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

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Workday Lunches: Rice and Shine!

"I've never been to Kanin Club" I uttered one day. Of course I got both confused and pitying looks from several people. My sister, Ala has been raving about this place from a few years ago and never goes back to Australia without going to KC at least once.

OK, so I don't like dinuguan. I never tried it before, but the mere sight of it makes me gag. Couple that with the weird smell and the knowledge of what it is and you've got yourself a fear factor challenge.

"But no, this one is different. I don't like dinuguan either, but I like this one!" they all said collectively about Kanin Club's pride and best seller. I had yet to be convinced.

Thai Green Mango Salad ---I don't really enjoy green mango, but i had a bite of this salad. It's a refreshing break between all the carbs and fat we had. A plus is the coriander, which I love.

Tinapa rice- I could have eaten this on its own. This was soooo good. I ate like 3 servings of rice, and I don't even really ever eat a lot of rice.

Crispy Pork Binagoongan- OMG, I LOVED this. My only regret is that Abdul will never try it because it's so darn good. And I always prefer chicken or beef over pork. This one though, has not seen the last of me yet!

Lumpiang Sariwa- Fresh lumpia with garlc, peanuts and mixed veg. This was ok. It was an honest effort on our part to get something that didn't involve crunchy fat.I still haven't found one I like more than the one sold at DEC Deli though.

And...what everybody goes to KC for- Crispy Dinuguan. It took me awhile to even put a piece on my plate. I can't say enough how much I avoid dinuguan, but after a long while, and many bites of the Binagoongan and tinapa rice, I caved and tried a tiny piece.

Verdict: It was good. Nice crunchy meat, thick sauce---but after that teeny piece, I decided that bite would be my last. I totally get why people like it though, but I guess pork blood just isn't for me.

I was stuffed- but managed a few bites of this Mango with Sticky rice before we left. Aside from the nice sweet rice and mango that usually comprises this dseesert, it had a layer of macapuno. I'm glad my stomach made space for it!

Kanin Club is located at Westgate Center, Alabang

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Restaurant Rave: Gino's brick-oven pizza

If you are in Katipunan and find yourself hungry, but don't really want to waste your appetite on fast food or coffee chains, worry no more!

A little pizza place called Gino's on the 2nd floor of the Mercury drugstore building will satisfy your cravings without making you sacrifice quality. Don't get me wrong, I love chain pizza as much as the next person, but most of the time, I just want a REAL pizza made with fresh ingredients.

Pizza Cabrese has salami, home made kesong puti, home-grown basil and parmesan.

Yes, they grow their own basil and make their own kesong puti! Awesome innit?

I found the salami slightly too salty because it was all condensed in one area, I would spread it out a bit.

Ananda had the plain cheese pizza. You can really tell the difference between a fast food/chain pizza and something that is more "homestyle" and closer to what a pizza is supposed to really be. I love their home made dough too!

Gino's brick oven pizza is located at 2F 341 Katipunan Ave. Loyola Heights QC
Contact No.: +632 215-0484

Monday, March 28, 2011

Kitschen Essentials: Don't panic, it's organic!

Over the weekend, I visited the OCCP (Organic Certification Center of the Philippines) Weekend Organic Market in Eastwood. I like how they are really pushing for people to buy organic produce and products form local farmers and small companies.

Apparently, there is a law now that people need to be certified by the OCCP in order to be able to advertise themselves as organic. There are so many products claiming to be organic that you don't know who to believe anymore. With this Certification center, it will be easier for people-all they need to do is look for the seal.

The weekend market is relatively small right now, but they are hoping to expand. A few things you'll find are vegetables like lettuce, cherry tomatoes, okra, ampalaya, fruits such as chico, star apple, green mango and bananas and fresh herbs like lemon basil (smells so good), sage, thyme, and dill.

They also have different kinds of rice--An interesting story: The black rice is called "Forbidden rice" because in ancient times only the kings in China were allowed to eat it. Pink rice is red rice that has been slightly polished, so it's not quite red but it's not white.

You can also find organic jams and jellies, coconut teas and marmalade and virgin coconut oil products. There's also organic coconut vinegar.

A little excerpt from their press release:

Organic food is produced using methods, practices and inputs that comply to a set of standars and principles concerning such issues as chemical pesticides/herbicides/insecticides etc; food additives; animal welfare; and sustainability. Organic growers aim to produce food as ‘naturally’ as possible.

