Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Remembering a Wahaca summer

It's grey in London today. Most people I know seem to have a cloud about their heads and I am on a mission to spread sunshine. I'm feeling a bit gloomy too but there's a reason to smile: Wahaca's opening down Wardour Street! That's lunch sorted for me most days then. I shall never go hungry at lunch again!

Ana & her mojito
Saying that, the last time I've actually been to Wahaca was... last May when Ana & I sampled their summer menu. Yikes. It's been ages, but that doesn't mean I love the restaurant any less. I mean it's been months but I'm still raving about the fresh ceviche tostadas and the yummy chicken mole tacos.... Oh and of course, how can you go there without their mojitos?

Friday, 5 November 2010

Al Duomo, Brighton

Cod fillet, shrimps and a mountain of potatoes
Our party of four went out for Italian in Brighton. Nothing fancy but we didn't want to go to a chain restaurant so we searched the internet for independent Italian restaurants. Al Duomo came first and seemed to be the popular choice. It's located right next to the pavilions and is 'one of Brighton's most popular longest established Italian restaurants'. Surely that must mean something right? Right.

It takes me ages to order (plus we were driving from London) so to save everyone some time, I went on the website to choose my grub and... overwhelmed is not the word! They weren't kidding when they said they offered a 'wide-ranging menu'. I also checked what (else) they had in store and that's when warning signs went a-flashing. Surely any Italian restaurant (or any restaurant) that hosts Elvis nights, cheesy hen dos and a basement club must be avoided right? Right. Or if you have to have to go, you shouldn’t really expect your grub to be as special as the barmen’s striptease right? Right. However we were going to be in Brighton after all. The holy mecca of all things flamboyant in the UK. So it's okay, right? Right. *gulp*

Thursday, 28 October 2010

olive toast

Black, green or both?
Most people I know think olives are pointless but you’ll always find them in my food cart/ cupboard. They’re quite moreish but who cares as they're a healthy snacking alternative anyway (the FSA says 30 olives may count as a portion of your 5-a-day!). I can finish a whole shop-bought jar in one sitting - two if I'm hungry, three if I'm starving. I prefer them plain or in brine but I don't mind them soaked in some herby/oil & garlic infusion either. Don’t really mind which colour but if I really githad to it’s got to be black ones over green, pitted over stuffed.

Monday, 25 October 2010

food for fall: green thai curry

Sun’s out but the chill is palpable – fall's here and winter’s around the corner. Trading bikinis and skirts for scarves, boots and ear muffs. Goodbye salads and light bites; hello warm soup, hearty stews and hot curries.

Mmm. Curry - possibly the best fall/winter warmer ever (hey you can't eat cuddles can you?). I like Thai-style curries best; Chinese curry tends to go on the sweet side, Indian goes on same-ish. The Thai version, I find, is a great balance of sweet and savoury so it's more fragrant and more exciting to eat. The packed heat from the chilis is a direct invite for more spoonfuls and the aromatic fusion of galangal, lemongrass and coconut cream is just so refreshing. Yum.

Recipe under the cut

Friday, 1 October 2010

ate vangie's kare kare

I miss you.

Kare kare is a Philippine stew with a thick peanut-based sauce usually made with oxtail / beef / tripe and veggies like aubergine, green beans and pak choi. It's normally served with bagoong alamang (shrimp paste) and steamed rice.

This is probably my second favourite Philippine dish (coming close to the one and only laing).

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

muffin pizzas

Breakfast muffins can go a long way

Most people I know find comfort in pizza. It's the easiest thing to get when your experimental pot roast dinner goes wrong, or when the romantic steak dinner you planned on impressing a date with gets as tough as a brick.

I love me a good pizza, especially when it's homemade. I know someone who makes really good homemade pizzas. His pizza base is my idea of perfect: thin but strong enough to hold generous toppings, crispy/crunchy on the outside but still chewy enough to not give you a toothache. He also introduced me to muffin pizzas which are possibly the best snack things in the world.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

hammy and ollie brown

Ham & Pesto toastie

I don't know what got into me today but I woke up with a massive, massive craving for sliced ham. This is strange as I've always hated it and I've not touched the stuff since I was in pre-school. I remember being super stroppy everytime I'd get a packed ham (or hotdog) sandwich for recess and would either refuse to eat it at all or exchange it with a ham-obsessed classmate's peanut butter loot. Ollie Brown loved his ham. He'd have it with everything and would often cry if one of his two packed lunches didn't include ham (possibly twice a week or so). I even remember exchanging sarnies under the tables with him so that our yayas won't be too suspicious. I'd give him my ham-mayo sandwiches and he'd give me whatever he has, unless of course it had ham too.

