Friday, December 31, 2010

Cheers to 2010

At the start of this year, I wasn't really much enthusiastic to keep this blog. I guess having five blogs to maintain turned out to be a difficult thing to do, and I only had one article posted for January 2010. The next update was made the 10th day of May. I guess I could say I owe it to one person - Don Dee - who wrote a message in the forum that he's going to follow this blog because it looked interesting. It was so ironic that I didn't see any more interesting in this blog, yet he saw something, so even if at first I was feeling that I need to update it because I now had a follower, in the months to come, my feelings towards this blog have totally changed. I am actually glad I re-opened this blog - by the end of the year it became the most interesting blog I have, and something that was closest to my heart.

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:

Modern Samalamig

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.

Pinoy Kurat

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

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 Head Sinigang

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

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.

Lee Kum Kee

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 ***

Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Small Resto with a Lot to Offer

Banapple Pies and Cheesecakes
2nd Level - Il Terrazzo Building
Sct. Madrinan cor. Tomas Morato, Quezon City
+63 (02)413-2675
09 May 2010

Il Terrazzo

I posted a message in the forum for a photowalk. Two of my friends, Woody and Nathalie saw it as a good way of roaming around, so we scheduled it for this day. We all met at the weekend market in Lung Center of the Philippines, then we went to the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Rescue Center to take pictures of anything nature. It was a little past lunchtime when we finished, so the next question to answer was where to eat lunch. Nathalie knew I still haven't tasted Banapple's foods, so she suggested for us to check it out. She already tasted their foods at one of the Katipunan branches, so we went to check the branch in Il Terrazzo building in Timog area.

Banapple - Il Terrazzo

Dining Area

It was a very small food place. Tables were very close to each other, and it was difficult to get inside. When we got there, the place was a full house, but since we already decided to eat there, we patiently waited to be seated. Actually, we had to get to number just so the staff wouldn't get confuse who to be seated next. She asked if we wanted to sit inside or outside, and I figured inside would be better so I could take pictures of the interiors, but I failed. I found it difficult to take pictures because I felt people were looking at me. Hahaha.

So many food choices in their menu, but since we were feeling a little hungry after all walking around, we had:

Pan Fried Porkloin with Herb Mushroom Gravy

Pan Fried Porkloin with Herb Mushroom Gravy (p160). Woody's meal. I gave it a taste, and for a pork cut this thick, it was really tender, it was like eating the meat of baby back ribs. The sauce had a little hint of sweetness, something I am not really fond of. Still, it was a good meal - all this meat for p160? Awesome.

Lasagna Roll Ups

Lasagna Roll-Ups (p145). First time I saw this dish from Nathalie's photos, I was instantly intrigued by it, so for my food choice, I went for it as well. By the looks of it, it seemed as if it was very easy to eat, but as soon as I ate the first roll, I was already full. As for its taste, at first I found it a bit bland - the rolls had cream cheese inside (I guess), but as I eat more of it, the sauce blended well with the pasta and filling, and bit by bit I was able to appreciate it. Overall, it was a good meal, but seriously, if you want to eat this, be sure you have someone to share it with. :)

Glazed Pork Tocino with Creamed Parsley Eggs

Glazed Pork Tocino with Creamed Parsley Eggs (p120). Nathalie's meal. Like Woody's meal, I also gave this a taste and I liked the tocino. It was fork tender and not too sweet. Recalling Nathalie's remarks about this dish, she said it seemed as if they made their own tocino, because its taste clearly wasn't the type you get to buy off a supermarket.

Iced Tea

We all went for their signature iced tea for our drinks, and it was so different from the usual iced tea. It was so good, I wished they'd have bottomless version of it. :)

All of us were hungry when we got there, yet when foods were served, we didn't eat right away - Nathalie and I pretty much took our time in taking pictures of the foods, and she even let me use her Nikon P80 camera to try and use it in taking food pictures. Understanding the relationship of the aperture and shutter speed was a bit tricky, but I was able to get it (a bit). The picture of the lasagna roll-ups was taken using her camera, the rest was taken using my trusty Canon Powershot A1000is.

Cakes & Pies

The name of the place is Banapple Pies and Cheesecakes, giving an immediate thinking that this is a pastry shop. So why didn't we have the pastries instead? Well, we really, really wanted to... but, we were just so full, our tummies didn't have space for desserts anymore! I saw it as a blessing actually, because their signature pie - the Banoffee Pie - was currently unavailable as they were still making the next batch. We hoped to get back there later in the afternoon, but we weren't able to. Given the great taste of their food and its very affordable price, I would really hope to eat there again, but I might check out their other branch - possibly any of the two Katipunan branches, or the one at the Ayala Triangle.

The Banapple Pies and Cheesecake is located at the second level of the Il Terrazzo building in Timog area.

*** Jenn ***

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Iced Tea

The quote above was for drinking alcoholic beverages (I think), but I decided to use it for this picture, because this drink was a bottomless one, I decided to use the quote for this photo, too.

Bottomless iced tea... how often do you have it?

I know this is the generation of being practical, and establishments have started putting up upsize and bottomless drinks to lure in customers. While this is a very great way of spending hard earned bucks, some people tend to go overboard and abuse the privilege. One anecdote I could share was when my mom, sis, and I went to a restaurant and people at a table near us started arguing with the restaurant's staffs (even asking for the manager) because apparently they have been asking for an iced tea refill and no one seemed to be hearing them. I could understand their situation - I, too, would like to have my glass refilled because bottomless drinks were much pricier than the regular ones. So okay, their glasses were filled up, but as soon as the staff passed by our table (which was about two or three tables away), they started yelling for "iced tea nga!" Right then I didn't know if they were plain thirsty or just abusing the privilege. They did that countless times - I couldn't tell how much they had, we left before they did.

