Noms

Jacks Ridge Bihod – Delightful Davao (Part 1)
Today, boys and girls, we start the series we shall call Delightful Davao. One lovely February weekend, the whole family plus 1 flew to the gorgeous city of Davao to be part of a beautiful wedding set in the nearby Samal island.
Because my dad hails from Davao and most of my relatives from his side of the family live there, I would regularly visit the city when I was growing up. My plus 1, however, has never set foot on the land of the vaunted durian fruit. Although we had very little time, he had to be schooled, of course. (Yup, no matter how much he flailed, he has been forced to try durian.)
On our first night, my relatives very kindly welcomed us with a small dinner get-together at the famous tourist spot, Jack’s Ridge. Located on top of Shrine Hills in Matina, you get to enjoy cool weather, historic sites, and a great view of the city skyline. We took advantage of the cool night and dined at Taklobo Restaurant, the main restaurant that boasts of authentic Dabawenyo cuisine.
Bihod (p72.24/100g)
One such dish is the Bihod. It may look like your regular fish viand, but it is anything but. Bihod is your local caviar, a roe of fresh yellowfin tuna eggs is seasoned, grilled and served. You can’t get this delicacy all that often because each female tuna only has two roes (fish ovaries) and it has to be pregnant (so it’s filled with eggs) at the time it is caught. 
I’ve never had the heart to try this dish but plus 1 valiantly tried it for me (and ended up loving it and finishing the entire plate). He says the meat is kind of bitter in a good way (much like laman loob) while having the texture of rigid tapioca. (I yech inwardly.)
The area had loooong flights of stairs. Phew!
Jack’s Ridge is a must-see for Davao first-timers. Besides Taklobo Restaurant, they also have Kai’s Bar and Grill (where beer is p30 during happy hour), Karlo’s Gourmet and Coffee (serving French, Italian, and Mexican dishes), Tap Room Piano and KTV, a pool, and a souvenir shop (perfect for tourists!).

Tune in for the next servings in the Delightful Davao series!

Jack’s Ridge Davao
Location: Shrine Hills, Matina, Davao
Contact details: (63)82-2978830 to 31
Other info: Jack’s Ridge Davao Website; Jack’s Ridge Official Facebook Page

DIY

Microwave Recipes: Fudgy Brownie in a Mug
This fudgy, chunky, chewy, chocolate-y brownie goodness in a mug has earned a lot of ooohs, ahhhs and mmms just last weekend. People are clamoring for the recipe and have even requested for more. And I made it. In 3 minutes.
To pzl ignore the Chowking flyer in the background

So how can a kitchen noob make something this wonderful in the time it takes for one to finish a cup of coffee?

Well, I cheated. Kinda.

Betty Crocker’s Hershey’s Chocolate Chunk Supreme Brownie Mix
I bought this box of instant brownie mix a couple of months back and upon inspection of the kitchen shelves, found out that it was about to expire. The thing is, our oven was busted but I didn’t want good chocolate to be put to waste. Mixing 2 eggs, 1/2 cup of vegetable oil, 4 tablespoons of water with the brownie mix, I ended up with this gloopy mess. I needed an alternative.
Sometime ago, I remember reading a post about baking some flour and cocoa inside a mug to make instant chocolate cake using the microwave oven. Although I wasn’t sure if it was going to work on a brownie mix intended to be baked in an oven, I had to give it a shot.
The rest of the mix
I brought out a couple of mugs and filled half the mug with the brownie batter, popped them in the microwave and guesstimated the cooking time to be 3 minutes. Soon as the timer was done, I took the mugs out (making sure to keep it away from my face lest it explodes) and stuck a toothpick in the middle to check if it was done. Not only was it done, but it was also beautiful.
Cut into squares and you’ll have fudgy microwave brownies!
We tried it as soon as it cooled down and it was just so good. It was the kind of good that you’d have to close your eyes to savor the taste with every spoonful. 

The brownie turned out to be slightly cakier than it would have been if it was baked in an oven but that turned out to be a good thing. The cake-slash-brownie was extra rich and chocolatey, and the hershey chunks made it even chocolatey-er (if there’s such a term).

