Category Archives: Smorgasbord

To Tuscano Pizza and Beyond

BGC Pizza

If there is something in life we can never say “no” to, it’s #PizzaNight! Never screw with our pizza nights or you’re sure to get a fistful of dough in your pants or pepperoni in your socks.

There is no better feeling than accidentally discovering pizza joints in Manila that serve reasonably awesome and legit pizzas. Take this Tuscano Italian Wood Oven Pizza over at Burgos Circle, BGC as a classic example. The entire name is a quite a mouthful, it makes me full already!

burgos circle taguig restaurant

Having given up on BHS restaurants where nothing could fulfill our pizza cravings – except for Nolita, but I found its pizza on the salty side the other night, so sorry not for now – we ended up strolling until we ended up at Tuscano’s doorstep.

The place serves the usual Italian fares, but greedy pizza kids only order pizza on #pizzanight – that’s the rule! 

vegetarian pizza seafood

We ordered Tuscan Garden (aka the vegetarian pizza) and Seafood Feast (Frutti di Mare), both pies for sharing. I did have a taste of the compli bread because I was already dying of hunger from that trek.

I know there were only two of us, so doing the math, we should have borne a superfluous bounty, but restaurants always underestimate my appetite based on my foot size and my brother, based on his tattoos. Okay, no sense at all.

To summarize, we finished everything to the last crumb and morsel and yes, I ate the crust which I never do with cheap pizzas.

pizza night manila philippines

All in all, considering two skinny kids finished a “for sharing” portion each, I’d say that the quality makes up for the size.

Imagine the Tuscan Garden brimming with fresh vegetables and what seemed to be asparagus! It was an almighty greenery that vegans will pay homage to!

frutti di mare tuscano pizza

 

It wasn’t about thick gooey dough or cheap cheese; it was about fresh and quality ingredients, meticulously put together for that freshly baked Italian gourmet ride. 

The pizza is crisp and crackling with greens, and nothing is scrimped in terms of freshness. Ah yes, to Tuscano and beyond – and can I not eat mainstream pizza ever again?

Or maybe. it’s time to plan #PastaNight!

Decisions, decisions…

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S&R, Sacrifice and Sore Throat

While watching a game at Emperador Stadium, a family walked past us bearing (well, more of flaunting) their S&R paper cups. In a totally unrelated event to follow, a couple shared our bleacher and brought out that yellow box that screamed S&R FRIED CHICKEN.

What a sick joke. That’s it. We just had to take the bait.

After the game, we just had to pay a visit to S&R at BGC. The pizza was calling, and no more Nolita—no more money!

BGC gourmet pizza

Bonifacio highstreet pizza

In the last game, we had dinner at Nolita and for some reason, I found the Cheese Pizza ultra salty, so I had to go for a quick Jamba Juice breather after.

Back to S&R, since it was Lent I fell prey (or pray?) to that Tuna Margherita Pizza heavily advertised in-store, my inner pesky-torian just screaming to be satisfied. While my companion basked in the glory of 2 slices + fries, I had my sacrificial tuna slice.

Unlike the fabulous photo that gleamed of grease and tomato puree, my pizza was on the dried out side. It was just, tinapa dry, sans the gourmet flair.

What the heck is tinapa in English?

 bgc s&r grocery

While the cheese was studded with herbs and basil, the fact that the sauce and cheese were not as resplendent as expected made this pizza a letdown and so if I were given a second chance for my Lenten slice, I’d have gone for that Shrimp Pizza. That one has the juicy shrimps that turns sacrifice into gluttonous sensation.

The cheese pizza, is still, hands down, el cheap-o magnifico! Best cheese pizza for its price!

And so, with this disappointing dinner, I had to atone by giving in to dessert by another heavily advertised treat: Cheesecake Factory Chocolate Fudge Cake.

S&R cake chocolate

I was slightly dyslexic at first glance and read it as chocolate fudge cheesecake—way, way better huh?! But my eyesight returned and reduced this to a mere chocolate cake. With fudge. Given its price (about P130/slice) and brand, I expected way more! Like five thumbs up, I’m getting the whole cake next time around!

Instead, I got a killer sweet cake with no hint of dark fudge; it was more of sugary brown icing on standard chocolate cake. If there were secret fillings of custard or deep dark chocolate or even pockets of cheesecake or choco chips, then I’d have gotten a smile of some sort. But no, it was sweet all throughout, with no layers of varying degrees of sweetness. Since I ate this straight—no water, a little chit-chat—I got a sore throat after!

This must be what you call punishment. Oooh.. I can’t wait for Easter! By then, I can have all the Blue Bunny in S&R! No more cakes!