Bottomless may mean bottomless, and by putting it in the menu, the establishment is risking the fact that they might make a gazillion liters of iced tea for one person to consume, but then again I felt that they could have just waited for the staff to go around the restaurant before they asked for a refill. Okay, given the fact that they were really thirsty... still, they should act civilized and not just yell out and raise their glasses for the whole restaurant to see that they needed a refill. Bottomline is etiquette.

I do go for bottomless drinks, too, and if you'll ask me how many glasses I consume? Well, depends on the size of the glass, but knowing iced tea is packed with sugar, and that I don't like to use public restrooms, I only go for 3 glasses maximum. If I am with friends (which is very, very, very rare) and we plan to stay at the restaurant chit-chatting the day (or night) away, I sometimes go for 4 - 5, but I don't go more than that. I know restaurants have to earn, too. :)

*** Jenn ***

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Food Round Up


It has been a tradition here in our house not to do Noche Buena and just binge on Christmas Day lunch. However, there was a drastic change for this year's Christmas. For one, Aunt Paring didn't stay here... she did come here, but left morning of Christmas eve, so she can celebrate it with her own family. Cousins Angie and Jessica were here for Christmas, pretty much the reason why we decided to go with Noche Buena. Last week, I put up a list about what I plan to serve for Noche Buena and Christmas Lunch, and here's the follow up:

Noche Buena:
  • Grilled Chicken Quesadilla - We used the small tortilla wraps, so I just folded it in half instead of covering it with another wrap. It tasted good, and I really loved the salsa I made. :)
  • Fish and Chips - Beer battered, my sister helped me by cooking the fish as midnight was getting near.

Completing the Noche Buena were foods from our neighbors - Ria gave a bowl of tuna spaghetti and a plate of desserts/pastries; the Raboys gave us some cheese sticks and bibingka; and the Villarandas gave us macaroni salad. It was a sumptuous meal.

Christmas Lunch

Well, like I said, there was no Christmas Lunch for us because mom took my cousins and they watched a movie. I still get to cook the dishes, but not really on Christmas day.
  • Spaghetti - I cooked some for lunch last 26th. We had left over sauce, which I re-cooked for dinner last night.
  • Lumpiang Shanghai - I prepared this one afternoon of 24th, froze the wrapped rolls, then cooked some for Christmas lunch, because it was just brother and I at the house. The rest of the rolls, brother fried afternoon of the 26th because it was our potluck dish for the neighborhood party.
  • Vegetable Salad - While doing the grocery shopping, I asked brother if he wanted a salad and he said no, so I decided not to buy the veggies anymore, which was a good decision because nobody would like to eat it anyway.
  • Cream of Mushroom Soup - We just didn't have the urge to cook this anymore.
  • Thai Fish Curry - Doing the grocery shopping, bro and I decided to do Mixed Seafood Curry instead (still Thai inspired), but we weren't able to cook it because our cousins didn't like eating seafood. Well, they have a small fish pond in the province, maybe they wanted something different. The scallops, squid, shrimps, and dory fillets were still in the freezer, but I might cook this for dinner tonight.
  • Menudo - I cooked some for Christmas lunch, then brother cooked another batch for dinner that night.
  • Buco Pandan - Mom brought home a lot of leche flan, and our fridge had so much food inside that we didn't go for this anymore. Well, Christmas season is still far from over, so we can still have this for Media Noche.

Speaking of Media Noche, I am already passing the baton to my brother, and he told us he would go for a grill night, but I am worried about it because we actually don't have a grill big enough to handle it all. I say good luck, kuyatots.

During the neighborhood party, Ria asked if we would be having alcoholic drinks on New Year's Day again. When we welcomed 2010, close neighbor friends were here in our house and we all shared some cocktails of Media Noche... I think it will be another tradition in the making; for sure brother's grilled foods will go well as pulutan. :)

*** Jenn ***

ps - I wasn't able to take a picture of the table last Noche Buena, so I stole this picture from my brother's blog, More Than I Can Chew. Obviously, that was me on the upper right corner of the picture, taking pictures of Fish and Chips. :)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Weekend Eating - From Ria

Happy Holidays, all!

I wasn't able to blog last Christmas because I decided to make it a blog holiday for me. :) Am not really a scrooge, but I just didn't feel like blogging on Christmas Day. Hope you all had a great celebration. Since Christmas fell on a weekend, I am sharing a picture from Noche Buena.

From Ria

We have been living in this neighborhood since 1985, and in more than two decades of living here, we have made good friends, and our neighbors aren't just friends for us, they're more like a family as well. Every Noche Buena, we would exchange a sample of our dishes, and this is what Ria gave us - fruit salad made by her SIL, and a square each of the baked goodies she bought from her friend: corn bread, carrot cake, and brownie.

Of the three baked goodies, I loved the carrot cake the most; it was moist and the butter icing was just divine. The pistachio nuts added more texture, too! Too bad Ria only gave one square, but I can always order up from her friend if I want to. I think I might.

What did you have last weekend?

*** Jenn ***

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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}