Monday, March 29, 2010

Frannie Tales ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

 

Ok, not to brag, but we are a family of talented people.

Like my cousin Frances here…

 

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Aside from her talent for sleeping until late afternoon everyday, she makes these awesome personalized necklaces.

She made me this…

IMG_1783 Yes, I am an angel! :)

 

These personalized necklaces make wonderful gifts for friends, family, lovers, teachers, colleagues, new moms, prom dates, pets, random people you meet on Facebook, etc., etc…

You pick the shapes, the colors, the fonts, the chain, and the charms. And the talented Frances will imprint whatever you want on them, be it a name, multiple names, birthdates, anniversaries, lucky numbers, mobile numbers, endearments, initials, passwords, favorite quotes, secret codes, hearts, stars, flowers, birds, bees, paws, crowns, asterisks… 

She’s got great talent, I tell you.

Not to brag, but all of us do.

As for me, you know what my great talent is.

Mwehehehe.

 

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Frannie Tales:  To order, contact my talented cousin Frances at +639175180781, or email her at frannie.tales@gmail.com, or visit her website http://frannietales.multiply.com/

BC Proof

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Chau’s Garden ♥ ♥

 

So I am feeling rich tonight, my taste buds crave for something expen$$$ive. But reality is, I don’t got no $$$. What’s a working class Jane gotta do?

 

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1. Look for great deals. Go where the oldies go. Do associations. Forget about ambiance, the place will look as old as the people dining there. Deal with it and learn to appreciate leaves on carpet.

 

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2. Call the manager beforehand to draw up a menu. Insist that he includes $$$hark’$ fin in the lineup. Then bargain. Ferociously. 

 

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When I finally manage to bully the poor guy into saying yes to HK$1,350 for 5 pax, and get him to put it in black and white, I know I have succeeded. I am on the right track to becoming a Mafioso. And a very cheap one at that.

 

IMG_2558 French Style Baked Oyster 法式焗蠔 – so good even the bird approves

 

IMG_2549 Chiu Chow Style Sharks Fin in Claypot 潮式沙鍋翅

Now this is what I am talking about. Take your HK$270 to some posh and swanky Chinese restaurant and a few strands of this is all you’re gonna get. Here at Chau’s, you have this whole pot all to yourself (yes, that is individual serving!) plus some more food you share with your Mafioso and Mafiosa friends.

 

IMG_2569 Steamed Fish Fillet 古法蒸魚 – a bit overcooked but still okay

 

IMG_2562 Sesame Prawn Salad 沙丹芝麻蝦 – lesser mayo would do the trick

 

IMG_2570Sweet and Sour Pork 拔絲咕嚕肉 – what Chau’s Garden is most famous for

 

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Now just look at that. Beautiful, glistening strands of stickiness and sweet and sourness. I excitedly bite into a piece and discover, to my delight, that the pork is crunchy and tender at the same time. I also discover, to my dismay, that other than the novelty of its stringy-syrupy texture, there is nothing special about the sauce. It is the same generic flavor you get in any other Chinese restaurant. Nothing phenomenal. Just sticky.

 

IMG_2577 Chef’s Fried Rice 師傅炒飯 – simple but good

 

IMG_2580Mango Sago 芒果西米露 – like real mangoes, juiced. Delicious.

 

It is not the very best meal but it certainly is more than what we expected to get for two hundred seventy Hong Kong dollars.

I love it when money works for my stomach.

 

IMG_2581My Mafia: Ritchie, Paul, Me, Elisa, Vic

 

Chau’s Garden Restaurant 庭苑酒家中出會所: 8/F, Champion Building, 287-291 Des Voeux Rd, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong. 上環德輔道287-291號長達大廈8樓. Tel: +852-2805 2393

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Lu ♥ ♥

 

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We are destined to eat at LU tonight.

After reading about it in Chinkee’s blog, I immediately put the Rockwell newbie at the top of my must-try list. So when Alex tells me he’s choosing the venue for our dinner get-together, I text him back at the speed of lightning, “Actually, there’s this place I want to try and I’ve ALREADY made the reservations. LU restaurant beside Ice Cream Bar at Joya. See you there at 8pm!” Then I hurriedly send out a group text to all before Alex can hit the reply button. YES!!! I WIN!!!

Some Alchemist once said if you want something hard enough, the whole universe will conspire to make it happen. I guess I must have wanted it real badly, because it turns out that LU is also the place Alex has in mind.  

Thank you, Universe!

 

IMG_0862 Flame-grilled kesong puti on lemon, dill, & e.v.o.o. toast

Expect nothing fancy from this kesong puti appetizer. It is a simple dish with simple flavors. With an extremely delicious side salad!

 

IMG_0867 Argentinean hand-chopped beef empanadas

And Chinkee is right. “If there is one appetizer that everyone must try, it has got to be the Beef Empanadas. These little pockets of meat are simply oozing with flavor and go perfectly with the accompanying chimichurri sauce. They’re so good I wished they were bigger, even by just a bit.” 

And I wish for the same thing, except I want it double in size. Gotta dream big, right? Help us out here, Universe!

