Selera Highlights Davao Favorites – Durian and Mangosteen

On our last Day in Davao a few months ago, we had plans to have lunch with relatives since our flight wasn’t until late afternoon. Location-wise, we were already near the airport so we opted not to venture far in case of any delays. One of Davao’s premier (and newer) malls, SM Lanang, was just a hop and a skip away from the hotel we were staying at so it seemed like the most logical choice.

SM Lanang is a modern-day mall designed similarly to Taguig’s SM Aura- with glossy interiors, high-end shops, large open spaces, and of course, a good number restaurants to choose from for our last Davao lunch. Being based in Manila, this makes us sort of tourists in Davao, and we wanted (or at least I did) to try out unique Davao dishes instead of the usual ones. This is where Selera Bistro comes in.

Selera Bistro in SM Lanang

Located at the Fountain Court of SM Lanang, home to a row of restaurants overlooking the fountain with a large fixture that reads DAVAO in colorful block letters, Selera’s clean and homey ambiance made it a good choice as any.

It didn’t hurt that their staff nicely offered us to taste their free appetizers and introduced their specialties when they noticed we were hovering outside while looking for a place to eat at. The interior has nice neutral hues of beige and white accented by mahogany shelves and various local artwork, giving for an elegant and pleasant design. But we’re not here to dwell on the design. Let’s get on with the noms, shall we?

Bam-i Noodles (p225), Bacon Wrapped Bagaybay (p260)

We started off with appetizers- the free not-on-the-menu-yet chicken fingers, a plateful for sharing of Bam-i Noodles, and Bacon Wrapped Bagaybay.

I ordered that last one knowing what a “bagaybay” was.  The dish had me at “bacon wrapped”, which is usually a safe choice, albeit not the healthiest. Before continuing, what is most important to note is that I enjoyed it these little salty appetizers. Upon further research (and I mean just now), bagaybay is the term for testicles of a tuna.

Yes, ladies and gents, without knowing it, I ate actual fish balls. And I liked it.

Salpicao (p310), Crispy Pata ala Selera (p465), Crispy Tadyang ng Baka (p375)

Next came the entrees- Salpicao (technically an appetizer), Crispy Tadyang ng Baka, and the good old Crispy Pata. Review? K, k, k. They’re all okay but none stand out particularly. The Crispy Tadyang ng Baka was a lot less crispy than I would have liked, but perhaps that’s a personal reference. Salpicao had some gummy bits, but then again, maybe I’m too nitpicky. The Crispy Pata is yummy as usual, but a little on the small side for the price. They aren’t Selera’s specialties, so I’ll forgive them.

This next one though, is the most unique dish of all, if I may say so. Davao, of course, is known for the abundance of their produce of durian, aka the king of fruits. Selera thought to infuse it with seafood curry, a dish prepared with coconut milk and curry powder (or paste). I thought it would make for an interesting mix.

Seafood Durian Curry (310)

The Seafood Durian Curry definitely smelled of durian, and the flavor of the fruit gave the usually rich, milky dish a slightly bitter taste. While many dislike the strong aroma of durian, I don’t think it’s any worse than the smell of other tropical fruits langka and marang. The distinct flavor and creamy texture of the fruit is more than enough to forget about the scent. However, in this case, it didn’t seem like the flavor complemented the dish. It wasn’t horrible, but I think I would rather keep durian and seafood curry separate. It did make for an interesting combination, thumbs up to Selera for offering a unique mix.

And on to desserts!

Mangosteen Mousse (p138)

The Mangosteen Mousse caught my eye from the get go. I mean, where can you get a mangosteen-flavored dessert in Manila? I’d say probably nowhere. It’s a frothy little number with the distinct sweet and slightly sour flavor of the mangosteen. Nom! The only problem I had with it is that the serving size was way too small, I could have finished it in two spoonfuls.

