Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Open Air Just Makes Food Taste Better

We were welcomed by smoke, lots and lots of smoke and the scent of grilled seafood and barbecue at Larsian Fuente, a big open air area lined with barbecue stands located beside Chong Hua Hospital along Fuente Osmena street.

Larsian is a barbecue lover's dream.  The stalls offer just about anything grilled - pusit, hipon, fish, chicken, pork, longganisa, even chicken skin, name it, you'll find it here.
Barbecue galore!
Squid and fish

This is my first time to try the popular "puso" or rice wrapped in what looks like coconut leaves but I'm not really sure. These puso are hanged near the ihawan to absorb the smoky flavor resulting in a more flavorful rice.
I had six of these babies!
Calamansi, onion and sili

We left Larsian smelling like barbecue and I'm guessing a couple of pounds heavier.  Maybe there's some truth to that quotation I read from a children's story, "The open air makes food taste better."  Larsian proves that indeed it does.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Magic that is Cebu Lechon

I'm not really a fan of lechon, while I love feasting on its crisp golden amber skin (who doesn't?!), I find the laman a bit bland to my liking.  Truth be told, I look forward to the paksiw two or three days after everyone has had their fill of this fiesta/special occasion guest of honor.

But all that changed in Cebu.

Having watched Anthony Bourdain's declaration of Cebu's lechon as the best roasted pig ever, I wanted to see or rather, taste for myself if this is indeed true.  Nevermind, that the one Anthony Bourdain had was, in all probability made especially for him.  I'm sure any lechon in Cebu would somehow bear a semblance, albeit ever so slightly, to the Bourdain lechon.

We told our driver to bring us wherever we can find Cebu lechon ( a very turista and first timer request, I know).  He brought us to CnT, one of the more popular lechon chains in Cebu.

CnT is a turo-turo type establishment.  You know the drill, get a try, fall in line, look at their offerings (yes they have dishes other than lechon), point at the one you like, put in in your tray then pay to the cashier.
The long queue at the counter area

This is it! Lechon galore!

True to its reputation, Cebu lechon is more malasa than it's Manila counterpart.  The skin is also crispier and the layers of fat is considerably thinner, I don't eat taba, if you must know.
Crispy balat
Tasty laman

I made the mistake of asking for sarsa, only to be greeted by a rather sheepish smile, "Ma'am, di po uso yun dito."  He then showed me how do sarsa the Cebu way, toyo and suka.  I was hesitant to try this because I prefer my lechon drowning in Mang Tomas.  Hmmm...bagay nga.  I think this simple sawsawan works because the lechon is tasty enough to begin with. 

Here's some of the dishes we ordered to somehow balance our lechon binge.
This is something that I truly enjoyed, fresh, sour,spicy and gingery, the way kinilaw should taste like.  I forget the name of the fish they used but this is something that made CnT's kinilaw a cut above the rest.   It's spongy and the texture is something a cross between a squid and a shrimp.  It does not even look like a fish.

I think to say we enjoyed the food is an understatement.

Guess what?  I hand carried some CnT lechon back to Manila for Mamu to enjoy.  After a few days, I had the best lechon paksiw ever!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Burger I Can Eat Everyday...

After a draining meeting which lasted well into night, we were hungry, really hungry but nary was a fast food in sight. Where's that jolly ol' bee when you need him?

Along C5 road in Pasig an unfamiliar sign beckoned us.
I remember telling my office mates who were skeptical, "Gutom na ako.  Kahit ano pa yan patulan na natin."

I almost changed my mind when I saw this in their tiny window. Chicken? Veggie?  Where's the beef?
Their waitress/ cashier told us that their burgers are of the healthy kind made of chicken breast meat or vegemeat.  But it was this or a sit down resto where I'm sure the ordering and the waiting would take longer, gutom na gutom na talaga ako, as in!

Their menu which was posted on the window looks promising.
Their burgers are available in three sizes: Good (small single patty), Better (single patty bigger than Good) and Best (double patty).  

We all opted for the Better Bacon (made of vegemeat) Mozza Melt, our reasoning, if it turned out to be lasang papel at least single patty lang but it was filling, enough to tide us over until we get to the office where we have "real food".  Besides, in my book, you can never go wrong with mozzarella.

We waited in the car and a good 10 minutes after our orders were delivered.  Everything was hot!  Literally.  Good Burgers makes use of  a big pan de sal instead of a hamburger bun, a very Pinoy touch.  On my first bite I couldn't believe that I was eating something healthy.  The burger was moist, juicy, well seasoned and yummy!  Except for the oohhs and ahhhs, conversation practically ceased  inside the car.  
Bacon Mozza Melt (Better)
When we arrived the office I immediately googled Good Burgers and found out they had a branch in Quezon City, we searched Maginhawa Street in U.P. Teacher's Village but couldn't find it.  I swear I've been craving this burger for weeks.

Then one time, I was feeling down, my sister suggested we give my search another try.  This time we ventured Maginhawa further down towards Sikatuna Village.  Lo and behold!  The now familiar sign.

On that visit, we learned more about my now favorite healthy burger.  All the while I thought what we ordered last time was the vegetarian burger, turns out, it was chicken.  The vegetarian burger is only available in two sizes, good and best.  The (more chatty) cashier told us that if I had a better burger then it was definitely chicken patty.

