Friday, March 28, 2008

Rack's is Back!

I have fond memories of Rack’s. I remember my dad treating us to dinner there right after my college graduation. It was one of the hottest restaurants then.

Sadly, they closed their doors for a few years and have now recently opened a branch in Magallanes. I found out about it a few months ago when by brother excitedly told me about it. Rack’s ranks among my bro’s most favorite restaurant places.

I love baby back ribs. Specially if I don’t have to grill it myself. He he he. I found a nice recipe on baked baby back ribs which I hope to make soon.

Anyway, I digress… Hubby and I both love falling off the bone baby back ribs and Rack’s has always been our rib joint of choice. It’s delicious and reasonably priced, unlike Tony Roma’s who will charge you a thousand bucks for not so great tasting ribs, yech!

Our thousand bucks (with change) is better spent at Rack’s. It got us two orders of half rack baby back ribs with three sidings of coleslaw, mac ‘n cheese, baked beans and iced tea.

We also ordered their House salad with candied pili nuts in raspberry vinaigrette. The dressing’s a tad too sweet though.

Overall, the ribs are very tender, falling-off the bone and thankfully, they haven’t changed their recipe.

As the saying goes.... Don’t fix it if ain’t broke :-)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Mango Salad 1-2-3

Step one: Open salad in a bag, I am partial to Dole's.

Step two: Add diced mangoes.

Step three: Drizzle light honey mustard dressing (included in the salad pack)


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Black Saturday

Since we were not able to reach Pico de Loro the previous day, hubby decided to check it out on our own anyway. It’s about 2 ½ hours’ drive from our place barring any traffic. The roads are very good. We later found out that the roads starting from Punta Fuego has been developed by SM Prime, the developer of Pico de Loro.

Pico de Loro is also a premium community development along the Hamilo Coast in Batangas. The entire property is around 5,6oo hectares of mountains and coastlines, totaling 13 coves.

Hubby and I were very impressed with the property. As soon as you step out of your car, you will hear birds chirping and a lot of kuliglig. A testament to its natural beauty. We were evem more impressed with the cove. The water is very calm, almost like a lake, the cove here is much bigger tha Kawayan Cove’s. We were greeted with cold towels when we arrived at Pico Point. Pico point provides an bird’s eye view of the property. Here are some pics:

I love it there. Pico de Loro partnered with WWF (World Wildlife Foundation) in preserving the environment. Only the flat areas will be developed. The mountains will be untouched except for some hiking trails that will be partially cleared. I personally hope that they keep the beauty of this place. Because I fell in love with it as soon as I stepped out of the car. I even saw a yellow bird with blue wings flying over our car!

The beach is also light beige (considered as white already), it’s much bigger than Kawayan Cove’s and there’s a clubhouse right in front where you can dine and relax while watching your kids frolic on the beach. They also have a lot of interesting facilities like 3 (yes, three) infinity pools overlooking the ocean, a country club, a man-made salt-water lake in the middle of the development (as if there isn’t enough water already!). The first phase of the development is currently under construction, parts of the condomiums and the clubhouse are already on their way and are due to be completed within this year. Here's a picture of the clubhouse, still under construction:

To seal the deal, our agent took us to the neighboring cove, by banca (outrigger boat). It’s a ten-minute banca ride (which can be reached by foot in the future, when the hiking trail is already developed). Here the sand is really white. It’s a smaller cove and there were a lot of fishes swimming in the shallows, I was so happy I went.

On the way back to Pico de Loro, I noticed in the deeper part of the ocean (about 30 or so feet), I could see the corals below. That’s how clear the water was! Perfect for swimming and snorkeling (which I love love to do).

I know I’m sounding like an agent (but I assure you, I am not). But I felt so happy there. One of the nice things about it also is that, you can take a an hour’s boat ride from Mall of Asia, dock at Papaya Cove, (also within the property), and be at Pico de Loro in no time at all. Stay for a few hours and be back home in Manila for dinner. Of course, you cannot do that if you’re not a homeowner :-)

If I had P3.5 million to spare, I would have bought a small unit right then and there.

