Monday, December 17, 2007 Changing Courses at the Food Network

Published: December 17, 2007
Business / Media & Advertising

Changing Courses at the Food Network

Having taken food and chefs from what was once the domain of public television to new celebrity heights, the Food Network is now undergoing a transformation.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The article: Raising a Brand-Free Kid

Published: October 30, 2007

Raising a Brand-Free Kid

From day one, you've got to fight Winnie the Pooh.

Parents, be warned: It takes only a single visit to McDonald's for your child to get hooked on the greasy stuff for life.

Okay, so that's an exaggeration. But the three-year-old son of Angela Verbrugge still remembers his one and only meal under the golden arches. Which has Verbrugge worried.
And Kyla Epstein swears if her young son Max ever wants to eat there, he'll be doing it on his own dime.

These parents aren't raging against the health detriments of fast food. Instead, they are making a conscious effort to limit the amount of branding and advertising their kids are exposed to in all aspects of their lives; what they eat, wear, watch and play with.

It's not easy. Brands are everywhere -- literally.

Read the rest of the article.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Pied-a-Terre (November 30, 2007) by ts

Review by ts
(See review by js here.)

Just about the food:

I didn't order the Table d'Hote (haha, making mine more expensive again, but still cheap!).

I wanted to order the Steak Tartare (because, yes, for some reason I can't resist raw beef when dining out, hehe), but then, that would've been weird if I had the Steak Frites for my main. So I chose the Alsatian Onion Pie.

It was really good. I can't even describe the taste of it, because it was very familiar, yet not. It had onions (of course), and it was sort of "custard'-y... but it didn't feel heavy at all. It was served with a salad of frisee and lardons. (Ooh, lardons!)

I will have to try the steak tartare at another time.

Steak Frites
I had the onglet, which was the 8oz size. It was good. Flavorful.

I chose the pepper sauce -- but it wasn't very peppery at all! Granted, I did grow up under Letty's black peppercorn regime, but really, it wasn't very peppery at all. I just saw a few whole peppercorns on the plate. Otherwise, the sauce didn't have flecks, it was just a smooth taupe-colored sauce. I'll try the other sauces next time.

Sad to say, the frites were a little disappointing. They were "ok"... I dipped some in Jojo's trout dish sauce. But yeah, they were no match of Bistro Pastis' potato dishes.

(That Bistro Pastis knows their potatoes!)

Or, even those pommes allumettes at Bistrot Bistro. (Basically really thin-cut fries. They were good.)

I had the Creme Caramel for dessert. It was good, but nothing spectacular. The texture wasn't quite there. But maybe it was because I didn't really care for the orange zest flavor (which is traditionally what the French put, I think). Or, maybe because mine was better... teehee... although, mine was LECHE FLAN, not a traditional creme caramel.

So, overall, still a very good meal.
Maybe just not the Chef-Andrey-ultimate-super-super-extreme-super-good level of yore.

But, I must say again -- ultra cheap!

We got 2 appetizers, 2 mains, 2 desserts, a bottle of water, a glass of wine, and a coffee. $80+ only!

Oh, I must add, I tried Jojo's trout dish.

It was sooooooooooo good! I guess it really is more than just the sum of its parts.
I mean, just SOOOOOOOOOOOO good!

(See review by js here.)

Pied-a-Terre (November 30, 2007) by js

Review by js
(See review by ts here.)

So. Finally.

We've been waiting for the new Andrey Durbach/Chris Stewart offering, the French bistro, Pied a Terre. It's located on Cambie and 18th.

We've actually tried to sneak in last Saturday, on the way home from West Vancouver (went to the butcher; bought some beef shanks). We were there at 5:30, exactly the time they open, but the French-looking girl told us that they wouldn't have any seating until 10pm that night.

Shrug. Fair enough. So we would have to wait another day.

The day was yesterday. It was somewhat on a whim too. At around 3:30 in the afternoon, we were discussing what to cook. (Salmon in the fridge, but needed another dish to round out that night's dinner.) After tossing and turning, we still can't figure it out. TS decided to call Pied a Terre to see if they have space. Surprisingly, they said they could accommodate us, a party of 2, for 8:30 that night.

Okay. So problem solved. If we weren't going to eat home that night, we'll cook the salmon and head on out. (Salmon was cooked, wrapped with bacon. TS also made a butter corn side-dish for the kids and CSC.)

8:30 it is. Plenty of parking at the back.

We had to wait a few minutes while they get our table ready.

While waiting, we saw a "minor celebrity" dining there with friends. I think his name is Zack Spencer, who used to do the weather on CTV or BCTV or Global -- but now does some sort of car show on either of those channels.

The grudging glass of wine I had to order: a Sauvignon Blanc. Because, you know, they were going to hate us if we don't partake of alcohol. The wine was surprisingly good: none of the icky wine taste.

(I told TS I don't want to learn about wine. I don't particularly care for wine and I don't want to care, because I'm afraid if I do start learning, it is just going to take way too much of my energies.)

We did also order a bottle of mineral water.

After discussion, I decided to have the Table d' Hote, consisting of 3 courses: soup or salad, trout or steak, creme caramel or chocolate mousse.

I had the soup, which was a split pea soup. I generally love split pea and ham soup, so I was happy they had this. I was expecting some smokiness to the soup though, which I didn't get. The split pea soup was just okay, not spectacular.

I had the lemon tart brulee, which I've been wanting and wanting for so long, ever since I've had lemon tart brulee at Parkside. It's not the same though (the Parkside one was way, way, way better) and I have to say the dessert again is not spectacular.

What was spectacular about the meal was my trout. It was cooked with a kind of butter sauce and capers -- and it was excellent. Somehow, it seemed to be greater than its parts. I've had brown butter sauces before, but this went beyond the usual deliciousness of a brown butter sauce. The trout was perfectly cooked, crispy skin and all. If I had to nitpick, I would say that the side could have been better. I had 3 small pieces of potatoes that were not really that memorable. Tasted bland.

Overall, a very good meal -- and very reasonable. When we got the bill, I was a little bit amazed, because we had 3 courses each and beverages, and the bill came to 86 and change. I was expecting a much higher tab, so it was a nice surprise.

For its price level, the restaurant delivers. There's no wow factor, but it doesn't make wow promises. It's a neighbourhood French bistro: food done well and not too expensive. So if you're hankering for some classic French bistro food, head on over to Pied a Terre.

Oh, we also saw Vikram Vij, his wife, and his daughter. They came in around 10pm. Another minor celebrity sighting.

(See review by ts here.)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

EAT magazine: Interview with Andrey Durbach

EAT Magazine has an interview with Andrey Durbach.

(He is the chef behind Parkside and La Buca, the one that csc wanted to "punch...punch... punch.")
See page 42.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Parkside (June 13, 2007)

Three reviewers: ts, js and allu

Apparently it was a tough decision, whether to dine at La Buca or Parkside.

JS made the reservation (and decision) for us. The final location was kept a least I wasn't told where we were going.

Had I known ahead of time, and had this not been my last night in Vancouver, I think I would have dressed up a bit for this dinner. But under the circumstances, I went in my jeans and my "lulu girl" shirt (haha, at least I wasn't in my home clothes...)

We went to Parkside.

I actually wanted to go to La Buca, but I thought it would be tougher to get a reservation at La Buca. We've been turned away a couple of times already at La Buca and I thought that trying to get a reservation just two days in advance of the date was pushing it.

La Buca has the kind of food that I want to eat everyday. As mentioned before. LOL

Well, Parkside was fitting if you wanted something more "special" for your last night, whereas La Buca would've been fitting if you wanted a laid-back approach. I think you melded the 2 when you wore your lulu girl shirt to parkside. Haha.

