Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Brioche

Crazy about cronuts? What are cronuts?

Its a food portmanteau word as described by Boston Globe.  It fuses the words croissant and doughnuts. defined cronut as "the shape, fried-ness, and creamy interior of a doughnut plus the flaky, delicate pastry layers of a croissant".

The Cronut’s creator is the French pastry chef Dominique Ansel, of Dominique Ansel Bakery in New York.

Cronuts craze goes global.  It may not be as popular yet here in Cebu but I found one french bakery that sells it.

Located in Escario. The same area where Cafe Sarree, Michaelangelo and Portos are located. Dont ask me how to pronounce it.  haha

There were a lot to chose from but I was fixed on the cronuts.

Their best seller is the hazelnut.  Too bad they run out when we went there.  Next is the blueberry.  The creamy filling is enough to satisfy your cravings for sweets.  It costs 130 pesos each, so yeah, one is enough or it punches a whole in your pocket.

My friend chose the Apple Cinnamon.  Best paired with coffee.  It was a bold choice.  Not everyone likes apple cinnamon or its not a flavor we get everyday.  My next option based on looks after my blueberry was the chocolate.  I was hoping he'd choose the chocolate but to each his own (taste buds) haha  This cost 100 pesos each

What caught my eyes was this chocolate treat.  The odd shape added to my curiosity. Oh well, it is named for the shape, which resembles a cork, or bouchon in French. Full flavored chocolate... the darker the better yum!  it's like brownies but not as sweet....  this is at 40 pesos each.

The Cafe Sarree

"When the going gets tough, the tough gets going."

If there was one word to describe my Thursday, it was "chaos."  Unscheduled meetings, never ending reports, metrics to meet, backlogs, unread e-mails, electric bills, phone bills, water bills, car registration, all these were joggling inside my head.

The pressure got into me it showed a frown in my face, I thought I would lose my 2014 positivity project. (If there's such a word)  The load was just too much or perhaps I worried a lot or lack of inspiration?

Whatever that day was, I'm just glad it was done.  Before I lost my sanity, since screaming in the city might not be appropriate, breaking plates might cause misfortune, shopping could be expensive. I was in dire need of good food, comfort food, warm food.

My friend and I drove to Escario St. for this posh diner.

while driving, I said to myself "better not disappoint me Cafe Saree".  I didn't want to end my day with a heavy heart.

On their menu it says "Our mission is to provide finest comfort foods by using the highest quality ingredients..." I must be in the right place then.

This apple lemonade got served first. It was more lemonade-y than apple-ish. Actually, I couldn't trace the apple.  Not bad for someone who's not into apples that much.  ha! ha! (This is my friend's request, so we got the pitcher)

For my love of crab I picked Aligue pasta.  (Aligue is crab fat, that orange part when you remove the crab shell. My dad and I fight over it.) Squeeze the lemon, add freshly ground pepper and it's perfect.  The sauce was creamy and a bit heavy.  A bit pricey for a brunch. If I were to get this again, uhm... the pink salmon dish our neighbor table ordered looked more interesting.

My friend ordered a beef salpicao.  It sounded foreign but its a Filipino dish with Spanish influence.  It's a pot where roasted garlic, pepper and beef danced in fire.  I like the salty-chili taste of the sauce plus the bitterness of the roasted garlic.  Although I prefer they make the beef medium well so it wouldn't be as chewy.

I know its a weird way of redirecting emotions.  Foods make me happy.  I'll have a better thoughts when I'm happy.  New idea comes in when I have better thoughts and that solves the problem.

or naaahh what's wrong with having a nicer than usual brunch? ha ha

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Big Tom's Charbroiled Burger

Yesterday was generally a happy day. I aced my report at work. It turned out to be good when I expected for worse. For that small success, I celebrated.

Naaahh my friends and I had scheduled the lunch get together that day already even before that meeting.  After my day at work, I checked my phone and the last message I got, "see you at 11:00AM in Big Tom's Charbroiled Burger".  Unfortunately, I ran out of battery so I couldn't message them back.

I was in the area 10:45AM.  I didn't know they open at 11:00 AM. The sun started to show its strength. Gladly, the friendly staff let me in.  They were still doing their final touches before opening for that day.

