Sunday, July 26, 2009

This week in Y Style

Has a couple of articles come out in this week's Y Style, the lifestyle section of the Philippine Star.

There was on on jackets and another one on Svenson's new hair treatment.

Read Take Cover and It's Hair to Stay.

Excerpt from Waking the Dead in the Uno July 2009 issue!

Grab a copy of this months Uno magazine with Cindy Kurleto on the cover. It's their sports issue but they named it "No Fun" after the Stooges song.

There's an excerpt of "The Bridge," one of my stories from Waking the Dead, my first collection of short fiction, which will be launched in August.

Read the excerpt on the Uno website here.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

My Ang Pinaka Street Food Experience

If you tuned in to Ang Pinaka last Sunday evening, you'll notice that I was one of the three panelists, along with food critics Ige Ramos and Ivan Henares, in their feature on street food. We were all asked to rank our top 10 street food (we were given a long list to choose from). The results, along with some from surveys and the staff, were collated and the results were the ones featured on the show.

Here's my Top 10, based on availability (by me, at least), what I actually eat and what most of the folks I know eat. Like Ige, I also factored in nutrition and value for money.

1. Taho
My favorite street food. Warm, nutritious and cheap. Good for breakfast when you're on the run.

2. Balut/ meats on a stick
I don't like balut or innards on a stick but everyone else does! They're the poster child for Filipino street food.

3. Fishballs
Cheap, easy to find and yummy. The dubious sanitation of the vendors just adds to the taste.

4. Dirty Ice cream
Nothing evokes summer more than a cone of dirty ice cream. They ave flavors that are simple, yet cannot be copied by commercial ice cream companies.

5. Quek-quek
Cholesterol in a bucket, yes, but also a good source of protein. Plus, it's really tasty.

6. Mais
Cheap, flavorful and nutritious.

7. Mani
Nothing like some peanuts to fortify you during a long bus ride.

8. Banana Cue/ Camote cue
Cheap, sweet and filling - everything a good Pinoy snack should be

9. Puto/ Kutsinta/ Biko
My three favorite kakanins. I couldn't choose!

10. Scrambol
Nothing but syrup and ice but a good way to keep cool on a hot day in the province.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Thinking of Adarna's Mango Shake

I love the food at Adarna Food and Culture, along Kalayaan. Thee are lots of things that I like to eat there, but right now, it's their mago shake that I'm thinking of. It's not too sweet, and looks really pretty piled high in their glasses.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Thinking of Tasty Dumplings

In the mood for dumplings from Tasty Dumplings, which has a branch near the Binondo church. They used to have a branch in Greenhills but it closed down fast. I blame the location.

Anyway, the grownups used to take us here a lot when we were kids. We'd have the dumplings (they have two variants: pork and kuchay - vegetable based), which come with the greatest dumpling suace ever - something in between vinegar and fish sauce.

We'd also have the porkchop noodles, which are noodles served with a side of weird-tasting but strangely addictive pork chop. You can ask for some kuchay (pickled vegetables) that you can eat your noodles with. And to ash it all down, a glass of warm soy milk. They have great soy milk, though (and I'm not sure if this is fact or nostalgia) it seemed to taste better when I was a child.

Here's a photo of their dumplings from my last trip.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Me in the July 2009 issue of Uno

Here are scanned pages of me (and Tessie Ang See, whoohoo! ) from the pages of the relaunched Uno. Thanks to Charles N. for the images.

Arnold Arre's Chapter One

First of all, I would like to apologize for posting this so late. I had meant to post it before the screening, but didn't get to go online until, well, now.

This, my friends, is the poster of the first short film of one of our country's most talented artist-writers, Arnold Arre, which screened yesterday, July 6, 2009 at the basement of Fully Booked High Street.

The event was very well-attended, and there was even a chance to ask the filmmaker questions after. Most people wondered why the film, which was suspense, deviated from Arnold's usual fantasy/ romance fare. Arnold said that he didn't plan for it to happen.

Anyways, it was a great first film, and I'm not saying it because me, Luis, Erwin, Gang, et al are in it. Arnold's visual style is arresting, and he makes very effective use of sound. People were screaming in the theatre, which is always a good thing.

On a personal (and admittedly shallow) note, this is the first time I've had my name and picture on a movie poster. And yes, I am thrilled. And yes, I wore my Intolerant shirt on purpose. Get yours here.

The one thing I took away from that screening is that life is no reason for you to stop creating. Arnold and Cynthia inspired me because they created this while going through everyday stuff. They didn't angst, they just did, which is something I have to learn. So every time I have the urge to feel sorry for myself, to push my creative work aside for "real life" concerns, all I have to do is watch the Chapte One trailer and remind myself that great people don't wallow in the detials, they just plow ahead and do it.

Congrats Arnold!

Here's the link to the trailer.