And apparently, *some* of us (no names mentioned) had gone online and studied the menu ahead of time! But the chefs at Parkside most definitely would not let us cheat this easily...the menu we were presented with was a little different from the one online =)

I didn't know where we were going until about 1 hr before when JS suddenly went:
"Psst... what items do you think you're ordering?" [while perusing the Parkside menu online]

Went for the four course menu:
Well-seasoned steak tartare with pommes gaufrettes
Grilled prawns with potato (?), crisp bacon (?), micro greens, sherry dressing
Crisp skin Cornish hen, herb spaetzle and spring vegetables, sauce

Colbert Parkside Black Forest torte

I had the 4-course meal, starting with a
sweet onion soup with goatcheese crostini, papardelle (sp?) with lamb ragu, the Copper Riversockeye, and a fromage frais brown sugar cheesecake-type concoction with strawberries and raspberries.

Overall, I would say I was satisfied with what I ordered, but not totally enamoured.


Well-seasoned steak tartare with pommes gaufrettes

How anyone could resist steak tartare is beyond me. I had to have this course. Loved the pommes gaufrettes, perfectly fried slices of potato chips. If I were Japanese, I might be tempted to say "it's a bit oily"...but I'm not Japanese, and how can you expect there to be no oil if these are fried?!? The steak tartare itself..well, nothing to complain about here. But maybe if there were more capers in there..haha..I love capers.

I had this as well. Nothing to complain about. In my head I was comparing it to the tartare w a kick(!) at Bistrot. This also came with some microgreens that were dressed and seasoned really nicely.

Sweet onion soup -- good.
Soup was spot-on. Perfectly seasoned and the onions were sweet.


Grilled prawns with potato, crisp bacon, micro greens, sherry dressing

Actually, this is not exactly what i had. They've updated their menu on the website and I can't see our menu from the night of the 13th. So I'm just piecing things together with items on the current menu that resembles what I had on the 13th.

Here's what I remember: there was definitely prawns, potatoes, micro greens, sherry dressing, and a processed meat of some sort...

The sherry dressing complemented the prawns well..though I found that some parts of the prawns were over-grilled (is there such a word?). Could have been better without the occasional "burnt taste".

That being said, I still finished the whole plate..haha...

Mushroom Risotto

I forget how it was called, exactly. Anyway, there was a mix of mushrooms: chanterelles, morels, and porcinis, I think. I don't like porcinis. The risotto was nicely done, although it was a bit too "meaty" for me at the time. I guess it's permanent damage, this aversion of mine to "brown" taste.

I think I made a mistake with the lamb ragu.

See, if there's an option for fresh pasta on the menu, I would go for the fresh pasta --because, really, nothing beats fresh pasta. So it was the papardelle for me.

The pasta was excellent, but the first bite of the lamb ragu didn't do it for me. I thought I was tasting Irish stew out of a can. The menu said it had basil and chilis, but I really didn't taste anyof the basil and the chilis. On the subsequent bites, the lamb ragu did taste a little bit better, but it would have been a lot better ifthey did what was advertised on the menu and hit the lamb with at least some basil and some chilis.


Crisp skin Cornish hen, herb spaetzle and spring vegetables, sauce Colbert

The spaetzle was surprisingly good! I still don't really know what spaetzles are..but it was good. The spring vegetables included white asparagus, yellow string beans, peas, and pea shoots. The string beans were my favorite. I never really got why white asparagus was such a delicacy...they're not very good, in general...

The crisp skin cornish was good...but.....

Here's what happened, we went to Fisherman's the night before and ordered the Chinese version of the crisp skin chicken. My goodness, this was really "chicken yummy!"....

So when I ordered the cornish hen, I still had that Fisherman chicken in mind..the really really amazing crisp skin, and the juicy yet tender meat underneath....

The Cornish hen, I'm sad to say, came nowhere near as good as the Fisherman chicken...Maybe it's unfair to compare them..but it's what I was looking for and I didn't get it here. The skin of the cornish hen was simply not crispy enough! Maybe it was the sauce Colbert that ruined the crispy-ness....And when I cut into the hen, I was hoping that the skin would stay somewhat attached to the meat so that with each bite, I can experience and taste the crisp skin with the tender white meat...but this didn't happen. The skin came off with every slice. The meat of the hen was okay, but not SPECTACULAR, and without the crisp skin...well....I was disappointed. I wanted Fisherman...

Well, that Fisherman's Terrace crispy skin chicken really qualifies as "CHICKEN YUMMY, CHICKEN YUMMY!"

With Alice's cornish game hen, it's a bit of a risk. It's so hard to cook small poultry; it's so easy toovercook them to tough-and-dry.


A-ya! I don't remember what I had for my main dish!! It was halibut, but I have no idea what its accompaniments were... =(

Had a little help from jowbel re the accompaniments!

There was fennel and pepperonata... oh, and a little cake of some kind. Brandade cake!

The pepperonata was really good. It was surprising that I enjoyed it because there was a time when I was sick of roasted peppers. Basically the accompaniments were good on their own, and also in any combination with each other... and with the fish. Just a little complaint is that the fennel salad was a little too olive-y for me... I don't really *like* olives that much; i like/dislike them on a case by case basis.

I guess that's it. I forget the sauce(s) that came with the dish.

For the Copper River sockeye, I thought the dish was good.

The brown butter noisette, with the capers and croutons was delicious. The salmon itself was delicious as well.

My only gripe about the salmonwas how crispy the crust was -- it was TOO CRISPY.

See, sockeye is generally not a fatty type of salmon and fillets of salmon are usually not thin. So I think it was over-seared for a second longer than it should have been. Salmon was a tad dry. If they perhaps chose to go with a steak instead of a fillet, then it would have been perfect.

(Perhaps I'm also reliving my experience of grilling a fillet of Copper River sockeye, in which I also ran into the same tough-and-dry problem. If it were just me eating, I would have left it a little bit raw in the middle, but I wasn't the only one eating it.)


Parkside Black Forest torte

When JS asked me if I tasted the black forest-ness...I was a bit confused. I must confess that all the black forest cakes that i've tasted before were from Chinese I figured they are all "asia-fied" in one way or another. Sometimes these black forest cakes would have cherries in them, and sometimes not. The only "constant" was the chocolate =)

So I don't think I'm really qualified to answer the question "is this torte black forest-y?", cuz, what do I know about black forest cakes?

So "black forest"-ness aside, this torte was pretty good. I like chocolate, I like cherries, what can possibly go wrong?

Well, maybe more cherries would have been nice. And I did find a little piece of what appeared to be eggshell in my torte (is that bad?)....

But, once again, I finished my torte.

Poached apricots with warm brown butter almond cake and cinnamon ice cream

The apricots themselves just tasted like apricots, no biggie. The cinnamon ice cream was pretty good.

BUT! BUT! The cake! The cake!!! That was super good!! It was served warm: nice!

So I think the best part of my meal was the cake!! So rare, that I would think that dessert was
the best, and that somebody can actually make good dessert.

I was taking a risk ordering the ALMOND cake, because i HATE that almond essence taste. I like actual almonds. In this case, they used ground almonds in the cake (thank goodness). None of that pesky essence!! But yeah, that cake is just super good. I could've dispensed with the apricots and ice cream. Teehee.

Fromage frais brown sugar cheesecake-type concoction with strawberries and raspberries

Dessert was okay, although I can't help comparing it to Thomas Haas' stilton cheesecake which was absolutely delicious. They should have brought back the lemon tart 'cause that was SO YUMMY.

