Noms

Party at Home With Contis!
My mom celebrated her 54th last weekend (she’ll probably kill me if she knew I posted her age) with a small get-together at home with family and friends. What was supposed to be a birthday lunch at some restaurant in the city became an all-day impromptu party at our house. And because it was unplanned and we needed nomz for at least a dozen or so people on such short notice, we had to enlist the help of our trusty takeout resto- Conti’s, forever to the rescue.
Mama’s birthday spread

Conti’s has always been a lifesaver in my household whenever there’s no one to cook and there’d be guests in the house. You only need to call a day in advance and their ever reliable crew will have your orders ready when you want it. They deliver to your house if your total bill amounts to three thousand pesos or more and they also lend food warmers for a holdout of three hundred pesos per container (your deposit will be given back in full as soon as you return them).

Because we have our own food warmers (my mom’s a girlscout), we brought them to the restaurant and requested that the food be placed on our containers and delivered to our house the day after. The staff obligingly humored this request, that’s how accommodating the people of Conti’s are. Their food, of course, is fantastic. My family wouldn’t keep going back otherwise.

Fresh Lumpiang Ubod (p300, 12 pcs)

One of our favorites is the Fresh Lumpiang Ubod. Fresh ubod wrapped in soft lumpia wrapper and topped with sweet sauce, chopped fresh garlic and nuts. Healthy and yummy, this is one of the few vegetable dishes I truly enjoy.

Paella Madrilena (p435, good for 8)

Another dish served that day is the Paella Madrilena. Paella rice mixed with a variety of seafood, this dish is tasty and filling on its own. A treat for seafood lovers.

Boneless Chicken Barbecue (p470 – good for 8)

One of my personal favorites, the Boneless Chicken Barbecue is tender chicken fillet strips seasoned with mildly sweet barbecue sauce. It’s simple to eat and it goes perfectly with steaming white rice.

Herb-crusted Fillet of Fish (p595 – good for 8)

This one’s for those who like eating light. The steamed meat is easy on the tummy and is sprinkled with basil, corn, carrots, and olive oil.

Garlic Sotanghon (p345 – good for 12)

No Pinoy birthday party would be complete without noodles (for long life!). With a generous amount of chicken strips and a healthy dose of pepper for spice on glass sotanghon noodles, Garlic Sotanghon is another family favorite.

Lengua Estofado (p675 – good for 8)

Lengua Estofado is stewed ox tongue swimming in creamy mushroom gravy. Everyone said it was good but I’m not particularly fond of the gooey texture of tongue sliding down my throat.

Tito Eric’s Schezuan Skinless Shrimp

This isn’t from Conti’s but it was such a bestseller (with me and teh boytoy) that day. My mom’s brother, Tito Eric, made these skinless schezuan-flavored shrimp for the occasion. The name says it all, the shrimp was skinless (with only the head and the tail left to remove) making it extra easy to enjoy the shrimp which was immersed in tasty and spicy schezuan sauce. All shrimp dishes should be skinless, this was delicious!

Choco Walnut Torte (p550)

What would a birthday party be without cake? Of course, the birthday girl had to blow a cake. Mama’s main cake was also from Conti’s- the Choco Walnut Torte. A refrigerator cake with a wafery base similar to that of Conti’s famous Mango Bravo but instead topped with creamy white icing and showered with a dash of walnuts as topping. It’s an unusual (but yummy!) cake that was more than enough to satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth.

All the nomz lasted for the duration of party which started at lunchtime and went on until way past dinner. Conti’s is the easiest way to party at home without having to worry about the hassle of cooking for a large group. Conti’s Pastry Shop & Restaurant (the one closest to our house) is conveniently located along President’s Avenue in BF Homes, Paranaque. They also have branches at Greenbelt 2, Serendra, Trinoma, Greenhills, and also at Solenad, Nuvali.

Conti’s Pastry Shop & Restaurant
Address: 61 President’s Ave., BF Homes Parañaque, Philippines
Contact Number: (02) 807-3388; (0922) 847-3003
Etc.

