Thursday, June 16, 2016

SARSA Kitchen + Bar (SM Mall of Asia)

The day we stayed at Microtel at Wyndham, we decided to have late lunch at SARSA Kitchen + Bar. Our objective that time was to eat simple, but as we walked around, I thought about this restaurant because I have heard so many raves, and knowing Chef Jayps is one of the popular celebrity chefs in the country, I thought it was just right that we try what the restaurant has to offer.

Entering the restaurant, one would think it was small, but it was more spacious past the bar area...and it had more natural light, too. The overall look of the place was very pleasant to the eyes, and we just loved the paintings and hand-lettered menu on the walls.

It was difficult to think of what dishes to order, but in the end we chose -

Pancit Molo
This is after all, a Negrense restaurant, might as well try one of the well known dishes from the region. The soup was a little salty for our liking, but it was very tasty. Very light way to start the meal.

Chicken Inasal Sisig
It was so unfortunate that I decided to leave the camera in our room, and that this image was of inferior quality, but believe me when I say that it was indeed sizzling (the heat of the plate was able to cook the egg well) and that this tasted really, really, good! Everything I wanted in a chicken inasal was there, and the addition of egg, onions, and garlic added more to the flavor.

Isaw (Chicken Intestines)
The raves given by my friend Gie for this dish was the biggest reason why I wanted to eat here. For someone like me who frequently buy chicken intestines at 5 pesos per stick, it was a big risk ordering this. With a whopping price tag of 185 pesos, I had this thinking that it better be good, or I will be totally disappointed. It was sad that it only had three sticks (a blog post I saw had 5 sticks), but my oh my... the raves were real - it was effing delicious! It was crispy yet chewy, and because the intestines were cut lengthwise and cleaned really well, it didn't have that bitter taste ever present in the isaw sold in sidewalks. For a while we were trying to dissect it and think how it was cooked, but we all said we'd rather buy it here than do all the steps in recreating it. This is quite an exaggeration, but not really - if I could marry a food, I would marry this one. Yep, it was that least for my liking.

Every dish was great. It was filled with umami goodness, and we liked that we didn't go wrong in choosing to eat here. However, as common people who don't earn too much, we thought that the price was a little expensive given the amount of food per serving. Personally, the girls and I still highly recommend this place, but please prepare your wallet should you decide to eat here. Worry not, their food will truly satisfy your hungry tummies.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

My Very First MAFBEX Experience

Hello, hello!

MAFBEX, or Manila Foods and Beverage Expo has been an annual event for a decade now, but it was this year (June 8) that I was able to experience it, thanks to my sister who invited me.

Though not really my first time to attend a food expo, I am still very much excited to see different food products from all over the Philippines. Ticket price was 100 pesos, but they have special rates for students and senior citizens. Attendees also get a free MAFBEX eco bag, but one has to surrender their ticket and fill up a form before getting the bag.

The World Trade Center is a very huge place, so they were able to hold different food demos simultaneously, given that they were very far apart. These food demos were sponsored by different products, and those who attended were able to get free recipes and food tasting. Sadly, my sister and I didn't really sit down to watch a full demo as we already got there 1pm and we had to leave before 5pm to avoid the traffic rush.

So many things related to food were available during the expo. Aside from these pictures I shared, there were also concessionaires selling dining sets and utensils, some selling cookwares, different kinds of equipment for home and restaurant, even delivery trucks! If you own a business related to food, I highly recommend you check out different food expos.

As we were just ordinary foodies, sister and I took time checking different stalls for food products. Some of the concessionaires were known and their products available everywhere, but there were also some that were new to us. Most of these stalls offer free taste, but be prepared to have a little bit of competition with other attendees. My sister and I experienced being hit in the shoulders and elbows, but it was part of the experience. Looking back, it was actually kinda funny.

So many good food, and I felt really bad that I didn't bring proper bags for this event as I truly want to buy the Cabanatuan Longganisa and some of those ingredients for hot pot...but given the distance and the travel time, it would be risky to buy such kinds of food. Next time, I might take the effort of bringing a small cooler or insulated bag.

Some products that stood out - the potato products (especially the potato nuggets) from Lutosa, the pork-mushroom balls by Wei-Wei, and the Mr. Ube fresh noodles by Eng Bee Tin.

My sister walked and walked around, without stopping to sit and rest in between. Being surrounded with so much life, we didn't feel tired actually... but one interesting thing was that, even if we got to taste different kinds of food, we still wanted to eat a proper meal (as we didn't get to eat lunch). Good thing, there were a few carinderia offering meals. From this stall, I decided to go for fried rice with chopseuy, and my sister had regular steamed rice and sisig. The food was a little expensive - 70 pesos for my meal and 100 for my sister's, but the food was so good and very delicious!

At 4:30pm, this was the first time we sat down, and while eating, we recalled the food we saw and tasted, deciding which ones to buy and take home. We bought:

At 65 pesos each, they were priced just right given the size. My sister said the Ube Ensaymada didn't pass her taste, but mom and I loved the Ham and Cheese Ensaymada.