For food to be organic it needs to be produced in an organic farming system without the use of synthetic chemicals or genetically modified organisms. Emphasis is placed on the whole ecosystem of the farm and a holistic farm management approach, using rotations and ruminant animals as an integral part of the system. Organic systems recognize that our health is directly connected to the health of the food we eat and, ultimately, the health of the soil.

Animals often play a key role in an organic farming system. In the production of animal products, animal welfare is also an important issue with only free-range animals allowed.

While organic food is more expensive than organic food, it is simply because it has much better value. Buying organic food is like paying health insurance- you pay less for medical expenses because you are healthier than if you ate only non-organic food.

The OCCP Weekend Organic Market is located at the Eastwood Mall Open Park every weekend until May

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Workday Lunches: My idea of a Happy Meal

My Cafe Med Appetizer sampler with Kofta, Baba Ganoush (ahem, mine's better haha) and falafels-->One of my favorite things to eat EVER.

Had this for lunch sometime last week. I'd eat it more often but eating here gives you the most bangin' garlic breath- not a very good look haha!

Cafe Mediterranean is located on 2/F Alabang Town Center

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Kitschen Confusion: Is it a banana or a weapon?

I just had to share this craziness with you!

I walked into the kitchen and saw these insanely GIGANTIC bananas. That is NOT a table knife, it's a chef's knife!

Still don't believe me? That's a TOASTER behind the bunch of bananas.

This is probably the best photo--Not only is it bigger than a 750ml wine bottle, it's just as fat too. 4 people could share this one banana!

I'm sorry but I'm just so amazed!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Traveling Tummy: Beach Grub

A word of advice: When in Boracay, Eat Local.

The little mom n' pop spots on the island are being invaded by franchises like Starbucks, Yellow Cab and Shakey's. Why anyone would go all the way there to eat that is beyond me. Especially when there are so many island-grown establishments that are REALLY good. If you are worried about price, there is something for everyone, and one of my favorite spots is the very tasty, very wallet-friendly SMOKE.

Smoke is a little hole in the wall spot in one of D'Malls little turns. You can easily miss it but it's to the left of the big Andok's

Our photographer, Pao had Bulalo. I had this before and it's really good on a cold beach night. Ok, so it was 3 pm but it was really gray and windy the whole weekend.

Then we shared this sizzling bulalo. Oh-my-god. Garlicky goodness. I heard they have crispy bulalo too. Madness.

I had the salpicao- which I always get. Can't go wrong with this for P99 pesos. I think they cook it in butter too for extra flavor. It's actually best to go here late at night in that moment between being drunk and a hangover.

Smoke is located at D'Mall, Station 2, Boracay

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Out of the Kitschen: Truth

I don't spend ALL my time eating.

Untitled from Sarah Meier Albano on Vimeo.

Listen to me and my girls as we ramble for roughly 8 minutes... Don't worry, it's good stuff :)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Traveling Tummy: What breakfast should always look like

The "Braz"-- sausage, scrambled eggs, garlic potatoes and toast with butter and jam.

Pain Perdu minus the bacon with a side of tapa and fruit bowl.

This was what breakfast was like at Ti-Braz over the weekend.

Now back in the city, this is what I had for breakfast today:

Yep. NOTHING. Sadness.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Kitschen Chaos: My very first Crepe

While hanging out at Ti Braz in Boracay, I casually mentioned how cool it looked to make crepes and how I wanted to make one. My friend and manager of the place, Danielle was like "Go ahead and make one" which of course excited me and scared me at the same time. The people that make them make it look so easy but I knew mine would be a mess.

So, Sarah, the enabler that she is (Hi Sarah! haha) said she wanted a crepe and to make one for her, so I gave the list of ingredients I wanted and went behind the bar.

As expected, my first attempted was disastrous. haha. It's harder than it looks!

My second attempt was waaaay better. Ok, that's a lie. It was better, but not by much.

First four layers-- ground beef, emmental, garlic and tomatoes

Last few layers--- bechamel, basil and parmesan cheese

I cheated my way into making it look awesome!
About to serve it to my favorite taste tester, Sarah! (


Visit Ti Braz for crepes on the island! If you're nice and make pa-cute, maybe Danielle will let you get behind the counter too! Oh and their breakfast is awesome here.

Ti Braz is located next to Cafe del Mar (With the big mermaids!) between Station 1 and 2. 50% off on all crepes every Tuesday!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Workday Lunches: Cafe Mary Grace

I usually bring my own food to work, but there's days I just can't be bothered to prepare anything or I forget and end up walking over to Alabang Town Center to eat.