On the side, I am glad I could spend time burning off my idle time calories from this Sole Skate. Saw this on sale, bought it and now, where else but to try it out in one of those BGC empty streets! Instead of kicking balls, at least I can ride my wheels.

skating manila

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Chihuahua Mexican Bar: Dog eat Dawg

Salad make your own makati

Dawg. Live like a gangsta, might as well speak like one, ayt? But that title hits the restaurant spot on—everyone knows what a Chihuahua is, right? When you’re eating at Chihuahua Mexican Grill and Margarita Bar (Greenbelt 2)—you got it—you’re gonna be eating like a dog, un perro.

Like the doggie bowl, concave metal contraption when Taco Bell’s little best friend eats from, if he has a home, well that’s where they serve your grub at Chihuahua.

Greenbelt 2 bar restaurant

I’m not one to complain though, since we’re gangsta. Heck, if you make me eat with my hands—uh oh, I’ve got my limits—no gracias. I like my utensils clean and spiffy but that gigantic metal bowl –cum-chamber-pot, why not?

It’s Mexican food and lo siento, I forgot my poncho-bib.

Enough gangsta talk, since I’m already getting a headache from the misspelled red-underlined words.

jenina gonzales food blog

Chihuahua Mexican Grill is a Mexican joint where, when you enter, you see the strangest folk, corporate beagles playing Uno Stacko—and having a crap of fun out of it. They must have been there way too early, so they were probably wasted as well. I like to go with the latter theory because getting high on wooden games and posting photos on social media as if this was the most fun thing on Earth, is not really NOT a fun thing to do on Earth.

Now if the guy at the next table were to photobomb their wholesome game with his unwholesome finger, now that deserves a “Like!” from me.

No, it did not happen though. Boo.

Greenbelt bar mexican

Now I have to talk about the food because it was what we went there for, not the games or photos of weird people flooding the walls or those pretentious sluts. Stop talking. Concentrate. Food.

The food is served Chipotle or Ristra’s style, the one where you fall in line and order what you want. The create-your-own Mexican meal so that if your food sucks, you have no one to blame but yourself.

It’s kind of pricey from an average worker point of view, but the restaurant has to pay off a lot of entertainment and leisure costs to get Uno Stacko loving weirdos to keep on coming back. Now if it were poker night. Hmmm..

Mexican hang out makati

Since it was a late dinner, I opted for the Chicken Salad.  As simple as that. That doggie bowl comes with fresh lettuce topped with guacamole, queso, pico de gallo, salsa, beans, corn kernels and lean marinated chicken.

It’s the condiments table that makes up for the flavor and aye carumba! experience – jalapenos, pico de gallo, all sorts of chili and tomatillos! Oh yes. I could live with that.

tacos nachos mexican greenbelt

And then we have Nacho Grande: A colossal mound of nacho chips topped with queso, chili, guacamole, pico de gallo, salsa, sour cream, grated cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese, and jalapeños.  Good enough for one and happy enough to forego the burrito.

I’d say, if I had a second time around, I’d choose a lazy lunch hour for that Mexican visit – with daylight to see my food, more time to burn off the carbs and ample idle time to enjoy those tomatillos!

B-ADDENDUM: I did manage to return to Chihuahua for that lazy lunch hour. Unfortunately the chillin’ part backfired as we were met with equally languid service and lack of pico de gallo and other condiments. It was like the place was wiped clean (or kitchen bare) the night before and we were left with chicken scraps (literally) and an absence of fresh produce. With this uncool experience, I have learned to make my own nachos at home. Mexican food craving, solved!

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Cheap (and not so) Sightings

cheap food manila snacks treats

Some people aren’t really poor; they just go by other names like stingy, misers, self-serving, on a budget and my personal favorite, penny pinchers! We have to face the fact that not everybody has a lavish budget to soothe their gastronomic needs. There are other priorities in life, we get that.

Cleaning through my stuff, I realise I have my share of cheap sightings, worth taking photos (and keeping for a very long time). There are a few pricey grub, but they were all one-time meal,s so none were written about and just used up precious Android memory space.

 So here’s a collection of the cheap and not-too cheap foodstuff that managed a smile on my face and oh-so shallow pockets!

Here’s to penny pinching and more to come!

ice cream oreo dessert

Forget BLT and Reuben. Oreo + DQ = The Sandwich.

greenbelt frozen yogurt

Red Mango Green Tea Parfait has everything perfect in it, on it and is just it!

spaghetti factory food italian glorietta

When in a hurry, Spaghetti Factory can be a so-so lunchy.

tuna dill melt

Starbucks tuna dill melt is so lenten friendly, you can be a sinner for lusting over it.

