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

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Traveling Tummy: LA- SPAGO

Oops! One more LA post I forgot about (because I didn't have my camera and was using other people's cams!)

This was our last work night (I stayed 4 extra days after to hang out with friends) (and eat Umami) and the Penshoppe people graciously hosted our final dinner at Spago as a thank you to us for traveling to the US to interview their latest endorser, Zac Efron (umm I think WE should have said thanks haha!) After our one-on-one interviews, we went over to Beverly Hills to try out one of Wolfgang Pucks famed restos.Sans Zac, unfortunately. haha.

Me doing my final look-through of my questions for Zac

The smoked salmon and caviar pizza and Tuna cone at Spago. I think these two were my favorite parts of the meal. I think I could have eaten at least 3 of each!

Slow braised beef short rib tortellini. I originally wanted the short ribs I saw on the menu as my main but they ran out. Argh! To be fair, we were there quite late. I should have ordered this instead to follow my mushroom soup starter. My friend and fellow journalist got this. Looked delish! I'm a sucker for anything braised or slow cooked. The meat is usually so tender it falls off the bone and shreds!

This! If I wasn't so stuffed (and had no shame) I would have eaten all of this. I can't even remember what it's called but it had chocolate and more chocolate and toffee popcorn. Amazeballs.

Surprisingly, my main was my least favorite part of my meal. I would have wanted my steak bloodier (next time I should just ask them to carve the cow in front of me and put it on my plate haha) but maybe it was also because after my starters, I was full already.
  My last LA post, for realz. London is calling so see you English folk on May 1! 

Spago is located at 176 North Canon Drive. Phone: 310-385-0880

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Traveling Tummy-Baguio: Cafe by the Ruins

This is probably my 3rd post about Cafe by the Ruins. What can I say, I love the place! The food is consistently good, I love the restaurant itself and a Baguio trip is never complete for me without a lunch or dinner of Ruins Pasta (so good!) and an order of kamote bread!

This is from our most recent trip to Baguio over Holy Week:

With Abdul's sister Aliah. For real one of the brightest young politicians.

Kamote bread with herbed cheese and fish roe spread nomnomnom. I want to bring a whole bottle of this fish roe home. Can you please start selling? :)

Lemongrass Pandan iced tea. The rim was dipped in sugar. Yummo.

Ananda's carbonara

My fish roe pasta (Ruins Pasta) I obviously can't get enough of this stuff.

Chicken Palawan (with coconut milk and chili)

Kesong Puti and Basil spring rolls. Don't miss out on these also. And if you really like em, they are easy enough to make at home!

I can't remember what this is, but it has something to do with grilled chicken and lemon cream sauce

  I'm pretty sure this won't be the last time you will see Cafe by the Ruins on my blog... but for now my next stop is... LONDON!!!!! :D

Friday, April 20, 2012

Gourmet Kitschen TV EPISODE 2

So, we've filmed about 6 episodes of Gourmet Kitschen TV so far and plan to do 6 more for a full "season" Here's the teaser for the 2nd episode with guests DJ Mars Miranda and Host/Model Sanya Smith, both nightlife staples. Let's see how good they are in the kitchen! ;p

And in case you missed Episode 1, aka The Brunch Episode, we had former Boracay Kiteboarder (former bec she now resides in Morocco) Danielle Gonzalez and host Cesca Litton gracing us with their presence. Click below to watch it! :D

If you have any suggestions for guests or comments about the show, feel free to give them :) Thanks all!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Traveling Tummy-Baguio: Strawberry Fields

Technically, the strawberry farm is located in La Trinidad, Benguet, but since we were on a Baguio holiday and it's only about 20 minutes away, let's just say it's in Baguio!
The last time we went strawberry picking was January 2011. It was still really cold in the mountains and the strawberries were quite small. Still, there were very few people and you could pick your own for P100-150 per kilo. Not bad, right?

This time around it was April, so I was expecting the entire field to be filled with large, luscious strawberries.To my dismay, the fields were packed with people... and had barely any strawberries! We were told by the farmers that it had been raining and the untimely wet weather ruined most of the crops. Whatever was left was being sold for P500 a kilo. Whoa! Luckily, there were other more affordable things suck as lettuce, broccoli, zucchini etc.

Abdul and Ananda looking for almost non-existent strawberries.


Me, my daughter and Biggie <3

The farmers were totally making fun of my (lack of ) broccoli hacking skills.

