Kitchen MIshaps and Victories, Restaurant Rants and Raves and a whole lotta wanderlust!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Foodventures: Salcedo Market

One of my favorite haunts in Manila is Salcedo Market. I tried to come by as often as possible even if it's actually really out of the way for me to go. It makes my weekend cheat days so worth it!

I'm always the last to sit down at the market. At restaurants, I'm also always last to order. With so much good food out there, how on earth do you pick just one?

Answer: At this weekend market, you don't. You just need to decide what order you want to eat all your food in.

As I walked around, I decided to take photos of some of the things you can try at the market and fresh produce you can take home.

TAKOYAKI- Japanese Octopus Balls. Obviously not the "balls" you are thinking. Or maybe that I'm thinking. haha.

Fresh Native Tomatoes and Okra

Cute little pumpkins!

Hungarian Sausages. Yummmm.

Paella Valencia--- well, the tail end of it.

But what REALLY made me happy today was this:

Holy Crap. Before today, I had been craving for Paella Negra for months without being able to feed that desire. So when I saw this at the market today, I pounced on it.

Squid Ink rice, a generous amount of aioli and a squeeze of lime/lemon= Heaven.

Now this is all I want to eat. I think I will buy a Paellera and start experimenting pronto!

It was a nice sunny day too and it started raining right when we left. Good times! :D

Let's Eat!!!

Guests enjoying the food! I was still in the kitchen at this point hehe!

Friday, October 22, 2010

GOURMET KITSCHEN Urban Dinner 1 : The aftermath

My last post was about the upcoming Urban Dinner that Banj Albano and I had been talking about for months, and well, it finally happened last night! After figuring out the menu and deciding who to invite, we settled on the October 21st date and waited for the invitees to respond. Aside from a few who had to decline due to schedule conflicts, most people said yes.

The menu revolved around the Filipino Fusion theme. More than anything, I think the food was Filipino served in an unexpected way. Instead of regular kare kare, I fried veggies and served it with a spicy peanut "kare kare" dip, Sinigang had no soup and was instead served as a roast with tangy sinigang gravy. I made adobo but twisted it up with maple and thyme-flavors I usually add when I'm roasting pork. Also, I did bangus belly ala pobre but added an extra dimension with a sage butter Teriyaki sauce. Lastly, I made longanisa and quezo de bola spring rolls drizzled with Balsamic vinegar reduction, as well as champorado ala mode ( with queso or ube ice cream) for dessert.

The guests included Cesca Litton, Shawn Yao, Gabe Mercado, Don Puno, Erika Aquino, Pat Malay, Sarah Meier and Rev Naval. It was intimate enough that everyone got to talk but the cool thing was that not everyone in the group knew each other. Some did, some had met once or just knew of each other prior to the dinner.

Here are a few photos of the night :)

Starter: Fried eggplant and Sweet Potato with Spicy Kare Kare Dip

Longanisa and quezo de bola spring rolls with balsamic vinegar reduction

Sinigang Roast Chicken w/ Tangy Sinigang Gravy

Bangus Belly ala pobre with Sage Butter Teriyaki Sauce

Slow cooked, twice fried maple thyme adobo

Champorado with Queso Ice cream (sorry kinda melted shot!)

Gabe Mercado, Shawn Yao (with their take home Birthday Cafe cupcakes) and yours truly!

Erika Aquino enjoying the fare


We're definitely looking forward to the next one! Let me know if this is something you are interested in being part of!


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Gourmet Kitschen Urban Dinner

The first ever Gourmet Kitschen Urban Dinner is happening this Thursday, the 21st of October!

I am thankful I have friends who no only love to eat, but love everything that goes with eating- like the conversation and sense of community you feel when you are breaking bread with people. Sometimes you don’t even really have to know the person eating next to you. Through food, you end up talking and through that, you may find similarities and common friends and interests.

My friend Banj Albano and I have been talking about this for months. Since I like to cook, we figured we’d have a monthly gathering of people who may or may not know each other, but we feel might have like minds or might be able to offer something to everyone else.

The set up is this-We will charge a set amount per head for ingredients and I’ll do all the cooking. We host the dinner and bring people together. Bring your own bottle to share and let the rest of the evening flow. This Thursday is our first day- and we are nervous but excited (well I am, at least! Im cooking! haha) The first is Filipino Fusion, and while some are really considered “fusion”, others are more a different way of serving and eating your favorite Filipino dishes!