Items that I tried and loved:
TS's order of risotto and almond cake with cinnamon ice cream;
JS's order of spring salmon

The almond cake with cinnamon ice cream was heavenly....and i didn't even get to try the apricots!

I kind of wish I had ordered the beef tenderloin for my main....

Still, I enjoyed this meal, and wish I can eat here again =)

And am very curious about La Buca.

So, I guess not a glowingly glowing review, but still a good one.

CSC said she was glad the reviews were not too glowing, because they made her less likely to want to eat there. She said she wants it when the chef (Andrey Durbach) is the one cooking.

So I said, just wait until August!!! Pied-a-Terre!! oooooh.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Alice's Back-in-Vancouver Party @ chez ts/js (June 9, 2007)

Thank you to everybody for attending Alice's Back-to-Vancouver Party!

A great time was had by all.

Hope you all enjoyed the company and the food. I personally enjoyed all the preparation and the eating and the after-eating.

For the 'mahnyu,' our theme was "party favourites," so I hope everybody had a favourite among these dishes:

Romaine lettuce, TS's garlicky-anchovy caesar dressing, homemade croutons, and alderwood smoked bacon on the side.

The salad dressing is the key here.

WHOLE (although HEADLESS) SOCKEYE SALMON grilled on cedar plank
Dressed with lemon-dill vinaigrette, served with tzaziki sauce.

CHAR-ROASTED LEG OF LAMB, served with tzaziki sauce.



spaghetti with clams in a classic white-wine sauce.


For dessert, we had

Excellent tiramisu. I must have had 3 servings of this. It was that good.

Light and delicious.

Thank you all again for being there!

We'll do this again sometime soon.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Chow Restaurant (June 6, 2007)

Two reviewers: ts and allu

potato and leek soup 8
crème fraiche tortellini and mustard greens

guinea pepper crusted ahi tuna 15
haricot vert and yellow beet salad, sun-dried tomato ketchup, and pickled vanilla onion

chilled prawn salad 15
avocado, ruby red grapefruit, yellow pepper and lemongrass dressing

dry-aged beef carpaccio 15
baby spinach, shaved fennel, horseradish salsa verde, grana padano cheese and pickled quail egg

“Sloping Hills Farm” organic pork 20
nutmeg gnocchi, organic shimeji mushrooms, mini zucchinis, sweet onion puree and italian parsley salad

We actually just finished eating something around 3-ish? Basically we had lunch at around 1pm or so. Then we went to the Riley Park Farmer's Mkt and I ate a SUGAR & BUTTER with Ricotta crepe. (allu had the sugar & butter one.)

Normally, I wouldn't be "full", but then that ricotta just sank like stones, I tell you!!!! They put that whole crepe experience over the top(!), stomach capacity-wise.

Long story short, allu & I were both "not hungry" when we embarked on our culinary adventure. Teehee.

We ordered
allu: Potato Leek Soup; Tuna
ts: Carpaccio; Pork

The guy said that things under $20 would be appetizer-sized; over $20 = entree-sized.

Potato and Leek Soup
First thing we noticed was how great the soup smelled! The tortellini was SURPRISINGLY good! I still have no idea what was inside, but whatever it was, it was good! Soup was creamy and flavorful.


This was so good! The beef wasn't really strong-flavored, but that's OK.

EVERYTHING on the plate was good! Individual components were good by themselves and they were good together in ANY combination. The salsa verde was good! The grana padano was good! The pickled quail egg was good! The FENNEL SALAD was SUPER-DUPER GOOD!

Yeah, so satisfying and savory. 10/10 for this dish!

Guinea Pepper Crusted Ahi Tuna
I tried the yellow beet first. Usually I'm not a big fan of beets. The yellow beet tasted okay. The haricot vert were essentially string beans. The beans tasted like they were pickled. Not sure if they really were pickled or if it was because they were mixed with the pickled onions. I think I would have preferred for the beans to be not pickled.

The ahi tuna was delicious! The pepper crust was absolutely perfect. I'm not sure if the sun-dried tomato ketchup did anything for the dish (except as garnish).

All in all, I think the ahi tuna was great all on its own. The other stuff on the dish didn't "add" anything to the dish. Eaten separately, all the items were okay, but I'm not sure if they necessarily compliment the tuna, or even go with the tuna at all.


I believe the server was saying that they vary the CUT of the pork. Today, it was pork belly.

Again, the different components of the dish were all very good and nicely cooked. I was just surprised that the baby zucchini were a little bitter; I thought "baby" stuff were sweeter & such.

Anyway, it was still good coz it contrasted with the other components (eg, the sweet onion puree). The gnocchi were nice and pillowy... and so cute too. Teehee. Those mushrooms were also tiny-sized.

The pork belly itself was also very good. At first I was afraid because I usually don't like fat when it's still in its solid form (eg, in pork belly!). But, this was done very well. I believe this rectangular slab of pork belly was slow-cooked in something, then probably fried/deep-fried afterwards. The meat was incredibly tender. The fat was still layered, but it didn't have that jiggly kind of fat texture that I dislike. Of course, the skin part was all nice and crispy!

So yeah, very good.

The pork belly was indeed tender.

However, I must say that I didn't quite like how the pork fat tasted. The crusty top was great, and the meaty part was tender and soft, but the fat....tasted weird. I don't know how to explain it. Maybe it tasted too fatty, cuz it felt like even though there was only a small portion of pork belly, I wouldn't have been able to finish the whole thing by myself, due to the taste of the fat. But maybe the zucchinis and mushrooms would be able to "neutralize" it.

So, allu and I finished our appys and mains (which in her case, was just another appy-sized dish).

ts: Are you full?
allu: Not really. About 75% to 80% full. You?
ts: Yeah, around there.
Do you want to order that chilled prawn salad?

(note: allu had mentioned during our mains that if she were to order something else, she would order that.)

allu: To share?
ts: No, for yourself. I can get something too.


So yeah, when the server gave us the menu again for us to order our desserts, we ordered another round of food!

allu's "dessert" = Chilled Prawn Salad
ts' "dessert" = Beef Carpaccio AGAIN!!!!!!


But yeah, that carpaccio was so good! It's so rare that I would repeat a dish given the chance to experience variety. But really! I was still happy after eating that second carpaccio.

I tried some of the carpaccio. Just perfect.

Chilled Prawn Salad
This dish was delicious! It totally makes up for the craving for something citrus in my lunch sandwich (please see review for Thomas Haas).

Everything went well together. The ruby red grapefruit was the perfect finishing touch.

I tasted allu's food too and they were all good.

Just a quick comment about the prawn salad: The grapefruit makes it extra good.

I would definitely return to this restaurant...if only to order the fries with FLAVORED mayo.

(Contemplated on ordering this but decided last minute not to; then the people sitting behind us ordered it and i saw the dish when it was served. The fries looked soooooooo good!! They had arranged the fries so that they piled up, like Jenga chips. And the fries SMELLED great!)

Yes, this was good.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Thomas Haas Sandwiches (June 6, 2007)

note: This is just about his sandwiches. His chocolates are excellent! =)

Three reviewers: ts, allu and js

I have no comment as of yet regarding his chocolates and pastries.

We haven't tasted the chocolates yet!

Well, the chocolates are good, from what I remember. Someone gave us a box of those for Christmas. I usually don't like those chocolates in boxes (I like the bars better), but they were good.

Patisserie items: still untasted. We bought some to take home.

Chocolate bars: still untasted.

Chocolate Sparkle Cookies: supposedly the "best cookie in the world". Haha.

