Tag Archives: pasta

Hello, Moto! (Motorino)

motorino italian restaurant pizza philippines

Please excuse my gluttony if I tell you that my Motorino experience happened as a 2nd dinner one traffic-laden Friday night in Makati.

To add to the carbo load, I had a full height green tea Family Mart cone in between, that certainly added to the inches to my waist.

But a Friday night is certainly not complete without calling it a Pizza Night.

And so the (unexpected) Motorino (Greenbelt 3) was welcomed with open arms and excited fingers.

salsiccia-motorino

pizza motorino makati

 

Quattro Formaggi and Salsiccia pizzas filled the table with their delectably chewy crust and cheesy splendor. The pizza was baked just right, that you look forward to biting on the center part the most. It’s the type of mindless munching that makes you forget about the week’s woes and focus on the pizza. Just the pizza.

There was something not killer-filling about the pizzas, that you can finish the entire pie, have a hearty burp and move on with life.

pasta motorino makati

The Parmesan and Mascarpone Pasta was a different story but with unparalleled festivity.

The mildness of the flavor was a creamy contrast to the pizza, while the noodles can only make Linguini Fini hide in shame. The genuine chewiness of the noodles made me fork in pasta until the last drop of sauce came into un-being.

It was that homey, confident yet soothing Italian dishes that will make me come back for more.

motorino-greenbelt

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Mr. Pizza: Pizza out!

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A lof of words sould like Mr. Pizza. Misdemeanor. Mishap. Mistake. Miss me. Duh. Huh? The last one was the key takeaway since all we could think of after our meal was Huuuuh?!? (while scratching our heads and staring at our near empty wallet).

Mr. Pizza at SM North The Block is a Korean chain, to explain the “date” worthy price  and barrage of Kpop patrons.

What brought us there were hunger and pizza, since nearby Gringo’s was jampacked and Tim Ho Wan was the usual kingdom queue.

The orders were plenty, though we knew deep inside that the bill will kill us later on. Little did we know that it’d be the chili.

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The Potato Wedges taste the way they look. Triple carbo loading was the evening’s theme!

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The Seafood Real Tomato Spaghetti was finished in a few bites. It was on the teeny weeny side and did not match our dire appetite. At least i counted 2 or 3 shrimps but that was it!

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New York Style and Crema Pollo pizzas came in by batch. Actually the wait was quite long and so we did not enjoy the pizza and pasta at the same time – which is very important to us.

What I enjoyed about the Crema Pollo was its thin crust, so thin that I could finish the entire pie on my own. That’s how hangry i was. HANGRY!

The pizzas though (non Premium) are hmmmkay so if you’re on a date, you may be allowed to splurge on those special flavoured crust. However if you’re having a post football game dinner, quantity over quality!

Here comes the fun part. My dad asked for Chili flakes, and 2 strange things happened:
1. Apparently the place only has ONE cannister of chili flakes, which the waitress handed over to us. FINE. Matipid sila.
2. It was near empty so my dad asked for a refill, so the girl took the jar (yay!), opened it (OMG) and placed a dessert spoon for us to use (HUH?!).

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The practice of illogical economy in an expensive pizza place is a marketing diaconnect for me. Sorry Mr. Pizza 😦

Oh 2 other things we disapprove:
1. Not very sanitary when handing out utensils. I am so OC when it comes to food handling and even our maids know better than nearly touch the tip of a spoon even with tissue paper.

2. Closing off half the store (with people still eating at the far end) and conducting general cleaning at 8pm when the store closes at 10pm? Reasoning: our boss is coming tomorrow. Hmmmkay. Boss > Customer.

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The bingsus were okay and on a P80 promo. I liked the popping bobba on my mango bingsu!

Thankfully the spoons did not leave a salty after taste. That would’ve been finger licking good!

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Don’t Walk.. Skip to Mama Lou’s Kitchen!

UP town center restaurantUs Northern folks have been dying to try Mama Lou’s Kitchen for ages and are glad that a branch has finally travelled all the way to U.P. Town Center!

Literally went UP! We have been waiting for you, Mama Lou’s. Skipping music please.