Starters: Longanisa and Quezo de Bola Spring Rolls drizzled with Balsamic Vinegar reduction

Fried eggplant and sweet potato with kare-kare dip

Mains: Sinigang Roast Chicken with Tangy Sinigang Gravy

Slow cooked, twice fried maple thyme adobo

Bangus belly with garlic terriyaki glaze

Dessert: Dark Chocolate champorado ala mode (w/ choice of Mantecado or Ube ice cream)

Drink: Pandan Iced Tea and BYOB to share :D

Stay tuned for post-dinner review and photos! And for the next Urban Dinners to come!

Resturant Rave: LU

I had been wanting to try LU out since it opened and finally got a chance to when I met my ex-workmates for brunch today for a little bit of catching up and Saturday pigging out.

Now I’m supposed to be on a healthy food trip, but I knew this weekend would ruin my plans. I had this brunch and a kids party today AND a wedding of one of my college buddies tomorrow. What diet? I will resume again on Monday.

So, after a few days of wheat, cottage cheese, salads and baked fish, I had a nice lamb stew at LU. It was Moroccan Style Lamb Stew with apricots and prunes and served with harissa couscous. My tummy and taste buds were definitely very happy today.

Moroccan Lamb Stew with Apricots and Prunes w/ harissa couscous

Also try:

5 cheese Truffled mac n’ cheese. OHMYGOD. I had a bite of this. Deadly. Worth it though.

FRIED Hainanese Chicken. I had a bite of this too. Crazy good!!!

but the piece de resisitance I must say is the dessert—- do NOT miss:

Peanut butter and jelly tart. Friends, this is 5000 calories. Dead serious. Get it to share. Unless you are trying to gain weight in a major way. This tart was split between 5 people. Damn, that’s still 1000 calories!

Lu is good for dining with friends, so you can order a lot of different things and taste and share! I would come back here :)

For table reservations, call (02) 403-3991. Lu is located at G/F Joya Bldg., Joya Drive, Rockwell, Makati City, Metro Manila

Resturant Rave: Cafe by the Ruins

Baguio is one of those places that you never want to change. You want to go there and feel the familiar cold, pine-scented breeze, see the horses in Wright and Mine’s View Parks, buy ube and strawberry jam at Good Sheperd Convent and buy strawberries, blankets and walis at the Public Market. Although there have been many changes and new establishments popping up every where in the mountain city, a few restaurants are still must-visits every time I am up there.

Cafe by the Ruins is one such restaurant I can visit over and over. A few years ago, it got a face lift, but the food has remained predictably good. I have yet to have a disappointing meal from here (knock on wood!)

Don’t be afraid of carbs-start with one of the yummy freshly-baked breads, you won’t regret it. My personal favorite is the Kamote bread, which you can get with butter and jam or cheese- or both :)

I usually order the fish roe pasta (Abdul ordered it this time around) but I was pigging out the entire day and couldn’t decide what I wanted. I ended up picking the Vegetable Tempura with Mountain Rice. The tempura included mushrooms, zucchini flowers and sweet potato. It was good but I didn’t finish it because I was seriously still so stuffed from the previous afternoon’s food fest.

There is this other thing I ALWAYS order, but I can’t for the life of me remember exactly what it’s called. I’ve tried googling the Cafe by the Ruins menu to no avail. Let’s just call them Bangus Spring Rolls. They are little bite sized pieces of yum. It comes with this strong vinegar ( I don’t like vinegar) but I eat mine plain.

Don’t forget to grab some more bread and pastries on your way out—-basil bread, croissants, chocolate croissants and biscuits all get my vote! Enjoy!

Kitschen Chaos: Queso-rap!

I was going to make tacos for a quick and easy dinner, but needed something else to go with it. I didn’t wanna make anything complicated because it would totally defeat the purpose of my easy-to-make supper.I found some Tostitos Hint of Lime chips in our pantry and decided to run with that. Making this appetizer dip is insanely easy and the results are awesome!

1 225gram bar of cheese (cheddar or monterey jack) although use whatever you prefer, 1 large green chili (de-seeded, unless you wanna die of heat-then by all means keep them there) 1/3 c beer, 1/3 c chopped onions, 1 Tbs chopped garlic, 1/3 c store bought salsa, 1/4 c chopped coriander (cilantro/wansoy), salt and pepper to taste.

