Vanilla Cafe in Baguio City

I would like to believe that I have some level of proficiency on determining what and how good food would be like.  My taste buds know how to ascertain and adjudicate what good food is.

And though I love cakes and may seem to have the sweetest tooth on the planet, I have never been a fan of Red Velvet cakes.  And though I have yet to encounter a Red Velvet cake that makes my taste buds do a double-somersault with one and a half twists in the free position, I think I just had one that is the most remarkable.  

red velvet… it tastes delicious or it tastes beautiful

But my appreciation of this Red Velvet was not due to my taste buds doing a standing ovation but it was my sense of sight that makes me rejoice and be delighted towards the cake I was consuming.  I was at awe about the look, design and colors of Vanilla Café inside Kamiseta Hotel located in Baguio City, the tourist summer capital of my country. 

I guess this is the cutest café I have seen in Baguio.  The interiors were so stunningly pretty, it will definitely put some very sweet delicious smile on every one’s faces.  The café was so visually attractive, the happiness it ignites would surge towards all the other senses making all dishes they serve to be so happily pleasant and appealing.       

Vanilla Café have seem to possess some enchanting potion that smoke-screened my usually resplendent sense of taste.  I actually could no longer recall if the Red Velvet I had was good or mediocre but what I know is that I was smiling while consuming it inside Baguio City’s lovely and bewitching Vanilla Café.     

Hindi lasang masarap.  Pero lasang maganda!

Piniritong Galunggong The Dashing Version

While I was growing up, there was one fish that has politically been used as a benchmark in terms of determining my country’s economic inflation rate  and the people’s purchasing power.  It was a Filipino staple that resulted to having the first female president in Asia and the Time Magazine’s Woman of the Year awardee.  It was the increasing price of this measly poor-man’s fish that was used to ignite in toppling a dark authoritarian regime that resulted to the triumph of a peaceful people power revolution.

This fish was the mundane and inglorious Galunggong (known in the US as the Round Scad Fish).  This fish is so cheap, so common and so trivial you will never see this served as part of the menu in any grand or special Filipino banquet feast.  Some Filipino folks would not even eat it because they consider it as the fish of the poor and the low-class.

But the sordid, meek and lowly fish seem to have an ally in revamping its unfortunate and underprivileged image.  It is the 35-year old Filipino restaurant called Bistro Remedios. 

I think Bistro Remedios is the only prime-quality restaurant in the metro that carries a Galunggong dish in the menu.  I have yet to know or encounter an equally ingenious restaurant of the same caliber that serves this variety of fish.

Bistro Remedios serves Galunggong and they simply call it Piniritong Galunggong.   I recently got an interest of trying one and it was one surprisingly beautiful dish that was served on my table.

I consider Piniritong Galunggong to be the chic and dashing version of this common fried fish.  It is actually a complete meal.  It is served with a special rice cooked in coconut milk and also comes with the savory-flavored Filipino shrimp paste mixed with crispy tiny anchovies. 

The presentation, the plating and the big portion definitely exceeded my expectations.  Those fresh sliced tomatoes and banana leaf bedding definitely added beautiful colors to what could have been a plain looking dish.  The sautéed shrimp paste with anchovies was packed with flavors while the special coconut milk rice was a real big surprise to the palate. 

that’s jorge, the manager
chic and dashing version

The Galunggong fish was definitely the highlight of this dish.  It was crisp, meaty and flavorful.  And for those who hate eating bony fish, Bistro Remedios’ kitchen painstakingly got rid of the fish bones!  The fish served were boneless!

Bistro Remedios (who was the inventor/creator of the now-very-famous Binukadkad Na Plapla which almost all Filipino restaurants seem to serve now) definitely did a great job on introducing and carrying Galunggong in their menu. 

Chomping on the fish seem to brought back childhood memories and of living simple and joyous lives in the past.  This dish was a definite glorious gastronomic experience!  And after having my last bite, I was already planning on when to order it again. 

inside the dining area of bistro remedios

     Bistro Remedios branches are

are at Adriatico St, Remedios Circle, Malate

and at the Grond Floor, The Block, SM North EDSA

Pinasosyal na isda…

Choosing a Bowl of Clam Chowder

My family is so nutty like a fruitcake!  It has been weeks that some members of my family were contemplating on revisiting and spending the weekend at Okada Manila, the iconic oceanfront integrated resort here in Manila.  We then decided to visit one Saturday.

