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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year!

It's two hours and a half and it's a brand new year as I write this. I'm sure all of us are busy preparing a feast, no matter how humble and for some, a grand one, to welcome 2015. In our home, my husband has just finished cutting the lechon into pieces and my sister has put the jars of fruit salad that she prepared in the fridge to chill it. My daughter is now starting to make her delicious carbonara. My task is to cook the rellenong bangus, but this will be for lunch on New Year's Day, together with mom's morcon, which, I promise you, is the best you could ever taste! However, as 2015 ushers in a little later, Mom will not be here for she and my dad are together in the hospital. My dad, you see, is still fighting for his life and lies almost in a comatose more than a week after suffering a stroke. We don't know till when he'll be with us, but I worry not because I've entrusted Him to his Creator, the Lord my God. Last Saturday, our district pastor at the Cathedral of Praise went to visit my dad in the hospital and led him in a prayer of repentance and accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior. Now I am confident that my dad, when it's time, will go home to the Father. Meanwhile, 2015 looks promising whatever our present circumstances are. After all, God is in control! Let us entrust our future to our Lord because with Him, the future is always bright. Happy New Year!  

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Today's Word: Luke 2:11


Christmas is here! I bet we've all been busy preparing, some of us starting to shop for gifts as early as September or October. Now, all those preparations for the biggest, most joyous day of the year are about to end as finally, we're celebrating the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. May I remind my friends, however, not to forget the reason for this season: Jesus! Sure, we have presents for our family and friends. But what are you giving the Birthday Celebrant himself? You do not need to shell out any amount of money to make Him happy on His birthday, just commit yourself to Jesus, make Him your Lord and acknowledge Him as your Savior and you make Jesus happiest. Merry Christmas!

                                                   (Photo credit: www.godswillromania.blogspot.com)

Monday, December 22, 2014

Eat 'bibingka', have a merry Christmas

Cold mornings, simbang gabi, bibingka and puto bumbong. To us Filipinos, these are some of the clear indications that Christmas is here indeed. As I write this piece, it’s only three days before the most joyous day of the year. And yes, I’ve had my first bibingka. Haha! I’m not about to let the Yuletide pass me by without eating this festive Filipino rice cake. This afternoon, I went out of the office to have a merienda of bibingka and a cup of coffee at Ferino’s, which is arguably the best and most famous bibingka store in the country. Fortunately, I didn’t need to travel far to find a Ferino’s store because there’s one near our office in Quezon City. Spending a hundred pesos for one bibingka and P20 for a steaming cup of coffee, 
I’m ready for Christmas! Haha!
A native cake made from rice flour and water or coconut milk and eggs, bibingka (along with puto bumbong, another native snack or kakanin) is traditionally eaten by Filipinos after attending Simbang Gabi (dawn masses) from December 16-24. It’s interesting to watch this delicious snack being cooked. The mixture of rice flour and water/coconut milk is poured over a terra cotta pan lined with a piece of banana leaf and cooked over live coals. Coals are also placed on top of this pan. Once done, margarine with some sugar is spread over the bibingka, after which it is topped with shredded coconut meat or niyog. Sliced salted eggs may also be put on top for added flavor. For ultimate bliss, pair your bibingka with either a cup of coffee, hot chocolate or salabat (ginger ale).


Ferino's bibingka

Earlier this December when we had lunch at Aristocrat on Roxas Blvd., I saw that they had an in-house bibingka station and I took some photos:


Live coals where bibingka would be cooked.
Cooked bibingka still without margarine and coconut meat
 If you're a part of the younger generation and haven’t eaten bibingka, I suggest you ditch pizza   or cake for merienda this Yuletide Season, and feel the Pinoy spirit of Christmas. Of course,  you may enjoy it all-year-round but it's best to warm tummies during the cold days of  December. And yes, it's so much a part of our holiday traditions. Merry Christmas!   




