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01 December 2016

Osteria dell'Orologio in Fiumicino (Rome), Italy


Fiumicino is not just a town in Rome where your airplane lands and departs to enter and leave Italy at the Leonardo da Vinci International Airport. Just a few kilometers from the main flying hub is the town proper where the main road overlooks the canal that comes from the Tiber River then leads to the Tyrrhenian Sea and on a sunny warm day, eating al fresco at Osteria dell'Orologio is a pleasant experience. Right beside the restaurant is the town's historic building with the imposing orologio or clock from 1822 that was designed by the famous Italian architect Giuseppe Valadier. Valadier's most famous clocks are the Oltramontano Clock and Italian Clock on the facade of the St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican.

25 November 2016

Shrimp and Asparagus Stir-Fry in Oyster Sauce


When people see that my husband and I have different cultures, the question that usually arises is what we eat at home. My answer is always the same. Ninety percent Italian and the rest of the time, we have Asian dishes, mostly Filipino. The whole family loves Italian food. Give them pizza and pasta everyday and no one will complain and give them rice and their favorite Asian dishes to go with it and you won't hear any complaints either. Shrimp and asparagus are two of my favorite ingredients to put together whether I am cooking Italian or Asian dishes. I think their individual flavors are so distinctive and when I put them together in one dish, the merging of tastes makes bond even more delectable. 

16 November 2016

Osteria Fernanda in Rome, Italy


Through the glass wall, the white walls, tall shelves of wine all the way to the ceiling, and emphasis on wood, Osteria Fernanda's minimalist contemporary design beckons you to come in and take part in their phenomenal rendition of gastronomy. I like places where the sun rays are allowed to stream inside and where the brightness accentuates the food that I am eating. With simplicity around the restaurant, the dishes that arrive on the table instead speak of originality and creativity. Osteria Fernanda's muted ambiance gives the food the importance that they need because nothing can distract the senses from the protagonists.

11 November 2016

Discover Durello 2016 in Rome: Lessini Durello DOC Spumante


In the high valleys of the Lessini Mountains, between Vicenza and Verona lies the vineyards of the durella grapes. The land is the ideal environment for the vines to grow for the volcanic minerality of the soil, ventilation and suitable day and night temperatures. Durella is an autochthonous grape variety that comes from ancient times and is described as acidulous with thick skin and rich in tannin. It's perceived as a perfect variety for making spumanti or sparkling wines.

09 November 2016

Chocolate Strawberry Cups


When strawberries and chocolates meet, there's never a doubt that something great comes out. Always. The love for the one of the best sweet combinations doesn't have any limit to ages because adults and kids (even dogs try stealing too) can't ever say no to this sweet blend. This recipe can be your make-ahead dessert or snack that is quite easy to prepare. Make them small so they're easy to pop and let the complete flavors of the strawberry cream and chocolate cups melt in your mouth. Are you ready?

04 November 2016

Taho: Soft Tofu, Sugar Syrup and Tapioca


Taho is soft tofu mixed with sago pearls and syrup slightly flavored with vanilla served in a glass.  Oh, and it's our breakfast. 

That was how I explained what this taho is to my husband after I came back to our room early in the morning on our first morning in the Philippines. Poor guy almost died of a heart attack after I sprung out of the bed with surprising speed and ran out the bedroom without giving any explanation. He knows that nothing, even shaking of the bed or dousing of cold water can make me stir out of my morning sleep.  He diligently takes me my coffee to bed every morning to help me clear up the morning cobwebs in my head.  He couldn't believe that there's something more powerful than coffee that can make me jump up like that and it doesn't even contain caffeine.   

31 October 2016

Filipino Torta (Omelet with Potatoes and Ground Meat)


Back in my childhood days, torta (Omelet with Potatoes and Ground Meat) did not have a reserved space in my plate. Whenever I see that torta is being prepared in the kitchen, I usually try to convince my mom to give me other things to eat. Of course she almost never did because we had a rule at home that whatever is on the table has to be eaten. I just learned to drown it with banana ketchup and eat more rice than usual. You see, in the Philippines, a normal meal is composed of meat or fish, vegetable side dish, rice and condiments that can go with the food. In the case of the torta, ketchup is the most popular one, especially the one made with bananas.

