The sun was succeeding in boiling me while I was walking around the premises of EXPO last summer. When I finally found a shaded area devoid of crowds with casually placed chairs and tables on the side of a pavilion, I almost made a lunge towards it. I had about a quarter of an hour to relax my tired feet and to gain back some energy. When I finally gained enough consciousness to look around, there were smiling faces looking at me and they were speaking in an odd language to me. When they understood that I was clueless about what they were saying, they switched to English. They wanted to know if I was a journalist, pointing towards the colossal ID that was hanging around my neck. It said Media. I told them that I was a food - travel writer and I also create recipes and I was there to visit a couple of pavilions that were hosting a group of us to get to know their cuisines. That got the excitement going. They wanted me to know more about the food in their country. Indonesia.
26 July 2016
24 July 2016
Four pairs of well-worn dusty hiking boots, backpacks with the essentials and the grandest enthusiasm to explore the Dolomite mountains were all packed in our car along with the other luggage we had been lugging around for our 2-week holiday. Our 15-day summer trip was coming to a conclusion and we decided that a week in the Dolomites would have to be the grand finale before we headed back to Rome. The Alto Adige (or Südtirol in German and South Tyrol in English) side of the Dolomite mountains has always been our summer destination for so many years but for this year, we took a different turn in the Italian alps and headed to a part that we never set our boots on. Our destination was the town of Madonna di Campiglio in the Trentino side of the Dolomites.
22 July 2016
In Italy, landscapes can mesmerize anyone passing through the boot-shaped country from north until the southern tip. Different regions have different charming sceneries. Driving through the less trodden roads of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, you are rewarded with a scenic view of the countryside and as you reach the DOC Colli Orientali del Friuli area , it becomes more picturesque. It is like going through a travel picture you happen to see in a travel guide. Being an important wine area, the view is a patchwork of different shades of green draped softly on hills. Straight rows of vines and manicured grass on soft hills with a light gray road curving its way in the middle of the patchworks. While the sky remains bright blue, I can't convey in stronger words how beautiful the view is. At a certain point, almost close to the border of Slovenia, I had to ask my husband to stop the car on the side of the road and enjoy the panorama 360 degrees around us. That is Colli Orientali del Friuli.
21 July 2016
Baby squid is not often present in the fishmongers' display of seafood. When I chance upon them, I always get some to sautè. Sometimes, I serve it with steamed rice when I cook it the Filipino way (adobong pusit) or sometimes with a vegetable side dish or even better, as topping of the bruschetta. Whatever way I go for, it is always a great dish, an accomplishment to the taste buds What I am sharing with you here is a very simple way to enjoy the baby squid - sautèeing them in extra virgin olive oil then tossing them with tomatoes, olives and capers. The flavors point towards the Italian palate and I can assure you, every bite is a challenge not to eat more and more.
20 July 2016
One of the things that makes summers great is that I am more driven to cook more seafood dishes than ever. It just seems so natural with the beach just five minutes away from the house and the heat asks for white wine that pairs perfectly with seafood. They don't need so much time to cook plus it's possible to put different kinds in one pot. There's nothing wrong with mixing the clams, mussels, shrimp, langoustines, fish, squid, and so much more in one cooking. In fact, the more varieties there are, then the better the flavors are.
18 July 2016
Rome is the eternal city with ancient history and culture painted on every road you walk on and every stone that you see. It's traversing through one of the greatest civilizations that ever existed. But experiencing the city can also be extended outside the confines of the city walls where clear waters ripple and fine sand can make any Roman holiday more special. Head to one of the beach towns where modern Romans go to on beautiful sunny days. Lido di Ostia is in the district of Rome on the Tyrrhenian Sea where you can find nice beaches and good seafood.
15 July 2016
For a kid with a distant relationship with vegetables, I always made an exception with talbos ng camote or sweet potato leaves (also called camote tops). That salad plate you see above gives me such fond memories of my childhood that by just looking at it, I get so nostalgic. How fun it had been for me gathering the leaves myself in our neighbor's big garden while searching for ladybugs to play with. Sometimes, I would also be handed a piece of sugarcane to munch on before crossing the road back home. It was a playground and a candy shop in the middle of nature. Maybe that was the main reason why I loved this salad in the first place - because I used to gather the salad myself and it was my first independence of "food shopping" that my mom entrusted me with.
