Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Back in the 90's when grunge was the hottest thing that happened to music, I was already out of college and trying my luck at a career related to my college degree. I ended up being a store manager for an international retail fashion brand and worked at the mall.  The 90's was definitely "The Decade of the Mall Rat" for me. 

It was at the mall where I learned how to eat all kinds of fried food- burger, fries, tapsilog, chicken, bread- name that fried food, and chances are I've probably eaten it.  It was a real treat to eat in the food court stalls where the owners actually knew how to prepare food other than  frying it. I recall one particular food stall of this kind, My Thai, owned by Sandy Daza, son of Nora Daza, one of the few people who took food seriously back in the days when being a chef was not a status symbol.

It was there that I first tasted Sandy Daza's 'Stuffed Pechay,'  tinapa (smoked fish) flakes wrapped in pechay (a.k.a  Chinese Cabbage) and simmered in lightly spiced yellowish coconut sauce. 

Flash forward to 2012.

A couple of decades, several jobs and plenty of pounds in the wrong places later, I find myself looking at the menu of a newly opened restaurant along Katipunan Avenue, Wooden Spoon. I see "Stuffed Pechay" and I am immediately filled with nostalgia, back to that relatively distant past of my early working years. 

On the menu, Mr. Daza says that this recipe came straight out of his imagination. Well, this dish shows us that he knows how to focus the Pinoy taste buds. For us who love the mix of salty, creamy and spicy- this is the right dish to go with rice. No condiments needed.

Sandy Daza is a gifted saucier. These are the guys who make the sauce. It might sound like easy work but a good saucier is a master of the taste bud.Proof is the Wansoy Sauce that goes with the Shrimp Balls and the Fish Fillet.
Wansoy Shrimp Balls
Breaded Fish Fillet with Wansoy Sauce
You can also try the Pampango Shrimp with Aligue sauce. The sauce, being made of crab fat, tends to be on the salty, cholesterol-filled side. For those who love their fried shrimps with vinegar, this is a gustatory adventure that you'll either love or hate. And if you're Pinoy, you probably won't have any hesitation to ask the wait staff for sukang may bawang at sili  (vinegar with garlic and chili). 

It's a bit confusing to have two versions of Dinakdakan on the menu- Liempo Dinakdakan and just plain old Dinakdakan. Between the two, I like the version with the liempo (Pork Belly) better. It's a bit more sinful but the regular Dinakdakan pales a bit in richness compared to the carinderia versions I am more accustomed to.
Dinakdakan Liempo
There was one dish that I had high expectations for, Kaldereta. It fell a bit short not because of the sauce, which was tasty enough, but the meat was not as tender as I like in my kaldereta. There wasn't enough fatty part to moisten the meat  so you have to eat it when it's still really hot. This, in turn doesn't work well if you're eating with a group that likes to share stories at meal times.
Another thing I noticed in Wooden Spoon was that the dishes were served in small platters. Doesn't mean to say that the portions were miniscule like they were meant for supermodels. it works for me, though, because I get to order a variety of dishes and have it all on the table at the same time. How very Pinoy, you say? Well that's how we roll. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012


"Naglilihi ka ba?" (Are you craving food because you're pregnant?)
"Buntis ka ba?" (Are you pregnant?)
"Ilang taon na ang panganay mo?" (What's the age of your eldest child?)
"Pang-ilan mo na yan?" (How many kids do you have?)
"Kailan ka manganganak?" (When are you due to give birth?)

These are questions I hate getting asked.

I've never had a child. I'm not planning on having one  anytime soon.

These are questions I usually get asked when someone I have not seen for a long time wants to break ice. They ask this because they don't want to say to your face that you've gained so much weight, you look like you always eat for two.
And if you like to eat green mangoes, a food craved by many Pinays during their first trimester of pregnancy, you are sure to be unfairly barraged by these questions.

So to those whom I have not seen for a long time. No. I am not pregnant.
I'm a fat woman who likes to eat green mangoes. 

There I said it. 

Am I sorry for saying it? No.
Will you be sorry for asking me the questions listed above? Probably.

