Monday, April 30, 2012

About the Fish in Fish and Chips


Beer Battered Fish
The last two posts are about sweet potato chips and beer. That they are followed by this post therefore is only logical... Sure there are a lot of establishments that serve fish and chips. But I thought about making fish and chips at home because I am finding it increasingly difficult to find restaurants that had fish other than cream dory in their fish and chips. I do not like cream dory that much, which could get frustrating on days when I feel like a proper plate of fish and chips. If I make my own fish and chips, it means I get to choose what fish to use. My top choice has always been lapu-lapu. The batter that envelopes the fish is also a big thing for me. I like it light, airy, and crackly and I have come to realize that no batter satisfies these criteria better as beer batter.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Buffet 101: An Introduction to Eating

Buffet 101
Monday to Friday Lunch - Php699; Monday to Friday Dinner - Php950;
Saturday Lunch Php799;
Sunday Lunch and Dinner and Saturday Dinner Php1,050
Lunch yesterday was at Buffet 101. Chandeliers hang from the ceiling and comfortable seats deck the spacious, well-lit dining area. The place is huge and more importantly, teeming with food.

For starters, there are all kinds of soup. For the day, it was Seafood Chowder for me. It comes in a bowl crowned with puff pastry. It's a pretty little thing. I enjoyed picking the puff pastry off the bowl as I spooned through the soup.

There is roast beef, of course. Among the many sauces that they offer with it is the gravy with porcini mushrooms. I love this gravy. I imagined getting a plate of rice and just having it with this gravy, but I just didn't have the heart. There is a grilling station where you can choose from seafood, beef, pork, lamb, and poultry to be grilled fresh and delivered to your table.

There is a section for Chinese food specialties like noodles, dimsum, and roasts. My favorite here is the roast chicken wrap (much like how Peking Duck or Suckling Pig is wrapped) which I generously lace with asado sauce and eat with my fingers. I could eat ten of these in one sitting if I didn't eat other stuff from the buffet. Further down the table is an aquarium with live suahe which is steamed fresh by order.

There is a Japanese food option as well, where you can have your fill of shrimp tempura and many different kinds of sushi and sashimi. For dessert, there are all sorts of cakes, a halo-halo station, and even a crepe station where you get to order freshly made crepes with your choice of filling. But if you're like my sister, you would have fun with the frozen yogurt machine. You get to dispense as much frozen yogurt you want and sprinkle it with all kinds of toppings. Finally, for no additional charge, you get unlimited drinks, be it lemonade, coffee, or even fresh fruit shakes.

Buffet 101 MOA is located at Seaside Blvd, San Miguel by the Bay, SM Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay City, Philippines.

Contact Information:
Tel: 556-2888, 556-3888, 556-9888. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Bottoms Up at San Mig Pub

San Miguel Beer Light
Cana - Php45; Mug - Php70

San Mig Pub has been serving up fresh draft beers in Alabang Town Center ever since I can remember. It is a cozy watering hole, but it is spacious with lots of tables and comfortable chairs and couches. Once in a while, rock bands would play here transforming the otherwise peaceful pub into an roaring yet intimate concert venue.

Anyway. I just gotta tell you about the beer. I am not a big beer drinker but somehow I could tell the difference between those served in San Mig Pub and those served in any other establishment. Be it bottled or draft (although maybe even better draft) as long as it is from San Mig Pub, somehow the beer here just tastes a lot better.

I said this before and I will say it again-- I have never had San Mig Light as fresh as those they serve up in San Mig Pub. Much like when I got to drink Coke right from the bottling plant during a field trip back in grade school. Maybe it is just the power of suggestion, the pub is after all named after the maker of the same beverage, but whatever it is it has made a fan out of me. Next thing I want to talk about is the burger. They serve a fantastic burger in San Mig Pub... But I will reserve that for another post. Right now it's all about the beer.