Thankfully, we had other desserts to share. One of them is the Caramelized Tapioca with Choconut Ice Cream. Sweetened sago is topped with a scoop of chocnut flavored ice cream. It was really sweet, but it’s chocnut ice cream! We gotta live a little sometimes. 🙂

Mangosteen Ice Cream with Biko (p120), Caramelized Tapioca with Choconut Ice Cream (p115)

Last but not the least is another mangosteen-flavored sweet, Mangosteen Ice Cream with Biko. It tasted like a creamy version of a ripe mangosteen. Sweet and sour at the same time. Having biko on the side was also a nice touch, for when you need to take a break from the summery flavor of the ice cream. To top it off, the plate is drizzled with mangosteen syrup, which is nom. You can also choose to not get the biko for a little less.

My aunt said that the word selera means tasty in Malay. It’s a fitting for this bistro, everything was pretty darned tasty. My favorite of the night was Mangosteen Ice Cream. Yum-o!

The good

  • Dishes are infused with unique Davao flavors.
  • Desserts are nommy.
  • Nice staff and comfy ambiance.

The bad

  • Besides the few unique dishes, the rest are just alright.

The bacon

3 bacons! Selera has a distinctly Davaoeno menu that not only caters to tourists, but has enough appeal for locals as well. Prices are not too bad, servings are a slightly on the small size but their menu offers you a unique taste of Davao. Props for thinking up unique dishes!

Selera Bistro

Address: 2nd floor, Fountain Court, SM Lanang, Davao City
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Europe Meets Asia: Desserts Of Uncle Cheffy

By now, Uncle Cheffy is a household name to most. I haven’t tried it until recently but it’s become a go to place for an affordable get together place for many (yuppies). It doesn’t hurt that they’ve popped up everywhere, from Centris Walk to Eastwood to Bonifacio Global City to Nuvali, giving you many options to choose from.

More than the main entries, what my eyes zoomed in on in the menu when I did eventually try Uncle Cheffy were the items in the dessert column. What caught my attention is that they’re European desserts infused with local flavors. Being the sweets junkie that I am, I had to try them all.

Panacotta with Ube Vichysoisse (p110)

First up is the Panacotta with Ube Vichysoisse. A panacotta is a light French dessert that’s made with cream and gelatin. It’s a milky gelatin treat that’s sometimes served with a sweet syrupy sauce, in this case- ube vichysoisse, or kind of like liquefied ube. Ube, for the sake of non-Filipinos, is dessert made from sweet yam, a purple vegetable that’s made into a number of sweets.

This Italian-Pinoy combo made for a delicate dessert that’s neither too sweet nor too heavy. The ube flavor is faint, but this dessert is excellent if you’re feeling full but need something sweet to cleanse your palate from a particularly salty or oily meal (of course, you can just pop a Tic Tac but where’s the fun in that?).

Sweet Potato Creme Brulee (p95)

Another Uncle Cheffy Euro-Pinoy dessert is the Sweet Potato Creme Brulee. Creme brulee is a custard made usually with egg yolk and milk, incidentally not unlike our much loved leche flan, except that the top is torched for a slightly crunchy top layer. Sweet potato or kamote, like the ube, is vegetable that’s usually eaten as dessert, because of its naturally sweet taste.

Uncle Cheffy’s version is made with a sweet potato base, and it’s a little more dense and a little less sweet than your typical creme brulee, maybe because they omitted the caramel syrup that usually comes with it.

Chocolate Parfait On Pandan Crepe (p95)Look at that chocolate cream peeking at you from an unfortunate angle.

Last but not the least is the bestseller, the Chocolate Parfait on Pandan Crepe. Now this is where I got confused without the picture. A chocolate parfait for me is something like a chocolate mousse (not the Red Ribbon cake)- whipped chocolate cream served in a glass. The menu did say it’s served on pandan crepe, which made me think of a triangular crepe served with a sort of mousse to sweeten it up.

