Monday, February 22, 2010

Cyma, Alabang Town Center

Last Saturday, hubby and I spent the whole day in bed (it’s not what you think!!!). We’ve been catching up on sleep and spent most of the afternoon spending quality time in dreamland. I didn’t think it was humanly possible to sleep that long, but we did it. We only woke up for a quick breakfast and a quick lunch. Come dinner time, we couldn’t see straight, ha ha ha. When I counted, we slept for almost 16 hours total.

Hubby and I had a late dinner date at Cyma, in Alabang Town Center. Cyma is one of my favorite restaurants. The first time we had a meal at Cyma's was in Boracay. I am glad that they branched out here in Manila and had set shop in Alabang, just a few minutes drive from where we live. In case you were wondering, no, we don’t live in Ayala Alabang……… yet! ha ha ha

Since we couldn’t see straight from hunger and burned all our energy snoring away, we ordered a LOT of food. The waiters were wondering if we had company coming.

I love the Saganaki, a flaming cheese dish. Saganaki uses a traditional Greek cheese called Kefalograviera. The cheese is placed in a sizzling plate and then flambed. A healthy greeting of “Opa!” from the waiters usually come with every order, but hubby said no “opa” please. The Saganaki was so good, a bit salty but good nonetheless.





For appetizers, we had the Pikilia, Mezedes Combination, a sampling of Tzatziki (greek yoghurt, cucumber and garlic), Melitzanosalata (freshly roasted eggplant, tomatoes, garlic, lemon and olive oil), Hummus (chickpea, tahini and garlic dip) and Taramosalata (a Greek caviar of salted fish roe). I liked the hummus the best. Although, the taramosalata in the middle (the pink one) was nice too. The sampler is served with 16 wedges of whole-wheat pita bread.



We also ordered a new entry in the salad menu, the Tonnos Salata, coriander crusted seared ahi tuna with mixed greens, feta cheese, onions, roasted bell peppers, green beans and a few other things. I particularly didn’t like this one. The tuna was too big and a bit overwhelming. Bite-sized sushi-grade tuna would have made it more appetizing. The herb dressing also didn’t compliment the tuna and was a bit malansa (fishy) instead of fresh-tasting, like sushi on a salad. The Salad itself was nice and tangy, the serving huge. Despite the nice greens, I don’t recommend this salad at all. The Caesar’s Salad or the Greek Salad is a much better choice.



Hubby ordered a Gyro of pork and beef, with tomatoes, tzatsiki and vegetables wrapped in whole-wheat pita bread. I remember they used to wrap this using a thin white pita bread, which is much more appetizing and not too heavy. Hubby finished only half of this (surprise, surprise). The filling was still good though. Ladies, if you are on a date, this may not be the daintiest thing on the menu.



I ordered the Roka Pasta, sauteed arugula and spaghetti with olive oil, pine nuts, grated parmesan cheese and fresh tomatoes. I wasn’t able to eat this at all since I was too stuffed and didn’t have the space in my tummy. I ended up eating it the following day. It was good too and could be easily duplicated at home.



For dessert, we had the dessert sampler called a Glyka Sampler, which has the Greek yoghurt called Yia Ourti Me Meli with mountain honey and pistachio nuts, I liked this, but hubby said it was too sour and not fit for dessert (when it was served like an ice cream when we dined in Cyma previously, he was singing a different tune, he he he). The dessert sampler also comes with Galakto Boureko, creamy semolina custard in phyllo pastry with orange and lemon zest syrup, much like a Brazo de Mercedes but lighter, less sweet and zestier. Hubby and I liked this dessert. Next, they had the Ryzo Galo, traditional creamy rice pudding with a sprinkling of cinnamon. This is my second favorite of the four. My favorite of course is the Baklava, layered phyllo with walnuts and orange heavy syrup. Cyma Alabang’s version is much thicker than what we usually order in Boracay but it was equally nice, but less makunat.



Despite the Tonnos Salata, I still recommend Cyma, whenever you are in ATC (Alabang Town Center). Great eats and great service.

Caprese Pan de Sal

I would rather be eating tocino, tapa and lonnganisa every morning. If it weren’t for my arteries possibly being clogged before I turn the big 4-0, I would gladly devour the cholesterol laden typical Pinoy breakfast on a daily basis or maybe have BACON, my favorite breakfast of all time, everyday. I am only allowing myself to eat bacon when we are on vacation (I do have some self-control left). If you happen to see someone piling bacon on her plate in a hotel buffet somewhere, that would probably be me. Please say hello :-)

Anyway, I’m running out of ideas for breakfast, which I make myself on weekends. I’ve made pancakes, champorado, fritattas, goto, arroz caldo, omelettes, fresh fruit platters, hot dogs (I’m human too, I give in to the temptation once in a while), corned beef, German pancakes, even. I also have to cut down hubby’s cholesterol intake, so that’s an extra challenge, less eggs, less or no butter and possibly no fried and pork items on the menu. I can’t serve oatmeal because hubby gags on the mere sight of it. Anything whole wheat gets thrown in the trash. Soymilk? Forget about it. Hubby already sneaks in eggs during the week. Hubby is quite simply such a big baby when it comes to restricting his diet.



