Category Archives: Eating Out

Granville Public Market

(Dedicated to Tita Maribel!!!)

On our recent trip to Canada, we found this colorful, bright, and lively thing of a place nestled safely beneath the blanket of a bridge.

It’s a maze of eccentric shops hidden in buildings that give a feeling of being in a world within worlds. And outside, there are unique signs and trees bordering a body of water, where the stones on the ground and everything else always seems to be wet and vivid.

Welcome to the Granville Public market!

on our way there

 

I had such a blast here. I especially loved the food shops right next to the food market, because then you knew that all their food was made fresh. It was just a hallway lined with the tiny food places, and in the middle there were seats to sit around and talk and listen to the performers singing or playing their accordian. So many food samplings, too! There were things you could try like creamed honey and bratwurst, and pita breads and fruit.

So many things to look at!

Another favorite of mine was this eye glasses shop. I’m pretty sure that they made all their own frames, because you could see them working away on a raised platform, playing with screws and trinkets.

And how could I forget? We ate at this Chinese place, I think, the day before we went here. In Canada, we stayed near Vancouver, which is very well known for its Asian food. Asian food is delicious, but sometimes it can be a little on the oily side (And I should know, because this is especially true with Filipinos!). I enjoy what I’m eating for a time, and then I get some serious stomach troubles. But it is always worth it! Sort of.

The melt-in-your-mouth, fatty beef brisket

Lemon chicken is always a favorite

Finished off with some cleansing tea

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Paradise on 7,100 Islands.

As I sit here  in one of the suites of the magnifique Sofitel hotel, my adventure in the Philippines is neither just beginning or ending. I’m at the I-think-I’ll-just-stay-here-until-the-cows-come-home phase (which is very unfortunate because I don’t think we have that many black and white cows here) and I’m soaking everything in into my peeling tan skin. We’ve had our fair share of water and sun in the natural frontier, and have gone shopping into the lights of the city as our minds melted away into the bed each and every night. I’ve been living off of rice and carbs and restaurants, which is basically like heaven. I love all the food that is here! All down to the Jollibee and longaniza. Yum. It especially touches all the warm places in me when I see such a country bound together by the bountiful grand churches and shrines dedicated to various Saints. And my first true guilty pleasure? Puto Bumbong!!. And of course the friendly people-they’re all kind smiles and contagious humor.

But of course, living in America, I barely know how to speak tagalog, a common Filipino dialect. Which I find weird, because I can understand it perfectly well. And I am determined to learn the natural way-talking as much as I can in the language, and asking A LOT of questions (and I simultaneously sob and cringe as I type this, because it is easier said than done)I do this partly because that’s how people learn naturally, and partly because Mother won’t let me get Rosetta Stone. (it’s always Rosetta Stone…) But frankly, my brain no longer works like a baby’s anymore. I can’t learn as fast, so yes, it will be gruelling and frustrating to speak, but I look forward to a future when I can think and talk Filipino. They say that once you successfully learn to speak a language fluently, you start thinking in that language to. I expect that when I reach this level, I will feel extremely awesome and well-rounded in the world. I can finally be one of those people who people look at and say “She can speak two languages. *gasp*” (more or less).Yup. So that’s basically my all-American dream on a platter.

Right. So more about the vacation. Well, this morning we had the famous 39 foods buffet for breakfast at the Sofitel Hotel. The restaurant is called The Spiral. I find it very curious that only as I come to the Philippines that my appetite is diminishing, so I have been getting full quicker than ever before. I suspect the foreign fortified milk I’ve been drinking…BUT let’s not start pointing those pointers around. What I was saying, my mom started telling me to eat as much as I can at such an exceptional place, so that I won’t seem disrespectful by not eating much and acting as if I don’t want to be there. And my mom telling me to stuff myself silly doesn’t happen every day, so you can see the irony in this. My conscience was SUPER SMIRKING as she said this, and I was like, DIS IS DE BEST LECTURE EBER (in a Filipino accent, of course) My god, all that food! There were freaking cheeses, compotes, buns, soups, pastries, pitchi-pitchis (a rice cake dessert colorful thing rolled in coconut), pizza, meat, pancakes, sushi, cereals, jams, noodles, eggs, crepes, muffins, rice, rice, rice, stuffed buns, ube (purple yam) tarts, and more. (And I say freaking in a joyous way) I’m spazzing just thinking about it. And cocktail hour, so many fancy and sophisticated hors d’ oeuvres. My tongue has officially tasted the finer things in life. And you know, half the fun in vacation is what you eat, unless, of course, you have a bland, tasteless tongue. Then I just feel sorry for you.

