so. The pate has a delicate flavor and particularly velvety to the tongue which makes it a wonderful counterpoint for the crusty crostini.

These made the day a little less bleak for me.

Buon Giorno is located at 4 Cliff House, Tagaytay City, Cavite, Philippines. For reservations contact (046) 483-2102.

Friday, June 24, 2011

A Different Dunkin Donut

Maybe it's just me, but the doughnuts that I buy from a Dunkin Donuts Cafe taste different than those I can buy from the regular Dunkin Donuts shops.

There are two branches of this cafe I know of- one is found in The Power Plant Mall and the other in SM Mall of Asia. The ones in the cafe are, to say the least, better tasting and have a soft yet dense and creamier texture than the usual Dunkin Donut doughnuts which are airy and chewier. They cost a whole lot more, too. The cafe's premium doughnut cost Php32 each while the extra premium ones are sold for Php40. Pretty steep, considering the ones you get from the regular Dunkin Donuts stores hover only around the Php10 price range. Although in my case, I don't mind shelling out a few more bucks to get better quality doughnuts.

Dunkin Donuts Cafe's Choco Wacko

O, and Dunkin Donuts Cafe's Choco Wacko costs Php55 a pop.

I used to buy this on a regular basis back in college. (There was a Dunkin Donuts shop at the station where I would get a jeepney ride to the campus. Victor, a friend of mine, used to love these things and she was the one who introduced them to me. I got hooked on them ever since.) The regular Choco Wacko sells for only Php30 for a pair. Yes, the cafe's Choco Wacko tastes different from its cheaper cousin, but it looks heck of a lot more impressive, too. As if the thicker layer of chocolate isn't enough, Dunkin Donuts Cafe's version of the Choco Wacko is sprinkled with shavings of chocolate and for a pretty touch, it's drizzled with icing. The whole package is pretty eye-catching. In fact, it looks too awesome to eat.

Dunkin Donuts Cafe's Choco Chip Muffin

(I have nothing against the original doughnut, mind you. It's just refreshing to know that one has options regarding these things.)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Pancetta-free Bolognese Sauce

Bolognese Pasta Dinner

Since I stopped eating pork, I made a few adjustments to my original Bolognese Sauce recipe (yup, the one from O Magazine). Below is the pork-free recipe. I hardly notice the difference, to tell you the truth. Just had a huge serving of this for dinner last night. Still awesome in its deliciousness.

My Bolognese Sauce Recipe


1 medium onion
1 large or 2 small carrots
2 to 3 stalks celery
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 pound ground beef (not lean)
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
pinch allspice
1 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cup orange juice
1 (15-ounce) can stewed tomatoes with their juice
1 dried bay leaf
2 200 gram packs tomato sauce
1 pound pasta, such as rigatoni
Parmiggiano-Reggiano cheese, for grating


1. Finely chop onion, carrot, and celery. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat and saute chopped vegetables. Cook, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent and soft.

2. Add ground beef, breaking it up with a spoon, 1/4 tsp. (to start) salt, plus pepper and allspice. Cook until meat is brown.

3. Add milk. When it begins to simmer, reduce heat to low and cook at a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally until milk has mostly boiled away, about 30 minutes. Add 1 cup of the orange juice and cook as with milk, until it has mostly boiled away. Add tomatoes and juice; bring to a simmer. Add in bay leaf. Cover pot, reduce heat to low, and allow sauce to cook very gently at barest simmer for 1.5 hours. Stir in remaining orange juice and add tomato sauce. Continue to simmer for another 1 hour.

4. Just before sauce is done, bring a pot of water to boil, salt it generously and boil pasta according to package directions. Drain, mix with a third of sauce then serve with remaining sauce on top with lots of grated Parmigiano cheese.

Makes 4 cups sauce

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Window Shopping at MAFBEX 2011

Baking Supplies and Equipment by Sinmag

I was at the Manila Food and Beverage Exposition last Friday with my friend, Leen. Spied a couple of really nice ovens and tasted quite a bit of food samples, but unlike before, I practiced restraint in purchasing. I came home with only a pack of my favorite Mongo Lite hopia from the Eng Bee Tin booth and a pack of 14" disposable piping bags from the Sinmag booth.

What I did not practice restraint on was snatching up every brochure and flyer I can get my hands on and snapping some photos to remember the event. As always, it is a well attended event and I can imagine why. The MAFBEX brings together food and beverage suppliers you would otherwise have a hard time locating all under one roof. I felt like a little girl let loose in a candy shop.

