Friday, October 28, 2016


Heard about Shawarma Bros when the new wing of UP town Center opened. One lazy weekend, the hubby and I decided to try it out for a late lunch. The places wasn't full so we took time to ask about what was good to eat. The food server recommended their specialty Lamb Steak Rice Meal over the Beef  Shawarma Rice Meal. So that's what I had.

While the hubby got the Chicken Shawarma Rice meal.

He got the "Big bro" serving so his meal was served with  Keema on the side. Keema is stewed minced meat with potatoes (though traditionally it should be peas) often used as bread filling in Mediterranean restaurants.

Both meals were served with salsa topped with a smidge of yoghurt and yellow rice which is supposed to be Turmeric rice but didn't taste much like it. Which is fine by me since I think plain rice always works best with grilled meat.

The Chicken Shawarma was spiced just right- not too hot, not too sour and not too salty.

The lamb steak was flavored to my liking. However, it was tough and rubbery which usually happens when there's not enough fat in the meat or if was cooked too fast in medium high heat. Lamb get tender when cooked in low heat over a long period. The lamb on my plate seemed to have enough fat so  I think the latter is the reason for the  chewy dining experience I had. Disappointed? Yeah. Maybe because they had set my expectation high by telling me it was their specialty. But I think I will give their Beef Shawarma a try next time.

Shawarma Bros.
2/F UP Town Center, C.P Garcia Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City

Saturday, October 15, 2016



When the rain starts pouring in the evening, a bowl soup always fills my mind.  So I prepared for rain tonight and made Scallop and Shrimp Cream Soup.

Local scallops or Bay Scallops and are smaller than their Sea Scallop cousins. But don't worry, when it comes to these bi-valve mollusks, size does not matter. Taste is what counts. The pinkish shells encase the  round creamy white meat called adductor muscles the part that allows the shells to open and close. In most bivalves like oysters ang mussels, the adductor muscles are tough, but in scallops these are tender,  creamy with a hint of sweetness.

Now, with your scallop 101 done, go and try to make this creamy wonder so your rainy nights need not be clammy.

  • 250 g. Bay scallops, removed from the shell
  • 250 g. shrimps, shelled
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 can of canned cream style corn (about 200 g)
  • 1 cup fresh milk
  • 1 cup all-purpose cream
  • 1 pc. onion, medium, diced
  • 1 pc. potato, large, diced
  • 1 pc. carrots, diced
  • 1 pc. celery stalk, sliced
  • 2 tbsp. butter  salted
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Old Bay seasoning (or mix in equal parts celery salt, red pepper, paprika)
  • salt and pepper to taste
1.  Saute. Over medium-high heat, melt the butter in the pot and saute the onion, carrots, celery, scallops and shrimps. Flavor with half a teaspoon of the Old Bay seasoning. When the shrimps are have changed color on both sides, remove from heat. Let it cool.

2. Chop. Once cooled, place the mixture in a blender and roughly chop using the pulse mode.

3. Make the Cream Soup. Return the chopped mixture in the pan, this time over medium-low heat. Stir in the chicken broth, milk then the cream. Add the corn and the remaining Old Bay Seasoning. Mix gently as you bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Once the soup has reached a creamy consistency, remove from the heat and serve.

Next time, I'll make a chowder variation and see how that works.

Sunday, October 2, 2016


Food has been sexualized in Cinema countless times. And why not, food and sex are two pleasures if taken in extremes can become sins of the flesh. But often, when sexualized, food ends up as a prop used to get laughs (that apple pie in "American Pie") or used for shock value (that feces feast in the Italian film "Salo").  Bringing food to a level of eroticism takes more sophistication and less prejudice. When food and sex go beyond sexuality,  the imagination is fired up, slowly building a simmering anticipation for the delicious pleasures  we crave so much.

Here's my list of the 10 most erotic food moments on Cinema.