The sandwiches: not that good! =(

Thai Crab Salad w/ avocado, cilantro, lemongrass

Basically, the flavors in all 3 sandwiches seemed to be a little watered down.

The Thai Crab Salad gets points for having REAL CRAB... but there was too little cilantro and it needed some citrus, dammit! Teehee.

I was disappointed with the sandwiches. They weren't bad, just not as good as I had hoped.

The Thai crab salad sandwich was not "salad-y" at all. It lacked veggies. And I ordered it because of the cilantro and avocado. Though it indeed had avocados, it was lacking in cilantro. I didn't taste cilantro til my very last bite. I could taste the lemongrass in the sandwich, but really, I was craving for anything citrus-y! The whole crab salad (mayo) and avocado and lack of veggies was just weighing the whole sandwich down. It desperately needed something sour/tangy to "perk" it up.

Smoked Turkey & Brie
with red onion marmalade, brie cheese, cranberry & pear chutney (?) on multigrain bread

Just have to concur with the disappointment vis a vis the sandwiches.

I had the smoked turkey with brie and cranberry+pear chutney. It was on a sourdough-ish brown bread studded with cranberries.

Unfortunately, it really wasn't any good at all. It was quite tasteless. The chutney was non-existent and all I tasted was the brie.

Moroccan Chicken
with Moroccan spiced chicken breast, fuji apples, toasted almonds, watercress, havarti cheese, and mayonnaise on ciabatta

The Moroccan Chicken seemed to have garam masala flavors (instead of more "Moroccan" tastes)... but I can't be too sure. But I thought the cheese overpowered the tastes (although, granted, havarti is pretty mild).

The moroccan chicken: not that good. well, once again, it's "not the worst". but I've definitely had better. don't really remember much about it. I was just trying to finish it off so that i can walk around the store and buy chocolates.

But yeah, sandwiches were disappointing. VIVO! panini are really the best! Teehee.

The passionfruit iced tea: I had a sip. Not very passionfruity.

Ok, i'm going to go try the chocolates now!!! so excited!

Conclusion: Thomas Haas' MAHND is geared toward chocolates and pastries, haha. (Well, we're not even sure if it's *his* mahnd that came up w the sandwiches.)

Rodney's (June 4, 2007)

Review by allu

I've been looking forward to eating at Rodney's for more than 5 years!

Finally had the chance to go on Monday.

Of course I had the oysters!
2 Kussi
2 Denmans (?)
2 Thetis Flats

Also ordered a Manhattan clam chowder.

I actually didn't know what kind of oysters to order. But I know that I like the middle and small-sized ones, so I specified for those.

The oysters were served with horseradish, lemon wedges and a variety of dressings and sauces (including my all-time favorite: Tabasco!). Our server took some time explaining what each sauce/dressing was...but honestly, I didn't care. I just wanted to dig in and try everything!

To tell you the truth, i can't really tell the difference between the different kinds of oysters. All i know is that they were all very very fresh, and all extremely tasty. I asked for extra lemon wedges, so that I can add a generous amount of lemon juice to each of my oysters. Tabasco was a must (the jalapeno one was especially good!). I mixed and matched my sauces and dressings for each, and ALL COMBINATIONS were delicious!! You just can't go wrong!

I felt like I could have eaten 6 more!

But I'm still somewhat scarred from my bad experiences of oyster eating in Taiwan. So I thought I had better stop at 6.

The Manhattan was good. Hearty and comforting.

I tried some of the crab cakes that my friend ordered. They were delicious as well. Real crab meat (of course), served with a tangy plum sauce.

For dessert, I ordered the chocolate mousse. This was sooooooooooooooooo good. Smooth, not too sweet, just perfect!

If there's anything to complain about, it would probably be the small servings. My friend's entree only had two crab cakes, served with greens, and I think it was $14. The oysters were not that expensive ($2.5 to $3.5 each), but the entree was way too small!

But I would definitely return.

The table next to ours ordered a huge seafood platter, with crabs, shrimps, and oysters. This other table shared a platter of what looked like lobsters. I just HAVE TO return and try these!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Sutton Place Hotel High Tea (June 3, 2007)

Traditional English Afternoon Tea

Two reviewers: ts and allu; no reviews by js and csc

I had the "Nobo Whole Fruit" tea. I guess this was a tisane, because there were no tea leaves, just the dehydrated fruit bits.

I went for the Lavender Earl Grey tea. This was a no-brainer. I knew I wanted Earl Grey even before reading the menu. If it wasn't on the menu, I would have asked if they had it anyways.

However, the lavender kinda threw me off at first. I had doubts about getting it, but then, it's Earl Grey! How can one resist? Turns out the earl grey-ness predominates over the lavender, so the tea was ALL GOOD.

I usually take sugar with my tea, but all the desserts complimented the tea so well that I didn't have to add any sugar, or milk for that matter.

Traditional English Afternoon Tea
• Cucumber & Watercress Sandwich
• Smoked Salmon Pinwheel with Capers
• Black Forest Ham & Camembert Croissant
• Raspberry Chicken Salad Brioche
• Eclairs (w. Raspberry Cream)
• Scones with Devonshire Cream & Preserves
• Lemon Slice
• Chocolate Macaroon
• Chocolate and Strawberry Tart

[ts] In general, I like savory items better than dessert-y items.

Cucumber & Watercress Sandwich
I love watercress and cucumber!! But I think I would have liked less cream cheese in my sandwich..once again, my dislike for cheese...

Smoked Salmon Pinwheel with Capers
Capers+salmon..what can possibly go wrong??!?! Of course this was delicious!

Black Forest Ham & Camembert Croissant
I contemplated on whether or not to remove the camembert. I decided to eat the croissant as it was. The taste of the camembert wasn't that overwhelming. The ham was salty enough so that together with the cheese and croissant, all the tastes balanced out nicely.

Raspberry Chicken Salad Brioche
I didn't taste the raspberry... or i don't remember tasting it. But this was pretty good. Nothing to complain about.

Eclairs (w. Raspberry Cream)

I liked this! Of course, chocolate would have been better..but the raspberry cream was pretty good!

Scones with Devonshire Cream & Preserves
The devonshire cream was just ok for me. Kind of too rich. Haha...

And the preserves weren't that good. I don't remember the brand of the jams they used, but it's one of those generic ones that you see everywhere (or that *I* see everywhere...) I don't really like their jams that much, they taste so artificial!

The scone was ok. But really, would have been so much better if they had better preserves!

Lemon slice
This wasn't bad. Like my brother and I would say, "it's not the worst".

Chocolate Macaroon

I didn't find this as tasty as the others. I think I just don't like macaroons in general (even though ts says that these macaroons are not like the ones we had in Paris). The macaroon is too dry and sweet for me. It's almost like eating icing. Too sweet!

Chocolate and Strawberry Tart
Oh!! By far my favorite dessert! This was delicious! The strawberry, the cream, the tart made out of chocolate!! Just simply delicious. And lucky for me that JS doesn't like strawberries, so I got to eat her piece too. Very yummy.

[ts] Yeah, all in all, it was pretty good.

I didn't like the "Lemon Slice" thing (a dessert thing) at all, but csc said she REALLY liked that one. The eclairs would've been good, but I didn't like the raspberry whipped cream.

(Raspberry! All snooty like that!!!)

The chocolate "macaroon" weren't really macaroon-like (they were supposed to be like the "French" macaroons).

The savory items were all OK. The devonshire cream for the scones was really good.

Nice experience all in all.

