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My Silantro Love

Silantro Fil-Mex | UP Town Center

silantro head.png

Not to mess with the English dictionary but let us start by clarifying that “cilantro” is Chinese parsley, otherwise known as coriander; whereas “Silantro” (with an S) is the Fil-Mex restaurant that is the subject of the blog post.

When you say Fil-Mex + UP Town Center, only one place comes to mind: Silantro. Synonymous to lines, QC, cheap treats and expansion wishlist, this place is a haven to the northern foodies craving for vegetables disguised with Mexican flavors.

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Papi’s Fritas

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Nachos

As to the presence of cilantro in all of Silantro’s dishes may be a question reserved to the chef.

In my incessant munching in between sips of water, what stuck in my gastronomic memory were bits of onions, salsa and the occasional cheese. So much for Mexican food savant.

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Lamb Tacos (Completo)

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Chicken Tacos (Medio)

Rather that describe each dish, which by the way consistently offered that signature Silantro flavor (in a positive way), I’m learning to be concise in my writing. On point. Let’s give it a try:

Silantro’s dishes give out that much awaited Mexican punch, in a price and atmosphere that are most acceptable for the Pinoy palate. I fully appreciate the mucho serving size without sacrificing flavor.

The intensity of the zest, flavors and salsa, coupled with the heaps of vegetables (lazy black cat approved) gives it a health edge as well. All in all, the queuing was all worth the wait.

While not much can be done about the queuing time, a girl can just wish that this can be managed. How? Well that’s not my problem. =)

silantro up town center.jpg

Oh, here’s what we ate:

Nachos, Papi’s Fritas, Lamb tacos (Completo), Chicken tacos (Medio

Wishlist-wise, do open a branch in Trinoma or The Block. We absolutely hate the parking system in UP Town Center. It is a labyrinth and a burden to the hungry and impatient.

 

 

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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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Fall Out Guy: Cheesecakes by Guy

eastwoodm, cheesecakes by guy review

Anything with the word “Cheesecake” is enough to get me off my lazy bum, so a drive to Eastwood albeit Katipunan traffic is tolerable… for the first 10 minutes.

However, the promise of cheesecake is so enticing, we waive all horrible external factors and hum to the sound of dessert.
cheesecakes by guy where to eat

Cheesecakes by Guy was the choice lunch destination because of its novelty and of course, cheesecakes. Before lunch proper, that’s right, we had already ordered the cheesecakes. Not pre-ordered. Ordered alongside our coffee accompaniment.
dessert quezon city

The Red Velvet Cheesecake is a rogue presence and just screams “Order me!” Its cream cheese and red velvet combination is perfect with coffee, though more on the dry side.
jenina gonzales blog food

The Chocolate Cheesecake is meant for those who’ve declared war on their diets. Whilst it does manage to kill off any sugar craving, it is best enhanced by its Iced Cappuccino to temper any excess sweetness. Again, my only comment is that it is a bit high on the dry department.

cheesecakes by guy coffee The coffee drinks are freshly made and perfectly arranged. I asked my syrup to be placed on the side (vs mixed) and that did the job of maintaining the bitter punch which I like with my cheesecake.
eggs breakfast cheesecakes by guy

The Salmon Benedict was a pair of glistening perfection (for the eggs). All right to the taste, but nothing remarkable to comment on. Between cheesecake and this though, you know who the winner will be.
blog cheesecakes by guy

The Spinach and Goat Cheese Omelette was made of purely egg whites, so the omelette was tender and light. As an egg loving person, it was okay but I wonder where the  yolks went. The overall dish is minimalist, so do not expect to get overly full from this protein package – which is why the cheesecakes are there on display!

Overall the Cheesecakes by Guy experience was uniquely filling. I had cheesecake for appetizer, and nothing beats dessert going first! I hope there will be a next time–like the call of the green tea cheesecake!