The Amazing National Food Showdown 2010
The National Food Showdown 2010 with the theme  “A Quest for Culinary Excellence” took place last September 10 and 11 at the A. Venue Events Hall in Makati. Representatives from different top hotels, restaurants, and culinary schools came to showcase their awesome talents and compete against each other in different categories.
The National Food Showdown 2010
We passed by on the second day of the competition and were properly amazed at all the gorgeous and edible displays. Here are some of the lovely displays:

Rows and rows of towering cakes greeted us as soon as we entered. Towering and unusual wedding cakes-

Chocolate overload! Cakes decorated and topped with mouth-watering layers of white, regular, or dark chocolate-

These cakes are entries by students of different culinary schools. Look, it’s a PvZ cake! Also, Nemo and Burger & Fries cakes. Cute!-

One side of the events area was filled with tables of scrumptious hors d’ oeuvres with such elegant presentations. Yum!-

Another area was solely for sugar towers, where the displays were made of hardened sugar molded into different creative scenes. The Casino Royale display won a bronze ribbon and was made by a friend and his crew (Good job!). Look, they also made a Twilight sugar tower complete with models of the characters, lulz-

The last area that we visited was dedicated for professional bread displays. The breads had such intricate details on them and one has to wonder how they were able to do it. Here are some of the amazing bread towers on display that day-
After witnessing the National Food Showdown 2010, I am amazed at the huge amount of talent showcased by many Filipinos in the line of culinary art. The Events Hall of A. Venue was filled with fantastic display after fantastic display of edible art. Congratulations to all the winners, your works were fabulous!
Noms

How To Eat a Balut Egg
To truly experience the Filipino culture, you can’t just visit and enjoy the sights and sounds of the Philippines, you must also try Pinoy food and delicacies. One of the more unusual delicacies of our lovely country is the balut. Simply put, a balut is a boiled fertilized duck egg. In detail, balut is a fertilized duck egg with a nearly-developed duck embryo boiled and eaten directly from the shell. Sounds fun?
They look normal don’t they? Balut eggs (p12/pc)
Usually, balut vendors walk around the streets of Manila at a scheduled time of the night, call out “Baluuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut!” in a deep voice and you can just head over to where the sound comes from. There was no call after dinner that night; luckily, we found a vendor that stays put at the corner of the street.
This is Dave. He’s from Canada and he recently came here for a visit. He is looking apprehensively at the seemingly normal egg in front of him. Of course, we just had to let him try balut. How? Here’s a step by step guide for balut newbs-

How to eat a balut egg:
Step 1– Crack the top of the egg open. Make sure to crack only the top part of the egg first,
Step 2- Like a shot of tequila, drink the liquid in one gulp,

Step 3- Remove the shell and ignore the gooey parts,

Step 4- Put the entire thing in your mouth and don’t think of the eyes, the beak, or the webbed feet sliding down your throat,

And most importantly,
Step 5- Enjoy the flavor and try to keep it down as best you can. ^^,

Comicology shows Dave how it’s done
That is how you eat a balut egg. Thanks for being a sport, Dave! Congratulations on finishing your very first balut. ~_~
Noms

Stories and Snacks at Tagaytay Highlands
A few weekends ago, my family and some friends were en route once again to Tagaytay to do a bit of R&R. One of the best places to do just that is Tagaytay Highlands, where the greens are lush, the air is fresh and the crowd is thin. Tagaytay Highlands is a country club where you can swim, fish, play golf, tennis, basketball, among many other recreational activities.
The sights at Tagaytay Highlands
After using up some energy on swimming and fishing, the group gathered at Toscana, one of the restaurants in the area, for snacks and stories. It was mid afternoon so we settled on a couple pies of pizza and a round of drinks.
Toscana serves Italian food, gooood Italian food
Pizzas from Toscana are the best pizzas I’ve had so far in my entire life, no contest at all. The closest commercial pizza I can compare Toscana pizzas to is Big Apple pizzas, but they’re still a pretty far second.
Toscana’s Pepperoni Pizza – have a slice of heaven
I’m partial to pepperoni pizzas because I don’t want too much fuss on my pizza. Man oh man, pepperoni pizza from Toscana is like heaven on earth, I was so in love with it that I forgot to take a picture of the other pie. Their pizza was made of soft and chewy medium crust topped with good quality pepperoni and generously spread with thick mozarella cheese. Omnomnomnom!
Mango shake, Sarsaparilla, and Watermelon shake

