Travel

McDonald’s of the World: McRib in the USA

Ladies and gents, I would like to present to you the first foreign guest post on BaconTunaMelt. Mr. J P Hays kindly offered to add another notch to our McDonald’s of the World belt, featuring the good ole US of A. Read on as he tells us about the mouth-watering and artery-clogging selection from the fast food capital of the world (there’s no denying it).

*content and all photo credits go to Mr. Hays.

McDo - USA
Greetings, Nomsters! I am J P Hays, and I am going to be a contributing blogger here.  I am an American traveler who loves computers, food, and all things Pinoy! Anyways, on to the nomz!
McDonald's U.S.A
What’s a good place to eat after having a bad day, and you’re in no mood to cook or throw a quick TV dinner in the oven? That’s right! Fast food places like McDonald’s! Nothing helps satisfy the soul and make you feel better like a nice cheeseburger, fries, and a soda.  Today, though, I wasn’t really in a burger mood.  I wanted something different.  Something saucy.  Something unique.

 Fortunately, McDonald’s is now offering their McRib once again.  They only serve it once a year, and when it comes out, people get excited.  I have never ordered it before, and I decided today’s my big day.  So I went up, and ordered one, as well as a medium order of fries and sweet tea.  The whole thing came out to $6.44 (or 278.35 pesos), which is fairly inexpensive for a dinner this size.
BTM's note: This reminds me of the old McDonald's over at BF Paranaque.
After fifteen minutes, my order comes, and I sit down and commence the nomming.  The McRib is a rib-shaped pork patty, coated in copious amounts of sauce, and topped with onions and two pickle slices, between a long, unique bun which I think is only used on this sandwich.
BTM's note: That's the stuff, America.

It’s a very different sandwich, compared to anything else they offer. The patty has a pretty good flavor, much better than the frozen rib patties you buy at the store over here. The sauce, on the other hand, is mild, and doesn’t have too much flavor. The onions give the whole thing a fresh taste with a good, onion-y bite, and the pickles give a nice tartness to finish things off. It’s good, but the sauce ruins it for me. After finishing off the McRib and eating some of the fries, I decide to tackle the sweet tea. [BTM’s note: I would kill an ant for this tea.]

BTM's note: Onions, YEAH! Ribs, EFFING YEAH!
The first thing I noticed with the tea was the sweetness.  Just like authentic Southern-style sweet tea, it definitely has a good amount of sugar in it.  The next thing I noticed was the actual tea flavor.  It had a great flavor, with some herbal notes, and almost a chocolatey aftertaste.  If you like tea, you’d love this sweet tea.  Unless, of course, you don’t like sweet drinks.

In conclusion, both items are pretty decent, and quite unique.  If the McRib had a better sauce, I would go for it more often, and the sweet tea’s good for a quick, refreshing drink that isn’t soda.  If you ever go to America, I would recommend trying both.  That is, of course, if you are here when the McRib returns.
Maybe I should try making my own McRib one of these days… (cue ominous lightning)
Etc.

The Cast of Sarap At Home

So much nomz to cook, so little time! There should be more local shows like GMA News TV’s Sarap At Home. I cannot believe it’s been running for four seasons and I’m just hearing about the show. They feature dishes that are easy to cook but nonetheless derrishuz.

Thanks to Lianne of BuhayKuneho who kindly attended the launch of the fourth season for us a few weeks ago, we get an up close and personal look at how the Sarap At Home cast get it done. Here’s an excerpt-

GMA News TV (Channel 11 on your tv) has launched the newest season of Sarap at Home, an innovative show that combines the appeal of a fun sitcom and a cooking demo. Aired daily, it is one of the most successful Pinoy food-oriented shows, and is now on its fourth season.

Click on this to read the full review on BuhayKuneho.

Besides the quirky Sam Oh who is the main host (who says cooking can’t be fashionable?), the awesome Ramon Bautista, the hunky Fabio Ide (doesn’t that name just scream hot?), and the very pretty Jackie Rice make up a fun and quirky cooking show cast.

Noms

Dreaming of Begukang Babi

I just had myself some fastfood nomz for dinner and in between bites, I couldn’t help but indulge myself with a little daydream. It started with a thought. “If I were back home in Manila, dinner would mean rice and ulam (viand) instead of greasy burger, lard fries, and sugar soda.” And then I went on to imagine a plateful of begukang babi, steaming white rice, with a banana on the side.

Yes, ladies like her also daydream with a nuninuninoo, albeit in fancy script.

