Sunday, September 30, 2007

A Day of Showbiz and Food

My cousin Butchie's request prior to his visit here in Manila was to get tickets to watch a live television Sunday show called ASAP. Don't ask me what the TV show's acronym means because I haven't the foggiest.

I coaxed hubby to wake up early so that we could have an early start to beat the traffic and be the first in line to get good seats. Hubby dropped off mom and me to LP to meet up with Butchie. Hubby opted to sit this one out and just stayed home. My cousin Butchie took his time getting ready to make sure he's absolutely camera-ready.

Mom, me. Butchie and Tita Honey finally set off about an hour later than what we intially planned and was happily being driven to our destination. Only to discover that Butchie had forgotten the tickets! We had to turn back and get the tickets. Fortunately, we haven't reached the highway yet.

Since we had delays, and we were not allowed to bring food and drinks to the studio, we had brunch at a nearby Burger King drive thru. I have never eaten a burger that fast in my life. It's not a pleasant feeling, I tell you. We barely made it on time to the studio. The studio closed their gates right after we came. Whew, close call.

ASAP is a popular Sunday noontime show here in the Philippines. It's a three-hour long variety show filled with a lot of lip synching, live singing (for real singers) and a whole lot of dance numbers performed by a bevy of young local stars.

Tita Honey, Me and Butchie

It was a fun show overall. Very lively. I only hope that they improve the sound. The voices of the hosts are drowned by the background music and I could barely understand what they were saying. One particular lady host had a very shrill voice that annoyed the heck out of me.

Here are some highlights of the show:

ASAP Stage

Piolo Pascual

The singers

A view from the other side of the stage

A cosmetic launch

Heart and Echo

Butchie and I even had our picture taken at the stage after the show was over. You know, to get a feel of what it was really like to be on a TV stage :-)

My cousin Butchie befriended one of the famous comedians in the country named Brod Pete :-) who was a guest in the show. He gave us a tour of the studio and even shared a few tips with Butchie regarding his (Butchie's) aspirations to be an actor/reality star/tv host someday. The first step was to sign up at the Talent Center which was closed since it was a Sunday. I reckon we'll be back another day to submit an application.

Butchie with Brod Pete

Butchie getting advice from the comedians

After all the excitement, we were absolutely famished. We scored some gift certificates from Tita Socky for a Japanese restaurant called Yoshinoya in Park Square, Makati. We ordered the biggest platters they had and stuffed ourselves with gyudon, chicken teriyaki, lobster balls and tempura. There are no pictures because we attacked the food as soon as it was served on our table. The beef was particularly good. Very tender.

Butchie also ordered Shrimp Sandwich from Wendy's next door since it's not available in the US. Of course a Wendy's purchase is not complete without a Frosty.

With our tummies filled to the brim, we spent the remainder of the afternoon roaming Glorietta. We had heard that Bizu has really good ensaymadas and purchased a box of 6 assorted ensaymadas. Cheese ensaymada, chocolate ensaymada and almond ensaymada.

Butchie at the Bizu kiosk in Glorietta

If that wasn't enough pasyal for the day, we make our way to another popular mall a few kilometers away, Rockwell. We roamed around the mall and found some really nice items although none of us managed to purchase one.

We also chanced upon a Baker's Dozen Festival where assorted baked desserts are exhibited and sold. We tasted almost every single thing on the booths and sadly just bought only a piece of ensaymada with grated edam cheese on top. I didn't buy any of the stuff since I've been on a abking high for the past few weeks, rest muna.

Dinner was at an Asian fusion restaurant called Banana Leaf and Curry House. It's called banana leaf because diners use a sheet of banana leaf as plates. We ordered Pandan Chicken, Thai Style Manila Clams, Sauteed Salted Squid and a noodle dish (the name eludes me at this moment). The food was good overall. The price is also reasonable. The service though is not very good. Be prepared to be ignored some of the time since the place is usually packed on weekends.

Our "plate"

Sauteed Salted Squid

Pandan Chicken

Thai Style Manila Clams

A noodle dish with shrimps

With our tummies filled and our feet tired, we decided to call it a night. Afterall, tomorrow will be another day of pasyalan to the max.

Friday, September 28, 2007

A very Un "Martha" Moment

I'm so excited! My cousin Butchie will be arriving tomorrow to spend a week-long vacation here in Manila and we'll be going on showbiz, culinary and shopping adventures for the next seven days!