What arrived on a dessert plate was a green-colored lumpia like thing with some chocolate peeking out from the side and a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side. Wrapped in the crepe is what I mistook for chocolate ice cream but turned out to be a more-dense-than-frothy chocolate cream. Pandan is a fragrant plant usually used to add a distinct flavor to many dishes and drinks. Unfortunately, the pandan flavor is too weak to make to make a difference.

The bacon

What’s good to note is that these Euro-Pinoy desserts of Uncle Cheffy’s are not too sweet, not too heavy. Each on its own is good to share, specially if you’ve already stuffed yourselves full with Uncle Cheffy’s famous panizzas (which deserve a post all on its own).

Uncle Cheffy

Address: Forbes Town Center, Rizal Drive Fort Bonifacio, Taguig
Contact no/s: (02) 659-8030
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Gigi’s Coffee & Cupcakes

The Promise of the 2 Minute Brownie In A Mug

Because of the success of this old little experiment, I made sure to save this picture that I found for later experimentation. It promised quick chocolatey goodness in under two minutes using very little ingredients. That day came when I was in need of a quick chocolate fix (it always does) and thought to try out this little picture recipe of old.

Brownie in a Mug : Picture absolutely not mine, did a quick Google search and it led me here.

The only substitutions I made from the recipe were canola oil instead of olive oil, plain old water instead of 100% natural spring water, dutch-processed cocoa powder instead of regular cocoa powder, and about 2 tablespoons of chopped walnuts just because.

I dumped in the dry ingredients in a mug, stirred them up a bit, then added the wet ingredients, mixed it until everything was even, topped it with the nuts, and then popped it in the microwave for a minute and a half on high. Easy as pie, eh?

Easy, peasy.

I did the toothpick test to check if it was cooked through, and it was! It was looking pretty good at this point. In my mug was a single serving of a moist and tasty little chocolate brownie “baked” in under 2 minutes, like the recipe promised. Protip: Exercise a little self control and do not attempt to nom right off the microwave. Allow it a couple minutes to rest, for it is hot. Tongue-burning kind of hot. Trust me on this, or trust my tongue at least.

Looking good after less than two minutes on high in the microwave.

Scooping a hefty spoonful out, this microwaved chocolate brownie cake in a mug was warm, moist, and fluffy, like a happy baked treat should be. This is the part where all the good ends. The taste test came next, which in my opinion is the most important portion, and this microwaved chocolate brownie cake thing failed it miserably.

Sure the texture was fluffy, but it tasted more like fluffy brown paste rather than a chocolate brownie. Sure it was moist, but it still tasted like moist brown paste.

Such high hopes it had.

Perhaps, I was expecting a little too much. Chewy brownie recipes usually have a lot of egg in them, this has none. They usually also take a while to bake in an oven, this took me two minutes in a microwave. I guess you just can’t rush delicious.

If you’re wondering what happened next, I chucked out the rest and opened a bar of Nestle Crunch instead.


Is Delimondo really the best corned beef known to man?

Could it be? The contents of this can with plain white wrapper with simple black text bearing only relevant information and nothing extra has been hailed by many online as THE corned beef to beat all corned beefs. Talking about corned beef online? I mean, who social medias corned beef? (can we make “social medias” a verb? It should be.)

Anyway, the simple, no frills packaging is sort of unusual. Food packaging is usually eyecatching, with a buttload of taglines and such to entice possible customers. How many bright red “new and improved” signs do you see in a grocery? (hint: a lot)

No frills packaging.

One morning, I had some leftover rice from the previous night so I decided that it was the perfect time to finally try Delimondo (rice and corned beef, baby!). Here it be, newly opened.

At this point, I was skeptical. I mean no offense but doesn’t that kind of look like wet dog food to you? Gingerly, I scooped some onto a microwave-safe bowl and heated it up for about a minute.  Now usually, I saute canned corned beef in garlic but since the can is labeled “Garlic and Chili”, I opted to nom out of the can (not literally of course).

Something to rave about?

