Monday, October 25, 2010

My Looooong Weekend in Pictures

When: October 22-25, 2010

Just so you know, my long weekend started last Friday. Since October 25 has been declared as a special non-working holiday to give way to Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections, I called in sick last Friday to fully enjoy my long weekend. Again, I didn't exercise my right of suffrage. As much as I want to spend the long weekend  in any tourist destination, that chance seemed elusive nowadays. Gotta save for an upcoming vacay!

My long weekend focuses on cheap thrills and random things that made me smile. It's basically life on the slow lane. Or calories and forgetting my vow not to munch on deep-fried.

Red Ribbon's crispy chicken with mango barbecue sauce

I had crispy chicken meal (pictured above) for dinner last Thursday. It's not officially part of the long weekend but, heck, it's a new discovery. I can proudly say I can cook much better than that! So I moved to another search for good fried chicken the next day. I found it at KFC with its newest  chicken variant - Chili Lime chicken (see below). Spicy yet citrusy. Okay, I'll say this to capture it all - it was finger lickin' good! :)

KFC's Chili Lime Chicken

Then came my obligatory trip to the mall with my nephew on Friday nights. Two things that make us both happy are: (1) latest K-Zone mag and (2) DQ's moolatte. What made him happier was that the latest K-Zone featured his fave cartoon hero, Ben 10. At my age, I still read K-Zone to keep me updated of the kiddie world. Hahaha!

Ben 10 + DQ = silencio

Then off to Empanada Nation we went for dinner. It was my second time to visit this familiar stall along Roces Street. This time, the BF went with us and had our bagnet (fried pork belly) fix. I'm not very much familiar with bagnet and the KBL that comes with it. Hmmmm, Marcos? No, KBL means kamatis (tomato), bagoong (shrimp paste) and lasong (small onions).

Bagnet with red egg, garlic rice and KBL

And of course, I can't simply refuse not to taste (again) the famous Ilocos empanada. I think I hoarded enough fat in my body for just one day. Shame.

Saturday was junk food & movie day with siblings Ivan & Nikki, nephew Dave and my one and only sis-in-law She. Thank God for this generous H & W tandem for the movie treat. The movie house roared in laughter at Vice Ganda's punch lines. He was undeniably hilarious! :)

Funnier than the original (remember when?)

Also, my sis Nikki and I had a mini-food fest at Shopwise Arcade food alley. Looking at the picture now makes me sick. Lucky us, no embarrasing public lavatory trip right after.

Blueberry danish, siomai, scramble and tuna kani panini

I'm a sucker for souvenir shots. Those orange pumpkins were too cute to ignore.

 My HH 2010 souvenir pic at Trinoma Mall (big thanks to my buddy Princess)

After window-shopping and exchanging stories, we decided to go cheapo by eating at Mister Donut. Hahaha! Oh, who would've thought that Mister Donut has good penne pasta? I must say that it was very al dente, cheesy and affordable.

 Baked tomato and sausage penne (Php 60 -beat that!) and Belgian choco lava (Php 30)

Okay, enough with gastronomy. Something new now.

 My super mouth telephone!

Here's something lovely amidst my random reads over the long weekend. A single red rose from the BF in honor of our 16th monthsary (October 24). Cheesy, I know. *huge grin*


Wow, I'm starting to sort of enjoy slow-paced, long weekends! :)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Italian Goodness @ Amici

When: October 21, 2010

The BF's mother is here in Manila for a two-week vacation and, in fact, she celebrated her 63rd birthday last Thursday. Weeks ago, with this celebration in mind, I kept asking the BF where in the world shall we eat during this special day. As repeatedly pointed out by the BF, his mother doesn't have a big appetite and not a picky eater as well. So the only logical choice would be any food spot where BF and I would mutually enjoy. It should be near BF's office. Location, check. Our mutual favorite. Italian food, check. Name of resto? Aha, Amici it is!

My first Amici experience was at their original location at Don Bosco Makati where I had the green-colored pasta spinach fusili montanara and gelato. Their gelato is quite exceptional so I went out to buy a big tub at their newest branch in Tomas Morato that time just so my siblings would know it. I love sharing good food, you see. :)

 Spaghetti red vongole e gamberetti (Php 260) ~ pasta served with special red sauce and bounties of the sea

Well, seafood pasta is one of the reasons why BF loves Italian food. Except for those kinds with meatballls in it, he respects tomato-based pasta with seafood. He shared this pasta with the birthday girl, er, lady. :)

 Cannelloni agli spinaci (Php 240) ~ a classic favorite! Pasta tubes filled with spinach and ricotta cheese topped with tomato sauce and a layer of creamy cheese

This dish was way too heavy for me. I felt like a genuine glutton after eating.

