Friday, September 24, 2010

Macapagal Avenue Seafood Paluto at Robbie's

Our culinary adventure continues. Mom, Butchie and myself went to Macapagal Avenue to have a “paluto” seafood dinner. Paluto is “to ask someone to cook” in Tagalog.

We shopped for fresh crabs, prawns, young squid, Aklan oysters and scallops in the adjacent palenke, or wet market. Yes, we bought all of those things that I mentioned. My mom, the ultimate palengke shopper, chose the best and the freshest in the bunch.

Going to Macapagal Avenue is quite an experience for locals and tourists alike, shopping in the fresh market allows you to see and choose the quality of the seafood or meat that you will be eating. All crabs are sold alive, as with selected fish like hito or tilapia. A wide assortment of live shellfish is also available in the market daily, we saw some fresh lobsters, kuracha, alupihang dagat, mussels, manila clams,kuhol and other shellfish that I could not name. The wet market stays open until the adjoining restaurants are open.

We brought our loot to Robbie’s, one of the many restaurants in the area and asked them to cook the seafood for us. Robbie’s is often frequented by my mom and some of her friends, so we know the food will be good.

We had the Aklan Oysters steamed just until they open. The oysters were huge, sweet and very fresh. They simply just melt in your mouth.

For the scallops, we had it baked with cheese and butter. This wasn’t that good because Robbie’s used margarine instead of butter, so it wasn’t very nice. Sayang.

For the prawns, we had it cooked as Sinigang. This was so good, the broth had just the right amount of tartness and saltiness, the prawns were so fresh, they were so easy to peel. The prawns were also sweet and succulent.

For the squid, we opted to have it made into adobo with really black sauce (Kuya, yung maitim na maitim na sauce, please). I have no idea how they made the sauce so black. Normally when we make this at home, the sauce is not that black, nor that thick . This is so far the best Squid Adobo that I’ve ever tasted. Robbie’s trumps my mom’s squid adobo. (Sorry mom, he he he) I would go back to Robbie’s just for this. It's really good despite looking like a clump of mud on this photo.

Next up, Chili Crabs. This was also good, not as spicy with just a hint of sweetness. Quite messy to eat, but very enjoyable nonetheless.

As we were about to go home, we realized that it was only 9pm, we shopped and ate for just over an hour. Damn, we finished off our meal in record time, we even forgot to take a group picture. Ha ha ha. Butchie, you're the champion!

For dessert, we made our way back to Greenbelt and had Macaroons, Mango Cheesecake, Coffee and Tea at Bizu.

I was still full when I woke up the following morning.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fely J's Again

Back at Fely J’s again for some Filipino food. It’s Butchie’s second night in Manila and Fely J’s has been on his agenda prior to visiting Manila. So, off we went. Thankfully, I was able to reserve a table this time.

We got curious about Fely J's Kamias Shake. Kamias is a local sour fruit often used for making sinigang. We used to have a tree in our backyard way back during my formative years when we lived in a small apartment in Quezon City. When I got married, our old townhouse also had a Kamias tree in the backyard. The neighbors would often ask me (on the rare occasions that I would do some gardening out front), if they could have some. As we dined at Fely J's, we were pleasantly surprised that you can actually make it into a nice refreshing shake. If I knew, I would have served some to my guests during parties, he he he. Such an unusual beverage.

Since we were all pigged out from the previous night’s dinner, we all decided to go seafood and veggies that night, to take a break from pork and to give our arteries a break.

We had the Crunchy Pako Salad (baby ferns) and a Shrimp Pomelo Salad. Both were good, light and refreshing.

Our Fely J's experience is never complete without the Dilis Rice.

Fely J’s best seller is their Pritong Tilapia in Sweet Plum Sauce. Almost every table had this dish. It’s actually a very simple dish to make, the tilapia is butterflied, floured, then deep fried and just brushed with their sweet plum sauce. The plum sauce is probably the secret.

We also ordered the Sadap Spicy Squid. This dish is just like a sweet and sour dish. Very simple. The sauce is light, not too sour, not too sweet but nothing spectacular overall.

Fely J's a must stop-over for balikbayans, I think. For they provide a new twist to local cuisine.

We were so full, we decided to just forego dessert altogether. Well, except for hubby who had some frozen chocolate yoghurt at Qoola.

Hubby still had to go to work after, I was a bit tired already and called it a night. Mom and Butchie partied on and had many more adventures that ended in the wee hours of the morning.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Mesa Grill - Greenbelt 5

My cousin Butchie just arrived here in Manila from the US and a business side trip to Hong Kong. He stayed for about a week.