J.Anne Gonzales Blondie Bar

Sonja’s Blondie Bar is far from dumb. It’s… black, white and to die for!
dessert chocolate cake

Cafe Mary Grace Chocolate Cake: Php100 with change and that awesome filling

bon chon chicken manila

Unbeatable BonChon Chicken Chops and Chap Chae Korean combo

sweet coffee starbucks

Starbucks Asian Dolce Latte: Sweet, sweet and just sweeeeeeet!

philippines taco bell

Ti Amo Taco Bell. Who doesn’t?

american food manila

Chili’s Appetizer Sampler: Best served with good lighting and endless chatting!

seafood pesto sandwich guy

The Sandwich Guy Seafood Pesto: You will regret being a slow eater.. like me!

jamba juice healthy snacks

Jamba Juice Steel Cut Oat:s: The reason why my fridge now has 3 kinds of oats

tea starbucks yummy

Hands down, the best reward in life is Starbucks Green Tea Frap, Grande without Whipped Cream for my forever misspelled name. Purrfect.

subway philippines tuna

Subway with Tuna and mustard is just the best anti-stress lunch, next to green tea frap.

S&R ice cream tillamook

Tillamook Mudslide makes me forget gelato and vegans exists. I love moo!!!

seafood ramen x centris

The only seafood ramen I can eat: Spicy Chikuwa Ramen. Red not because of #filter but because it’s a fiery pit of chili. Sit beside a firehouse. Be safe.

fruit shake manila

Last but not the least, Jamba Juice is love, lust and life in one. Acai Supercharger for sad days, Orange A-Peel for sick days and Banana Berry any day!

Now that I mention it, not everything is cheap or awesome discoveries. Heck, I just unloaded my memory on this post for random sightings.

Promise the next post will be more… educational and relevant. Yeah right.

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Foodgasm IV: Eaters Always Win

Foodgasm mercato blog review

After attending #Foodgasm4, snappy hashtags filled my head and I realize the #sugarrush was to blame. Imagine #foodporn #Ihave NeverEatenThisMuchFoodinmyLife #midnightmercato #EatLikeTheresNoTomorrow and of course #ohyeahJudgeforaNight grilling me throughout the evening.

Imagine the fear of never waking up thanks to #foodcoma, but luckily, I still did.

 Foodgasm blogger judge

As a blogger-judge-attendee in Foodgasm IV last 08 March 2014 at Mercato Centrale, I realize the only thing missing was a gavel. To pummel my hand from too much eating. Kidding aside, it was a breakthrough experience for someone who has never eaten more than 10 courses in her life. This is so Game of Thrones and I swear, I think I saw Joffrey Barratheon smirk at me.

 Foodgasm4 mercato taguig

As the part vegetarian who has and will always be the inconvenience to hosts and fellow diners, I grievously report having failed to eat everything in the checklist, but was graciously assisted, the “meat” slots have been filled out.

So with our powers combined, we managed to eat majority in the list—except for 2 due too fortuitous circumstances. We tried though. #damnNotoriousUPlines 

Foodgasm lazy black cat plate

After listing my Top 4 (the perfect square – how erudite), lemme just go through the rest. The sugar rush has subsided but still, I am capable of the snappy one (or four) liners. I realize though that I failed to get the contestants’ calling cards and give out mine!

I was nearly rendered sleepless the evening before, grooming my accidentally scented lazy black cat calling card—and I ended up eating and clicking, so not networking. Priorities, priorities.

Mercato taguig foodgasm event

Ah well, here’s Lazy Black Cat’s Top 4:

Foodgasm oreo whoopie cupcake

1.     Chef Francesca’s Cupcakes – Oreo Whoopie Cupcakes

Any dessert that combines Oreo + Cupcake is enough to make me swoon. Add in the Whoopie component and we’ve got a faint spell! The Oreo sandwich cupcake concept is not entirely new, but it’s strangely addictive. It goes well with milk and ice cream, and heck, why not water so long as you get one! This ode to Oreo may sound lame-o, but believe me, a bite of this and you’ll know what Foodgasm is all about! Oh. Yeah. #OreoRules

Foodgasm Niku Niku crabmeat

Foodgasm fishcake mercato winner 

2.     Niku Niku -  Crabstick (People’s Choice Winner)

Best placement and lighting goes to Niku Niku, the crunchiest crabstick of the evening! Tasty especially with the Kewpie mayo and nori cover, it makes a crisp kani snack or siding. Would’ve made this my numero uno, if not for a little paper altercation. #mybad