Thursday, December 18, 2014

Aristocrat: Still among 'balikbayans'' favorite

This year, our family welcomed several "balikbayans" - my sister who is a nurse in New York and my aunt and uncle and one of their kids, who has lived all her life in Virginia. In both occasions six months apart, we brought them to Aristocrat, that iconic restaurant that's been around for over seven decades, in its main store on Roxas Blvd. in Manila. 
Aristocrat serves most of our favorite Pinoy food like mechado, kaldereta, bulalo, kare-kare and sinigang. However, I believe it's the chicken barbecue that made Aristocrat famous, though it's not a dish that is native to our islands. An order consists of 3 pieces of grilled chicken, paired with java rice and some achara. If you haven't tried Aristocrat's chicken barbecue, I strongly urge you not to get old before doing so. I almost wanted to say you can't be a true Pinoy if you haven't tried it. Haha! Well, apart from the fact that this chicken barbecue is delicious (sweet, smokey, tangy) , Aristocrat itself is an institution! Well, it sure is a feat being in the business for nearly 80 years, considering the very stiff competition these days in the food industry. For this alone, Aristocrat owners deserve a pat in the back. Yet, it's the various yummy dishes that have attracted hordes of diners to their stores in the metro, and the real reason for this restaurant's staying power. 
These are the dishes that we've tried:

Chicken Barbecue, P210.
Tanigue Steak, P330. 
Sizzling pusit, P210. 
Kalderetang Baka, P375 
Calamares, P260.
Bihon Guisado, P305.
Chopsuey, P295.
Ampalaya con Carne, P250.
Sinigang na baboy, P295.
Hototai soup, P250.

For dessert:


Halo-Halo, special, P125; scoop of ice cream, P55. 

Drinks:
Calamansi juice, P55. Buko juice, P90 (I was only able to take a picture after the buko was cut); Green Mango Shake, Fresh Mango shake and Strawberry Shake, P110/glass; 
Brewed coffee, P60.

More desserts:
Aristocrat on Roxas Blvd. has an in-house pastry and cake shop, where choosing is a difficult task. Haha!
On our first visit, I bought this brazo de mercedes at the cake shop; on the second, we got a mango cake roll. I forgot to take a picture of the latter but it was really good!
(So they say and it could just be true!) Aristocrat on Roxas Blvd. in Malate, Manila 
There's a nice view of the sea outside where you can catch the famous Manila Bay sunset.

Because Aristocrat has been here since 1936, Filipinos who have long left the country to work and live abroad and then come home for a vacation, include the restaurant in their list of must-visit foodie places. They remember their old favorites, and are thrilled to be eating them once more at Aristocrat. Indeed, delicious Filipino comfort food are hard to forget, 
no matter how far you go and how long you're gone. 


Friday, December 12, 2014

Today's Word: Phillipians 4:6-7

This past week, we had many reasons to thank our good God for. Foremost was that He spared Metro Manila and a number of provinces from the wrath of typhoon "Ruby". I watched in awe and gratitude as God gradually diminished the strength of "Ruby" from super typhoon to typhoon to just tropical storm. Isn't He amazing? How good and wonderful our Father in heaven is! He answered the prayers of many Filipinos who last year were downhearted by the vast devastation caused by super typhoon "Yolanda". This, plus many other blessings my family and I received like divine protection and provisions were reasons for thanksgiving. I'm sure you have your share of blessings, too. Have you said "Thank you" to our dear Lord and praised Him? As it  is said in Philippians 4, let us thank God in every situation, even in unfavorable ones because whatever happens, a blessing is sure to come our way. Have a great weekend!  
                                    
(Photo credit: www.pinterest.com)

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Enjoy a 'Heart Attack' at Backyard Burgers

T'was a rainy Saturday afternoon last week but it didn't stop me and my son from going to Quezon City to try this burger joint in front of ABS-CBN - the Backyard Burgers. It's really just there across the street from the network, and only about one block from Quezon Ave. There are two other restaurants in that compound and Backyard is in between them. Inside, it's really small but there are also tables and chairs outside for the three establishments. The interiors are simple and casual. Quite dim too because the walls are painted in black. But the food, it's really the star in here. Brace yourselves 'coz the servings are huge! We we're not prepared for this so we ordered quite a lot. Haha! But it's okay, the folks at home enjoyed the take-outs. 
Backyard Burgers is big in taste too! 
We had:

The Heart Attack burger, P245. It doesn't have that name for nothing. Make sure to take your meds. Haha!
Buffalo Wild Wings, P165. 
Cheesy Fries, P95. 
Obscene Onion Rings,  P120.  'Obscene' means large serving here.
Brewed Coffee, P40.
House Blend Iced Tea, P35.
The Menu
                                                                       