27 October 2016

First Week of Italian Cuisine in the World (21 - 27 November 2016)


Italian cuisine is one of the most popular cuisines in the world. I agree and I don't know anyone who doesn't love anything Italian. It's so regarded by so many that it has been recreated in so many countries. Adapting to different palates and innovating in the fast movement of the modern food culture is the ongoing trend but let's also take a look at the traditional Italian gastronomy because in every dish, there is history and culture that kept it going for centuries. The secret ingredient that makes every single bite special is actually intangible. It's the determination for quality and passion of the people behind every production from ingredient to the the hands of the chef.  

26 October 2016

Trattoria del Tribunale in Parma, Italy


Trattoria del Tribunale came up when I asked someone from Parma for a restaurant recommendation. After a couple more unanimous affirmations to the same place, I immediately got the phone and booked a table. After all, who else knows the best place to eat aside from the people who live in that city anyway? Trattoria del Tribunale is in the center of Parma, in a small, quiet street. On warmer days, there are outdoor tables on the side of the cobblestone road while the spacious two-storey restaurant accommodates more diners inside.

23 October 2016

Acquapazza Gourmet: Colatura di Alici di Cetara


The last thing that I thought I would ever find in Italy is fish sauce. Not the imported one from Asia but a version produced right in this country. With its pungent characteristic, I find it hard to understand how it can go well with the Italian cuisine but IT DOES, especially when eaten with dishes typical of the coastal town of Cetara like the simple spaghetti mixed with the sauce, fish and sautéed vegetable dishes. When I saw the stall of Acquapazza Gourmet in Milano Golosa, I waited for my turn among the wall of curious onlookers tasting and understanding the special sauce that's made in Cetara. The colatura di alici was making waves that day.

20 October 2016

Baked Coconut Chicken Strips


Coconut-coated chicken strips dipped in savory soy-ketchup are hard to resist. Between kids and adults, these are definitely a big hit! In my own table, little hands and big hands join in plunging their chicken strips in the quick and simple homemade sauce which is basically a combination of soy sauce and ketchup (yes, they do blend well together). If you are looking for a quick and easy recipe to serve on your next party, then this is the right one.

16 October 2016

Marsala Wine Chocolate Cake


I love Marsala wine and if I can do what I want, I would pour it all over the food that I am cooking - all the time. It goes very well with both savory dishes and desserts, and ahem, even in my pancakes. Being in Italy, it's very easy for me to get a bottle at the supermarket that I use for cooking. I have heard from some readers that it is not that easy to acquire in some places and if ever they do find it, they don't know which one to get. Marsala is a kind of fortified wine that has three levels of sweetness and different levels of quality. For cooking savory dishes, it's best to use secco (dry) or semisecco (semi-dry) while for desserts, dolce (sweet) is the best option. The levels of quality ranges from fine which is aged for a year to vergine stravecchio/riserva or virgin reserve which is aged for 10 years or more. Of course, for cooking, get the cheapest one which is fine or superiore and leave the older ones for drinking.

09 October 2016

Mercato Centrale Roma in Rome, Italy


Notice the doodles on the signs and how the the pictures of the food are cancelled out by more doodles. Like you, I was curious why they are everywhere. I learned that as childlike as they may appear, the real essence speaks in volumes about looking at food in a completely different way. We are asked to learn a fresh way to talk about food with a new alphabet as we start from scratch. We can mute the background noise as we concentrate on what is in front of us: the food we are eating.  

05 October 2016

Giocampus Day in Parma, Italy (Education on Food & Sports for Kids)


Giocampus is a multidisciplinary educational project that was born in 2002 in Parma, for the young people with the correct lifestyle through physical education, proper nutrition and healthy environment. When we care about the future of our children, there are no boundaries that can limit us. Being foremost in our agenda, education is the best thing that we can hand over to our kids and with Giocampus, we can join hands with a vast network that helps this important cause for the future generation.

23 September 2016

Tuscan Sausage and Beans in Tomato Sauce


Autumn just stepped in the other day and it's a new season to look forward to. As much as I love summer, I am so ready for a little bit of cold and a change of diet. It's time to start cooking again in the kitchen and I am starting with this Tuscan Sausage and Beans in Tomato Sauce (Salsiccia e Fagioli). Sausages and beans are great ingredients for the colder months and with the first few steps of autumn, I welcome it with a delicious dish from Tuscany.