Alright, food spasm over. Let’s talk about the room. And not just any room, it’s a full-out suite. It’s the first time I’ve ever gotten a suite! (Thanks, Grandma!) And is it sweet ( I couldn’t resist that one XD)

Later on we’re going to the Mall of Asia. I can’t wait!

And the moral of the story? It’s always healthy to brag once in a while.

 

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Foods of Pampanga

Yes, it is true this was only my second food tour in my teenager existence.

It is also true that I got notably ill after the experience because never in my life had I eaten so much food within a period of 12 hours.

Nevertheless, this Pampanga Food Tour was an unforgettable experience! And it was led by the one and only Spanky Enriquez-blogger of Manila Boy, “The Pampanga Expert” (clearly stated in the Yummy Magazine of the Philippines), and last but not least, a favorite godfather of mine. He happens to be one of my genuine inspirations that has me aspiring to be a writer. Now, Ninong Spanky (Ninong means godfather in Filipino) is part of a group called the Ultimate Philippines tour company. He and three other men show others the true essence of the Filipino culture that only they can personally provide through their experience and travel.

Now, Spanky Enriquez is your everyday quirky, loafer-wearing, DVD-obsessed, gregarious, adventurous food lover always decked out in black and white attire. Cool, right? And since he’s bffl (best friends for LIFE) with my mom and dad, our food tour was really very casual and fun. And he knows what he’s doing because he does this thing once a month with about 30 people, maximum. My gawd if I had to handle 30 people………I can’t even handle my baby brother.

Right. So before we actually started the tour, we did a quick pre-empanada stop on our way to Pampanga. Ninong Spanky got the empanadas himself while we waited in the car. He was back inside before I even knew what happened, and then all of a sudden I had a cute little pocket of food in my hand.

Wrapped in wax paper, I quickly revealed the flaky and buttery crust of the thing. What makes it good is the lard, of course. Which is probably why the meaty filling tasted so sweet and savory, paired perfectly together like  pb & j or grapes and cheese.We got these from the Echague Bakery at Manila.

First stop: Everybody’s Cafe (McArthur Highway in Pampanga)

Here, we got some juicy crickets (camaru) and stuffed frogs (betute). The crickets are very delectable because people have to catch those bouncy little critters back out in the fields. (Which I’m sure is extremely laborous)  Then we had the classic pairing of chicharon (fried pig’s skin) and achara (pickled grated green papaya)

Second stop: The Original Razon’s

The halo-halo (literally translated to mix-mix) here isn’t your average colorful conundrum of mixed Filipino sweets topped over shaved ice, oh no no no.  In fact, it has a very beige color to it, but it tastes A THOUSAND TIMES BETTER then all those rainbow ones. And who says you need ube (purple yam jam) and jellies in your halo-halo? The people here at Razon’s know that the simpler the better. It’s only composed of five perfectly portioned ingredients: leche flan, crushed ice, milk, sweetened saba, and macapuno.

Soon after, we took a drive on the side of gracious plains blanketed with rice fields and bordered by rolling mountains. From there, we ended up at the the San Guillermo Parish in Bacolor, Pampanga.

Also known as the church that’s halfway buried in lahar. Yup. A volcano practically devoured it, but thankfully left the top most part of the church, which was later cemented and turned into a church once again. When inside, you can tell how the windows and entryways look like they’ve been submerged, and the ceiling of the church is only meters from your head.

Before:

After:

You see the largest middle window above the church’s door in the before pic? That has now become the entrance to the church.