1. Prepare everything you will need because you have to work pretty fast.

2. Saute onions on medium heat until they soften. Add chopped chilis and fry for about a minute. Add beer and reduce.

3. Add cheese (grated or cut into cubes) and allow to melt.

4. Mix in salsa and coriander.

5. Transfer into a bowl and garnish with more coriander.Serve with Hint of Lime chips.

I would have added Spanish Chorizo to this recipe but Abdul was over and all the pork I would have used had to stay in the fridge. Aaah, interfaith relationships ;p

Restaurant Rant: Kogi Bulgogi

I had been wanting to try out this restaurant despite the not so stellar reviews from my mom and a few other friends who have tried it. Every time I am the new Eastwood Mall and trying to decide where to eat, I end up picking something over this, so one day after a meeting, I decided to finally just go into Kogi Bulgogi and have a late lunch.

For a fairly small place, Kogi has a lot of servers. The first one that walked over to our table was really helpful, but she never came back and was replaced by, to my dismay, a semi-rude waiter. First of all, I asked for 2 sets of spoons and forks, and he came back holding all four utensils in one hand and literally dropping it in front of me. Second, when I commented that I was at a restaurant and that he could have at least placed it properly in front of us, he kind of just smiled at me in a really annoying way.

C’mon son. You are working at a restaurant, get with the program!

So, after that incident, I decided to just ignore him and focus on the food. Instead of a real meal, I decided to order a bunch of starters including Korean Fried Chicken, Crispy Shrimp (can’t remember the name but it was supposed to be spicy), Fried Dumplings and Garlic Rice.

The Shrimp was so-so. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t awesome. I should have ordered something else and I could have done with out it.

Dumplings were really small and quite boring.

This was actually the only thing I enjoyed (along with the buttery garlic rice) but the thing is, there was nothing that made it different from any other good fried chicken. Maybe I came in with higher expectations of Bonchon style Korean chicken- but to my defense, all the “Korean Fried Chicken” I’ve been too in other countries mean Bonchon style! So although this was good, it wasn’t what I was expecting. I’m better of going to Chicken Charlie’s for that (have yet to try that place!!!)

So anyway, semi rude waiter picked up our plates when I asked him to pack up the left overs for us to take home, some of the side veggies fell from the plate on the table. He picked veggies up from the table with his bare hands and plopped them back down on the plate—-the plate that had the food that I was asking him to wrap for us.

Ugh. Sorry Kogi Bulgogi… I’m not compelled to come back.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Kitschen Chaos: Taaaaaaaacos!

One of my go to dishes when I’m either too lazy to take time to prepare a meal, or just want something fast (like w/n 20 minutes) is tacos. There are several reasons why I love making this.

1. You don’t actually have to cook anything except the meat.

2. You can “build” your own meal. Everything is laid out in front of you and you can put what you like and ignore the rest.

3. If you make a large batch of the ground beef, you will have left overs-perfect for the next day, or as a midnight snack.

4. Men love tacos. And since I was cooking for both my dad and Abdul, this was the logical choice.

500g ground beef, cumin powder, chili powder, spanish paprika, garlic powder, 1/2 c chopped onions, 1/4 cup chopped garlic, 1 packet Old El Paso Taco Seasoning Mix, 2/3 cups juice from a can of stewed tomatoes, the rest of the stewed tomatoes, chopped lettuce, sour cream, shredded cheese, taco shells.

1. Saute onions until soft and add in garlic. Season with cumin, chili, paprika, salt and pepper.

2. When slightly brown, add ground beef and cook until meat is browned and there is not more pink. Drain the liquid and then add the taco mix and tomato juice.

*Note: The taco mix packet actually says add 2/3 cup water. The tomato juice is my own thing to add more flavor.

3. Simmer for about 5 or so minutes.Add some chili flakes for some zing. Meanwhile, put the lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream and cheese into small bowls and set up on the table, along with the taco shells. When beef is ready, bring to the table too (duh.)

4. Build your own taco!

Note: I already put a lot of onions into the beef because I can’t stand fresh onions, but do what YOU like. Also, I use stewed tomatoes because, guess what, I don’t like fresh tomatoes either. I know, I’m weird.


Restaurant Rave: L'Opera Rsitorante Italiano

Warning: This post has no photos. I was too busy eating.