Top Meals Food Haus

Look for the definition of “hole in the wall” in the dictionary and chances are, a picture of Top Meals Food Haus will appear beside it.

Located in the middle of nowhere, somewhere in the depths of non-commercial Makati, sort of near Rockwell, this humble food spot was first discovered by intrepid food explorer Anton Diaz. He is, Top Food owner Wilson Tan says, the reason that Top Meals has appeared on the foodie map.

The restaurant serves authentic Bicolano food. This means hot, oily and filling. The fare here is as unpretentious as its décor and surroundings. Food is cheap, served in plastic plates in an unairconditioned eating area right next to the street. Presentation-wise, what you get is a warm saucy mess, much like what you get at home. The dining area is tight, the staff casual and friendly, and of course, the food is lutong-bahay good.

The Chicken a la Mado (P68) is a secret recipe Wilson inherited from his grandfather Amado. The recipe is secret, and Wilson won't tell you what goes in it. The chicken has a slightly smokey flavor and comes with a creamy, oily sauce that you'll want to skip and eat up at the same time. My advice, in the words of Weird Al Yankovic, just eat it.

The Pork Binagoongan (P65) is very salty. As I am not a fan of binagoongan, which is basically posk with bagoong (shrimp paste) and some vegetables, I don't think I am qualified to judge this dish. My companions thought it was good though. The Bicol Express (P66), though loaded with chili peppers, was a bit of a disappointment as it wasn't tongue-searingly hot, as it is reputed to be. We think Mr. Tan has been toning it down for his Manila clientèle. He did say that he could make it hotter upon request.

The Bicol Humba (P65) comes with a thin, light-colored sauce, making it seem more like watered down adobo, though its trademark sweetness is still there.

I rather like the Tuna Sisig ({P68), which is hot, crunchy, and served with egg, the latter of which gives it a certain X factor. Probably still unhealthy, but not as much as the other dishes. But then, why eat out if your watching your figure?

I also liked the Laing (P68), stewed gabi leaves (normally poisonous. Did you know that Filipinos are one of only two races in the entire world that eat yam leaves?) pumped up with gata (coconut milk). Tastes exactly like the way our yaya makes it, which means its authentic.

The Leche Flan (P65) is firm and not too sweet. I take my leche flan very seriously, and while this is not the best I've had, its good enough that I didn't want to share it with others.

The servings at Top Meals are small – each order serves one – but eaten with rice (and you have to eat rice with what you orderotherwise you're missing out on the whole experience), it's enough to fill you up.

The restaurant also offers relatively cheap fruit shakes. The cream-based Strawberry Shake (P49) is perfect for rainy days while the other fruit variants (more smoothies than shakes – P39) are great during hot days and summer nights.

Top Meals Food Haus
5994 J.D. Villena St. cor. Mabini St. Poblacion, Makati.
The place is beside Estelle Salon.
(Villena St. is the street in the middle of Museo ng Makati and Rockwell, along J.P. Rizal)
Telephone: +632 895 1249

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Pamana's Three Way Adobo

Wrote an article in the July 2009 issue of Appetite about Happy Ongpauco's heirloom adobos (there are three of them), which she serves side by side in her newest restaurant, Pamana, in Tagaytay (it's near the rotonda, beside Boutique Bed and Breakfast).

The three kinds of adobo are served side by side, and all of them are delicious, but in different ways.

Pick up a copy of Appetite magazine to get all three recipes.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Angel's Kitchen

Another restaurant within my immediate vicinity is Angel's Kitchen, which serves the kind of home cooking you wished happened in real life. All the dishes served here are from the owners' family recipes, which only serves to make people jealous and strive to be adopted by said families from which such savory recipes originate.

Angel's Kitchen is run by five mothers who decided to get together and give others the chance to sample their family heirloom recipes. My Angel's Kitchen is crisp and clean, a place where you feel you have to keep your elbows off the table be on your best behavior. The restaurant is quiet, a big change from establishments whose loud music is masked by its even louder clientèle.

I have to confess that I wasn't always so keen to come here, as I always thought that the prices were a bit too high for the kind of food they served. But all it takes is just one excellent thing to change a mind, and in my case, it was the soup.

The Gambas with Chorizo Bits (P298) is composed of fresh-tasting shrimp cooked in olive oil with bits of chorizo and big cloves of garlic. The spicy Spanish sausage adds a sweet-savory edge to the spicy dish.

Perhaps my favorite soup in the city is the Seafood Chowder (P198). It is thick, chunky and creamy, each spoonful yielding a treasure trove of seafood and vegetable bits. A great soup to warm you on a rainy afternoon.