                                                                        Interiors



We loved the burger called the "Heart Attack", which was too big even for my son and me (Well, my son finished his half but I didn't mine). The beef patty that was around one-inch thick was grilled to perfection, keeping the juices and all the flavors intact. Crispy pork belly (bacon) strips were on top of the burger patty, and cheese sauce was poured over. Delicious and very filling! The size itself (the bun is about 6-7 inches in diameter) might just give you a heart attack but I sure don't want that to happen. Haha! The buffalo wings were yummy as well, especially when dipped in the bleu cheese that came with it. The sweetness and zing were just right. However, I found it way too oily that's why there was the "sawa" factor. I felt my head go light and frankly, this might as well give me the heart attack rather than the burger! I immediately popped up my anti-hypertension pill. Haha! The oiliness was also true with the onion rings so I had little of this. The cheesy fries was quite good, too - with lots of mushroom bits and yes- cheese sauce. One more thing I loved here - they serve brewed coffee! Plus, their prices are quite reasonable. Brewed coffee for just P40! And it was good coffee at that. And yes, service was friendly. All in all, my son and I were happy eaters that afternoon. Check out Backyard Burgers, guys!  

'Ruby' may be big, but GOD is bigger!

Everyone is so afraid of typhoon "Ruby"! And understandably so. "Yolanda" last year left such a huge devastation to lives and properties and a big heartbreaker. But amidst the fear, let us not forget that we have such a huge GOD. Remember that heaven is His throne and the earth is His footstool. Storms do not worry Him! Remember Jesus sleeping through a storm in the sea and His disciples waking Him up? He chided them for being deeply troubled and unbelieving. So while we have to stock up on food, candles and batteries and stay indoors, let us not live in constant fear for the Lord has promised to never leave us nor forsake us, even through the storm! Let us all pray and believe for His protection for our lives and properties. 
Have a blessed day!  

Monday, December 1, 2014

Maginhawa St. Gastronomic Walk #4: Casa Quesadilla

Last time, I shared about our delicious lunch at Cafe Quezon on Maginhawa St., that long stretch of a road in Quezon City that has grown famous because of the so many restaurants that have opened up there over the years. As we were there waiting for our order, I looked out through the glass door and saw another foodie place on the other side of the road - Casa Quesadilla - and I said to my daughter, "Next week, we're there." And so it was that exactly seven days after, we were on Maginhawa St. again, in Casa Quesadilla and feasted on - what else - Mexican food! This is a charming place - really small (only four tables) but cheery because of the dominant orange color of the interiors and two colorful art works painted on the wall. Too bad my camera memory card got corrupted and some of my shots vanished, including those of the interiors of Casa Quesadilla. Good thing my food shots remained. These were our orders:


Ultimate Nachos, P130.
Mexican beef burrito, P130. 
Crispy Tacos, P75. each 
Mexican beef quesadilla 
The counter 
Menu

So how was our Mexican food trip? Deliciously great! The nachos, tacos, quesadilla and burrito were all yummy but for me, the quesadilla was the standout . The bits of beef had the perfect blend of spices for a burst of flavors, nicely intertwined with the creaminess of cheese. Yummy! No wonder the restaurant itself was named after their quesadilla. I wanted to try their dessert quesadilla with banana and Nutella but alas, we didn't have any room left for it. We were full to the brim! It was too late to realize we 
ordered more than we could eat. Haha! 
Folks, I suggest that you visit Casa Quesadilla at 176 Maginhawa St., Sikatuna Village in Quezon City for their delicious and very affordable Mexican food. You won't regret the trip!
Happy eating, everyone!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Maginhawa St. Gastronomic Walk #3: Cafe Quezon