This 1963 British comedy classic has a scene where a hearty meal between  is a prelude for a late-night romp.  This movie is proof that biting into a turkey leg and slurping oysters can get you some.  And no, it does not star Tom Jones, the "Sex Bomb" singer.

Stepping on your food is not sexy. But in the grape stomping scene of this 1995 romantic film, the women get into a frenzy that leaves them wet and the men's mind, dirty. The scene ends with a saccharine kiss between Keanu Reeves and his leading lady Aitana Sanchez-Gijon... that leads to some more steamy kissing in the bedroom.

Based on the magic realism novel by Laura Esquivel, this 1992 Mexican film is about subverting tradition through food. Tita (Lumi Cavasos) is forbidden to marry Pedro (Marco Leonardi), the man she loves. And in true magic realism fashion, Tita, burning with passion for Pedro, inspires lust with her Quail in Rose Petal Sauce.

This 1983 Hollywood romantic drama is best known for the highly charged dancing of its lead star Jennifer Beals. Less remembered is the quiet yet sexually charged dinner scene with her leading man Michael Nouri where they exchange notes about each others turn ons while hungrily eating lobster. They never get to dessert because dinner is interrupted by a footsie.

This 2002 romcom has a young Jason Isaacs (the guy who played Lucius Malfoy in "Harry Potter") romancing Sofia Milos (who played Detective Yelina Salas in Season 3 of "CSI:Miami") after she serves him Seafood Paella, Fried Codfish Fillet, Lobster Casserole and Shrimp; and, Swordfish Mozabique. They never got to finishing all of that because they got busy with licking fingers and other body parts.

The 1997 remake was as controversial as the 1947 version. The movie starred a 17-year old Dominique Swain as Lolita and multi-awarded actor Jeremy Irons as Professor Humbert Humbert. One of the more contentious scenes had Lolita sucking on a banana as the professor tries to elude the car that he thinks has been following them.

Bernardo Bertolluci's 1972 erotic thriller about Paul (Marlon Brando), an American who gets involved with Jeanne (Maria Schneider), a young French woman, earned an X-rating on its first screening in the U.S. And like any French recipe, this movie has butter. In a quietly violent sodomy scene. 

This French-Japanese art film pushed boundaries back in 1976 with its unsimulated sex scenes between the lead stars Tatsuya Fuji and Eiko Matsuda who played  lovers indulging in intense sexual experiments that lead to death and a decapitated penis. The erotic food scene involves an egg being inserted into a female orifice that is not the mouth. Taken in the context of the film's narrative, the scene, perverse as it may seem, is one of the may acts of surrender.  It is so graphic that if you search for it, only porn sites have clips of it. Definitely NSFW.

This 1985 Japanese comedy is about noodles, a widow and a pair of truck drivers. No, it's not porn. And the scene that many find steamy involves an egg, cracked open and passed on in an almost kiss from the gangster (Koji Yakusho) to his lover (Fukumi Kuroda). This scene takes the phrase "exchange of fluids" to a different level.

1)  9 1/2 WEEKS
This 1986 romantic drama stars Mickey Rourke as John, a Wall Street trader  who seduces Elizabeth (Kim Basinger), an art gallery assistant, with food from the fridge. If you imagine all that expired dairy in your fridge, it doesn't sound too hot, right?  Good thing Elizabeth stocks up on fresh produce and unexpired processed food. Her taste buds go into overdrive when John blindfolds her and lets her lick, suck and bite whatever he can get his hands on- honey, cherry and even a hot jalapeno pepper. For sure, couples looking spice up to their evening romps have tried this and found themselves in a sticky mess the morning after.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016


Last week, I posted a Graffiti Eggplant Salad recipe that goes well with Adobong Puti. This week, let me share with you this recipe I first tasted at a friend's house in Bicol where we were house guests. I made my version less vinegary and more creamy with the use of white beans.

Enjoy cooking this recipe!