The first order of the day was to eat Fiipino food, for that was one of the reasons he came to Manila. We are a family of foodies so we were game to try different things. We’ve been wanting to eat at Mesa Grill for the longest time, but it’s always fully booked. By the stroke of lady luck, I was able to get a reservation for a table for four. Butchie, Mom, myself and hubby.

Since all four of us haven’t eaten there yet (I know, like, really?) , we ordered quite a substantial amount of food fit for maybe say… eight persons. Ha ha ha.

For starters, we ordered the Crispy Tawilis with Mango served with Bagoong Sauce. This was very light, sweet with just a hint of salt from the bagoong sauce. This is a great starter for the cholesterol extravaganza that we were about to devour. Nice presentation too. I am totally stealing this presentation style.

Next, we had the Shrimp, Tofu and Century Egg Sald in a Teriyaki Sesame Dressing. This was such a hit, hubby ordered another one. This appetizer is so light and refreshing. I highly recommend this dish.

For one of our our main courses, we ordered the Baby Squid Sauteed in Olive Oil. This was also delicious and light and the baby squid were tender and easy to chew.

We also ordered Sisig in a Pouch. Succulent sisig, wrapped in a lumpia wrapper and deep fried, served with local vinegar. I'm not sure if the vinegar was Paombong, but the vinegar was not the commercial kind so it was sooo gooood. A word of warning though, this dish is very high in fat and probably has no nutritional value, so eat sparingly. Butchie loved this dish.

For the main attraction, and a staple in any Filipino home during festivities, Lechon! We ordered 1/6 Crispy Lechon Served Two Ways. One way is, Pritchon. The skin, and the meat of the lechon was cut, diced and wrapped in pandan tortilla, served with three choices of dipping sauce – garlic mayo, hoisin and liver sauce. THe pritchon is prepared at your table, just watching it, made me so hungry.

The second way that they prepared the lechon was to fry up the rest of the it in sweet garlic sauce. Yummy yummy yummy. Fatty fatty fatty. Again, share and eat sparingly!

All the hype and the good reviews that I’ve read about Mesa Grill were true, so far. Mesa Grill is good eats. No wonder it’s always full!

For dessert, we made our way to Café Breton for some crepes. La Pinay Crepe is the favorite there. La Pinay is a dessert crepe with ripe mangoes and chocolate sauce, topped with Mantecado ice cream. Yummy! I had the similar version of dessert crepe, mangoes and condensed milk.

Hubby had Fruit Parfait which has ripe mangoes, Mantecado ice cream, chocolate sauce and whipped cream.

No, we did not eat healthy but we had so much fun!

We burned off the extra calories with laughter and a long massage after, he he he, which I think is the absolute best way to burn calories.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Golden Spoon - Frozen Yoghurt

I mentioned on this blog earlier that hubby and I have tried almost all yoghurt shops in Manila. Hubby gamely use the excuse of the "low-fat" come on to get his ice cream fix. Yes, frozen yoghurt is low fat, but they didn't say anything about sugar free!

We stopped by the Magallenes Commercial area on our way home from Tarlac and decided to try Golden Spoon. I was told by the BFF that Golden Spoon was good and yummy.

Anyway, Golden Spoon so far, is hubby's ultimate favorite frozen yoghurt. Why you say?...

Because their "yoghurt" suspiciously tastes exactly like ice cream, there is hardly a hint of sourness.

The flavors are varied too. They have Strawberry (which you can see, I was happily devouring on the photo below, he he he), Belgian Chocolate (hubby's favorite), Peanut Butter Cup, Simply Tart, Cake Batter (very sweet, didn't like that one), Island Coconut, Raspberry Cheesecake and the old standby, Vanilla. Topping selection is very limited though.

On certain days, Golden Spoon will have a special flavor. So the flavor vary from day to day except for their best seller, the Belgian Chocolate.

Hubby liked Golden Spoon so much, we went again the very next day! Yes, we drove from our place to Magallanes, just to have yoghurt.

My personal favorite is still White Hat though, and we don't have to drive far for that. He he he :-)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Isdaan - Home of the Koipia

It was one of those impromptu road trips that hubby and I seem to do a bit often lately. After we purchased the new Fortuner, we are finding more and more excuses to "test" it by taking drives North and South. Well, hubby does all of the driving and I usually fall asleep as soon as we hit the highway, he he he.

