Friday, December 11, 2009

Corned beef!

Made corned beef from scratch today. Four hours of boiling meat kept me up. And I needed to stay awake. After three days of being in a quasi-zombie state of mind due to cough medicine, I needed to catch up on work. Slow food cooking helps keep me on my toes and my eyes open. It allows me to think, cook and write in the same time frame. I love slow food. I love my corned beef!

It's now 2 AM and I have corned beef made from scratch with boiled cabbage and baby potatoes.

Never got to measure the ingredients so will write the recipe up when I get to do it again.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Off Days and Pinoy Pizza

There are some days when things just don't seem to work for you. That day used to always be Monday for me. But now that I've gone freelance, it surprises me that Tuesdays, Wednesday, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and heck, even Sundays can be off-days.

It is  on such days that our tiny kitchen is filled with dirty dishes and leftovers are called lunch. One recent easy to cook snack on my off days is my recently discovered Pinoy Pizza. You can vary the ingredients, depending on what's available. I have put in my recommended alternatives below the recipe.

Pardon me if this intro is short. it is an off day, after all.

Pinoy Pizza

2 small Frozen Pizza crust
250 gms or 4 packs of Kesong Puti (Cheese from Carabao's Milk), sliced
2 Itlog na Pula (Red Eggs), sliced
1 medium-sized boneless Tinapang Bangus (Smoked Milkfish), crumbled
4-6 pieces of medium-sized native tomatoes, sliced
150 gms Queso de Bola (Edam Cheese), grated


Thaw the frozen pizza crust.
Slice the Kesong Puti into 1/4 inch thick slices. Wipe away any liquid.
Place on top of the crust covering as much crust as possible.
Place the sliced tomatoes on top pf the kesong Puti.
Crumble the Tinapang Bangus and layer on top of the tomatoes.
Add another layer of sliced tomatoes
Sprinkle the grated Queso de Bola generously.

Pre-heat your oven toaster for 10 minutes at 250degrees. Bake the Pizza for 10-15 minutes or until the crust edges get that toasted look or turn dark brown.
Slice and serve.

For Kesong Puti- Cream Cheese (but if you use this, use the Queso de Bola sparingly)

For Tinapang Bangus- Bottled Spanish Sardines or Tawilis (take out the bones and feel free to sprinkle a little of the oil on top of the Pizza

For Queso de Bola- Cheddar

For Itlog na Pula: Sorry I haven't found a suitable rd egg altenative. What you can do though, is to take out the pizza  5 minutes before it's fully cooked, crack a raw egg on top (you can use quail eggs, too)  and put back the pizza in the oven.

For the frozen Pizza crust- you can use white bread or pan de sal cut in half.

You can also add:
- onion rings (best if marinated in pineapple juice or honeyed calamansi juice for at least 30 minutes
- Pineapple tidbits
- Chili flakes (sprinkle after taking the Pizza out of the oven)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Maturialism and Melty Kisses

IceCreamists photo from 

I subscribe to a site that looks out for global trends and Maturialism is one of the trends they listed. for 2010. These marketing seers predict that "rawer, more opinionated, more risqué, more in your face than ever before" cyber folk will come (pun not intended) to the forefront of  online content. Some sort of online sexual revolution.

IceCreamists, is one of the entrepreneurs they featured in the article. I've never tasted their  naughty,  creamy delights and I am adamant about food that is all about the concept. But the store looks intriguing and their saucy website is definitely entertaining on its own.

Food and sex have always been intertwined. Humans have visceral reactions to  any kind nourishment and  reproductive activities. Combined, food and sex can cause spontaneous combustion.  I guess I only have to say 9 1/2 Weeks and you'd get what I mean.

My biggest food turn on has always been chocolate and the first chocolate that ever brought out the Maturialist in me was Melty Kiss.  Bloggers have waxed romantic about it and recently I waxed (pun intended) erotic about it.

I am not a poet and this is my most recent try at writing something other than prose. So please forgive me if I disappoint and I hope you will be gentle in your reviews. After all, this is me popping my maturialist cherry.


There you sit
In a pretty little box
Waiting to be plucked

Here I stand
Reaching out for your
Bittersweet promise

Trembling fingers
Unwrap you

I bring you closer to my parched mouth

The heat of my breath
Melts you

My lips touch your velvet skin
A sigh.

Our kiss is nothing but a prelude

Between my fingers and my mouth
You lie naked
Willing me to take you
I part my lips
To let you in

Gliding, sliding
Your smoothness creating friction
Against the roughness of my tongue
You melt
Like my lover’s back
My wet pink flesh on your skin

A river wells inside my mouth
Flooding my body with passion

Sweeping me to the shores of Paradise

I taste sweet
salt and sugar
Bitter brown
Sweet bitter salt
I moan your name
And press my tongue to my palate
Your nectar flows
Filing me with dreams
Of wine and fruits
Of leaves in meadows

A prayer escapes my lips
I bathe
In your goodness
I close my eyes

And take all of you in
One last time
Before you become

A memory.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Johnny Rockets New Eastwood Mall, Libis

Last night was a date night with A. We watched the brilliant  Joseph Gordon-Levitt  swap spit  with the wide-eyed Zoey Deschanel in 500 Days of Summer.

