“This is the book that I’ve always wanted to write.” I told Amy Besa, co-author of Memories of Philippine Kitchens, a book of Filipino stories and recipes gathered from all over the country.
“I get that a lot,” she replied with a sweet smile on her face. She was about to sign the book, so she asked, ”What’s your name?”
“GJ,” I said. “I’m a food blogger. I blog about my lola’s recipes.”
“That’s great! You should write a book too!” she said. And that’s the same message that she scribbled as she signed her name on the title page.
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I had the privilege of working in the provinces of Mindanao and Visayas a few years back which gave me the opportunity to savor varieties of local cuisine. Inihaw na manok and baboy (roasted/grilled/barbecue pork and chicken) in particular have flavors that are as diverse as the names that they are known for.
Personally, I am a huge fan of Inihaw na Liempo. Roasted chicken – I can live without. But without good ol’ pork liempo, I’d rather be a vegetarian.
Despite the different names they are known for, I love all of them! This is one of the so many things that I miss since I went back to Manila. The good news is, Zugbu Liempo is here to satisfy my cravings for Cebu’s distinct flavor. It has two specialties: Inihaw na Liempo and Litson Manok.
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When Tristan Mirasol of Ten Minutes Tops e-mailed and invited me to join the Bloggers Buffet last Thursday, I was hesitant for several reasons. First, my food blog is a Filipino food blog, and I would like to stay away from non-Filipino dishes as much as possible in order to remain faithful to my niche. Second, my food blog is a recipe blog, which makes it different from many local food blogs out there. I only feature a few selected restaurants here and there because I would like to maintain at least ninety percent of my blog posts to be purely recipes. Third, there was a deluge in the entire Metro Manila because of a severe weather disturbance.
Needless to say, I couldn’t say no. This is because, despite my love for Filipino food, I still jones for a hefty serving of good ole’ American food every now and then. And this is what Carol’s Texan 5 is all about.
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What better way to bond with friends than a night of good food and cold beer? This was exactly what happened last Tuesday when I had the chance to hang out again with Jackie, my high school best friend, and Bong, her hubby, together with the newlyweds Michael and Kabbie, at their newly opened restaurant.
Located in one of those quaint neighborhoods in Cubao, Betong’s Pinoy Sarap was born out of a group of friends’ search for that perfect restaurant. Perfect and personalized, in a sense that Betong’s menu was based on several dishes that the owners have personally enjoyed from some of the more popular restaurants in the metro. With the aim of having a one-stop place where it has all the things that they want, they made a shortlist of their favorite dishes, added some personal touches, and voila! Betong’s was born.
Bong Del Rosario, owner
The place has a warm, clean feel without the fancy wall decorations or flush atmosphere, where you can just simply dine and unwind. It is convenient and relaxed which makes it an ideal alternative to your barkada’s usual tambayan.
The house specialty is Salmon and Bulalo, although Bong said that their best sellers are the barbecues which many of their neighborhood patrons always order to go. The prices of their food are very affordable without sacrificing the quality and the taste. For instance, an order of Pork Barbeque is only P20, a bottle of beer is only P35 – not bad especially for those who are on a tight budget.
Sinigang na Salmon in Miso is one of the house specialties. This dish is a great starter because of the freshness of the fish and sourness of the sinigang is just about right. It’s invigorating and flavorful. Best for the soup lovers!
This was my first time to try Tinomok and I have to say it had become my instant favorite. Bong explained that Tinomok is a dish from the Bicol region. Its primary ingredient is coconut meat cooked until its natural oil comes out. It also has a special kind of bagoong which are brought directly from Bicol. Its taste resembles that of Laing, but there’s a difference in texture since Laing has leaves of gabi (taro leaves).
Another favorite of ours was the Pork Sisig. But unlike any other sisig, it’s not purely made of pork innards. Its main ingredients are pork meat and pork skin cooked to a crispy perfection despite the absence of the sizzling plate. It’s not soggy in contrast to other restaurant’s sisig. Drizzle it with Betong’s special secret sauce and you got yourself a ticket to pure awesomeness. Best beer match ever!
Next on our list is Inihaw na Liempo and Pork Barbeque, two of their best sellers. Personally, I am a barbeque fan. I love eating it as much as I enjoy preparing it. I was expecting that the Liempo and the Pork Barbeque would taste the same since, well, they’re both pork and they’re both grilled. Surprisingly, they didn’t! The Liempo was savory and spicy while the Pork barbeque was sweet and tangy which is great because you have choices. No need for sauces, they’re perfect as it is. Unless you wanted to spike it up a bit, you may add some chili and calamansi. No wonder they’re the best sellers.
Beef Kaldereta is one of those dishes that always remind me of fiesta. In preparing kaldereta, one of the things one must keep in mind is to make sure that the meat is cooked tender. Betong’s version passed this test. More than that, the beef was also succulent and the sauce was enticing making you want to order an extra serving of rice.