 

IMG_0864Grilled tomato & red bell pepper soup

Until this soup, I refused to believe something so disgustingly healthy can be so arrestingly delicious. This is just WOW!

 

IMG_0868LU’s ultimate pork chop (15 oz) with orange-achuete sauce

Alex orders this Hercules of a pork chop and shares with me only an elfish bit. Is the chop really that good or is he just very hungry? I eat the itty-bitty piece and find the pork to be quite ordinary. Alex must be famished.

 

IMG_0871Herb-crusted lamb spareribs with bejeweled couscous

When someone Janelle’s size is able to wipe clean this generous serving of red meat and carbs, it only means one thing. This is good stuff.

 

IMG_0873Turmeric chicken – grilled and super juicy, with pomelo-cucumber achara

True to it’s claim, the chicken Marie and Tine order is super juicy. And the flavor is super, too. This dish reminds me of our Pinoy chicken barbecue, with a Middle Eastern-Mediterranean twist.

 

IMG_0877Unhurriedly-steamed lamb shank with minted yoghurt and vermicelli rice

I unhurriedly chew on my lamb shank, pushing half of it to Nelson’s plate. Why this is a “LU recommends” dish totally boggles me. Yes, the meat is tender from the unhurried steaming, but it is severely lacking in flavor despite swimming in sauce. Please recommend something better, LU.

 

IMG_0879Truffled mac ‘n cheese

If our dining room could smell like one thing everyday for the next 5 years, I want it to smell exactly like this. Musky. Earthy. Sexy. Addictive. The first mouthful is delicious, but with each spoonful I lose a bit of interest. This swanky take on mac ‘n cheese is something I’d rather inhale than eat.

 

IMG_0883 PB&J tart (we will never reveal the caloric content)

And I never ever want to know, thank you! Because saying this peanut butter & jelly tart is rich and sweet will be the understatement of the year. I am naturally greedy when it comes to sweets, but this is one dessert I am willing to share with 2 other people.

 

IMG_0884Lemon-glazed yoghurt cheesecake

Personally, I think this could use more lemon flavor. The cheesecake is pretty decent, but it’s nothing to write home about.

 

IMG_0887Butterscotch apple pie 

Again, Janelle finishes this by herself so I’m guessing it must be good. After that PB&J tart, even a single granule of sugar seems like an evil idea.

I will eat you next time.

 

Alex, Janelle, Marie, Tine, Me, Nelson 

 

Lu: G/F Joya South Tower, Rockwell, Makati, Philippines.
Tel: +632-403-3991,  +630915-246-8420

Monday, March 22, 2010

Laya ♥ ♥

 

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I love dining in other people’s homes. I get to experience a part of their lives, I get to meet members of their families, know a little about their history. I like the easy and relaxing atmosphere, the no corkage, no last order, no dress code.

And the home cooked food.

Sadly, no one ever invites me over. I know rumors have it that I inflict serious damage on food supply. But you can always deadbolt your refrigerators and pantries if you feel it’s not safe, you know!

So I just self-invite myself, and Trinna and Jer and Nelson, to Ricky and Irene’s Antipolo home for dinner on a Saturday.

 

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The place is lovely. I want to take pictures of the garden, the pool, the cabana, and the beautiful view of Manila from up where we are, but it is 8:30pm and we are late and my stomach is throwing some very nasty tantrum.

Two different set menus are on offer, the Laya Signatures and Visiting Vietnam. We I order both.

 

IMG_1230 Amuse bouche

 

The Laya Signatures:

IMG_1236Trio of Appetizers – Crab Rangoon with Spicy Mango Sauce, Stir-fried Kaffir-Lime Pork in Lettuce Wrap, Thai Golden Bag with Sweet Chili 

The crab rangoon is just ok, I like the lettuce wrap better. Sorry, no comment on the golden bag because apparently, some people named Nelson has never heard of the virtue of sharing. Some people named Nelson says it’s not great.

 

IMG_1243Curried Pumpkin and Cashew Nut Soup with Coconut Cream Froth 

Curry, pumpkin, cashew and coconut – a beautiful mix of flavors, although somehow I feel that something is missing. Not bad, but not up there.

 

IMG_1247Asian Caesar Salad Sticks with Ginger Garlic Aioli

The creativity confuses us a bit at first. Do we dip or do we drizzle? We dip. But a few dips only and then we lose interest. Boring vegetables, boring aioli.

 

IMG_1251Lychee Sorbet with Spiced Berries 

The palate cleanser is a tad too sweet. But really, who’s complaining? Me likes it.

 

IMG_1255Cashew-crusted Salmon in Ginger Honey with Saffron Cashew Rice Pilaf Salad

My New Year’s resolution is to be more like Trinna. First she chooses fish over beef, then she requests to replace the rice pilaf with a salad. I suddenly feel like an elephant next to her. But hey, I am Jin and I am a food blogger. I bear the grave responsibility of informing people about good restaurant choices, at the expense of my weight and cholesterol levels. Sigh. Such sacrifice!

Trinna says the salmon is delicious and tender.