Situated in the same complex as Merkado (the supermarket), Mama Lou’s is quite easy to spot, since it houses (and invites) the most patrons.

What’s not easy to traverse though is the Katipunan traffic, but that’s an entirely different sob story to be reserved for a churros party!
mama lou's italian restaurant

Mama Lou’s Kitchen has the homey Italian vibe, complete with brick walls and  complimentary bread for the hangry. That’s right, if you’re hangry and on a first date, best to calm down and have a bruschetta.lazy black cat blogThe photo stating “Stay dreamy, stay creamy” is no joke. I got it from Mama Lou’s and succeeding dishes will testify to this undying creaminess of a feast. jenina gonzales blog

Starting off with the Oriental Salad, you will realize that this is the “diet” food in the bunch. I speak of diet but it does have a smorgasbord of Asian fusion toppings: kani, apple slices and soy  sesame dressing reminiscent of Kewpie.
mama lou italian restaurant

Bacon Poutine in an Italian restaurant may be a bit left-out but this was received ample Ahhhs probably because it was topped with mozzarella cheese and bacon .

Something you’d want to take along in a movie and eat alone… with all that cheese!

j.anne gonzales blog When the Escargots came, I nearly fell off my seat in excitement!

How sophisticated and they came in their special scooping container–and every bite was filled with a buttery cheesy concoction!

Food coma in the making, and I didn’t even reach out for the equally buttery bread.

pasta where to eat quezon city The Truffle Mac and Cheese is my favorite from our evening roster, since cheesy truffle cream sauce is just something that makes you forget calories and just chew some more.

Seriously that awesome, I could eat it alone and forego dessert. Or maybe eat both!

italian restaurant manila qc

The Spaghetti Seafood Olio is brimming with shellfish and other seafood, so it is just right to serve it oil-based. Buttery oil-based best topped with parmesan still.
italian food katipunan

The “meaty” dishes were just as resplendent and succulent.

where to eat quezon city italian

The Marbled Rib Eye Steak was gone in a matter of seconds, whilst the Chicken Fra Diavalo‘s herbed chicken concoction gives off that irresistible roasted flavour that goes well with the mashed potato.

mama lou's las pinas bf homes Another heavy and creamy dish was the Risotto Tartufo Funghi. Delectable and cheesy, but make sure you bring a giant appetite if you wish to challenge this rice dish!

Pizza is, of course, an inevitable order and with Mama Lou’s roll-it-up-with-alfalfa-and-arugula, the more fun it is to eat!

pizza pasta quezon city

Bianca Pizza, as the name suggests, is the cream-based white pizza made for bacon and mushroom lovers.

where to eat pizza manila Mama Lou’s Pizza has prosciutto, arugula, mango slices and balsamic cream, so that’s like attacking a myriad of flavours in each satisfying bite. On the side, it looks amazing!

Despite an already heavy dinner, there is always room for more cream… yes, dessert!
dessert cheesecake UP town center

The Blueberry Cheesecake was pitted against the Chocolate Cake but the vote seems divided.

where to eat up town center The Chocolate Cake is not killer sweet, as it is tempered by the layers of cream. However the Blueberry Cheesecake retaliates by offering smooth creamy cheesecake for its gooey blueberry topping.

Best to just eat them in alternate bites. Everybody happy!

restaurant up town center Capping off the meal was the Mango Crepe with hints of hazelnut and topped with ice cream.

Don’t forget to order tea, since Mama Lou’s has an extensive offering–so I had peppermint tea!

Now if this meal still does not make us dream of creamy cheesy splendor, I don’t know what will!

Mama Lou’s Kitchen certainly warrants future visits, whether we’re craving for yummy Italian fares or just in plain need of a happy-creamy-gooey meal.

Stay creamy, stay dreamy!

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Z Marks the Spot: The Backyard Reservoir

malingap st. z compound

For the longest time, I miserably could not find the Maginhawa St. joint, only to later discover the Z Compound on Malingap St. Interestingly, these street names have more in common aside from virtues and syllables—do guess—and intersect at the Bayan Tel building, which is a favorite family landmark.

the zone compound teacher's village

It is also a 5-second walk away from Pino, which is another friendly landmark. But of course, you can’t miss that bellowing yellow “Z” sign!