Super expensive strawberries!

Red Lettuce. We got so much, we're still eating all of our lettuce every meal!

Onions underground!

This corn looked good, until they slathered it with margarine! Ack.

FRESH strawberry dirty ice cream!

My favorite street food :)

And one Im still too afraid to try :(

I LOVE BAGUIO. Hopefully I can go again sometime this summer and stay for a week :)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Traveling Tummy-LA: More LA eats

Since I have so many random pictures of food from my trip, I decided to finish of my LA series with this blog post (so many restos, not enough photos from each to merit a blog entry each)

If you are as confused as I was about LA (hardly ever visit there.. I'm more a NY kinda gal)you will be happy to know (and you already saw from previous blog posts) that there is lots to eat over there. Try to have a car available though because it's hard to get around without one and cabs are expensive! Anyway, here goes:

First up Wurstkuche if you find yourself in downtown LA. It's a very unassuming building on a street corner and honestly, you might even miss it if you don't know what you are looking for. It's worth a visit though for their selection of crazy sausages. Aside from the usual bratwursts and kielbasas, you can also order rabbit and veal sausages or even rattlesnake. Toppings are simple, caramelized onions or fried peppers, or both. Condiments are at the table. Get fries to go with your sausage and maybe a cider or beer from their wide selection.

If you want dessert, across the street is The Pie Hole, a small bakery/cafe with interesting sweet and savory pies (mac n cheese pie anyone?) I was so full that I didn't even order this slice of Maple Custard pie that was so good. It basically tasted like pecan pie without the nuts.

When I first started making chocolate covered bacon, it was such a big deal over here. "That's so weird" "What chocolate and bacon?" But look at the overflow of chocolate bacon we have now. Everyone has their own version of it to the point that it's not even special anymore. Know what's special now? FRIED CHICKEN CUPCAKES. Yup, you read right. My cousin posted a photo of it awhile back so when I was in LA, I was like, "right, I need to try this." It sounds really good or really disgusting, depending on who you ask. I'm on the team of the former and honestly, it's good! Like chicken and waffles! Below if the blueberry and bacon cupcake. Creative, and yes, weird, but hey, I'd eat it.

My friend also took me to Oinkster in Eagle Rock on the way to Pasadena, which was featured in that show Diners, Drive-ins and dives. This was the day AFTER Umami so for me, a burger was a burger was a burger... unless it was an Umamu burger haha! Above are the chicken and brie sandwich and the veggie burger.

While waiting and waiting...and waiting (there was a 2.5 hour wait and like a million people before us) for a table at Boiling Crab, we decided to eff it and just eat in one of the surrounding restos. We ended up in this Korean Chicken and Pizza place called Love Letter (so weird) Anyway, food was ok, but if you want stuff like Bulgogi Pizza and really crispy Korean chicken, eat here.

Got some qt with high school buddies--here with Rochelle.

With Missy who I hadn't seen in over a decade!

And Paul who drove down from SF. Yay!

Oh I forgot, I actually have to do another review on Spago, Wolfgang Puck's resto that we also went to. I borrowed someone's camera for that though so waiting for the photos! For now though, so long LA posts. More when I visit again. Next up: Baguio! :D

Friday, April 13, 2012

Traveling Tummy-LA: Umami Burger

I had heard many wonderful stories about Umami Burger from friends who take frequent trips to LA and from those that live there. Everyone raved about it being the best burger they ever tried... the soft bun, the yummy patty and the perfect combination of toppings regardless of what kind you order.
When I found out about my LA trip, the first thought that came into my head was "OMG, I will FINALLY get to try Umami" (with matching tear in my eye) I quickly looked up the menu and decided on what I wanted to eat.

I couldn't. Everything on it sounded so good. So, we ended up going to Umamicatessen- their newest restaurant that also houses four other places. It's like the inception of restaurant-restaurants within a restaurant. So there was the regular umami burger menu, PIGG by Chris Cosentino, which by name alone is obviously all types of pork (I'm a Chris Cosentino fan by the way) There is also The Cure, a kosher deli with sandwiches, matzo ball soup and knishes, Spring for Coffee pandering fresh brews, The Back Bar, where Adrian Biggs of Harvard and Stone both bottled and on tap beers, wines and classic cocktails with a twist and lastly &a Donuts- fried to order pillowy delights. I couldn't wait to try the Foie Gras and Jelly Donut.