 Foodgasm Pesto gourmet tuyo

3.     Buenavi Food & Beverage – Pescado Gourmet Tuyo

Buenavi’s Tuyo Pasta was like finding a needle in a sweet haystack. Amidst the flurry of sugar and chocolate and all things fattening in Mercato, there it was, that sea-inspired pescatorian glory, sprinkled with cheese, with just the right amount of green. This seafood pesto variant has that tuyo crunch, sans the artificial saltiness and fishy aftertaste. Perfect for lent and my go-green diet; how I wish I was given a full plate to finish! #bitin

 

Foodgasm cheecup mercato

Foodgasm Cheecups team johnny

4.     Team Johnny -  CheeCups

The best way to lure me is to set that cheesecake trap—and what more with several cheesecake samplers… in cups? Turmoil. With tiramisu, blueberry and Oreo, amongst others, the CheeCup lineup is hard to resist. A sucker for cheesecake, this has to make it to my Top 4 because I can’t afford a cheesecake revolution. Hey, that just sounds like an awesome flavor. #TeamCheesecake

 

Food trip mercato dessert 

And here’s the rest of the pack and the rest of the comments. If it’s courteous and trite, it didn’t come from me-at!

 Foodgasm Monkey Bread

Ruby Red Kitchen – Parmesan Herb and Original Cinnamon Monkey Bread (2 entries) 

No monkeys were harmed in the process of making the Monkey Bread, I think. The bread is chewy and fabulously tasty. That Parmesan Herb just called out to me and with a dollop of cream cheese, transformed into perfect pasta companion—or on its own! The Cinnamon version is just as delectable and cinnamony, a sweeter (and SOFTER) alternative to the usual rolls.

 Foodgasm batak sesame cupcake

Cuptain Cakes – Batak Sesame Cupcakes

Batak is the new matcha and the cupcake brings forth an aroma of sesame seeds. If you’re not keen on sesame, give this cupcake to me instead! Best with tea and a much bigger serving size.

 Country Okonomiyaki fries mercato

Country Fries – Okonomiyaki Fries (Innovative Winner)

The idea of okonomiyaki fries was enough to make me violate my No Fries rule. Country Fries was kind enough to remove the bacon (they actually shouted the order, so diner-style) and turn it into vegetarian Japanese fries. The fries were fat, fab, and oishii!

 Foodgasm Yema Crinkle

Mau’s Cupcake Café – Yema Filled Crinkle Sandwich

 Two crinkles with a yema center. Love the crinkles but my weirdness dictates a ho-hum approach to yema and so I met this sandwich with a half and half heart.

 Foodgasm blogger judge chocolate rhum balls

Cooking Ina’s Kicthen – Gourmet Chocolate Rhum Balls

Catchy name makes for a real chocolate rum-ble. So many flavors including wasabi amongst others! The flavor of rhum lingers (for me) so eat sparingly and don’t be like me, eating one after the other until my world really rumbled. Or was it crumbled?

 

Foodgasm best food mercatoFoodgasm Mercato Event happy monster

The Happy Monster – Elvis Pie

 I absolutely adore bananas and peanut butter and chocolate. Add in a graham crust and whipped cream on top and that’s the Elvis Pie. It’s not as rocking as I thought it would be since I could whip this at home (or I think I could). But the pretty stripes are worth the wait and make a perfect gift.

 Foodgasm Flan pastillas dessert

Modern Desserts – Pastillas Flan

 Pastillas and leche flan are my hometown products—my lola even makes them at home—so pardon another ho-hum approach on this godly offering. Still, love your own—and points for the packaging, the only dish served fit for my OCD! Never seen flan served so neatly, syrup stains begone!

Mercato Polish pierogi 

Babci Kuchnia – Polish Pierogi

 Some people are just—okay let’s hear it—not that into strange meat-topped feasts in an evening filled with mainstream treats. Still, it was fun watching Gambit dissect this. A for innovation!

 Foodgasm Bacon Cookies

Baking Bad – Bacon Cookies

Living up to its name, the presentation was purposely ‘bad’ and the signage in whiteboard marker—just wicked! Still people seemed to line up for the cookies with bacon, so Gambit had two (my share) but being used to bacon breakfasts, deemed it a cookie with a wee bit of bacon. Couldn’t tell if it should go with syrup?

 Foodgasm March 2014

Chorizo de Cebu

Chorizo de Cebu Philippines

Another meaty mayhem with an umbrella, my only takeaway. Chorizo is chorizo, however way you cook it. Best served hot and oily, nothing fancy.

 foodgasm contest 2014 mercato

Chili Chili Bang Bang and Hunger Buster

 The funny thing is, the chili and the burger were the most queued for and popular spots—and we avoided them at all costs! Having spent 4 years in UP circumventing lines and finding ways around them, being line-averse just stuck like gum on my shoe.