Maka taya nga ulit sa lotto!

Good Friday

Our day started early. Hubby and I picked up mom and Tita Cora right after breakfast and proceeded the long drive to Tagaytay. By lunch time, we have not reached our destination yet and decided to have lunch at Leslie’s. We had Bulalo, Sizzling Kang-kong (water spinach), Grilled Hito (catfish), Sizzling seafood, fresh coconuts in their shell (refreshing!) The bulalo is great, very tender and ultra yummy. Extra rice and soup please!

After a sumptuous lunch, we posed and took some pictures and proceeded to our destinations.

Caleruega, a lovely little church located on top of a mountain. It’s owned by the Dominican Monks here in the Philippines and is a very sought after wedding venue. It truly is a wonderful place, with it’s lovely little church and the grounds are beautifully landscaped with various trees, flowers and shrubs.

Not to mention the fantastic mountain views!

After Caleruega, we also went to Don Bosco Church, called the church on top of a hill also within the area. It was jam-packed with locals and tourists attending the seven last words. Sorry, no pics :-)

Since it was still quite early, we decided to explore further to the Batangas area. There were several Pico de Loro signboards along the highway and we decided to try and see it. After driving for almost an hour, we got distracted by a huge sign for Kawayan Cove. We knew that it was an exclusive residential community there with it’s own cove. We decided to inquire about the property and we were toured within the community.

Kawayan Cove as I mentioned is a private community comprising of only 300 lots ranging from 500sq. meters to as high as 2,000 square meters. We were impressed with the community’s development. We were told that actors and politicians are not allowed to purchase properties there to assure the residents’ privacy and to maintain the zen-like environment.

The cove itself is very beautiful with fine light beige sand (considered white already, but not as white as Boracay or Bohol’s). The water is calm and very clear.

Kawayan Cove also holds the Guiness’ Book of World Records for having the biggest Rosary in the world. The rosary is a series of stones, carefully placed on top of a cliff overlooking the sea. Hubby counted each one of the stones and pronounced the "rosary" complete. The marble cross at the end is what I was standing on to take Tita Cora's picture sitting one one of the stones of the famous Rosary.

The cliff also has the most wonderful sunset that I’ve ever seen. Perfect setting for a wedding!

This sight alone is worth the many millions that you will spend buying a lot there and many more millions building a home.

Imagine, sunset views like these…for the rest of your days……

Teka, tataya lang ako sa lotto!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Kusina Salud at Bisita Iglesia

What a jam-packed holy week we had! Just to give you some snippets of what we were up to during the four-day weekend.

Maundy Thursday
A very looong drive to Kusina Salud for a buffet lunch of Pako Salad, Lumpiang Ubod, Sinigang, Kulawo salad (Both in banana hearts and eggplants), Tapang Kalabao (yes, carabao), seafood Kare-Kare and halo halo for dessert. Yum, well worth the drive.

After a very sumptuous lunch, we make our way back to Manila for Bisita Iglesia. Bisita Iglesia (Literally means visiting churches), in Filipino tradition is visiting a total of 14 churches. A prayer is said for each church, representing each station of the cross. We managed to visit 7 churches. We went to Manila Cathedral where none other than Cardinal Rosales officiating the mass.

After that we went to San Agustin, just walking distance from manila Cathedral. It’s the most interesting walk ever. The small eskinita is filled with every imaginable Filipino street food and kakanin (local desserts)! Boiled peanuts, grilled and boiled corn, grilled bananas (that’s a new one, even for me), grilled and fried dried squid, fish balls, kikiam, squid balls, Indian mango with bagoong, sa malamig (a cold multi colored beverage with milk, gelatin and tapioca balls), coconut juice. I was very tempted to buy everything! Damn the germs! :-) But I was with my mom and Tita Cora and we were on a tight schedule. So many junk food, so little time......

Other churches that we visited were, Paco Park, Binondo Church, San Marcelino Church, Malate Church and the Church near mall of Asia.

