Sunday, August 22, 2010


Breakfast fare has become so popular nowadays, short order food stops have mushroomed around the city. Fast food chains, with their unrelenting advertising on TV and billboards, are top-of-mind when it comes to set breakfast meals which contains a cup of rice, a side dish of end and a fried dry viand, usually traditional breakfast fare of tocino (preserved reddish, sweet pork cutlets), longganisa (sweet and spicy sausage) or beef tapa (salted, spiced dried beef).

Rufo's, a smaller food chain serving short-order and all-day breakfast meals, did one better over the bigger fast food chains with their saucier famous tapa.

The Rufo's branch I visited, located in the Ortigas area, was a small air conditioned space sitting beside open air carinderias that cater to the telemarketers, students and office personnel. I was having brunch so the breakfast crowd had ling since gone back to their office cubicles and stuffy classrooms. So when I ordered  the famous tapa, it was served pretty fast.

The meat was tender but the serving was spare. The sauce is similar to adobo took away the distinct saltiness of tapa we are used to. It was also too extended with starch, like adobo-flavored pares (sweet beef stewed) so it left me a bit confused.
I did love the eggs over easy which rounded off the sinangag and tapa combination. Coffee please!

It's The Weekend!


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Kabab Cravings @ Arya

A few days back, I found myself hungry for all things Persian. So when I found myself at The Promenade in Greenhills, I got myself an outdoor seat at Arya. 
The restaurant's menu tries to familiarize its dining clientele with the Persian culture and cuisine, its owners probably wanting to entice diners to try the wide variety of dishes beyond the kababs and shawarmas we Pinoys have grown to love. The verbose menu also explains that Persian dishes are "spiced" and not necessarily spicy, one common misconception about Persian cuisine.

Standard Persian and Indo-Aryan dishes like Roti served with curry sauce;  dips like Hummus (chickpea mash), Tzitziki ( cucumber and yoghurt- a personal favorite) and Motabal (pureed eggplant); Kababs (beef, chicken, lamb or even fish) available as barg (diced) or koobideh (ground) served with Basmati or long grain rice.

Since it as a late snack to early dinner meal, I decided to try out something I haven't had before- Sambuseh,  deep-fried, crispy chickpea and cheese dumplings served with a spiced brown chutney sauce. The dish plating was kitschy with the cute  little Iranian flag-n-a-toothpick stuck to one of the dumplings.

One measure of a restaurant serving regional food is how they serve the staple dishes of the region. Since I am obviously not an Iranian who grew up eating kababs, I have no way of telling the authenticity of the taste (this is when you wish you had traveled to or had friends from the place).

 Judging from the way the mildly-spiced beef kebab was cooked tenderly without it turning cold and greasy during the course of the meal. I'd say it was a good kabab. The steamed basmati rice, lightly flavored with melted butter was a perfect match to the beef and grilled tomato.

With the meal I had a yohgurt drink with rose water, a common ingredient in Persian cuisine. It is not the popular Iranian youghurt drink, Doogh, but more akin to the Indian Lassi.
The drink took some time to get used to because of the unfamiliar sourness but as you eat more of the beef, you realize that the yoghurt compliments the kabab ensemble.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Cappuccino Infused with Salted Caramel

Got myself a different kind of drink today at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf... Cappuccino Infused with Salted Caramel.  

The foamy concoction, served in a wide-brimmed cup, looked promising. And so I took a sip without mixing it and it was an explosion of tastes: salty, sweet and bitter. I proceeded to mix it and took another sip. It tasted better but the salt grains hadn;t melted yet and it was a little too salty for my taste.
It's an interesting mix but I'd like to go back to my regular frothy drink please.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Cheff Jessie's at the Rockwell Club

Nothing takes away a bad day like a well-seared foie gras. 

So when I was having one last week, A., decided to treat me to dinner at Chef Jessie's @ the Rockwell Club, formerly Le Souffle. With our good friend, E., we had a quiet dinner to ease the nerves and please the palate.

