Thursday, January 29, 2015


Our New Years holidays are usually spent outside of the house. The hubby and I know this goes against the Filipino custom of staying in the house to keep your home bountiful but that's the only time we usually have to ourselves. For the passing of 2014 into 2015, we decided to stay in Tagaytay.
 Though we've been here many times, we wanted to find new places to go to. And so we did.

A friend recommended we try out Marcia Adams, not just for the Mediterranean cuisine but also for the Tuscan ambience.

The place was hard to find. Good thing we had their number and we were able to call for directions. The small yellow signage marked the end of our search.
We were also glad that they didn't turn us away  because we had our dog, Hachiko, with us.
He actually had a grand time exploring the place. With its different secret corners and lush, untamed flora,  it was a Giardano Segreto, a secret garden reminiscent of Medieval monastery cloisters.
There are two houses where one can dine. The main house is divided into 4 dining areas, a main hall, two covered outdoor areas (a smaller one out front and a bigger one at the side) and an alcove behind the house.
From the main dining area, one has a view of their open kitchen.
Adjacent to the main house is a more open space where one can also enjoy a meal with a group or quietly dine for two.
We were ushered to the alcove area. This, I feel, is the area that best gives the idyllic Tuscan impression.
The sunlight pouring in through the picture window is reflected in the different yellow shades of the wall. Time-worn tables covered with lace-trimmed white runners brings out the contrast of the abundant flower settings and colorful glassware. The curios and the wooden beams complete the lived in, homey vibe.
After we feasted our eyes on the wonderful interiors, it was time to enjoy our meal.

The main course comes with an appetizer, a dessert and a drink.  For appetizers, you can choose from the Soup of the Day, Amalfi Prawns and two kinds of salad. Hubby had the prawns while I had the salad.
Crispy and succulent, the tender meat of the prawns were seasoned with olive oil and parsley before getting coated in bread crumbs and pan-fried.
The Aegaen salad was actually good for two.  The sweetness of the grilled pear balanced the slight tangy taste of the Ricotta cheese, while the nuts added crunch to the crispy greens. It was served with home made bread, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Then came the Tender Aromatic pork.  The pork loin, which according to the menu was massaged with herbs and spices, was thick but juicy and tender to the bite. The seasoning gave just enough aroma  and flavor. I had rice with it, of course.
The hubby's Spanish Chicken Casserole was given a distinct flavor by the Chorizo Pamplona  and the sherry in which it was stewed in. The chorizo is a hard sausage with finely chopped pork and fat  seasoned with pimentón or smoked paprika.
We were afraid that we wouldn't be able to have dessert because main dish servings were more than generous. Good thing we had hours to spend on lunch. We were on vacation, after all.

For dessert, we had Panna Cotta with Lemon Sauce and Lavender Crème brûlée.

It was a gift to be able to finally have a relaxing, long lunch with the hubby after the hectic year we've both had. Discovering and enjoying a  delightful place like Marcia Adam's, makes the moment worth remembering.

Address: Sikat, Alfonso, 4123 Cavite, Philippines
Telephone: +63 917 801 1456

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


Found this fun and funny YouTube channel put up by four British chaps who popularized the Chocolate cake in mug recipe.
Click on the pic to get inked to the video
They've got more than a million subscribers and according to the New York Times, it's one of the top global food channels on the video sharing website.

I find their FOOD HACKS interesting and well-edited. They don't bother to explain most of it though as much of the food hack videos are wordless. Alton Brown remains the go-to guy for getting your food stuff explained.
Click on the pic to get linked to the video
Things get more communal in their #BeatMyBurger playlist where they make burgers and encorage viewers to send in their own burger recipes.
Click on the pic to get linked to the playlist
Interesting too are the videos on their Eye Candy playlist.

Check these guys out and have some fun with cooking.

Sunday, January 25, 2015


"Study hard, party harder" was a cliche I used to live by in my college years.

I had, after alcohol binging at a bonfire with friends at the UP Sunken Garden, gone home with just one shoe, the other having been swallowed by a muddy creek. How and why that happened, I have no idea. At all. Once, after a party where I downed about 10 vodka cocktails, I had gone to a restaurant to meet up with a friend. He found me dozing in a corner holding on to a cold cup of coffee. 