Riddim & Spice (June 2007)

on Commercial Drive

Two reviewers: ts and allu

We both had the Jamaican Jerk Meal:
Leg & thigh
Rice w/ Beans
iceberg salad

The chicken was nicely cooked. The jerk flavor was OK, but not remarkable. Maybe mine is better! HAHAHAHAHA... Well, maybe mine's not authentic, teehee. The place may be more authentic because they had a majority of black customers (from the Carribean, I'm assuming).

The chicken was tender and I thought the Jamaican "jerk" was just right! I didn't care much for the beans in the rice though. I think I'm not a "bean" type of a person. The rice by itself would have been much much better.

I also ordered a side of fried plantains. They were good. The fried plaintains were good. Basically they're like turon, but without the wrapper.

I ate too slow and ts finished off the very last piece of plantains before I could try any. By this I gathered that they were either: really good that she couldn't stop eating them; or really bad that she didn't want to subject me to any of it, so she finished it all herself. Good to know that she liked it.

She really was SUPER slow, though! I told her to take some pieces beforehand, but she didn't. Hehe.

All in all, pretty decent. Though, I don't think i'll go all the way there for this meal, though. Maybe if one is in the area.

I am pretty curious about the other items. Specifically, the "ackee and saltfish." It's only available during the weekends, they say. I was asking about it but the girl there (Chinese) dissuaded me from ordering it. She said it's an acquired taste and she doesn't like it at all.

I would return if I remember where this place is located... haha...

Bistrot Bistro (May 31, 2007)

Two reviewers: allu and ts

We went to Bistrot Bistro last Thursday (May 31) for dinner. It was a very hot day, and dinner was at 7pm.

First thing WE ALL noticed: "The HEAT, MY GOD THE HEAT!"

There was no air con. No fans. Nothing. I'm from Taiwan. It's 38 degrees Celsius there. And I found the restaurant hot and stuffy. That should tell you something.

But water was immediately served, so that helped with keeping me relatively cool.

[ts] Yes, it was HOT!!!!

Steak Tartare Baguette

The server asked me if I wanted the spicy version, so of course I said yes!

And yeah, there was definitely a PUNCH! I usually don't like horseradish, but in this case, it wasn't very horseradish-y. I guess it had the kick but not too much superfluous horseradish taste.

My first impression was how big the serving was! The beef tartare appeared pink and fresh. It was served with wedges of baquette and greens.

The tartare was good! Perfectly accentuated by the capers. I love capers. =)

Smoked Duck Caramelized Onion Tart

[ts] This was nice as well. Puff pastry... all flaky and such.

The duck was very tender, the tart warm and "flaky".

I can't really remember the caramelized onion. I think maybe it lost its "onion-ness" during the caramelization process, or maybe the natural sweetness of the onion came out so strongly after caramelization that it overtook the natural onion-ness. Either way, I don't have much recollection of the onion.

Still, I enjoyed the dish as a whole. There were no pesky tendons in the duck meat, and it wasn't overseasoned or salty. Perfectly smoked.

Other people had the goat cheese w greens. I thought it would be a salad w goat cheese. Turned out it was greens with goat cheese on crostini (or whatever the French term would be for "crostini", hehe.). I didn't get to taste it.

Pommes Alumettes Mayo

You have to know first that I'm partial to fries. Especially "skinny" fries (or shoestring fries). And these were all cute looking skinny fries!! Even though other people were saying that the fries were too salty, I didn't think so at all! The fries were hot and crispy, as they should be. I didn't really care for the mayo though. Usually I like dipping fries in mayo, but I think in this case I was craving for FLAVOURED mayo...maybe garlic mayo!! That would have been absolutely perfect! But it was just normal mayo, so no real attraction there. The fries were good by themselves.

Yehey! Mayo! Fries! And so nice and nice-looking too. Haha. At first they weren't that salty. Besides, the mayo neutralized the salt on those fries. But near the end, I guess because the salt crystals have settled to the bottom, they were really salty. (Oh, they were served in a nice metallic bucket.)


This dish didn't really do anything for me. Not that I hated it... It just didn't do anything. Kind of salty, I think.

Yeah, this was "OK", but not good. I don't remember it being salty, just so mushy.

Boeuf Bourguignon

The beef was so tender! But i was still kinda thrown off by how big the chunks of meat were. I think i would have enjoyed the dish more if it was served with some sort of carbohydrate, like rice, haha. Cuz all that flavour needed to be SOAKED UP by some sort of carbo, I felt. That reminds me, we didn't get any bread! The tables next to ours all got servings of bread. Where was our serving of bread?

re bread: They have it as a menu item, so I'm not sure if they would just serve bread "for no reason." The menu item has baguette w tapenade.... maybe the other table(s) ordered that.

In the end, I couldn't finish all my chunks of meat, because it felt like it was ALL MEAT, ALL THE TIME...

And it's not like i can dip the fries in the bourguignon, cuz the fries were already salty by themselves. I had to take "breaks" from all that meat by finding the random pieces of mushroom in the bourguinon and eating those (which were good...flavourful).

But all this time, i was still craving for OTHER ITEMS that could possibly accompany the meat... maybe vegetables? But the only veggie available was the ratatouille, which, as I said, didn't do anything for me and was too salty.

Other people had
Chicken Lemon Herbs Butter
Lamb White Wine Citrus Spices

Didn't taste. But they seem to have been enjoyed.

Pork Tenderloin Island Spices Coconut Banana
(Just an aside:their menu sounds all "stiff" and stilted... words and phrases ONLY... kinda funny.)

The pork was VERY tender! The "island" flavors were not bad. Tasty, but nothing too special. I don't know where the "banana" was, flavor-wise. But yeah. Pretty good.

We didn't order any desserts, because it was simply too hot in there!

Overall, the dinner was good. Would have been better if we had some bread and if the restaurant was air conditioned.

All in all., I guess this would be around 7-ish/7.5-ish out of 10. Returnable.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

La Buca (April 2, 2007)

Second time here!

Two reviewers: ts and csc; with a cameo by js

Haha, I guess csc forgot all about her GRAND PROCLAMATION that she wouldn't return to either La Buca or Parkside until a REALLY LONG TIME has passed.

(We last ate at Parkside on March 23.)

Anyway.... We decided to eat like "normal" people and ordered "normal" amounts of food. The same server was there! Teehee.

[her] "Are you the...?"
[me] "Yes."
[her] "You're the group that..."
[me] "Yes."
[her] "You ordered 4 courses?"
[me] "Yes."


Calamari ripieni alla griglia, salsa verde
Grilled stuffed squid with tomato fondata and green herb sauce

This was CSC's dish. This was the appetizer of yore, so as you already know, it's really good. CSC would like, however, to reiterate her satisfaction with the nutty, peppery flavor of arugula.

Linguini Puttanesca
Olive, caper, anchovy, red onion, garlic, chili

I had a HALF-SIZE of this. (Haha.) Don't really have that much to say. It was good.

The risotto of the day was sweet corn and pea risotto with scallops.

I was tempted! But, am not really a scallop person. It was the CORN that was the most tempting for me, but I decided to go with the special MEAT for the day.

Duck breast, duck meat cannelloni, vegetables, blood orange sauce/reduction
The cannelloni was all right. I was actually still a little full because I ate "lunch" at 430pm!

The duck itself was pretty good. The GENIUS, see, was the blood orange sauce! It saved the dish from being too "MEATY."

On that note, though, WHY IS IT THAT I STILL CAN'T EAT TOO "MEATY" THINGS?!?!!!

I mean, that veal cheek trauma was way back in January! Also, since I have low iron, wouldn't it stand to reason that my body would actually CRAVE iron-y/meaty/bloody things?! But nooooo...

Why?!?! Why?!?!

