Friday, November 30, 2007

Makati Malls on Foot

Today is the second day of our cosmopolitan lifestyle, hubby had asked to walk around the nearby malls. He was a bit uncomfortable roaming around the Makati area without a car. Since my mom's condo is so near everything, bringing a car around is absolutely unnecessary. The weather's a bit cloudy today which is perfect for walking here.

Our first stop was lunch. Hubby's choice was a Chinese restaurant called David's Tea House in Greenbelt 1. We've never dined here before (we're from the suburbs remember?). The restaurant was almost full when we arrived. A good sign that the food must be decent. The crowd is a happy mix of families, couples, friends and expatriates. Appealing across the board, if you will.

For starters, we had the Hakaw, a shrimp dumpling. The menu said that it's 90% shrimps and we were happy to find out that they didn't lie. This dim sum is a favorite of ours. Their version is very good and we would definitely order it again.

Hubby had the Beef Ball Dim sum. Reminiscent of our first venture into HK's street food. The beef ball was also good and quite heavy. Hubby wolfed down every single one. Another winner. I'm particularly not very fond of this dim sum since it's quite dense and heavy for me. But I sneaked a teeny tiny piece and I liked it.

Next, is Chicken Feet. Adidas, as fondly called here. It's chicken feet marinated in spices and tausi (black beans) and then steamed until the skin and tendons are almost falling off the bone. Also a favorite of mine. David's version is a tad too spicy. I would order something else in its place next time.

For main courses, hubby and I both ordered congee. I had the beef congee, hubby had the asado congee. Both were equally good and the servings were huge. Hubby liked the congee so much, he ate half of mine as well :-)

The food's reasonably priced as well. We ended up forking over just P500 for everything. Not bad.

David's Tea House? It's good eats.

After a very heavy lunch, we needed to walk off the extra calories we just ingested. We toured around Greenbelt, going through the lovely parks and busy walkways and the newly opened and swanky Greenbelt 5.

Hubby salivated over some electronic goods and laptops. I salivated over some kitchen gadgets as well. After getting our visual fill of the new gadgets available in the market (we didn't buy anything), we make our way to the supermarket to buy some groceries and some junk food that hubby insists that we need. We ended up with five bags of food and supplies!

After walking back home, hubby said to me "I'm likin' the Makati lifestyle"

I hear ya, hubby!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Coup de Etat and Cilantro

This is our first day house sitting for my mom, and what happens? Coup de etat at the Manila Peninsula, just a few blocks away from the condo. Hubby was poised to troop back to our suburban home in BF in case there will be violence. Fortunately, the matter was resolved peacefully in a matter of hours and we get to live the Makati lifestyle for the next few days until my mom returns from her Vietnam vacation.

For our first night here, I made coleslaw with cilantro in citrus dressing, which is hubby's fave.

Since I have a ton of cilantro left over from the fridge, I made cilantro pesto yesterday at home at and brought it over here at the condo. Hubby liked this one as well, I was surprised that he did. He doesn't usually like pesto. In case you're interested, here's the recipe:

Cilantro Pesto

1 bunch of cilantro leaves and stalks, roughly chopped
1 - 2 Cloves of garlic, finely chopped
Toasted pine nuts
Extra virgin olive oil
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
Lemon juice (to prevent the cilantro from oxidizing)
Salt and pepper to taste

Process everything in a blender or food processor. There's no proportion to my recipe, because I just eyeballed everything. If it's too salty, add a bit more lemon and oil. If you want it more creamy, add more parmesan and pine nuts.

Heat slightly and pour cooked pasta over it. Toss to coat. Garnish with a bit of cilantro leaves. Serve immediately.

Refrigerate leftover pesto sauce, it will taste much better the following day.

Hubby and I have also been meaning to try out the Indian restaurant downstairs called Swagatam (along Rada Street, Makati). We decided to order some naan, roti and shrimp marsala curry to be delivered to us.

Spicy! We liked the shrimp marsala but we had plenty of leftover :-) The naan was good as well.