Cheers!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

"Camote" Chips


Sweet Potato Chips
Camote or Sweet potatoes are a big thing in our household lately. My mother regularly buys them by the kilo in the local market. These are not your regular native camote though. Pinkish-orange and rather smooth skinned rather than beige-toned on the inside and brown and rough on the outside. My mother calls them "imported" camote because most of them are from Taiwan. Although I swear I have heard her say that some were from Baguio.

Bulgogi Brothers'
Kalbi Jiim
This fondness for sweet potatoes developed after we had dinner in Bulgogi Brothers where they served boiled sweet potatoes as part of their appetizer freebies. Now boiled sweet potatoes are staples in the house, always available on the table just waiting to be snatched up by anyone who needs a quick food fix.

I personally am not a big fan of the boiled sweet potato. But I do love 'em fried. Below is the recipe for crispy Fried Sweet Potato Chips. I prefer them plain fresh out of the fryer with maybe some ketchup for dipping. But others may prefer to sprinkle the chips with salt or sugar, to taste.

Fried Sweet Potato Chips

Ingredients

Vegetable oil, for frying
2 large sweet potatoes, washed

Directions

In a large sauce pan, heat oil to 325 degrees F using an oil/candy thermometer. 

Thinly slice potatoes into round chips. Place the sweet potato chips in a bowl of ice water. Dry the chips thoroughly. Par-fry the chips in batches for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from oil and drain on a paper towel.

Raise oil temperature to 350 degrees F. Cook par-fried chips for another 2-3 minutes or until crispy but not brown. Remove from oil and drain on a paper towel.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Craving for Buffalo Wings

Brother's Buffalo Wings
"Some people like to eat Buffalo Wings accompanied by celery stalks and blue cheese dressing because it dampens the pain. These people are wimps."

-Jake Richter

Check out Jake's Famous Buffalo Wing Recipe, here. While I do not claim to be a devotee of nuclear buffalo wings, I do prefer mine on the spicy side. As for crispiness, of course I want my Buffalo Wings crispy. This is tricky considering that Buffalo Wings are doused with sauce after being fried, which should cancel out crispiness if you do not have your technique down pat. That is why I prefer my Buffalo Wings breaded before being fried because the breading seems to hold the crispiness better. Take note though that classic Buffalo Wings, as in Jake's recipe, are not breaded before being fried. My brother's recipe however, entails breading and they are excellent Buffalo Wings. I guess it is just a matter of preference.

If you are not one who is adept in the kitchen and you are not fortunate enough to have a brother who will make them for you whenever you get that sudden craving for crispy, spicy, and saucy wings, I recommend going to the nearest Flaming Wings restaurant. They have branches in BF Paranaque, Taft Avenue in Pasay City, and Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City. Flaming Wings' Buffalo Wings come in different flavors and served with your choice of dressing. My flavor of choice- Jamaican Jerk.

I must confess though, that I do like some blue cheese dressing with my Buffalo Wings.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

My Very Own Herb Garden

Herb Garden
I was very impressed at how a lot of big name establishments went out of their way to celebrate Earth Day last April 22, 2012. Rustan's Supermarket in Power Plant Mall, for instance, did not use plastic bags for your groceries on that day but brown paper bags. Plus they sold their reusable shopping bags, quite a good looking bunch I might add, at half price off. It may be a small thing for some, but I believe that the decision of some local governments in this country to ban the use of plastic bags in their localities is a major step in helping out the environment. Recyclable shopping bags are "in" now, and I am loving it!

Sage and Sweet Basil

Still under the influence of Earth Day, I guess, I set out to start my very own herb garden. I have been thinking about it for quite some time now. Ever since somebody accidentally cut down my passion flower vine, the plant box that I used to grow it in has been empty, waiting for something to happen..