The drinks:

  • Mango shake- In a country that exports mangos by the bulk, mango shake is usually a failsafe drink, they’re usually good to go all year round. This one was thick and fruity, the fruit was a little on the sour side but it was still pretty good.
  • Sarsaparilla- An interesting drink, as it’s imported from some other country. The bottle looked like cough syrup with it’s small mouth and wide body. It was alright, it tasted like a watered down Sarsi.
  • Watermelon shake- This drink is made of win. The fruit was ripe and sweet and they used more than enough to make it tasty rather than just sugary. It was just a lovely blend, that’s all that can be said.

Good food, good drinks, and good company make for another awesome R&R day in Tagaytay.

Pepperoni Pizza on Foodista

Noms

A Date with Kuse Adobado BBQ Beef Back Ribs
Somebody once said that having a food blog is fun because content is easy to come by. Eating is a necessity more than a luxury and you’ll have something to write about sooner or later. While I agree with him, I’ll have to say that it’s not always always easy to find something good to write about. Sure, you eat every day, you gotta, but it’s not everyday that you find an interesting new place to eat at or discover a new combination to rave about. It’s a hit or miss thing sometimes, and I try to focus on the hits rather than the misses.
Kuse’s Menu
Date night a couple Fridays ago was definitely a hit. Looking for an intimate place to grab a bite to eat around Piazza Mall at McKinley Hill, we chanced upon Kuse’s quaint storefront. One quick look at the menu and the prices seemed a bit higher than we were willing to spend that night but the place was quiet and had a welcoming feel to it that we decided to give it a go.
Kuse boasts of traditional Filipino cuisine and their best seller is no exception. Kuse puts a whole new twist to ribs, theirs is called BBQ Beef Back Ribs Adobado (It’s a bit of a tongue twister). Adobo is probably the most famous Filipino dish and Kuse incorporated the very Pinoy blend to their beef back ribs.
Kuse’s BBQ Beef Back Ribs Adobado (p495)
One order is 1 kilo of premium beef back ribs at only 495 pesos. It’s a pretty fair deal, imo. The meat was so tender it nearly fell off the bone, just like ribs should be. I understand that the sweet, salty, soysauce-y mix doesn’t appeal to everybody, specially because it’s very different from the typical barbecue beef back ribs but I really, really liked it. My date still prefers the traditional barbecue flavor over this one.
Adobo rice (p90)
We decided to go all adobo and pair the ribs with adobo rice and then wash everything down with some Manila beer. The flavored rice didn’t go so well with the ribs, plain rice would’ve served us better, but it wasn’t so bad. Manila beer wasn’t anything special either, they won’t give San Miguel a run for their money. The beer was served in a chilled glass which was a nice touch.
Overpriced Manila beer (p80)
The ambiance in Kuse was great, it wasn’t noisy so you can have a good conversation without having to strain to hear each other; the service was fantastic, our nomz came within ten minutes of ordering; and the adobado ribs were exceptional and unusual. I’ll have to conlude that Kuse is pretty good date place.
Etc.

Get a Limited Edition Eraserheads Boxset from Greenwich!
If you’re from the Philippines and you’re a child of the 90’s, you’d know Eraserheads for sure. With timeless hits like Ang Huling El Bimbo, Alapaap, and my personal favorite, Magasin, the band has been etched into the hearts of many Pinoys, mine included. For those who don’t know who they are, get on YouTube right this minute! For the non-fans, uh.. hi. For the fans out there, you’d be happy to  know that Greenwich is giving away exclusive Eraserheads boxsets!
There are two ways to get this limited edition cd set:
Option 1- Get an Eheads Card and collect six Eheads stickers until end of promo period. You’d have to order 3 large Greenwich pizzas with drinks and 3 Greenwich Barkada Feasts in total.

