Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Wingman @ the Collective

I am a fan of buffalo chicken wings. So far, the best buffalo wings I've ever had from Chili's. Aside from a cold bottle of San Miguel beer premium or Cervesa Negra, it is the only thing I order from there.

When I heard about Wingman @the Collective, I took the time to visit is and sample the goods.

Living up to its name, the place has nine flavored wings: Classic Buffalo, Asian Invasion, Honey Mustard, Mango Barbeuce, Garlic Parmesan, Honey Garlic,  Lemon Pepper and Hickory Barbecue.
Since I could only split an order of one dozen wings into two flavors, I decided to order the classic and, as recommended by the staff, the Lemon Pepper.

The marinade for the Classic Buffalo was very American in flavor- the sourness of the vinegar is the first and last thing you'll notice. It was a mistake for me to request a toned down level of spiciness, a good chili kick would have made the experience better. Thankfully, they did not sweeten it to suit the Filipino palate. The Lemon Pepper had a surprisingly well-spiced salty-sour marinade that works well for chicken. The restaurant staff did well in recommending this flavor.

The shortcoming of the experience was in the Blue cheese dip and the vegetable dip. I like my buffalo wings with the more aromatic celery and, a blue cheese dip where the tanginess of the blue cheese adds a layer of saltiness that complements the sourness of the Buffalo Wings. 

To go with the chicken wings, I also ordered the Home Run Sliders. Three mini-burgers in different flavors of my choice: Chimichurri (a blend of garlic, parsely, vinegar and chili) ,  Cowboy (bacon, caramelized onion and smoked hickory barbecue sauce) and Wingman (buffalo sauce with blue cheese). Hands down, the Cowboy burger wins.

And for dessert, I sampled the oddly titled Fried Coca Cola. A sundae like concoction with deep-fried Coke- flavored batter, whipped cream, chocolate syrup and a cherry topping. Dolled up like a classic 1950's diner Sundae, it was one of the prettiest desserts I've ever seen.

However, it fell short in the taste category. The Coca cola flavoring in the batter cannot be appreciated either because there was too little of it or there was too much whipped cream. It tasted like  glorified "Maruya" (banana fritters in batter), leaving me wondering why food that looks and sounds this good  cannot taste as good?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Carinderia Buffet

Lazy Sundays have become a rarity. So when we do have time to spend, I cook familiar food like sinigang or adobo that we can share throughout the day (and sometimes even through the next days). But there are times when we seek a restaurant that serves good home-cooked food. After all Sundays are family days, even in a household of two.

Several weeks ago, we got our lazy Sunday and since I was too lazy to cook, we decided to try out a newly opened restaurant that looked promising- Carinderia Buffet alongV. Luna Avenue.

Buffet for less than a hundred bucks sounds like manna for the freebie-loving Pinoy. I think the restaurant owners we smartly named the restaurant after the Philippine common street eatery, the "carinderia". There is no promise of anything fancy, only familiar food for the budget conscious. The place itself is unpretentious, open-air with square tables that could be placed side by side for big groups. The diners were dressed up either for Sunday mass or laundry day.

The spread was plentiful enough with two buffet stations having the same menu- Karekareng Goto, Ginataang Langka,  Guisadong Pansit, Afrtida, Chicken Pork Adobo, Ampalaya con Carne, Dinuguan, Laing, Sinigang, Pakbet and a variety of fried seafoods from talangka to galunggong.  

I started out with the Guinataang Kuhol (pond snails stewed in coconut cream and chili), Halaan Soup and Chicken Feet in Tausi. All tasted like, well, standard carinderia fare. The chicken feet though, lacked the spicy kick one usually gets from the same dish if ordered from a Chinese restaurant.

My plate of rice, fried galunggong,  arurosep salad, crispy talangka and adobong manok was filling. But, (yes, there is a but) if you've worked in Makati and eaten packed styro lunches served by ambulant vendors who provide food with the only purpose is to fill up your belly so you can go through the rest of the day without hunger pangs, then you'd know what I mean when I say the fare here tastes the same. 

But you have to realize that since this is a budget buffet place, it should be expected. Nakamura ka na nga, naghahanap ka pa ng gastronomic experience!

The dessert choices that day was limited to two: green gelatin and a rather forlorn Maja Blanca. A. was happy with his green gelatin, though, because ite reminded him of the desserts that Ate Carmen, their distant relative and kasambahay, used to make for  him and his siblings.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

At the Negros Trade Fair

Despite my busy schedule last week, I found the time to go to the annual Negros Trade Fair at the Rockwell Tent. I was lured by the promise of great food finds. And the  trade fair did not disappoint.

Here are my top 10 picks:

10. BUTONG BUTONG- I haven't had these since I was a child. During my summers spent in Iloilo, these were the sticky treats we bought from the neighborhood sari-sari store whenever we earned money from picking white hair out of out Lola's hair.

9. CHORIZO PUDPUD- This is your regular bacolod chorizo, unleashed from its casing and fried on a flat pan. It's a moundful of those crispy, overtoasted left longganisa bits.