On a rainy Thursday night, the Z Compound was packed mainly with college students and yuppies. It’s a free-for-all place, a bit tough to find seats during peak hours—though you’ll be surprised to see the 2nd floor veranda on some restaurants.

Backyard reservoir menu

The Backyard Reservoir is somewhere in the core of the compound and looks artfully decorated yet still bearing that laid-back and outdoorsy guise.

It manages its slight menu in a chalkboard—but despite the seemingly short list—decisions are still hard to make with the deliriously pleasant sounding pizza and sandwich names! The iced tea looks awesome too–and tastes, fruity!

lazy black cat blog

 

Appetizers are the usual fried fares, but who can say no to mozzarella sticks?

The sticks are firm and packed with cheese, whilst the Curly Fries are reminiscent of the twister fries that everyone just loves. Careful not to eat too much or you’ll miss out on the main meals!

where to eat teacher's village

There are a handful of pizza names though the El Pago (homemade sausage) and Three Cheese Pesto stand out.

The El Pago lends a meaty touch to the thin crust. The Three Cheese Pesto has the right balance of herb and cheese atop the crust—even cold it tastes awesome.

Z compound teacher's village menu

The Sandwiches are crafted generously, the meat almost pouring out of the wheat bread (for the Pastrami and Ham, Egg & Cheese). Of course we could do with sidings, but with curly fries on the menu, this has been addressed.

The Tuna Melt is just freely pouring out with tuna, it is a perfectly balanced (and healthy) meal on its own. The meaty variants are just as chunky and heftily prepared.

Don’t be ashamed to ask for utensils to wolf down these gigantic beasts of bread!

jenina gonzales blog review

Pasta selections come in three: La Onioni, Marinara and Pesto Tuyo.

Whilst the Marinara can do a bit more with the sauce, the Pesto Tuyo is a sure winner. With the usual seafood twist to my favorite pesto, this pasta dish brings out comfort food to the fusion level.

Hungry diners can finish a bowl—but with the price range of the Backyard Reservoir, come on, do share. That’s the Backyard rule—and you still get change, for dessert.

* This fun field trip to the Z Compound was organized by #TeamAldous 🙂

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Have Some NomNomNom

nomnomnom blog review lazy black cat

It took me years before I could finally eat at Nomnomnom Happy Food, never mind if I live in the very same Quezon City. Actually, it was THAT long since they moved to their new posh location along Tomas Morato, which is quaint, dainty but still small.

 comfort food vegetarian manila

Of course during predictable circumstances, I would do the impulsively dumb-founding, and in this instance, NOT order salad. Why I did that, I still cannot fathom. But with Nomnomnom’s exquisite and gluttony-inducing menu, a few might understand the behavior.

Going back to gluttony-inducing, I believe the all-white interiors and book pages-cum-wallpaper décor, have created my inept and deprived state. Hence, fried food!

 mozzarella sticks nomnomnom

We had 2 appetizer choices, both of which are fried! Not a sign of happiness; more of stresssssed!

The Mozzarella Sticks were served with 2 kinds of slurpy sauces that seriously make you scoop, slurp and scoop even more! There was a lot of that sour cream and salsa to get us till the next appetizer.

Oh darn I forgot to describe the mozza sticks! They were chunky cheese rolls, made chunkier by the batter. Hmmm-kay would’ve been OKAY! if they had served this right after cooking. In short, the cheese did NOT ooze at all, which is the benchmark for cheesy perfection, in general.

fried ravioli vegetarian appetizer

It must be the NomnomNORM to serve the appetizers with 2 sauces/sidings – which I cannot complain about. The Fried Ravioli (Cheesy Kangkong and Shrooms inside) was just as deep fried as the mozza sticks, and went well with the chopped tomato salsa and yogurt (?) sauce. You can actually mix and match the 4 sauces and still enjoy your mishmash meal.