- 1 kg. Pata (Pork hocks), sliced
- 200 g. white beans
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup sukang paombong (white vinegar) 
- 1 tbsp. sea salt
- 1 head garlic, peeled
- 1 tbsp. peppercorn, whole
- 1 tsp. ground oregano
- 3 pcs. bay leaf, crushed (or bayleaf powder)

Soak the beans overnight in lukewarm water. Make sure to  put in extra water as the beans will soak up the water and puff up. I use the Haricot Bean which is often branded simply as "White Beans" in the supermarket.

Before boiling the pork hocks, make sure it's properly thawed and washed.  

Boil the pork hocks. Put the water and pork in the pot, cover and let it boil in high heat.

Add the beans. Once boiling, drain the beans and rinse it once before adding into the pan. Lower the heat down to low and let it simmer for an hour. Remember to skim off the scrum from time to time; and, to add water when needed. The hocks should be submerged at all times. Otherwise the parts not underwater will end up drier.

Add flavor. After an hour of simmering in low heat, the pork hock should be tender. Add the vinegar, salt, garlic, peppercorn, oregano and bayleaf. Let it simmer for another 30 minutes. This time, you can remove  the lid to reduce the stew (and not to  make your adobo soupy). Adjust  the spices as you see fit. I usually add more salt, depending on who's eating.

Remove from heat and serve warm.

Sunday, September 25, 2016


My curiosity drives me to try weird stuff. Anything unusual, I will probably dare to put in my mouth. So, when I saw this drink with amoeba-like floaters in it,  I simply had to try it.
The juice itself tasted like a couple of spoonfuls of honey diluted in water but as you drink it the gelatinous Basil seeds slide into your mouth. The seeds are a bit tangy like the flesh of lanzones. It's the texture that  makes this a certified interesting experience. The basil seeds are gooey like gelatin but once you bite there's a small crunch from the black parts of the seeds.

Basil seeds comes from the pods of the basil plant, also known as  the "king of herbs."
Photo courtesy of: Castielli
After harvesting, the seeds are harvested in water to make the gelatinous firm surrounding it plumper.
Photo courtesy of:
The seeds are said to be beneficial for the urinary tract and kidneys; and, is used in Asia as a medicine to treat diarrhea, decrease stress and improve the respiratory system. I don't know how true that is. But what I do know is that I have happily satisfied my curiosity and will definitely pick up a bottle or two of this drink next time I'm in the supermarket.

Would you dare to try it?

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


Graffiti comes from the Italian word graffiato- meaning "scratched" which in turn finds its origin from the Greek word graphein, meaning "to write." Though it is now associated with defiance and rebellion, its earliest forms were inscriptions scratched on to the surface of basalt rocks in Syria. It has come a long way since then. In recent decades it has evolved from an iconic street symbol to a commercial fashion symbol.
The LV Graffiti Neverfull
The Graffiti eggplant, too, has also come a long way from its origins in Udumalaipettai in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu where they were said to be first cultivated. Its rich black soil and warm weather allows the Udumalapet eggplant to grow even when abandoned. Eventually, the variety was transported and grown in the Western world, mainly in Italy where it is known as Listada de Gandia. Its name has also evolved, making it  sound more like it belongs in a Victoria's Secret catalog: Purple Rain, Fairytale,  Shooting Stars and Pandora Striped Rose.
I'm too sexy for this plate
I found these adorable Graffiti Eggplant at the supermarket and couldn't help myself.  I decided to make a salad that would go with the adobong puti I was cooking for the weekend. If you'd like to make one yourself, try this recipe:

5 pcs. Graffiti Eggplant
3 pcs. tomatoes, diced
1 pc. onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
3 tbsps. patis (fish sauce)
pepper to taste

Let water boil. Place the eggplant and let it cook until the color changes. (In case you're wondering, I wasn't boiling the eggplant in muck, I put it on top of the pork I was stewing). 

Once cooked, remove the eggplant. Let it cool.  

Prepare the tomatoes, onion and garlic.

Once cool, chop the eggplant. 