This Green Mango Sorbet by Sebastian's is  what brought on this particular train of rant thought.

If you want your green mangoes cold, then this is the way to enjoy it.
Ms. Ice cream attendant scoops some sorbet, heats up the bagoong in the microwave...

... pours it on the sorbet. the warm fishpaste  melts the top of the icy concoction.
Yup, that's real bagoong!
Scooping a spoonful of icy green mango with bits of fish paste is  a weird experience,  I have to admit. But the dude who runs the artisanal ice cream joint is probably weirder. I don't know him and I'm afraid to be his friend because he might just make me taste test ampalaya ice cream.

I think the sorbet can work well on its own. maybe in a sit-down dinner, in between courses.

On the first day that the Katipunan branch opened, I tasted "Once In a Blue Moon"- blue cheese ice cream topped with crunchy walnuts and honey.
I have to warn you, though. It takes some getting used to. And you might want to take it in small amounts. It might be TMTH.

If freaky ice cream flavors ain't your thing, then you might want to start off with these flavors:
Mango Sans Rival
Chocoholics Anonymous
But if you;re feeling a bit experimental, they also have their Proudly Pinoy line: Sapin-sapin, Tibok-Tibok, Champorado and Mangga't Suman. 

A taste for weird and wacky flavors are not exclusive to craving pregnant women. 
It can be for anyone now.


Monday, July 9, 2012

Spinach Butter and French Toast

You, you read that right. That's not peanut butter but SPINACH Butter.

While i was making some French Toast last Sunday morning, I got distracted from my thoughts of Hollandaise sauce saw the packet of Spinach and had me a crazy idea... why don't I make Spinach flavored butter?

So I did.


200-250 grams Spinach, washed
1/2 bar butter (approx. 115g.)
half a head of garlic, peeled, finely minced
1 onion, peeled finely minced
1/3 cup all-purpose cream
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Saute the garlic and onions in olive oil. Melt the butter separately and add to the pan. Mix in the all- purpose cream. When the mixture has homogenized, add in the spinach and remove from heat when the spinach turns a brighter shade.  Let it cool. Once the mixture has reached room temperature, place it in a blender and liquify. this process brings out the bitterness of the spinach, so choose if you want some texture, less bitterness, or smoothness with a  bitter after taste. The Spinach butter is a bit like creamy  arugula - the creamy, salty buttery taste is made more full-bodied by the green leafy spinach and sharpness of the garlic and balanced by the bitter after taste.

I wonder if there is a way to remove that bitter after taste?

In small quantities, it did go well with the French toast and bacon that I made.

You can dip the bread and put a little salty bacon on top.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


Recently shared another great dinner with a friend who recently celebrated his birthday at Mamou, Serendra.   Just a small group but not very quiet.

We started out with the Mamou Charcuterie. Hard to pronounce but very easy to eat. It's a set of  cold cuts (which is what the word charcuterie means) served on a thick chunk of wood.
A platter of prosciutto, pepper salami, sliced chorizo iberico, soft cow's milk, cranberry stilton cheese, green olives with baby gherkins, guindillas, raspberry jam & honey.

The first plate to be served was the  citrus rubbed pork & chicken served with  red Cuban rice, cinnamon saba and black beans. Looked like Arroz Ala Cubana but instead of ground pork, the dish was served with lechon manok and lechon carahay.

This was a great partner to the Palm Spring rolls (Lumpiang Ubod).

The other great partnering for the night was the Angus Ribeye steak and the Healdsburg's Harvest with the cranberry vinaigrette dressing.

Someone ordered Lorenzo's Truffle Cream using whole wheat spaghettini, truffle- flavored cream and topped with the Grana Padano Cheese, a popular grated cheese made mostly near Milan.

Now that I am thinking about it... Mamou sounds French, looks French but what we ordered wasn't very French at all. Mostly Pinoy food with Anglo-fied names. Or occidental cuisine with Pinoy versions. Interesting food for thought. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


Typed in "Food Porn" on the Youtube search box and got me some Anthony Bourdains and a couple of Nigella Lawsons and then this... EAT IT, DON'T TWEET IT.