Or,
Option 2- Get one Greenwich Barkada Feast and pay p2,499 for The Eraserheads Limited Edition CD Set.

The set includes:
  • 10 remastered studio albums
  • a bonus cd of unreleased recordings
  • a special pop-umentary DVD
  • a magazine of photos, lyrics, and history
  • an exclusive Eheads tshirt
Larry’s gorgeous Eheads set
One of the first few people to get this special set is Mr. Larry Cayco. (Thanks for the pizza!) Read his detailed review of the boxed set here. Are you a true fan like him? Quick, get yours now before they run out of stock. Promo runs until October 31, 2010.
Noms

Amira’s Buco Tart A La Mode – Perfect Rainy Day Breakfast
It took a while to peel myself away from my comfy bed and covers this morning. Rainy mornings make for perfect snuggling-under-the-covers bed weather, dont they? When I was finally able to unglue my face from my lovely pillow, I headed straight for the breakfast table to find something to eat. And because of the weather, I wasn’t in the mood for the conventional cereal and milk.

 

Rummaging the fridge, I found a couple of Amira’s buco tarts left from my recent trip to Tagaytay (Amira’s makes the most delightful blueberry and buco tarts!). I thought it would make for a lovely breakfast. Soon, I was enjoying the best buco tart in the world. After a while felt like it was missing something. It was then that I had a lightbulb moment- why not make it ala mode?
The very special buco tart a la mode
I popped the tart in the microwave for a minute at low heat and then topped it off with a scoop of Selecta Creations Pistachio & Cashew ice cream. Voila! Homemade (sort of) buco tart a la mode for breakfast! The end result was delicious; the nuts in the ice cream gave every bite a nice crunch while the ice cream itself provided just enough sweetness. Yummy!
Who said that ice cream wasn’t good to have for breakfast? This made me start my day just right. ^^,
Noms

Tagaytay Classics: Heartwarming Bulalo at Leslie’s
Last weekend, I found myself making a third roadtrip to Tagaytay for the month of August. The Baguio of the South lived up to its name, providing pleasant weather throughout the day. Because we were with a first-timer this time around, it only made sense to show him famous landmarks of Tagaytay. 

It was nearly lunchtime when we arrived and for our first stop, we decided to head for the most famous bulalohan in town- Leslie’s Restaurant located along Tagaytay’s main highway. Overlooking the lake, it provided quite a spectacular view of the volcano.


The nomz-

Leslie’s Restaurant is most famous for their bulalo. Leslie’s bulalo is a heartwarming bowl of choice beef shank and bone marrow simmered in hot clear soup with a handful of corn cobs and some greens. Nothing beats hot soup on a cool Tagaytay day.
Leslie’s Famous Bulalo Special (p499)
Doesn’t that bone marrow make your mouth water?
For a complete Tagaytay experience, we ordered the classics in addition to the bulaloinihaw na pla-pla, inihaw na pusit, buttered prawns, liempo, laing and a round of fresh buco juice. (Tagaytay bucos are the sweetest!)

Inihaw na pla-pla (p299)
Laing (p175)
Liempo (p250)
Buttered prawns (p375)

These yummy Filipino dishes from Leslie’s Restaurant made up our classic Tagaytay lunch. For us who’ve been in the same setting many times, it isn’t something to marvel at anymore. For first timers, it’s a lovely experience to have a hearty lunch in a cool hut with a view of a volcano in the middle of a lake while being serenaded by a band of local singers. Our guest was naturally wowed.