Sadly, this isn’t a recipe post, it’s more of a mom-please-cook-this-for-me-when-I-come-home-post. This begukang babi I’ve been daydreaming about is the Kapampangan version of binagoongang baboy, or in English, pork with shrimp paste (the combo might sound weird to non Pinoys, but it’s nommy, I swear.).

It looks like this-

Homemade Begukang Babi

Unlike most binagoongan dishes in Manila, the Kapampangan version is more orange than pink, slightly sweeter, and is usually served with either sliced mangoes or bananas on the side. My Manila friends usually think it weird when they first see orange binagoongan with bananas or mangoes on white rice but as soon as they take their first bite, they wonder why they haven’t been doing it all along.

*Photo of lady nuninuninoo-ing and pink background ganked from the Internet, credits to original owners. We just tweaked it to our liking. ^^,

Travel

Rome at Night and the BESTEST gelato ever – Rome Diaries (3 of 3)

Ohai all! It’s been long overdue but here it is, this post shall be the third and final post for the 3-part Rome Diaries series. Our last night in Rome turned out to be the icing on the cake that was the entire Rome trip. Armed with a map and comfortable shoes (“We learned the hard way.” -Mel’s tootsies), we toured and drank in the picturesque sights of the city. It seemed that no one could take bad photos, all angles were just beautiful.

Rome is even more beautiful at night. (Clockwise from top-left: St. Peter's Basilica, Bernini's Fountain of Four Rivers, Castel Sant'Angelo)

The city is gorgeous during daytime, but it is magnificent at night. Thanks to Father Par,  the very welcoming, kind, and jovial head of the Augustinian order in Rome, our small group had an extra special tour of the city at night. He took us to the places we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to find while dishing out information about them that very few people know of (Did you know that they marked the spot in the Vatican where Pope John Paul II was shot with a piece of porphyry rock?).

The Old Bridge Gelateria is where Rome's men of cloth get their gelato fix. And us too.

Part of the very special night tour of the city, Father Par also brought us to the BESTEST gelateria in town- the Old Bridge Gelateria.  Located near the Vatican walls, this little gelateria has become a frequent stop for many Rome residents, including religious folk. When we got there, it was amusing to see a group gathered outside the small stall, getting their gelato fix, just like we were about to.

BEST GELATO EVER!

My camera battery was nearly out of juice by the time we got our ice cream cups (the day was spent taking snaps of everything!) but I knew I had to take a photo of the best gelato ever. This cup of melt-in-your-mouth pistachio and double dark chocolate gelato from Old Bridge Gelateria is the best I’ve ever had, bar none. It’s creamy without being too rich, it’s soft without being too sloshy, it’s tasty without being too sweet. It was really, really, really good. If you’re planning a trip to Rome any time soon, you have to find your way to this place. Having a nightcap of gelato ice cream from the Old Bridge Gelateria was the perfect end to our Rome trip.

For taking us around the city, sharing insider information, introducing us to the best gelato ever, and for your kindness-Thank you, Father Par!
Travel

McDonald’s of the World: Italy’s 1955 Burger – Rome Diaries (2 of 3)

Okay, first things first. I would like to thank all you wonderful people for liking the BaconTunaMelt Facebook page. Warm hugs, double-cheek kisses, and chewy chocolate chip cookies for everybody! If you haven’t yet, what are you waiting for? There’s cash involved! Look to the right side of the blog and you’ll see a Like button there somewhere, or you can simply click this link- www.facebook.com/bacontunamelt, and then hit Like. (I’m kidding about the cash of course. Or not.)

Second order of business is the topic for this post. Like the title suggests, it’s another notch up the McDonald’s of the World belt. Anyhoots, I notice that the entries in this series drone on and on. We’ll try to keep this one short.

When you’re in Rome, you don’t just do as the Romans do, you also do as the tourists in Rome do. Which means you’ll have to visit this part of the city (refer to the pictures please). Between the iconic Trevi Fountain and the magnificent Pantheon are little sidestreets lined with restaurants, cafes, souvenir shops, and tourists. It’s where we found the McDonald’s along Via Delle Muratte. It’s difficult to miss as there a handful of posters pointing you to which direction to head to for burgers.

Seems like this American fastfood is a hit in Rome.

There were restaurants aplenty around the area, most were near empty at lunch while McDonald’s was as packed and as busy as it could be. The lines were long and perhaps they were stressed but the crew wasn’t as friendly or helpful as you’d expect. They get the job done somehow and I got an order of the 1955 Burger half an hour and some yelling later (I forgot to mention that you pretty much need to shout to be heard).