I ended up with the truffle burger- a best seller and what most of my friends recommended. I shared an order of smushed potatoes with my friend Paul, who got the Umami burger. WE WAITED almost 2 hours for a table and I was pretty sure my party of 12 LA locals hated me, but I didn't care, I had to have my burger and foie gras donut!

Don't bother with the smushed potatoes. They were literally bland potatoes well, umm, smushed. Go for the truffle fries or cheese tots instead (had both when I did Umami Round 2)

My Truffle burger. Beef Patty, house made truffle cheese and truffle glaze. You'd think it'd be overkill but it's not. It's the best damn burger I've ever had. So sinful and worth it's $11 (600 pesos) price tag. The second time I went, I had the manly burger which had salty battered fried onions and bacon lardons. Holy Crap. So good too.

Paul's Umami Burger w/ caramelized onions, umami ketchup, roasted tomato and parmesan crisp. I don't like ketchup, but their version is not the gross vinegary kind that commercial varieties usually are. It's tastes more like tomato paste- tangy but still with a fresh tomato taste.

We shared this FOJ (foie gras and jelly donut) To be quite honest, my mind wasn't really blown so I was a bit disappointed because I was dreaming about it for so long. Don't get me wrong, it's not BAD, but it's just OK. And all the while I kept wishing the foie gras was peanut butter instead.

Oh and the BEST part...I GOT TO MEET Chris Cosentino! I was like a silly little fan girl I swear. Happiness!

I spent my last meal at Umami Burger again, but the one in Sta. Monica, on the way to the airport. My burger life will never be the same. I'm serious. Goodbye Shake Shack (well, i'll probably take that back next time Im in NYC) and I'm one of the weird people who is not gaga over In-n-out. Umami. Yes. I've found my burger soul mate.

For locations, check out

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Traveling Tummy-LA: ANIMAL

While looking up places to eat in LA, I came across the restaurant ANIMAL and was curious to see what it was all about. They have an interesting menu that pushes most people's food limits (fried veal brains, veal tongue etc) but it really excited me. Since LA is not really a walking city, it was frustrating for me to read up on all these places I didn't know if I could get to because it's too expensive to cab it everywhere and I wasn't sure how much access I'd have to a car. Fortunately, my friend who I hadn't seen in years invited me to dinner, and guess where it was? YUP, Animal! haha! My other friend graciously drove me around while I was in LA so it all worked out in the end. Here's what we ate (sorry about photo quality. Stupid me forgot my camera in manila so I was on my galaxy tab!)

shrimp & rabbit sausage spring roll, eggplant, sprouts, green curry- I think Im starting to like rabbit. Well, Ive only ever had it mixed with veal or in this case shrimp, but the flavor is very mild. I wish there was more of this dish hehe!

chicken liver toast-Not a fan of chicken liver EVER. I ate some of this but I was just glad the onion jam masked the metallic liver taste.

hamachi tostada, herbs, fish sauce vinaigrette, peanut- Didn't get to try this but the rest of the table said it was great!

foie gras terrine, satsuma marmalade, endive, quarter spice toast-Something breakfast dreams are made of. Seriously. Yes with the foie gras.

veal tongue, smoked foie gras, pastrami spices, crab apple- not a fan of lengua in any form but I had more than a bite of this. It went so well with the smoked foie gras. I'd eat this again.

tandoori octopus, tamarind, kumquat, raita- Big big fan of octopus. This was a no brainer. I liked it.

polenta, six-hour bolognese, parmesan- Comfort food on its best day. If i were having a bad day, I'd wanna come home and sleep in a bed of this.

veal brains, vadouvan, apricot puree, carrot- Veal brains aren't exactly first on my list of things to eat but hey, why not. Everything else was good. They had a jello-y consistency but a very mild flavor. It's so different from what you'd think brains would taste like after too many Zombie flicks. Maybe the walking dead are actually on to something.

poutine, oxtail gravy- Thank You Canada for the wonderful thing that is poutine. Seriously. There are no words.

balsamic pork ribs, braised greens, chili oil, garlic- This was yummy but Im pretty sure I could make it at home!

My friend Chris with his wife Chrissy

With my cousin Cristina (I was surrounded by people named Chris that night haha)

Kyle and Roch, my gracious hosts for the 3 extra days I was in LA <3

Animal Restaurant 435 N. Fairfax Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90036
Reservations: (323) 782 9225