11:20AM no friends yet, and they are not technically tardy for that long. I was hungry. I had two options. Leave, but I wanted to celebrate, stay, but I didn't want to eat alone.

11:25AM, so I placed my order.  Another alone moment.

Deluxe Bacon Burger (6 -oz) @250 includes the drink
This burger had me on my first bite. I had the patty medium well.  It was still tender and juicy but not too juicy which I like.  (I don't like beef that drains it guts on my plate) I love the smokey barbecue taste. Plus the charcoal type of cooking, it gave more flavor!

"You can never go wrong with bacon" True enough, it was generously placed on top of my patty which played well with the cheese and the tomato (to-MAH-to,)

I was hoping for more french fries. It was perfectly done.

I was too focused on my burger and I really-really enjoyed it. Bite after bite.  I forgot I was alone and I didn't bother.  If my friends would arrive then good, if not, then I had a good lunch.

Have you heard about this that anything you put in the table can be eaten? That's fine but at least read labels. A lesson I learned - the hard way. I poured some ketchup on my chopping board (used as plate). While thinking it was mustard, I poured equally the same amount on my ketchup (i like mustard and ketchup). Surprise! the label says Yellow HOT sauce.

So I went home, charged my phone.  I knew it, there was a second message. The time got moved.

I think its time to get a new phone.

Getting there:
It's in Juana Osmena St. Its near the Sacred Heart School for girls. Along Homebakers just before the intersection where Lex Hotel is located.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Phat Pho: A Vietnamese Kitchen

I miss Vietnam.  There's something about the red banner and the yellow star that makes me want to go back.

Not the motorcycle which has the same ratio and their population. 

But the gems that were laid out along their streets. Yes, it's the street food. Bahn Mi happens to be my top favorite.  I don't know what they put in there but I could finish three sandwiches and I would still have room for more. I tried ordering this sandwich in a restaurant, I was hesitant at first about the idea of street food, but the one in the streets tasted far better. The herbs were mild but flavorful.

I wouldn't be back there anytime soon but I was happy to have dine in:

Located in Crossroads Banilad. No reservations needed

Pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup with broth, rice noodles, herbs and meat (bo is beef, ga is chicken)

Among the restaurants I've tried that claims to be Vietnamese, this is the only place that serves a version closest of what I tasted along the streets of Saigon.  The moment I opened the door, the scent of the herbs welcomed me warmly and with delight painted a smile on my face. Made me want to sing The Heat is on in Saigon.

Well, this is a high end version. What do you expect its part of ABACA group. Here are what we've got.

@195 pesos
fresh vegetables and shrimps in rice wrapper.  That reddish vinegar sauce is exactly the same. Light and flavorful!
this is in Saigon 2012

@370 pesos

in Saigon 2012
Except that in Saigon the herbs were served separately to your taste.

@195 pesos

Banh Xeo is like a rice batter pancake.

in Muy Nei

What I remember eating was the bun bo xao. It's a noodle salad.  This were just mixed and were not cooked together. While the above photo was stir fried.  It's in between our Pancit Canton and Pad Thai if you were to arrange them accordingly.

Bun bo xao in Saigon

The only difference was the price. Phat Pho could be expensive.  It's best shared with friends. I may not be able to go to back to Vietnam anytime soon, I'm happy that Phat Pho is within my driving distance. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The City Time Square: Taj (Indian Restaurant)

While in Parkmall standing in line for boneless lechon, I noticed a new hangout place just across.  There must be something there interesting. I grabbed my pen and notepad and added it to my place-to-check list.

Then, a friend posted a picture with a big margarita glass.  The photo says "at City Time Square" which added to my curiosity of the place.

A week after I went to that same resto-bar my friend got her blue drink. A friend was visiting from Surigao so I took him there.  I scanned the place.  Interesting shops, I said. Mostly food shops, a haven for foodies out there.  What caught my attention was Taj.  I craved for chicken biryani.