I know some people consider it evil food. But I beg to disagree. Evil. it's not.  Sinful, yes. 

I am not an expert on fatty goose liver as it is not exactly everyday food but I have to say that my previous experiences have ranged from disappointing  (at the overrated Bistro Filipino) to mildly interesting (pate de foie gras served at a friend's private party). So far, Chef Jessie's has been the best I've had.
Served with grilled Shitake mushrooms, the overlapping buttery taste of both the liver and mushroom is complemented by the naturally light saltiness of the scallops, the cottage cheese and the parma ham. The bed of greens gives the dish a refreshing touch and a contrasting texture the silkiness of the grilled ingredients. The salad is highly creative in its mixture of tastes and textures. Sinful, no?

I had errantly ordered apple juice instead of a nice glass of full-bodied white wine. I hope though, that there will be another opportunity for me to correct this.

Before we had our entrees, we shared a small dish of cheese, spinach and mushroom souffle. It had a very rich filling, rendering the accompaniment of white cream sauce inutile. Next time, I will give the dessert souffles a try. Maybe that would be a better souffle experience.

For my entree I had Angus beef, medium rare with bourguignonne  gravy. It was done well to my liking but the foie gras experience just simply filled my head. So I cannot say much about the steak, except that it was filling.

A., by his standards, was adventurous with the tartare fish salad. He was not partial to the salmon which he found too abrasive and left his tongue itching. It was the pretty looking salad, though.

And thus, he reverted to his comfort food, the chicken adobo which he found interesting as it was not overtly salty and oily, the way home-cooked adobo is made, yet, it still had an adobo-ness that is familiar to the Pinoy taste buds.

E. ordered the shrimp salad and the blackened fish topped with a piquant sauce.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Got the chance to grab a quick dinner with A. at Som's near Rockwell last Sunday. 
The Thai restaurant, which became famous for its home-cooked Thai dishes and the outdoor dining set-up has moved in to this new building since January of this year. The old apartment which used to front the carinderia-like facade has been demolished. The new interiors gives an old Binondo feel, reminding me of Ma Mon Luk only this time the photo menu on the wall features Phad Thai and Pandan Chicken, and instead of Buddha, you see the King of Thailand's portrait. IEating here now feels different  from the past dining-on-the-street experience but somehow you still get the quirky vibe of the old place.

Since it was just a quick meal, I ordered the prawn salad. At first glance, it doesn't look Thai nor Asian. The secret is in the fish paste-based vinaigrette. You have to spoon the salty and sour dressing to make sure it coats the fresh greens. After shelling, dip the boiled fresh shrimp in the dressing and eat with a forkful of the veggies. Then you'll understand why this salad is on Som's menu.

A. had the pork in oystersauce and Bagoong rice. Personally, I never enjoyed the bagoong  (fish paste) that comes with the rice as I find it too sweet. Though I don't mind the added tamarind flavoring that they mix into the fish paste. 
 The pork was okay. A bit too hot for A.'s very Pinoy taste buds.

Will definitely come back here for the Phad Thai,  fried Lapulapu and choco-soy drink. Until then, Som's.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Binagoongan sa Guinamos For Ladies Who (Really) Lunch

I love it when I get to spend time with my girl friends. 

And lest you imagine me and my friends to be a Sex and the City kind of femme posse, let me cut your wild imagination short. Real women don't look like movie stars (or for those with a more active imagination, the only semblance real women with porn stars are smaller portions of mammarial glands and hairier, less lubricated girly bits). We have no skin that inspired God to create alabaster, and on good days,  our lips are red and pouty because we got duped by the sly SM saleslady into buying the newest shade of red lipstick that comes with a free gift. 

No, we are not hags. We are just real.

And when we lunch we do the real thing. No half-finished salads and liquid diets. 

Today. I am lunching with one of my besties and I made for her a sinful dish of Binagoongan in Guinamos (Ilonggo dry shrimp paste).