Fish of the day:
Halibut, crispy-fried artichokes, potatoes, dried tomatoes, olives and such, sauce

csc's dish. I don't really know the details re this dish. I only know the GENIUS part where Andrey Durbach MADE her like artichokes!!! HAHAHA...

Artichoke… fried with batter… don’t know what… but little pieces, like 1 inch long, and boy, were they GOOD!!!!

I mean, I liked them with the halibut, and I liked them even without the halibut. Texture wise, they gave the right amount of “chewiness/crunchiness” and then flavor wise… I liked them a lot!

I was almost not wanting to order the halibut dish coz I heard “artichokes” but then I also heard “fried” so I figured, well, maybe they will be ok… or I’ll just put them on the side…

but then had to eat them all, and was actually too enthusiastic that I miscalculated and had halibut left over, and no more artichokes… usually, I’m pretty good with eating things in proportion (ie, every single bite has every single ingredient in it until the last bite).

Sauteed strawberries, aged balsamic, pinenut sable, whipped cream

This was good. The balsamic didn't really have any vinegar-y taste at all. I forget how old the server said it was. But i guess really old! Haha... So I guess it's like a "parfait" or "trifle" in format: basically the different components were layered in a glass.

Chocolate "Salami", orange marmalade, whipped cream


When the server said "Chocolate Salami", I know right away we had to order this, hehe.

Apparently, CSC said when she heard that, she immediately dismissed it. She said she didn't HEAR the quotation marks around "salami." =)

Anyway, the genius is this: instead of just having a chocolate pate like almost everybody else, his chocolate pate was studded with ladyfingers and nuts and such! (Basically it's in a round, then sliced. It had squares/rectangles of stuff in it, like the fat squares in salami.)

I don't really get just having a plain chocolate pate -- coz that's just one taste. Sure, most of the time, restaurants pair it with raspberry sauce or some such thing, but really, it's just one-dimensional. But here, the "salami-ness" of the dessert is GENIUS!!! The ladyfingers and nuts and such are GENIUS! And CSC said that the orange marmalade also went really well with the "salami."

Oh, chocolate salami dessert

Shobe (aka "ts") was very insistent that I order this dessert… and truth be told, as soon as I heard “salami” I don’t want to order anymore and so completely ignored what the server was saying… ..hahaha…

but good thing one of us was listening… so then I got this and it was good. I normally don’t like chocolate pates (don’t really get the point), but this one… “salami-like” in style, but wonderful in taste!

When we were waiting for dessert, the table next to us had their order arrive, and I can tell you, my mouth started watering just looking as their pasta order… (this after I had appetizer and main course).

I want to PUNCH that chef and tell him STOP IT STOP IT STOP IT…

I don’t like getting too enthusiastic about food… coz you know… too much food, not good… plus it adds up (price)… so I think I am starting a “love-hate” relationship with this La Buca/Parkside chef.

This is soooooooooooooooooo funny. . .the part with the punching and the STOP IT STOP IT STOP IT STOP IT. . .LOL

To summarize, my duck dish was "all right" for me... Again, crazy "meatiness" aversion at work.


Parkside (March 23, 2007)

Two reviewers: ts and js; no reviews by csc and the 3 g-ongs

I don't think I remember too much about this meal, so I guess this will be short... or shorter than usual.

(I guess everybody sighs a collective sigh of relief?)

[js] Short and sweet I can do as well. LOL

Spring garlic and spinach soup, basil cream

Salad of roasted beets and their greens, clementines, herb goat cheese, pecans, hazelnut vinaigrette

Salade paysanne: sautéed chicken livers with duck prosciutto, frisée, poached egg, red wine dressing

Crisp brandade cake with shellfish bisque sauce, melted leeks, wild prawn, micro celery leaf

Very subtle the garlic. It was mainly soupy (didn't really get to taste the spinach at all) with the underlying sweetness and pungency of garlic.

(As per usual, there was the usual haggling prior to the ordering. My choices were the brandade or the salade paysanne, but those were already spoken for, so I have to make do.)

A note about the brandade cake: that was csc's choice and she REALLY liked it!

I had the beet salad. Beets are "OK" for me, in general. I don't find them offensive nor do I find them to be especially good. So, the beets were OK.

Speaking in csc terms, the "combo" that I chanced upon in this dish was the clementine-goat cheese combo -- that was good!

Braised veal cheek agnolotti, sage butter, shaved parmesan

Cavatelli with basil pesto, potato, and prosciutto

The cavatelli was the surprise of the whole evening. Based on the description, I really didn't think I would like it, given that it has prosciutto (I'm all prosciutto-ed out) and basil pesto (I'm all pesto-ed out).

But lo and behold, the magic of Andrey Durbach, and this was a dish that sings.

Cavatelli was fresh hand-made pasta and really I'm a sucker for fresh pasta. Once you've had fresh pasta, there's no going back. LOL The basil pesto, prosciutto, and potato are wonderful together, with the potato perhaps soaking up the stronger flavours of the prosciutto and the basil.

I was angling for the spaghetti Sicilian-style, but truth be told, this was the better dish.

Tasted this (Jojo's dish). I thought I would be nauseous from the pesto (coz, i smell it everyday!), but this was actually pretty good. Hand-shaped pasta! So good!

Spaghetti with Sicilian style calamari sauce

[ts] No complaints. =)

First of the season halibut, crisp bacon, braised chicken wings, pea purée, jus rôti (+3)

Poached and roasted truffled breast of organic chicken, gnocchi & spring vegetables, sauce Colbert

Formula milk fed veal sirloin, wild mushrooms, pommes dauphinoise, red wine jus

Grilled medallions of venison, Lyonnaise potato, braised endive, crushed pepper and cranberry sauce

Wanted the halibut but two people were already getting the halibut so have to switch gears.

Second choice was the chicken but csc took the chicken as well.

It was between the Berkshire pork and the veal, and given that I had Berkshire pork at Rare, I thought I'd try the veal instead.

Veal is veal, as in I don't really find it too flavourful and would probably have been happier with the pork. The mushrooms are nice, but I wasn't WOWed by this dish so much. It was a fairly standard dish, I feel, and didn't have anything to put it over the top.

I had the halibut.

Again, the thing that sort of "ruined" it for me was the "meaty" braised flavor of the chicken wings! That thick, brown taste! I don't know why I can't seem to stomach that now. Insanity!

Anyway, the halibut was good. I like halibut and its firm texture. Bacon is always good. I've completely forgotten what the other components on the plate were.

Oh! I know! The potato fondant!

Grace was singing the virtues of the potato on our dish all throughout the meal! (She also had the halibut.) We were trying to figure out why this block of potato was so good. It really was just a block of potato! Turned out it was potato fondant, potato poached in butter. No wonder! Haha. It was "flavorful", very fragrant, with the outside having a little bit of crust.

The pea puree would've been fine with me, but it was a minted pea puree. I like or dislike mint on a case-by-case basis. In this case, I didn't like it! (Although, mint and peas are a classic combination.)

Parkside banoffi pie

Surprisingly good, given it's custard-like/flan-like texture. I thought it would be a more cake-y pie, but I liked this very much.

Banana and toffee -- wow. Never thought it'd be that good.

Molten chocolate beignets, Williams pear purée, white chocolate ice cream

Pineapple tarte fine with brown sugar ice cream

I had the pineapple tarte fine. So very good! The pineapples were caramelized, crisp pastry... It was the best dessert of the bunch, I feel. =D


Sunday, March 25, 2007

1st Annual Spring Break Potluck: Blueberry Muffins (cw)

[entry by cw]

The recipe is more or less the following... I made adjustments along the process... using less butter, sugar, and I skipped the sour cream though!