And while everyone was fixing and getting ready to do the “pasyal” (translation: stroll) everyone were suggesting what to do and where to eat while inside plush and lavish Okada.  That is until I raised the idea of dropping the plan of going to Okada and we should instead go to S&R where unhealthy American food are available.  My nephew Luis reinforced my idea when he expressed that he is craving for some delicious Clam Chowder which Nengkoy also loved and never misses to order every time we dine there.

While we were in the car heading to sophisticated Okada, everybody then decided to do a detour.  We agreed to replace the long-ago-planned weekend destination, that is, from the grand and luxurious Okada Manila to the huddle-filled and unsophisticated food court of S&R membership-shopping store! 

yummy clam chowder and my greasy pizza!
nengkoy waiting for her creamy and savory clam chowder at the food court

I ended up enjoying the Clam Chowder, a big chunk of pizza and two pieces of crispy fried chicken! And since we are there, I decided to buy a tray of huge muffins and a big bag of toilet paper rolls.  While munching on the greasy pizza, I contemplated that my crazy family’s detour to S&R food court was in agreement to Leonardo Da Vinci’s notion that “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication

Krung krung kasi ang pamilya ko.  Dat’s why!

Beef Ninja is a Pares In Disguise

About two weeks ago, Nengkoy, I and my family had an early dinner in one of the posh and popular Filipino-fusion cuisine restaurant just beside the lobby of the deluxe and swanky Conrad Hotel (hahaha! I refuse to name the restaurant). It was my first time tasting Pares in that dinner.

Pares is the Filipino’s common reference to a Braised Beef Stew usually paired with garlic fried rice and a bowl of clear soup. Pares is a common dish served in carinderias (small local eateries) usually found along the side streets of Manila.

Since it was my first time, I don’t really have an idea how a good Pares tastes like. That is why I did not know if the version of the posh restaurant was way superior as compared to other Pares-es served in customary, regular and more economical carinderias.

My adventurous nephews however are more well-versed than I am in terms of the taste of Manila’s street food and cuisine. My nephews particularly Denden commented that the Pares served in Café Adriatico is way more delicious as compared to the version served in the restaurant we were having dinner at. He nevertheless commented that the food presentation by the posh restaurant was way more gorgeous as compared to the plain and simple Café Adriatico dish.

When I try to recall if Café Adriatico serves Pares, without batting an eyelash, I reminded Denden that Café Adriatico does not serve it. He then informed me that Café Adriatico’s Beef Ninja dish is actually a Pares disguised in a modest presentation and is called in a different appellation.

beef ninja (pares in disguise)
cafe adriatico in malate

My other nephew Luis confirmed this observation and stated that indeed, Beef Ninja of Café Adriatico is a Pares dish. Both agreed that though it needs improvement in terms of food presentation, Café Adriatico’s Beef Ninja is among the top three Pares-es they have ever tasted.

This inspired me to order Beef Ninja when I had the chance to dine at the 40-year old Café Adriatico in their Malate, Manila branch. While doing some photo shoot of the dish, I wonder which came first in terms of evolution. Was it Beef Ninja of the 40-year old restaurant or was it Pares served in carinderias? I may not know the birth of Pares and how it really tastes like, I nevertheless savored the delicious flavor of one of the best Pares (in disguise) dish on the planet.

Ang sarap!

Cool Coffee Print at Celia’s Cafe

Baristas spend years perfecting their latte art. Tons of milk and espresso has been spent so as to achieve a beautiful design.  But when you visit Celia’s Café in Alaminos City in Pangasinan, they actually have a machine that can actually have your favorite selfie photo be printed on your coffee.

I don’t know of a café in Manila that offered this same cool feature and going to Singapore or Hongkong would be too expensive if I wish to have my photo printed on my coffee.  That is why I did not missed my chance of having this coffee experience when I last visited Celia’s Café, my family’s favorite café in the northern part of the country. 

super cool…

Celia’s Café is located at SSS Building
Marcos Avenue, Palamis
Alaminos City, Pangasinan

Ensalada Esmeralda & the Caveman in Me

My friends and colleagues know that I am not a salad person. While dining in restaurants, I frequently tease and ridicule friends who prefer having salads than the specialty main courses. I would often tell them that maybe they may be a goat or a rabbit in their past life. Plus, salads for me are not an effective meal. It may be filling but only for a short period of time.