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Binondo Food Tripping

Manila food trippingBeen hearing a lot of buzz and drone on food trips, walking tours and whatnot in Binondo, Manila. Like it’s the new tourist hub of Manila, when everyone has had their fill of ramen and tonkatsu – which is kinda funny since Binondo has been there for like, forever.

Ying Ying Restaurant Binondo Manila

 

I can remember visiting Chinatown when I was a kid, and they were not food trips per se. Actually, my lola never really reached the popularity of that term, but she knew the essence of #foodtriptayo circa 80s, when we frequented Ongpin for Crispy noodles, fresh lapu lapu, century egg, and The Shrimp Balls of my childhood grease. Ah yes, and that was the time that awesome Milo Bar was sold in Manila, chunky and large, not like the ones we have today. #bestchildhoodever

Today though, Binondo remains to be the bustling center for legit Chinese delicacies and products from, where else, China. Of course 168 presents Divisoria merchandise in a mall-friendly fashion, not to mention the construction of Lucky Chinatown for those who just want a basic mall, but Old China is still very much in the air, with the kalesas, structures and of course, the food!

While I’m not food tripping addict, I just happened to pass by and eat. No walking tour or immersion whatsoever. Nothing planned, happened to get hungry so eat, pay and get out.

Binondo Food trip jenina gonzales

Ying Ying Restaurant is a multi-level restaurant that looks ho-hum from the outside, a bit crowded upon entry, and just really bustling with moving people and servers. It’s all right though, so long as you’re seated quickly to avoid headbutting beer bottles or chicken feet.

Vegetable dumpling

The menu is filled with so many interesting items, you will swear there must be an imminent visit. Unfortunately Ying Ying did not have Peking Duck (that day), but there were hordes of other dishes to discover and try, like all sorts of dimsum and single-serve appetizers in those staple saucers.

Ying Ying Binondo Review

Hakao Binondo Manila

The Hakao was delightfully fresh, while that Vegetable Roll was definitely a mysterious pocket of hodge-podge veggies. I spied mushrooms and carrots–and since it goes well with the usual calamansi and soy sauce–just great!

Toasted Noodles Ying Ying

where to eat binondo

The toasted noodles with chicken looked strange, outside its soupy form, so we enjoyed it al dente, bordering on the pancit side. The sizzling oysters is perfect for a lunch siding, or just pulutan. It was so flavorful, it may have contributed to the taste of my pancit-like toasted noodles turning it into a seafood fest.

Mix and match, and yes, end with a cup of tea–or make that two!

 

Binondo restaurant review

Tasty Dumplings is so close to the Binondo Church, it makes sense to have a tasty snack there after Mass.

Now that I’ve typed the word “tasty” twice in one sentence, I take it I’m not allowed to use it in the next paragraph or people might think my vocabulary just went down the drain from eating too much dumplings.

chinese food manila philippines

So this restaurant seems to be known for its breaded pork chop / chicken chop because people seem to order it a lot. It’s the batter, probably like those hoisiny Taiwanese batter that when deep fried, leaves off that awesome crunch. That’s it.

And it goes well with rice or noodles, the latter I purposely chose because would you just look at the size of that bowl?!

My chicken leg noodle order (seriously, the part was specified in the menu) was really filling and contrary to how it looks like, was far from gagging salty.

Tasty Dumplings Binondo

We had that kuchai (?) vegetable siding which looks like dilis but in reality tastes like fermented sweetened stems. Might be an acquired taste, but not for now.

If I were to come back, it would be for the dry noodles or more dumplings this time. As you can see, I am a sucker for dry noodles / pancit, or maybe it’s just the heat.

I know that there are so many other joints to discover and conquer in Binondo, so I should probably call this the first leg of the food trip. Chicken leg. Yeah.

Ah yes, there really should be more than that first leg huh. Maybe some duck, soy milk and like real vegetables. #WillStopNow

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Piece of Cake

cake dessert manila

Of course we know that nothing in life is just a piece of cake. Either it’s a box, a giant slice, a mouthful – but never a wee bite!