Where I come from, beaches are beautiful, sceneries are picturesque, life is good and simple and food is divine! I'm sure people who hail from other provinces would say the same thing about their hometown but hey, I love my own! Haha! Anyway, I'm speaking about Quezon, that coastal province at the southern tip of Luzon quite close to Marinduque and Bicol Region although separated by sea. Whenever I go there for much-needed respite from work and city life, it's the food and everyday walk on the seashore that I cherish the most, aside of course, from being with my folks. And if there's one thing that reminds me of my summers spent as a child in Quezon, it's the crispy tapa which my father would painstakingly make - from slicing the beef so thinly, climbing up the roof to dry the slices on a bilao under the sun for several days and then striking them flat with a hammer, before my mom could finally fry it for breakfast. 
Many years later when my dad couldn't do all those work anymore because of old age, my mom would just buy the crispy tapa two towns away in Catanauan. Only, it is so expensive! Today, it costs about P1,400 per kilo. Why so expensive, you might ask. Because when fresh beef is dried, it drops in weight, such that two-three kilos might end up as just one kilo of tapa. Though that is just my estimate, at least you get the idea. And because of the price and the distance my mom has to travel to buy it, we don't get to eat crispy tapa very often these days. So I was just so delighted to find out that there's one restaurant that serves crispy tapa - Cafe Quezon on Maginhawa St. - that strip in Quezon City that's famous for the great number of foodie places that you can find next to each other. Last Saturday, my daughter and I hurried off there and found out that aside from the Crispy Tapa, there are other Quezon specialty dishes that could be found here like Pilipit and Pancit Habhab (also known as Pancit Lucban). I felt so at home! My daughter and I had these for lunch one Saturday this November:


Quezon Crispy Tapa meal with iced tea or coffee (coffee is till 12 noon only), P150.

Longganisang Lucban meal with iced tea, P130.

Pilipit, P80.
This is kakanin made from malagkit (sticky) rice, drizzled with caramel and chocolate sauce. Yummy!

Our drinks - brewed coffee and iced tea

                                                                       Interiors





                                                                     
                                                                       Facade




I would definitely want to go back to Cafe Quezon for their great food that reminds me so much of my beloved hometown. They offer other Filipino dishes too aside from Quezon province specialties, like nilagang baka and pork sinigang. If you want to give Cafe Quezon a try, (and I suggest you do), it's at 179 Maginhawa St. in Quezon City.





Friday, November 14, 2014

Chef Paul's rocks!

I have loved rock music for so long, starting in high school (Admittedly, that was a long time ago. Hahaha!). I would always watch gigs and concerts by my favorite Pinoy rock band The Dawn. I also listened to foreign bands - U2, INXS, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Incubus and so on. Last year, however, I stopped listening to them when I became a born-again Christian because Suddenly, my taste in music changed. No, I didn't shun rock - only this time, I preferred Christian rock music and began listening to Christian artists like Jake Hamilton. 
Anyway, there is this cafe that I discovered - happily - in my office neighborhood that might as well bring out the rockstar or well, rock fan in anyone 'coz it's rockstar-themed. Quite unique and very clever! I'm talkin' about Chef Paul's on Visayas Ave. which opened early this year (or was it late last year?). It's a coffee and desserts place that makes you feel like rockin' wherever your eyes lay on. Painted on the wall at your right once you enter is a huge picture of The Beatles and another of the iconic Pinoy band Eraserheads. All around are old vinyl records hanging from the ceiling, real guitars on the walls, and cassette tapes cleverly used as napkin holders. There are the usual tables and chairs but one part of the inside is elevated and you'd just sit on the floor and eat on round glass tables placed on top of car tires. Still another part 
you'd have to reach by climbing a few steps of stairs. 
And the menu - it gave me a few good laughs! Consider pasta dishes like SPAMdau Ballet, Eltuna John and CarBONOra, Alfredo Mercury and Elvis Pesto.and mocha milkshake named Mochamical Romance (My Chemical Romance used to be my daughter's favorite band before she became a Christian herself). The dishes themselves are quite ingenious. Otherwise  simple dishes are given an unusual and exciting twist. Consider this: for a hamburger, they have a beef patty sandwiched by waffles instead of bread buns and champorado crowned with whipped cream and served with bacon, ham and Spam instead of the usual tuyo. I had this champorado last week and it was delish! I've been at Chef Paul's four times 
since last summer and these were what I've tried so far:         

'2Pac' - waffle burger with cheese and mushrooms
Champorado with Spam, ham and bacon

'CarBONOra'
'Eltuna John'


'Bacon Jovi' bacon waffle sandwich

'Meatloaf' - Spam waffle sandwich

'Bob Dylan' blueberry waffles


'The Beeftles'
'Pink Floyd' Strawberry Milkshake and 'Mochamical Milkshake'

Cafe Americano

Iced Tea

Their Menu






                                                                        Interiors



Cassette tape cases as napkin holders




The Beatles, Eraserheads on the wall

I have definitely added Chef Paul's to my list of favorite foodie places 
for the yummy and cozy factors. Check it out, guys!