We were gonna go get pho but I got sidetracked by the possibility of my favorite ensaymada at Mary Grace. Never tried their food before but I'm glad I did now!

Mary Grace has the whole nostalgic,wholesome thing down pat, with little notes from customers under their glass tables. So cute.

Started with the Onion dip served with cassava chips. This was amazing. It had the texture of kropek (prawn crackers) but made of cassava. The dip was filled with caramelized onion flavor mixed with cheese. I could have eaten just this.

But no. Despite the fact that I am leaving to go to Boracay this weekend, I still insisted on eating pasta- as if I haven't been eating enough!The pasta serving for the Pasta Vongole looks small and you at first will feel like it won't make you full, but halfway through, I was stuffed. (I still finished it though)

My workmates Trina and Tanya both got the chorizo and olive pasta. I think I want this next time.

My girl Margaux got this cream dory pasta with creamy leek sauce, or something like that. She said it was good, but also heavy.

A nice way to spend a Wednesday lunch hour (followed by Sebastian's ice cream)

I never even made it to my ensaymada!

Cafe Mary grace is located at Ground Level, Corte De Las Palmas Alabang Town Center.
Tel: 384-0129 / 828-8476

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Restaurant Review: Army Navy

I'm so behind. I only tried Army Navy last night!

My past few weeks haven't exactly been stellar, so Abdul suggested we grab a bunch of food from Army Navy and stay in on a Friday night watching dvds.

We did the Army Navy part and one dvd after which we passed 10 pm! Caught up on much needed sleep, finally! I got 9 hours!

Freedom Fries. Yummy, thin cut and seasoned perfectly. Still crispy after a 20 minutes car ride.

Onion Rings. They were ok. I like how they were thin and crunchy but needed to be seasoned/ salted more.

My burger. Their regular burger consists of a quarter pound patty, lettuce, tomato, raw onions and ketchup and mayo. I asked for mine without the mayo and ketchup and caramelized onions instead, with cheese and extra bacon. I know, I know. I made it 10x more unhealthy. It was bomb though, I love their black sesame seed bun.

What did we wash it down with? A bottle of Moet of course. We ghetto fabulous like that ;p

Army Navy has branches along Commerce Avenue in Alabang, Glorietta 5 and De la Rosa street, Makati

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Restaurant Rant: Jozu Kin

Abdul wanted to eat dinner at Charlie's in Ronac last Sunday, but I managed to sway him into going to Jozu Kin instead. I had some food from this restaurant a few weeks back at a housewarming and really enjoyed it. I shared this information with the boyfriend and his Japanese food living butt willingly obliged to my request to eat there instead.

Unfortunately, I was really disappointed this time around.

Should have stuck with Charlie's!

Abdul got this spicy tuna maki. He said it was ok. Nothing special.

I got the unagi maki. The unagi looked really limp and sad. It also had a strong fishy taste. I ate it because it was there but I didn't really like it at all.

I also got the tempura roll. The rolls were loose and kept falling apart. The crunchy tempura batter tasted like old oil and it was cold. This gave me a stomach ache after from all the oil. I feel like the tempura itself wasn't cooked well :(

The only thing I actually enjoyed was the garlic rice Abdul got with his main. And the guyabano juice--> but that was out of a can.

For this price range, or even cheaper, go to Omakase instead-- they have never failed me over there!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Kitschen Chaos: Sometimes a girl just needs steak

I don't get to cook as often as I used to and it's a damn shame because I really enjoy it, and my friends and family really enjoy my food too.

I am usually busy doing nothing on weekends to rest from the week before and for the week after, but many times I just can't take it and need to be in the kitchen making something.

Earlier in the week, I wanted steak really bad, but it had to be the steak I make at home. So I marked Saturday on my calendar as Steak day and whipped up a meal for my dad, Abdul and my cousin Patricia.

My first time to make Carrot & Coriander Soup- I tried this somewhere years ago, but invented the recipe on the spot as I walked through the supermarket aisles. Came out pretty good and will definitely make this again. And I usually hate carrots!

I have featured this before, and I make it quite often-- Warm Shitake Salad. It's my go to meal in a bowl when I'm too lazy to cook anything major.

Steak! -made with Aussie beef, of course! Marinated my usual way, pan fried with a little butter until medium rare.

I could live eating mashed potatoes alone, but my new favorite kind involves toasted garlic and green onions, sharp cheddar and parmesan cheese.

Aaaah, weekends, you need to happen more often!