Contact Info:
Leslie’s Tagaytay

Aguinaldo Highway Crossing, Silang

Tagaytay City
(046) 413-1065

Noms

The Noms at Twenty One Plates
I’ve been meaning to write about Twenty One Plates since we stopped by for dinner a couple weeks ago but things sort of piled up and I haven’t had the chance to until now. This  new-ish restaurant is conveniently located on Aguirre Street, along the well known (among Southerners) row of eateries and bars.
Too bad that it was drizzling when we got there and I wasn’t able to take pictures from outside. The restaurant’s exterior makes the place look homey, by that I mean you might mistake it for a nice suburban house instead of a restaurant when you first see it from the road.
At Twenty One Plates
The layout of the restaurant is homey as well, segregated into rooms, with each room having a different look and feel. The setup was a nice concept, it gives you and your party privacy at no extra charge. I’m told that you can have a TV set up in the room, and you can bring your own projector or gaming console or Magic Sing and have a mini party in the seclusion of your own private room with no extra charge. There is, however, a set minimum order amount, all of it consumable, and the room is yours for the duration of the night. Cool, yea?

Twenty One Plates is called as such because, and you probably guessed it already, they have twenty one unique plates on their menu, all of them specialties of different cuisines. Why 21? I don’t really know. But it’s not always the same 21 plates, they mix up the menu choices and put in new dishes every so often to keep things interesting.
Kimchi Rolls (p200)
We started the meal with the highly recommended Kimchi Rolls. Kimchi rolls are beef bulgogi and sushi rice rolls with a sweet/sour/spicy kimchi flavor. It’s a little strong and you get a nice jolt at the first bite but if you’re like me who likes all things spicy, you’ll love this appetizer. Make sure to have a tall glass of cold water by your side when you do try it.
Healthy Cordon Bleu (p290)
One of the healthier choices in the menu, the aptly named Healthy Cordon Bleu is a dish made of a couple slabs of chicken breast fillets without skin or breading, fried in olive oil, topped with smoked deli ham, swiss cheese and served on buttered pasta. The presentation was cute, the colors of the dish were a pleasing blend of pink (chicken and ham), green (lettuce), and yellow (noodles and bread).
Linguine Al’ Carbonara (p290)
The classic pasta plate, the carbonara, is called Linguine Al’ Carbonara at Twenty One Plates. Linguine noodles in creamy white sauce sprinkled with bacon bits, a dash of grated parmesan cheese served with slice of garlic bread. You might say it’s a typical dish with nothing new to offer, but who needs new all the time? Sometimes, all you want is something familiar, and this homey dish is it.
Indonesian Fried Chicken (p275)
Fried chicken with a twist, this one is flavored with the Indonesian spices and herbs. The chicken breast fillets of Indonesian Fried Chicken are coated in tumeric, garlic, black pepper and soy sauce, served on tumeric rice. Another spicy entree, this one’s definitely not for those who don’t like the feeling of burning lips spicy food.
Bo’s Kaldereta (p295)
Last, but definitely not least, is Bo’s Kaldereta. It might not look all that appetizing in the picture, but this one is for the books. Simply, this dish is made of tender beef cubes swimming in rich special kaldereta sauce. It’s not too spicy but it gives you just enough of a kick. It has a unique flavor to it, I might be wrong but I think they mixed coconut milk in it. Highly recommended by the people of BaconTunaMelt (me).

Why you should go-

  • The menu selection might be limited to twenty one dishes, but all of them are specially picked out. Think of it as a restaurant with 21 chef’s recommendations.
  • At Twenty One Plates, a simple dinner feels like a private party. You don’t get disturbed by other guests, and you don’t have to worry about disturbing other guests.
  • Prices are a bit more than average, but you get good and flexible service catered to your requests.

Where it is-
205 Aguirre Avenue, BF Homes, Parañaque
(02) 825-7348

Other stuff-

Check out news, contests, and promos from the Twenty One Plates Facebook page. They currently have a fantastic promo called Toll Free Dinners, where you reimburse your toll fee as long as you surrender the receipt. Pretty cool.