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21 June 2016

Banana, Rum and Coconut Blizzard

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

Gunther Gelato Italiano in Rome, Italy

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.

Triple Chocolate French Toast Pinwheels

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

Pizzeria Marina in Fiumicino (Rome), Italy: The Simplicity of A World Champion Pizza Chef


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

Agugiaro & Figna Mills: When Flour Matters

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

Spaghetti alle Vongole with Lemon Zest and Rosè Wine

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

Penne with Fava Beans, Pancetta and Tomatoes

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

Sautèed Fennel, Asparagus and Goji Berries

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

Banana Walnut Cake with Brandy Sauce

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

Ristorante Svevia in Termoli (Molise), Italy

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

Skillet Red Beans, Turkey Meatballs and Rice

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

Quick-Prep Parmesan Crusted Chicken

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

Pasta alla Norma

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

Ristorante Trabocco Cungarelle in Vasto Marina (Abruzzo), Italy

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

Ristorante Al Trabucco da Mimi in Peschici (Puglia), Italy

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

Slow Cooker Lasagna with Ragù and Bechamel Sauce

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

Radicchio: 3 of the Best Ways to Enjoy Them

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

Musei del Cibo (Parma Food Museums) in Parma, Italy

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

Ristorante La Ciucculella in Vasto (Abruzzo), Italy

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

Baked Pistachio-Crusted Sole Fillet with Vitelotte Potatoes and Asparagus Salad

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

Ristorante and B&B Li Jalantuùmene in Monte Sant' Angelo (Puglia), Italy

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

Citrus Chickpea and Zucchini Patties with Herb Yogurt Dip

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

Creamy Barley with Chorizo and Roasted Peppers

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

Balsamic Roasted Carrots with Sunflower Seeds & Thyme

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

Skillet Lasagna Rolls

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

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 Meatballs

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

Ristorante Olei in Milan, Italy

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

Di Che Pasta Siamo, A Dinner Event Where Quality Italian Food and Design Meet

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

Potato and Fish Wrapped Asparagus Rolls

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.