Then we strolled around and A.  let me  slobber over the window displays of the shoe stores within the mall. Before we called it a night, we decided  to snack at Johnny Rockets, a 50s-style  Diner.

The server, Jeng, was a darling-- attentive and all syrupy smiles. The place was well-lit and the music, powered by a jukebox in the center of the resto, appealed to my old soul. And if, like us, you got seated in a booth with a mini jukebox, you can key in your song request via the contraption. And it costs only a peso! The Johnny Rockets franchise has the nostalgic ambience blueprinted well. It reminded us of  similar food joints that were considered a novelty in our heydays...Sam's Diner  at Quezon Ave and Rosie's Diner in Malate.

The food, however, sent us tumbling down cafeteria memory lane. As it was a midnight snack we decided not to order any of the burgers which were the specialty of the house.

A. got the egg salad sandwich which he found bland.

I shared his side salad which I found boring.

The snack was getting depressing.

And the  melamine dishes on which they were served only reminded us how much the resto was overcharging us for food that was fit to be served in a hospital cafeteria.

It was truly a sad moment when my onion rings and fries combo was served. Jeng's seemingly sincere smile couldn't wipe away my disappointment with the six pieces of dry onion rings and one dozen sticks of fries she placed in front of me. It was a sorry, overpriced excuse of a snack. Tsk... tsk.. tsk... 

Maybe we should've just shared a burger. Maybe we should've just stuck to the fastfood joint across the street. Maybe there will be no next time for us at Johnny Rockets.

I am not one to usually complain. But  really, these international franchises should know better! Good ambience and service will not make up for lousy food (unless it's served on top of a naked Joseph Gordon-Levitt).

I'm not angry, just disappointed. I do hope their burgers taste better than the sucky stuff we got served because it would be doubly disappointing for Jeng to lose her job because the owners didn't do theirs.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Boys! Boys! or How to Make a Meal Out of Martian Brains

Halloween was never an occassion celebrated by my family as I was growing up.

My first and only Halloween Trick or Treat experience was around ten years back when my then ten-year old baby bro' Angelo and his friend Bernard decided they would try their hand at amassing sweet treats from Bernard's neighbors in a gated community in Marikina. 

   Angelo and Bernard then...

Bernard's dad, Chito, and myself played costume master and mistress, borrowing Roman soldier costumes ---complete with toga, helmets and sandals--- from another friend,. When the boys went out in their costumes, Chito and I realized that we had just dressed two boys in flimsy white skirts, something that they'd probably never forgive us for when the pictures resurface via Facebook.

A few hours later, the boys returned with a bagful of candies, plastic toys and unhappy faces. Apparently, they realized that the homes they visited towards the end of their Hallow's Eve jaunt were already having supper.  And when they were handed their treats, they were disappointed  because the tired and hungry boys wanted to be gifted with rice and adobo instead of sweets!

They are now both in the cusp of adulthood and are on the brink of facing the truths of life that turn boys into men. But Angelo and Bernard will probably always be those pre-pubescent boys in my eyes.

   ...Angelo and Bernard today.

Here's a Halloween recipe for the boys...

Martian Brain Noodles

1.5 kg Malunggay pansit
1 cup pork,  sliced into thin 1 inch lengths
1 cup Pork or chicken liver, cut into ¼ inch cubes
1 cup Chinese sausage, cut into ¼ inch circles
1 cup Shrimp, shelled, deveined and halved
1 cup tenga ng daga, softened and cut into 1 inch long strips
1 ½  cups Squash, cut into 1 inch high triangles
250 grams tofu
500 grams wombok
4 ½  cups water
3 tbsps soy sauce
1 tbsp Kutchai, minced
1 tbsp garlic, finely minced
1 cup onion, finely minced
1/4 cup cooking oil
1 shrimp bouillon cube
Salt and pepper to taste

Place pork in ½ cup water and add a dash of salt. Allow water to boil and the pork to become tender. When about 1 tbsp of water is left, add the Chinese sausage. Turn fire to low. Allow the remaining water to cook the sausage and bring out the oil of the pork to brown the meats.  Add cooking oil, garlic and onion. Then add the liver and tofu. Sautee until brown.

Dissolve the shrimp bouillon cube in 4 cups of water and add to the mixture when the liver is almost cooked. Add in the tenga ng daga, and squash. When the squash is slightly tender, add the shrimp and soy sauce to taste.

When the shrimp changes color, add the malunggay noodles and mix gently. Add the rest of the ingredients. Mix gently for five minutes, making sure to evenly distribute the ingredients and keep the noodles moist.

To serve,put a helping of the noodles in a bowl and mold. turn over to a plate and garnish with vegetables.


Friday, October 30, 2009

Wine and STD

I just discovered five minutes ago that doing research on sexually transmitted diseases  (STDs) is best done while imbibing something with alcohol in it.

The research is for work and the white wine, a Freixenet Cava, is for the sanity.