For dinner, we stopped by Aristocrat for their famous Chicken barbecue with Java Rice. The recipe is unchanged all these years. In fact, my Tita Cora held her wedding reception there many decades ago!

We also dropped by my mom’s childhood home in Singalong (it’s now a bank) . She and Tita Cora told me so many stories about their childhood and my grandparents. It’s also a trip down memory lane for them. I miss my grandparents too. Easter has always been such a huge celebration with my grandmother.

By the time we got home, it was past midnight!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Quickie with Hubby

Hubby called me this morning and asked for a quickie. Quickie lunch! You dirty minded reader :-)

There's a nearby North Park restaurant within walking distance from both our offices and decided to meet there. Since we're both sawa from the usual fare from the nearby canteens and lunch ladies, we thought that a scenery change would be nice for both of us.

For our one-hour lunch, we ordered, three kinds of mushrooms with broccoli leaves. Shitake, buttton and wood ear mushrooms sauteed in oyster sauce and poured on top of steamed broccoli leaves. Healthy yet satisfying.

We also ordered the Stir fried Lapu-lapu, which is actually fried lapu-lapu fillet with a soy-ginger sauce.

We also tried their Hakaw, or steamed shrimp dumplings with dipping sauce of I think oyster sauce, soy sauce and some sugar.

The mushrooms and lapu-lapu were both pleasers. The hakaw is the weirdest hakaw that I've ever tasted. I wouldn't recommed it.

I would however, recommend a quickie with your hubby :-)...................quickie lunch, no!

People's Palace

I've never eaten in People's Palace before. It's a posh Thai restaurant located on Greenbelt 3. Tita Socky treated us to a fantastic lunch there. We happened to bump to my brother and his family strolling around Greenbelt and their joined us for this sumptuous lunch.

For starters we had a Shrimp and Pomelo salad with peanuts, cilantro, mint, coconut shavings and some coconut cream. Their version is not the usual shrimp and pomelo salad that I make at home. The coconut meat shavings and cream add another dimension to the dish.

We also ordered some Pandan Chicken for the kids. Just to make sure that they will eat. The seem to love it and finished almost everything. It's also an added novelty that they have to peel off the pandan to get to the chicken.

Next was called Morning Glory. It's a variety of water spinach (we think) sauteed with pork, kaffir limes and some secret herbs and spices. This is my favorite among the bunch. Not too spicy, very delicious and light.

We also ordered The Chicken Green Curry. It's got a kick! The chicken in stewed in a light curry sauce with Kaffir limes and eggplant. I like this dish as well but maybe next time, I'll ask them to hold the chilies.

We also ordered Vietnamese spring rolls, which is a nice balance to the spicy dishes that we ordered. Light and crispy and the sauce is sweet and tangy.

The Sauteed Mussels was also a hit. I wish they served it in bigger portions!

The rice is unlimited, which probably is a good thing since most of the dishes are spicy. Better watch out, before you know it, you've eaten heaps and heaps of rice to negate all that spiciness :-)

Overall, the food is good, and the taste of the kaffir limes add a taste of freshness to their dishes. The ambiance is sosy with a number of expats and executives dining there during lunch hour .

If you like Thai food, People's Park is the place for you.

Sonya's Garden

A balikbayan’s visit to the Philippines is never complete without visiting Sonya’s garden at least once. We were off to Tagaytay this weekend to bring Tita Cora there.

We go there for the fresh salad ingredients picked from their own gardens, the salty and crunchy broad beans, fresh fruits like sweet mangoes and jackfruit, super yummy and rich salad dressing and the beautiful gardens blooming with flowers this time of year. Some flowers even made it to our salad and cake!


The menu is unchanged all these years. Be sure that when you go visit, you are in the mood for the salad, freshly baked breads with assorted dips of anchovies, kesong puti, tomatoes and basil pesto. Their pasta is not very good so load up on the salads, bread and chocolate cake. Afterall, you can ask for endless refills.

Check out our pics!

That's my mom with her sister, Tita Cora. Lovely smiles from two lovely ladies.