Turns out I’ve been hoarding photos in my phone (you hoarder!), which have never seen the light of day. Oh those calories! They need to be let out, to tease and to torture others, not just me!

And so here’s the cake collection as of late, a bit of gelato, but mainly sweets and those treats that keep you up at night.

Starbucks Classic Chocolate Cake: Always a classic, decadent and available. The best pick-me-up for doomsday. Isn’t that everyday?

Manila philippines best desserts

Starbucks Toffee Nut Slice: Invented that holiday name since I forgot its ultra long name that even the barista cannot remember. Cheap and not too sweet, Starbucks’ budget friendly response to the hungry Scrooge–that was me!

lazy black cat manila blog

2nd’s Frozen Hazelnut Cheesecake: Topped with a Ferrero ball, it gets creamier and creamier after every bite. More foamy than hazelnutty, feed only to the underweight.

2nd's Bonifacio global City

Village Tavern Carrot Cake: Oozing with cream cheese, the cake is carrot comfort saviour. Moist and chunky, rabbits will go wild and die of OD – on sugar. Good thing I’m more of a cat, you know.

dessert bonifacio highstreet

New Orleans Bourbon Street Mudpie: Zero ice cream, 100% cake.The sweetness level goes overboard so either have the beer or the cake; make no mistake of having both, especially on date night!

fort bonifacio bar dessert

Starbucks Guilt Free Cheesecake: Looks bland but the amusing layers offer vanilla, chocolate and oreo. For a sugar free creation, that’s quite a spectrum and a let’s-pretend-I’m-on-a-diet treat!

Sugar free cake

Caffe Ti Amo Waffle and Gelato: For an often-overlooked joint Caffe Ti Amo has become a haven for the hiding, criminals and anti-socials who linger in Greenbelt 5. The gelato is spectacular, simply because they offer Green Tea. That’s it. Oh, and they have a rocking chair. Beat that.

Greenbelt 5 dessert

makati food

That’s it for my recent phone uploads. It’s been a blast and I look forward to more leviathan servings of cakes this year–starting tomorrow!

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To be or to Chelsea

serendra restaurant

Having a collection analogous terms, “Chelsea” can spur quite a debacle in our household.

Imagine the common name, like say, Chelsea Clinton or Chelsea Dagger. Then here comes the futbol fanatic saying he adores Manchester United and that Chelsea FC is bleh. All right, understandable.  Not to be forgotten, we next get a smothering list of London and NY related places, which are more than a handful.

Oh, the Chelseas of Webster! No wonder Wikipedia can’t get enough of you!

lazy black cat review restaurant

But really now, being a food blogger in Manila, when I say Chelsea, it can only mean one thing: Chelsea Market & Café, at Serendra, Bonifacio High Street (there’s another at Podium). Sure, it’s a copycat version of the “real” Chelsea (NY) but what can I do, I live in the Pacific so I have to make do with what I can access logistically.

To be honest, I did not want 2013 to end without having visited Chelsea Market & Café. What a silly wish, you might wonder, but for a northern dweller like myself, trips to BGC can be quite arduous. Luckily I did get my wish –  that was 3 days before the New Year –  one cloudy Saturday (or the last for 2013), we finally hopped in our car and decided that yes, Chelsea it is!

jenina gonzales blog food

I did make a reservation 2 days before, but the bookkeeper seemed to be lost in his own battle with his body piercings, so that reservation was made in vain (and his chunky planner may have been a spells book in disguise, I did not bother to inspect). Good thing we were quite early and managed so secure a couch adjacent to the IKEA wall. If IKEA were to partner with a restaurant, this would be it.

Bonifacio Highstreet restaurant cafe

Before orders were made and inquiries tossed around, let me tell you that the place already screamed of slow service. It was in the air—oh, and my nefarious instincts are rarely wrong! Slacking pace—New Yorkers would have a riot on this objectionable trait!