The ravioli had that musty taste about it, which I blame the shrooms for! Either that or the Kangkong did it. Still, the cheese saved the day; oozing not needed in this scenario.

restaurant vegetarian quezon city

For a change, I ordered Seafood Cartoccio all because I wanted my pasta to be baked and served in foil! I don’t get that a lot at home, except for leftovers. That Seafood Cartoccio came with tomato sauce, shrimp, clam and squid. If I were a clam lover, this dish will disappoint. About half the shells were closed and experience tells me never to pry open these nasty shells.There are no girl-opens-clam-and-gets-the-pearl stories that happen in real life, just a messy plate and tomato splattered dress!

Good thing I like shrimp more – but the shrimps were hmmm-kay too, not so fresh but at least they were easily de-shelled! The pasta was warm and cuddly, the type you eat after a long day at work and intend to eat un-hurriedly. What wonders foil makes!

seafood pasta nomnomnom tomas morato

The Tomato Aligue Pasta was not mine but gleamed its orange hue for the world to see! The pasta though took long to serve. At first we thought that Aligue has become a complex cooking ingredient, but it would seem otherwise, it came in a breeze! Waiter forgot about the order, I think, or perhaps he just hated saying the word Aligue.

What is it even, crab fat?

Still, despite its jaundice appearance, the pasta was more tomato and less crabby and was topped with what looked like Eden cheese. If you’re gung-ho for aligue, don’t expect that crab fat to jump off the plate. If you want a creamy aligue-tomato pasta though, go for it–and make sure the waiter jots it down.

 A-li-guet it?

dessert nomnomnom

To make my stay worthwhile, I needed a a full course, and so it was imperative to order dessert. Since I have been staring at the chiller the entire time, I had made up my mind to order the Turtle Pie. Of course earlier, I thought it was just some Chocolate Mousse type sans the cream but no, Turtle Pie it was!

Great, more “slow” references.

I opted this over the crepe cakes that the girl claimed were the bestsellers. The cakes looked plain and too pale, and the mango-cream combination did not seem to suit my palate after the tomato-on-my-dress episode! The Chocolate Cake looked like a little devil, but the Turtle Pie looked maleficent–so we know who the winner is!

The Turtle Pie was just a chocolate cream over an Oreo crust. Topped with some walnuts and caramel and chocolate sauce, that was it! I was glad to have brought it home (yes, I still had some EQ left) and stored in the fridge for a mega breakfast dessert. It got better and more firm. Would I try it again? Not sure, not with Banapple and others over at Il Terrazzo and it would seem that sweets are not the core products of Nonnomnom.

drinks food nomnomnom

Anyway, Nomnomnom has so many other dishes and creations that I WANT to try. Forget dessert.

I could actually live off on its appetizer listing alone – with all those ravioli offerings! Plus, with pasta and pizza, this definitely necessitates future visits.

Oh dear, I even forgot to mention. They have salad! Uh-oh, who to invite next? 🙂

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Ilocos Series: 4. Unclassified Food Trips (Johnny Moon & La Preciosa)

 

ilocos norte travel laoag

Last in the Ilocos Series comes a smorgasbord of food—by smorgasbord, I mean like a hodge-podge of delicacies, best to name then Unclassified.

To spare you from more chaos, I have refrained from making breakfast posts, since they are not particularly interesting and are eaten out of obligation. And they could bore the city lights out of you.

 johnny moon la preciosa review

Back to the Unclassified, the remaining untackled Laoag restaurants were chosen out of hunger and logistics: Johnny Moon Café and La Preciosa.

 Pagudpud Blue Lagoon

As a finale/bonus/more Unclassified, there is also our Pagudpud Paluto Take Out Lunch Special—a name so long can only describe the choice left for travelers who never plan!

 review johnny moon ilocos

To start off, here’s a bit of trivia we got from the Juan Luna House tour guide:

The restaurant Johnny Moon is not an attempt at creating a cool-sounding joint; it’s an alias for Juan (Johnny) Luna (Moon), who is an Ilocano local.

Juan Luna Self Portrait ilocos

Here’s Johnny!

C-O-O-L. I will admit, even I hadn’t thought of that!

Still awed, we walked to Johnny Moon for dinner.