This time around I tried the Margherita Burger (basil, mozarella and roasted tomatoes).  Heaven in every bite, I think this is an ice cream brand's tagline.
Margherita Burger (Best)
We took home a vegetarian burger for Mamu and Papi.  It looked and tasted like grilled luncheon meat.  Really good also but being the carnivore that I am, I still prefer the chicken burger.

Good Burgers is something I can eat everyday without feeling guilty.  If only they deliver in our area.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Mamu's Homemade Bangus Sardines

Mamu was bursting with excitement when she told me that she received a text message from her suki. "Meron silang bangus na pang sardines," she told me.

I don't like bangus but I was really excited because this means homemade bangus sardines.  One of Mamu's best dishes ever!

I told her to get 10 kilos, but she said 5 would be more than enough for us.

Bangus sardines is pretty easy to prepare.  The hardest part is cleaning the bangus because Mamu never makes this unless the bangus is really small, about 4-5 inches.  The smaller the better.

First, she layers the bangus in a pressure cooker then pours olive oil (or canola). Next, she tops everything with spices and aromatics; carrots, chili peppers, bay leaves, whole peppercorns, a secret ingredient which Mamu refuses to divulge, unless your family (clue: a fragrant spice that reminds me of Christmas), and salt. 

After two hours, the smell of the sardines fills the room.

I swear no sardines comes close to this.  Nary a bone in sight because it's soft and edible.  Real sarap to the bones goodness.

Best with garlic fried rice and patis with a lot of sili. 

I always tell Mamu, "Magbenta na tayo ng sardines.  Ikakayaman natin 'to."  It's really that good!

True enough, the five kilos was a little bitin.  It was compete wiped out by day 4 (we're a family of four).  To be fair, Mamu gave some to her friends.

Next time she receives a text from her suki, I'll tell her to get 10 kilos.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Go Fan

Mamu's go to food has and will always be Chinese.  When I suggested we try Go Fan at SM City Fairview, she eagerly agreed.

Go Fan Roasts and Dimsum is a Hong Kong style resto where ordering is somewhat interactive.  In fact, part of their menu is a how to order instructions.  But we didn't get to try this. We ordered set meals instead.

Mamu tried the Fried Dumpling and Yang Chow value meal.  The dimsum is meaty but the sauce, more like  colored cornstarch slurry, is really bland.  Good thing they have different sauces on the table so I opted to use the hoisin.  I like their Yang Chow which has this smoky flavor from the asado bits, but then again you can never go wrong with Yang Chow.  At 70 pesos, I guess we really don't have anything to complain about.
FYI, the Yang Chow is really heavy and siksik.

The Dimsum Sampler is really a good value at 299 pesos.  It contains 3 pieces each of their most popular dumplings.  There's Siopao, Shrimp, Hakaw, Spinach and Hot and Sour.
My favorite is the Spinach Dumpling, the one with the green filling in the middle.  It was herby and garlicky complemented by a DIY dipping sauce of calamansi, soy sauce, vinegar and chili oil.  Winner!

They use real roe in their Shrimp Dumpling

The Dimsum Sampler comes with a free pitcher of ice tea 
We're definitely go back to Go Fan.  I'm dying to find out how to use their interactive menu.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

We Got It All For You

It's kind of hard to wrap my head around the idea that SM has it all for you.  But spending the whole day at SM City Fairview, sans shopping and watching a movie, made me realize how their tagline, "we go it all for you" holds true.

Mamu and I brought Papi to a satellite clinic of The Medical City at SM City Fairview for check-ups and tests.
 SM welcoming us.  

Side note: We arrived there at 9:00 a.m., an hour before the mall opened.  This is the first time I enjoyed a practically deserted mall (I'm not really a fan of crowded places).  There's just so much space.
This would've been perfect if the shops were open.

Anyway, to continue, doctors' clinics and laboratory, they got it.
The Medical City at the Lower Ground floor.

Shops, of course!
 Did some window shopping when I got bored waiting for Papi's doctor.

Beauty essentials, they have it.
Purchased something on promo at Watson's

Grocery, check.
I went to grocery while both Papi and Mamu waited for another doctor.

 Food cravings?  Take your pick.
Had a late lunch on the way to another branch of The Medical City 
at the basement for more tests.

Last minute errands?  No problem.
I forgot to buy something at the grocery so I went to the nearby SM Hypermart.

Bigger and better laboratories, meron pa din.
 The Medical City at the basement for Papi's utrasound.

This the first time we brought Papi to a mall and let me just say, SM Fairview is very wheelchair accessible, from the ramps to the elevators to the comfort rooms. Way to go SM.  Ok I'll stop now, this is starting to sound like a press release for SM.

In the words of Arnold Schwarzenegger, "I'll be back."  I always come back.

SM, you truly got it all!

Watson's Photo:

Friday, July 23, 2010

A Rainy Day Sugar High

I love Chocolate Chip cookies.  I love Peanut Butter.  I love hazelnut.  Put them all together I love them better!

I was craving for something sweet.  Then I saw the peanut butter and hazelnut syrup in the pantry.  The milk and cookies have been sitting in the refrigerator for days.
I sandwiched a generous serving of extra crunchy peanut butter between two cookies then warmed it up in the microwave for ten seconds.  Mixed two tablespoons of hazelnut syrup with a cup of steamed milk.


Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Sandwich and Hazelnut Steamer.