Also, seeing girls with 4 plates of that chili and guys dumping burgers in their mouths in ONE bite—life would go on without us getting our share. Give chance to the hungry. Charity counts. I’ll live.

 Midnight Mercato Fort

The lines were probably the giveaway, especially the patience these people put up in the Hunger Buster line. I was so sure the burgers were the winner—and I am glad that others got to enjoy these meaty treats, on my gracious behalf!

Foodgasm 4 Official Pubmat

Foodgasm IV: Everyone’s a winner

The experience being a blogger-judge for a food event was just otherworldly. I came to Mercato with no expectations, except to get filled and dragged along my hungry self for a night of tasting, judging, point, shoot and clicking.

 So absorbed was I with the surroundings that I forgot to take a #selfie. Is this the abnegation talking—or was I in that food high? Perhaps.

Foodgasm mercato jenina gonzales 

Despite the crowds, standing room and table sharing (really how sweet), the overall atmosphere was engaging and reasonably memorable for a newbie. Everyone was so into their food, it was like hippie foodie heaven and everyone just gobbled and chewed and trolled like there was no tomorrow.

 Mercato food blogger event

I admit the “networking” part for me failed but this was my first time; my christening in the world of food blogging events. I enjoyed it so much that should there be a next time (HINT, HINT), I promise to come more prepared, with a higher camera clicking dexterity, the flair for #selfie, a spare hand for shaking and card exchange and a higher high to talk to my table peers. And yes, to be early.

Still, it was an awesome initiation into this foodgasmic tradition and at least I succeeded in #nofilter.

I am hungry once again and cannot wait for the next food event. FEED. ME.

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Foodgasm IV: Bring your own Appetite

March 2014 foodgasm mercato

Define Foodgasm.

It’s a rousing gastronomic fest and a scandalous food trip. A trip to taste heaven which you’ll always want more of—after that first bite.

 You can probably tell my excitement level has reached tsunami high. Well, not because of the outrageous connotations of the event name, but because I have been invited as a blogger-judge to the Foodgasm this 08 March 2014 at Mercato Centrale.

 Mercato taguig foodgasm event

Me and the imaginary gastro-gavel.

Imagine judging all 20-ish new and innovative dishes to be offered to Manila’s foodies and being instrumental in the fate of the Foodgasm Champion.

Imagine eating all evening, discussing sauces and seasoning, while snapping photos, and eating some more. Now that’s Foodgasm, huh.

 Foodgasm 4 Official Pubmat

This Foodgasm event will start from 6-11pm at Mercato, BGC. I know there are ticket prices and transpo considerations, but what you get is an evening of awesome food high. The best of the best competing for your palate. Ah, that’s the life!

Oh and the main organizer, UP Ecosoc, my previous neighboring org put up this video of the event, so check it out if you have the time.

And if you’re busy as a bee like this cat, then just remember 03.08.14 @ Mercato. That’s it!

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Beets Please: California Pizza Kitchen

Food pizza restaurant manila review

I have abstained from eating at California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) for the longest time, albeit not related to utensil hygiene or rude service, but from a domestic altercation memory best left be buried in my metal abyss.

It would seem that I have gotten over that trauma—though unfortunately for CPK, it has become associated with adverse heart palpitations and childhood doom. Which partially explains why whenever someone asks about CPK, I always forget that a branch exists in Trinoma. For this idiotic lapse, I apologize.

To make up for my unforgivable food-related blunder, I have thus decided to write about CPK, but of course, expect the usual candor.

 Quezon City Pizza Restaurant

What is fabulous about the CPK Trinoma branch is that it’s located in a remote and private section beside Mango Tree Bistro, at the al fresco wing, but way quieter. Of course that peace was shattered when one of the patrons gave the shrillest squeal I have even heard—too alarming for a mouse but too short for a siren—so yes, it was certainly produced by a real girl.

Why she did that, it will forever be buried in the CPK CCTV archives, but no, it wasn’t me. She beat me to it. Boo.

Before you continue reading, let me just warn you that I went to CPK for the SALAD and not the pizza. Yes, I had on that pseudo diet mindset that evening and wanted to have my share of dessert, and so to please both my body weight and palate, I opted for salad. Blame the math.

While it’s just silly to go to California Pizza Kitchen and not eat pizza, it’s just like going to a bar and drinking water. Yes, I do that. I admit, I am not fun company.

