So it's another banana cake, what's new? What I like about this cake and perhaps you would too, is that it has crushed walnuts in the cake and it comes with brandy sauce that you pour on it while it's hot. Sweet sauce with oak flavor poured on the cake while it absorbs all its flavors while cooling down to room temperature. Do I need to say that it's delicious? I can actually finish one cake all by myself if I can but it's not nice not to share. But the cake did disappear less than twelve hours on the table.
01 May 2016
30 April 2016
When a restaurant has been around from 1977 until present with uninterrupted service, what does it convey to you? That the thirty four years it has been around feeding so many people has left an important imprint in its diners. The people go back, its name spreads around and it gets a solid foundation. I discovered Ristorante Svevia just a month ago when I was passing through the town of Termoli with my family to go to the town of Mattinata in Puglia. We wanted to cut our car trip in half to see a new town and to give ourselves a break from the traveling. After checking around the internet, Ristorante Svevia was our unanimous choice.
29 April 2016
When you want to eat healthy food, the flavors don't have to be curtailed to the point of eating something that tastes like a cardboard box. That's what I have always thought when I was growing up watching my Mom "suffer" with the tastes of her food as she endured her endless slimming diets from one nutritionist to another. She was always determined in losing her extra pounds, to almost no avail unfortunately because as soon as she loses them, she gains them back immediately. Her food was always bland and unexciting.
27 April 2016
You can't go wrong with chicken when you coat it with Greek yogurt, cover with Panko breadcrumbs and grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (or Parmesan if you can't find it) then pop it in the oven until it turns golden brown. The result is a delicious, tender, juicy chicken that has a distinctive touch of Parmigiano. You will love it after making it for the first time because flavor wise, it's a winner and preparation wise, it's a keeper because it's so easy to prepare and you just stash it in the oven to cook. Easy isn't it?
26 April 2016
Inspector Montalbano season has ended again after so much waiting. You should know the feeling when you are waiting for a TV series that only shows once a week. Being occupied with too many things at night time, I never get to sit down in front of the TV every Monday night to watch it. Our decoder records it for later viewing when the kids are sleeping. Inspector Montalbano is an Italian TV series based on the detective novels written by Andrea Camilleri. Its setting is in a fictional town called Vigata in Sicily. It's not your usual heavy crime stories laden with violence like what they show nowadays. The stories are always intertwined with Sicilian culture, the way of life, the amazing scenery and the food. Yes, it is possible to put them together because believe me, when Montalbano eats and describes what he is eating (especially in the books), you would wish all the fairies to transport you to where he is and eat what he is eating.
25 April 2016
Trabocco Cungarelle is the very first trabocco (or trabucco) that I have ever dined in. The first one that I've seen as a matter of fact. It was more or less like the pictures I've seen in Google when I searched it last year, only better when I was standing there in the beach staring at it in front of me. It was something that I was not expecting to find in Italy. How panoramic it was that the trabocco was right on the emerald water supported by stilts and the sun was out shining on everything it touched with the beautiful backdrop of the blue sky.
23 April 2016
When I go to the Adriatic side of Italy with my family, we make sure that we get to eat at least once in a trabucco (or trabocco). What is a trabucco? It is an old fishing construction typical in a specific area called Costa dei Trabucchi or Coast of Trabucchi which lies along the Chieti area along the coast of the Abruzzo. The trabucchi (plural of trabucco) can also be found along the coast of Gargano, between the towns of Vieste and Peschici, in the Apulia region. They are large wooden structures that jut out into the sea and anchored to the rocks by big wooden columns made of Aleppo pine wood, a local pine that grows in the Gargano area. They have two wooden antennae that support a giant fishing net in the middle.
16 April 2016
Dear lasagna, as much as I would love to have you every single day, I simply cannot because I can't afford to gain more pounds that I am desperately already trying to shed off before summer arrives. How many times have I hesitated over the idea of making Lasagne al Ragù? A hundred times and then more. It's one of my favorite pasta dishes and to be really specific, my very own version of it because after more than a decade of trials and errors, I finally got the taste that I really wanted. It is a classic case of loving your own.
15 April 2016
Bitter and spicy with red and white leaves. That's what radicchio (or Italian chicory) is to us. It is not everyone's favorite choice of vegetable because of its particular flavor but it lends a great flavor to a lot of dishes. It can be eaten raw and added to salads, cooked and mixed with vegetable side dishes, risotto, frittata, pasta or my favorite and perhaps the best - grilled then drizzled with a good kind of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
13 April 2016
If you want to spark a heated discussion among Italians, just ask one question and the topic will never end. It has been going for years and it is something that sees no light in ending. What is the Italian region with the best food? True, every region in Italy has something great to contribute to the national gastronomy. True, in every region, there really is something edible to die for. And true, it is the hardest question to answer. Perhaps. Unless. Maybe, there is one region that can top the rest and most will agree without so much debate (even if you will still hear some grumblings from the old-timers). Emilia-Romagna.