But that’s not all! Aside from the great meals they offer, Betong’s also has a function room equipped with KTV, air conditioning unit, and a white board where company and group events can be held. Be it formal gatherings, corporate meetings, or birthday parties, Betong’s can surely provide your needs.
Visit Betong’s Pinoy Sarap at Suite 101 2RF3 Building 262 Ermin Garcia, Silangan Cubao, Quezon City. If you’re coming from EDSA, go straight to Aurora Blvd and turn left to the corner before Anonas. You will notice Betong’s on the left side of the street.
For reservations and events, you may call 911 6115.
You may also want to visit their website at www.betongs.com
where you can sign up for free membership and avail of fantastic discounts.
I think I gained a few pounds from last night’s event.
Carnation, popularly known as the cooking milk, together with Mega Publishing, held a bloggers food feast called Good Eats! last night at the Buenisimo restaurant at the Eastwood Mall.
The yummy occasion was hosted by Issa Litton with the new face of Carnation products, Chef China Cojuangco of My Favorite Recipes (QTV11).
The event also featured the dishes of Chef Gino Gonzales, owner of Buenisimo, as prepared by Chef Chris, Chef Aris, and Chef Toto.
They concocted six dishes for us. For the main course, we had Lengua Legislativa, Croquettas de Pollo con Huevos with Aioli, Tri Color Pasta with Salmon Cream, Canadian Glazed Ham. For the dessert, we had Chocolate Truffles and Sweet Corn Panna Cotta.
The fun part was, we didn’t only get to taste and savor the smorgasborg of food on our table, we also get to play as food critics for the night by rating the meals we were about to have, then a winner dish was chosen at the end of the event. The participants also get to compete in a food photo contest where the bloggers took pictures of the dishes, uploaded them to Carnation’s Facebook page
, and let the people judge which one is the best by “liking” their choice.
Before the food tasting fest, China had a short cooking demonstration. She prepared Beef Fillet with Peppercorn Sauce. It’s basically like Beef Stroganoff without the mushrooms. And, of course, made more special with Carnation Evaporated Milk.
For the main event, we were asked to take pictures of the foods before we were able to devour the delectable dishes prepared for us by Buenisimo’s talented chefs. We can use the pictures for posting on our blogs and for the food photo contest later on. While eating, we wrote our scores on a score card provided which were tallied and announced before the end of the event. Here are some of my takes:
Canadian Glazed Ham
The meat itself was tender with just the right amount of fat to glaze it. It’s not too salty and not too sweet, unlike some of the holiday hams that you can buy from a supermarket. It’s a good idea that the chef did not bathe the ham with the honey sauce, hence the sweetness is not overpowering.
This lengua dish was the surprise winner of the night chosen by the participating bloggers. On my card, it actually had the highest score tied with another crowd favorite, the Chocolate Truffle. Lengua Legislativa had a familiar taste which can be compared with Caldereta. Personally, what made me like it was the tongue meat was really soft you could have sliced it using the blunt end of a knife. One thing was missing though — a plateful of hot steaming rice!
Croquetas de Pollo con Huevos with Aioli & Tri Color Pasta with Salmon Cream
Croquetas de Pollo con Huevos with Aioli means Chicken & Egg Croquettes with Aioli. Aioli is a special sauce made from garlic and olive oil. The golden brown chicken/egg croquette was crispy on the outside, but it held together to prevent breaking into crumbs. The inside is quite interesting, though, because the texture was soft with the consistency of a mashed potato. The aioli sauce is a perfect partner.
Tri Color Pasta with Salmon Cream, meanwhile, tasted like your homemade straight from the can and fridge Tuna Carbonara. I’m not sure if the chefs used fresh salmon, though I doubt it; it might be possible that they used the ones in cans instead, which would also be fine. The creamy white sauce was fabulous. Its consistency was just right. However, the noodles were no longer al dente upon serving.
Chocolate Truffles and Sweet Corn Panna Cotta
And finally, what else would complete a sumptuous meal other than these mouth-watering desserts. Sweet Corn Panna Cotta was like a crossbreed between our local Maja Blanca and Leche Flan. It’s texture was not of a custard, because the panna cotta’s was more fluid. It’s not too sweet either, which was perfect. This one’s better served chilled.
Chocolate Truffles, meanwhile, has always been a favorite. I was tempted to ask for a glass of red wine while stuffing my mouth with these. But these chocolate truffles were not meant to be swallowed immediately. Take a small bite and allow it to melt effortlessly in your mouth. Enjoy the pleasure it gives while it liquefies between your tongue and palate. Then you swallow. Lick your lips and teeth to make sure you’re not wasting any morsel.
I think I just made you drool, no?
By the way, the last picture is my entry for the food photo contest. I would really appreciate it if you can vote for my picture by liking it on the Carnation’s Facebook fan page. Here’s how:
2. Then, click on this link
and like my photo. Leave a comment if you like.
I would really appreciate your vote. I could use the extra cash for my college education. Thanks a lot.
Finally, Carnation would like to invite you to visit their website at www.cookathome.ph where you can find more amazing recipes brought to you, of course, by Carnation, the cooking milk!