So yes, I made myself a nice ham toastie earlier which is easy enough. I mean all you have to do is toast the bread, whack the ham, some cheddar and a dollop of pesto, grill for a bit and slip in a bit of leaves. Peasey. Ollie Brown could've done it himself when we were six.

Another easy peasy hammy thing: get some nice homey bread. I like sourdough or ciabatta. But when all else fails a baguette would do. Chopped ham, spring onions, gruyere on top then grill for 2-3 minutes, 200°C. Yum. Ollie Brown would approve.

Ah... Ollie Brown. I wonder where he is these days. I wonder if still eats as much ham. I still eat a lot of peanut butter.

Monday, 16 August 2010

let the beet control your body

Diced Beetroot

Save for the fact that it stains everything, I love everything about beets. I love the texture, fibrous but silky. I love the taste, strangely reminiscent of corn except it's a root vegetable. I love that they're nutritious and that they're good for the skin. I love how they remind me of summer. I love the colours; the plant is green, purple and a deep sultry red. I love how beets seriously remind me of a few favourite things. Perhaps in my previous life trillions of years ago I was a beetroot myself. Who knows.

Beets are actually very versatile. The roots can be boiled and eaten warm or cold, shredded raw for salad, puréed as a side or made into soup. Vegans use them to make chocolate cake, some people use them to make wine. Personally, I like beetroot best plain, or when pickled in oil and vinegar. Perfect for snacking and salads.

After the jump: a recipe for a nice beetroot salad, inspired by a similar salad prepared by my Uncle. Dead easy to prepare, I kid you not.

Friday, 23 July 2010

plain food

MNL - DXB: Dory Insalata

I love flying back and forth Manila & London via Emirates for the following reasons:
  • Dubai stopover cuts the flight in between so it doesn't really feel like a long haul flight. Plus the airport's not bad - lots of helpful Pinoys, lots of things to buy, lots of space to keep yourself busy while in transit.
  • Chances of you having 'first class in economy' on your return flight are high. I've had a whole row of seats in economy class all to myself from Dubai to London - thrice.
  • The food. Inflight catering is more important to me than inflight entertainment and Emirates has won awards for their food service. When you're up in the air and nowhere else to buy comfort food, good catering is the key to a stress-free flight.

Thursday, 22 July 2010


Pardon the lack of updates. The past couple of months have been very very very manic. Work, moving house, moving house again. Will start posting stuff again very very very soon. Watch this space...

Friday, 16 April 2010

Abeno Too

So I was supposed to fly out to Manila today but due to the volcanic ash cloud situation flights are still grounded and hours after the original scheduled departure, I'm still in London. My flight's been rescheduled for another week and I hope that's long enough for the airspace to recuperate. Fingers and everything crossed.


Last night, I've done something I've not done in possibly more than 15 years. I (kind of) willingly ate egg.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Manila, here we come!

I fly to the Manila in a few days. I can’t wait to see family and friends and people I’ve missed over the last three years. Three years!!! That’s a lot of catching-up to do and I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone. It’s been too long and God I hope I’m ready for Manila and all its changed glory.

I also cannot wait to have authentic Filipino food and to check out the country’s gastronomic finds. I’m excited to try new dishes and restaurants my family and net foodies have been raving about and I’m also really looking forward to coming home to Manang Virgie, our family cook of many years, and her gorgeous homey meals. I’m so eager to fly and dine I could almost savor the sweet, sour, salty taste of exquisite food in the Philippines.

Obviously I’ve thought about this long and hard enough so I have a list of yummies that I MUST MUST have whilst I’m there.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

the anatomy of a fisherman's pie

There's more to the pie than meets the eye!

I love seafood and I love savoury pies; put the two together and I'm a happy diner. It's such a nice hearty, comforting meal and is perfect with a good Chardonnay on a good night in.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

"not my cuppatea!"