CLICK HERE to watch the video
Here's to us who tweet before we eat!

Life is a dish, best served hot,
And a dish is a book with a menacing plot,
And a plot is a song, dipped in sauce,
That was simmered in a pan with a demi-glaze,
I'm just a kid, in a candy shop,
Of culinary dreams that can't be stopped,
On a search for the perfect ingredients,
To post on my social medias.

You are pathetic,  we're not photogenic
Hurry it up we're getting cold,
Come down here and taste us, don't humiliate us,
No one gives a damn bout what you post

Artisan bread, dipped in artisan cheese,
dipped in artisan nuts, dipped in artisan greens,
Artisan heirloom radicchio,
This carpaccio's f-ing ridiculo,
A little foie gras and tuna tartare
Black truffle butter chickweed, ha ha ha!
I'm just a guy with a camera,
In your feed with foods as my canvassa,
Lobster bisque buttered lightly
See you in the bowl and need you inside me
I love soup - don't call me a Nazi
I'm more like culinary paparazzi
Or gastronomic Annie Leibowitz
Can't see the food, could you move your tits?
It's unthinkable to dine out and not record it
Want the world to know I can f*cking afford it

Don't take my picture, don't put me on twitter
Just get it over with and eat
You could not be dumber, get off of Tumblr
I'm more than just a piece of meat

I want lucious cupcakes but can't do gluten
Broke out in hives from a mere fig newton
A sick addiction to Ramsey's kitchen
I can't stop lickin my television
One day the phone rang, was truly blessed
I won a contest to be on Runway Chef
A show about a model who also makes food
Seemed appropriate, I be in the nude,
She was stuffing and tossing and dripping sauce
I was shooting and looting and gitting lost
In the moment of foregone purity
Got escorted out by security
Walked down the stairs, then out of nowhere
Came a big pretentious grizzly bear
He snapped a pic and then dined on me
Oh what a tale of irony

Don't take my photo, you brown furry mofo
The pain in my heart is very real
I need a martini, I feel like sashimi
You gave me the raw end of the deal

Monday, July 2, 2012


Braved the bed weather last Saturday night to have dinner with people I love and love to work with at Aracama, the newest dining place to be seen at, apparently. Having said that, I walked in with reservations, since my experience with celebrity chefs have ranged from delightful to disappointing, leaning more towards the latter.

The whole second floor was taken up by the party for celebrity birthday girl Ruffa Guttierrez. Happily, Chef Fern has an small area for about 20 people on one side of the area and our party of seven had been smartly reserved a table.

It was a fun night of feasting, imbibing, story-telling and star-gazing that started out with a trio of appetizers.
L-R: Mozarella Malunggay Dip, Fishballs, Chorizo Frito
The Fishballs aren't the kind  you find on the street but rather a tastier version with less air pockets inside.  The Malunggay Mozarella dip was also a creamy delight but needs a little bit more mozarella for that tangy punch. The Chorizo Frito was like hamonado- flavored Chinese chorizo. A bit too sweet for my taste, if you ask.

The group also ordered salad, which was good but...
Salad with feta cheese, grapes and walnuts
... was off-key with the Kansi soup.
The Kansi  was perfect for the rainy night, with the pork and batuan soup base, sour enough for my taste. Can't help comparing it to JT Manukan's version, though, which I find having a fuller bodied soup base.

The Kansi was best partnered  with the fish dishes, though.
Rellenong Bangus and Crispy Tilapia
One of the first to be finished was the Rellenong Bangus, an 8-9 inch headless milkfish skin with flavored and flaked bangus meat inside. The open-faced Crispy Tilapia was good (best eaten hot) but the real kicker in this dish is the geen mango salad on top which I think should be eaten with a sinamak (coconut vinegar) dressing.

Don't laugh now but we also had Kare-Kare, Callos, Humba and Crispy Pata. Luckily I was wearing a loose dress that night.