Fudgy Brownie in a Mug
1 Betty Crocker’s Hershey’s Chocolate Chunk Supreme Brownie Mix
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 tbsp water 

I poured the rest of the batter in a glass container and set the timer on for 7 minutes. Just make sure you only fill half the container to make room for when the mixture becomes fluffy, otherwise, you’ll end up with a rightful mess.
DIY

Jillians Chocolate Chip Cookie Surprise!
One fine morning, I woke up to a text message from a friend of mine saying she sent over some cookies. Of course, after reading the word “cookies”, I shook the sleep off me and headed straight for the dining room and demanded asked where the goodies were.
They were on the table in a big brown paper bag with the note that said “For warm cookies: Heat in  microwave for 5-8 seconds.” I took out the cookies from the bag into a platter, snapped a few photos for posterity and hurriedly popped a couple cookies into the oven.
You see, the creator of these cookies is my friend Jillian Nuñez. For as long as I can remember, Jillian has always been a kitchen whiz who has been known to whip out heaven in various forms of baked sweet treats. This the reason why even before the ding of the microwave signaled that my cookies were ready, I was already drooling in anticipation.
Earlier during the week, Jill showed me a photo of a cookie that she wanted to try to make, for the heck of it. Being the glutton sugar addict that I am, I asked if I could write about it on BaconTunaMelt because I already knew that they were going to be legen -wait for it- dary.
And as expected, they were.
These cookies that I have dubbed “Jillian’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Surprise” may look like your typical chocolate chip cookies to you (albeit larger) but they are anything but typical. As soon as you sink your teeth into the warm treat, you’d know it’s more than your average cookie.
The surprise is in the form of an Oreo cookie hidden inside the chocolate chip cookie coating. It’s a cookie inside a cookie! The chewy and moist chocolate chip cookie coating is a perfect front act to the also chewy and chocolatey Oreo cookie inside. It’s a match made in sugar and chocolate heaven. Perfectly paired with a tall glass of milk and the blues.
Etc.

Groupon Mania in Manila! (Part 2)
Groupons are taking the country by storm! Last November, we wrote about the emergence of groupon sites in Manila and the first few companies who have dipped their toes in that industry. Since then, a bunch of new sites have launched successfully and are offering good deal after good deal. It seems that we Filipinos really like a bargain (I do, for sure). Here are some of the current groupon sites-

1. MetroDeal
Link: http://www.metrodeal.com/
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/biglaanglakad

“Live your city for less.”
Officially launched in January this year. Like most groupon sites, you have to sign up to their database before you can grab your preferred deal. They’re expanding business and will soon offer deals to major cities such as Antipolo, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Davao, Cotabato, Dasmarinas, San Jose Del Monte, General Santos, and Zamboanga.


2. LocalRoam
Link: http://www.localroam.ph/
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/LocalRoam

“Explore your city.”

LocalRoam is the only groupon site that I know off that offered a free deal. A few weeks ago, they offered tickets to the 2011 Food Festival for free, all you had to do was sign up, get the deal, and print out your coupons. They’re also have a forum where you can discuss the deals with the community.

3. Pakyaw
Link: http://pakyaw.com.ph/
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pakyaw.com.ph

“It’s a big deal!”
Using a name in vernacular that means to “buy in bulk, Pakyaw probably has one of the better names (plus it has a nice ring to it). You get a p150 referral fee, if you’ve recommended it to a friend and the said friend avails of a deal. They also have a forum where you can discuss the deals with your fellow Pakyaw-ers. The site says they’re still in beta but they’ve already had a number of (successful) deals.

4. Beeconomic
Link: http://www.beeconomic.com/philippines/
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001404763035

“Sweet deals in the Philippines.”
Beeconomic is under the original groupon site- Groupons, but serves countries in Asia such as Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and of course, the  Philippines. Like Pakyaw, you also get a p150 referral fee that may be used for any of their deals anytime. Pretty sweet.

5. DealGrocer
Link: http://www.dealgrocer.com/
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/dealgrocer

“Offering you a taste of the good life.”
They had a luxurious set of Valentine’s day promos that included a 40% off on a helicopter ride for you and your date. Their main branch is in HongKong and because they also cater to many different countries, you will be charged in US dollars for a deal. It’s nothing to worry about because you see the amount in local currency anyway.

6. Ebay Kuponan
Link: http://kuponan.ebaysocialapps.com/
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/eBay-Kuponan

The worldwide bidding store eBay has also joined this groupon mania by branching out and offering groupon coupons as well. They’ve called it eBay Kuponan, which means “a place to get coupons” in English. They basically offer the same services as the rest, but because it’s eBay, newbs to groupons feel secure that they’re not getting scammed.