8. MASCOBADO- This raw sugar in a box is produced through trade fair and sustainable agriculture organic farming practices and is exported to Europe.

7. PITAW- Quail Adobo. The gamey flesh of the quail becomes easier to eat because it is shredded and tasty, too!

6. BIHOD-  Ready-to-eat fishroe in a bottle and flavored with garlic,ginger, calamansi and preserved with salt, oil and wine.

5. GUAPPLE PIE- from Ideal bakery. The guy who was manning the booth was telling me they had to have the pies brought in by airplane cargo and picked up at the airport everyday for the Trade Fair. Made from a giant variety of guavas grown in Negros, this is a sweet treat one should not miss.

4. BATUAN- This elusive sour fruit used for Kansi, the Negrense version of Bulalo is rarely found in Manila. To have it preserved and sealed in a plastic doy pack makes it easy for me to make Kansi.

3. ARATILES TART- Until now, I'm still wondering what kind of crazy baker would pick, wash and squeeze the lowly and minute aratiles fruit to turn it into a delicacy. This is one of the more unusual yet welcome finds at the fair.

2. CHORIZO PATE/ LECHON SISIG PATE/ KADIOS & BATUAN PATE- Recently shared the chorizo pate with friends and it got rave reviews. Can't wait to try the other two flavors.

1. CHICKEN INASAL DRIPPINGS- All that fat, all that salt in one bottle. It can be used as a dipping sauce or marinade but I am thinking more along the lines of steamed white rice topping.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Bulalooohhh! sa Hoseña's

Whenever I crave hot bulalo soup I always think of Hoseña's, that hole in the wall near Kalentong corner Shaw boulevard extension.

A friend introduced me to it in one alcohol-induced night and we had to lower down our alcohol level. He, in turn, had been introduced to it bya friend who worked in the entertainment industry. Apparently, this is where the old dogs of showbiz go to when they are in need of some hot lovin' in the form of beef broth and marrow. But looking at the place, you wouldn't think that showbiz denizens would set foot in this place.

The rundown two-story  building houses a bakery owned by Hoseña's. A tight flight of stairs leads you to a room sparely decorated with bull horns.

Depending on what they have available in the kitchen, the food attendant will ask you to choose what you want with your bulalo soup- marrow, meat, goto (innards) or litid (cartilege).

It will be served piping hot, served with patis and calamansi.
One serving can be shared by two but if you're really hungry...have a go of this soup and let your arteries party hearty!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Crab Cakes and Memories of Hawaii

Travel is a passion. When I had the opportunity to see the world by working for a travel agency, I took it.

In August 2001, I got the coveted ten-year US Visa. A month after,  9-11 happened. My trip  was cancelled and I never got to use my visa until 6 months before the it expired.

Destination: Honolulu, Hawaii.

While I got to frolic along the shores of the famed Waikiki beach, meet the funniest fire-eating performer and ride a submarine to see 200-year old porpoises...

it was the simplest experience of eating at Hawaii's  version of a carinderia that resonates the clearest in my memory. 

I discovered Bluewater Shrimp and Seafood  on my way back to the hotel. A rundown blue bus converted into a mobile food stall sat on an empty lot in between multi-storied hotels.

A few tables and chairs were scattered beside it and another bus-cum-food stall sat beside it serving burrito and other Mexican food that are apparently favorites of hungry surfers.

It was the the line of Japanese tourists (and not a congregation of half-naked surfers stuffing themselves with beans and ground beef) that got my attention when I passed by the empty lot.
And when it comes to seafood, I trust the Japanese. And they were right to fall in line for a serving of the seafood platter: black-crusted Mahimahi fillet, grilled shrimps with a light lemon vinaigrette, fresh greens and for the carboholic dudes, half a toasted bun, corn on the cob and herbed steamed white rice.

And when I had my fill of the Seafood platter, I deigned to sample what the Japanese seated at the next table were eating... clams sauteed in tomatoes and garlic...
and the inspiring snow crab platter.

It was a pity, I never got to sample the specialties of the Shrimp Shack in Oahu on my way to the Polynesian cultural center (which serves, as part of its luau dinner,  roast suckling pig, a poor runner up to our very own Lechon Cebu, if I may say so). But then, it only means that I still have something to look forward to when I get another chance to go to Hawaii.

In the meantime, when I crave for crabs, one of my easiest solutions is to make crab cakes. Here's ma recipe I have been working on for a few months now. 


500 grams fresh crab meat
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 egg
5 tablespoons Japanese mayonnaise
2 tablespoons stone ground mustard
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons butter (keep at room temperature)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Drain crab meat; gently squeeze to get as much of the liquid out as possible and remove all the bits of shell and cartilage.
I tried using French's mustard as an alternative but I find stone ground mustard provides more tang and texture.
Put the crab meat in a bowl. Mix in all ingredients, careful not to over handle the mixture (or else it will turn into mush!).

Form into 2-inch wide, 1/2 inch thick patties. Fry in a mixture of oil and butter until golden brown. Place the fried patties on a paper towel to drain the oil.

Serve with a dollop of Japanese mayonnaise over a bed of lettuce chiffonade and a siding of yellow mango salsa.