 Johnny Moon Review Ilocos Norte

Because of a parade (Ilocos Norte-cum-Flores-de-Mayo-cum-local-fiesta), most roads surrounding the Capitol were closed so we had no choice but to walk to Johnny Moon.

We actually had no idea where we were going and asked nearby vendors—who magically brought out a crumpled map of Laoag and directed us spot on. Amazing, these northern folk.

 Johnny Moon Cafe Ilocos Interios

Johnny Moon, as per the tour guide, boasts of the bagnet sandwich and bagnet empanada, which sadly, I met with a pork-er face. If she only knew I was after Juan Luna, she could’ve made up a Spoliarium Sandwich that could’ve gotten us to Johnny Moon sooner.

Having walked to Johnny Moon was a perfect excuse to have double carbs (or triple, including dessert), for dinner! I don’t regret choosing this place for our finale dinner in Laoag; it was Luna-art all over and the food just affordable!

 ilocos pasta

First was the Laureana Pasta Verde which is malunggay pesto with tinapa flakes topped with what seems to be danggit.

Fishy never became this awesome, seriously.

I absolutely love the texture that the crushed danggit provides, while the pesto gives off that comfort food vibe perfect for Juan Luna’s ‘hood. The serving is good for one—but enough to tackle other dishes—wink, wink!

 bagnet empanada

The Ilocos Empanada has 4 variants, if I recall. Two, I can’t really eat but must be bestsellers (longganisa and the winner, bagnet), the plain one and vegetarian. The difference between vegetarian and plain is the egg, and since I love breakfast for dinner, plain it was!

A newbie in the Emapanada-eating society, I had no mighty expectations and just recognized that orange-y crust that can only indicate something interesting inside its crisp, deep fried shell. For P40, I can afford the letdown.

A letdown is certainly was NOT, though. Oil aside, the empanada was delectable and the uncanny ingredients (papaya shavings, bean sprouts and egg) were a melancholy combination. Supposed to go with catsup (no thanks) or the famed Ilocos vinegar (amazing!), I savored it in its bare glory—yummy! This was my first empanada ever and I’d say, I’d be back for more—if Ilocos wasn’t so darn far!

Oh and if you were to ask me to design my own empanada, it would be the plain jane with cheddar cheese. Awesome! I can just imagine the melted cheese erupting after the first bite—purr-fection.

 dessert laoag

Being the finale, dessert cannot be overlooked. While I was already full from the carbo loading, I still went for the Johnny Moon Banana Split with Dragonfruit Ice Cream.

It was a creamy and fruity break from the oil and sodium, and it was a delectable ending for a tiring evening. While I can’t say that I can actually detect the full flavor of the dragonfruit from that wee serving (approximately a scoop), the entire experience was artfully satiating.

La Preciosa Laoag Review

You will notice that organization and order do not exist in my world, since I started with Johnny Moon (last dinner) while I neglected the 2nd dinner, so here goes: La Preciosa.

La Preciosa was chosen for its logistics, and more importantly, because it was recommended online—somewhere with a photo of a huge slice of carrot cake! Sold!

Of course before dessert, dinner had to be served.

 La Preciosa Ilocos Menu

We had more fish for dinner, the fried Bucto (appetizer), Boneless Bangus and Crispy Dinuguan (for the meat eater).

 seafood restaurant ilocos

The Bucto was meant to be a giant version of fried dilis, but I found it absolutely so huge, I think I only managed to eat a handful. Or maybe because the fish head did freak me out and reminded me of well, severed fish heads. I try not be visually un-inspiring, but even the lazy black cat knows when to say “no” to too much fish heads.

 Crispy dinuguan La Preciosa Review

fish ilocos laoag

The Boneless Bangus was my main course and was just so-so. I mean, how else could I possibly describe boneless bangus, huh?!

Don’t remember picking stray bones, so that makes this worthwhile, but the opposite of adventurous.

If any, you should be chucking a book at the monitor for the boredom I may be causing you. I’ll understand.

 la preciosa dessert

Which brings me to the highlight, the Carrot Cake.