According to the website there are an estimated 1.25 million Filipinos affected by Chalmydia, one of the more common sexually transmitted diseases in populations where men are circumcised. In the Philippines, this disease was popularized by Kris Aquino, when she decided to do  her bacterium-infested laundry in public during her controversial split with  ex-basketball player slash actor slash politician Joey Marquez in 2003. Though many of us do not appreciate her predisposition for the dramatics, she may  just have  single-handedly caused the  decline  of the disease's  incidence by half over a period of 5 years. Finally, something we may have to thank her for. Maybe.

Enough of the icky stuff.

I am no sommelier but I can appreciate the chilled white Spanish wine I have been drinking straight out of the bottle. The Australian Trade Commission's export market study for Australian wine-makers  gives an indication of my taste for wine- it is as common  as Chlamydia. I am like any average Filipino wine drinker: I like my Jesus juice white, chilled and fruity. 

The Cava, or the Spanish equivalent of champagne is made in the "méthode champenoise" or “Champagne method,” which is the same method that is used to make Champagne, France. In 1872, Josep Raventós Fatjó of the Codorníu estate had supposedly produced the first Cava in Cataluña, Spain. He liked what he made so much that he had a cava  or cellar dug up to store the wine. Thus, the name.

It is also cheaper  (or more accessible, if you want to be polite about it) than the real French Champagne. What I am having now is the semi-seco grade which has about 33-50 grams of sugar per liter. It is sweet, fruity and pedestrian. In the wonderful world  of wine lovers,  it is not sosyal at all. But this bottle I have just topped off does not need to be sosyal  to be special. I had won it in a singalong contest at Taumbayan, a QC resto owned by friends. This bottle is a testament to both the  declining entertainment standards of my friends and the strength of our friendship, since they haven't denounced me after the unabashed display of my (non-existent) singing skills.

And before sobriety catches up with me,  on this night of alcohol and STDs, to my friends at Taumbayan, I raise my bottle of  Cava. Salud!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Our kitchen is very small. A writer had once described it as "only a few paces wide". I want to buy a better stove with a built in oven slash rotisserie. But before I do that I have to:

1. Save up for baking lessons
2. Take up baking lessons
3. Reconfigure the kitchen space
4. Earn enough money for the purchase of a dccent oven
5. Decide on which stove/oven to buy

When I do get the chance to get that piece of kitchen equipment, I will cuddle it and love it and use it and give it a pretty name. In the meantime, I will dream of ovens tonight.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


The rainy season always brings back memories of my years growing up in my grandparents' house in Bignay St., Project 2, Quezon City.

Having been born in Davao and raised as a toddler in Iloilo,  I never had a taste of typhoons until the time I moved in with my Lola Pacing and Lolo Greg when I was in grade one.

Lolo Greg and Lola Pacing
(photo courtesy of my cousin, Lora Capule)

Lolo Greg is a WWII veteran, who for a time was countryless and now lives in the very same country that once denied him citizenship. He has always been quiet, dignified and  gentle.  My first memory  of him was when I was six, watching him cut the backyard grass with shears and a bolo.  My Cousin Jenny and I would play and stop only to listen to him tell stories about the Bataan Death March. Afterwards, he would share with us a packet of Growers peanuts and Pop Cola. If we pestered him for more stories, he would get rid of us by bribing us with a shiny Twenty-Five centavo coin to buy Chocnut or chocolate eggs wrapped in foil. My cousin and I would refuse his bribe and demand for a Ten Centavo coin for each of us, which he would oblige us with. We thought were outsmarting him because two coins were always worth more than one. 

Almost every weekend, he would take me and my cousins to Balara to swim.  Lolo Greg could do ten laps in the pool without much effort and almost always ended his swim with two laps of his signature butterfly stroke. After his swim, he would then herd around 8 of us to ride the JD bus home.  He is never one for corporal punishment. He never even needed  to raise his voice. He could scare us out of misbehaving with simple stories. Whenever one of us grandkids would spill rice from our plates or have leftovers, he would calmly reminisce  how he used to receive one belt whipping for every grain of rice that fell off his plate or did not finish. His veiled threat  never got put into action as we would always finish up everything on the plate. Lolo Greg, my only surviving grandparent, was the cool persona that was opposite to Lola Pacing's fiery one.

Lola Pacing passed away several years ago. Her wake was a big to-do, after all she was the matriarch of a family with 13 children and more than 50 grandchildren. She was also popular in the community having served as a Baranggay Quirino 2-C councilor for many years. Each night at her wake was a fiesta. Mayors sat beside tricycle drivers. Artists mingled with bankers.  People she had helped out once shared stories with relatives from Iloilo. The number of people who showed up at her wake was a testament to how truly beloved she was by those whose lives she touched.

She lived up to her name, Pacencia. Although she would call us out for misbehaving or getting the house dirty, she would rarely lose her temper. The only time she lost her patience with me was when I played in the rain even if I had a cold coming.  After hours of racing paper boats in the street canals, I went to the backyard fishpond and caught fish which I "cooked" using the clothes iron.  Lola Pacing was not very happy with my experimental cooking method. Drenched, shivering and high with fever, she gave me  the  only  corporal punishment in my entire life-- an ass whacking with walis tingting (a broom made with the spine of coconut leaves).