 

And so, for the salad I will give you 2 kinds: Like and I-tried-to-like-but-just-can’t.

 

Let’s start with the bad news: Chicken Moroccan Salad.

 j.anne gonzales blog

In an effort to have “everything on it” this salad does the job. It literally has a smorgasbord of toppings, some of which you have never tasted in your life. Imagine beets. I thought beets were for old or sick people, and here they were, topping the salad like purple rhinestones on a crown of green. There were dried cranberries, avocado, almond slivers, dates (eww to the highest level) –the chicken was drowned by these festive tops.

Funny thing is, I forgot the dressing, whatever it was and the chicken, so it became a fruit-and-nut salad explosion. It also caused quite an explosion in my belly. Vroom-vroom. Biofitea, begone.

Then comes the promise of a return to CPK: The Original BBQ Chicken Chopped.

 jenina gonzales vegetarian salad

Now this one’s a winner, just by going through its name and composition (chopped lettuce, black beans, sweet corn, jicama, cilantro, basil, crispy corn tortilla strips and Monterey Jack cheese). Right? It isn’t just that it’s made up of the greatest toppings on Earth, it’s the way they’re tossed and come together in this Mexican fiesta of a salad. If all salads were like this, who needs pizza, huh?

Trinoma California Pizza Kitachen

All right, I lied a bit. I did have pizza, but the simplest kind, not the fancy, gourmet, artsy type that hipsters would order. Just the simplest version to appease my simpleton craving for mozzarella cheese. And yes, they do have that kind as well that goes by the conservative name: Traditional Pizza.

I did not make that name up.

Traditional Pizza is just mozzarella cheese on top. Rather than torture my arteries with mozzarella sticks, I went for the pizza instead. Good choice (pat on the head, lazy black me). It was chewy and comfort food tears-in-my-eyes satisfying.

The Chicken Moroccan Salad went on top of this pizza to balance its horrific and unknown ingredients. It was my hope to blanket these aliens with mozzarella presence. Kinda worked too.

sandwich quezon city trinoma

There also was another strange presence on the table, which was another traditional looking piece of homemade bread (I forgot the name of this Chicken Sandwich), but sadly was not mine. I could only click and salivate from my end. The happy diner was happy until the last bite, so I take it was a poultry success of a sandwich. It was the most Instragram-genic of the dishes as well.

Maybe next time.

But before anything else—note to self—there is CPK in Trinoma. Now don’t go driving off to U.P. Town Center for pizza. The parking there is just horrible.

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The Village Tavern: That Scrummy Supper

jenina gonzales food

The Village Tavern is perhaps the closest thing to an Irish pub that I would find in this life—unless I manage to sneak into someone’s luggage to the United Kingdom, an idea I find rather feasible given my size. I have always envisioned the authentic pub as brick-layered, partly rustic, showing the occasional football game with screaming-jostling abound. A leprechaun or Ron Weasley might make a surprise visit but other than that, mugs clicking are the staple.

bonifacio restaurant bar

The Village Tavern in BGC offers a different perspective to the classic pub theme, elevating the experience to high end, grandiose American, gastronomic experience. Perhaps relying entirely on the word Tavern is a misnomer worth welcoming, since focus on meticulously prepared food will find greater appreciation in a hunger stricken place like Manila. The meticulously prepared food also has a price, a bit too much of it. Let’s just say Ron Weasley would go all “Blimey!” once he reads the menu and might have to skimp on Butterbeer for a week.

restaurant taguig

The serving size ought to make up for the costly meals, but for those served for the solitary diner, best to credit presentation and restaurant lighting as contributing factors to the food cost.

bonifacio high street restaurant

The Tavern Nachos are the usual kind, glammed up a bit with monterey jack, cheddar, salsa, sour cream. Being the resident vegetarian, the beef was requested to be placed on the side—to which they obliged. There is nothing absolutely special to say about the nachos, since nachos are always exemplary unless topped with Kraft cheese, so as a default appetizer, nothing beats nachos. Except anything with mozzarella.

jenina gonzales restaurant article

The Onion Rings are probably the cheapest item in the menu, probably because they were more batter than onion. As an inexpensive siding, they were hmmm-kay. As a person allergic to oil, grease or trans fat, stay away.

j.anne gonzales fort bonifacio

The Jalapeno Poppers are said to be the bestselling items in the menu, frequently favored by food bloggers or anyone who loves to get creamed and spiced up at the same time. Unfortunately, the bacon prevented me from digging in, but with the sour cream cheese and fried presence, these poppers find it impossible to be everyone’s favorite. Again I’d be bound to ditch this over something with mozzarella, or the nachos for that matter—and the meat eaters will agree.

j.anne gonzales food review

Another strange and fatty concoction of Chorizo and Cheese – not mine.

food trip bonifacio highstreet

The Flash Fried Calamari was a dash of seafood splendor. Albeit a small serving, the bite size pieces found themselves all over my salad and plate. They were cute to look at and left a lasting memory in my palate. They also disappeared in a jiffy – like a flash someone ate ‘em all!