So after all the build up in my head, I was expecting to either be blown out of my mind, be devoid of pannies, or to forget my name after the first bite. My head is still pretty much intact, my grannies are pink, and I know I’m not Miley Cyrus (thank god). It’s not actually bad, in fact, it’s pretty amazing for canned and corned meat of the moo-ing species.

It’s chunky, flavorful, and not a bad fetch at less than P150 per can (it’s a big can, enough for two or more people if eating with rice). It’s also a great meal for when you’re in a hurry and do not want to eat instant noodles. But best corned beef known to man? …maybe. The best title I can give it is “Best corned beef straight out of a can.” That ain’t bad at all.


Purple Oven’s Chocolate Campfire Is Made of Delicious

Mmm, cakes. If there’s anything I would give up my (imaginary) diet for, it’s cake. We recently stopped by the Purple Oven branch over at San Antonio Village to get a cake and oh my, am I smitten. I don’t think I’ve fallen in love with a cake since Polly’s Chocolate Cake, aka the Best Damned Chocolate Cake Ever. What is this new cake which I speak of? It’s none other than Purple Oven’s best seller, the Chocolate Campfire cake.

Muy bien!

Outside is a wonderful blob of white fluff that’s lightly torched, and inside is an ooey, gooey, moist chocolate cake. It seems plain, the combination, yes? White icing on chocolate. But this one is the absolute opposite of plain. One bite of this surprisingly heavy cake is a delicious symphony of marshmallow and chocolate, reminiscent of s’mores, a favorite camping snack, minus graham crackers. So sinful, but oh so worth it. Purple Oven’s Chocolate Campfire cake is the stuff delicious is made of.

The many baked offerings of Purple Oven

Besides cakes, Purple Oven is a bakeshop that’s well known for their revel bars, lemon squares, and other baked treats. If you haven’t heard of them before, you better get on the bandwagon quick. They have branches in Makati, Taguig, Pasig, and Laguna. And I’ll end this post by being the devil and give you a few more pictures to entice you to indulge that sweet tooth with Purple Oven treats.

Cakes, cakes, cakes!
And still more cakes!

Purple Oven

  • Makati- YMCA Bldg., 7 Sacred Heart St San Antonio, Makati
  • Taguig- San Antonio Plaza Arcade, McKinley Rd Fort Bonifacio, Taguig
  • Pasig- 63 St Peter St Oranbo, Pasig
  • Laguna- Solenad 2, Tagaytay Rd cor Nuvali Blvd Santa Rosa, Laguna

Contact Number: (02) 631-422


Bim’s Tips For Almost Perfect Steaks

I’ve always fancied myself a pretty good griller. I’m no Bobby Flay, but I get my grilling done and I usually end up getting things right. Well, that is, except for steak. Isn’t steak supposed to be really easy to cook? Why the hell did I keep getting it wrong? It was always either the meat was too raw, or too well done, or too tough, or too salty. However, very recently, I think I’ve finally found the right combination of factors that will lead to what might be considered a very good steak.

So, here I am, talking about some pointers I’ve learned about making a really good steak. Most of these tips I got from Mike Palacios of Havoc Digital, by the way, who still makes the best goddamned steak ever.

1. The quality of meat is important!

Before we get to actually cooking the meat, you gotta first pick out good cuts. I particularly like the ribeye because of its tenderness and its relatively low price compared to a t-bone or a New York cut, which is the meaty part of the t-bone.

However, if you have some money to burn, pick anything from the loin like the sirloin, the porterhouse, or the filet mignon. Here’s a good guide.

Unfortunately, not all cows are created equal. For some reason, local beef is tough and chewy. I’m not sure if its their diet or the way they’re raised or if it’s just genetic. I find that New Zealand cuts are cheaper than Australian ones, but are also less tender. US meat tends to be more expensive but are probably of the same quality as NZ, if not a little tougher.

Season generously, normally with just salt and pepper but feel free to add whatever you want.

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