I usually don’t understand how some people eat only salad for lunch or dinner because in my case, after about an hour, I am craving for something to chew and swallow. But the good side for salad-eaters on how I perceive them is that they seem to be more civilized, more refined and more sophisticated.

They are so unlike me who is a meat lover! For me, meat lovers are the total opposite of the very urbane and cultured salad lovers. I and the rest of the meat lovers seem to be more savaged, ferocious and brutal. I prefer chunks of animal carcass may it be grilled, broiled, fried or roasted. Because of this, I have always thought that in my past life I am a barbaric cave dweller during the prehistoric times who loved hunting animals for food.

But there’s one kind of salad that seem to convert me. It’s the Ensalada Esmeralda of Café Adriatico! Picture this, a bed of fresh greens with slices of crunchy apples and luscious oranges, savory almond flakes and dried cranberries dripped with generous amount of raspberry-yogurt dressing topped with chia seeds! It’s raw and it’s meatless yet I L.O.V.E. it!

esmeralda

I can no longer count the times I had Ensalada Esmeralda as my lunch. It is unlike other salads that is filled with grated odorous cheese or smothered with unhealthy mayonnaise or with robust repulsive vinegar dressings. This salad is something unique for it is on the fruity and sweet side. Having a sweet-tooth myself, I particularly love the sweet tangy taste and fluid texture of the raspberry-yogurt dressing!

The refreshing Ensalada Esmeralda, makes me now think that sometime in my prehistoric past I was the first caveman who converted from being carnivorous to being a fruitarian! And at this modern present time, Ensalada Esmeralda seem to have erased the deep-seated savaged caveman in me!

yummyness…

Café Adriatico Premiere is located at
790 Adriatico Street in Malate Manila. 738-8220
(only cavemen or people living under a rock would not know this cafe!)


Represhing pramis!

The Pinoy Lomi

With its world wide appeal and popularity, the Japanese ramen has turned out to become such an intense source of pride for Japan.  It is so popular, Chefs around the world are in serious pursuit of locating and determining the best Japanese ramen ever made.

I myself love a number of ramen varieties and such popularity makes me so jealous on why our Filipino-made and Filipino-developed noddle dish could not be as popular as that of the savory ramen.  I wish and dream on the day when the erstwhile and yummy Pinoy Lomi would be as popular, as trendy and as pursued-after kind of a noodle dish like that of the Japanes Ramen.

Japanese Ramen houses are literally everywhere around the planet.  But can you envision and imagine having a Lomi House in the well-appointed streets of New York, Paris and Sydney? 

it would be a big surprise if this would be sooo sought after
cafeño
darling lomi

And while I patiently wait until such an embryonic and what seem to be ridiculous vision turned out to become such a shocking and ridiculous reality, let me feature one savory Lomi that I and friends recently tried when we went to San Juan in the province of Batangas.

Cafeño the leading café restaurant in San Juan, Batangas (according to Tripadvisor) offers a very good variety of Lomi.  Picture freshly-cooked thick noodles, rich and savory broth, the perfect amount of spice, half-cooked egg topped with crispy pork cracklings! 

I would not say Cafeño’s version of Lomi is the best Lomi in the country.  It is because I have always believed that there is no such thing as the best Lomi.  This Pinoy noodle dish is supposed to be of a personal preference.  It’s more on having your own favorite variety.  Thus, unlike the popular ramen houses who claims to serve the best ramen dish, there is no best Lomi in the country because every Pinoy definitely would have their preferred and darling Lomi version.  And so far, Cafeño’s version has been my personal choice and favorite.

The Pinoy Lomi may not be as highly-sophisticated like some of the ramen varieties but this meal manages to be so comforting and soul-soothing at the same time. It is a properly balanced bowl dish that earthlings outside the Philippines has yet to discover. 

so glad to have discovered cafeño with super friends!

Nakakagulat na sarap!