Honey BBQ marinade

Break out the grill! It's summertime! Picnics by the beach, the smell of barbecue wafting through the sea salt air. Oggling at the gorgeous bodies bronzing under the sun. Can you imagine that? Here is a simple recipe that every weekend warrior can master to be king of the grill. It's an ideal marinade for chicken, prok chops, pork belly and beef ribs. The sweet taste of caramelized honey dancing with the sharp tinge of chili adds to delectable scrumptiousness of your carnivorous desires. Best to marinate overnight.
1 lemon, juiced
1/3 cup Corn Oil
6 pcs garlic cloves, crushed
1/3 cup honey
1/4 C fresh basil, chopped
1 tbsp thyme
1 tsp chili, chopped
1/2 tsp rock salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
In a mixing bowl, whisk together all ingredients until well combined.
Place your choice of meat in a tupperware container (You can use a ziplock bag as an alternative)
Pour the marinade into the container
Seal the container and toss around to distribute the marinade evenly.
Place in fridge and let marinte overnight.
Grill over ot coal to the desired doneness. 


10 interesting home made ice cream flavors

The summer heat has come early this year. The sweltering temperatures has blanketed Manila, making the sales of summer shorts and sunglasses on the sidewalk a brisk business. And of course, ice cream. Luscious ice cream. By the pint or by the gallon, ice cream always hits the spot. You go to your favorite grocery and pick up a tub, but the flavors are all, how would you say, generic? Expected? Great tasting ice cream should you crave for it would either be made of the same mould or extremely expensive. Wouldn't it be great if we could make our own ice cream? With the flavours we want and with the ingredients that are in season. The following recipe allows us to just do that. We really do not need complicated ice cream machines. Nor flex our arm muscles to churn out the dessert. All we need is a good backpack, 30 minutes of jogging, and a dose of creativity. Serves 2.
The Basic Ice Cream
1/2 Cup fresh milk
1/2 Cup Anchor Cream 35%
1/4 Cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 small Ziploc bag that can hold the above ingredients
1 bigger Ziplog Bag to hold the smaller bag and the next ingredients
5 Cups crushed ice
1/2 Cup rock salt
Place fresh milk, cream, sugar and vanilla in the smaller Ziploc bag. Seal securely.
Place the sealed bag into the larger Ziploc  bag, and pour in the ice and salt.
Seal the larger bag securely.
Now the fun part. Place bag in your backpack, and go for a run around your neighborhood in the morning.
The jogging will churn the mixture in the subzero temperature Ziploc bag.
After 30 minutes, pour the now soft ice cream into a container for consumption. Place in freezer and let set for 2 hours.
Now this recipe is a base. What can we add to it to make it different? Here are a few suggestions:
Ripe mango - it is in season. It is sweet. Just add half a mango into the mix
Oreo - of course. Why not? Crush maybe 4-5 pieces and add to the bag.
Balsamic strawberry - add 1/2 C crushed strawberries and 1 tablespoon of Modena Balsamic Vinegar. The sweetness of the straberry will contrast the tangy flavor of the vinegar. Yummy
Banana with cinnamon - add 1 pc banana sliced and 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Apple and mint - Run peeled apple and fresh mint leaves through a blender before adding to the mix
Dublin mudslide - add 2 tablespoons Bailey's Irish cream and 1/4 Cup chocolate chips
Java fix - add two doses of strong espresso and 1/4 cup chocolate chips
Honey - I prefer Palawan honey. Just add 1/3 cup
Cherry - add 3 table spoons of cherry syrup
Blueberry - add 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
Grape - run 1 Cup fresh graped through a blender. Add 1/4 cup Chianti. Yes. Chianti. Italian red. You can't miss on this one.
Can you think of any other flavor?