Al quattro formaggi (Php 295) ~ four cheeses

Never underestimate this plain-looking, thin-crust pizza. It was good especially when I sprinkled chili flakes on it. 

 Mango sans rival gelato cake (Php 95) ~ a mango lover's dream! Delightful mango gelato mixed with to-die for sans rival gelato embedded in layers of crunchy meringue wafers

Just to immortalize in pictures (read: photo ops purposes) that it's really BF's mother that day, we asked the server if she can put a candle on the gelato cake. Very cute slice of cake! The taste? Delish!

Smile then burp!

Now, where's the birthday lady? Here she is.

 Happy birthday, Ma'am Tuding!

Notice the similarities? It's a case of photocopied genes. Hahaha! :)

3/F SM Megamall Atrium

Chocomize is Love!

 Milk chocolate with candy corn, fall leaves and candy bats

Dark chocolate with candy bats and orange and black sugar

My heart literally stopped beating when I saw these chocolate bars today in A Cup Of Jo, a blog maintained by a magazine writer from New York. These Halloween-inspired chocolate bars came from Chocomize, a seriously rad shop that lets you build your own chocolate bars.

Two things made me wonder - (1) I'm not a chocolate fan and (2) I never did like Halloween, for crying out loud! Strange, isn't it? Now I find these chocolate bars very, very amusing and too cute for words! If only we have one cool chocolate shop here in Manila that offers similar services, then I'll definitely fall in line! I'm clueless about whether we have one in our shores though. It's not next to impossible, I know.

For now, I'll just remain engrossed browsing Chocomize site. :)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Reminiscing Childhood: Scramble!

Back in grade school, I distanced myself from the wide array of street foods. I went to public school in the province and it's commonplace to see vendors selling all kinds of goodies ranging from banana cue and fritters, camote cue, pork barbecue, green mango (with bagoong or rock salt), semi-ripe papaya (with vinegar and salt), passion fruit (opened on top then you get to sprinkle salt to the seedy mix), cotton candy to... (cue suspense music) scramble! Those were the days. *sigh* Unfortunately, I was deprived of them during those days. My folks would usually warn me about the hepatitis scare. But the little rebel inside me would sometimes sneak away from folks' massive umbrella of concern. Gotcha!

Fast forward to 2010, I am now addicted to scramble goodness! Whoever invented this yummy treat is truly a genius!

The preparation of scramble is much, much more hygienic compared to yesteryears.  

Rundown of costs:
Large tub of pink ice shavings with milk powder and choco syrup = Php 17
Toppings/add-ons (mini-marshmallows, rice krispies, chocolate sprinkles, candy sprinkles etc.) = Php 3
Happiness = priceless!

If you read this and don't (1) say "I want that!", (2) mentally include this in your next food trip or (3) go and buy one when you see a scramble stall around the metro, then you should probably take memory enhancers or spiritual guidance (gasp) because you seem to have been deprived of one of the cheapest thrills of childhood. Also, I realize I am late on posting this, but it doesn't matter because scramble is timeless, at least for me. :)

Scramble stalls I've visited:
Buzbox Scrambles
SM Mall of Asia

Icebreaker Scrambles
ShopWise Cubao

Ice Cramble
Blessings & Prosperity Food Court
Ayala Avenue corner Rufino Street

Monday, October 18, 2010

"Double Double" @ Empanada Nation

When: October 18, 2010

I had my first taste of the famous Ilocos empanada at Salcedo Market  last August and I liked it so much.  Although I still think that it was expensive (priced at Php 60) for a flimsy piece of fried orange pastry, I am still craving for it every now and then. When I got wind that Ilocos empanada is now available in the Scout Area, I was excited to grab one. And that happened awhile ago.

Photo credit: Empanada Nation's FB page

The little store is frequented by many yuppies working nearby. They seemed to be regular costumers of this empanada store which can be classified as a hole-in-the-wall type. The menu items were clearly written in two blackboards.

Without thinking twice, I ordered "double double" which means that my choice of empanada will have two pieces of Vigan garlicky longganisa and two eggs. Damn, double whammy to my self-imposed diet.