Very few things make me happier than a well-cooked steak. After so many “misses” in the last few months, I finally encountered a “hit”- and not even in a new place. L’Opera has been around for awhile, but I had not eaten there in awhile. I was initially reluctant to order steak because of the many below par ones I have been eating in restaurants lately. I usually save the steak for home consumption, where I can cook it exactly the way I like it-medium rare (medium at most) For some reason, so many people do not understand that by medium rare, I mean almost red, and bloody when cut. When I ask for medium rare, I get a barely pink steak, and when I ask for medium, I get well-done.

Anyway- I arrived at the restaurant starving so I decided to start with some soup to tide me over. I ordered the Zuppa de Cipolle-onion soup (P220), which, unlike French onion soup that is overloaded with cheese (w/c mind you, I like also) was encased in a pastry shell. This version was light, with tender pieces of onion and did not leave me too full to eat my main.

I ordered the Tagliata di Manzo con Fegato D’oca in Salsa Tartufata con Spinaci e Asparagus or Baked Prime U.S. beef tenderloin in L’Opera’s truffle sauce embedded with pan-fried Foie Gras and served with fresh spinach and asparagus (P1,100) I cut a slice of beef and was ecstatic to see nice red meat inside. The foie gras added another dimension to the beef, and if it wasn’t rich enough, the truffle sauce made it to die for. I ate every last bite of this meal. Why have I not been to L’Opera in a long time again?!

You would think that one would be stuffed after eating all of that, but I wanted something sweet. The panna cotta con frutti de bosco (P240) called out to me, so I ordered that despite knowing that it would probably be heavy. Screw it, It was a Sunday! Another thing I love is a well-made panna cotta. It is such a simple, clean tasting dessert and can be topped with almost anything. I had asked for raspberry topping on mine and when my order came, I was taken by surprise at how big the serving was. But no complaints, I ate (almost) the entire thing.

Although this restaurant is not new, it is definitely something you shouldn’t sleep on. Food has always been good for as long as I have been eating here. it may be a little pricey, so save it for special occasions if you must but definitely worth eating here at least once!

L’Opera is located at The Fort Entertainment Complex, 26th St. cor., 5th Ave. Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City. Call 889-3963 for reservations

Kitschen Chaos: Stuffed Tomatoes

This is actually part of yesterday’s Kitchen Chaos but I thought I’d save it for today because yesterday’s post was getting too long already.

As I was saying, I am still not used to having to excessively think about a menu because of dietary restrictions but ever since I started dating Abdul, I have been careful about pork (at least when he’s eating over) and now one of my best friend’s has gone all pesco-veg on me. It’s all good, it helps me get creative and invent new recipes!

So, stuffed tomatoes. It actually started with “I think I’ll make stuffed tomatoes” I picked up the tomatoes, and wondered “What can I stuff them with?” I scanned the seafood counter, spotted the crab meat and just grabbed some before I could change my mind. I picked up a few other things to mix with it and that was that. Recipe Below:

Tomatoes stuffed with Crabmeat (again, measurements are more or less accurate. Adjust to your taste)

1/4 k. crab meat, 200g fresh button mushrooms, diced (canned mushrooms are shit. They should not even be called mushrooms anymore), 1/3 c. crumbled feta cheese, 3/4 c. caramelized onions, 2 Tbs garlic, 1/2 bar cream cheese, juice of 1/2 lemon, about 15 basil leaves, ripped up quickly (it doesn’t need to look pretty), 1/3 cup breadcrumbs, 10 medium sized tomatoes, rock salt and freshly ground pepper to taste (freshly ground pepper makes a difference!) 1/2 c. grated cheddar cheese, 1/4 c. fresh grated parmesan.

1. Chop onions, mushrooms and garlic and set aside.

2. Fry onions and deglaze several times to bring flavors out (I added, salt, pepper, a bit of cayenne pepper and oregano to the onions)

3. Mix together cream cheese, caramelized onions, garlic, feta, mushrooms, crab meat, lemon juice, breadcrumbs and basil in a bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. This unappetizing looking stuffing is actually really good!

4. Cut of the tops of the tomatoes and scoop all the seeds out until the tomato is hollow. Stuff with the crab meat goodness.

5. Top with cheddar and parmesan cheese. Pile it on high, don’t be shy!

6. Bake at 350C until cheese is slightly toasted, about 15 minutes.

Now eat them before they get cold!

Kitschen Chaos: Spaghetti alla vongole

Welcome to my first post on Kitschen experimentation!

So, Originally, I was supposed to spend the holiday (Inauguration of our new President!) working and helping my boyfriend clean his studio, but then I ended up planning to make dinner and inviting over Sarah and Banj.