The carrot cake can be spotted from a distance because it literally floats in a crown of shredded carrot. The cream cheese frosting holds all those carrot stays into this boulder of beta carotene goodness. Further scrutiny shows that the cake itself is studded with walnut and not much of carrot (seriously, no orange in the batter), but not that it matters—unless you hate raw carrots!

La Preciosa shines in the dessert-pasalubong department, and that carrot cake continues to radiate its orange shreds in my phone archives. Impossible to delete.

La Preciosa has other interesting looking cakes in its menu, just as visually resplendent, but I regret having been born with only one stomach. Maybe in the next life—9 stomachs too?!

 Welcome to Pagudpud Sign

Last but not the least is the longest entry in this post: the Pagudpud Paluto Take Out Lunch Special!

The story behind it:

Blue Lagood/Pagudpud was utterly filled with people; no cottages would take us in and we had to seek shelter in the remotest resort (so remote, its name is negligible). The only recourse for hunger is to go to the main “Paluto” section (near Hannah’s) and take out whichever fish we fancy.

 Blue Lagoon

It was a kilo of Dorado that caught our eye, grilled—with an awful waiting time of 45 minutes! Someone got extra hungry and bought a paluto-longganisa from a nearby vendor, while I had a banana. Boring, as ever.

paluto where to eat pagudpud

The Dorado was decently sliced and grilled, with a siding of tomato and onion—on the house. It tasted fresh and self-sufficient on its own, though a bit of kalamansi-soy sauce on the side did wonders as well.

From my tone (and awe), it may seem that I do not frequent Dampa in Manila—you got it!

Still, eating freshly grilled fish by the sea—in that remote cottage—was just so zen-inspiring and calming. Lunch on the sand, sans the unruly tourists, turned this Pagudpud meal into a stellar picnic.

pagudpud food

So this ends my Ilocos Series. It was a grand adventure, that turned me into a lazy BRONZE cat.

The color will pass, but the memories, always online and in my mental map of things to remember.

 Rocks shadow selfie

There were a lot of wrong turns, lost moments and spacing out while driving (not to mention a Buscopan incident), but all in all, it was a Labour Day Weekend, wonderful and well spent!

Now, back to reality, mates! Till the next holiday!

 

Ilocos Series: 1. The Sights

Ilocos Series: 2. In the Brick of Time

Ilocos Series: 3. Ilocan-Pizza and More

Ilocos Series: 4. Unclassified Food Trips (Johnny Moon & La Preciosa)

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Ilocos Series: 3. Ilocan-Pizza and More

 

laoag restaurants review

Enough with this fasting! I have obligingly posted the sights and structures, I may now proceed with the grand-tastic portion of my ILOCOS SERIES: Food!

laoag restaurant

Sorry epicurean seekers. The highlight of my Ilocos food trip was not the empanada.

Instead—drum roll please—the envelope reads: P-I-Z-Z-A!

As biased as it may sound, being the constant proponent of #pizzanight, it was the pizza that gave me the gastronomic bliss, the shivers and the *sigh* moments. But I am getting ahead of myself.

I would like to tackle 2 places where the celebrated local pizzas have graced our dining table: Saramsam Ylocano Restaurant (Laoag) and Herencia (Paoay).  

Laoag restaurant review

Saramsam Ylocano Restaurant was the first destination because it was in my #1-to-eat list, and because it has pizza and pasta, which I can’t bear to live without.

Let me add the word “fusion” so as not to label me a boring blog which shuns gastro-adventure.  

Saramsam Laoag Interior

The fact that an Ilocano restaurant serves pizza is a telltale sign that it’s got some fusion fares worth tasting. And that maybe brick ovens are the kitchen norm up North. Perhaps—I didn’t ask for a tour.

Saramsam moved to Balay da Blas and has a strict reservation-cum-starts-serving-at-7pm-only scheme, so patrons had to wait outside till the clock struck 7:00. Being deviants—tired and lazy deviants to be exact—we asked to be seated inside, as we waited for the clock to strike 6:59.  

