Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Dining A La Insulares

Today, Mom said she wanted to go out and eat "something Pinoy". Her wish being my command, I decided to bring her to Elias.

Elias is located in Bonifacio High Street, Taguig City. Just like its predecessor Crisostomo, Elias, turn of the century Filipino cuisine, gives Pinoy food a modern take. The entire restaurant concept is so fascinating -- the place is classy yet homey and gives that conducive ambiance for family or friends' gatherings, and most items in the menu have Jose Rizal's characters attached to them. Victorina's Secret, a witty twist of Victoria's Secret, is an oyster dish named after one of my favorite characters in Noli Me Tangere, Dona Victorina de los Reyes de Espadana. With so many food choices with indirect names, it is easy to get lost in the menu. For example, Paborito ng Katipunero is simply the Filipino favorite molo soup.

Lengua being one of Mom's favorite dishes, she ordered the Lengua Estufado, slices of fried ox tongue cooked the traditional way with mushrooms, olives and saba banana. For our fiber intake, I ordered the Gising-Gising, chopped Baguio beans cooked in coconut milk with onions and chili labuyo. (Lengua Estofado, Php 395; Gising-Gising, Php 295)

I love oysters, so I got Elias' Choice, baked oysters with cheese and lots of garlic. As we were about to finish our meal, our waiter Burgos gave us a complimentary slice of caramel cake. By the way, the name of our waiter was not really Burgos. He was using an alias derived from Fr. Jose Apolonio Burgos, one of the three Filipino priests who were executed by garrote in 1872. Interestingly, our waitress' name was Maria Clara. (Elias Choice, Php 315)

For our drinks, Mom had the Buko Lychee Shake. I had the bottomless Iced Tea with Tamarind. As for the latter, I highly recommend this drink. It tastes weird but there's something in it that makes it so delicious. (Buko Lychee Shake, Php 180; Tamarind-Flavored Iced Tea, Php 98)

Mom and I enjoying a gastronomic trip to the turn of the century. Our orders would definitely drive Sisa crazy.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Little Delight

I seldom go to Kapitolyo in Pasig City. Today, I decided to visit this lovely neighborhood again. This time, to try this cute, little restaurant which was recommended by my good friend and fellow foodie Dr. Tisay Buenaflor.

Since the traffic situation along Shaw Blvd. was terrible and horrible, I walked all the way from San Miguel Ave. to Kapitolyo. Upon reaching the restaurant, I realized the walk was worth it. Burning a few pounds was actually a subtle preparation for something big, literally, that would come my way.

And then, there it was. Poco Deli. A small restaurant located along East Capitol Drive in Kapitolyo, Pasig City. From the outside, the place wasn't too eye-catching -- quite ordinary. It's the interior that's really jaw-dropping -- an attempt to bring Europe's culinary ambiance closer to Pinoys, with lots of wines and liquor, sausages and smoked meat, cakes and dessert.

There were so many interesting and mouth-watering items in the menu, but this one in the photo was my friend's highest recommendation. And so I ordered it. Bacon Slabs. I would understand eventually on my first bite why my friend wanted me so badly to taste it. Two big slabs (not slices) of bacon, smoked to perfection for six hours, with two pieces of sunny-side-up eggs on top of bacon rice (as in fried rice with lots of bacon bits). Translated, I ordered loads of cholesterol. So what? The guilt would just follow. It was delicious, juicy, and flavorful, anyway. Php 320

For my drink, I ordered Citrus Delight. Generous slices of lime, lemon, grapefruit and orange in a big glass of plain soda water -- perfect match for my main dish. Its acidic but sweet taste sort of washed the oil from the bacon and egg that was carpeting my tongue. Php 120

That moment of glee when you were about to indulge. Next project: bring Mom to this fantastic dining place. And we're gonna try the cakes, too.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Getting Fat With Pata

Today I decided to cook estofadong pata for lunch, the way my Mom cooks it.

Estofadong Pata is basically slices of pork leg (trotter) cooked in soy sauce. Tradition dictates that it should be sweet and have strands of dried banana blossom. The taste is somewhat a fusion of adobo, patatim and pinaksiw na pata. This particular anatomic part is ideal for estofado because of the abundance of chewy skin and sticky fat/soft tissue. My recipe (or more appropriately, Mom's recipe) also has chicken liver, pineapple chunks and saba banana slices added. As for the sauce (and the way we cook it), that's our family's secret.