07 April 2016
A genuinely good restaurant has good service that begins as soon as you call to book your table. I was traveling with my family of 4-1/2 with two kids and a medium-sized dog. I know, it's the family composition that can make anyone on the receiving end of the phone call twitch but what impressed me is that we were greeted warmly at the door and we were immediately ushered to the beach patio where we can leave our dog (if we wanted to of course) so we can stay close enough to him but be able to eat peacefully inside.
06 April 2016
When I am able to cook a meal with really simple procedures, quickest time possible and ingredients that are readily available, then I call it a success. Oh yes, of course, the important part is that it should be delicious and nutritious. The Baked Pistachio-Crusted Fish is just seasoned with salt and pepper, covered with crushed pistachios then sprayed with extra virgin olive oil before I baked it. The Vitelotte Potatoes and Asparagus Salad instead are just boiled and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled with salt. The whole meal is really that simple and I was able to use as little ingredients as I could.
30 March 2016
When you are pointing your travels towards the region of Puglia (Apulia), in southern Italy, there is a plenitude of towns to visit. Be it any area, the Apulian characteristics are nevertheless notable with its whitewashed houses, pristine beaches along the Adriatic Sea, mountains, tradition, wines, extra virgin olive oil and cuisine. Being a sunny area with Mediterranean climate, locally produced ingredients are considered some of the best in the country. The soil and climate give intense flavors to the fresh produce harvested which directs the cuisine to a higher level of quality, tradition and distinctive tastes.
25 March 2016
When you think that you have been too much of a carnivore lately, have a break and go vegetarian for at least one meal. Vegetarians and vegans claim how they have felt better after going meatless and it would be inspiring to take one step forward and give it a try. There's nothing better to go for something healthy and eat "plants" (as my daughter used to say) that are full of nutrients. Let's listen to our bodies sometimes and be thankful that we did after a fulfilling meal. My quick and easy meatless recipe is this Citrus Chickpea and Zucchini Patties with Herb Yogurt Dip. It has loads of flavors and healthy all the way through because they are baked in the oven.
21 March 2016
When I feel like cooking some risotto and I suddenly find my rice supply in the cupboard empty, I don't really worry because there is another ingredient that I love that can replace the rice. I can make orzotto instead. Orzotto is like risotto but instead of rice, barley is used. Riso is the Italian word for rice while orzo is the Italian word for barley. They are cooked in the same way but of course, barley and rice are totally different things in the palate. Barley is nutty and gives a chewy consistency while rice is softer and has a milder taste.
17 March 2016
Carrots don't seem to be as exciting as other kinds of vegetables. Maybe because they are always available, being a year-round staple in the market shelves. I look at them as those dependably healthy root vegetables that I fill up my vegetable bin with, automatically. They are staple in my kitchen like how lemons, potatoes, tomatoes, onions and garlic are. Like my other ever-present vegetables, they are very economical and available everywhere. Often, they are overlooked as a great vegetable that can stand on its own.
16 March 2016
We have the hope to serve only the best to our family, especially when we are the ones behind the kitchen counter tossing and cooking our dinner. The only thing is, do we have the time and energy to whip up everything after a whirlwind of chores and work? Most of the time, we don't. On those tired days, we can still put together something great in the kitchen that the family will definitely love. And guess what? It's one of those dishes where we use only one pan. Just grab your ingredients before heading home and give it half an hour from start to finish.
11 March 2016
Pork barbecue skewers was a slice of my life during my younger days in the Philippines. It's street food with a bang. Park one of the barbecue grills in one corner of a road and expect everyone to flock to it, patiently waiting for his turn to have the freshly-grilled skewers. You wait while your skewers get cooked and if you are within a 1-mile radius, the incredible smell will drive you to the source - running. I was one of those people who was answering to the call of smell then leaving with a full tummy in the end and a thinner wallet too. It has been so many years since the last time I stood in a corner and waited for my barbecue skewers cook amidst a cloud of smoke and I thought that it's about time I recreated it in in the comfort of my own home in Italy.
10 March 2016
Sesame chicken in Chinese restaurants had each of us exclaiming how good they are. Tender chicken pieces covered with a sticky sweet brown sauce with a hint of vinegar and a prominent sesame flavor - how delicious does that sound like? It's an ideal dish where Asian flavors are playing altogether in one bite. If you are thinking of an ideal Asian dish, this has got to be the best candidate to represent it.
09 March 2016
You can easily get lost in the innumerable names of restaurants to try in Milan. Like all metropolitan cities, the choices are hard to cut down to a few and worse, to just one - just enough to keep yourself stuffed with good food and wine while in town. Maybe you are like me. I have a habit of checking out where to eat before I arrive to any place even if that means standing up on one corner of the town, googling what are available close by. I like being prepared and be assured of a table when the clock chimes eat o'clock! The value of the money matters where I go to and what I receive back.
07 March 2016
On a dinner like this, you open all your senses. Di Che Pasta Siamo makes you listen to the stories being told, taste the food that is being cooked, smell the magnificent scent of Italian cooking, admire the creativity of Italian design, and touch the texture of each creation. You ponder how sublime the Italian world can be. Family traditions continue for generations without failing on one single thing that is sacred to each and every producer of any product. Quality is a sacred word to any Italian production and for us consumers, we should strongly keep the concept of Made in Italy upright because it is an important seal of excellence, innovation and creativity.