Thyme
Mint
Rosemary and Tarragon

But I put off trying to plant another thing in it on account of the summer heat which, I think, no self-respecting culinary herb would stand for. This notwithstanding, I decided to throw in some herbs in my plant box-- thyme, rosemary, sage, sweet basil, tarragon, and mint. I am hoping I thought wrong, and the herbs actually grow up healthy and abundant despite this heat.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

10-Hour Roast Beef at Bizu

10-Hour Roast Beef
Php595

Bizu Patisserie has always been known for French Macarons, but it also serves up some really good meals. Their blueberry french toast-- made with brioche, blueberries, and cream cheese-- for instance, has always been one of my favorite comfort foods. (What is not to love about warm cream cheese oozing out to play with tangy-sweet blueberry preserves every time you cut into that egg-soaked and butter-toasted brioche?) In addition to good food, another thing that I find so inviting about Bizu is the store itself. I love the brightly-lit interiors that is characteristic of Bizu which, in addition to the high ceilings, purple velvet seats and macaron-colored walls, give off an air of whimsy.

Yesterday, however, I found myself in Bizu not to satisfy a sweet tooth but a dinner-hungry belly. We ordered the 10-Hour Roast Beef and Pumpkin Soup. The whole meal came in generous portions, good enough for two people. The Roast Beef is certainly tender, something that one should reasonably expect from beef that has been roasted for long hours. The potato gratin that came with it also begs to be mentioned. It is heavenly, creamy with just enough cheese on top, and it paired perfectly with the roast beef.

Pumpkin Soup
Php165
We pulled all the stops by ordering Pumpkin Soup. Definitely not a light soup, for me, this soup falls in the same category with roast beef in heartiness and I probably broke at least five "gourmet commandments" by having both in one meal. I adore it nevertheless together with the equally heavy main course. It bursts with the flavor of pumpkin and made even more lovely (although maybe less healthy) with a good dollop of cream.

Bizu Greenhills is located at The Promenade, Greenhills Shopping Center, San Juan City.
Contact Information:
Tel No.: 724-2498 - 7262496

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Squeeze the Day with Jamba Juice

Strawberry Surf Rider
strawberries, peaches, lemonade, lime sherbet
small - Php135 / medium - Php155 / large - Php195

"Jamba Juice is for heroes."

-Sheldon Cooper, Big Bang Theory

Any Big Bang Theory junkie knows that it is hard to please Sheldon. So when in one episode he said very kind words about Jamba Juice, it sealed the deal for me. I just knew I had to try it. It was provident timing  then that when I got that crazy thought, Jamba Juice opened its doors in Alabang Town Center. It was Easter Sunday when I finally got my own Jamba Juice.

The place was packed when we got there (at 10PM!) which was fine by me because while we waited our turn, I had enough time to scope out the menu. I decided on Strawberry Surf Rider. It has all my favorite fruits and flavors in it--strawberries, peaches, lemonade, and lime sherbet-- so it was not such a hard choice. All fruit and no artificial sweeteners- one swig and I feel healthy already. I bet it would be even more refreshing on a blazing hot summer afternoon.

Bring it on, summer!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Shabu-Shabu and Yakiniku at Thousand Cranes

Shabu-Shabu Sauce
with satay paste, green onions, garlic, chili, and raw eggyolk
Dinner yesterday was at Thousand Cranes to satisfy two persistent cravings. One is for shabu-shabu, something that I have been having a huge craving for for the past few days already. Two days ago, I thought I was going to satisfy that craving, but a funny twist of fate led me to Tempura Japanese Grill. Taking my seat in the restaurant, a poster for eat-all-you-can yakiniku (aptly dubbed "Grill UnlimEATed") caught my eye. (Irresistable deal for only Php495 per head, and it even comes with unlimited rice and drinks.) So I ordered that. But with my poor luck and the fact that it was less than an hour to closing time when we got there, of course I was politely told by our server that they were out of stock. That leads us to my second, albeit more recent, craving- yakiniku.