Lola Pacing did make it up to me at dinnertime, making Laswa, a hearty  Ilonggo  soup made of vegetables. Since then, the soup has been one of my favorite rainy day comfort food. I recently served it to friends when we had a post-Ondoy powwow. It is also one of the few vegetable dishes that I can get A.  to eat without any violent reactions.  

 Ang Laswa ni Lola Pacing using saluyot (jute) leaves

Laswa  is similar to the Ilocano Dinengdeng but is more soupy and less salty. The simplicity of the flavor never fails to bring me back to the time when life was so uncomplicated.
Ang Laswa ni Lolo Greg using alugbati (Malabar spinach) leaves

Her ingredients are what one can usually find in the wet market. Because of the onion, this version has a homier taste to it.

4 cups water
1 piece small onion, quartered
3 pieces medium-sized tomatoes, quartered
1/2 cup fresh shrimps, shelled and deveined (keep the head for the stock)
200 grams kilo squash (calabasa), cut into 2" squares
200 grams string beans (sitaw), cut into 2 1/2" lengths
200 grams okra, cut into 1" lengths
1 big piece eggplant (talong), cut into 1/2' inch thickness 
2 cups saluyot (jute) leaves
salt to taste

Boil  shrimp heads in water. When the shrimp heads turn pink, take them out of the water . using a strainer, squeeze excess juice from the heads with a spoon.  Add tomatoes and onion in the boiling water. Once the water boils again, add in the vegetables, starting with the squash. Once the squash turns slightly tender, add in the string beans, okra and eggplant. When the vegetables are cooked, add in the jute leaves and salt to taste. Mix and remove from fire when the saluyot turns a shade darker.

Serve hot with crispy danggit (dried Rabbit fish) on the side.

He grew alugbati in the vegetable garden behind the house. The use of alugbati and winged beans make the dish more hard-core Ilonggo for me. I don't know why. it just does. I find his process simpler, too.

4 cups water
3 pieces medium-sized tomatoes, quartered
500 grams dried shrimp (hibi)
200 grams kilo squash (calabasa), cut into 2" squares
200 grams winged beans (sigarilyas), cut into 1 1/2" lengths
200 grams okra, cut into 1" lengths
1 big piece eggplant (talong), cut into 1/2' inch thickness 
2 cups alugbati  (Malabar spinach) leaves
salt to taste

Boil  tomatoes and dried shrimp in the water. Once the dried shrimp becomes tender, add in the vegetables, starting with the squash. Once the squash turns slightly tender, add in the winged beans, okra and eggplant. When the vegetables are cooked, add in the Malabar spinach leaves and salt to taste. Mix and remove from fire when the saluyot turns a shade darker.

Serve hot with crispy baby galunggong (Mackarel scad) or tawilis (fresh water sardinella) on top.

This blog is dedicated to Lolo Greg and the love of his life,
Lola Pacing.
Thank you for taking care of me.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Kiss the Cook Cafe

It has almost been a month since my last post. The series of typhoons and all the incoming work had kept me too depressed to write about food and too tired to make anything in the kitchen.

Yes, A. and myself have been living mostly on fast food deliveries, canned goods and left overs these past few weeks. I thought I would never get out of this processed food rut.

And today, I got a lip-smacking experience that made me sit-up and write... Kiss the Cook Cafe.

This cozy cafe is situated at 59 Maginhawa St., UP Village, Diliman, QC, across Holy Family School. Friends have been raving about the place since its soft opening last 19 October. A. and I finally got the chance to dine there tonight.

For starters, A. picked the Crabstick Mango Spring Roll with Nouc Mam dip. Once dipped,  the mix of  the slice of sweet mango, fishy crabstick and the neutral rice paper wrapper is coated in the salty sour  goodness of the dip. The dip is the rock star in this wrap and roll experience.

I had the  Curried Shrimp salad with grilled pineapple and curried cabbage. I am not a big fan of curry but this unusual mix of familiar tastes was a new experience for my palate as far as salads go.

We asked for the best pork dishes. A. got the  Asian Braised Pork Belly and I had the Five-Spice Spareribs (a.k.a. ang pinakamasarap na piniritong baboy sa balat ng lupa). As I am a guiltless pork-lover, nothing makes me happier than soft fried fat melting on my tongue.  So, this dish is a declared winner in my book. Augie's braised pork sauce was, thankfully, not overwhelming as some Chinese restaurants tend to make.
We capped our dinner with a dark chocolate gelato and Bailey's dessert, Truffette.  If you get off on chocolate, dig deep into this dark dessert and you'll pop a cherry by the time you get your last spoonful.  This dessert got me all worked up and I forgot to take a photo. All I have for you is the spent, empty cup of the highlight of my first time at Kiss The Cook Cafe.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Taking a break for Ondoy Survivors

If you are abroad and looking for ways to donate but don't want to send it to government agencies, I suggest you send it to private foundations who would have resources to buy goods and disseminate them to typhoon Ondoy survivors.