Dark chocolate cheesecake

After a shopping day in Crawley (somewhere close to Gatwick airport), we decided to have some afternoon tea. We weren't exactly spoilt for choice (too cold to go outside the mall to find an ever so safe Starbucks), so we decided to have our caffeine fix at Druckers Café, a sister company of the Patisserie Valerie cafés in London. The pastry display looked promising and reminded me of the cosy boulangeries I loved in Geneva. So I licked my lips and ordered a cheesecake.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

strada market place

So after a bit of mad (un)love for Carluccio's, I've been skeptical about going to Italian chain restaurants.

Truth be told, I’ve always been grunt-y about having Italian when dining out. The thing about this cuisine (and no, I'm not just talking about pasta and pizza) is that it's probably the easiest to prepare at home, given that you have the correct recipes and freshest ingredients. It’s a cuisine that I seem to enjoy more when eating in, perhaps because I find it unpretentious despite the fancy shmancy names (if you're Italian you won't even consider them fancy because they're pretty straightforward in translation). And because when you put a plate or of something-cine ala something-ella con something-izzi in front of me the backdrop will always change into a well-lit Italian kitchen with stonebake ovens and clay pots and pans,  with someone buzzing about a recipe handed down from generations of nonnas. Italian cuisine to me is rustic and comforting.

Italian pork sausages

Sunday, 21 February 2010

DIY halloumi pizza

There's nothing more satisfying than eating a well-cooked homemade pizza after a long day at work. As it was Meatless Monday, we've decided to make an edited version of this pizza (we used halloumi instead of mozzarella).

Saturday, 13 February 2010

writing a bad romance for Carluccio's

the redeeming bread tin
Last Thursday, B & I spent the night checking out decent restaurants for Friday dinner. After spending so much time on research (yes, I like viewing menus before heading off to dine – saves time) we’ve decided to book Villandry in Great Portland Street, but they were fully booked. Rejection was bad, it didn’t give us much choice as it was almost the weekend: most decent restaurants were busy and tables were running low. We were getting tired and irritated so we decided to go to the nearest semi-decent restaurant we can find. This is how we ended up in Carluccio’s, Market Place.

I didn’t mind Carluccio’s. Fair enough - it’s a chain restaurant. But I had really good experience at the Covent Garden branch (more due to service than the menu). So despite my previous daydreams of a really nice welcome-weekend-I’m-not-sick-anymore Friday dinner somewhere nice, I prepped myself to be laidback about dining in, technically, a café-resto. Then again, we should've had a warning.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

the new tapa

Garlic wafer-thin chicken
I don't get to eat proper brekkie during weekdays as it's difficult when you're rushing to work. It's always a case of 3 mugs of black coffee plus a piece of toast slathered with butter and marmite/peanut butter/Nutella, or a bowl of muesli with peanut butter and a dash of milk. Sometimes I don’t get to eat anything at all, which really sucks because since I've moved to London I've become a fan of proper breakfast (to be clear: by proper breakfast I do not mean a proper English fry up breakfast, but a decent breakfast that ticks all the boxes). I suppose this is one of the reasons why I actually enjoy waking up on weekends: because I know for a fact that I will have enough time to have proper morning food. With all the 'need-to-have's' in it. Like good carbs. And good protein.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Bommy's baked goods

Bommy's banana walnut muffin
I wish I knew how to bake. Bommy makes it seem so easy everytime he hovers in the kitchen to make amazing batches of cupcakes and muffins, loaves of yummy banana bread and even plain old sponges. The smell of dough rising is better to have in the flat than all those floral sprays that make everyone realise they have allergies they never knew existed.

Monday, 25 January 2010

wahaca fish tacos

All mine: Baja-California Fish Tacos w/ rice and spicy slaw, Huitlacoche taquitos
Wahaca is MasterChef winner Thomasina Miers' empire of Mexican eating in London. I've been (quite a lot) with friends and we always always have a great time. It's really one of my favourite chain restaurants in the city. The food's always presented beautifully and served with amazingly fresh ingredients, the service domestically comforting, the mojitos fantastically out of this world.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

maze gordon ramsay

The complete photo album here.

super yummy beetroot w/ slipcotscallops

If you're in Central London and you wanted to have a super spontaneous and slightly pretentious Sunday lunch, I know exactly the place where you can make the most of the free parking and no congestion charge weekend. Tucked in the corner of a nondescript red brick in the not so nondescript Grosvenor Square is Gordon Ramsay's modern stake at nouvelle cuisine, and head chef Jason Atherton's baby: Maze (and Maze Grill, depending on which way you go upon entering the double doors - we decided to go left).