 

IMG_1257  Grilled US Hanger Steak with Trio of Sauces (Red Wine & Rosemary Sauce, Peppercorn Gravy and Red Curry & Coconut Cream Sauce) served with Spiced Crushed Potatoes

About my New Year’s resolution… scrap it. Maybe in 2020. Tonight, I. Am. Going. To. Eat. My. Steak. And Jer is going to eat his steak. And boy, isn’t it the best decision we’ve made all day. The beef is good and really tender, and the spiced crushed potato is simply brilliant. Goodbye, commercialized mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, potato wedges and French fries. Say hello to the future of all potato sides!

What makes this dish THE dish at Laya are the sauces, three full-flavored gravies that make the steak. The curry-coconut is so Thai, the red wine so wonderfully classic, and the peppercorn gravy, yum! Now that is a winner.

 

IMG_1263  Cashew Mango Kesong Puti and Chocnut Banana Spring Rolls with Creamy Chocnut Dip

After the steak, this seems quite ordinary. Still, anything with chocnut makes a nice ending to any meal.

 

The Visiting Vietnam Set:

IMG_1235Bo Bia. Beef and Herb Rice Paper Rolls with Nuoc Cham – Just ok.

 

IMG_1240Canh Bap Cai Cuon Thit. Cabbage Rolls in Cilantro Broth – Fail!

 

IMG_1244Goi Ga Bap Cai. Chicken and Cabbage Salad in Peanut-Lime Dressing

A much better salad than the deconstructed one from Laya Signatures. It is refreshing and sweet and tangy, perfect for warming up the palate.

 

IMG_1248Ginger Lychee Sorbet – Could use more ginger

 

IMG_1261Suon Heo Rim. Pork Riblets Braised in Vietnamese Caramel Sauce, Herbed Rice

An everyday, ordinary dish. Very so-so. Pork can be more tender, flavor is sufficient, but no wow factor.

 

IMG_1264Trang Mieng. Frozen Bananas in Coconut Cream, Crushed Peanuts and Palm Sugar Syrup

And what a delight! This feels like eating ice cream, and a perfectly healthy one at that. Bananas and coconuts, fruits. Peanuts, brain food. And palm sugar, it comes from trees, for chrissake!

 

The food in Laya is a work in progress. There are hits, there are misses. The place is romantic, the view immaculate, and the jolly hostess aims only to please. At P750/set, I would say it is very good value for money. Overall a nice dining experience, made even nicer and utterly enjoyable by the wonderful company of good friends.

 

IMG_1267 Nelson, Jer, Trinna, Me

 

Laya: Sierra Madre, Grand Heights Subdivision, Antipolo City, Philippines  Tel. +632 994-7978, +63917 846 4322

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Antonio’s ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

 

I am anti-marriage. I have seen too many cases of failed relationships, how they destroy lives, bring out the worst in people, how they turn the very best of friends into strangers or, even worse, enemies.

I have chosen and accepted my fate.

I am going to be a spinster.

BUT if Chef Antonio “Tonyboy” Escalante were not married, I would be on my knee right here, right now, asking him to spend the rest of his life with me. I would promise to be a good wife to him, to love and respect him, and bear him a kitchen full of beautiful and talented mini chefs. I would vow never to nag and complain, that every word that will come out of my mouth is to encourage him and do wonderful things for his ego. I would serve and obey him, be a slave to him, worship him and put him above all else. I would do anything and everything for him.

Because I am in love.

Fiercely. Passionately. Hopelessly.

In love with Chef Antonio’s…

 

IMG_9157 Bread with olive paste

 

IMG_9163House salad with pan seared foie gras – one of the very best!

 

IMG_9165Cream of leek soup

 

IMG_9175Antonio's trio sampler. Beef medallion gratinated with assorted mushroom, mojito crusted lamb loin, braised red cabbage with lamb jus, grilled sea bass on truffle mashed potato with salad

 

IMG_9170Herbed roasted rack of lamb with cardamom beuree blanc and a siding of mashed potato

 

IMG_9176Again, herbed roasted rack of lamb with cardamom beurre blanc, this time with gnocchi potato

 

IMG_9166Duck leg confit on garlic gratin potato

 

IMG_9167Grilled pink peppered Chilean sea bass, saffron-kaffir sauce

 

IMG_9173Cannelloni

 

IMG_9181Assorted grilled seafood with rice pilaf

 

IMG_9183 Seafood thermidor with mashed potato – surprisingly good!

 

IMG_9192 Antonio’s flourless chocolate cake

 

IMG_9193 Dark chocolate soufflé with cardamom crème anglaise

 

IMG_9196 Profiteroles with chocolate sauce

 

Oh Chef, would you ever consider taking in a mistress? A concubine? An inamorata? Because I sure wouldn’t mind calling your beautiful restaurant my home.

 

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Take me in, Chef.

Please.

Take all of us in.

 

IMG_9180Other willing concubines and eunuchs

 

Antonio’s:  Purok 138, Barangay Neogan, Tagaytay City, Cavite, Philippines.
Tel: +63917-8992866

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