One of the many impromptu trips that we took was to Gerona, Tarlac. Literally, we woke up one Saturday and said, we should drive up north today. After a frantic search on the web, hubby decided he would like to go to Isdaan Restaurant. Just for the heck of it. We were scheduled to drive up to Baguio that weekend but my brother's family got hit by the flu.

So off we went, right after breakfast. We drove via NLEX (North Luzon Expressway), which was a breeze after encountering death defying drivers in Quezon City and Balintawak. We exited somewhere in the SCTEX (I think it was the Tarlac exit) and proceeded to pass trough some towns in Tarlac. We reached our destination in just under two hours from our place. We made good time.

Isdaan is owned by the Barrio Fiesta Group. So their specialty is Filipino cuisine. Isdaan (Fishery in English) is a common stop-over for people driving futher up North, usually to Baguio. We arrive right before the lunch crowd. The place gets pretty packed so it's better to come early or late lunch to avoid the crowd.

Isdaan's dining areas are scattered around in "islands". Stand alone nipa huts are interspersed around the vicinity. The whole area is quite big, but due to the placement of the huts, Isdaan can only accommodate a few families at one time. Each table gives you a view of their pond filled with Koipia. This is our little island hut:

I named the fish there Koipia because the Koi have interbred with the Tilapia. The fishes are shaped like a tilapia, with thick bodies (as opposed to kois who have long elongated bodies), dull body orange color with black backs. The fish really look like huge Tilapia but with some orange patches.

Anyway, the Koipias are not exactly pretty but, it's fun feeding them with the free fish pellets that Isdaan provides.

Now, for the food, we had some typical Filipino dishes, as that is what the restaurant specializes. I am ashamed to say that we did not order healthy.

Despite my urging to order something less artery clogging, hubby ordered Chicharon Bulaklak and Inihaw na baboy. The Inihaw na Baboy was quite sweet and oily and decided to just take most of it it home. Not a hit, I won't order it again.

The Tinolang Tahong is fresh and quite nice, not too gingery. It is very similar to what you would cook at home.

What I liked the most was the Prawns with Coconut Milk cooked in Bamboo. This was perfectly cooked with just a tad of coconut milk, not too rich nor overpowering. The prawns were tender and fresh (hence, very easy to peel). The added attraction of course was cracking the bamboo open to get to the succulent prawns inside.

After a filling meal and two fresh coconuts, I decided to check out the place and take a few photos. Hubby was too busy digesting his meal at our hut and couldn't be bothered to take a leisurely walk under the scorching sun. Oh well....

Isdaan is filled with quirky and kitchy touches. You can even win a kilo of fish if you successfully carry and balance 2 buckets of fresh fish across their San Kilo Bridge (One KIlo Bridge in English). Didn't see anyone try though.

There's even a Taksiyapo wall (it's a bad word in Kapampangan) with words like "ex-wife", "boss", "co-worker"," neighbor" to name a few. Just buy one of their plates (or an old TV, whatever srikes your fancy, really) and hurl it at the wall. It's like anger management. So, intead of egging your neighbor's house, just throw plates on the Taksiapo wall and be done with it. (I don't guarantee the same satisfaction though, he he he)

Isdaan is a nice place for a stopover. I don't recommend it being your ultimate destination though. I didn't see place of interest in the surrounding areas. Isdaan is a nice diversion prior to your trip up North.

After lunch and the photos, hubby and I proceeded back to SCTEX and wondered what to do next. I had packed some overnight clothes and toiletries just in case we decided to sleep over somewhere.

We were actually contemplating wether we should go to Subic or not. We decided against it in the end. We've seem most of its attractions anyway and we were unprepared as to where to dine there. I have not read any exceptional reviews regarding Subic's dining selection.

Maybe next time, when we have more time. I'd like to see the dolphins again at Ocean Adventure.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Leisure 18 Slimming Coffee - What's the Skinny

My brother gave me a box of Leisure 18 Slimming Coffee last weekend . He lost 11 lbs on the stuff after taking it for two weeks. The changes were apparent, he did look like he lost a lot of weight and his skin seemed clearer.

I’ve always viewed myself as a very overweight person, always. I’ve only come to accept my curves in my mid-thirties. It was the time when I finally realized that for the past few years, my weight has hovered within 120’s. That means I should be overweight by at least 20 lbs, at any given time. For some reason though, upon computation of my BMI, I am within the “normal” weight range. Fat is normal?