Estofadong pata is best served hot with freshly-cooked steamed rice.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Gelato Love

Mom and I love ice cream.

After a very tasty Chinese dinner tonight, we decided to cap off our meal with something cold, sweet and simple. And so I brought her to Caffe Ti-amo.

Caffe Ti-amo Italian Gelato & Coffee is located at the ground level of Greenbelt 5, Makati City. Cozy, that's the simplest word that can describe this cafe -- dim lights, pleasant interior, comfy chairs, and, yes, a tree in the middle. But this establishment's design is actually an eye-catcher... a blend of the casual and the classy, as well as the classic and the modern; more French or English than Italian.

This cafe boasts of its colorful collection and wide array of gelato (that's Italian for ice cream), artistically sculptured and displayed in a very inviting fashion. This is temptation literally in the form of an ice cream. Other items are also present in their menu, namely, cakes and waffles -- Waffle Gelato being one of the bestsellers.

Mom and I chose our all-time favorites: pistachio and tiramisu gelato. The former was perfect for Mom, as the sweetness was just right. Hindi nakakaumay. The latter tasted like Bailey's ice cream (that's why I chose it), a pleasing and delicious deviation from the traditional, plain coffee-cocoa flavor.

There. The diabetic mother and diabetic-to-be son, enjoying the dessert moment, savoring a single-serving each of heaven. Ice cream is love.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Crepe Est Bonne

Mom and I wanted something light and sweet for lunch today, so I brought her to my newly-discovered and now-a-favorite dining place in Edsa Shangri-la Plaza Mall. La Creperie.

La Creperie is located at the 2nd level of the Edsa Shangri-la Plaza Mall. The place is cute and simple -- a stand-alone dining area along the mall's corridor. The interior and design remind me of the beauty of a prarie-style kitchen. Although seemingly simple, this small restaurant prepares fantastic crepe varieties that outstand and/or compare to the more popular crepe restaurants in the Metro. In fact, I myself am not that much into crepes, but La Creperie made me change my mind. Oui?

La Creperie's menu offers a variety of crepe choices that look totally appetizing but surprisingly have reasonable prices. Dessert or entree, snack or main dish... their crepes are designed to satisfy any form of craving. They also serve soups, pastas and meat dishes, as well as coffee and tea to complement the meal.

My first love... The Salidou. This is their simplest crepe, smothered with salted butter, topped with whipped cream, and drizzled with caramel. That's all. No fruits, meat or any other inclusions. The crepe, made from buckwheat flour, is moist and creamy. This is a must-try for any first-timer in this restaurant (like Mom!). Simple but tasty and full of elaborate flavors. For Mom, however, I added a few slices of banana for a healthier touch. Php 180.

For my order, I chose one of their best-sellers, Mango Hazelnut au Chocolat. Bitter-sweet chocolate-flavored crepe with thick chocolate syrup and mango slices, topped with whipped cream, drizzled with caramel and sprinkled with thinly-shaved almonds. The photo speaks for itself. This dish will make your "taste buds fly to the stratosphere", the very descriptive words used by my friend and fellow gastronome Tisay Buenaflor who recommended this place to me. Php 185.

C'est si bon. Mom and I feeling excited like kids, so eager to devour their snack. Mom's picky taste for food was limited to the conventional and traditional, but I was pretty sure she would love the food in La Creperie as much as I did. And I was right. Our bill: Php 330 (inclusive of the senior citizens' discount). Bon apetit!

Saturday, February 16, 2013


After watching a play at the Carlos P. Romulo Theater in RCBC Plaza, Mom and I checked the restaurants at the 3rd level for dinner. Since Mom is into Chinese food, we decided to try Manosa Noodles, Seafood, & Chops. (Chinese food is always the safest choice when addressing her cravings and hunger.)

Manosa Noodles, Seafood, & Chops is located at the 3rd level of the Yuchengco Tower, RCBC Plaza, Makati City. The food court of RCBC Plaza is studded with good restaurants and has been one of my favorite dining places since the year 2001. The original and parent Manosa restaurant is located in Ongpin, Binondo and was built in 1940. It is delighting to know that there is a branch of this authentic Chinese restaurant in the heart of Makati. Thus, I can enjoy their dishes without having to travel all the way to Binondo.