Taguig american comfort food

What I am grateful for is salad. Anywhere I go, salad is normally the safest choice. Having seen the Chicken Thai Salad served about 4 times since I got to The Village Tavern, it warranted an order – just for me! Maybe it was the towering greens or the wonton strips or the Asian allure. For me, it was the curiosity. A bit on the sweet side, but with cabbage, edamame and delectable chicken strips, this was worth the rare caloric fest.

bonifacio central restaurant

The Black Pizza is sadly not mine. Topped with meat and pepperoni, I can only stare and sniff. My, my, the black crust alone was drool-worthy so I needed a bite, at the very least! Look at those herbs; they were calling out to me!

Black Pizza Bonifacio global city

Good thing there was a meatless niche and graciously sliced for me. Ah yes, this cheesy chunk of black pizza was fantastic, chewy and teary-eyed yummy all throughout. Being a crust hater, this is one of those rare occasions I happily finished the crust. It was a mind boggling crus-terrific slice. I wish there will be vegetarian or seafood options for this one!

mussels cappellini seafood

The angel hair Mussels Cappellini is exotically named and brandished on a soup bowl. The pesto-white wine sauce complements the mussels but others, like myself, may find it on the sea-salty side. Perhaps my parmesan was uncalled for, or my palate is just unfamiliar with Chilean mussels, which is strongly the case. Pardon the seafood deficiency since my most extensive background hails from the overly bland cream dory. Overall though, the angel hair and soupy texture lighten the saline rush and we get a pure mussels madness—with all that iodine and zinc, we should be getting smarter, awright?

dessert lazy black cat

I Instagrammed my Double Decker Cheesecake, labeling it as death, or a welcome to it as such. Though double in layers, it could perhaps feed a family, a large one for that matter. The layers of Chocolate and Cheesecake make you forget that you are in a watering hole where drinks and friends are the reason for convening; with this giant slice in front of you, only the cheesecake matters. It’s brick of a cheesecake will make you forget even your BFFs, guaranteed a near sleepless night and will make you wish you didn’t order those jalapeno poppers instead.

vegetarian bonifacio restaurant

Trying to personify vegetarian in the dessert arena, ordering the Very Best Carrot Cake was imperative! The cream cheese icing was a tad too much after having a creamy salad, but a dollop here and there could be spared.

Chocolate torte lazy black cat

That St. Barths Chocolate Torte at the background was not to be messed with. Sweet through and through and only with the vanilla ice cream to counter the sugar kick, this was the devil in disguise. Good and evil on a plate. You ought to consider confessing after this uber-sweet-treat.

If there’s a reason to go back to the Village Tavern, it’s to eat all those blasted desserts. Big enough to feed a village—so that’s where the reference comes from, mate!

restaurant bar fort bonifacio

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Lugang: Walk in the Pork

Chinese Restaurant SM Aura

I know that everyone loves Lugang; it’s a pork mine for meat lovers and Cantonese food fanatics. Unfortunately I do not fall in any of its target segments. If any, I am the anti-thesis of the typical Lugang patron. It’s not that I chastise the place, but then again let’s just accept the fact that it’s just not for me. I am so used to rejection by now.

Still, I had to try it somehow. A girl’s gotta eat.

Taguig Chinese restaurant

Unlike me, my brother is normal and falls well within the Lugang market sphere. In fact, he is spot on, the bull’s eye, because his world revolves around dumplings and noodles, and yes, he is a meat eater.

 Lugang Cantonese Dumpling

Normal for him would be to single-handedly have these for lunch: Steamed Shrimp and Pork Shiao Mai and Cantonese Stir-Fried Broad Rice Noodles with Beef. No left-overs, not a single shred of noodle left behind. I took a shrimp from the shiao mai but managed an invisible sweat bead after ingesting that bite—afraid of pork juice. Ah well, I’m still alive aren’t I?

 Lazy black cat review chinese food

We had quite a good laugh when the waitress announced that noodle dishes were good for 3-4 persons. When the dishes came, they warranted a hearty choking guffaw. We could eat a plate each, good for one, gluttonously without sharing with the other. That’s how messed up hungry we always are.

So I take it Lugang folks eat with small portions. Sorry we had to burst your expectations with our fancy appetite.