7. Ensogo
Link: http://www.ensogo.com.ph/
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/ensogophilippines?ref=ts

“Let’s save together.”
Last, but certainly not the least, is Ensogo. Like Beeconomic, Ensogo is not a local company, it started in Thailand and because of the boom in the industry, they’ve branched out to Manila middle of last year and have been churning out fantastic deals after another.

 

Having this many groupon sites in the country is great for those of us who like getting their money’s worth. Each site offers awesome deals everyday, and all you have to do is watch out for that one you’ve been waiting for. You’d have to visit the sites regularly to make sure you won’t miss out on any of the good deals. Better join all the sites so you get regular emails of their new deals. 

(Read all about Groupon Mania in Manila! (Part 1) here.)

There might be more local groupon sites that I’ve missed, if you know of others, please leave a comment and tell us all about it. Enjoy coupon shopping!

Noms

Best Damned Chocolate Cake Ever
This right here is the best damned chocolate cake on the face of this earth, bar none. Rich, moist, fudgy, soft, and fluffy, Ms. Polly’s Chocolate Cake is just perfect. Perfect with coffee, perfect with milk, perfect for dessert, perfect for just about any occasion or any mood.
I discovered this little gem from a friend who brought one over a few years ago to a potluck party. I didn’t think much of it when I saw it, it was a little square chocolate cake in a simple brown box bought from a gasoline station. Meh, I thought. But as soon as I had a small bite, I was hooked.
Polly’s Chocolate Cake (p495 for an 8×8 cake)
On the whole, Polly’s Chocolate Cake is a cake with no frills. Two layers of spongy cake is separated by thick chocolate icing and then topped off with more of the same chocolate icing.

Typical? No, not really. The icing is thick and tastes of cocoa powder instead of your regular chocolate icing, it’s also not sugary sweet like most commercial cakes are. The cake is extra soft and moist and each bite seems to melt in your mouth.
Best chocolate cake ever!
All this time, I thought that this little piece of heaven on earth can only be bought at Shell Magallanes, where stocks are replenished every day and you can be sure that the cake you’ll get is fresh and moist. It turns out that they have branches in Robinsons Galleria and at the Comissary in Merville, where the prices are cheaper (compared to the one at Shell). They also now deliver to select locations via Quick Delivery.
FYI: The chocolate icing on this cake is particularly fantastic and because icing a weakness of mine, I usually hog cake corners in the thought that they’d have more icing than all other parts of the cake. It is interesting to note that with Polly’s Chocolate Cake, the middle slices have the thickest icing layer in between the cake layers. ~_~

Ms. Polly’s Specialty Cakes and Desserts
Location: 4th Floor Robinsons Galleria, Pasig
Contact info: 703-5058
Other info: Facebook Page; Download official pricelist here

Noms

Fantastic Food Finds at Mercato Centrale
Food markets have gained popularity recently, what with the success of long-running markets such as the weekend Legaspi and Salcedo markets in Makati, the widely known Ortigas night hangout, Banchetto, and the huge Sidcor Market in Quezon City.
The newest one to jump in on the bandwagon is Mercato Centrale at Bonifacio Global City. The market is open every Saturday starting at six in the morning until two in the afternoon. I had the chance to visit last weekend and had a very interesting nom-filled morning.
Mercato Centrale is divided into three sections- “Savory and Sweet”, “Fresh, Organic and Healthy”, and “Hot and Grilled”. The first two tents are airconditioned while the last one is open, it also serves as the dining area. We started off with the “Savory and Sweet” tent where rows and rows of cakes, patries, and various sweets greeted us.
Azuki mochi (p70)
This is a mochi ice cream ball from Mochiko. A mochi is a Japanese dessert made from glutinous rice and molded into balls. They have an assortment of flavors but we chose the Azuki (red bean) one. Typical of Japanese nomz, the flavor is subtle and the serving is light. At 70 pesos a piece, the price is a bit steep for a little ice cream ball but this refreshing sweet treat is worth a try.
The “Fresh, Organic and Healthy” tent had booths that sell teas, organic rice grains, and milk. We got us some fresh cow’s milk and some tea from Teaology for drinking while taking a look around. The third tent and final tent had the grilled nomz and the tables where you can eat. It was just in time for lunch so we parked ourselves on some chairs and enjoyed our nomfinds.
Piri Piri’s Portugese chicken (p180), Offbeat’s Ensaymada Burger (p180), Squidy Corner’s Squid Calamari (p60), and Mad About Spuds Cheesy Potato (p40)
Making up our interesting lunch were some Piri Piri’s authentic Portugese chicken (which was a tad too salty), Offbeat’s Ensaymada Burger (which I talked about some time ago), Squidy Corner’s Squid Calamari (that tasted like Ersao squid <3), and some potato balls from Mad About Spuds. I recently got wind of the news that Midnight Mercato has already started and it runs every Friday night until Saturday morning, 10pm-3am. I can’t wait to go and try out the nomz this Friday!

