Thursday, November 25, 2004


For this jaded office worker, lunches can be the best part of the day. It doesn't matter whether I am eating my lunch at my desk or discovering some place new, the sight of food (preferably steaming hot) is enough to divert me from my jarred thoughts or the pressure of deadlines.

Market Cafe's Chinese Kitchen, originally uploaded by ajay1.

At the Market Cafe, originally uploaded by ajay1.

The Market Cafe in the new Hyatt Hotel & Casino (right beside our corporate offices) is undoubtedly my favorite restaurant at the moment. Unfortunately, I could only eat here once in a blue moon because of its five-star hotel prices. Come to think of it, $20 is not too steep for a buffet with great selections but still I want my expense account (ugh!)

I totally love the raspberry iced tea (they also have guava iced tea, and the apple-celery cucumber juice which I still have to try.) Featured in the crustacean bar are the shelled prawns and oh-so-fresh oysters which are shucked in front of you. The chef is so meticulous that he has to have it laboratory-tested before being flown to Manila.

The cafe also has a Western kitchen offering a variety of roasts, make-your-own pizzas baked in a genuine wood-fired oven, an antipasti bar, an authentic Chinese Kitchen manned by Hong Kong chefs, a Japanese Kitchen with all those sushi, sashimi tempura and yakitori as well as a full counter filled with all those sinful desserts. What is good about the cafe is that most of the food is cooked in front of you so it's fast and fresh.

Cafe Coquilla buffet selection, originally uploaded by ajay1.

My friends are treating me and giving me my present a month after my birthday. Why oh you think that can double as your Christmas gift?? har!har!har! Anyway, it was better late than never when Notty, a.k.a. the Great Procrastinator, brought me to a sumptuous buffet lunch at the Cafe Coquilla of the Manila Pavilion Hotel.

I loove buffets although am trying to cut down on it. I think it is still the best way to discover new dishes and presentations. After sampling the high-quality specialties of the Market Cafe, this one rather pales in comparison. The roast lamb was not tender and the entrees looked like they were dying of dehydration from the heated-up chafing dishes.

The ones shown on the plate were the only ones I liked aside from the soup (clockwise): grilled tanguigue, grilled chicken with sate sauce, milkfish or bangus and smoked tanguigue which is such a favorite Filipino appetizer of mine, I could eat it in kilos.

Thanks for that sweet thought Notty:)

Oody's catfish salad, originally uploaded by ajay1.

We stumbled into Oody's just when we thought we didn't know where we were going to eat that day. It turned out Mayan would treat us for her birthday. The resto, which is located in a mall has tastefully modern Oriental interiors befitting the Asian fusion items on the menu. For this meal, we ordered Vietnamese spring rolls, chicken barbecue and Thai noodles with honey-stewed beef soup.They were all good.

But the star of the show was the crispy catfish salad which thrives in fish water in the Philippines. I was kind misled by the beautiful poster on the wall..I thought it was really the whole fish I was going to eat. It turned out they only retained the head and the tail, the rest of the meat was flaked and fried to a crisp and mixed with the onions, tomatoes, green mango, and sweet-spicy vinaegrette dressing. Heavenly! Once again it made me believe that salads are good.

When I am not brownbagging my lunch, me and my officemates walk down to the nearest value-for-money resto from our office.Lau Chan Hotpot along Mabini St., which I earlier wrote about for their delicious shabu-shabu, also has a lunchtime promo at an unbelievably low price of P65 (a little more than $1).I say 'unbelievably' because their servings are big enough to fill you up; add another P10 and you get fried rice mixed with scrambled egg.

Photo shows their rice and chicken with tausi (fermented soy beans) which I chose yesterday. Aside from this, they have 35 or so items on their affordable lunch menu containing favorites like peking duck, assorted cold cuts, asado, chopsuey, beef brisket and even squid curry.

Long live, Lau Chan!

Monday, November 22, 2004

A cookie swap & my chocolate chip oatmeal

Choco chip oatmeal cookies
Originally uploaded by annalyn.
When I want to satiate myself, I surf the great food sites on the web including Sassy's pioneering blog on Filipino cooking and Shiokadelicious' tips on great eats in Singapore. I discovered Domestic Goddess recently and her call for a cookie swap among bloggers got me thinking "why not?"

A point of clarification: this lazy cook bakes once in a blue moon. But I do remember last Christmas when I gave my home-made cookies as gifts to friends. My son Paolo, who has a sweet tooth, is my no. 1 fan when it comes to my classic chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.

Here's the recipe as adapted from Epicurious:

1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. In a bowl, whisk together 2 c. all purpose flour, 1 tsp. baking soda, 1/2 tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. salt and 1 cup rolled oats.

3. In another bowl - with an electric mixer - cream softened butter, 1 1/4 cups firmly-packed brown sugar and 1/4 cup granulated sugar until light and fluffy.

4. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, and mix in 1 tsp. vanilla.

5. Beat in flour mixture and stir in chocolate chips.

6. Drop a rounded tablespoon of the dough uno buttered baking sheets and bake cookies in batches for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden. Cool the cookies.

Well, the cookies today didn't turn out to be the best I baked. It must be harassed state as my kids were having a tantrum one after the other. Whatever, the cookies were all they needed to quiet down and get a much-needed sugar fix.

Till the next IMBB.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Some like it black

Adobo is one of my all-time favorite Filipino dishes. I guess you could say it's my comfort food. Through the years, I've been blessed with nannies who cooked adobo well - you know, the version where you have pork and/or chicken simmered in vinegar, soy sauce, garlic and other flavorings. I am saying this because there are many varieties of adobo in this tropical country where adobo is king. The sad truth is am not so proud of my classic adobo although I cook the other versions quite well, such as adobong manok sa gata (chicken in coconut milk) and adobong pusit (squid).

Squid adobo is quite an easy dish to make but the trick is how to make it delicious or just right to the taste. It could be that the squid meat is not tender or the taste of the vinegar is overpowering or the sauce is watery, meaning it was haphazardly done. Whatever, I like spooning my adobo sauce over a plate of hot rice and munching on the squid which is a pleasant diversion from the pork/chicken/beef cafeteria choices on weekdays. There is also a reason why I cook squid adobo at home. There is simply no way I'll eat it on a date and smile at my potential conquest with blackened teeth.

Last Monday being a national holiday, I had the time to go to the market and cook the adobo. For this budget-conscious mom, squid is quite expensive at P140 a kilo and it only gave me 10 medium-sized ones. This time around, I used cubes of pork as an extender and also because a little of the pork fat will give the dish a distinct flavor. Photo below shows how it looked like when I sauteed it with the garlic, onions and tomatoes in olive oil.

Originally uploaded by annalyn.

adobong pusit
Originally uploaded by annalyn.
When the meat was thoroughly mixed in and a little brown, I added the squid,a cuppa vinegar, a little water,salt or patis to taste (I found out Thai fish sauce tastes better)and a dash of sugar to neutralize the flavors.You let it simmer until the sauce evaporates and it is of desired consistency.Of course, don't forget to throw in a piece or two of local green pepper.Here was my adobo when it was done. It took a long time for this lazy cook to do it but it has been worth it..yum:)