This is the McDonald’s 1955 Burger-

McDonald's 1955 Burger

It’s a mighty fine-looking burger composed of 100% pure beef patty, some bacon, good old tomatoes, lettuce, cheese, and onions. But wait, that’s what they say. Here’s the actual McDonald’s 1955 Burger-

The actual McDonald's 1955 Burger

The patty was dry, the garnishings a mess, and I don’t know where the bacon went. It looks like they halfheartedly threw parts of a burger in the box. The burger actually didn’t taste bad, but I was expecting a burger at least resembling the one in the adverts. Suffice it to say, after a long morning of walking, getting this for lunch was a big disappointment. The only consolation was the Pistachio McFlurry for dessert.

That is all I have to say about McDonald’s in Rome. Please don’t let that deter you from visiting the city, it’s wonderful. But if you have a craving for a McDonald’s burger, try to wait until the crowds thin out, maybe you’ll have better luck than I did.

Travel

McDonalds of the World: 100% Authentic Swiss Beef

Before talking your ears off regaling you with the nomfinds from my recent Rome trip, we’ll talk about the newest notch in our McDonald’s of the World series- Switzerland. The Cornavin station of Geneva, Switzerland is merely a two-hour train ride from Lyon, France. One fine Saturday, a few of us hopped on a train for a day trip to the neutral country. Of course, I didn’t pass up on the chance to have a quick meal at the fastfood of all nations.

Although it’s only a train ride away from Lyon, going to Geneva was a totally different experience. For one thing, I found the Swiss to be very helpful people. Their transportation system, while efficient and extensive, was confusing for a noob like me. Not that the French aren’t nice, but in Geneva, a couple of people actually approached us and offered to help us with directions (although it was possibly because we looked stupid lost).

Eventually, we found our way to the places we wanted to see and visit. One day was enough to see the Jet d’Eau, which is a gorgeous (and large at 229 feet) fountain of water right dab smack in the middle of the city, CERN (must stop for a geek), the UN headquarters, the Red Cross headquarters, and even the Saleve (for a beautiful view of Switzerland).

At the end of the full (walking) day, we headed to the nearest McDonald’s. There was one along the popular Rue du Mont-Blanc and it was mighty full (see photo for proof!). It seems that the Swiss love greasy fast food too (we’re all the same, at the core).

Mcdonald's Switzerland CBO Meal (about Chf13+/- or Php630+/-)

The menu had the basics, with your typical Big Mac, McChicken, McNuggets, Filet-o-Fish and sundaes. To try something different,  I had the CBO meal. It comes with a side (a choice between regular fries, deluxe fries or a salad), a drink, and if you upgrade your side and drink to medium, a free Coke glass as well. CBO combines three of my favorite things- chicken, bacon, and onions. It was a melt-in-your-mouth combo (at least, according to me). The patty was softer than your typical McChicken, and together with the bacon and onions you get an extra flavorful sammich.

Mcdonald's Switzerland McWrap (Chf7+/- or Php330+/-)

Here’s a healthier-than-most-Mcdonald’s-meals meal, the Chicken McWrap, available in most McDonald’s all over Europe (they also have it in Abu Dhabi). I really wish they offer this eventually in Manila.

And this photo below, is of a Swiss Big Mac. Not much different from other Big Macs all over the world, in size and in toppings. But the Swiss Big Mac has an authentication- the patty is made from 100% pure Swiss beef.

Mcdonald's Switzerland Big Mac Meal (about Chf13+/- or Php630+/-)

Switzerland is a lovely country to visit. Besides the beautiful landmarks and many souvenirs, there were also a lot of Pinoys in the country. For a Pinoy assigned abroad for a while, hearing snippets of Filipino conversation from the next table is somewhat reassuring (you don’t get a lot of it in France, I tell you).

One more important thing to know if you’re visiting Switzerland is that the shops close at about 6-7pm. If you want to get some souvenirs like Swiss knives and Swiss-made watches, make sure you visit the shops before 6pm. And then head to McDonald’s for a quick and cheap enough dinner, they close later than the shops.

DIY

ZOMG, I made apple pie. So domestic, my golly!