But, hey, don't judge me. I'm not particularly proud of those moments but they did happen and now seem comical to me.

In those days, one of the best ways to get the booze out of my system was to have some hot and filling bulalo before heading home. Doing so steered me clear of a hangover the next day.  It turns out, alcohol dehydrates your body and re-hydrating it before going to sleep makes your brain less anxious when you wake up after a night of drowning yourself in alcohol. So, hooray for bulalo!
It's not just a great soup to avoid hangovers but also a great dish to share with the family on cold, windy nights.

Below is a recipe I developed using red corn.

Red corn  is a type of sweet corn that has a sweet and nutty flavor. The ruby brick red kernels are colored by anthocyanin, an antioxidant that has anti-inflammatory properties. These are not widely produced so you have to get some to try if you do come across them. I found these at the Salcedo Weekend Market.

Anthocyanin, the pigment that creates the red color in this corn, are antioxidant flavonoids that protect many body systems - See more at:
Anthocyanin, the pigment that creates the red color in this corn, are antioxidant flavonoids that protect many body systems - See more at:

  • Half a kilo of beef chunks (I usually get the pochero cut)
  • One kilo of bone marrow
  • 1 cabbage, quartered
  • 1/2 kilo of squash, cut into 2 1/2 inch squares (or trapezoids)
  • 2 red onions
  • 1 onion leek, cut into 3-inch pieces
  • 3 pieces red corn, cut into 3 pieces
  • 3 liters of water
  • rock salt
  • peppercorn
Use a big pot so the broth won't spill and all the meat is submerged in the water. Put all the meat in the pot. Add the salt, pepper corn and onions before pouring in the water. Let the water boil in high heat. Then turn the fire down to medium and boil for 2-3 hours or until the meat is tender. Taste the broth and adjust the salt and pepper to taste. Once the meat is tender, lower the heat and add in the squash and the leeks. The squash should give your soup some sweetness.

Serve hot with a dipping sauce of patis (fish sauce) and calamansi (citrofortunella).

Friday, January 23, 2015


Was introduced to this rice bun variation by a couple of friends who dropped by at work.

When I found the bakery behind National Bookstore in Quezon Avenue, I dropped by and bought a dozed not toasted buns. I had to wait as the other customers were buying the Toasted Siopao by the box. Selling at P8.00 each, the buns are filling and goes well with other chinese dishes we usually eat with Siopao- like beef mami or pancit.

It really tastes like Asado rolls. Soft, shredded pork in a thick, sweet-tangy siopao sauce. The Buns are best eaten hot, fresh off the oven.

Address: 106-A Panay Ave., South Triangle, Quezon City
Telephone: (0917) 840-7332

Thursday, January 22, 2015


Many Pinoy kids who encounter their first black fungus mixed with their pancit will be told that it's tenga ng daga or  rat's ear. That's according to Nanay Juaning, our four-foot yaya  and cook who loved to tell tall tales. I believed her. Horrors! I imagined Mickey Mouse getting his ears cut off in the palengke (wet market) and decided not to eat it for a few years until my genius cousin told me they were actually mushrooms.
Don't take my ears of, please!
This gelatinous black-brown delicacy is Auricularia polytricha or cloud ear fungus that grows in clusters on rotting branches and twigs and on decaying stumps and logs in wet areas. It's called wood ear or tree ear by the Chinese, the Japanese describe it as "rough-haired tree jelly" and the Hawaiians call it pepeiao which roughly means "ears."

The woody mushroom is harvested and dried before it is sold in the market, usually by the kilo. I found this 25 gram packet in the supermarket, just about the size of a matchbox.
Rat's ears in a box
Before cooking, the dried mushroom must be re-hydrated by soaking in water for about 30 minutes. You know it's ready when the fungus expands, turns soft and takes on a translucent, jelly-like appearance. You can use hot water (boiling, even) to lessen the soak time to 15 minutes. Remember to cut off the woody parts and slice the bigger pieces. The small packet will give about a plateful, just enough for one dish of stir-fried noodles or stew.
When cooked, despite the gelatinous texture, it remains crunchy like cartilage (almost like pig's ears) and there's a small snap when you bite into it.  Like any mushroom, generally remains slightly woody, but takes on a slight hint of the sauce that it gets cooked in.