When the order taker finally came to mind—perhaps perked up a bit with a sip of Red Bull—our orders came crashing in. The hunger we kept to ourselves suddenly materialized and out came words like pizza, confit, warm water, cheese, red wine, and no, make it 5 cheese! It was a mess of a notepad.

appetizer chelsea market cafe

To top off the chaos, my auntie decided to twist things a bit more—had the pasta sauce changed from pesto (Oven-Roasted Seafood and Tomato Cream Pesto) to Marinara. It was an entirely new dish—and the chef permitted this common abomination we like to call Seafood in the Red. Really now, it was just a bit of Ragu mixed with seafood and voila, customer service at its finest! As for gastronomic satisfaction, I leave that to the lucky diner—not me!

appetizer chelsea serendra

For starters we had a wee serving of the Warm Gorgonzola Dip with Vegetable Sticks and Potato Wedges. I am not kidding when I say “wee” since each vegetable type must equal 4 servings and not a sliver more, except for the caper—but who likes capers? The potato wedges came in a bit of abundance in proportion, so we thank the chef for this oily bounty. The gorgonzola dip was warm and creamy with this hearth flavor, but with a very small amount of vegetables for dipping, all that good cheese was left to waste.

salad chelsea fort

The Roasted Garlic Portobello Mushroom Confit came in a surprise platter because what landed on our table was a nest of arugula—lovely! Underneath the rocket forest came the sweet and succulent Portobello which made hearts out of our eyeballs for a nanosecond. With pesto spritzes, shaved cheese and cherry tomatoes, this made the gorgonzola dish hide in the shame of its scarcity.

pizza pasta fort restaurant

The Pizzas (All Meat and Five Cheese) came in thin crust variety and were consistently topped with arugula. Now I know whose pantry to raid when the arugula stocks in groceries are depleted, which is like, always.

vegetarian pizza bonifacio fort

The Five Cheese Pizza has that star beside its name in the menu, so I figured it should be the better pizza—not! Well, it tasted so-so and hmmmm-kay—for a Chelsea dish. It wasn’t that spectacular and was served not-so-piping-hot. Even the wee slices of apples alongside the arugula could not make a difference—since they were miniscule to begin with. Had I known it would be a mediocre cheese dish, I might have gone for that Greek Panko salad instead. At least the cheese on that one is more, apparent.

j.anne gonzales blog food

When the Southern Style Cornflake and Oatmeal Crusted Fried Chicken came, it looked like something that came from grandma’s kitchen. Still with arugula and potato wedges, the breading is a meal on its own—cracking sweet and oaty! A good pairing with the sickly pizza.

steak salad fort restaurant

Just a photo of the Grilled Roasted U.S. Rib Eye Steak, though nothing can be said about it. If you press for information, call my Ossan, but I really, really doubt if he can give any helpful input. Best he could say is: It did not go with red wine. Because really, it did not go with red wine. I warned you.

fort bonifacio restaurant menu

Despite a heavily starchy lunch, we still went for dessert. A trip to the Fort necessitates the hoarding of more calories, to bring us home safely, and with the chiller so close to our table, EQs are lost as hunger surges once again.

best cheesecake manila

100% mine, the New York Chocolate Chip Brown Cookie Dough Cheesecake. Longest name in the bunch with perhaps a proportionate amount of saturated fat. With cheesecake interspersed with cookies and more cookie dough in the base, it was cheesecake heaven until I finished half the slice. The other half called for tea and a kilometer of walking. Still, I persisted and finished the damn slice. Pretty damn good—but I doubt if I can take on this challenge again!

ice cream gelato dessert bonifacio

The others had the Super Ice Cream Sundae, Nocciola Gelato and that  Four Layer Toblerone Torte.