Blueberry Muffins

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
8 ounces (about 1 cup) sour cream
1/4 cup milk
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups of fresh blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place paper liners in muffin pans.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla, sour cream, and milk.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low speed add the flour mixture to the batter and beat until just mixed. Fold in the blueberries with a spatula and be sure the batter is completely mixed.

Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin pans, filling each cup just over the top, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the muffins are lightly browned on top and a cake tester comes out clean.

1st Annual Spring Break Potluck Summary

Lechon Kawali ("Lechon ni Betchon") by bsc
Lettuce Wrap by msc
Shrimp Fried Rice by mega
Ginataan by lsc
Almost-Traditional Caesar Salad by ts
Blueberry Muffins by cw
Roast Chicken by js

1st Annual Spring Break Potluck: Ginataan (lsc)

[March 1, 2008:
The step-by-step pictures are now here!]

[added Feb 2008:
It's too bad, but lsc's STEP-BY-STEP pictures of how to make this are gone! It was in Yahoo Photos before, but that site's not around anymore. =( Those pictures were really good, too! Step-by-step! \ts]

[entry by lsc]

1 pack tapioca
1 pack panutcha (pa-noot-cha).... i think this is how you call this... it's solid sugar

left: tapioca pearls; right: panutcha (golden slab sugar)

4 cans coconut milk

2 cans jackfruit .....

what the hell with the "Cock in the Mountaintop" brand... hahahha.... this has "kaong" inside (hard coconut jelly) - cut them in smaller pieces (you can opt this out if you don't like kaong and just buy ones that has only jackfruit in).

1/2 pack of brown sugar

6-8 purple yam (or you can use taro)

4 packs mini rice balls

A: Tapioca
1. Boil water in pot, add a tsp. of salt

2. add some oil

3. add tapioca

4. stir and let it boil

5. once the water thickens - see pic

6. drain in colander

* do steps #3 - #6 three times or until the tapioca is cooked.

7. shows how the tapioca look like after the second boiling - notice there are still some big white dots

8. once the tapioca is done, leave them in cold water - it's ok to have some tiny white dots, they will be cooked thoroughly once we add the tapioca in the coconut milk.

B: Purple yam in panutcha
1. Peel purple yams

2. put the peeled purple yams in cool water

3. cut purple yams in cubes

4. set aside the cubed purple yams

5. put some water in a big pot - about 2 cups

6. add the panutcha

7. arrange them so they melt evenly

8. once the panutcha has melted and boiling

9. add 1/2 pack of sugar

10. let the sugar melt

11. let it boil for 10 mins - to thicken a bit - put in lower heat so it won't burn

12. add cubed purple yams

13. stir purple yams in panutcha

14. increase the heat and let it boil

15. once it's boiling, lower down the heat so you don't burn the sugar

16. once you can squeeze the yams with your finger (not too mushy) - about 20 mins.

17. drain and set aside

C: Ginataan : The Finale
1. pour coconut milk in pot

2. add equal parts of water - 1:1

3. add 2 bowls of water

4. add sugar - we use a paler brown sugar. Nanay asked for white sugar, but I have none. Apparently, she didn't want to use the darker brown sugar. You can use any type of sugar you want. :)

5. using ladle as my measurement - i think i put 2 ladles in at the start

6. when the coconut milk is boiling, add the mini rice balls

7. once the rice balls are cooked (they will float)

8. add the cooked tapioca

9. add more sugar if you want

10. add the jackfruit

11. add the purple yams, stir carefully

12. let it cook for another 5 more mins. and it's done

* Always taste the ginataan for the right sweetness.

** Dilemma: After some time, i checked the ginataan and noticed that the sauce had thickened so much. The sauce had the consistency of glue... more like a thick goo. I think this was caused by cooking the rice balls in the coconut milk (it's made of flour afterall). Next time I'll cook the rice balls in a separate pot.

*** Solution: I didn't buy extra coconut milk but i had 2 cans of coconut CREAM in my cupboard. I use one can first and added 1.5 cans of water and a ladel of sugar. I heated it up and I let the sugar melt before i added it in the ginataan. It wasn't enough to thin the ginataan sauce so i use the other can and added more water this time. I still heated it up as the coconut cream/milk needed to be cooked first. I didn't add sugar this time as the ginataan was still sweet enough.

**** Preparation and cooking time; 1.5 hrs. Cook them all simultaneously or you'll spend twice the amount of time.

Happy cooking!

1st Annual Spring Break Potluck Summary

Lechon Kawali ("Lechon ni Betchon") by bsc
Lettuce Wrap by msc
Shrimp Fried Rice by mega
Ginataan by lsc
Almost-Traditional Caesar Salad by ts
Blueberry Muffins by cw
Roast Chicken by js

1st Annual Spring Break Potluck: Almost Traditional Caesar Salad (ts)

[entry by ts]

Start with cold olive oil. Add olive oil to cold pan. Add in a few whole cloves of garlic. Salt & pepper to taste, chili flakes if desired. Turn on the heat; the lowest possible.

This should slowly infuse the oil with garlic flavor. Wait until the garlic starts to brown a little. Turn off heat. Remove garlic cloves. (You can use them for some other thing. They're *almost* roasted garlic, but not that soft & roasted.)

The oil is ready!

Cut bread (any type) into cubes. Toss bread & oil together.

Place cubes onto a baking sheet and toast in the oven until golden.
(350 degrees; but doesn't really matter, re temperature. Just make sure to look at them and don't let them burn.)

Proportions: I made A LOT of croutons. I used about 1/4 cup of olive oil for about 8-10 slices of bread (normal sandwich bread type bread).

Wash & dry.

This is *almost* traditional because I used mayonnaise instead of raw egg yolks (with there being kiddies and all at the potluck), and I added capers.

I made A LOT of dressing. Yield was about 2 cups or so. Proportions of the ingredients are approximate (I can't remember exactly anymore) and all are subject to your taste/personal preference.

Dump everything into a food processor.

1 head garlic
1 tin anchovies
juice of 5-7 lemons
2 Tbsp capers
2 tspn Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup mayo
black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

Toss romaine & croutons with dressing. Add parmiggiano-reggiano shavings (or grated). Enjoy!

1st Annual Spring Break Potluck Summary

Lechon Kawali ("Lechon ni Betchon") by bsc
Lettuce Wrap by msc
Shrimp Fried Rice by mega
Ginataan by lsc
Almost-Traditional Caesar Salad by ts
Blueberry Muffins by cw
Roast Chicken by js

1st Annual Spring Break Potluck: Roast Chicken (js)

[entry by js]

It's too bad nobody took pictures!

Anyways, here's the roast chicken recipe. It's fairly straight-forward.

Brining the chicken first makes for plump, juicy chicken that don't dry out in the oven.

(a) To brine the chicken

(1) Dissolve 1/2 a cup of sugar
(2) Dissolve 1/2 a cup of salt
(3) . . .in 2 L of water

(b) Put the chicken in this brining solution for at least 2 hours or overnight, in the fridge.

(c) When ready to roast, rinse the chicken to get the brining solution off and pat dry with paper towels. Now the chicken is ready to be roasted.

(d) You can roast the chicken just like that and it's pretty good already. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

(e) This is a Michael Smith recipe. Put some celery, carrots, onions in a roasting pan, season with olive oil, salt and pepper, and place the chicken on top of the vegetables. Roast at 350 degrees F until chicken is done (usually 45 minutes to an hour).

(f) For the potluck, I chose to just dress the bird a little with some lemon, herbs, garlic and butter.