20 September 2016

Brusco Lo Strabuono in Rome, Italy


Once upon a time, there was an engineer, an architect and a chef who, in spite of the different roads their careers took them to, put together their heads and on a single slice of bread, a mountain of ideas came out. Sometimes, the uniqueness of every single person can contribute to the solidity of an idea. After all, there is the precision of an engineer, the meticulousness of an architect and the efficiency of a chef. There is a perfect blend of elements and the string that binds them altogether is the passion for cooking and the desire to create something typically Italian that is not only good but extra good. Let me introduce you to a bruschetteria (bruschetta shop), Brusco Lo Strabuono, one of the newest places in Trastevere, that hip district of Rome where creativity meets gastronomy.

18 September 2016

Sautèed Tuna, Egg and Rice Brunch


There are times when my Asian side just wakes me up in the morning without warning and drags me to the kitchen and take out the essentials to make a super brunch. Having been used to salty and much heavier (with rice please) breakfasts, Italian breakfasts are a stark contrast to the full breakfast plates I enjoy in the Philippines. Unlike in Italy where I don't usually need a plate anymore while eating my cornetto or croissant and drinking my espresso while on my feet, the Philippine version requires me to sit down with a nice big plate and sit on a comfortable chair because these breakfasts are meant to be long.

15 September 2016

Fattoria Carsica Bajta Winery in Sales (Friuli-Venezia Giulia), Italy


Between animal farming and viticulture years ago, Fattoria Carsica Bajta made a successful activity of cured meat production and wine making in their fattoria or farm. Having formally opened their farm in 1999 in the town of Sales, Mr. Slavko and his sons Andrej and Nevo were also able to expand over the years by opening a food and wine shop, a restaurant that accommodates 80 and five double rooms where guests can stay immersed in a working farm life. Their activity continues to draw food and wine lovers who look for quality from the great region of Friuli - Venezia Giulia.

10 September 2016

Madre Roma in Rome, Italy


Entering Madre can give you quite a pleasant surprise. Don't be confused with its address because it is indeed located in the former convent of the Dominican nuns inside the gates of the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas and beside the Church of Saints Domenic and Sixtus (Santi Domenico e Sisto) at Largo Angelicum 1. It's a very beautiful terrace with colors splashed everywhere and plants 360 degrees around. In the architectural layout of Rome, you wouldn't expect to find yourself in a little garden haven like this. It's a contrast to what you see in the city. It breathes freshness, elegance, jollity and coziness all rolled in one place. Over everything, the charming ambience embraces you with warmth. Madre is not something you would expect to find in Rome and when you sit down and eat, that's another thing to marvel about.

04 September 2016

Applesauce Spice Muffins


When baking, I want something simple and easy to prepare that the kids would eat heartily in place of the regular biscuits that I buy. Even if I am always attentive to the kind of biscuits I get for them (and for us adults too), I always wish that I can just prepare all the baked goodies that they eat. I do read every single ingredient in everything that I buy but a home baked treat can't ever be replaced. And the smell in the house while baking is purely incredible! It's the perfect touch to have at home that I love so much. Apples and spices baking? It's hard not to keep on going back to the kitchen and taking a whiff of one of the best home fragrances. And the thing is, along with that wonderful smell are baked goodies that are equally delicious!

24 August 2016

La Locanda del Capitano Ristorante in Montone (Umbria), Italy


Forty kilometers north of Perugia and half the distance from the town of Umbertide, lies a beautiful small fortified medieval village called Montone. The quiet walled town is surrounded by oak and olive trees and a touch of Umbrian greenery. Stepping inside the walls is like a walk in the past as you maneuver your way through the narrow cobblestone roads in between the buildings of another era. The medieval atmosphere is an extraordinary feeling that this little town gives to every visitor who walks in.

21 August 2016

Limoncello Sorbet in Lemon Cups


If there is only one fruit flavor that I can choose, I would say lemon without batting an eye. It's a simple classic flavor that always pleases my taste buds, refreshes my mouth and reminds me wholly how summery it is. True, lemons are considered as summer fruit but actually they grow all-year-round. If not for the big old lemon tree that was outside my bedroom window years ago, I would have thought that lemons only fruit in the warm months. So consider this recipe perfect for any season and the ideal time to make it is when you get the craving for a good cup of lemon sorbet. And the best news is, you can also make it without an ice cream maker. 

17 August 2016

Niki's Resort in Gubbio (Umbria), Italy


After a lingering goodbye and a final long look at the spectacular view of the Umbrian hills and our hotel, I entered the car reluctantly with my kids and husband. It had been one of the best stays we had. My youngest daughter spoke out loud what was going on in our minds, Siamo stati così bene in questo albergo! (We stayed so well in this hotel!). It's so true and I would like to share with you this little gem in a quiet corner in the hills of Umbria.