 Sukang Ilocos

Looking at the bottles of Ilocos vinegar made me salivate already. After more or less five minutes, I finally got hold of this brightly colored empanada. Served hot and fresh!

Double double (Php 75) and Royal tru-orange (Php 30)

The ice-cold Royal tru orange was the best partner to my empanada. I was quite amazed with its size. It's much bigger and taller than the soda can. Well, it wouldn't be called "double double" if it doesn't contain the two pieces of longganisa and two eggs, right? Hence, the extra large size.

My generous sprinkling of sukang Ilocos added a flavor kick to this mighty Ilocano delicacy. Double double is double yummy! Be ready to burp with longganisa breath. Hahaha! :)

Scout Tuazon corner Roces Avenue
Quezon City

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Birthday Lunch: Johnny Rockets + California Berry & More!

When: October 13, 2010

I am now 30 and, believe me, this is puzzling. Details of my puzzlement will be somehow revealed in batches as I go along and document my life in this little nook in the web. Deep down inside, I still feel very young and I sincerely hope that it will show. Wishful thinking or not, I don't know. Hahaha! 

Okay, allow me to ramble about adding another year to my earthling life. Big celebrations are not my thing. Several weeks prior, my folks posed these classic questions: Where are we going to celebrate? Shall we order food from CCME, Luk Foo or Savory? How about your cake? Pre-ordered (referring to Estrel's) or over the counter (Red Ribbon, Goldilocks or Conti's)? Blah-blah.  Don't get me wrong, I absolutely appreciate my folks' concern over their firstborn's 30th birthday. Ladies and gentlemen, I just defied the family tradition and said no to those. No cooking necessary either. I'm 30, get over it. It's just one day and it will certainly pass. Call it madness or non-conformist behavior but I happened to love my no-frills birthday!

At the Johnny Rockets entrance: Me, holding my Johnny Rockets take-out and a pink balloon (huge thanks to BF who dared to ask if he can get a balloon from the grand opening day leftovers) beside a life-size cardboard illustration of a woman in WWII armed services uniform. If this doesn't spell happy, then I don't know what is! 

It will be a normal day, I promised myself. I pretty much evolved from not knowing much about birthday plans to enthusiastically reveling in little surprises. So I had a normal breakfast, normal shower, normal reading pace, normal playlist and then BF showed up. As promised, he appeared normal - meaning, no flowers and gifts mysteriously hidden somewhere. He then asked me where I'd like to have lunch and I instantly told him - Banapple at Il Terrazzo. So we trooped to Banapple but it was packed with yuppies. A few minutes later, we found ourselves entering Johnny Rockets. Whoa! Burger and fries on my special day, why not?

The concept is a diner-style resto circa 1950s. Very interesting!

Jukebox station in every table

Making a smiley face with ketchup on the paper plate when served french fries is a Johnny Rockets trademark. (Wikipedia)

The waitstaff assigned to us was very friendly and accommodating. Songs reminiscent of the swinging 1960s or Sunday classics blasted through the speakers. Then, all of a sudden, the staff began gyrating happily to the tune of  Build Me Up Buttercup. What a pleasant dining experience it was!

The diners, BF and I included, were very much entertained with the dance number. Then the food.

# 12 (Php 335) ~ cheddar cheese, fresh lettuce, onion slice, pickle, mayonnaise & our tangy "red sauce." On a scale of one to ten, it's a twelve!

I thought it was too pricey and the only comforting fact I learned was that the burger actually included fries-all-you can. Never mind the fact that I avoid deep-fried stuff nowadays.

The birthday girl's order: sliders (Php 265) ~ mini-sliders with mayonnaise and pickles/ dijonnaise. Perfect for sharing.

I underestimated the capability of these little burgers to fill me up. They were in fact very juicy and heavy on the tummy. I even took the third dwarf burger home with me.

Drinks: bottomless lemonade (Php 110) and Coke in can (Php 85)

Well, dining at Johnny Rockets is definitely not for cheapskates like me. Hahaha! I've learned my lesson, thank you. While on our second plate of fries, the staff performed another dance number to the tune of Y.M.C.A.

Vintage shots

Can we take them home please?

Since I'm all for healthy dessert, then off to California Berry we went. We sampled their newest flavor - green apple - and it was okay, nothing fantastic.