That’s when we ordered the Poque-Poque Pizza (LARGE), Saramsam Pasta and Pork Dinakdakan (not mine).

 talong pizza laoag saramsam

The Poque-Poque Pizza, in its 11-inch glory, was a crazy-messy-lovely sight to behold. It’s got mozzarella cheese, deconstructed tortang talong (eggplant), onions and tomatoes, hence the shambolic appearance.

The waitress instructed us to pour chili oil and their diluted bagoong(fish paste) sauce—and what wonders these did! Imagine that I do not eat bagoong, but that watered down condiment just turned the pizza into an exotic surprise! Seriously, they all went together—fish paste salty, creamy cheese and that smoky eggplant.

I finished 75% of the entire plate.  

j.anne gonzales food blog

The Saramsam Pasta was a combination of basic kitchen ingredients like red and green bell peppers, tomatoes, shrimps (a bit small for me), ripe mangoes, and last but not the least, cilantro. That cilantro added to its oomph factor and turned this pasta into a summer pasta fare.

The components fused into a harmoniously sweet and salty affair—that complemented the awesome pizza.

 Saramsam Ylocan Review Restaurant

Lastly, this Dinakdakan was not mine (it’s pork) but looks just picture friendly and tastes (as I was told) just as remarkable. A perfect pulutan to go with beer!  

Herencia Paoay review restaurant

paoay restaurant

  Herencia Café is hard to miss; it’s in front of Paoay Church and posters are abundantly strewn in the nearby streets.

Its claim to fame is serving the “First” Pinakbet Pizza—and I am not quite sure if being first actually translates to yummy, delicious, to-die-for or just hmmm-kay.  

Herencia Menu ilocos norte

A sucker for pizza though—you guessed it—this was a mandatory destination.

Let me be clear though. Despite my vegetarian tendencies, I’ve never been a fan of the pinakbet-bagoong tandem. But, to yield to foodie adventure, we had the pizza combination: ½ Pinakbet and ½ Mushroom (boooring, I know)—for a hefty premium of P70.  

Ilocos Pizza Pinakbet

I chose the Mushroom Pizza because other options were MORE boring like Tuna and Does Queso (2-cheese) Basil. Imagine, 2-cheese! Sadness.

The Pinakbet-Mushroom half-and-half was a splendid cheesy sight, but my bias told me I would like the mushroom more. Correct.

After Saramsam’s Poque-Poque Pizza episode, my pizza expectations went Paoay sky-high, but the Pinakbet Pizza’s toppings were not as copious (compared to the photo). I could count the sitaw (stringbeans) and ampalaya slices, and they could not possibly be a significant source of the day’s recommended veg serving.

It was a bland offering, despite another watered down bagoong condiment on the side. I highly enjoyed the Mushroom Pizza, though with just button mushrooms (and a wee onion slice), this fared badly as a foodie adventure. Just comfort food variety.  

paoay restaurant where to eat

The Pasta Ilocana looked glorious with its cheese and longanisa toppings.  

Please note the olives. Olives in Paoay–cool!

Paoay Herencia Menu

The Tuna Pomodoro Pasta was a creamy-milky affair, but loaded (or redeemed) with chunks of canned tuna. This gets another comfort food award, and went well with the mushroom pizza. If you hate the cloying feeling of too much creaminess, go for the Pasta Ilocana, if you eat meat anyway!

All in all, attempts at the gastro-adventure fares backfired as I found solace in my comfort food staples of tuna and mushroom.

Ah well. It must be the heat.

Still, pizza is pizza and #pizzaisthebest.    

Stay tuned for the last food post of the Ilocos Series, D-E-S-S-E-R-T-S and MORE!

Ilocos Series: 1. The Sights

Ilocos Series: 2. In the Brick of Time

Ilocos Series: 3. Ilocan-Pizza and More

Ilocos Series: 4. Unclassified Food Trips (Johnny Moon & La Preciosa)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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!

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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!

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To Bistro or not to Bistro (Ravioli)

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To bistro or not to bistro? (Bistro Ravioli, Glorietta/Greenbelt)

That is the question.

And the answer actually depends on you.

If you ask me though, I give it a maybe.

For starters, finding this little hole in the wall of Glorietta was a pain because it was literally a wee hole in the wall. All right, more like the shelf you DIY on a wall when you make the New Year’s resolution to clean up your room—that’s how accidental and cramped it looked.