Group shot for posterity. Hubby towering over all of us :-)

And our guest of honor in various areas of the property.

Even hubby couldn't resist having his photo taken with this unusual plant!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Grrr :-!

Am I the only one having a hard time uploading pics to their blog?

I've been trying to upload some pics and update my blog for over a week now, darn.

Chi's Brick Oven Kitchen

Hubby and I were driving around BF one night looking for a decent (and new) place to have dinner. The brick oven sign caught out attention. Pizzas cooked in a wood-fired oven has always been favored over their counterparts cooked with electricity. Hubby was beyond himself with excitement.

The décor is rustic and Italian-y. The big wood-fired oven dominates one end of the restaurant. We were the first ones to dine there that night.

Their menu is quite interesting. There’s one entry that I wanted to try called the Puchon (short for Pugon Lechon). Pugon, is a Tagalog word for firewood. Anyway, the cholesterol addict in me wanted so very badly to try it but we’ve had too much pork already and decided to maybe try it another time.

I settled for the Cheddar Clam Chowder. The soup is served in a mini bread bowl and topped with cheddar cheese. I was very dismayed when it arrived. It looked more like a sandwich spread than a soup. Can you tell by the picture? I asked for some olive oil and balsamic vinegar to dip the bread in after I finished the soup. Ay, they don’t have any balsamic vinegar. Huh? (I’ll tell you why shortly).

Hubby and I decided to share a pasta and a pizza dish. Since we felt that we were in an Italian Resto, might as well try their Italian dishes. The oven was in full force to cook dishes for hubby and me, the whole place was smothered with smoke coming from the oven. The exhaust system was either not working or that the chimney on that fancy oven was just for show. I don’t know. I’m not an engineer nor a chef to know the inner workings of a pugon oven. (On the other hand, the pugon pandesal shop around the corner doesn’t seem to have the same problem)

First up, the Rigatoni in 3 Cheese Sauce. It’s rigatoni pasta, tossed in their special tomato meat sauce (there was meat in it?), topped with mozzarella, cheddar and queso de bola and then baked in that famed oven. Honestly, I’m just a suburban housewife (now employee again) who just loves to cook, buy I can do this dish better in my teeny tiny stovetop. The sauce is way too sweet and there was hardly any cheese in it.

The pizza didn’t fare any better. It tasted way too flat. Maybe because… you guessed it, there was hardly any cheese in it!

Chef Chi was there and sent out a complimentary Balut Pizza to the guests (Total of 2 tables that night, is that a sign?). Look at hubby munching on it. We decided to share just a slice. I got the yolk part, hubby the chick part. I know eeewww, right? It was surprisingly…..flat tasting.

Anyway, chef Chi asked us how the food was and we were honest with him (but were were nice ha!). I was particularly not happy about the pasta and told him that it was too sweet. He informed me that there are not an Italian restaurant but a Filipino restaurant. (Could have fooled me with the décor, the wood-fired oven and the menu, but hey, he’s the chef). That’s why the taste is geared towards the Filipino palette daw.

I’m Filipino, if I wanted a sweet Filipino style pasta......I’ll eat at Jollibee instead.

Yun lang.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Weeks That Were

I know I have not blogged in ages but I've been very busy......... being sick. Ugh. I've been on antibiotics for two weeks, I think I'm going to sprout roots soon. My meds even taste like dirt. Double ugh.

Anyway, here's what we've been up to for the past few weeks.

A family trip to Tagaytay for a sumptuous lunch. We had the usual fat laden, artery clogging deliciousness that is Filipino food.

Ok, we had some healthy fare too :-)

I've also met with my BFF twice and had the usual pasta one Friday and more Filipino food from Via Mare the following Friday. I finally got my Puto Bumbong fix! Love the crispy boneless dilis (anchovies) from Via Mare, the serving is good enough for two :-)

A busted water pipe at home last Sunday and no plumber available 'till Saturday, prompting hubby and me to squat in LP for the week. Can't complain about that..maids cooking our meal, our beds made when we arrive, no cleaning and washing :-)

Buhay senyorita for a week!