Top 10 Restaurants in Manila to have a romantic dinner

Valentine's day, celebrated the world over, has one of the busiest turnovers in the Manila restaurant scene. They say on average, at 4 in the afternoon each day is when a restaurant is decided upon to have an enjoyable meal away from home. But for the days surrounding the 14th, reservations are made by well-intentioned individuals as much as two months in advanced. And with good reason. It's a once-a-year opportunity to get closer to someone, celebrate serendipity over a good glass of wine, great food, and really good conversation with the person that could most likely finish your sentences. Restaurants pull out all the stops putting together the perfect ambiance, the perfect degustation menu, the perfect wine list. Surely all of us have experienced the high that came from meeting the perfect person for the first time. You just know that he or she is the one. The hairs behind your neck stand on end. The presence felt is so strong it is hard to dismiss as trivial. Then you strike up a conversation and it seems from the onset that both of you are on the same wavelength. Then you ask her out for coffee one time. Then the first date. Your best foot forward. Spray on that cologne that has been gathering dust for the past year. You actually make the effort to search for that elusive blue rose, not because you want to show much money you have, but because you believe it was what she wanted. The following restaurants are what I think are the best places to have a romantic Valentine's dinner. I did not sell my soul to put these restaurants on the list. I would have sold my soul though to be able to eat at these restaurants more often. Most of them require advanced reservations to be made for the red letter date.

Balducci - Part of the famous L'Opera group, this lovely Italian restaurant is located on Bonifacio High Street at the Fort. The ambiance is great. It is a place to be seen. Your date should try the Bresaola all'arancio con rucola e grana padano. Osso Buco f course is a classic. Although their pasta is good, why would you want to slurp it up on Valentine's day? +63.2.856.06.76

Je Suis Gourmand - also located at the Fort, it is more on the quieter side of the area. A French bistro, the atmosphere is laid back, not stuffy. The entrance to the restaurant is not at all pretentious. They have a menu that gets updated often. Try the Beef cheeks in red wine. Really rich. And the Foie Gras is to die for.  Wine selection of course is predominantly French, but none of those supermarket types that you see listed on hotel lists. +63.2.815.88.01-02

Cantinetta - They have two venues, but the more romantic tables at Pasong Tamo Extension in Makati is more secluded. Their wine room showcases all their wine for you to be able to actually cradle a Montes Alpha in tour arms. It is another Italian Restaurant that features great Tuscan cooking, but also has dishes from the southern regions. Must try is their Bistecca di Manzo. Pricy, but well worth it. The wine list is innovative. Each casa features a list of its best wine, instead of being listed by country. Descriptions are provided, and even matching suggestions. The restaurant is located far off from the traffic and hustle and bustle of Makati. It is really a destination restaurant. +63.2.892.98.73

Old Manila - Located at the Peninsula Hotel Manila, the flagship restaurant boasts French cuisine in a space dominated by narra and well appointed dining tables. Must-try is the Truffle crusted veal rib eye. Also of note is the Fine de Claire oysters and the lobster bisque. Wine list is the best available in the area. Do dressup. It's a place to see and be seen. +63.2.887.28.88

Sala - Conveniently located next to the Ayala Museum, the restaurant first made its mark in Malate, and since then getting rave reviews for its great cuisine. A truly romantic venue, their in-house baked bread starts the meal on the right tone. The roasted duck breast will have your date swooning. No nouvelle or fusion cuisine here. Just straightforward classical European cooking. +63.2.750.15.55

La Cosa Nostra - You would miss this great little nook if you were not looking. On Adriatico street in Malate, it is so discrete that it is only marked by a small Campari sign. Once inside, one is treated to the smells of Italian cook who has been running the kitchen for the past forty odd years. Only five tables occupy the dining space. The lighting is subdued. Perfect for a quiet dinner under the dim lights savoring great pasta dishes. Imagine the Disney classic Lady in the Tramp. +63.2.523.78.89

Cafe Juanita - Another restaurant off the beaten track, this place really gets away from the crowd. Though parking is very limited, couples still flock to this little corner restaurant for the food and the ambiance that romance lends its magic to. The food is a fusion of Filipino and European cooking. Wine list is not that extensive, but the cozy atmosphere allows anyone dining in its soft toned space to mingle pleasantly without any distractions. +63.2.632.03.57

Cafe Ysabel -What can spell romance as much as dining in a restaurant based on an antique house in the middle of a wooded area of Quezon city. Run by one of Manila's famous chefs, the restaurant is proud of its FIlipiino menu as well as some international dishes. Cooking from the province of Pamapanga takes center stage, so you know the food is as good as its ambiance. +63.2.726.93.26