I’ll never be the kind of girl who spends hours in the kitchen, I don’t have the patience or the talent for it. The recipes that I share on BaconTunaMelt are, and always will be, simple but guaranteed derrishuz! In the BaconTunaMelt kitchen (at least for now), we always follow the K.I.S.S. rule. With my “kitchen skillz”, it’s either that or burn the house down (and I kinda like having a place to live). Such is the case for these two apple pie recipes that I’ll be blabbing about in this post. Both are really simple to make but oh-so-nommy.

The apple pie is a classic dessert that I’ve always wanted to make but have never had the chance to. Now that I’m slowly starting to learn the basics of baking, I thought it would be a great idea to finally figure out how to make my own pie (it sounds domesticated, I’m so proud of myself!). After a couple of throwaway batches, and a few tweaks here and there, I finally got two perfect recipes. We’ll call one “Juicy Pie” and the other “Saucy Pie” (I like these names, they remind me of the Spice Girls).

So.. on to the recipes. Basically, both Juicy and Saucy will have the same ingredients and generally the same ratio. We’ll list them on a table so things are nice and neat-

Juicy Pie Saucy Pie
3 large apples 3 large apples
1/2 cup white sugar 1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar 1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon powder 1 tsp cinnamon
4 tbsp of butter 4 tbsp of butter
1 pie crust 1 pie crust
2 tbsp of flour

First, peel the apples and slice them thinly (imo, the thiner the better). And here’s how to make the filling. We’ve separated the instructions into two columns to make for easier reading.

For the Juicy Pie For the Saucy Pie
1. In a small bowl, mix the white sugar, brown sugar, and the cinnamon powder, 1. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat,
2. In a bigger bowl, pour the butter into the sliced apples and spread it evenly, 2. When the butter has melted, pour the white and brown sugar (if it’s too dry, add a few of spoonfuls of water),
3. Gradually pour the sugar and cinnamon mixture with the sliced apples 3. Stir until the sugar is melted and add the cinnamon and the flour to the mixture,
4. Once the sauce has thickened, add the apples in the saucepan and mix until all the apples are covered in sauce

Then you can arrange the mixture on the piecrust, and then bake your pie in a preheated oven (200°c should be fine), and sit pretty while you wait for your derrishuz homemade apple pie to be done.

Juicy Apple Pie

The Juicy Pie will yield a juicy pie, and you may actually have to drain the juice before you can nom on it (depending on your apples). The Saucy Pie will be ready to nom hot off the oven (be careful not to burn your tongues though). The photo above is Juicy Apple Pie and the one below is the Saucy Apple Pie.

Saucy Apple Pie

Both are reaaally easy to make and also reaaally yummy pies. The Juicy Pie has less sauce and the Saucy Pie is a smidge sweeter. They’re both delicious, according to my tastebuds. To pick a recipe, it would just depend on your preference in the apple filling consistency. If you want the simplest of apple pies, try and make the Juicy Pie, if you want a pie with applesauce, try the Saucy pie. Below is a photo of the pies sliced, Juicy on the left, Saucy on the right.

Which one do you think is nommier? 🙂

Noms

[POLL] HALPZ, there are warts on my ‘taters!

For the first time ever on BaconTunaMelt, we’ll be running a poll. What for, you say? It’s because I found these.. things in my fridge. It is what the title says it is, I’m afraid. I have potatoes with warts on them. And I’m not entirely sure what to make of them. So, I want your valued opinions.

It seems that potatoes, not unlike humans, can develop unsightly warts on their once smooth and clear skin after a certain period of time.  Similar to my previous report about the anomaly that happens to peaches, the potato warts phenomenon occurred after leaving a bunch of them chilling in the fridge for far too long (I should make a whole new category for this, lulz).

Sad Tater

Realistically, they’re probably not called potato warts, but that’s exactly what they look like (to me, at least). Can anyone explain what happened to these bunch potatoes? Besides the growths on the skins that bear a similiarity to the Wicked Witch from Snow White, these sad taters seem to still be in tip top form- flesh tough, skin smooth (ish). What do you think? Are these still edible? Answer the poll below to help me decide what to do with them.

Are these potatoes still safe to eat?

View Results

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Life

Kitchen Skills: Level Up!

Oh hai u gaiz! Before we officially start the weekend, I thought to share with you some pictures of this week’s nomz. If you’ve read posts from this blog before, you’ve probably seen me whining about my lack of skills in the kitchen (see disaster here). Fast forward to my stint in France, where burning the kitchen down couldnt be an option. I’ve been forced to find a way to feed myself without heading to the nearest fastfood joint.