Here are the links that should take you to pages that allows you to donate by sending cash or check and via credit card.



I understand they're waiving remittance fees for donations from abroad. 

For people in the US- American Red Cross at 1.800.435.7669. Please choose the 3rd option - international donation and let the operator know that your donation is for the Ondoy typhoon vi...ctims in the Philippines.


I know it's different from actually holding out your hand to console someone who's survived a tragedy but we do all we can. Anything that helps will be appreciated.

Another way for us to prevent this from happening is to let others know how pissed of we are with the national, local governments and the NDCC for not being prepared. Because this was a real WTF moment where you find yourself scratching your head and asking yourself. "Where did all our taxpayers money go?"

Natural disasters are inevitable in this time of extreme climate change and we need a government that realizes this and acts on it. So please do exercise your right to vote in 2010 and exercise it by educating yourself, the new voters in your family, your househelps and their families. Ask them to really think about who they think can do good for them and not base their ballots on who has the the loudest celebrity endorser or cutest campaign TVC--to look at track records and to understand and ask about political platforms.

Sadly, it is in horrific moments like these that you  get to realize how much you love the Philippines and  your fellow Filipinos.  But we don't all need to be dead heroes to show our love. We just need to be citizens who do our part.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Not so Hot- baked fish

Made baked fish last night. Cream of Dory with Chorizo de Bilbao, bacon and butter.

It sounded good on paper but the dish had too much going on. I will need to work on the thickness of the vegetable slices, the layering and the liquid that the baking process produces. I'm going back to work in my small kitchen soon, when I'm done with all my writing commitments.  It may take some time before I can post the recipe here. Well, you can't win 'em all.

I did discover a new recipe for open-faced burger. Will post the easy-to-make recipe soon.

Ciao for now :-)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Maybe Mocha Banana Shake

I have recently found myself exercising.

Yes, it's the activity that involves moving the body around and sweating like a pig (which by the way is a misnomer because pigs don't have sweat glands). Motivated by my upwardly mobile waistline jumping from size 6 to a size 8, I brought out the running shoes and turned on the TV for an hour of stretching, bending, leg lifting and toe touching.
I turned on to music video channel No. 1 and landed on the appropriately-titled music video of Pedicab's dance-punk song Simulan Mo Na.
Click here Simulan Mo Nato watch the video

Then the program host went on. Her high-pitched voice and inane blabbing made my head spin as if I was jogging and smoking at the same time. So I switched on to music video channel No. 2. As much as I appreciate Mariah dissing Eminem for his ungentlemanly comments in her Obsessed video, she's just too much and so were the blonde teeny boppers whose video came out next. There were too many blondes and boobs on the screen.

So in between arm rolls and windmills, I channel surfed and caught the last gap of Nigella Lawson's old cooking show. The luscious fruit and cream dessert she was eating made my heart beat and my leg-raise repetition faster.

Then, the next program began- Anthony Bourdain's No Reservation- Spain! Ah, the motherland of all things fatty and salty! This may sound weird but the sight of chorizos, clams and cheeses just helped me sweat through 90 crunches and 90 butt lift reps. Whew!

For me, watching a good food show is motivation enough to keep the pounds off. That way  I can eat more and still fit into my (not so) skinny jeans.

Here's the link to the 5-part video of No Reservations Spain

The Maybe Mocha Banana is my version of a health shake. There's enough sugar and potassium in it to give you energy for a good work out and some caffeine to perk you up. It's got fresh fruit in it so doesn't actually score zero on the health score card (*wink).


4 pieces ripe latundan bananas
1 cup low-fat chocolate drink
1  cup all-purpose cream
1/2 bar dark chocolate  (approx. 75 grams)
1/4 teaspoon coffee granules (make sure it's strong-tasting coffee)

Peel and cut the bananas into 2 inch portions. Put the banana, low-fat chocolate drink and 1/2 cup of the all-purpose cream in the blender. Blend until the drink has a smooth consistency. Add the coffee granules and blend for 30 seconds. Add more low-fat chocolate drink, as desired.

Put some ice on a tall glass and pour the shake. Whip the all-purpose cream  lightly and slather on top. Grate some dark chocolate and add straw. Serves 3-4 persons.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

When Makati Was My Version Of Hell

This is a previouly posted blog. I used to work in Makati but gave up a lucrative corporate job because I couldn't take the daily commute anymore. Believe me, I've tried all kinds of transportation. Heck, I even learned how to drive. It just didn't work for me. 

Whilst working in there,  I discovered Apartment 1B, a cozy resto with good food and a charming doorman/guard named Aga who was a one-time champion whistler in one of Eat Bulaga's crazy music contests. So these days, when I do find myself in Makati's Salcedo Village area, I try to drop by and have a cuppa and a cake. The last one I had was the White Toblerone Cheesecake. 

Here's a an edited version of one of my worst nights getting stuck in Makati. The coffee shop mentioned is not Apartment 1B because they do serve alcohol. Dig in!