The interior of the restaurant is simple but appealing. The walls are decorated with sepia-toned photos of Old Manila. The chairs are made of woven rattan -- a subtle contrast to the modern-designed tables, and gives the ambiance of fusion of the old and the new -- thus bringing and adapting traditional Chinese flavor to contemporary and urbanized Makati taste.

Manosa is known to serve delicious maki, just like Ha Yuan and Maki Haus. Maki is a humble dish that is full of flavor. It is made simply of breaded pork slices in thick, gooey, soy-based soup and topped with chopped scallions. This big bowl of maki serves 2 and costs only Php 100.

Chinese food is not Chinese food without noodles. The one in the photo is pancit bihon, a popular Filipino-Chinese dish composed of rice noodles cooked in soy sauce and mixed with meat (usually pork) and vegetables. The aroma of this dish is distinct and really appetizing. Serves 2-3, only Php 125.

Mom is so in love with this one -- kikiam. The real Chinese kikiam, as depicted above, is a large pork roll filled with ground meat and spices, a far cry from the more popular and cheaper "kikiam" that is made almost entirely of flour and flavorings, and shaped into shriveled spindle-shaped nuggets. Manosa kikiam is fried-toasted and served with sweet-and-sour sauce. I can't remember the price, but it is less that Php 100. Also serves 2.

Our pantulak, generous servings of iced tea and watermelon shake in big glasses, each costing less than Php 60.

Mom and I living the infamous line of food bloggers, "click before you eat". All in all, we spent approximately Php 400 for our dinner, and that's still exclusive of the senior citizens' discount. And as for the food, yummy. No need to go to Binondo. Manosa (RCBC Plaza) is just a quick 10-minute ride away from home.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Bienvenido A Barcino

Me encanta el idioma espanol, y me encanta la comida espanola.

And that explains why I frequently visit Barcino, officially my favorite wine and tapas bar. I'm not really a wine connoisseur, so I will focus more on their fantastic food (and certain drinks). Interestingly, I always order a glass of wine to accompany my food, based on the recommendation of their very accommodating waiters and waitresses.

According to their official Facebook page, Barcino was established in 2004 to "answer the need for an authentic Spanish wine and tapas bar". To date, they have six branches all over Metro Manila. I always visit their branch in the Power Plant Mall, Rockwell Center (and occasionally, The Fort and Greenbelt 2 branches) for proximity reasons. Since I prefer resto bars with light and cozy ambiance, Barcino is a perfect place to unwind and chill-out, either alone or with friends. The food and drinks are relatively pricier, though, because they are imported from Spain. Nevertheless, I get what I pay for.

It takes several minutes for the ordered food to arrive, so they serve a complimentary "bread basket" with tomato salsa. Something light to jumpstart the appetite. I have to add more salt though, because I have a preference for the saltier.

Paella is a hallmark of authentic Spanish cuisine, and so it is a must-order in Barcino. The variant that is close to the Filipino taste is paella de marisco (seafood paella, top photo). Well-cooked mussels and prawns, and risotto-like rice... this is a perfect entree. To add, this dish is served in just 10 minutes! Php 595

My favorite duo. Chorizo picantes frito and Estrella Galicia Light. The former is salty-and-spicy Spanish sausage, perfect for my taste buds. It's oil can also serve as a tasty dip for the bread. The latter is one of my much-loved beers -- smooth and kinda fruity. And I don't get that morning-after, hang-over effect. Chorizo: Php 185, Estrella Galicia Light: Php 200.

One of Barcino's signature drinks, the Sangria. It's an addictive wine-and-brandy fruit punch. Light, refreshing, anti-umay. I'ts a big glass, by the way. Php 280

A strong shot of caffeine after a muy delicioso dinner. Cafe bombon -- espresso served with condensed milk. It's actually a good after-dinner treat, especially with alcohol. Php 120

A delightful Spanish dinner-date with my favorite food partner after watching the musical drama film Les Miserables. Mom is not much into the "not so conventional food" unlike her traditional favorites, ie, Filipino and Chinese dishes. Thus, I knew I was right in bringing her to Barcino when she gave me that comment after her first spoonful of paella: "Naimas!"