We also discovered that the naan is great to dip in the cilantro pesto.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Our Wedding Pictures, Unearthed

When hubby and I got married in 2002, our wedding budget was so limited, we couldn't afford to have digital pictures taken (it was pretty expensive at that time, it would have eaten half of our meager budget). All our wedding pictures were in film! How antiquated :-) I have yet to have them digitized.

Hubby's colleague gave us some pictures taken from our wedding. I just saw them today! Here's my favorite one:

Look at us, we looked so happy and eager.

Well, we were!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Enchanted Evening with Hubby

Date night. Movie night. I managed to coerce hubby to watch the Disney family movie, Enchanted, with moi. I love this movie, I'm such a sucker for Disney, romantic comedies with happy endings. See it, enjoy it. The happiness will stay with you for days ;-)

Bali Blends Cafe

Last Friday was such a fine balmy evening, hubby treated me to dinner, al fresco at Bali Blends Cafe in Westgate, Alabang. We've had coffee there before on my birthday but never ordered anything from their dinner menu. They serve fusion Indonesian cuisine and a sprinkling of continental sandwiches.

Since I've never had dinner yet, I ordered Beef Rendang, similar to our beef stew but spicier and has other complex flavors to it.

The Beef Rendang was served with buttered vegetables and rice. The beef rendang wasn't very tender and a bit too spicy, yet bland, if that was possible. Also, the dish needed a refreshing kick to balance out the gamut of spices in the dish. Cilantro, perhaps?

Unsatisfied with my meal (which I didn't finish), I ordered extra roti with a curry dip. After conferring with the waiter and getting the assurance that it's home-made roti, I place my order. The roti is not the same as what I had in Little India (darn!), the curry dip tasted like Mang Tomas with curry powder in it :-) Ayayay!

For dessert I had sweet coconut in pandan crepe, served with vanilla ice cream. The coconut was interesting, it tasted like soft bukayo. Bukayo is a Filipino dessert usually made by simmering strips of your coconut (buko) with brown sugar. I also saw a recipe using dessicated coconut, condensed milk and butter, simmered together.

Anyway, back to my story. Hubby had a tropical cooler. An assortment of tropical fruits, drizzled with caramel syrup with cayenne pepper, served in a fried crepe bowl. Hubby opted to have the syrup on the side, just in case he didn't like it. The cayenne pepper in the caramel was very mild, you can hardly tell it's there, which is a good thing. The fruits are fresh and juicy. The crepe bowl was very oily, baking it with a sprinkling of sugar would have greatly improved its taste.

The wonderful cool breeze of the evening, friendly waiters and pleasant company (my hubby) more than made up for the lackluster food.

The Old Spaghetti House, Festival Mall

Hubby and I love Italian food. Last Friday, I wasn't feeling a bit under the weather, to cheer me up, hubby treated me to a simple Italian meal at The Old Spaghetti House in Festival Mall. It's not the same as the franchise in Hong Kong, in case you're wondering.

For starters, we ordered the Asian Chicken Salad with Mangoes and Orange Dressing. Pretty unusual and it's a new dish on their menu. We were game to try it. The salad was served with Romaine hearts, chicken chunks, mangoes, candied orange peel and of course the orange lime honey dressing. The salad itself was served the right temperature, the dressing was way too sweet and way too tart. Something's missing in the dressing (I'm guessing ...salt or fish sauce?). Also, sprigs of cilantro would have greatly improved it's overall taste. Just a suggestion.

For our main courses, I ordered Gambasetti. Spaghetti noodles with shrimps, bell peppers in a spicy tomato sauce base. It was good, I liked it. Personally, if I would make it at home, I would hold off on the chili flakes a bit so that hubby can eat it too.

Hubby ordered the Bolognese, which he liked as well. He often orders the "safe" stuff. He's not very adventurous when it comes to food.

For dessert, hubby had the Spaghetti Ice Cream Pomodoro. Yeah, sounds funky, right? It's actually vanilla ice cream extruded through a sieve, making long thin strands of ice cream. Hence, The "spaghetti" reference. The "pomodoro" is actually strawberry jam. Any ice cream dessert is often always a hit with hubby.