Monday, 18 January 2010

quick prawn paella

Ever fancied having paella but never had enough time (and patience) to stir and stir and stir for hours? Here’s a quick recipe. You’d be done in 30 minutes. =) I really enjoyed cooking this. Shame I can't cook this tonight as it's Meatless Monday!
  1. Cook the prawns separately. You can either boil them in a water and beer/lemonade mixture or steam them in stock.
  2. Cook rice and frozen peas separately, both in stock.
  3. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a pan and cook the onion, pepper and garlic until soft.
  4. Stir in the cooked rice, red pepper and saffron and paprika until well mixed.
  5. Add the peas for the last few minutes until heated through. Season, stir through the parsley.
  6. Top with your prawns and serve with the lemon wedges.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

pizza baguettes

I love those half-baked baguettes that you can easily pop in the oven for quick meals. You get to control how you want your bread, whether super toasted and crunchy or soft, spongy and doughy.

This meal is very easy to make. You'll feel like you're living like a student again. All you need is the bread, pasta sauce, cheese and any topping of your choice. I honestly cannot remember what we used for the batch in the photo. =/ Whack them all on top of each other, bake for 10-15 minutes in a pre-heated oven at 200°C. Really good for quick snacks. And brunch ;)

Friday, 15 January 2010

coconut yogurt

Another Dr. Oetker product that I actually like? The Onken range of yogurt. 450grams of potted bacterial milk fermentation. Yum. I usually play it safe with yogurt, it’s either plain Greek-style or natural for me. However, the Onken yogurts are really nice and they actually taste like the fruit, and not the syrup. Their Mango, Papaya & Passionfruit biopot is a nice treat that takes you back to the tropics. Mmmm.

One day as I was doing some weekly food shopping, I stopped by the dessert section and a black yogurt pot caught my eye. It said Onken Coconut. That exact moment, I suddenly knew how Charlie Bucket felt when he found the last  golden ticket. I’ve been looking (though not exactly actively) for this particular flavor since I saw the advert in 2008 but never got to see it stocked in supermarkets until that day. It was the last biopot in the box that contained 16. It was meant to be. I tried it immediately when I got home and my oh my I nearly cried because I suddenly remembered traipsing and swimming on nice beaches during summertime whilst snow poured out my window. Nonetheless, the limited edition biopot tasted really really really good. Sweet, but not sickly. The yogurt itself is smooth, and the coconut bits make it fun to eat. Mmm.

Coconuts – summer olfactory stimulant. Coconut yogurt – the taste of summer in during winter.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Dr. Oetker's Ristorante Mozzarella

photo credit: The Dr. Oetker Website

I’ve casually slighted the Dr Oetker brand of foods before, for humour’s sake. Stereotyping for fun, my friends and I would throw in our comments in fake German accents and go ‘Ahh. I am made by ze grrreat Dr Oetker. I am wery evviciently struwctured. I am ze schaisse!’. That kind of thing. The advert for their Ristorante pizzas were ridiculed as well. Can them yodelers be any better than their Italian neighbours at pizza-making? Surely not.

And then one cold night, Dr Oetker pizzas were on offer and we shamelessly decided to call the doctor and binge on shop-bought pizzas. Frozen pizzas? Not the freshest, but probably the most convenient. We were surprised with the result.

The Ristorante Mozzarella pizza was actually a delight. Unwrapped, we had to laugh because they looked German-made with the well-proportioned and well-placed mozzarella slices and evenly spread out dollops of pesto. But wow. Those pizzas looked, smelled and tasted fresh. Not bad for frozen and shop-bought. It had a thin base that, when cooked correctly, gives you a very pleasurable crunch. It’s cheesy enough to give you that mozzarella stretch and the pesto bits really bring the dish to its full flavor. It’s so light you can finish the whole 11” lot without feeling guilty and still have room for dessert. Top with some rocket salad and you, my friend, will actually have a very good pizza – well, good enough to be served in chains. It won’t look as rustic as them stonebaked pizzas from Italian kitchens, but it will look absolutely efficiently appetizing.

Mom was right. We should not be scared of doctors.