Makati. Bright lights. Bleak city.

I’m sure many of you will disagree, but for me a rainy pay day Friday night in Makati just about appropriates hell. And Satan, in a plush red velvet chair high up in a penthouse office is directing the traffic. His minions, disguised as taxi drivers, tirelessly circle the concrete jungle, stopping to splash bystanders with murky rainwater before speeding away, with their undecipherable hand signals that could very well mean, “I’m stuck here in hell, fucker, so you should be too!”

I used to work in Malabon, the land of patis, pancit Malabon and relentless flooding. Many of my friends felt I got a first class upgrade when my office transferred to the country’s business capital.  I had my misgivings.

Being a truant Makati girl, I refuse to own a car and drive, despite my company’s standing offer to get a company car. A friend recently described me as a corporate hippie. Someone who refuses to look like and live like she works in this urban haven called Makati. Though I do not report for work in my tsinelas (It’s against company policy as our recently released Employee Handbook declares), I do go to work in jeans and jersey shirts.

But I digress.

On Fridays, our office closes at 5:00 PM. It’s four and a half hours later and here I still am in the coffee shop in our building, ranting silently on my computer. After years of working here, I have had the wisdom to realize that cursing, screaming and thrashing on the wet pavement will not get me home to Quezon City. And fanning this flame of hatred I have towards this place is the fact that this coffee shop, the only place I can get to without being soaked by the torrential rain, does not serve anything with alcohol in it. Not even Java mocha blend with a splash of Green Cross rubbing alcohol.

I feel like flipping everyone here in the coffee shop.

There’s that table of plain janes gossiping about the office beeyotch whose i-pod nearly broke when she dropped it while showing product sample pictures and way too much cleavage to their married expat boss.

The couple seating across me have opened their laptop and are uploading monthsary pictures on their shared Friendster site. Remind me to puke on them later before I leave.

Three salesmen, oblivious to everyone around them, are sharing the sexploits of a colleague who snagged a pretty young thing while on his recent provincial assignment. They all hope he gets STD.

In my head, I am Honey Bunny in the opening scene of Pulp Fiction. I stand on my chair and brandish a wicked looking gun and shout “Each one of you Motherfuckers enjoy your last night in hell! I’m now gonna shoot every fucking last one of you!” With madness in my eyes, I blow the brains out of everyone in the coffee shop, sparing the kindly waiters who look at me with pity. I run amok and have my own weekend party strafing down all the taxis that cross my path.

But I don’t have a gun on me now. Neither do I have the strength to shout as six hours of watching people be happy has drained me of all the fight I have left tonight.

It is nearly 11 PM and the coffee shop is closing. I leave a tip and take a last sip of the now lukewarm cappuccino I ordered three hours ago.

Makati wins tonight.

I drag my peep-toed cold feet on the pavement wishing that I wouldn't have to be here  on the next rainy pay day Friday.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Bad Banana Chips at 1521

I was a history geek in elementary and high school.  Getting myself exempted from the final exams of Ms. Galang, our Grade 6 elementary teacher was one of my proudest moments as a nerd.

Fast forward 25 years later... I am at 1521, the year-old resto of a former elementary classmate, Tanke. It is our class reunion and Tanke is showing me her graduation photo with Ms. Galang beside her. The photo brings a smile to my lips as do the gathering of the people in front of me. Usually class reunions are a gut-wrenching experience, what with having to fend off questions about not having children, weight gain and upwardly mobile careers.

Last night was different, though. Everyone seemed so much more comfortable and the talk flowed as freely as the food and drinks.  Throughout the night, one or two people would cringe when they would be called by their complete first names, the ones that we have been able to hide from colleagues and clients. The names only our mothers would use if they were mad at us.  

It was a night of rediscovering our shared histories and connections. All of us thanking technology for keeping us in touch, making us all realize that the world isn't as big as Magellan probably thought it was.

I am sure to write more about all the delicious fare that 1521 offers, so watch out for it. In the meantime, I leave you with a pic of the resto's highly addictive Bad banana chips and a bit of musical history from Yoyoy Villame :-)

1521's Bad Banana chips are hot!


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Green Apple Sardines and Queso de Bola & Parma Ham Omelette

Apples are evil.

Eve. Snow White's stepmom. Aphrodite.

It is part of the villainess 101 tool kit. Luring men to cause wars, putting innocents to eternal sleep and cursing all of humankind to hell on earth. But if you think about it, without the apple, Eve wouldn't have procreated with Adam, Snow White would've found  love in a less dramatic moment and we would never have drooled over a skirt-loving Brad Pitt in the movie Troy. It is the necessary tool of evil that move stories forward.

I had at one time in my work life encountered an apple in the form of a fax message to my staff rallying them to bring my bitchy ass down. Get me fired. Ruin my life. Make me sorry for working them hard. I bit the apple and went through one of the lowest points of my career, turning me to depression. Those dark days, the kind where only the people who truly love you can stand to be with you, forced me to simplify my life. Depression can unravel you until you are naked to the core.