Last Feb 14 I tagged my friends for lunch right after our shift. While everyone was so excited with their romantic dates which I didn't have and you don't have to have a romantic date that day, instead of being bitter, I decided to celebrate the day with my good friends. (I'm saying this line with my practiced smile)

Good grief that day was done. So it was just another 24 hours. I woke up 12 min night. It was 15th already and I survived. The flowers wilted and the chocolates melted. So moving on! (bitterness, right?)

It's a sit-down rather than a squat type like I had last time.

Obviously I enjoyed the paintings on the wall.

Here's what we got:

with Basmati rice and yogurt at 189 pesos
I think this was adjusted to Pinoy's tongue.  It tasted good actually.  It was more on the sweet part rather the the spicy. But it satisfied my cravings.

it didn't come with a sauce but I asked for curry sauce to dip this to at 60 pesos
They were generous enough to give me the curry sauce.  Nothing galic-y as the name suggested.
at 100 pesos
I find the chicken mild rather than smokey and spicy. I prefer the chicken biryani.

just like shawarma without the heavy sauce at 175 pesos
This one was a good try.  I like it overall. Chicken was soft veggies were crisp.

at 99 pesos (green tea something sauce and tamarind sauce)
I thought i wont get another Samosa from my last experience, surprisingly this tastes good.  Perhaps the sauce. or perhaps not enough curry.  Is it a good or a bad thing?

Overall, it was a good place to dine. The staff were friendly and accommodating as I tried to recall my Indian food vocabulary.  Not too spicy and a bit pricey but I enjoyed their food.

See, Valentine's day is not as bad. Its a matter of perspective.. haha!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Trek to Sirao Peak Part IV - Finale

“When I asked you if you wanted to, I was not testing your courage. I was testing your wisdom.”  ― Paulo Coelho, The Pilgrimage

We were close to our destination. It was within our reach.

While resting on this huge old tree, I recited:

"I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast; 

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;" 

- Joyce Kilmer

I was thirsty and I was running out of water and I run out of energy bars.

The sun was setting and the greens turned golden.

The temperature dropped and the breeze got colder.

We never made it to the top.  This was the farthest we could go. As the sun set, it would be impossible to see the trail when dark embraces. Only a few of us had lamp and the forces of nature is dangerous to fight against. We may have not reached our destination, anyhow we left happy and fulfilled.

I achieved what I came for. A break. A time to think. A time to sort things. Whatever had been bugging me, I had buried it somewhere along the trail. It's not the finish line but the journey.

So let this craziness at work be part of the learning journey, the sun will set and it's going to be a new day!

photo credits to Normania Addams

The Trek to Sirao Peak Part III

“The Good Fight is the one that we fight in the name of our dreams.” ― Paulo Coelho, The Pilgrimage

Lunch was for 40 minutes.  When you got nothing but rice toppings in the middle of nowhere it became the most sumptuous lunch.  What made it the best lunch was you learn how to share. Then I gained some friends.  I asked them questions just to get to know them better. While some took another plunge in the cold water, I took a nap.  Who could not resist? The waterfalls sang a lullaby and the leaves fan the atmosphere. I needed to energize.  I found a slab of rock, laid my jacket then closed my eyes.

I am grateful for my good friend who invited me to experience this good climb. No dull moments when you're with her.

More waterfalls as we continued our path.  More friends I've gained along the way...

Just lovely, as these water dances with the rocks.

The path got more difficult.

Hug those boulders to get though.  Most of the time there were roots to hold but on some parts, you need to lock your fingers through the cracks, while you manage your balance and find a good spot to land your foot. No ropes, no harness, no helmets.

One of our companion fell and hit his head on those rocks.  I'm glad he was okay.

It got steeper I have to lift my body.  Talking about upper body strength, uhm, when was the last time I practiced? I wasn't even flexible enough to stretch my legs so I could have a wider stance.

We were attacked by the bees, apparently we disturbed a beehive, bitten by ants and cut our legs with some dried stalks, grass and sticks.

These were nothing compared to the lesson we learned.  Sometimes, in this jungle we live, its okay to ask for help and there are people willing to help.  Such a good heart.

We were at the ridge of the mountain, took one turn and found the peak. A few more hour we'll be on top of that peak behind us.

photo credits to Normania Addams