Those pizzas tasted fresh.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010


A colleague suggested fish and chips for dinner. I nearly barfed. See, you think living in a country where chippies (chip shop/fish & chips store) are as ubiquitous as the air we breathe would make one very much into battered fish fillets served with greasy chips in newspapers. No thanks, dare I say. I’ve had about two proper servings of fish and chips in my entire life – the first one I threw away immediately after the first bite because even after pampering it with tissue to soak the oil it still tasted like used oil (5 times over), the second one I couldn’t finish because it felt like oil spill in my mouth.

I like fish best when it’s slightly seasoned and cooked on its own but I also like them when they’re covered in some sort of batter. I like oven-cooked (read: not fried) fishcakes. The cod cakes I bought from Tesco (with cheese and chives) were screaming to be eaten. With massive portions of oven-cooked (read: not fried) wedges or chips. Which I didn’t have. Improv – a massive portion of vegetables stir-fried with light unsalted butter, paprika and garlic. I also rarely eat coleslaw but the Tesco Finest ones are nice. Mmm. My 5-a-day (portions of veg) in one plate. =D

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Quorn sausages

If you know me well enough, then you know I do not eat pork and that I hate sausages. The last time I attempted to have pork was two years ago in Brighton. The air smelled of proper sea-front food: burgers, fish and hotdogs. I suddenly craved for hotdogs only because it reminded me of familial walks by the pier as a child and I felt homesick. I bought a massive hotdog with everything on top - onions, ketchup, mustard, pickle. It didn't go down well. It didn't go down at all. Unfortunately after a massive bite I felt really sick and... grossed out. Bye bye porkies and hotdogs. You're too cute to be eaten by me.

Thank God for Quorn sausages. At least when I crave for something long and stuffed *insert evil laugh* I still have decent and succulent *more evil laughter* options.

Project Meatless Monday #1, served with buttermilk mashed spuds (with skins) and blanched savoy cabbages.

rosé beef with couscous

According to those who've tried my meaty experiments, this was the best beef I've ever cooked. Cartwheel in glee and all that jazz, because whodvethunk it?! I, she-who-can't-fry-eggs, have actually made a pretty decent meal. Decent enough for second, third and fourth helpings. No leftovers. Woot.

The secret? Patience. Make sure your beef get to enjoy their marinade baths for 24 hours (anything less than that is just a brush). Sloooow cook and give it your constant care. =D If you want to whip up something like this, the marinade is made of *deep breath* soy sauce, white wine vinegar, honey, a splash of rosé wine, paprika, cardamom, cayenne pepper and flour.

Monday, 11 January 2010

chicken steak wraps

One of my favourite brunch things - breaded chicken steaks flat-wrapped in mediterranean/herbed tortilla with salsa. An absolute treat when you've woken up to a slight hangover. Good soaker, I must say ;)


Forget Nando's, try Brazas!

Possibly the best peri-peri chicken in London! They have loads of really good food as well - the takeaway menu is different from the dine in menu. Every meal is handled with love and care. The family who run the place is absolutely amazing, especially brothers Tony (who is head chef) and Maurillo (chief dessert maker!). You've got to try the chicken and their out of this world kahlua-baileys cheesecake. Wow.

I'm so glad they have a website now, at least people can have a peek at what they have to offer:

Love Brazas: 45 Tulse Hill, London, SW2 2TJ

Saturday, 9 January 2010

pad thai

bought some rice sticks and pad thai paste from Wing Yip last weekend.
made with chicken, mixed veg and tender stem brocolli

double McCheeseburger

I've not had McDonald's in two years.
Here's to a quick fix of relapse.
After all, if you're doing it wrong, might as well do it right!
Double double, McCrap is trouble


Baraka's Olivos Sandwich is pretty much grilled aubergine, halloumi, roasted red pepper, pesto plonked in ciabatta and served w/ chips.
1st meal of 2010, to soak up the previous evening's hangover.

prawn couscous

300grams of my favourite seafood, couscous & mixed vegetables.
and yes, i made it all by myself =)

Friday, 8 January 2010

i love coconuts

the most amazing coconut sorbet ever at Maze Gordon Ramsay
(13-15 Grosvenor Square, London, W1K 6JP)

kinder santas

Santa fell off the chimney and landed on my shelf.
Great stuff for midnight snacking.

pecan cheesecake

Starbucks’ festive cheesecake – the perfect afternoon fuel in between stressful bouts of Christmas shopping!