Green apple fro-yo (Php 90, medium cup)

When I went home, I found the whole birthday spread lovingly carried by Lazy Susan. Oh wait, did I just say that I wanted no pre-ordered food? Oh well. Hahaha!

CCME's beef caldereta and lumpiang shanghai, Amber's spaghetti and pichi-pichi and ice-cold Coke

Did I just turn 30? :)

Johnny Rockets
205 Tomas Morato Street
Quezon City

California Berry
Kopiroti Building
186 Tomas Morato
Quezon City

Chocolate Pasta @ Heavenly Chocolates

When: October 15, 2010

My extended birthday leave has got me bored a little bit. I figured out that staying at home (translation: sleeping too much, reading no-brainers or singing to my heart's content) will do me no good. So after paying the bills at the nearby supermarket, I went to Empanada Nation along Roces Avenue to have my Ilocos empanada fix. Unfortunately, it wasn't opened yet when I dropped by so I walked down a bit and, voila, found Heavenly Chocolates. From Ilocos empanada to chocolate pasta.. how odd, isn't it?

 Chocolate pizza and extra large chocolate bar (priced at Php 600, if I remember it correctly)

The cafe is somewhat cozy, sort of Starbucks coffee shop without the noisy caffeine-injected youngsters. Since I'm not really into chocolates and I was merely killing time, I ordered what seems to be their house specialty. The following are chocolate facts found in one of the cafe's walls and I quote them in honor of the classic tagline "Did you know?":
The Aztec emperor Montezuma drank nothing but chocolate - fifty pitchers prepared for him each day.

Cocoa beans were used as Aztec currency: ten beans for a wife, and a hundred beans for a good slave.

Only Aztec kings and members of his court could drink chocolate. It was a drink for royalty.

In the 16th century, Hernan Cortez brought Montezuma's chocolate drink recipe to Europe.
 House specialty: Montezuma chocolate pasta (Php 150) ~ penne pasta, cream, bacon bits, shallots and topped with bittersweet chocolate ganache

This chocolate pasta is the cafe's version of the traditional Pinoy combo of  champorado and tuyo. I could barely finish this pasta dish. Hahaha! Truth to tell, I never had a hard time eating any pasta except this one. Sweet pasta doesn't appeal to me. The only thing that motivated me to finish (almost) is fear of food wastage.

After what seems to be forever... my table looked like this. There was no way that I could consume  the fudge bar, my choice of dessert, which I requested to be served after my meal. I told the crew that I  changed my mind and and will take the fudge bar home. I thought I suffered a chocolate overdose. *sigh*


My chocolate pasta experience was not so heavenly after all.

Heavenly Chocolates
Unit 1 Roces Center
127 Roces Avenue, Quezon City
(near Tomas Morato)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Dinner @ Pancake House with Mama & Sis

When: October 12, 2010

A day before my birthday, generosity reigned in my heart. I finally gave in to my sister's clamor for a new pair of high-heeled footwear (strappy sandals in my book) for a school event. The quick shopping spree made me think - When was the last time I bought a new pair of shoes for a social event? I tried digging deeper into my memory bank but I failed to come up with a definite answer. Anyway, I extended my generosity a bit and was the dinner sponsor that night. Aha! I wore a "G" for generosity, so to speak, for that night. :)

I chose Pancake House that night since it's not packed with diners.

 Mediterranean pasta salad (Php 160) ~ a medley of fusili noodles with olives, tomatoes, walnuts and bacon bits topped with alfalfa sprouts and waffle croutons

Mama chose this pasta salad over the potato salad that she had been eyeing for in the menu.

Chicken fillet with cheesy spinach pesto linguine (Php 195) ~ deep fried chicken breast on spinach pesto linguine sprinkled with parmesan

Pictured above was my top pick among the patio pasta choices. Too bad. It was too bland for my taste. I could have much better pesto at World Chicken for almost half the price.

House special set (Php 215) ~  a delicious mix specialties of the house: taco, spaghetti with garlic bread,  pan chicken and iced tea (see below)

Nikki has always been a fastood fare fan, so she ordered the set which contains her two favorites: spaghetti and fried chicken.

Drinks: iced tea (from the House Special Set for Nikki), mango juice (me) and hot calamansi for Mama

Blueberry-filled pancakes (Php 147 for two pieces)

Since Pancake House is famous for pancakes (duh), we had some for dessert. Yum. Perfectly fluffy and not too sweet.

Pancake House
Gateway Mall