The Tuyo Puttanesca (P288) is surprisingly sweet instead of salty. Sweet in a savory way, not in a dessert way. It's a light pasta dish that goes down just right, leaving just enough room for dessert, which I suggest should be the Strawberry Trifle (P158) – layers of cream, sponge cake, berries and (just when you think you might go into a sugar coma from all the sweetness) what I think is lemon curd that combine like a giant robot to make one supremely awesome dessert. Its go a soft texture and a taste that melds the sweet with the tart. It's qute addictive, and because it's not heavy, this only means that you'll have room to order another one...

I still think that some of its dishes are a bit expensive for what they are, but the soup, I shall return for. And maybe a Trifle or two as well.

Angel's Kitchen
# 57 Connecticut Street,
Northeast Greenhills, San Juan

Friday, July 03, 2009

Cookbook Kitchen

One of the things I am grateful to Ang Pinaka for is for finally directing me to Cookbook Kitchen. The location of this immensely popular restaurant has eluded this directionally challenged eater – until now. The most surprising thing about it – it's really near where I live!

Much has been written about this little restaurant, to how it was conceived to how it got its name, so I'm not going to go int that here. What I will go into, however, is the food.

I liked their Wasabi Soy Fish (P250), soft yet firm fish, pan-fried ad topped with a sweetish (not hot) wasabi emulsion; but what I really liked was their Parmesan-crusted White Fish (P260), which is fish and cheese baked until it has a nice golden crust. It's what the restaurant is famous for, and with good reason. Its warmth and creaminess is what I think embodies the true essence of comfort food. This is the kind of dish you want to take home to curl up and watch TV with. A little red wine (yes, yes, seafood, I know) and you're good to go.

The Pasta al Adobo (P200) is a nice, oil-based pasta topped with adobo flakes. It's the garliky-est (I just invented a new word!) dish that I've ever had that does not have that garlicky sting.

My second favorite dish is dessert. Kittin's Scarlet Cake (P130) is a blood-red grownup cake with a butter and cream cheese icing from childhood. It's not terribly sweet and it's incredibly moist. I wanted to hoard the whole thing for myself but... I... must... share.

If someone were to ask me what I wanted for my last meal, the Parmesan-crusted White Fish and Kittin's Scarlet Cake would definitely be on top of my list.

Cookbook Kitchen
8 Socorro Fernandez St., corner Luna Mencias St. (near Shaw Blvd),
Mandaluyong City
Tel. +632 724 3595

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Chinatown Snacks

While in 168 in Manila, I came across a store that sold colorful vacuum-packed Chinese delicacies. Some of them were cookies, others quail eggs and tiny chicken feet. They were interesting, but needless to say, I did not but any of them. Instead, I headed up to Chariya, the incredibly tasty Thai place in the food court.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Little Store on the Hill

I love Little Store on the Hill, though I am not here as often as I would like. It's a small Chinese restaurant grocery store with a serving (you order your food canteen-style) and eating area on one side while the rest of the shop is devoted to fresh vegetables and all sorts of Chinese delicacies.

People say that they serve the best Chinese lumpia in the city and I'm inclined to believe them. Other thing to try include the Crab Fried Rice, flavorful dry fried rice that tasteof crab and egg. My use of “dry” as an adjective is not derogatory. It is to distinguish the rice's texture from that of the Kim Peng, which in turn is sticky. The later is sweet and savory and is a meal in itself, the rice turbo-boosted by being cooked with peanuts, pork and chicken sausages, which account for its rounded meaty taste.

One of my favorite dishes is the Tofu with Terriyaki Sauce. Fresh tofu, soft on the inside and firm on the outside, is served with sweet terriyaki sauce. Goes well with the crab fried rice.

And then there is the Chinese lumpia. Chinese lumpia is characterized by minced vegetables, crushed peanuts, seaweed strips and Chinese lettuce, all rolled in a thin wrapper and served fresh, sometimes with a sauce that resembles that of the lumping ubod's. Little Store's lumpia is light on the tastebuds but heavy on the stomach.

An interesting dish is the stewed catfish – tough, dried catfish served with a sweet sauce. It comes with a crab claw cake over rice.

The Little Store is also home to different dishes that only a Chinese person would love, but that others are beginning to appreciate. One of them is the Balut Misua, which marries the Filipino balut with the Chinese misua (a type of noodle soup). Flavored with Chinese herbs, the soup has a medical tinge to it, and is recommended for folks who are trying to regain their strength.

Another Chinese delicacy that people come from far and wide to sample is the Black Chicken Soup. It's made from Chinese chicken, a type of fowl with downy white feathers and black skin. This medicinal soup (it is said to impart body heat) is light and clear and surprisingly does not taste of herbs. It's a soup that, as they say, adds hair to your chest.

If you're in the mood for authentic home-cooked Chinese food but don't want to go all the way to Binondo, head to the Little Store on the Hill. It's the Chinese equivalent of home away from home.

Little Store on the Hill
2 Jose Abad Santos st.
Little Baguio, San Juan
7219174, 7212359