And please, don't tell the kids it's Mickey ears.

Saturday, January 17, 2015


Back in 2009, I wrote about Kiss the Cook Cafe, one of the first restaurants that set-up along Maginhawa Street in Quezon City. It has since then closed but its owner and chef, Waya Araos-Wijancgo has set up a new food haven. This time, the menu of her recently opened Gourmet Gypsy Art Cafe along Roces Avenue distinctly has a middle eastern influence.

The place is cosy. There is a mix of finely crafted wood furniture made by her father and master sculptor, the late Jerry Araos, new pieces made by her younger brother Julian and lovely Persian rugs. The photos on the wall were taken by her husband Ernie Wijangco.  One can say that the interiors are a family enterprise.

I was in luck and caught Chef Waya the first time I dined there with the hubby and a friend. We tried all of Chef Waya's recommended dishes, which were all served in portions that can be shared by two to three people.

We started off with  the bread basket, served with olive oil, chicken liver and shiitake mushroom pate with dukka or duqqa, a dry Egyptian  nut and spice dip, which adds a layer of crunch and flavor.  
Bread basket
We then had the Elote Mexicano, charred corn croquetas topped with chipotle mayo, goat cheese feta and cilantro. The key word for this appetizer is "charred". It brings back memories of the inihaw na mais I used to buy in the plaza of Tigbauaun, Iloilo, my father's hometown, where I used to spend my summers. While the roasted corn on the cob of my youth gave a straight forward flavor, this was layered with the creaminess of the mayonnaise and the slight tang of the cheese. Don't try to eat this on your own, though as it is very filling.
Elote Mexicano
For our entrees, we shared a shallow bowl of Vietnamese Beef Stew and Pork and Clam Favada. The cubed beef was tender and had a sweet aroma since it was stewed in star anise.
Vietnamese Beef Stew
Being used to Favada that tastes more like pork and beans, this Pork and Clam Favada was a pleasant surprise. The starchy stew made from the garbanzos (chick pea) integrated the flavors of the chorizo, pork shoulder and clams. I was afraid that the seafood would be intrusive but, gladly, I was proven wrong.
Afterwards, we had three kinds of dessert:  Green Tea Panna Cotta with Mango and Honey,  Vanilla Panna Cotta with Passion Fruit Curd and, Blue Cheese and Fig Home-made Ice Cream.
Green Tea Panna Cotta with Mango and Honey
Vanilla Panna Cotta with Passion Fruit Curd
Blue Cheese and Fig Ice Cream
Of the three desserts, my favorite was the ice cream (hubby disagrees and says it is an acquired taste). I had previously tried an artisanal  Blue Cheese ice cream  and didn't like it because the blue cheese simply overwhelmed me. With Chef Waya's recipe, the candied fig leveled the strong taste of the blue cheese. Although one scoop was already enough. So if you order this, make sure that you share.

We capped the meal with cups of "smart coffee,"  where the ground coffee beans area steeped in hot water placed inside a funnel-like device balanced on top of the cup.
Smart Coffee

That's Chef Waya herself, making smart coffee
Aside from the food, one of the things I remember best about Gourmet Gypsy Art Cafe are the well-appointed bathrooms with a quirky touch.

Friday, January 16, 2015


Recently came across this article from The Telegraph and figured that I have eaten 7 of the items in the list and would like to try everything else on the list except for No. 14. Click on the link and you'll see why.
Click on the pic to get linked to the full article
This led me to look up other sites with lists of weird food around the world.

This is from the Rough Guides website:
Click on the pic to get linked to the full article

Yup, that's the Filipino balut (fertilised duck egg) right there! I've eaten only 3 out of the food listed here but would try all except for the Boshintang (dog meat) from Korea. Definitely a big NO for me.

And from the Delish list, I've also eaten 3 on the list.
Click on the pic to get linked to the full article
This one from 25 List starts of with a seemingly plain burger. But beware because it's made of fried cow brains!
Click on the pic to get linked to the full article
Here's a rather long list from Hostel World.   The funniest thing that I found on this list is No. 7- Spam!
I've had 20 of the things found on this list. How many of these weird food have you had?