12 July 2016
The beach calls when summer hits the calendar. It's that moment when we finish all the necessary things, call it quits for a few days, pack up and go. Well, realistically, it's not really that fast and easy because endless hours of browsing and planning our itinerary was the main part of the "behind the scenes" plus looking for the right hotels - which is another long process. You see, I like them perfectly clean, beautiful, small and have characteristics that stand out.
10 July 2016
With fifty years of solid culinary backbone, Ristorante Mildas of Mirko Pizzini and family has become a gourmet icon in the area of Madonna di Campiglio. Initially situated in Pinzolo, then to its neighboring town Madonna di Campiglio and finally, to the edge of Pinzolo, in a small village called Giustino, Mildas found a beautiful location in a monastery that dates back from 1300. The restaurant has three dining areas, with the old crypt functioning as the main hall. It is a room with four circular columns and Gothic ceiling. The wooden tables are lined against the walls where seating arrangements can mean sharing of tables (which is a common practice in the mountains anyway).
07 July 2016
When I think of Ravenna, I think of the eight amazing monuments inscribed in UNESCO's World Heritage List. The monuments are a selection of early Christian baptistries, basilicas and mausoleums that are scattered about in the ancient city. With a good map from the tourist office and comfortable shoes, going around the city and seeing them for yourself is an incredible experience. But what the city offers does not end there because Ravenna also has a number of good restaurants. So after a day of historical and cultural discovery, book a table at one of the city's best, Osteria del Tempo Perso, and discover another side of Ravenna.
Schnitzel is Austria's pan fried thinly pounded slice of breaded meat. The original meat used is veal and it is called wiener schnitzel. It may not seem so exciting but you will love it immediately after one bite because it is so tender and tasty. Kids love it and it is very easy to make so it is a great idea for weeknight dinners. You can tenderize the meat and coat it with the breadcrumbs ahead if you want to save time then just fry it when it's time for dinner.
06 July 2016
I just need four main ingredients, one pot and about 40 minutes to make this breakfast for dinner meal. It's a very easy recipe and everyone loves it. No buts from the kids, not even from the adults. It's not really the healthiest dinner that can land on your table but once in a while, it's good to take that plunge into the delicious world of simple food. I do use the chicken sausages instead of pork for leaner meat and extra virgin olive oil for sautèing so those should make things a bit better.
05 July 2016
My stop in Ljubljana had been short but enough for me to gather some great first impressions. I didn't expect it to be so charming and so busy on a weekday. The old town was a lovely walk where outdoor cafès, restaurants and shops housed in colorful Baroque and Vienna Secession style buildings line up the squares. Being just a short transit from Bled to Rabac, Croatia by car, I only had the time to see the Ljubljana Castle overlooking the city and through the city center before my family and I settled into another Slovene highlight at the JB Restaurant of Chef Janez Bratovž.
02 July 2016
Slovenia, such a small country yet so extensive in natural beauty. Starting with its lakes, towns, mountains, caves, vineyards then traversing on to another corner which is an equally enticing aspect of this amazing country - gastronomy. I am a beginner with Slovene cuisine and after a little bit of research, I found out that it has Alpine, Pannonian, and Mediterranean influences and because of its position that is bordered by Italy, Croatia, Austria, and Hungary, the flavors that it has adopted can take you to a colorful aromatic trip to a beautiful cuisine.
30 June 2016
Gone are the days when Italian beer ranks a comfortable low spot in the drink scene over wine. Italian commercial beers are good but they're not likely to pull so much interest on the dining table. In my house, cold bottles of commercial beer only come out when there are round pizzas on the table. Moving forward, things shifted in the beer world. Italian craft beer is becoming big and is still growing. With nearly 600 breweries brewing different blends, beer received a new acclamation from both beer enthusiasts and curious drinkers. Stray away from your usual drinks, pull a chair and let's discover 32 Via dei Birrai's eight different kinds of beer together.