As a welcoming gift, I've baked him several goodies to keep sugar flowing through his veins the entire time he's here :-)

I made carrot cupcake with cream cheese frosting and almond shavings, chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting (of course), chocolate cupcake with cream cheese frosting and little candy hearts 'coz I love him :-), chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal cookies with walnuts and raisins, and Russian tea cakes.

I've been baking since yesterday and both the chocolate and cream cheese icings refused to cooperate with me. They refused to become fluffy. I read somewhere that making meringue based sweets (in this case my choco icing) on a rainy day isn't such a great idea because the egg whites in the meringue will just deflate no matter how much to whip them. I made the same frosting last week (an it was raining too) they didn't deflate on me. Hmmmmm.....

I had another mishap with the choco chip cookies, I miss measured one of the ingredients and by the time I realized it, the first batch of cookies were already baking in the oven! I am renaming this cookie.....chocolate chip cookie....wafer.

I am a disgrace to the baking community. Ha! ha! ha!

Hey, have a heart. Sheesh, I just "seriously" started baking a few months ago :-)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Ashley's 1st Birthday

Our little niece celebrated her very first birthday party at LP yesterday. Only close friends and family members were invited to join the festivities.

Our little Ashley was in high spirits the entire time and proudly showing off her new pink dress and pink shoes to everyone.

I took a picture of her with the cupcakes that I made, as well as the Power Puff birthday cake that her dad bought for her.

It was a fun afternoon that lasted well into the evening.

My cupcakes were a hit as well :-)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Baking Frenzy for Ashley's 1st Birthday Party

My adorable and cute niece is celebrating her very first birthday tomorrow. My mom wanted to have rocky road cupcakes since it's her favorite and little bro wants a repeat of the ice cream cake as well. I had already made the ice cream cake earlier in my own kitchen and I'm off to LP to bake cupcakes since the party will be held there tomorrow.

Hubby and I are off to LP right after lunch. I decided to bake extra chocolate and vanilla cupcakes for good measure. We don't want the guests to miss out on the most important food group.......SUGAR! Here's my work station prior to the baking frenzy.

Here's hubby helping me...... By getting out of my way :-)

All in all, I eventually baked about 6 dozens cupcakes. Vanilla with choco frosting, choco cupcakes with choco frosting, devil's food cake with rocky road frosting and chocomint cupcakes.

Hope the verdict is favorable :-)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

6 Dozen Chocolate Cupcakes!

I accomplished an amazing feat! I baked 6 dozen chocolate cupcakes with chocolate swiss meringue frosting in one afternoon. Whew! Talk about slaving over a hot oven.

The cupcakes were for a belated birthday present for Tita Socky and a belated birthday treat for hubby's friends at the office.

A Birthday Celebration in LP

LP played host again to another birthday this year, Tita Socky's. The family congregated for another glutton fest. Hubby and I conveniently "forgot" to eat breakfast to make room for the sumptuous lunch.

My pamankins presented Tita Socky with a Madagascar tablet that they painted themselves. Here they are posing with the very colorful tablet.

My mother, the most superb cook in our family, concocted everything. The family seems to favor crabs lately and for this special day, we had crabs the size of dinner plates. You can see the birthday celebrant here, Tita Socky, grabbing some for the camera.

There is no rhyme nor reason to the combination of food that we had. My mom just made whatever catches her fancy for that particular weekend.

For starters we had Pancit Molo. It's a soup made with ground pork and shrimp dumplings. A family favorite and always a crowd pleaser.

Next up, Lechon Paksiw. A dish made with leftover lechon simmered in vinegar, lechon sauce, garlic and some other secret ingredients.

Grilled pork and chicken in soy, garlic, calamansi, lemon lime soda marinade. Typical Pinoy grilled fare, made more special with the choicest cuts of meat (with taba of course).

Bibingka, another Pinoy kakanin or rice based dessert. This particular bibingka is made with sticky rice, sugar and coconut cream.

I made ice cream cake for dessert. The ice cream cake was made with home-baked butter cake and three layers of ice cream, mango, chocolate and manticado then generously sprinkled with slivered almonds on top.