14 August 2016

L'Altro Relais Ristorante in Todi (Umbria), Italy


A trip to Cantina Todini cannot stop at the wine tasting in the winery because a few hundred meters from it is one of the most beautifully located restaurants in Todi. Up on the hills of Collevalenza in a 13th century manor house lies Relais Todini, a five-star hotel and inside it is L'Altro Relais Ristorante, a restaurant overlooking a magnificent view of the vineyards of Todini and the hotel's swimming pool. The restaurant is being run by Chef John Paterson, a Scottish chef who transferred to Umbria many years ago and planted his roots there.

12 August 2016

Chicken and Broccoli Stir-Fry


Isn't it about time you stop making trips to the neighborhood Asian restaurant for takeout and make your own Asian dinner at home? In less than half an hour, I can assure you, you will have a Chicken and Broccoli Stir-Fry like this on your table ready for dinner. And that includes the rice too! It's packed with protein from the lean chicken and different kinds of nutrients especially vitamins C and K from the broccoli florets. And when you eat it with rice (like most Asian dishes anyway), you add a good amount of carbs in  your diet too. And the most important thing? You can say that you cooked it yourself with the ingredients you chose. Now is the best time to take control of what ends up on your table with really simple food that's good for your health.

11 August 2016

Corn Salad


My refusal to cook dishes that require long processes of cooking in summer is met my questioning looks by my small daughter. When I tell her that it's too hot to stay in front of the stove and oven, comprehension registers in her face because she feels the heat herself but the child in her wants to complain anyway. With grilled corn on the cob as one of her favorite food (which she loves getting at the beach), we arrive at a compromise. She can have the corn on the cob at home if she will eat it boiled instead of grilled, then I can face the heat of the stove for her. Fortunately, she likes it boiled too.

10 August 2016

Marzapane Ristorante in Rome, Italy


No wall separates Spain and Italy at Marzapane Ristorante that's for sure. Instead, the synergy of both cuisines creates something more enthralling in the hands of their young and talented Spanish chef. Bagging the title of Gambero Rosso's Emerging Chef of 2014, Chef Alba Esteve Ruiz shines her way around the kitchen sprinkling distinctive flavors from her native country to her Italian dishes. She comes up with the most interesting flavors that captivates your taste buds. Spanish and Italian are two of the best cuisines in the world without a doubt, and to be able to utilize them both well in harmonious proportions means Chef Alba really excels in the kitchen where she continues to compel us with her dishes in her own fascinating world at Marzapane Ristorante.

09 August 2016

Roasted Sea Bream with Tomatoes, Olives and Lemon


After coming from the fishmonger and I have four medium (one for each of us) orate or gilt-head sea bream stashed in my thermal bag, this is the first dish that I can think of preparing. I make two versions of this fish dish, both easy and using the same ingredients. One is cooked on the stove in a saucepan while this one is oven-roasted. You can change the kind of fish freely but small to medium whole white fish is the best option over filleted ones for more flavor. 

07 August 2016

Re Lear Ristorante in Malcesine (Lake Garda), Italy

Ombrina Marinata al Forno con Purè di Patata Viola, Germogli di Verdure del Baldo, Croccante di Riso e Gocce di Campari (Baked Marinated Shi Drum with Mashed Violet Potatoes, Shoots of Vegetables from Mount Baldo, Crispy Rice and Campari Drops)

If you like small ancient towns by the lake like Malcesine, then let me just tell you that you are not alone because apart from the throngs of tourists I walked along the streets with, there are also hundreds of foreign couples who programmed their weddings in the same place this summer. In fact, just for a few hours that I was there, two weddings were taking place one after the other. Indeed, Malcesine is one of the most enchanting towns in Lake Garda (Lago di Garda in Italian).

04 August 2016

Zucchini Flower Salad with Feta and Dried Herring


While the summer heat pervades the whole house, the kitchen doesn't look as inviting as it was when the weather was a bit cooler. August is usually the month when I would leave my oven to rest until September again. Salads take a major part of our summer diet with lots of water or ice cold drinks. Fresh light plates with seasonal vegetables are easier to digest and much better this hot season. And I guess like you, we are all in constant search for a delicious salad mixture to keep the flavors diverse for the whole hot season.