I had the creme brulee royale. A trio of chocolate, citrus and mocha creme brulee. The citrus was way too sour, the chocolate was way too rich and the mocha was just fine. I obviously liked the mocha the best. I'll stick to ice cream next time.

The Old Spaghetti House is a hit and miss type of restaurant. So far, we liked their pasta and ice cream. Maybe we can try their pizzas next time.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Tides Restaurant in BF

Hubby and I tried this new barbecue joint in BF Homes called Tides, located along Aguirre Avenue. The interior is rustic and pub-like, with wooden tables and chairs, there's a patio over looking the street. The patio is the best area to dine since it's al fresco, the interior of the restaurant is not airconditioned but with plenty of fans to circulate the air. If you don't like to breathe smoke from cigarettes, dine early before the smokers arrive.

The menu consists of bar drinks and an assortment of barbecue, sisig and viands. The barbecue menu is priced reasonably between P18-45 per stick, depending on the type of barbecue that you like. The marinade is very good and the meats are grilled perfectly with slight burnt edges, very typical Pinoy barbecue. We also tried the roti. It was pretty disappointing, it's not authentic roti, they used tortilla instead of an actual roti, the curry dip was not bad. I was hoping to re-capture the same taste that I had in Little India, Singapore. Oh well...

The restaurant shares the building with a pizza joint, you can cross order between the two restaurants since they have the same owner/s. The pizza isn't very good though. I'd stick with the barbecue if I were you.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

My Mom's 50 Somethin' Birthday

My mom celebrated her 50 somethin' birthday last Sunday. It was unanimously agreed that the family will converge in OLP, the new family hang out. Her new dining set arrived just in time for her party! Check out her new fabulous digs.

Tita Socky, hubby and I were invited for lunch, a quiet time with just the four of us before the children arrive. For this simple meal, my mom made tilapia fillet steamed with onions, tomatoes and a generous bunch of cilantro. Heavenly! I am definitely duplicating this dish at home. Very easy, healthy and super yummy! She also bought beef steak tagalog and lechon paksiw from the Legaspi Sunday market just a few steps away from her condo.

Just because mom's living in a condo, doesn't mean we can't have a feast! The housekeeper from LP grilled some pork and chicken barbecue for us to bring to OLP, We had Pancit Malabon, Puto Pao (the dough is a cross between a puto and siopao) with salted egg and cheese topping, mom made her famous creamy fruit salad and I baked some brownies with walnuts, almonds and cashew nuts. Decadent!

Here are some of the fun pics at the pool with the kids.

Happy birthday, Ma! We love yah!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

One Legaspi Place (OLP), A New Family Hangout

My mom moved to her new digs, located just a hop away from Greenbelt and Glorietta, One Legaspi Place (fondly called OLP) is a great condominium community. My mom fell in love with the place as soon she saw it. My mom's in condo heaven due to it's spacious layout and even more fabulous location. The location is perfect for my mom because she loves to take walks and walking around Makati's malls, parks and weekend markets are always interesting and fun. We also checked out the goods at the Sunday Legaspi Market, just a few steps from her building. After living in the suburbs for 20 plus years, she welcomes this new change of pace.

The family converged in OLP last weekend and had another gab fest. We had some adobo made by the housekeeper in LP and some Chinese food ordered from a restaurant. Despite not having my mom's usual culinary masterpieces, we still enjoyed the food and each other's company. All of us pitched in with the cleanup.

We also talked about, watched home-made movies of our recent Hong Kong trip and reminisced about the fun and adventures we had there. Can't wait to go back! He he he. The kids also had a grand time frolicking in the pool. The pool is always a hit with the kids. My nephew Tim, played his kuya role to the hilt by watching over our little Ashley and kept her safe during their afternoon swim. My mom gave him a reward of chocolates and hot dogs for being such a good boy. There are also an outdoor and indoor play area which Ashley took advantage of. New toys to play with!