Mercato Centrale
Location: 9th Avenue corner 30th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
Contact Info: rache@diaz.ph
Other Info: Open at 6am-2pm, Saturdays; Official Website

DIY

Origami and Yema Balls
Following the success of yema balls attempt number two were requests to make more. I figured that if I were to give them away, the yema needed a better presentation than being haphazardly arranged in assorted Tupperware. So the day before making them, I made my way to the nearest mall to find me some fancy containers.
The end result
I was looking to get either those boxes with windows on them or plain old acetate boxes but the search was fruitless. There weren’t any with the dimensions I wanted so I thought to make them myself via plain old origami (see instructions here). I bought a couple of cartolinas and set out to make square boxes and ended up with these.
Origami boxes in BaconTunaMelt colors!
The boxes are a little uneven, but you can barely tell. The big boxes contain nine yema balls each and the small boxes have four yema balls each. Nope, I’m not selling these so if you want some, just leave a message and I’ll see what I can do. 🙂
BaconTunaMelt Yema balls
Etc.

Nomz To Avoid This Valentines Day
Valentine’s Day, also known as Single Awareness Day, is coming right up, ladies and gentlemen. Not a week from now, millions and millions of roses will be plucked, decorated, and delivered to expectant wives, partners, and girlfriends all over the world. 

Restaurants are probably already fully booked for February 14. (If you want to keep your ladyfriends, make reservations as soon as you can. By “as soon as you can” I mean now.) Here on BaconTunaMelt, we won’t be giving you advice on what to wear or what to do on VDay. Instead, we will give you a few very helpful tips on what nomz to stay away from on your date, if you want to keep the romance coming.

(photo from here, but I added the text)

Tip #1: NO CHEETOS

So you and your date decide to watch the most recent chick flick before dinner. For snacks, do not, I repeat, DO NOT get Cheetos. These cheesy, crunchy, corn snacks are the devil. By the end of the film, your lips, your forefinger and your thumb will have turned into bright orange. These cheese stains don’t come off easy too.  Try rinsing it and you’ll still end up with a faint orange tint. You’ll be stuck with orange lips and fingers all night long. Not cool.
Unless you’re this cute, no Cheetos. (photo from here)

BaconTunaMelt says: Get unflavored and unbuttered popcorn instead.

Tip #2: NO BOTTOMLESS ICED TEA

You see, in a date, you’re expected to keep the conversation flowing, you’d regale your date with your own stories and you are also expected to listen to your date’s stories. If you order bottomless iced tea, you’ll keep sipping from your cup and before you know it, you need to take a leak. This cycle keeps repeating itself every 15-20 minutes, depending on your bladder control. After the third time that you break the conversation to go pee, your date would be bored, and there goes your romantic setting.
Having to pee every 15 minutes isn’t cool.
(photo from here)

BaconTunaMelt says: Order a regular sized drink instead.

Tip #3: NO KANGKONG

Fried kangkong in particular. These things are usually bigger than bite-sized, making you look silly when you take a bite and crumbs fall down the side of your mouth. Not sexy. Getting some of the green, leafy, soggy bits of kangkong stuck between your teeth is also not a pretty sight to see. They may be good, but they’re not worth ruining Valentine’s night for. Have them another day.

BaconTunaMelt says: For appetizers, order good ole’ Caesar Salad.

Tip #4: NO OYSTERS

This is pretty obvious. Even though those cheesy baked ones are extremely tempting, you’d have to rememeber that oysters on a Valentine’s day date is a no-no. No matter how tough you think your stomach is, oysters aren’t the easiest to digest. You don’t want to be expelling horrid farts all night long. Plus they’re are usually cooked with garlic, which does not help keep your breath smelling fresh.
NO FARTING PZL! (photo from here)

BaconTunaMelt says: If you’re dead set on having seafood, you can settle for fish, it’s safer.