Anyway, after seeing the changes in my brother’s weight, I decided to try the Leisure 18 Slimming Coffee. I hate coffee but I tried it anyway.

I do not sell the stuff nor am I endorsing it, but, I would like to share my experiences with you, just in case you may want to try it. I couldn’t find a decent blow by blow account of what the product does and it’s side effects. All the reviews that I read were positive.

The product packaging itself is very doubtful. I was assured that it was authentic (“Look Ma, there’s a hologram that says it is!”). The reason why I was skeptical? There were grammatical errors on the packaging. It screams… Made in China!!! Even if they didn’t indicate it in the packet. China made products in itself, specially those that are food and medicine in nature are highly suspect in the first place.

Yet, my quest for an immediate and visible weight loss overcomes my doubts, after all, my brother tried it and he seemed fine.
So here goes:

First day

I took it with half a pandesal. Little did I know that I should take it half an hour before breakfast. Ooops. My brother said he took it with breakfast, so I assumed it was the “right way”. I had just come from a nasty bout of indigestion the previous day, so my tummy wasn’t up to experimenting yet.

The product promises to “curb appetite” and “coat the fatty particles from ingested food” to prevent absorption in your body. Yeah, all that hoolaballoo.

First, yes, it curbs your appetite, big time. You NEVER feel hungry. Side effect? Major major (Venus Raj, I summoning your spirit on this) headache! Why you say? Let me illustrate:

Your brain: “Body, you will never be hungry again”
Your body: “Says who? I need some friggin’ fuel to move”
Brain : "NO! You are not hungry"
Body: “Yes, I am!!!!”

Then your body will proceed with the mild shaking, grumbling stomach and the massive headache. Because it’s not getting enough fuel. Lesson learned: Eat something, a banana an apple, something! Eat very small meals throughout the day.

This is the best time for the health nut inside you to much on steamed broccoli or any other healthy food that you would normally stay away from. Keep it on hand, if you feel a bit light headed, you feel the shakes or you feel a headache coming.. pop that broccoli in your mouth!

You never get cravings, ever! (Well, as long as the “coffee” in in effect, which I estimate is 12 hours)
French fries? Yuck. Can’t even look at it. That’s how the coffee fools your brain into thinking “you are full” or “food is evil, stay away from it”

But the reality is, you body needs calories to, you know… breathe?

With this product, it is so easy to abuse your body by depriving it of nutrition and fuel.
Unless, you are a sloth that stays in your couch 24/7 and only blinks occasionally, then go ahead, starve yourself.
Another side effect? You get sleepy when you need to be awake and you’re awake when you need to sleep. How dandy!

Second Day

After getting just a few hours’ sleep, I wake up before the alarm goes off. Not only did I wake up early, I was also in such a happy mood. How lovely, hubby would love to see me like that every morning.
I did notice a few changes though: My skin was clearer, and my skirt fitted better. Although that weighing scale said “Nah, same weight!”

I am assuming (since I have no medical degree), that I have lost some of the “bloatedness” from lack of French fries and extremely salty food the previous days.

This time, I took the slimming coffee just before going to work. After I arrived at work, I had a banana. Now, bananas, I really hate, because I get more hungry every time I eat it. This time though, I felt full.

Until an hour and a half later, when I started feeling the shakes. My body’s probably telling me “you’re feeding me just a hundred calories for this morning” So, I appease my body by eating one boiled egg white. The shakes stops until it was 12 noon.

My body, it has military precision timing.

Lunch came and after taking a bite, I immediately felt full. But I tried to finish my half pan de sal and half a cup of sautéed amplaya. I’m anemic so I have to eat vegetables high in iron. I need protein too so I will try to incorporate that in my daily intake.

I also noticed that drinking a lot of water helps ease the shakes and the headaches, just a tad. I have a 700ml water bottle at work. On a normal day, I consume two or three bottles of water. I was on my third bottle by lunchtime. It is a conscious effort on my part mostly because I don’t want to be dehydrated. Some product users said that they feel more thirsty than usual.

I had a realization come 7pm. The coffee magic wears off after 12 hours of ingestion (that’s probably why some recommend taking it twice daily for obese people, so that you won’t ever eat again). I had a normal dinner because I cannot by sheer will power alone, make my brain think that I am not hungry.

Also, my body is probably suffering from carbohydrate withdrawal since I am so used to having bread and rice in most of my meals and by suddenly decreasing it’s consumption by more than half, the body was screaming for mercy!