I was going to make pasta form scratch but impending girly time of the month makes me very lazy/cranky so I went with regular dry spaghetti noodles. Also, since Sarah decided to go pesco-veg, my once easy to create menus now take more careful planning.

Let me tell you that I am not a big fan of seafood. I don’t hate it, but I will take a nice juicy medium steak any day over shellfish, so cooking with no meat or poultry is definitely a challenge for me.

I decided to make Spaghetti alla vongole, which I found out later on-as I was cooking it-is apparently my boyfriend, Abdul’s favorite pasta dish. I mean, really? Talk about pressure. As for the Tomatoes stuffed with crab meat, It was kind of a “quick what should I stuff the tomatoes with” moment at the supermarket that led me to this invented recipe. Enoy and tell me what you think if you actually try it!

Spaghetti alla Vongole (please take note that my measurements may or may not be on point-I cook accdording to taste)

500g Spaghetti Noodles, 2 Tbs olive oil, 3 Tbs chopped garlic, 1/2 c chopped onions, 1Tbs chili flakes, 1kilo fresh clams, 1 1/2 c white wine, 2 sprigs rosemary (chopped), 1 nob butter, salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook spaghetti according to instructions on packet and reserve 1 cup of pasta water.

2. In a deep pan, saute onions, garlic, rosemary and chili flakes on low heat for a few minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

3. Add clams and white wine and allow to cook on high heat until clams open up (about
5-8 minutes) Add butter.

4. Before adding pasta, check sauce. Add salt and pepper if necessary. Then add spaghetti and toss.

Ta-dah! Easy Peasy!

Now Italian tradition says no cheese. But you don’t need to listen to them. I added half a cup of fresh parmesan before serving, and put more on the table.

Enjoy! I’ll blog about the tomatoes tomorrow!

WORLD BITES: No place does pizza like New York

What is it about New York slices? People say it’s the dough, and even if you copy your favorite NY pizza dough recipe, it still won’t taste the same. Why? Because still others say it’s the water. I don’t care how many pizza places here are named after New York boroughs or icons, they will never compare to even the $1 slices you can get random places around the city.

But Manhattan is not even where you will find my favorite pizza in the whole of New York (although Artichoke pizza in the East Village comes a close second) In order to get to my favorite pizza, you need to get on the Staten Island Ferry and take that 25 minute ride out of the city. There you will find a small pizzeria called Village Maria where they sell the best chicken and broccoli pizza ever.

Imagine this: Nice chewy crust, a garlic cream sauce, fresh broccoli and tender chunks of chicken. The first time I tried this was when my friend picked me up from the airport after an 8 hour flight. I was tired and cranky and not hungry. Until I took a bite.

It may not look like much (I already warned you about my sucky photography skills) and must warn you now that my camera is waterproof, freeze proof and shock proof but is otherwise useless.

Again, it may not look like much but I assure you, it is worth the trip. So worth it that my friend Sarah bought a whole pie before she left New York last week, and brought it home for her brother, husband and me to share. We fiend for this so much once in awhile, it actually physically hurts.

My precious Village Maria slice delivered to me protected in plastic wrap, foil and a ziplock bag, kept frozen until ready to be devoured. It took almost a whole day and a plane ride for it to get here, and dried out a bit when I toasted it, but still absolutely heavenly when I took my first bite.

Village Maria Pizzeria II, 768 Manor Rd, STATEN ISLAND, NY 10314

Kitchen vs. Kitschen

Let’s get one thing straight. This is not going to be like your typical food blog with awesome professional looking photographs and that whole shebang.

I just enjoy cooking. I more often than not, have no time to, or forget to take photos while I am cooking and will end up with pictures of just the finished product or even half eaten food (I know, how barbaric)

I have no formal training and I cook by taste and feel. I think I have one gift, and that is I know what tastes good together. Other than that, I am a blind woman feeling her way around the kitchen.

The name Gourmet Kitschen is is a play on words and proof of how ironic and weird I can be. Kitsch has been said to be the opposite of art- a cheap, “slapping together” of things and passing itself off as art. I must say my cooking escapades are quite the same- a slapping together of random things I may have tasted before, wanted to taste or imagined.

I know that if I had access to the best kitchen and the best equipment, I would probably still cook the same way- messy, irrational- but filled with love and excitement.

The good thing about kitsch is if done the right way, and if it is meant to be that way-it can actually be pretty good :)

Let’s Eat!