Yaki Shabu Yakiniku
Php250
Kalbi Yakiniku
Php265
Thousand Cranes serves both shabu-shabu and yakiniku, and having dinner there last night was like hitting two birds with one stone (pardon the pun). For shabu-shabu, we ordered a Vegetable Set. For yakiniku, we chose an order of Kalbi and an order of Yaki Shabu. It was quite a lot of food, enough for two people.

Vegetable Set
Php250
Eating shabu-shabu is probably my favorite way of eating vegetables. Whenever I think that I have been eating too much greasy, "meaty", food for several days, shabu-shabu is my go-to detox meal. Maybe it is  psychological, but I genuinely feel healthier after I have had shabu-shabu. As for the yakiniku, sure, it may go against my intent to detox, but, well, I am making no excuses, I just want it.

Thousand Cranes Shabu-Shabu and Yakiniku Restaurant-Alabang is located at:
Unit 209, 2nd Floor, The Commerce Center, Commerce Avenue corner Filinvest Avenue, Alabang, Muntinlupa City

Monday, April 9, 2012

Couscous with Sun-dried Tomatoes

Couscous with Sun-dried Tomatoes

Cafe Mediterranean offered a couscous salad for a limited time. I liked it so much I ordered it every single time I went to Cafe Mediterranean, that is until they stopped serving it. That particular dish ignited my love affair with couscous and even more so, sun-dried tomatoes. Truth be told, I always have a big jar of Bella Sun Luci sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil with herbs and spices lying around in the house. I use it to make all sorts of pasta dishes and I eat it together with fried fish. Yum! And when I found a bag of dehydrated Bella Sun Luci sun-dried tomatoes in the grocery, I was beside my self in glee. I would snack on it like a normal person would potato chips.

Since I missed having my couscous salad at Cafe Mediterranean, I tried to make my own at home, using a recipe from AllRecipes here. The photo above, however, is a variation of the original recipe which came about mostly because I was not able to get portobello mushrooms and fresh herbs. I find this an easier recipe to work with because it calls for ingredients that are easier to keep for longer periods of time in the house and hence readily available whenever the craving hits.

Couscous with Sun-dried Tomatoes

Ingredients

1 cup sun-dried tomatoes in Olive oil, cut in strips
1 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup couscous
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 tbsp. dried basil leaves
1 tbsp. dried cilantro
1/2 lemon, juiced
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Place the sun-dried tomatoes in a bowl with 1 1/2 cup water. Soak for about 5 minutes. Drain, reserving water.

In a medium saucepan, bring to a boil reserved sun-dried tomato water. Stir in the couscous. Cover, remove from heat, and allow to sit 5 minutes, until liquid has been absorbed. Gently fluff with a fork.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Stir in the sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, and green onions. Cook and stir about 5 minutes, until the green onions are tender. Mix in the basil, cilantro, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.

Toss with the cooked couscous to serve.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Celebrating Easter with Peanut Butter "Cups"

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcake
Peanut butter and chocolate has been the flavor of the moment, thanks to a huge bag of Reese's peanut butter cups that found its way to our house after the recent S&R sale. Inspired by this, I thought about making chocolate cupcakes and frosting them with peanut butter icing. Yup, exactly like a Reese's peanut butter cup. I already have a recipe for chocolate cupcakes here. So I baked a batch of those. Then I used the peanut butter icing recipe by Ina Garten that I found in the Food Network website here.

Peanut Butter
Chocolate Cupcake

background: Cream Cheese
Chocolate Cupcake
Ina Garten's recipe for peanut butter icing is light and fluffy and most importantly (for me at least) not so sweet which makes piling a big beautiful dollop of it on a cupcake not a big deal. (In case you're wondering, the recipe is good for 15 cupcakes. So if you're making more than 15 cupcakes, make sure to adjust accordingly.)

The resulting Peanut Butter Chocolate cupcakes are quite delightful. I like it so much in fact that I am going to make another batch to celebrate Easter Sunday.