The vegetables in the Kare-Kare was served separately which makes it better to look at and easier to eat (and share).  The Bagoong was not as salty as the ones I like best from Malabon, though.
The winning element in the Callos was the tenderness of the tripe. The dish had a home-cooked feel.

Crispy Pata and Humba
The Crispy Pata did not disappoint. Crispy, crackling skin and tender meat inside. A runner-up for my favorite Judy Ann's Crispy Pata from Malabon.   The Humba was a tad too dark,  a bit too sweet. It looked burnt, not caramelized.

All of these were served wit rice...and we had a lot of choices: Kalkag, Kalo-kalo and a brown & red rice mix.
L-R: Kalkag, Brown and red rice mix, Kalo-kalo
Kalkag is basically fried rice with whole dried baby shrimp fry, kalo-kalo is the Ilonggo version of sinangag.

The mos unforgettable part of the meal was the dessert: Dulce de Leche. The candied condensed milk was obviously made the traditional way- the condensed milk is boiled inside the original can until it reaches a caramel-like consistency.

The whole dining experience was fantastic as it was with friends and the staff were helpful but not intrusive. We even got the chance to meet Chef Fern himself. The night was made more fun by the presence of stars walking up to the second floor dining area. Aracama could very well be The Fort's version of The Ivy in Hollywood.
The meals were relatively affordable (we spent about 900 bucks each, for everything, including drinks and coffee). I was a bit surprised though that after tasting each dish, I ended up comparing it and yearning for a different version like the Kansi. The gustatory experience gave us one brilliant dessert and good comfort food for most parts.
For those who want to have a taste of Aracama, come with no great expectations, people you love to enjoy food with and a bit of patience if you want to star-gaze.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Tell Me Why I Don't Like Mondays

Monday is officially the gloomiest day of the week.

Bob Geldof thinks so, too.
Bob Geldof of the 'Boomtown Rats' Wants to shoot Mondays down
I think my caffeine intake on Monday mornings  go up by 200%.
My umpteenth cuppa
My previous workmates, wouldn't go near me on Monday mornings if I haven't had coffee yet.
For me, caffeine helps reboot the universe on Monday mornings.

Now that I don't have to be in an office on Monday mornings, when I find myself at home, I try to make breakfast that would set the week right.

Today, it's brown rice with skinless longganisa and paksiw na bangus.

Okay, I lied. The brown rice was mixed with a little white rice.

Here's the paksiw na bangus recipe in case you want to make your own.

1 pc. Boneless bangus belly
1/2 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
1 whole onion, sliced
ginger (as big as 2 thumbs), sliced
1/2 cup Sukang Paombong (vinegar)
1/2 cup water
patis (fish sauce) or salt to taste
black pepper to taste
green siling haba, optional

Place the bangus belly in a round pan (yes, that frying pan you use for eggs will do).
place the spices on top. Pour in the vinegar and water .

Set the range on low heat. Let the liquid boil and then add the patis to taste and top with the siling haba (it's the same one you use for sinigang). let it simmer for about a minute and it's ready to serve.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Banana Cinnamon and Nutmeg Fritters

Again had time to be in the kitchen today. Hooray for Philippine Independence Day!

Here's a recipe I thought of in the fly:


6 pieces saging na saba, quartered into strips  (Cardava Bananas)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 tbsp. ground nutmeg
1/8 cup white sesame seeds
1/8 cup black sesame seeds
1/4 cup butter
1 tbsp cooking oil

Mix the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and roll the banana strips. In a separate plate, roll the sugar-coated banana strips in the sesame seed mix. Heat the pan  to medium, add the oil and butter. Place the strips and brown on all sides.

Take the banana fritters when all sides are done. Serve hot or as a siding to vanilla ice cream.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Bizarre Baked Goodies

Since I have got a bit of time now... trolled some food pages for bizarre baked goodies.

These people know how to play with their food!

Modeling is my bread and butter
Hello, kitty, may I eat you?
Tim Burton's Zoetrope as a cake
Now, they've gotten their revenge
Groom's thought balloon: She ain't weird, she ain't weird...


How can he go home if you eat ET?
They're all going to laugh at you!


Gruesome Body Bakery