Here's a short slideshow/movie of our very first Sunday gathering at OLP:

Watch out for more fun posts about OLP, our new favorite family hang out.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Chicken Inasal

Chicken Inasal is one of the most favorite Filipino dishes of all time. Quintessential Pinoy, if you may. The dish originated in Bacolod, a province located in the Visayan region.

Although recipes vary from family to family, chicken inasal is always marinated and brushed with in achuete oil while grilling. The achuete oil (oil infused with anatto seeds) gives the chicken inasal it's yellow reddish tint. So far, none of the restaurants that we've dined in has given me the complete recipe for the their marinade. I can only discern flavors like vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper and ginger. Grilling over hot coals is very essential to it's smoky and distinct flavor.

I've never made this at home since it's very cheap to just dine in Bacolod Chicken House, a quaint little restaurant in BF that has been there for as long as I can remember. It's great that you can order the chicken parts that you like best. I like wings. Chicken inasal is best eaten with a dipping sauce of vinegar, soy sauce, chopped bird's eye chili, calamansi, ginger, garlic and onions.

Chicken Inasal in Bacolod Chicken House. Good Eats.

Third Day in Hong Kong - Ocean Park and Causeway Bay

We had such a full day at Disney, it was unanimously decided that the family needed to sleep in a bit and agreed to converge at the hotel lobby at a more respectable time, 11am.

For breakfast, hubby and I went to McDonald's. If you close your eyes, you would think that you're in Manila! Every Filipino in that area seemed to be having breakfast at McDonald's :-) I wonder, is there an unwritten rule among us Filipinos that we should have breakfast there? Just asking ;-)

We had some delays at the hotel due to some airport transportation concerns. We eventually left around noon. Ocean Park is open from 10:00a.m. to 10:00p.m.

To go to Ocean Park, take the MTR and alight at Admiralty station. There is a bus terminal there where you can purchase bus and park tickets for HK$20 and HK$208, respectively.

We were all very excited particularly because of the cable car experience. It will be a first for all the kids and some of the adults in the group.

When we arrived, Ocean Park was very crowded, and we couldn't enjoy most of the attractions due to long lines and rude Chinese people pushing everyone around. The kids did enjoy some of the attractions though. The mine train was a hit with hubby and Tim, the Raging river was a hit with Nica, the Atoll Reef was a huge hit for most of us despite over crowding. Jay-jay liked the Shark aquarium and the Dolphin show as well.

For hubby and I, we took a leisurely tour of the Aviary since we missed that last year. We were both fascinated with the birds casually perched on trees and some birds bathing in the man-made stream inside the aviary. One particular bird almost pooped on me, I was just inches away when he dropped his bomb! I love the aviary.

The place was so crowded, the escalators broke down....twice. We also didn't get to ride the cable car since the lines were extremely long and the staff urged patrons to take a free bus ride to get to the other side, which we didn't explore anymore.

I wish Ocean Park limits its park patrons on weekends. We were literally packed like sardines! I love Ocean Park and I always go there whenever I'm in Hong Kong. Try to visit the park on a weekday when it's less chaotic and remember to wear extremely comfortable shoes. The terrain is mostly uphill and you will need legs of steel to traverse through Ocean Park's pedestrian lanes.

After a gruelling afternoon at Ocean Park, we travel by bus to Admiralty and took the MTR to Causway Bay. There we browsed through Toys 'r Us and the surrounding shops. Tita Socky met us for dinner at a swanky Shabu-shabu place inside Fashion Walk. Unfortunately, since everyone was very busy cooking their meals, no one bothered to take pictures. The meal was great and the sukiyaki soup that accompanied the shabu-shabu was excellent.

After a heavy and healthy meal, and despite aching feet and short tempers, we still gamely walked the streets of Causway Bay, browsed around the malls, tried things on and walked, walked, walked. Here I am with my mom at Sasa after we've tried almost all their perfumes :-) My head was spinning after spraying and smelling all the perfume. Neither one of us bought one :-) he he he. I was extremely tempted to buy a bottle but resisted the urge. I'm such a good girl :-)