Happy Easter everyone!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Good Friday at Mushroomburger

Mushroomburger
Fastfood Restaurant
As expected, traffic was pretty bad coming home from Tagaytay this Good Friday. On the way home, we decided to grab some takeout for dinner at the iconic Mushroomburger fast food restaurant. Boy, were there just as much people lined up there.

We drove to Tagaytay to visit some chapels, and to escape low-land heat. We went a bit father that Tagaytay though...

Monte Maria Chapel
Transfiguration Chapel of Caleruega
Among the chapels that we visited on Good Friday was Monte Maria Chapel in Alfonso, Cavite and Transfiguration Chapel of Caleruega in Nasugbu, Batangas.

Mushroomburger Address:
Brgy. Kaybagal along Aguinaldo Highway, Tagaytay City, Cavite
Philippines
Landline:
(046) 413-1330

Friday, April 6, 2012

Moussaka at Mano's Hellenic Tavern

Moussaka
I have been meaning to dine at Mano's Greek Tavern ever since I saw it set up shop along what I have always referred to as the Picnic Grove side of Tagaytay. Mano's boasted of serving only authentic Greek cuisine and that was enough of a selling point for me. Adding to the authentic allure of Mano's was the establishment itself. It was a quaint-looking squarish building with white washed walls and blue painted wooden chairs and tables. It reminded me a lot of the scenes from Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants which were shot in Greece.

View of Taal Lake from Mano's Hellenic Tavern
When I actually got around to trying out Mano's Greek cuisine though it was at what I refer to as the Tagaytay Vista Hotel side of Tagaytay and it was called Mano's Hellenic Tavern. I am not quite sure if they have moved or if the old place was temporarily closed for renovation. The driveway to Mano's Hellenic Tavern was quite steep and getting to the restaurant proper requires you to walk down an even steeper set of stairs. The rather perilous trek down the rocky stairs (particularly so if you are wearing wedge sandals methinks) is worth it though as it leads you to a dining area that gives you a stunning view of the Taal Lake.

Saganaki
Greek Bread
The menu of Mano's Hellenic Tavern is quite limited, compared to say, Cafe Mediterranean or even Cyma. But truth be told, I was really only looking forward to trying out their Moussaka, which is, thankfully, included the menu. In addition to Moussaka, we ordered Saganaki and Greek Bread. The dishes came in generous servings and it made for a satisfying lunch.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Beer in my cheesecake?


Beer Cheesecake
 Php1,000 / whole cake
Beer Cheesecake
Php140 / slice
Yup, that's what I thought when I first heard about this cheesecake by Food Lab. I believe I am a purist when it comes to cheesecakes, choosing plain old New York cheesecake over flavored ones. In fact, I am quite smitten by Food Lab's New York cheesecake myself. It is creamy without being too much, and it is not overly sweet, which is quite a feat for any cheesecake maker. I must say it's one of my favorites. But that doesn't mean I don't enjoy the occasional Triple Decker cheesecake (Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf) or Saffron and Date cheesecake (Don Limone) once in a while.

Chef Kevin Mize
Meet Chef Kevin Mize of Food Lab. Now there's a guy that specializes in the unusual when it comes to cheesecake flavors. And dark lager is just the tip of the ice berg. With flavors such as wasabi ginger and chocolate sili labuyo churning out of their kitchen, it seems like no less than imagination is the limit for Food Lab.

Cheesecake Sampler
From left: Peanut Butter and Chocolate, Beer, New York
Another best-seller among their "quirky" cheesecakes is the peanut butter and chocolate. Can you imagine- cream cheese, peanut butter, and chocolate all rolled into one heart-stopping dessert? The thing about reading about how something tastes like though is that you never really know what it tastes like even if you have read about it a million times. So if you are curious how these strange-sounding flavors work, head on over to Midnight Mercato. Chef Kevin is there every Friday and Saturday from 10PM-3AM offering free samples of his cheesecakes.

Contact information:

Email: foodlabinc.ph@gmail.com
Location: Mercato Centrale, Bonifacio Global City
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