Taiwanese Instant Noodles
At 10 pesos per pack, it made us risk our money, and it turned out good. We already got to taste the Pork and Mushroom as well as the Soy Chicken flavors, and both were better tasting noodles compared the locally produced one.

Fruit and Vegetable Drinks
The seller was honest upfront saying these don't taste good as each bottle had garlic extract added to it, but he was passionate about the product, which made us buy some. Mom already drank her Guyabano Juice, and she said that the garlic had a not-so-good aftertaste, but it wasn't as bad she expected it to be.

Joey Prats Cake Mixes
My siblings and I are part of a Facebook community dedicated to all things baking, and many members raved about the Joey Prats mixes. When we saw one selling the products, we inquired about it and they let us taste different products made using the mixes. The brownie was the kind I wanted, and the chocolate cake had more depth in the taste. For the event, they offer the mixes for 170 pesos each (SRP is 190 - 200 pesos), but should one buy three mixes, they further reduce the price to 490 pesos. Not bad.

Super Q Pancit
We love pancit, we miss eating misua, and we wanted to cook Palabok at home again, so we bought this. The whole lot cost 100 pesos. Heavy and bulky to carry, but the money saved was worth it.

Sunflower Seeds
A healthy alternative to junk food.

Overall, it has been a wonderful experience. There were a few regrets and it sure was difficult to budget especially that we didn't have a lot of money to begin with, but we are now looking forward to the next food expo.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Weekend Eating | Independence Day Lunch

The past months weren't as good for us as far as food choices is concerned. At home, we usually just eat whatever is available - canned goods, or cooking meat as is (fried, adobo, or paksiw). Vegetables weren't a big part of our diet...though we do eat them, it's just that, sometimes we just cook whatever is there. Anyway, we do know the importance of eating vegetables, so last Friday, I just listed some dishes I hope we could prepare and eat.

One of those dishes is Kare-Kare. This is a dish that we don't usually eat because mom used to stay away from anything with nuts, because of her arthritis. Well, during our last visit to the doctor, he said that my mom indeed has arthritis, but she could eat nuts (hers is a different kind of arthritis), so I immediately wrote this on the list. The problem then was the meat, but sister thought of something to present this classic Filipino dish...

... by combining it with another well loved Filipino dish - the Crispy Pata.

Since we don't have a big frying pan and we didn't want to use too much oil for the meat, we decided to buy a small one at the supermarket and have it cut as well as they do use electric saw to cut through bones, making a clean cut compared to the ones in the public markets that uses manual chopping, making the bones crack and shatter.

Cooking the dish, she first tackled the pata. Seasoning the water with salt, pepper and bay leaves, she let the meat boil in it and later pressure cooked it to ensure the meat would be tender. Then, she baked it for a while to take out excess moisture then she fried it 'til it became crispy.

The vegetables she blanched in boiling water 'til it reached the "just cooked" stage and dunk them in ice bath to keep them cooked yet crunchy.

Last thing was the sauce, and the pata was already time consuming as is, so she decided to just use the Mama Sita mix - the creamy one, not the powder. We prefer to use the creamy sauce mix because it had real peanuts.

Plating was better when done this way...but of course, once all pictures were taken, we did mix the vegetables with the sauce. One thing we overlooked - the bagoong. Sister just seasoned the sauce with a little salt, so it wasn't completely bland.

For dessert, I baked Caramel Custard Cake. Actually, I had no intentions of baking. Sister planned to use the cake mix we bought from MAFBEX, but it was tricky to cut the the recipe in half, so she canceled it. Seeing we have enough ingredients, I baked this, as this still fits the Filipino theme, leche flan being a favorite dessert of many Pinoys.

I still cannot share the recipe as this was a trial cake, and it didn't turn out to be 100% good...but still very good. Problem was, the custard just wouldn't set. Baking this in baine-marie method, I baked this for over 1 hour (the recipe says 40 minutes), and it just wouldn't set. I decided to dry bake them and after 10 minutes, the custard finally set. However, the long baking time dried the chiffon cake a little, and oh dear, when I cut the cake, I realized I didn't pour enough was so thin! Actually, the recipe I followed used a round pan, but we don't own one yet, so I used two loaf pans and cut the batter in half, though the custard, I just couldn't gauge the level in the pan as I poured it.

Despite the problems, it tasted really, really good. I now know how to handle this should I bake this again, and when I do, I can then share the recipe.

For us who is used to eat out during Sundays, it sure felt great to stay in the house and be slaves in the kitchen. I am not sure if we can do this every weekend, but we will try.

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Jenn, the Foodie

I come from a family who loves cooking and eating. I never had any formal training in cooking and that I taught myself how to cook based on the handed down recipes, but I could say that I can cook good food. In 2008, I started documenting my food trips for my travel blog, and since I have quite enough to start a food blog, might as well put all those food trips in one location. Thus, a food blog is born - thanks to the new Friendster Blogs. However, due to several problems, I was left with no choice but to pack bags again and move here instead. Here's the permanent address, promise! Enough talk, let the food trippin' begin! {Know More About Me}