And then you move on. At least I did.

Of the many simple things that gave me joy back then was eating guisadong sardinas with a plate of steaming rice and an omelette on the side.  Here's one of my versions of this comfort food classic featuring that evil little fruit, the apple.

Green Apple Sardines
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 small onion, sliced
1 can Ayam Sardines
1 small green apple, cored, peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 teaspoon light soy sauce
2 tablespoons water, optional

Sautee garlic in cooking oil until it turns golden brown, then add the onions. When the onions turn translucsent, add the green apples. Stir for a minute or two then add the sardines and soy sauce. You can add a little water as you mix in all the ingredients.  Let it simmer for a couple of minutes.  Serve warm.

Queso de Bola and Parma Ham Omelette

½ cup grated Queso de Bola (Edam Cheese)
½ cup Parma Ham, chopped
3 eggs
Pepper to taste
1 tablespoon cooking oil

Beat eggs lightly. Put the pan on low fire and heat the oil. Then, add the eggs. When the eggs turn firm,  place the ham and the cheese on top. When the eggs become more solid and the bottom turns brownish, slide it off the pan on to a plate. Serve hot.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Hubby Hubby - Ben & Jerry's celebrates Gay Marriage

I hope that the ice cream and same-sex marriage will both be available here  in the Philippines in my lifetime.

Here's the link...

Cafe Adriatico, Gateway Mall

Tonight was spent with friends in Cafe Adriatico at the Gateway Mall, Cubao. Although it does not have the old world appeal of the older branch in Malate, it still has cozy ambiance with its dark, wooden furnishing and baldosa-style tiles. The space is  made to look bigger with its steel and glass façade and mirrors on its backwall. Oh, and there is an outdoor area for smoking patrons.

I do go back here for the big helpings of Pinoy comfort food. My favorites being the Pastel de Lengua (stewed Ox tongue) and the Ensaymada with Chocolate Eh (swirly brioche topped with grated Edam cheese and thick hot chocolate drink). 

But tonight, our meal consisted of Baboy na Sinigang sa Bayabas (a sour soup made with guavas and pork), Pinaputok na Plapla (Giant tilapia cooked in vinegar with slices of  bittergourd and eggplant), Pinakbet (vegetable mix sauteed in shrimp paste), Caldereta (beef stewed in rich tomato sauce) and Kangkong Lechon (swamp cabbage sauteed in blackbeans and oyster sauce and topped with slices of crispy pork belly). There were also orders of Hainanese Chicken Rice and Arroz Caldo with Tokwa't Baboy. 

All the dishes were consistent with anything I've previously ordered there, which is why I don't mind going back to this place. The favorites for the night were the Caldereta and the Pinaputok na Plapla,
Pinaputok na Plapla 
but  I have to say the Hainanese Chicken Rice was the prettiest meal of the night.
 Hainanese Chicken Rice


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Shout out 2

My heartfelt thanks to friends who've read the posts, especially on the Chicken Redux Cream Soup. Ella, Direk Noel, Miej, Uge, Makil, Joel, Ferdie, Liwa and A., of course.

Chicken Redux Cream Soup

It's raining hard and long where I am. This kind of bed weather brings in a lot of memories-- naughty, nice and nasty.

I made my first chicken redux soup on my first year of living together with A. It was the first time I got a bad case of colds with my fever running as high as a dog's IQ.

A. went to work that day, leaving me with my cold meds and a light peck on the forehead. Before the meds could kick in, I was feeling really down and was leaking water from my eyes like a storm cloud because I realized that I missed my moms- my biological mom, my stepmom and A.'s mom. No one was getting mad at me for getting myself wet in the rain. No one was trying to make me put on three tons of clothing to bring the sweat out. I didn't have anyone to lay their palm on my forehead to check if I was still hot. For the first time in my adult life, I wanted my mommy! 

Any one of them. All three of them.

I fell asleep after  my dramatics had subsided and the meds began kicking in. When I woke up hungry, there was nothing in the ref but left over fried chicken. I was too parched to eat anything dry. When I saw the packet of cream of mushroom soup, I got the idea for Chicken Redux Cream Soup. ☂

At least 2 pieces of left over chicken (any part), minced; skin and bony bits included
2 cups of water
1 small onion, diced
1 can button mushrooms (approx 200 g.), diced
1 can of cream soup (mushroom, chicken, asparagus)

Pour all ingredients on the pan, including bony chicken parts, let boil in medium heat or until the soup consistency is to our liking. Take out chicken bones and ladle yourself a bowl. Should be good for 2-3 helpings. Add salt and pepper to taste.

☞ Use grilled, steamed, broiled or baked chicken if you don't have any fried chicken left overs. Using left over chicken from dishes with too much sauce doesn't work well.

☞ Use fresh vegetables: potatoes, carrots. peas, corn  

☞ Using powdered cream soup:
Pour 1 cup of water into the pan together with the onions, mushrooms, minced chicken and bony chicken parts. Boil in medium heat. Add 1 packet of powdered cream soup diluted in 1 cup of water. Simmer in low heat until consistency is to your liking.