21 June 2016
I'm sill here! It's been a couple of weeks since I've last written a blog post. It's for a very good reason because I am on a holiday with my family. I have been going around Slovenia, Croatia and some northern parts of Italy for the past days and I am currently on my last leg at the Dolomite mountains until next week. After working endlessly in my blog for five years, I decided to dedicate a little bit of time for my family and that means to lessen my blogging time for a few days. However, with this trip, I have collected a lot of topics to write about. New places to speak about and new experiences. If you have been following me in my social network accounts, especially Facebook, you will see what I had been seeing. But for now, I chose this simple fruity cocktail to share with you because the right season calls for it.
06 June 2016
I'm going to Rome. For a first timer, it gives the exulting emotion that only that phrase can give to an excited traveler. Rome, being the capital of Italy, epitomizes an ancient city with preserved monuments dating back thousands of years ago, important history, art, fashion, Vatican City, excellent gastronomy that's incredibly popular globally and so many things more. In spite of all the great things that Rome has, there is one simple thing that is foremost in every visitor's Roman bucket list. Gelato. After all, a tired tourist has to eat too and in the warm months, a big cone of gelato is the best thing anyone can have in the Eternal City.
A long weekend with the kids just went by. With a national holiday falling on a Thursday, Friday was also declared a no-school day. The second of June was Italy's Festa della Repubblica (Republic day), a national holiday that commemorates the day the country voted for a republic that made the Italian monarchy fall. It's a big event in Rome where a grand military parade is held along Via dei Fori Imperiali (the road between the Colosseo and Piazza Venezia). It's an event that I have always wanted to see in person but with the big crowds and two kids to take around, just watching it in the television is the smartest thing to do. It's the best seat in the house anyway especially when you have something chocolatey to munch on.
26 May 2016
If you ever took the plane to come to Rome then you must have landed in Leonardo da Vinci International Airport located in Fiumicino. It's the first town you arrive to but perhaps you don't even notice it as you immediately move on to your destination. Fiumicino is a town in the province of Rome that runs along the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea. For a Roman, it's one of the popular beach places to escape to for a day away from the city. In fact, as soon as the warm weather settles in, weekends are always packed with city dwellers looking for a relaxing day in this seaside town. A walk in the beach or along the harbor and a lunch of seafood or pizza is a typical day in Fiumicino.
24 May 2016
The name Agugiaro & Figna has a fine story to tell. In the 19th century, the Agugiaro family founded their mill in Padua while the Figna family ventured into their milling activity forty years after in Parma. Both mills grew and by the 21st century, they ventured into an even bigger project by merging together. With hundreds of years of experience, expertise and deep knowledge in the field, Agugario & Figna Mills became one solid foundation of the most important flour maker in Italy that has mills in Parma, Padua and Perugia producing 280,000 tons of flour annually. Never wavering from their original mission, they continue to bring excellent semi-finished high quality flour.
18 May 2016
Finally, I can sit down again with a more relaxed mind. It had been quite some since I last posted in my blog (for good reasons) after I had been running around attending to things at home and traveling. This time, I would like to share something that you can call a tradition Italian pasta dish with a just little twist of lemon and rosè wine. The lemon zest added a delicate, fresh citrus hint and while the rosè didn't really change the taste from the usual white wine, the whole dish got a refreshing unobtrusive change because after all, the vongole or clams are the ones that give the primary flavors to this dish.
06 May 2016
A few years ago, I never minded the work behind shelling and cooking fava beans. I could have shelled tons of them as long as my hands would allow me. You wouldn't mind doing it either if you have the best kitchen assistant working beside you. My then toddler daughter would pull a chair beside me, shell her own little mountain of pods while she bombards me with every question she can think of, like what I say is the only thing that matters to her. A curious little one who attached herself to me day in and day out and kept the word "why" to her main vocabulary.
04 May 2016
Fennel keeps on jumping out at me when I am walking through rows of vegetables. I like it because it is such a versatile companion in cooking. You can eat it raw while chopping it (I do all the time), it goes so well with other fresh ingredients in salads, for cooking with fish, baking it to make a Fennel Gratin, or just plain tossing in olive oil to take out its delicious aromatic juice. In any case, grab a bulb when it is in season and use it in your meals. Even if you can find it anytime of the year now, it is still at its best in its real season which is autumn to spring.
01 May 2016
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.
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.