dessert serendra fort

The Ice Cream Sundae is Super because of the obvious add-ons, most of which seemed to be cream. If you’re a fan of cream and just 2 scoops of gelato, you will delight in this. If you hate cream like me, get a cake.

cake dessert chelsea

The Four Layer Toblerone Torte has repetitive layers of that cake/merengue and crème filling. The novelty is in the height and not the assortment of the layers, if you’re thinking Mango Bravo. If you like uber sweet and Toblerone, go for it. Otherwise, check the menu for something that summons your dark gluttonous self.

lazy black cat review food

Our local Chelsea experience can be summed up as a calorific, overpriced slacker’s meal. The food was on the mediocre side and did not exactly fire stars from my eyes. Whilst we know the ingredients were of the supreme and fresh kind (well I do hope so), the overall package is not worth waiting for again.

So if you’re going to summon New York, that hurry-that-pace-and-move-in-a-flurry because that’s how they are in we-hate-waiting East Coast—then our local Chelsea will freeze you in time and you better pop in a microwave dish instead.

food trip manila

But since I’m in the New Year positive chakra forgiving mood: As for Chelsea Market & Café, you’re almost there; buy a watch with a timer and get back to me once you remember to serve the Toblerone Torte. (Yup they forgot about it.)

Fair enough, yow.

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Throwback Baguio

lazy black cat philippines

My last Baguio trip was such a #tbt, I was young, naturally black haired and still a carnivore.

In my recent trip, I had to summon Dora the Hexplorer and take on the defensive, as it was my first time to ride a bus alone, to the north (#whattaloser). Still, with the promise of vegetables and that December chill, 6+ hours of Victory Liner was worth the pain in the butt, so to speak. 

Baguio travel j.anne gonzales

If you are expecting photos of mountains, camps and a lion’s head, sorry to burst your bubble, but I can be the pain in a butt of a tourist—too lazy to take out my phone and too indifferent to Mother Nature and her call for a #selfie.

Besides, with all the Baguio tourists doing the cliché and falling for the tourist traps, Google is sure to be flooded with #myawesomebaguiotripphotos and #baguiowiththebarkada or #ilovebaguioiwannalivehere. I wanna live in Baguio too but I can’t live with only one mall, which happens to be SM.

 Baguio travel trip

Prior to this journey, I managed to read a blog or two on where to eat and unconsciously remembered 3 names in my mental meal list: Bliss, Oh My Gulay and Azotea (OM, or is is Azalea? Apathy?) You can probably guess that the last item was not the one we visited. For the love of all things green, this may have even been named Amber! Not.

 Baguio session road vegetarian

Oh my Gulay! (Seriously!)

jenina gonzales food review

 Positioned on a rooftop along Session Road is Oh My Gulay! A green-ish habitation-cum-art-gallery, it is a resting place for vegans, hipsters, artist wannabes—and lost bloggers. For a monstrously named restaurant, it looks like Alice in Wonderland meets Goth meets Misty Day, which makes it oh-so-cool in my Baguio eats list.

 baguio vegetarian restaurant

baguio restaurant

The price range is also so-sooooo-cool, perhaps being in Baguio, with P100-200 per “pwede na” serving size of pasta or entrée. Since we had the habit of walking to and from places—feeling Hong Kong—we skipped the cab, burned calories and had every excuse to load on carbs!

 onion rings baguio

The Onion Rings came with this savory Asian (tempura) dipping sauce that I wanted to finish with a teaspoon. Lightly crisp but a bit on the oily side, I’d say onion lovers would cry in delight with the size of the onions inside!

 Oh My gulay vegetarian

The Mushroom-onion Crepe was a strange choice, but was filled with stringy mushrooms and topped with this fabulous yogurt-garlic sauce. The crepe is a bit on the sweet side so treat it with dessert-ly reverence and it will pay you back with healthy digestion.

