Mid year was the time I started widening my horizons as far as food is concerned. With the "help" of my family and friends, I was able to dine in different restaurants, and by winning a blog contest put up by Yummy Magazine, I started cooking dishes based on the recipes they printed. Through that I also tried different recipes published in different magazines and blogs. Add to that a wide variety of food trips I have made... it was a very flavorful year, indeed.
Speaking of widening the horizons... here are just some of the many food items I am thankful of trying, tasting, and using for the first time this year:
Citrus Malunggay. I discovered this drink at the Sidcor Weekend Market in Centris. It was my first time to see such drink, and at 15 pesos a cup, it seemed reasonable. The drink was really refreshing, it was like drinking water - not thick at all. The Sidcor Weekend Market is the newest weekend market in Quezon City, and it is a much bigger place compared to the one in Lung Center. Other food items we loved from this place include: the foccacia bread as big as a placemat for p60, the churros with tablea chocolate for p60 (5 pcs.), the fresh lumpia (p50), and the 1/2 kilo asparagus for p100.
Datu Puti Pinoy Kurat. It was in 2007 when we first tasted the Suka Pinakurat, a product of Iligan City. It was one of the best spiced vinegar we have tasted, so when Datu Puti came out with this, I didn't like it at first because I felt it was a copycat. One time, mom told me about this being really delicious (she and her office mates love it), so I decided to put a bottle one grocery day. It was love at first taste for me and this one - I certainly loved it more than the Suka Pinakurat because this wasn't as bitter as the other one, and it was much cheaper, too.
Another condiment we like is the Marca Pina ToyoMansi. Mom received one last Christmas, and it really saved us money in buying calamansi. :)
Oregano. Brother was the one who introduced dried herbs in this family. I have tasted quite a lot - sage, rosemary, thyme... yet the one herb I didn't seem to care much was the oregano. From my point of view, oregano was the medicinal plant used to cure coughs, so I couldn't see the reason of it making dishes taste good. Well, three recipes I wanted to try asked for a dash of dried oregano, so okay, might as well try it. The dish I cooked was the Pinatisang Pata ng Baboy, and the oregano just gave it a much better flavor. Next year, I will try cooking the fried chicken with oregano.
As for the spices, it was this year that I also got to use Cumin for the first time. Sister bought a packet of it for a dish she was hoping to cook, but she wasn't able to do it and the spice just expired. For a dish I wanted to cook, I basically had no choice but to use it, and true to what somebody said, cumin is such an underrated spice. It turned out to be good, and I have come to appreciate its taste more.
MoonDish Laing. Sister was the bought the first canned laing. It was funny actually, that grocery day, brother took a bag of dried taro, and sister took a can of this - and both products were from the same company. Sister told me that there are times she was craving for some veggies, and since all of her meals were eaten at her work place, this was the compromise she came up with. It really taste good, very similar to the laing mom used to take home. Whenever we have fried fish and we feel we wanted a vegetable dish to go with it, we open a can of this.
This year, I was also happy to taste other canned foods worthy of some praises: CDO Chunky Sisig, San Marino Corned Tuna, San Marino Blue Mackerel (Spanish Style), and Century Bangus (with Tausi).
Salmon Heads. Salmon Steaks are way too expensive, so this was how the family got to cook and eat salmon at home without draining the wallet. We always cook it sinigang, but we weren't complaining. Actually, our last lunch for this year was another serving of Salmon Head Sinigang, and I just binged.
Another fish we first tried was the Cream Dory. I first used it for a recipe, and realizing how great it tasted, the family were instant fans. Christmas we had dory for Fish & Chips, for New Year, we will be having it again. :)
Olive Oil. There were so many raves about this wonder oil, but it was just this year that we went to try it because it was really expensive. Actually, if not for the Christmas food I planned to serve, we still won't be able to use it here in the house. I am trying not to use it that much because I am not sure if we can still be able to buy a bottle more. :)
This year, we also were able to use Sesame Oil (for the bibimbap I cooked), Soya Oil, and Corn Oil. Well, all the bad articles about Canola Oil made us look for a natural alternative, and after trying Corn Oil, we switched to Soya Oil because it was much cheaper.
LKK Sauces. I first bought a small bottle of Chili Garlic Sauce for a recipe I tried. We then tried it in different dishes, and the family just liked it. Next grocery day, we decided to get the big bottle. :) The Hoisin Sauce was for another recipe. It was a little sweet for my taste, so we weren't using it that much.
There were so many food firsts for this year - I still haven't talked about my food trips yet - and I am really thankful that I was able to savor it all. I am positively awaiting for what's in store for next year.
Thank you for adding so much flavor in my life, 2010!
*** Jenn ***