Pan de Sal is readily available, freshly baked, every morning, from the neighborhood panaderia (or bread bakery). I made Pan de Sal Caprese last weekend. It’s pan de sal, with a spread of pesto, sliced tomatoes, fresh basil leaves from my garden, mozzarella and a splash of balsamic. I liked it, a change from the usual breakfast and quite fresh tasting. Hubby on the other hand, hated it because of the pesto. I took pity on him and made him eat Pan de Sal with tuna instead.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Dinner With Friends

Hubby's colleagues and their spouses came over one weekend for a post-Christmas get together. Hubby and I started hosting pre-Christmas parties with his colleagues last 2008 and since then has become a yearly thing. With hectic schedules, our party got pushed back two months!

Finally was able to have it this February. Hubby's colleagues are simple folks and are usually easy to please with humble home-cooked meals. I just wish I made more exciting dishes. Anyway, here's our spread:

Pomelo Salad


Grilled Squid


Beef Caldereta


Pancit Molo


Chicken Gallantina


Fried Liempo


Cheesecake


I think I need to step up, culinary wise, next time.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Valentine's Day Family Lunch

For Valentine's Day itself, hubby and I decided to host a family lunch for our families. It's been quite a while since both families shared lunch together and we beleive that Valentine's Day is a fitting time to host a simple get-together at home.

We had simple dishes that are familiar and comforting to everyone. I didn't make anything gourmet-y or new. My mom and I relegated most of the cooking to the housekeepers. Most of the dishes turned out ok. Mom insested that they would have tasted better if she made them herself, but we were "feeling senyoritas" and were a bit lazy to toil in the kitchen, he he he.













Our Valentine's weekend was so nice. Hubby and I had a really relaxing date at Antonio's the day before and on Valentine's Day itself, we had family over.



Hope your Valentine's weekend was as happy as ours!

Antonio's Tagaytay

Hubby made reservations for us at Antonio's last Saturday, as an early Valentine's day date. Antonio's is a hidden and exclusive dining experience in Tagaytay. A hidden oasis, if you will. A place for your palate to experience the rich, sinful and decadent dishes that chef Antonio has concocted and personally developed for his loyal patrons to enjoy, savor and remember long after you have left his magical restaurant.

Most of all, your sense of taste will go into overdrive for the lovely and delicious selection from the menu.

Each set meal from Antonio's come with a salad of the day (mixed greens, beets, radish, blue cheese and a raspberry dressing), soup of the day, (which was a molo soup with tomato puree or tomato oil, I can't put my finger on it), your choice of entree, your choice of dessert and coffee or tea.






The Squid Ink Garlic Bread is black as coal but was surprisingly very tender. Be prepared to have black teeth after :-)



If you don't want to order the set menu, Antonio's has a wide selection of appetizers and salads to choose from. I think I will try the bone marrow next time. But I will eat oatmeal for a week after that, he he he.

Hubby and I ordered a nice selection from the appetizer menu. I wanted to try all of them. But alas, I manage to restrain myself.

For starters, hubby and I ordered the Truffle Baked Oyters. This was absolutely divine. They oysters were huge and fresh and the topping of cheese and herbs (and yes bacon) was just enough.



I ordered the Scallops Tasting, scallops cooked two ways. One is poached and the other one is breaded and fried. I liked them both and would prefer to have ten more servings, if I can. I absolutely love the dressing on the scallops, it has some lemon, parsley and cilantro, very refreshing. I reckon that will go with salads as well. Gave me an idea for a new dressing.



Our favorite is the Grilled Portabello Mushrooms with Foie Gras. Oh so heavenly! The sauce is absolutely fantastic and creamy. The portabellos were cooked perfectly, tender and a little bit smoky, and the foi gras, so buttery. Oh my. I get hungry just thinking about it.



For the main course, hubby ordered the Grilled Beef Fillet, Gratinated with Shrimp Bisque on Tagliatelle. A surf and turf kinda deal but taken to a higher level. It took a while for our orders to be delivered but hubby was appeased when he took a bite. Well worth the wait he said. The beef was cooked perfectly. It was very tender and juicy.



I had the Seafood Sampler which consisted of Grilled Pink Peppered Chilean Sea Bass on Boiled Potato, Saffron-Kafir Sauce, Prawn Thermidore and Pan Seared Scallops on Celleriac Mashed, Truffle Cream Sauce. I love all three but my favorite is the Pan Seared Scallops, which was so tender and buttery. I love it.



For dessert, I had the Mixed Berries with Chantilly Cream. This was so beautifully presented. The chantilly cream was just right, no too sweet and very creamy. Just the way I like it.



Hubby ordered the Panna Cotta with Chocolate and Caramel Sauce. If I wasn't there he would have probably eaten the whole thing in one gulp!