Tip #5: NO PESTO PASTA

Possibly the worst thing to order on your Valentine’s day date is the common pasta dish, pesto spaghetti. First of all, noodles can be sloppy. You think you’ve got it neatly twisted on your fork and then all of a sudden, a stray noodle unravels and plops messily back to your plate, or worse, on your shirt.
Your second concern would be the sauce. Pesto is usually made from chopped basil leaves mixed with oil and garlic. The soggy bits of garlicky basil gets stuck all over your mouth. They’re in between your teeth, on your teeth, on your lips, on your gums- they’re everywhere! And because they’re oily and chopped up into really tiny bits, they’re a bitch to remove. The smell of garlic stays for a while too. It kinna kills the mood.
You don’t want to be this guy. (photo from here)

BaconTunaMelt says: If you want pasta on Valentine’s day, get an oil-based or tomato-based penne pasta dish.

And there you have it, BaconTunaMelt‘s list of nomz to stay away from come the ultimate date night. Other than these, all you have to remember is to be your charming self and things will (most probably) go well. I hope these tips help you get laid have a great time on Valentine’s day!
Noms

Marina: Of Oysters and Other Seafood
Admittedly, I’m more of a red meat kind of gal. Seafood, no matter how it’s cooked (specially if it’s not not cooked at all), retains a mild fishy taste that I don’t particularly enjoy. So when it was decided that we were headed to Marina for a seafood dinner, I wasn’t excited. That is, until the food arrived.
Lato Salad (p130)
We started the meal with Lato Salad. It looked so unusual that I was extremely wary to try it. These things aren’t cooked, the seaweeds are slightly rinsed with water and then mixed with tomatoes and onions. I’m sure some people have developed a liking for these tiny globules of seaweed that pop salty sea pus in your mouth, but this salad isn’t for me. (I was nearly traumatized.)
Pinangat (p175)
After the salad that left my mouth tasting like I just swallowed a mouthful of seawater, I wasn’t looking forward to the next item on the menu which was the Pinangat. It turns out that the night was looking up. The pinangat is an Ilonggo dish made of ground pork balls wrapped in gabi (taro) leaves and then cooked in coconut milk. Being a fan of nomz prepared with coconut milk, I liked it a whole lot.
Baked Talaba (oysters) (p250)
I was really starting to enjoy the meal after the Pinangat. Things were looking up and the next dish turned out to be the highlight of the night- a plateful of Marina’s special Baked Talabang Ilonggo. A bucketful of fresh oysters are slathered with a healthy amount of cheese, butter and sprinkled with garlic, and then baked and served.
See that? That’s cheese and butter.
It was better than I expected. The plate arrived warm with the enticing aroma of cheese, butter and a hint of garlic playing at your senses. Each oyster shell had a juicy blob of oyster and was filled to the brim with melted cheese and butter that made each bite rich, creamy, and juicy all at the same time. Savoring these oysters made me forget the disaster that’s called Lato Salad. 

Marina’s menu is filled with fresh seafood dishes and Ilonggo specialties all at affordable prices. Their staff is always friendly and the service is quick and they have free WiFi too! Great, now I’m craving for oysters. ^_~

Marina Oyster Seafood Grill
Location: Oakridge Plaza, Paseo de Magallanes, Makati
Contact Info: (02) 851-4204; 0922-8796755
Other Info: http://marina.com.ph/

Noms

Ridiculously Overpriced Chinese Balls
Because yesterday was the Chinese New Year, I wanted to get some tikoy before the day ended. So right after work, I went to the nearest mall to try and find some. Chinese restaurants are a dime a dozen in this country and I figured I wouldn’t have any trouble. Boy, was I wrong.
The mall was about to close and I still couldn’t find any restaurant selling the stuff. I gave up and settled on celebrating the year of the rabbit by having a dinner of Chinese nomz at North Park. They didn’t have tikoy but they did have something called Gabi Butchi on the desserts section of the menu.
North Park’s Gabi Butchi (p67)
It came in a medium-sized plate that was too big to hold the tiny little gabi butchis. At 67 pesos for three butchis, I was expecting something more substantial than three small balls of sticky stuff coated with sesame seeds. Although disappointed at the serving size, I bit into the soft and sticky balls and discovered that they were rather tasty. The gabi sticky stuff was softer and less sticky than usual and it had a tiny bit of salted egg yolk in the middle that served as a nice contrast to the mild sweetness of the gabi.
Don’t get me wrong, I love North Park, particularly their Toast Noodles and the Century Egg with Jelly Fish Salad but their Gabi Butchi, although good, is ridiculously overpriced at p23 a piece.