Our little Ashley couldn't stop eating! She managed to steal the serving spoon for the rice and eat off it while we were talking amongst ourselves. Sneaky little devil.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Hubby's Romatic Birthday Dinner

Hubby celebrated a birthday last Saturday. I don't think he would appreciate me broadcasting how many candles he blew out this year :-)

With no definite plans, Hubby and I got ready for a dinner somewhere in Alabang. There are some new restaurants there that we wanted to try out. Right before leaving the house, we decided to take a little roadtrip to Tagaytay instead.

We finally settled to having dinner at Bag of Beans since both of us have never been there and my mom recommended it a few years back.

After about an hour and a half on the road, we finally reached our destination. Bag of Beans is a quaint little garden restaurant found along Aguinaldo Highway. They serve local coffee and English dishes. They serve shepherd's pie, freshly baked breads, coffee, pasta and steaks.

The place is divided into two major indoor dining areas and interspursed tables and chairs for those who prefer al fresco dining. We opted to dine indoors since there was a slight drizzle and it was foggy. Maybe wearing a bustier dress was a bit impractical for a cold foggy night :-)

Hubby and I ordered caesar's salad, lasagna, beef and mushroom pie, roast beef with mashed potatoes and panna cotta. We also took home a loaf of their famous cinnamon raisin bread. I'm not posting any photos because I take lousy food photos under subdued lighting :-)

Here's the lowdown on the food: the Caesar's salad was fresh, cool crisp and very good, made with a home made dressing.

The beef and mushroom pie, was good as well. I liked it, the crust was specially nice (although not as nice as my lola's). I finished the entire thing nonetheless.

The lasagna is very ordinary but not too bad. It could use more mozzarella and more sauce. I only took a bite and took it out.

The roast beef was slightly over cooked. Hubby preferred it medium rare. The sauce accompanying it was good, according to hubby.

The panna cotta's chocolate sauce was a bit rich. It over powered the gentle flavor of the custard.

Hubby and I particularly enjoyed the cool crisp foggy air that only Tagaytay can provide, south of Manila that is.

Happy birthday hubby!

Spaghetti Alfredo

I've seen a show on the food network about a simple recipe for this particular creamy pasta. I've never made this at home since it's not my usual preference but it seemed easy enough to do. So, I tried making some for myself (hubby isn't very fond of cream-based pasta sauces).

Per the recipe, I have to use equal parts cream and milk, some grated Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and nutmeg. I added some mushrooms to mine to make it more interesting.

The pasta came out perfect. The sauce itself was creamy and cheesy but way to rich for my taste. So rich that I was compelled to rake my backyard to burn off some of the calories!!!

OK, maybe just half of my backyard :-)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Sophie's Garden in BF Homes

There's a new place here in BF, located along Aguirre Avenue that hubby and I have been meaning to try. The opportunity came the other night after hubby and I ran some errands and had decided to just eat out instead of dining at home.

Since it was a spur of the moment thing, we didn't have our camera. I'll just describe the place to you guys. The place is divided into two sections. The first section is an air conditioned bar with a glass waterfall. Music videos are projected onto the waterfall, so it's an interesting concept. The second section is the garden section where tables are lined up under huge green umbrellas. There are some cabanas in the area for diners who want to have more privacy. The garden also has a waterfall and some other water features. The place certainly is charming and cool since there is a fan blowing to cool off the diners. There weren't many people dining there that night, hubby and I wondered about that. The place offers a variety of Filipino, Japanese, Italian and Swiss dishes. The place certainly looked promising.

We got our answer when we ordered. First, the staff is not properly trained on the menu. Second, they're quite pricey and they don't accept credit cards. Third, the food isn't actually stellar. Fourth, it takes forever for your orders to arrive(despite only having 3 small groups dining there) and even longer to get the check.

For this adventurous night, hubby and I settled ordering "safe" dishes. Caesar's salad, spaghetti with porcine mushrooms in cream sauce and spaghetti bolognese.

The Caesar's salad is by far the worst that I've tasted in my entire life. The dressing was missing major ingredients- no anchovies, no lemon juice, no garlic, no Worcestershire sauce and no Parmesan! It tasted like warm beaten egg yolks with mayo. The bottled dressing tastes way better than their "home made" version. The salad greens were at room temperature. Ugh, absolutely awful.

The Spaghetti with Porcine wasn't bad but it hardly had any porcine mushrooms in it.

The Bolognese, according to hubby wasn't bad as well.

Despite the passable taste in the pasta and the charming ambiance, we definitely WON'T be dining there again.

Sophie's garden is too overpriced for its mediocre food.