Here's  the recipe. Enjoy it with your besties.

1/2 kg. pork (adobo cut, liempo or countrystyle spare ribs, make sure to get some fatty parts)
1/2 kg. guinamos
1 head of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 cup of water

Place the pork in 1/2 cup of water and let it boil to soften the meat. When the water is fully reduced, brown the pork in its own fat. Add the garlic and then the guinamos.

Add the remaining water depending on the consistency you like. 
Serve with raw or blanched vegetables.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Home Made Corned Beef...the recipe finally!

Patience is a virtue. Based on this premise, it takes a saint to make home-made corned beef.
Thas is my excuse for this long overdue recipe.

It is easy to make your own corned beef.  You just need the right ingredients and time because the beef  takes about three (yes, 3) weeks to cure.



  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 teaspoon saltpeter *
  • 1 beef briskets**, .8-1kg.
  • 12 garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons pickling spices
  • 8 bay leaves
* Saltpeter̊ is known commercially as potassium nitrate and is used to give the meat a pink coloring.
̊If saltpeter is unavailable, I have tried using  or 1 tbsps. annato (achuete) powder and 1 Tsp meat tenderizer.

** You can use bottom round roasts, if you want leaner corned beef, although I much prefer the fatter brisket portions.

1 Tsp. ground cinnamon
1 Tsp. ground mustard seeds
1 Tsp. ground black peppercorns
1 Tsp. ground cloves
1 Tsp. ground allspice
1 Tsp. finely crushed rosemary
1 Tsp. ground nutmeg
1 Tsp. ground  oregano
1 Tsp. ground  dried ginger

Boil water. Add salt and saltpeter, stir to dissolve and set aside to cool. Place brisket in a large crock, zipper-style plastic bag or other non-metallic container. Pour salt water over meat and add garlic, pickling spices and bay leaves. Meat should be submerged; use a weighted jar to hold meat under pickling solution. Refrigerate or set in a cool place for 3 weeks. I use a felt pen to put the dates on the zipper-style plastic bag so I know when I can  take the corned beef out. Drain and remove bay leaves and garlic bits before cooking.

After taking out the brisket from the ref, thaw it well and then boil it in medium fire for about an hour. then let the stock simmer for about 2 hours. Then you can chop and shred the beef into the size you want. Chunky pieces can be cooked with whole cabbages, carrots and onion while shredded pieces can be sauteed with garlic and onions.  

The Happy Horse

I always thought this was an urban legend, until a friend chanced upon a bottle of Red Horse with a smiling equine on its front label.

He also pointed out that the print on the Happy Horse bottle is in yellow.

Wagyu Beef Rocks!

A friend recently treated us to a nice dinner at the House of Wagyu Stonegrill in the New Eastwood Mall. It's one of the must-visit places if you like a good steak.

This particular piece of Striploin steak is served raw with a sprinkling of rock salt on a bed of volcanic rock brought in from Mount Vesuvius. The slab is heated up to as much as 700 degrees and allows you to grill your dinner to the level of doneness you prefer. 

I like my steak medium rare. So I have to make sure to finish the 220-gram steak before the center gets all browned up. This was an easy task to do since the high-grade beef was well marbled and therefore, soft to the bite. The steak comes with soup and  vegetable sidings.

You may end up smelling like grilled beef after a meal but it's well worth it.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Wasabe pasta fail

A few weeks ago, I had dinner at the Old Spaghetti House and ordered a Wasabe Alfredo Linguini. Something new that I wanted to take a pic of but my old phone conked out. Like my phone the dish  was a fail, though not of epic proportions. The wasabe kick came in three mouthfuls too late, the mango was slightly sour and the sauce was too watery. Tsk..tsk...tsk...

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

English pancakes

Had family from UK visiting us these past few weeks. One of the benefits of having relatives at our house is they share the kitchen duties. My sister-in-law was great enough to cook these Mango-filled English pancakes for merienda a few days back. Yum!