(g) Herbs: you can choose which herb you like. Rosemary works well with chicken. Thyme does. Actually, anything will go with chicken -- so it's a free-for-all here.

(h) Lemon, butter, and garlic -- this combination is just magic. Anything will taste good with lemon, butter and garlic. You can omit the garlic as well if you don't like garlic.

(i) Rub the chicken in and out with the butter. Place a couple of pieces of butter in between the skin and the flesh (especially the breast, since that dries out quickly).

(j) Place lemon, garlic (you can chop/mince finely if you like), butter (or rub inside the cavity as well) inside the cavity of the chicken. If you have herbs, just put them inside as well and rub it all over the chicken. You can do whatever with the chicken! LOL

(k) Season with salt and pepper, inside and out. The heavier you salt the skin, the crisper skin you'll get because salt draws out the moisture.

1st Annual Spring Break Potluck Summary

Lechon Kawali ("Lechon ni Betchon") by bsc
Lettuce Wrap by msc
Shrimp Fried Rice by mega
Ginataan by lsc
Almost-Traditional Caesar Salad by ts
Blueberry Muffins by cw
Roast Chicken by js

1st Annual Spring Break Potluck: "Lechon ni Betchon" (bsc)

[entry by bsc]

Pork Belly
whole black pepper
dried Laurel leaves

1. Boil Pork Belly with all the ingredients
2. When Pork is tender, take it out of the pan to let it cool and dry
3. Freeze the pork for 4 hours or overnight
4. You can deep fry, oven or turbo broil... your choice. What I did for our potluck was turbo broil.
5. heat broiler 350 to 400F.
6. Do not thaw the Pork belly. Just put it in the broiler as soon as you take it out of the freezer.
7. spread water using a brush once in a while to keep the skin moist
8. let it cook for 45 mins or until skin looks crispy (It looks crispy when I took it out :) )

* Maybe deep frying is better, but too oily....

1st Annual Spring Break Potluck Summary

Lechon Kawali ("Lechon ni Betchon") by bsc
Lettuce Wrap by msc
Shrimp Fried Rice by mega
Ginataan by lsc
Almost-Traditional Caesar Salad by ts
Blueberry Muffins by cw
Roast Chicken by js

1st Annual Spring Break Potluck: Lettuce Wrap (msc)

[entry by msc]

3 lbs Ground Pork
a can of Waterchestnuts
1.5 lbs Shrimp
15 pcs. Shitake Mushroom
3 pcs Shallots

1. Saute shallots until brown
2. Add pork, cook until pork is brown
3. Add waterchestnuts, mushroom and shrimp
4. Add salt and Hoisin sause to taste
5. Wrap in lettuce and enjoy. :)

1st Annual Spring Break Potluck Summary

Lechon Kawali ("Lechon ni Betchon") by bsc
Lettuce Wrap by msc
Shrimp Fried Rice by mega
Ginataan by lsc
Almost-Traditional Caesar Salad by ts
Blueberry Muffins by cw
Roast Chicken by js

1st Annual Spring Break Potluck: Shrimp Fried Rice (mega)

[entry by mega]

Freshly cooked rice
Green Peas
Green Onions
Salt and Pepper

Heat oil and butter in pan. Saute garlic, shrimps, green peas, green onions. Add cooked rice and seasoning salt to taste. Mix well. Create a small hole in the middle of the pan. Put in one egg at a time and whip after a few seconds. Mix with rice. Repeat procedure until the desired color is achieved. Serve.

1st Annual Spring Break Potluck Summary

Lechon Kawali ("Lechon ni Betchon") by bsc
Lettuce Wrap by msc
Shrimp Fried Rice by mega
Ginataan by lsc
Almost-Traditional Caesar Salad by ts
Blueberry Muffins by cw
Roast Chicken by js

Saturday, March 24, 2007

1st Annual Spring Break Potluck (March 24, 2007)

[entry by js]

Thank you all for making our 1st Annual Spring Break Potluck a raving success.

Thank you to Betson, for organizing the event. Thank you to all who brought such yummy, yummy food to share. And thank you to all who partook of the yummy, yummy food.

To summarize, here was the spread, with my comments.

Betson: Lechon Kawali RECIPE
This was delicious, pork transformed.

Betson complained about the skin not being crispy enough, but really, it was all good for me, because I chose not to eat the skin anyways. The meat was very tender and has that pork-buttery effect on the tongue.

You ALL are making me fat: I'm going to sue you!

Maryann: Lettuce Wrap RECIPE
Again, this was delicious! Ground pork, with shrimp and mushrooms and other stuff -- I'm sure Maryann would share the recipe -- wrapped in lettuce, with hoisin sauce. Excellent.

I think my mother will not like me, but I must say this version I like more than hers. This tastes lighter on the tongue, as opposed to my mother's "richer/browner" pork filling. My mother sautes the filling with hoisin sauce, leading to the richer/browner taste.

Mega: Shrimp Fried Rice and Almond Jelly RECIPE
Again, delicious. Big, plump shrimp with egg and rice! What's not to like? And I liked this very much. It's not greasy at all, which is a big, big plus.

Sorry, Mega -- didn't try the almond jelly. =( I'm not a big fan of almond jelly, so it was nothing against this almond jelly. I know, I know, it's an oversight on my part, and I'll do better next time. I'll still sue all of you for trying to make me fat! LOL

Lorelei: Ginataan, a type of Filipino specialty dessert RECIPE
So yummy, and the primary defendant in my lawsuit, because it's GINATAAN.

Coconut milk, all that starch (tapioca, rice balls, purple yam), all that sugar. How could I have eaten 3 bowl-fuls of something that I have to work off so hard? So I'm going to sue Lorelei! LOL

Marc and Mao: Turon
(Plantains/Bananas wrapped in Spring Roll Wrappers, then Pan-fried or Deep-fried)

I'm impressed, because this turon is well-done. I've never had a chance to try Marc and Mao's cooking, but if this is an indication, then it's something that I will look forward to in future potlucks. This turon is not greasy at all, which is excellent. And I don't particularly like jackfruit in turon previously, but this one might have made me a convert.

TS: Caesar Salad RECIPE
Excellent. I like my Caesar salad dressings garlicky and strong. The homemade croutons are so yummy! I can eat these croutons all day. And I do mean ALL DAY. I have to stop myself.

Again, the only thing I can complain about is the over-dressing of the greens -- are you trying to make me fat? I'll sue you!

Christiana: Muffin Trio (blueberry, banana, carrot) RECIPE
This came warm from the oven -- bakery fresh! I haven't tried it personally yet (will do in the morning, for breakfast tomorrow), but judging from how the kids swarmed about the muffins and how they scarfed them down, it must be good!

Danica cried when my mother took away her muffin! And she was still trying to pack in as much of the muffin before she had to go upstairs to bed. I trust Danica's taste: she is very sophisticated. =)

My own Lemon-Garlic Herb Roast Chicken RECIPE
Well, could have been more garlicky and probably needed to be seasoned more aggressively, but it was home-cooking, and home cooks tend to be more tentative about seasoning than restaurant cooks. =)

When the birds came out, it kind of looked good, all plump and juicy like that, if I may say so myself. LOL I liked these birds and I guess I'll just leave it at that. Special thanks to Maryann for carving the chicken.

Again, thank you all very much and hope to see you in the next Potluck!

I think, as per Betson, we would have to be posting the recipes? Yes, please do share your recipes!

Lechon Kawali ("Lechon ni Betchon") by bsc
Lettuce Wrap by msc
Shrimp Fried Rice by mega
Ginataan by lsc
Almost-Traditional Caesar Salad by ts
Blueberry Muffins by cw
Roast Chicken by js

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