The first couple of weeks were terrible. I had no choice but to nom on burnt chicken nuggets, half-cooked eggs, salty spaghetti, and tasteless adobo. Today, I can proudly say that my kitchen skills have vastly improved. What? You don’t believe me? Here’s proof:

Proof #1- Golden Fried Chicken

Everyone told me that fried chicken is the easiest to start with and I have absolutely no idea why. My first attempt to cook some had me chucking half a chicken into the trash bin because the chicken ended up burned in spots and undercooked in other places. Several attemps later, I still couldn’t get it right. But because fried chicken has always been my comfort food, failing the first few times didn’t faze me.

Look at this photo of a beautiful basket of fried fowl from my latest attempt. The skin turned out light, crispy and golden brown, the meat was tender and at the same time juicy, and the was chicken throroughly cooked with absolutely no bloody joints (I hate it when that happens). To achieve that, I baked the chicken in an oven for a good 15-20 minutes at 200°C before coating it in light flour seasoned with some salt & pepper and then deep frying it for 10-15 minutes. That turned out pretty great. I chose to pair the dish with a side of kropek to give it a more Asian feel.

Proof #2- Baked Fish Pesto and Creamy Spaghetti Al Pesto

Although it looks like someone got sick all over my plate, this combo tasted pretty good. There was a tad too much pesto on this dish but my excuse is that I’ve to make use of what’s available everytime I cook and all I had then was a ton of pesto.

The chunk of fish fillet in pesto sauce was the easiest to cook. Baked for only 20 minutes, the fish came out soft and tasty as expected. The classic spaghetti al pesto is easy to make. Made sure the pasta was cooked al dente and I added a little cream with the pesto sauce for it to be tastier.  The carrots were boiled for only 10 minutes and sliced into thin sticks (took the picture before slicing). See how my cooking has improved? This is almost a fancy dish and I made it!

Proof #3: Carbonara Ravioli with Broccoli

Remembering how this dish tastes like makes me want to make some more this week. The cheese and basil ravioli was bought from the nearest grocery and all I had to worry about was the sauce. I had some cream left over from the last dish so I thought to make carbonara instead of the usual tomato based ones.

For the sauce, I sliced up some ham into cubes and fried it in olive oil before adding the cream, water, salt and pepper in the mix. While waiting for the sauce to cook, I boiled a little water to cook the ravioli. A short while later, I mixed the sauce and the noodles and let it sit under low heat for a few minutes. Quick and easy AND delicious. As the side, I used some steamed and lightly salted broccoli. Oha, am I a better cook or what?

If you wanna know the detailed recipes (just in case you were curious and you’re also a noob cook like me), just ask me for it. I’d be most willing to share them. These homecooked meals are very simple to make and delicious.

Etc.

Junior MasterChef Pinoy Edition

Cooking reality shows have always amazed me. Mostly because I don’t know my way around the kitchen and I easily get flustered under the spotlight. Watching everyday folks being able to create wonderful concoctions while under pressure truly impresses the heck out of me. If it were me, I’d probably burn the set down and/or be banned from the show when I curse like a sailor on national TV after messing up a recipe (almost happened, but that’s another story).

Shows like Iron Chef, Top Chef, Masterchef leave me in awe thinking that there are so many fantastic cooks out there (and I can’t even cook an egg right). More so when Australia’s Junior Masterchef came out. My mind was blown away seeing kids no older than twelve years old cooking intricate dishes like it was a normal, everyday thing. When I found out that the Philippines will host a local version of Australia’s Junior Masterchef, I was excited at the thought of Pinoy kids brewing up awesome Pinoy recipes.

The show started last August 20 and are now filtering the batch of 60 little wonders to get the Top 30. Watch the trailer and be amazed at the cooking skills of Pinoy kids.

 

With Judy Ann Santos as the celebrity host and premiere Pinoy chefs Fern Aracama (of My Thai Kitchen), Rolando Laudico (of Bistro Filipino and a slew of other restaurants), and JP Anglo (of Mu Shu fame) as the judges, Junior MasterChef Pinoy Edition is set to find the best little Pinoy chef.

These are kids between the ages of 8 and 12 years old and they can come up with something this beautiful?

Wow. The plate looks absolutely gorgeous. I can’t even guess how to start making something like this. Imagine if your kid cooked like this? It’ll be like eating out on a daily basis. I’ll be sure to watch the next few episodes of Junior MasterChef Pinoy Edition, I’m sure to learn a thing or two from the young ‘uns.

*photos from the official Junior MasterChef Philippines Facebook Page; video from the ABSCBNOnline Official YouTube Channel