☞ Instant Congee version:
If you have left over white rice, add the rice to your hot soup. I do this when I am too lazy but know that I need a little bit more than soup to fill me up.

☞ Noodle soup version:
Follow the instructions on the noodle soup packet  but add the chicken with the water. This way, the chicken water absorbs the flavor of the chicken.

Chicken soup, the ones with real chicken in it has supposedly been scientifically proven to help cure colds according to this CNN article

Shout Out

I just want to give a shout out to Tito Rye for coming over to the site so quickly for his Calderetang Tisay Recipe. Miss you much, love you much, 'bro! Hope that recipe kicks ass in your next get-together or lands you much sexy time with your stud (*wink, *wink)!


A few years back, I caught a local TV show featuring caldereta (beef stewed in tomato sauce and liver sauce) and there was something about the steaming hot meat that called to my inner chef.

I had a long, tiring week at work then but that weekend, I made the dish with what was available in the kitchen. 

My first try, using packed caldereta sauce mix was a success with the hubby and our regular house guests.

Eventually, I developed this recipe using ready-made ingredients that are constantly available from the supermarkets I frequented. I also got inspired by Jamie Oliver’s English stews and my dad’s old school caldereta recipe.

My HK-based friend Rye christened the dish after I served it to him. He remarked that it was the first time he’s had caldereta with olives and chorizo. Mostly, what he’s had would only have green peas, potatoes and carrots in it. You have to understand that most of my friends (including me) are were brought up in lower middle class families where ingredients like olives and chorizos are luxuries. As Rye put it, “pagkain ng mayayamang mestizo.” From there, my caldereta dish gained a nickname and a following amongst friends.

So, here’s the recipe, from my home to yours.

1 Kg   beef brisket sliced into 3 x 2 inch pieces
water  just enough to cover the meat
500    ml beef stock
4 pcs La Reina Chorizo de Bilbao sliced crosswise into ½ inch rings
4 cloves garlic, skinned
8 cloves garlic, minced
2 pieces onions, medium
1 tbs olive oil
2 tbs soy sauce
¼ cup pitted green olives, sliced crosswise
¼ cup pitted black olives, sliced crosswise
800 grams whole peeled tomatoes, canned
400 grams diced tomatoes, canned
200 grams champignon (or button) canned mushrooms, slice in half
2 cans Reno liver spread (85 gms. per can)
15 pieces marble potatoes, cut in half
2 pieces carrots, diced
1 piece green bell pepper, diced
½ tsp ground oregano
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp dried basil
¼ tsp dried pepperoncini or chili flakes

Clean the beef and place in a pot. Pour water, making sure that it rises above the meat by at least 1 inch. Add 4 cloves of garlic. Cook in high heat. When the water turns to a rolling boil, set the heat to medium and continue boiling until the meat is tender. Separate the beef from the stock. Set aside.

☞It usually takes a minimum of 2 hours to make beef tender without using a pressure cooker. I usually cook mine for 3-4 hours so the beef becomes as soft as corned beef.

When the beef is tender, place a deep wide, frying pan over medium heat. Heat the olive oil and add the Chorizo de Bilbao. When the chorizo is cooked, add the garlic and onions.

☞The chorizo is cooked when it becomes firm and the oil has seeped out of the sausage, turning all ingredients reddish or brownish.

Add the beef and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce. When the beef browns a little, add all the liver spread, tomatoes and mushrooms. Mix well. Let it simmer for 10 minutes.

Heat the last 2 cups (the parts with the bits of meat) of beef stock. When it boils add in the potatoes. After 5 minutes add the carrots and celery.

Pour the beef and tomato mixture to the beef stock with vegetables. Add the oregano, pepper, dried basil and soy sauce to taste. Mix well. Do not cover and let the liquid evaporate to make the sauce thicker. Simmer for 10 minutes, then add chili flakes. Mix and add the bell pepper and olives. Simmer for 3 minutes.

If the sauce has not reached the consistency you like, remove the meat and vegetables and let the sauce simmer in low heat until it reaches your desired consistency.

Serve hot for 5-7 of your friends.

Beef cuts- I usually buy a 50/50 mix of the pochero and caldereta cuts from the supermarket but you can also try a short ribs and pochero combo.

Beef stock- 1 beef bouillon cube diluted in 500 ml of water.

Chorizo de Bilbao- I use the La Reina brand from Shopwise/Rustans because it’s saltier but you can use the ones that you can buy at any high-end deli (Terry’s or Santi’s) or use 1 can of Purefoods Chorizo Bilbao (using the lard that the sausage is preserved in as oil substitute is not for the faint of heart). The chorizo lends it saltiness and a different layer of pork fat to the dish.

Olives- you can just use green olives I black olives are not available. Capers can be used as substitute.

Celery- you can use more carrots if you can’t find any celery. This adds sweetness to the stock.

Marble potatoes- use regular potatoes. Leave the skin on. You can also opt to fry it separately and add it last. I prefer boiling it, though, as the starch helps thicken the sauce.

*Photo by Elmer Gatchalian