Mr. Ube by Eng Bee Tin Chinese Deli
Commercial Kitchen Equipment by Lowtemp Corporation
Fresh Mushrooms from Primefresh Harvest Inc.
Smokeless Charcoal Stoves by JY Fire Bricks

Monday, June 20, 2011

Dinner at Alma De Cuba

Baked Cuban Herbed Chicken
(Solo: Php165; Sharing-2 pieces: Php245)

Before my friend Mossy left for Incheon, Korea last Saturday, we had dinner at Alma de Cuba in BF Paranaque, one of the many interesting restaurants located along Aguirre Street. Funny that the first thing that I hear from her when she got to Incheon is "What to eat... What to eat?"

Ah. Friends and food, two of my favorite things.

Hope you find good places to eat there, Moss. Looking forward to your stories over dinner or coffee (maybe) when you get back.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Cooking for a Rainy Day

Cream of Mushroom Soup
Canned soup, I want none of the sort. They used to be okay for me before, they weren't bad. But once I've tried cream of mushroom soup made from scratch, my perspective on the subject changed. It's a simple dish, I know, but on a cold rainy day there's no other kind of food I pine for.

The recipe is from Simply Recipes. It's easy to make, except I have to mince my mushrooms by hand having no food processor in the house. Mincing up a pound of mushrooms is no joke, it's the longest part of the preparation for me. (Use fresh mushrooms, by the way, not the canned ones soaked in liquid. They are worlds apart in flavor.) Oh, and I make my chicken stock from scratch, too. That adds a couple more minutes to the prep time. But after all the ingredients have been prepared, cooking it up is breeze.

For garnish, instead of parsley, I drizzle about half a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil on the soup and some parmesan cheese. Lovely.

Cream of Mushroom Soup

1 pound regular white mushrooms, cleaned, quartered or sliced
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp minced shallots
1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 Tbsp water
Minced parsley for garnish

1. In a food processor, coarsely chop mushrooms and lemon juice.
2. Melt butter in (4-5 quart) sauce pan and lightly sauté shallots on medium heat. Add mushrooms, thyme and bay leaf, sauté over moderate heat for 10-15 minutes, or until the liquid that is released from the mushrooms disappears.
3. Add salt, pepper, cream and chicken stock and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
4. Add cornstarch and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Correct seasoning and add more lemon juice to taste.
Serves 4. Serve sprinkled with a little parsley.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Pampanga: Always a Food Trip (Day 2- Sun Down)

Prime Rib Roast
Maranao Grill's Prime Rib Dinner Special. A serving of eye-openingly thick cut of prime grade beef. My desired done-ness. Impossibly tender. Just the way I like my roast beef. Oh, and really nice gravy- not too much, just enough to amp up the flavor but without masking the taste of the roast. (I may or may not be writing in complete sensible sentences right now, but I am sure you get it.)

Marble Potatoes

Accompanying my beautiful slice of prime rib roast beef is a buffet of sidings- potatoes, both marble and mashed, mixed steamed vegetables, and spinach.


Rounding out the dinner are the staples- a breadbasket (yay!), soup, a salad bar, and a selection of desserts (cupcakes, baklava, brownies, and fresh fruits).

Executive Chef Francis of Maranao Grill

All in all, that Saturday night dinner was like the explosive finale to an already exciting action-adventure movie. Except that the action-adventure movie was my food-filled vacation. The action hero, instead of retractable adamantium claws, wielded a very sharp stainless steel knife and a meat fork. And the explosive finale was a prime rib dinner. Ta da!

Saturday Prime Rib Dinner Special 
(Saturdays, 6-10PM)
at the Maranao Grill located at
Oasis Hotel

Address: Clarkville Compound, 
Clark Perimeter Road,
Balibago, Angeles City

Tel. No.: +63458933301 to 03; +63456258301 to 03

Monday, June 6, 2011

Pampanga: Always a Food Trip (Day 2- Sun Up)

Dark Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes
The morning after. Rollyn woke me up the next day with a phone call. I forgot to give her the cupcakes I promised Friday night. (It was supposed to be this cupcake, but I ran out of semi-sweet chocolate for the ganache so I used Dove dark chocolate instead.) She called to say she was on her way to pick them up on her way to her class Saturday morning.

the Pub, at Oasis
It wasn't easy, waking up. Especially after that gluttonous night. It didn't help that we had a few drinks at the Pub right after dinner. Chiro, a very talented acoustic band, provided the entertainment for the night. They endeared themselves to us when they went out of their way to sing one of our requests even if that song were so way out of their comfort zone. The charismatic lead singer, Toni, did a phenomenal job nonetheless. I am officially a fan.

Maranao Grill Breakfast Buffet
Where was I on the food... ah, yes. Upon waking up, we had breakfast, or more precisely, brunch. We had a hearty one expecting not to have a proper lunch anymore in preparation for another- ahem- epic dinner. Saturday night means Saturday Prime Rib Dinner Special at Maranao Grill.