Dining at Antonio's is a feast for the senses. Your eyes will feast on the wonderful verdant dining areas and gardens. Your sense of smell is teased by the lovely smells coming from the kitchen and lovely fragrant flowers that adorn its secret passages in the garden. Your sense of touch is highted by the lovely flowers and shrubs and rich textures of the wooden banisters, Antonio's imposing doors and a lovely assortment of plants, shrubs and flowers. Your sense of hearing is also spoiled with the gurgling sound of water fountains, chirping of birds and lovely chatter of your companion.



Antonio's was voted as one of the best restaurants in Asia, and righfully so.

We even met Chef Antonio, he approached us while were taking pictures of his lovely restaurant and talked about the improvements that he is doing on the property. He also talked about a new lamb dish that he will soon introduce on the menu. Let's see if I remember it correctly.. It's lamb rubbed with special herbs and spices, vacuum packed, to seal all the wonderful flavors, poached in warm water (warm because he said you can still dip your finger on it) and then grilled to medium. I don't eat lamb but they way chef Antonio described it, made me a convert.



Chef Antonio was so gracious, he even invited us to check out the rest of the property including his home located at the back. We are really glad that we took that offer. The garden out back is bigger than the restaurant and his home looks really wonderful and homey, reminds me of a resort in some exotic place in Thailand.



Chef Antonio's pug even uproached us to be petted and posed for a picture.



I highly recommend dining at Antonio's...now!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Falling off the wagon...big time!

So, hubby and I have been trying to lead a healthier life and has weaned off from pork most of the day of the week. But boy oh boy, we have fallen hard when I tried this Pata Tim recipe:

Pata Tim Espesyal
Adapted from sunstar.com.ph



1 pc. pork pata
2 pcs. whole star anise (small)
2 tbsps. oyster sauce
3 tbsps. Sugar
3 tbsps. soy sauce
2 beef (or pork) cubes
1 small bunch pechay, cut about 2 inches
Handful of chicharo
2 Bay leaves
2 tbsps. Cornstarch dispersed in some water to thicken the sauce

Preparation:

1. Combine pork leg with enough water to fully immerse the pata. Add the star anise, oyster sauce, sugar, soy sauce, beef cubes. Boil in medium heat for three hours (yes, three hours), turning the pata one in a while. Simmer until meat separates from the bone.

2. Add vegetables and cook until just crisp-tender. You can add carrots, young corn and mushrooms, too.

3. Thicken with cornstarch which has been dispersed in cold water. Serve hot.

This recipe is sooooooooooo gooood!

Beezee Bee

It has been such a hectic few months, I couldn't believe it! The weekends are more brutal with back to back schedules. It's so funny that we had so many events at home and outside the home that I didn't have time to blog about them, or maybe I had the blogger's block, (as opposed to writer's block) he he he.

I've been very busy cooking and baking on weekends as well. But I've been rusty and some of the things that I made were just blah and unworthy of your time, he he he. I did have a few hits though and will post the recipes soon.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Via Mare in BF

It has been such a hectic two months. Sneaking a date with hubby proves to be harder than I thought. It’s funny that we have to really make time for such simple dates. With our schedules practically on opposite timezones, hubby and I hardly have time so really sit down and share a leisurely meal together.

We finally got the chance to grab a quick lunch together in BF after such a super hectic morning. Via Mare recently opened its doors to the residents of BF. They are located near Starbucks (where Mocha Blends used to be).

Feeling famished, hot and tired, Via Mare was the perfect choice for Filipino comfort food. The puto-bumbong actually is what draws hubby to their restaurant.

We ordered quite a lot! We convince ourselves that we need that much sustenance to make up for such a super hectic day.

Hubby had the Lugaw Toppings, rice porridge with an assortment of toppings like tofu, wanton chips, pork "litid", pork flakes and others. He paired it with Tokwa’t Baboy. Tofu and Pork ‘face” stewed in vinegar, garlic, onions and soy sauce.




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Hubby’s partial to rice porridge and he considers it his go-to comfort food. It probably stems from his college days in La Salle where he would spend practically spend most afternoons, eating goto, lugaw ang matang baka (cow’s eyes, yeah I know, eeeew, right? Ha ha ha) near the LRT station. I know this story because he would often share it with me when he’s feeling nostalgic about his nerdy youth, ha ha ha! Surprisingly, our paths never crossed during our college days despite living in the same village and studying in the same area (I studied in St. Scho).

Anyway, back to the present, I ordered the Crab Omelette served with rice and Lumpiang Togue. Huge but delicious. I miss eating fried food!



If the above food wasn’t enough, we ordered some Oysters Boursin, too. Baked oysters with lots of cheese. Oysters and cheese, you cant go wrong.




Of course we had the Puto-Bumbong as well. Puto Bumbong is local “kakanin” or rice- based dessert. Usually made from “pirurutong” or purple sticky rice that has been soaked overnight and ground to create a clay-like concistency and then steamed in specailly made steamers with two tubes protruding. I know all this from theory only, I have never attempted to make Puto Bumbong, to the utter dismay of hubby, ha ha ha :-)