 Food trip baguio

The simple sounding Tomato-pesto pasta is the plain Jane in the pasta list. Still, it was a hefty serving for two, came with a bit bloated noodles and had that sweet tinge of—strawberry or sugar?  The slight chunks of tomato and basil strips made this one chunky vegetarian fest.

 Oh My Gulay Baguio

All in all, being part vegetarian, it is a comfort to find places such as this. Not having to ask if there is meat in the dish or if it’s vegetarian—ah yes—now that’s living the life, vegetarian style!

 baguio nice restaurant

Forest House (More of cabin in the woods, sans the horror, gore and bad acting.)

The Forest House is located near Camp John Hay (or within it?) and true to its name is a house-cabin that will welcome you with wooden interiors, thick carpets, a real life burning fireplace, families singing, warmth, joy and hope—you know what I mean! They have a veranda that exposes you to the natural cold, so if you don’t have a sweater at hand, you really should not have visited Baguio—or better yet, just stay inside. I don’t think they allow guests to roast s’mores but you can try.

 restaurant camp john hay

Baguio restautant

I was tempted to order soup but realized that I was better off having dessert (that’s called compromise), so the appetizer ended up being something as normal as Calamares. The drawback of sitting in the veranda is that food gets cold before they even reach you, so I suppose ordering calamares was not that bad of an idea.

 camp john hay restaurant

Main course was Baked Fish with Spicy Ginger Paste and mashed potatoes on the side. For a part vegetarian, I am bound to lose in the guess-that-vegetable game, since I learned that I am actually a vegg-ignoramus. Well, carrot is a given but that white one is so not turnip. What the heck is labanos?!?

The dory was a bit on the salty side so good thing the mashed potato was unsalted. It suddenly felt like Forest House – Asian edition. Good enough.

Dessert Forest House 

For dessert was the Black and White Torte, which I chose over cheesecake and chocolate mousse. This came in 3 layers of monochrome madness, the middle layer being the best. The top portion is not cheesecake but was like a creamy vanilla yema, if that makes sense. Very filling, I dare not think of the calories. Still it was an awesome way to cap my chill meal!

 j.anne gonzales travel

Other Baguio treats were present but did not warrant photos (#tootamad) such as the staple Good Shepherd sweets (I bought chocolate chip oatmeal cookies—how mainstream, I know!), Solibao (Filipino restaurant but I had Fish and Tofu in Tausi Sauce), Baguio Country Club raisin bread (ate it for 3 days straight) and the freshest strawberries in the Philippines.

Philippines market

philippines baguio travel

 Baguio Lazy Black Cat

Ever heard of Sno Cone? Well you’ll never taste it, but it makes a great vintage photo.

Lastly, a trip would not be complete without my personal souvenir. Ah yes, weapon of choice: the wooden Kershaw! Thanks Gambit! 🙂

 baguio kershaw

Till next time, Baguio! May I still have the same hairstyle during my next journey.

lazy black cat baguio

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Take a Lucca

UP Town Center Bread Pastry Dessert

My name is Lucca, and I live on the first floor of the U.P. Town Center – the busiest part of Quezon City.

Lucca is this newly sprouted bread-pastry place; call it a bakery or local pastry shop. Name it your sweet hang-out or whatnot, just don’t sing about Luka because she lives on the 2nd floor!

Since this name-calling business can be stressing, I will just let Lucca be Lucca. You can liken it to Bread Talk-meets-Slice-meets-French Baker. Go figure.

pizza food sweets lucca

Even if it serves all sorts of pastries, cookies, and cakes, Lucca is not just that dessert place. I believe there are other unsweet items in the menu, but those fail to register in my interest radar at the moment. I hear the pizza is so-so, so you can skip that.

cheesecake quezon city katipunan sweets

The cookies and brownies though (they have Oreo brownies–cool), for their price range, are reasonably worth it. Hefty enough for a meal and pretty enough as gifts, Lucca can be my new Mercato, if you know what I mean.