06 March 2016
There is a way to create something that has all the characteristics that we want in one dish. These Potato and Fish Wrapped Asparagus Rolls are healthy, fresh, delicious and easy to prepare. They're exactly how we want our next dish to be when we have guests coming or even better, for our next Sunday special with the family. You just need 3 main ingredients, 2 saucepans and a choice between cognac or vegetable broth to come up with these awesome rolls.
01 March 2016
Classic dishes gone modern, twists that leave you in wonder, and new flavors that you never thought you would ever taste. Chefs from the new generation are overwhelmingly creative and talented that it is always fun to anticipate what will come out next. I am a big lover of fusion because even in my own kitchen, I like to experiment with new combination of tastes. The surprise in the first forkful is always an exhilarating experience. Did the combination work or did it not?
26 February 2016
Potato croquettes are undoubtedly great bites that the whole family can enjoy together but there is only one thing that stops me from making them at home. They are fried. When they are dipped in that boiling hot oil and come out golden brown, crispy outside and soft inside, they are so irresistible - right? I'm with you there too. I always go for yummy food even if I know that they are not 100% healthy because we cannot possibly be straight with our eating habits all the time. Fried potatoes here and there sometimes are absolutely ok with me but when it's time to eat seriously and head for healthier options, I go for baked food especially when there are two growing kids involved.
24 February 2016
Bao, bau, baozi, pao, pau, humbow, salapao - they are strange words, aren't they? They are the different aliases of the steamed pork bun that I grew up calling siopao. Since the Philippine cuisine has big influences from Chinese, Malay and Spanish cuisines, this pork bun arrived to the country when the Chinese arrived. It is one of the important dishes that had been permanently embedded to the Filipino food culture. It's comfort food that found another home in the country.
21 February 2016
For quite some time, cauliflower rice had been invading the foodie world for its alternative to rice with lower carbs. I finally made my mind to go for it too especially when I found the orange and purple versions at the supermarket. Side by side, the whites, oranges and purples make an outstanding sight. I have a huge weakness for unique natural colors of fruits and vegetables so it was imperative that I bought all three. There is no difference in flavors but the nutrients that you get from them compared to the whites are slightly different.
The purple variety contains antioxidant anthocyanin, the flavonoid present in fruits and vegetables with the same hues like blueberries, bilberries, red currants, black rice, red cabbages, concord grapes, etc. The orange variety instead is rich in beta carotene which makes it richer in vitamin A by 25% compared to its white cousin. The white variety doesn't lack in nutrients as well because it is very rich in vitamin C and a good amount of vitamin K, folate and a whole load of other nutritious things.
19 February 2016
Charred until the skin is ugly and blackish. That's what you should do to these eggplants. I had been dubious about it ever since I was a kid when I would enjoy the only eggplants dish you would see me eating. I love the smoky taste to it without any bitterness that you would think you would get with the blackened skin. As you peel it off, you arrive to the rich taste of the pulp with such an incredible flavor. It's a perfect partner for grilled fish. In the Philippines, the only way to make this salad is with vinegar, fresh tomatoes and onions. Now that the childhood quirks to food limitations have finally ceased and opened up to a whole wide world of food, I am enjoying eggplants more. Parmigiana? Now that's another eggplant love.
Getting to know a place shouldn't limit us to seeing what is in front of us. It also entails the usage of our senses of smell and taste to get a profound cognizance of why we are in that spot in the first place. When we taste the local gastronomy, it is something that is particularly unique from that place because whatever grows in that land took the characteristics of the soil, climate and other exponents that contribute to its growth. Les Garrigues is an arid land with Mediterranean climate and what grows in their land makes it specially and uniquely theirs. With a little tour of the place, get to know why this hidden gastronomic gem is a place to see, smell and taste.
15 February 2016
Sintica Winery was started in 2007 by 3 individuals who envisioned a great development of the wine industry in the town of Sandanski. It replaced the defunct Complex Experimental Station that was established in the mid-20th century. Having the Experimental Agricultural Center, it carried a botanical importance in having rare and exotic plants in the premises. Moreover, it became known for its creation of unique grape hybrids like the Early Melnik (Melnik 55), Melnishki Rubin, Melnik Jubilee 1300, Melnik 82, Sandanski Misket and others. During its glory years, it won a lot of national and international awards for its wines created in its Experimental Wine Cellar but with the effect of post-communism in the country, it stopped functioning.
11 February 2016
I know what my son will get a bar of Intense dark chocolate and orange when we enter the Lindt chocolate shop because it's the same thing that I would also get for myself. It's nice to share the same love of flavors with him. Or maybe not because as soon as I turn my back, the bar immediately disappears in his mouth. We like flavors that don't shy away from our taste buds. The strength of both dark chocolate and orange make a very interesting combination. Intense, really, that's the best word I can describe it.