Mix all ingredients in a bowl.

Chill for 30 minutes before serving.

Sunday, September 18, 2016


Earlier this year, I had the chance to work for a project in Dubai, the City of Gold. One of the places I made sure to visit were the traditional markets- the Gold Souk and the Spice Souk.
A friend who now lives there took me to Deira, where the souk is located, via an abra (water taxi) trip across the Dubai Creek. And as things are big in Dubai, the creek is a actually wide river that took us about 5 minutes to cross.

The Spice Souk was a kaleidoscope for the senses. Everywhere you turn, there's something to see, smell and taste.  For every every spice you had on your list, the stall owners had two to three variants. Ask for pepper and they'll ask back- "Black, green red or white?" There's also a  container for everything- from palm-sized tin cans to sacks of whatever dried herb or fruit you want to bring home. On the side walk, you see Europeans haggling with frankincense vendors.

All I wanted was to buy dates for pasalubong but I ended up buying tea, of all kinds, saffron and even masala, a flavorfoul mix of dry-roasted spices, which I had never used for cooking before. Haggling is a key skill when buying anything. Good thing I used to do my Christmas shopping in Divisoria.

The Gold souk entrance, just a stone's throw away from the Spice Souk, was abuzz with vendors and tourists from all over the world. I swear, we could have held a Mr. and Ms. United nations contest right there and then.

It actually has a Divisoria feel to it except that, here, everything that glitters is gold, real gold. As an iconic destination, the quality of the goods in the Souk is strictly controlled by the government. Established in the 1900s, the Gold Souk boomed in the 40's and 50's after traders from India and Iran set up shop and took advanatge of  Dubai’s free trade policies.  
After walking around the whole day, lugging all the goodies, I had to energize myself to walk back to the quay. This is where I stumbled upon this non-descript stall selling gelato made with camel's milk.
This is a camel.
 This is the desert where it lives.
If you notice, there isn't much water.  So, how can the camel produce enough milk to make gelato?

The answer is they only have enough milk for a few gelato stands and some bottled milk manufacturers.  Camel milk remains a growing industry as there aren't as many camels as there are cows. These dromedaries have been domesticated around 3,000 B.C. and somewhere along the way, someone must have gotten curious and wanted to know what camel's milk tastes like.

Well, it tastes like cow's milk infused with butter. It's creamy with a sweet-salty flavor but it is the sweetness that lingers in the palate.  I like it but some people might find it too rich for their taste. I had pistachio and saffron flavored gelato and it tasted the same like ice cream made with cow's milk. A tad richer but nothing that changes the basic taste of ice cream. In gelato, the the richness of the milk simply works. I loved the pistachio ice cream because it had real nutty bits that were still crunchy. But it's the saffron ice cream that remains unforgettable. The richness of the camel's milk enhances the aromatic flavor of saffron. Every spoonful just tickles the palate like a soft ray of sunshine on your cheeks early in the morning.

Thursday, September 15, 2016


Fish out of water
In the last few decades, tuna has been touted as a health food being a good source for protein and Omega 3 fatty acid, the good fat you need to normalise your body's metabolism. I love tuna when it's served fresh as sashimi or when it's grilled and served hot. But since grilling is not something you can do in a small kitchen without making the whole house smell like, well, grilled fish, I tried my hand at baking tuna.
Here's a quick and easy recipe using a simple Japanese marinade that you might want to try.

  • 2 cuts of Tuna  (steak cut, approx. 150 g. each)
  • 3 tbsp. mirin (rice wine)
  • 1 tbsp. Japanese soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp honey
Mix the soy sauce, honey and mirin and marinate the tuna for at least 15 minutes or a maximum of 30 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to  450 degrees Farenheit. Grease the baking pan. Place the tuna and bake.

Bake the tuna for 12- 15 minutes. Make sure you don't leave it in the oven too long or it will dry up and turn flaky.
Serve hot with a slice of lemon.
How did your baked tuna turn out?