 Vegetarian food SM Aura

In order to appease my vegetarian expectations, I had no choice but to settle for the ONLY vegetarian noodle dish, the Cantonese Mushroom Stir-Fried Noodles. It doesn’t take much of an imagination to describe this dish. It’s the usual Chinese flat noodles fried with very few mushrooms. The proportion of the mushrooms with the noodles was horrendously unmatched and very stingy of Lugang.

With that much noodles, I’d finish off 2 cans of button mushrooms—my, they are the cheapest kind—but no, I could count the mushrooms and they were less than the fingers on my hand.

I expected vegetables and more greens, but this dish is very discriminating for vegetarians—which is why I did not finish it out of satisfaction, but out of disappointment.

I wish a seafood version was available because the mushroom kind was a Lugang letdown.

The Chinese lady at the other table (we were that close) complained about a bug in her rice. Then she threw away the rice on the table, to make her point, and this literally brought the server’s face to pallid death. The Chinese lady had a table filled with go-grow-glow foods, the kind you order when you have parents (and grandparents) around, and her dishes of broccoli and greens looked tempting. Salivating, for me.

Sometimes I wonder if I had ordered the broccoli-spinach dish instead (over the mushroom noodles), would I have complained less?

Maybe—but then I would have nothing to write about. Vegetables at Lugang—even I would admit, how boring!

 

 

 

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La Petite Camille: Vietnamese Fill

food blog manila philippines

Who’s Camille? Beats me. Might be the French inspiration of the place, after all La Petite Camille (Greenbelt 5) specializes in Vietnamese-French fusion, and not cupcakes as the name might suggest.

 lazy black cat review greenbelt

Sure the place is flooded with yellow and white furniture, a pleasant and proper domicile for those little Camilles, but the food is more of Vietnamese and where the heck is the French?!? Well as far as what we ordered, yep, it’s really Vietnam all over. No forks needed, just chopsticks (or hands) please.

I still question the French part, but with a fill of Vietnamese noodles, I had no time to process gastronomic fusion, nomenclature and whatnot and just had to dig in when the food came—or is it stab in?

 vegetarian food greenbelt makati

It’s funny how the appetizer, the Fresh Spring Rolls, came in last. The French influence is apparently absent in terms of the order of food service because they massively screwed up and served everything in reverse. Merde, eh?

Back to the Fresh Spring Rolls, because they came in last, we were already filled with the main dish noodles, and to spy more rice noodles popping from these carefully wrapped rolls was not too enticing. Still, with the hoisin sauce the rolls were made bearable. But having to shove that large a roll, when I was already full, was quite the challenge! If only they served that first, I’d have something better to write about.

 seafood restaurant makati

The Salt and Pepper Cuttlefish was served somewhere in the middle. I needed a few chunks before finally narrowing down its taste; it’s similar to the shrimp balls we eat in Chinise restaurants. You know that taste, right? Those awesome prawn balls that burst with crunchiness on the outside. That breading plus soft cuttlefish in the inside is La Petite Camille’s version. The sauce—we can do without. Better off with calamansi and soy sauce instead.

 Vitenamese French restaurant manila

The Stir Fried Rice Noodles with Chicken does not look appetizing but is greatly more delectable 10x over its looks. On the blander side—which greatly favors the health conscious—it’s got vegetables, egg and succulent chunks of chicken. A hungry person can finish a serving, which is what my brother did. Goes well with that cuttlefish for thatprawn-y flavor on the side.

 j.anne gonzales blog

Pad Thai with Prawns was the other noodle dish. With the same noodles and toppings (more or less), I had a difficult time differentiating the photo from the previous dish. Then I realized that this has a siding of nuts—which they graciously set aside rather than sprinkle on top!

Having requested a mildly spicy serving was a smart idea because I did not need a water fest so far from home. The Pad Thai is (expectedly) sweeter and more flavorsome than the Stir Fried noodles. While I adore Pad Thai, having the latter as comparison makes me go for the Stir Fried Rice Noodles. Think of it as a toned down version of Char Kway Teow. Not bad huh. Still, the Pad Thai is great and “al dente” and so French-approved.

 jenina gonzales blog food review

4 dishes and 2 diners—so it would be accurate to say that the meal came with a large bill! With no time (or money) for dessert, it was all right. The meal was ultimately filling and I remember the first bites of the noodles were interspersed with Mmmm and “I need to take a photo of this!” 

Still, if the appetizer came at its properly appointed time, I’d have been more satisfied and at ease. Imagine having Hoisin for dessert. Weird.

Or is that how they eat in France? Oui?

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