Sumo Sam's Red Iced Tea
The afternoon was spent at the Marquee Mall for some window shopping. Not having had lunch, we eventually succumbed to some light snacking at Sumo Sam. Their Red Iced Tea (Php98) is one of my most favorite bottomless drinks of all time. There is hardly a hint of tea in it, if you ask me, but I love its refreshingly citrus-y taste. 

Crunchy Squid
I also ordered Crunchy Squid (Php208). It is your upscale version of that squid concoction laced with a red, sweet, salty, spicy, powdery seasoning you get from stores that offer champoy, kiamoy and beef jerky and stuff like that (Yes, the ones displayed in what look like ancient apothecary jars in most Chinese specialty food stores).

After that, it's back to Oasis for some more serious dining.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Pampanga: Always a Food Trip (Day 1)

Shrimp Tempura

This weekend, I ate so much it is ridiculous.

Buffet Policy
I don't know why my favorite Cabalen, Rollyn, likes doing this to me. Every time we came over to visit her in her hometown, it's always marked by food binges killing whatever resolve I have left to keep to a respectable diet plan. I cannot  complain though. Pampanga being world-famous for their delicious cuisine and concomitant love for all things food, I can't really say I am without fault in eating a lot when there.

Knowing this, I should have said no and ran the other way as fast as I could when Rollyn invited us again to visit her and stay for the weekend. But you wouldn't believe how that girl can be very convincing when she put her heart into it. To make it worse, I was tag-teamed by Rollyn and her fellow Cabalen and my tukayo, Tin, so it wasn't really a fair fight. In short, I said yes to another food fest in Pampanga.

Roast Beef
Roast Leg of Lamb

Roast beef, roast lamb, sushi, tempura... How can I resist, really. Still, good food and the promise that you can have as much of it as you want is a deadly combination and not for the faint of heart. Good thing my heart is still pretty strong. And- oh, I know I will regret saying this but-- we only live once, right?

Assorted Sushi and Maki Rolls
Sashimi sliced fresh as you order

Friday's destination was the Maranao Grill at Oasis Hotel, located along the Clark Perimeter Road (Don Juico Avenue). Not my first time, having had dinner there a couple of visits back, but it was the first time I got to try the Friday RST Buffet Special. RST stands for Roast Beef and Lamb, Sushi and Sashimi, and Tempura and, for only Php850+ per head, you get to have as much of it as your belly can hold.

Mushroom Kebabs
Fried Dumplings

Inclusive of the buffet are the usual accompaniments-- appetizers (mushroom kebabs, fried dumplings, gyoza, etc.), side dishes (mashed potatoes, mixed steamed vegetables, kimchi rice, etc), desserts, and a salad bar. There's also a breadbasket served right at your table the minute you hunker down for the meal. (I like breadbaskets. Can't explain why, but I do!)

Pecan Pie
Gateau Gloria

Unlike most buffets, dessert at this buffet was definitely not an afterthought. There was blueberry cheesecake, canonigo, Gateau Gloria, assorted fresh fruits, and many other sweets that would satisfy a sweet tooth like me after a hearty dinner. My favorite was the Pecan Pie. (My heart still flutters when I think about it.)

And that was just Friday...

Maranao Grill
RST Buffet Special (Fridays, 6-10PM)
at the Maranao Grill located at
Oasis Hotel

Address: Clarkville Compound, Clark Perimeter Road,
Balibago, Angeles City

Tel. No.: +63458933301 to 03; +63456258301 to 03

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Of Vacations and Leen's Cupcakes

It's her party. We spent a weekend at Anahaw Island View Resort in Calapan, Oriental Mindoro a month ago for my friend Leen's birthday. Though the actual birthday party was on a Saturday, we stayed there from Friday to Sunday. In short, we made a full-blown vacation out of the trip. We had a nice quiet afternoon stroll on the beach the day we got there, right around sunset such that the summer weather was not so punishing. The next day was not as mellow though. We boarded a vehicle and drove through rough roads to right around the foot of Mount Halcon to get to Lantuyan river where I spent more time roughing it out climbing rocks and whatnot rather than frolic in the river (I crossed the hanging bridge, honest!). The day's adventure left us positively famished for dinner. Fortunately, dinner after the river was a veritable feast. And this was what we had for dessert:

Chocolate Marble Cupcakes
Leen, a pastry chef, created this chic cupcake tower for her party.
Her company, Cakes by Leen, makes not just awesome cupcakes but cakes for all occasions as well.

(This is my 100th Sweets and Desserts tagged post. Yay!)
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