The good thing though is that while I was painstakingly typing this, I learned that the Greenbelt 1 branch has opened, giving Bistro Ravioli more breathing space and hopefully, less looking like Harry Potter’s room and more of a restaurant which it really is.

If you’re walking from Glorietta though, the “walk” can be torture especially during rush hour.

As for the food, if you think that ordering Ravioli is your saving grace, the answer may vary depending on your appetite, gourmet expectations, company and budget—the last 2 equally important to taste!

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The waiter-server-or-perhaps-manager suggested their bestseller Italian Sausage Ravioli in Romesco Sauce which I opted not to follow because I’m part vegetarian, and even if I do eat meat, I don’t want a meaty ravioli. It just doesn’t seem respectful to eat ravioli alongside blatant meat.

Better seafood like that Salmon Ravioli in Saffron Cream Sauce which my companions ordered and enjoyed quite well. The slightly yellowish tinge might have contributed to their amusement since they likened the saffron to what strangely sounded like curry. Hmmm…

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As for me,  the eternal green beckoned and I ordered the Spinach and Feta Cheese Ravioli in Pasta Sauce, which when unearthed, revealed roasted tomato slices peeking from the bottom—that for me was a delightful present. Topped with pesto and bathed in pomodoro, this beats team saffron anytime.

At first glance this P245 dish seemed too little for hungry me, but after engulfing loads of carbs—three quarters through the meal, a sense of fullness developed. Did I mention that I even donated my garlic bread to the hungry?

Sans the garlic bread and extra order of pizza (boo, I know), Bistro Ravioli’s ravioli was filling enough on its own. The flavor was all right for that hole in the Glorietta wall joint and I did manage to enjoy the burst of spinach-feta goodness. Of course other more expensive restaurants would offer the more gourmet ravioli but at least this offering was not ordinarily mainstream, if you know what I mean.

If I return, it would be in that Greenbelt branch (hello sunshine and air) and I might try that Salmon in Saffron Sauce. There’s also that three cheese ravioli. And there’s pizza too.

Oh dear, someone better get hungry fast.

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No-no to Momo Cafe!

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I always referred to “Momo” as “GF landmark of Eastwood Mall”. Quite right. Which makes sense that on my last day in our Eastwood office, Momo Cafe would be the venue of my gastronomic finale.

Jumping to the end of this experience, I have come to the conclusion that the place ought to have been named No-no and that if I were to be asked for a landmark for Eastwood Mall it would be MAC and My Thai. Nono? Oh no.

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Firstly the Momo Gourmet Salad was supposed to be a leviathan serving enough to feed the hungry poor. I was both hungry and poor but did not feel an ounce of gourmet satisfaction from this grieving little array. Was it the overly sweet raspberry vinaigrette, the seeming lack of toppings or that sad excuse for a salad? For its price, it was a shameful forest of greens with a minority in everything good and delicious! Big serving—oh no! More of “stay hungry, you little tramp!” No gourmet for you!!

Momo Cafe Eastwood review

I just had no choice but to order the San Francisco Style Seafood Pesto Cream Linguine, which the server gave a disclaimer: Wala po itong pesto. Red sauce ito. “There’s no pesto here. This is red sauce.”

Hunger made me say yes, but after nearly one hour of waiting, I began dreaming of red. Apparently, Mr.-Pesto-is-Red-Sauce went for a break and never ordered my order, leaving me in the red. What an awful experience for an equally awful plate of pasta. Actually it was mediocre—the noodles were soggy and there was no hint of basil or anything worth writing about. The sauce was something that can be cooked in 5 minutes or less, so my 50-minute wait, sans any form of consolation or apology, makes me scream, “No-no to Momo!

Anger aside, the meal was less than mediocre and why people line up for this place will forever strike me as odd.

Boy am I glad to leave Eastwood, especially with a Momo closing episode. It’s like Eastwood just kicked me out, and well and good—because with forgetful servers who don’t have a care in the world, I don’t care about coming back as well. Hell no! Oh no. Just go.

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