Another side effect that I hate is sleeplessness. I couldn’t sleep! You know what that means… midnight cravings (the coffee magic already wore off after 12 hours, remember). Hubby happily indulged me to a drive-thru at McDonald’s for some fries. I finished it off even be before we reached our subdivision gate. Dang, talk about falling off the wagon.

Third day

Alright, I know that I had given in to the monster that had plagued me my entire life, self control.

This time, I took the coffee around 8am so that I won’t have any cravings after 8pm (12 hour magic validity, remember?).
One thing I like about the coffee though is that it’s like taking a magic pill and your mood suddenly perks up. Must be the caffeine. I hate coffee and coffee makes me so perky and talkative and louder than I usually am (which is loud I've been told countless times).

I felt a tingling sensation on my right arm. I am not sure if that’s normal. I’m a little bit scared. The internet reviews did not mention anything about tingling sensations nor twitchy eyebrow (which I also experienced the previous night).

Just a backgrounder, I write this article in real time, as I experience things (on a word file, to be posted on a later date). Right now, the tingling sensations are bothering me and quite scaring me a bit. I upped my water intake by another 700 ml, to try to flush out whatever toxins or “natural drugs” that may be in the coffee.

You know when you go to the emergency room and they inject you (intravenously) with some medicine to help you feel better and eventually send you over to dreamland for a few hours. This is exactly how it feels. I can feel some sort of cold fluid travelling my veins. My throat is a bit constricted as well.

Gosh, I think I’m going to stop using this thing. It’s so scary!

Come afternoon, the coldness and numbness has spread in both arms, which really frightened me a bit. It’s not a very pleasant feeling. Words cannot describe it.

I suspect (since there are no actual ingredient list printed on the box) that Leisure 18 Slimming Coffee has some sort of narcotic on it, to trigger these reactions.

4th day

I decided to stop using the product for the obvious side-effects that I wrote above.

In fact, I still feel some numbness on my left arm as I write this.
This product may be effective for some but in my own personal experience, I highly discourage people from using it.

To reiterate, I will not use this product again due to:
1. Body shakes
2. Cold sensation on my arms
3. Sleeplessness
4. Numbness on the arms
5. Twitching muscles
6. Constipation
7. Throat tightness
8. Migraines
9. Coffee after taste that lingers in your mouth the whole day
10. Product is highly suspect with regards to its origin (where it is made), absence of list of ingredients, grammatical errors on the packaging (probably made in China, right?). Even if the product is “authentic” and has the hologram seal of authenticity, there are no indications where it was made or processed.

Despite the many products available in the market today, nothing beats daily exercise and a balanced diet in keeping your weight down.

But then again, if it was that easy, everybody would be traipsing around in their bikinis and speedos.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Teen-age flashback over good Filipino food

The BFF and I met our partner in crime during our elementary and early high school years, Nancy. She's in town for a few weeks to attend to some family matters and we seized the time to meet her and catch up on each other's lives.

As we were having dinner at Fely J's in Greenbelt, we talked about our jobs, Nanyc's life in Vietnam and essentially what happened with each other since the last we met up about four years ago. In between bites of Dilis Rice, Beef Morcon and Sauteed Mushrooms with Broccoli, we shared the joys of our lives and the many blessings that have come our way, the funny moments that we encountered in our travels, OCD tendencies, ideal men, food and every other topic under the sun. I love having moments like these with friends, catching up, gossiping and sharing hearty laughter that often leaves me in tears.

After finishing most of what we ordered, we were clamoring for more conversation and laughter. We headed off to Max Brenner, for some hot chocolate and churros. Max Brenner is quieter and less frequented by people, which provides an ideal atmosphere for reminiscing our elementary and high school days.

The collective memories of our childhood, weaved a tale of three young girls, enjoying life, childish adventures, pranks and the many naughty and funny things who did things together. We all had a childhood filled with laughter and adventure, although fraught with some setbacks and disappointment, we look back at it with fondness and gratitude that made us appreciate our lives even more.

We are only starting, there is more fun to be had, more adventures to try, more places to see. Ahhh, life only gets better and better.

Oh em gee

OMG, I haven't blogged in ages! Hubby was telling me, "put some new content on your blog"

Well, I've been pleasantly busy on the homefront and we did try a myriad of restaurants, yoghurt shops, we even did a a few road trips North and South. I'll share some of them soon.

Plus, we have road trips coming up that I'm pretty excited about.

Until then .....