Up Town Center food restaurant

They have cakes too, and I bravely had a slice of the 5 Layer Chocolate Cake to-go. Being new, they packed up my slice in that plastic microwaveable container that makes me look like those moms who bring home left overs from friends’ parties.

And it sucks to look like the hoarding kind, so I ate my to-go slice outside of Lucca, as curious passers by stared at my ugly plastic box, probably wondering which home I stole that from. Cake thief!

Lucca 5 layer chocolate cake lazy black cat

The 5 layers of chocolate are all the SAME ganache-like creamy chocolate that was on the safe yet delectable side. It was crusted with what I first thought was Oreo bits, but turned out to be more like crisp cake crumbs. Still, the cake was moist and veered from the too-sweet-teeth-chattering episode, so buying a whole cake is something I may do when I get stressed, depressed or just plain bored.

Lucca does serve cheesecake, cupcakes and other cakes worth trying.

Cheap and lovely to look at, even if you drop them, you can very well afford them anyway! 

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No-no to Momo Cafe!

blog quezon city restaurant

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.

quezon city eastwood mall restaurant

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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So Slap Me! (Slappy Cakes)

eastwood slappy cakes j.anne gonzales blog

Cooking pancakes is a skill I am least capable of, next to sign language and texting while driving. Even with Aunt Jemima’s big motherly love, I have created poorly shaped, stiff as cement and just “blech” quality pancakes, if there is any quality at all to my work.

So finding myself in Slappy Cakes, make-your-own pancake mecca, remains to be a conundrum.

 pancake menu slappy cakes

However I found myself not being a fire hazard to the place and painstakingly spending time with my  fancy creations. Perhaps it was that nasty griddle that made cooking life an easy peasy task.

blog slappy cakes

Yes my dear Watson and readers, there is available syrup on the table.

jenina gonzales pancake 

Slappy Cakes is that place wherein you actually pay a premium to make your own pancakes (your choice of batter, fixins, syrup and toppings). The result is a dish you can never complain about—because you made it yourself! That’s the catch!

 buttermilk whole grain pancake batter

They give you a 225 oz bottle where you squirt, slap and paint the griddle with whatever you fancy. Splatter it with your choice of toppings and eat like a messed up kid.

slappy cakes manila

philippines slappy cakes

Being plain weird, I chose the whole grain batter with chocolate chips. The result is a chocolate chip-digestive pancake that was not too sweet but was soft (and slightly undercooked as I was hungry). Many may dislike my multigrain choice for its gritty and slightly salty taste but I liked it just fine.

lazy black cat manila pancake

I may be lazy, but I make a mean Chocolate Chip Digestive.

The buttermilk batter with combo #1: Blueberry and Lemon Curd seemed to satisfy my companion but claims it was enhanced by the toppings and syrup (there is free syrup on the table which will do if you are not from Canada anyway and in demand of the real maple syrup). Hence, without these sweet add-ons, the batter on its own might be on the bland side.

 pancake multigrain blueberry manila

I agree. If the batter was so good, then this should be batter heaven and Slappy Cakes would not make as much money from its bacon, sour cream, white cheese, maple syrup, blueberry, bananas, etcetera. Mr. Slappy would go poor from selling batter alone and as they say, a pancake isn’t a pancake without the “others”.

Okay I just made that up.

pancake manila slappy cakes make your own

J for “Jemima Wannabe”

There is a vegan batter that is also available, not to mention eggs and potatoes. Back to the vegan batter, I wonder how it will taste and if I could pair it with mushrooms and white cheese. If ever that concoction proves to be a gastronomic success, then it would be my turn to slap anyone!

make your own pancake philippines

When we TRY to be creative, we end up eating raw, burnt or just oddly shaped items.

Seriously, that vegan batter—I JUST HAVE TO TRY! I will be getting green dreams until then.

Philippines quezon city slappy cakes

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