Fourth Stop: C’Italian Dining

The original Panizza from the genius mind of  the welcoming Chef Chris!! He greeted us and everyone else so warmly at his restaurant, and most of all, served us great food. Now, the panizza is more like a fun “pizza sushi” finger food. What they do is that they bake the pizza in a rectangular shape, and then cut it into strips. After putting a good dollop of arugula and alfalfa sprouts, you roll it up, dip it in oil, and eat! We got two kinds of panizza: Millionario, which is their famous cheese sauce infused with tomato sauce sauce and white truffle oil and then topped with shrimp and herbs, and Stefano, which is plain cheese with parmesan, garlic, and fresh rosemary.

Good friends Chef Chris and Ninong Spanky
Millionario
Stefano
Step 1: Get a strip
Step 2: Top with greens
Step 3: Roll it up
Eat!

At the entrance of their restaurant they have a wall armored with dozens of autographed plates.

Ninong holding Kris Aquino’s plate (we think)
An especially beautiful plate

Quick stop for some frozen yogurt.

And finally, we finished off with some tocino barbecue and what Ninong Spanky calls “The best sisig in the Philippines: Mely’s (in San Fernando) is grilled to order while Mila’s (in Angeles City, the one we went to) is the fried, crispy kind.” An awesome way to end the day.

Tocino barbeque
Sisig

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Bobby’s Burger Palace

So there I am, finally eating all healthy, whole grains and carbs, veggies and fruits, meats and proteins and blah blah blah, and also working out and running. Yeah, I’m all proud, and , wait? Am I starting to see a trace of stomach muscle? OH YEAH. And then where do we go? Just the most perfect pig out spot in Paramus New Jersey: Bobby’s Burger Palace.

And yes, it was created by Bobby Flay. I found out about this place while watching the Food Network‘s (and yes, also the Cooking Channel now that we bought an upgrade!) The Best Thing I Ever Ate. They were doing an episode about burgers, and Claire Robinson, the host on Five Ingredient Fix (It’s amazing how many things I remember off the top of my head) was fantasizing and going crazy about a burger with potato chips. Yup. Burgers and chips. Now why didn’t we think of that, Bobby Flay?

Then Claire Robinson mentions the location, and I’m thinking “Paramus? It’s so close to us! We MUST leave right now.” And we did, 3 days later.There are only 5 restaurants so far in the U.S., and 2 of them are in New Jersey.

Anyhoot, it was pretty awesome. The vibe was all perky because of the green and orange palette, and all you have to do to order is go up to the counter, tell’em what  you want, they’ll give you a number and then bring it right to you. Since I’ve been obsessed with barbecue sauce lately, especially since I had just tried my first pulled pork at Chili’s a couple of weeks before, I inevitably got the Dallas Burger (spice crusted/cole slaw/monterey jack/BBQ sauce/pickles). You also get to choose angus beef, ground turkey, or chicken breast. I got turkey cooked to medium well. And I almost forgot, ANY burger can be crunchified, which basically means they’ll throw on a handful of chips and stick the whole thing together with a stick. All of our burgers were crunchified, fyi.

Mom got the Buffalo Style, Claire Robinson’s favorite. (red hot sauce/blue cheese dressing/watercress)

Dad, the Bobby Blue (blue cheese/bacon/lettuce/tomato)Sort of like a BLT-Bobby Lettuce Tomato.

Gia, the crunchburger (double american cheese/potato chips)

Yes. That’s the stuff. You eat it by compressing the chips with slight pressure with your hands, so that you can get some of those chips in every bite. My family and I all agreed that the burger was just the right size, juicy, good bun, and that we want to eat another one. I think this is my mom’s new obsession. Before before, it was carrot cake, before it was Red velevet cake with cream cheese (which is by the way insanely sweet and luscious for a cake made at Costco), and now this. I could probably go for another one right now, actually.

Besides their burgers, they had an assortment of sauces you could put on your burger and experiment with. Burger sauce, chipotle sauce, and jalapeno (goes from sweet to hot), just to name a few. I’ve also developed a new love for sweet potato fries, especially with that tangy honey mustard horseradish sauce they pair with it (ate them all before I could take a picture). So much better than french fries…

 

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