Ziggurat Cuisine - If you want a little more spice to your romantic dinner, it can be had here. Indian, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern cooking will take hold of your senses. It's not as high class as the other mentioned restaurants, but it is where you can bring your unpretentious date to without having to worry about crashing and burning. This place tells your date that you know good food. +63.2.897.51.79

Top of the Citi - Sigh. A spin off from Le Souffle. And you can expect the same quality of service. What makes this place special is the view. You and your date have the Makati skyline looming before you while you dine on pasta with scallop and sun dried tomatoes, foie gras in filo pastry and for dessert, ice cream. It's relaxing, laid back, and a guaranteed a wonderful experience. Casual dining at its best. +63.2.894.74.37


8 minimalist steps to a thriving F&B Business

Efficiency. Defined as 'minimum input, maximum output'. A restaurant business is a living organism, and every operator wants it to run as smoothly as possible. So that he does not have to work. So it does not become work. Though the hours are long, the rewards go beyond the tangible, and dare I say it, the passion will keep anyone going. Like anyone coping, we look for ways to make things simple, to reduce the stress. Have you ever looked into the word stress? Do you know why you use such a word. By my understanding, stress is a natural reaction to something that is unexpected. Unexpected. The key word here is unexpected. Whether good or bad, when you expect it, you are less stressed. So why be stressed when you expected it? It's just a cop-out because most people in the industry are not deliberate in their actions. I digress. 

It would be great if we have a restaurant template that we can set up out of the box. But then again, that would make every restaurant all the same. And that would not be good. I saw this printed on a shirt once: 'You laugh because I am different. I laugh because you are all the same'. Can this apply to the restaurant business? I believe so, considering the amount of copycats here in Manila. How many fried wonton places do we need? Apparently it's not enough. And the trend for burgers has not spared the metropolis. 

The following are what I think would make the restuarant operators' life a little easier, allowing them to kick back with a cold one and watch the world go by. Some are classic, obvious and boils down to common sense. Which one can you use? 

Set a clear goal - a goal that is not even remotely ambiguous. Follow the SMART philosophy: The goal has to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable or Action-oriented, Realistic and Time-based or Trackable. This allows you to focus on what is truly important, getting rid of other distractions.

Build relationships and watch cash flow - Avoid getting sidetracked by anything else. The restaurant business is a very personal business. Relationships are the lifeblood. Relationship building of course involves talking to guests, customers, employees, vendors, associates and investors and getting feedback. Monitor your sales. Tweak your marketing promotions. Nothing else matters.

Give your strongest, your best guarantee - Be confident in your product. Give the best. Don't worry about being taken advantage of. Most guests are honest, since they come to you for a great time, not for a fast buck. The unscrupulous ones populate the minority, hardly worth the effort. If you can't provide a guarantee, then you are admitting there is something wrong with what you are offering. Strive to that level where you can be sure of what you are doing.

Opportunity knocks - Chase them down. Look for opportunities. Create opportunities. Create the opportunity to get good ratings by giving something extra. Look for a thousand and one ways to reinvent your restaurant and make it better. This industry is so dynamic that a lot are not able to catch up, eventually going through a slow agonizing death. If you need to cancel and opportunity, cancel. You don't need the clutter.

It's people power - Your restaurant is driven by people, by their personalities. They are what make the restaurant, no matter how tehnologically advanced your kitchen is or how many millions is spent on the decor. But choose your people wisely. Be deliberate on who works for you, who supplies the salmon, who does your books, who comes and cleans the crud from the grease trap. Be precise in your requirements.  This way you will never have too much staff, too many freeloaders, too many crooks under your wing. Because you put them there deliberately, so you would not have to worry day in day out.

Be a match maker - Offer the right product to the right people. Match the right service to loyal guests and potential walk-ins. The crative use of upselling and cross selling can really make a difference. And you guests will walk away lightyears ahead of just being satisfied. 

Just look at two KPIs - Key Performance Indexes in a fancy way of measuring on how well you are doing. If you are juggling several figures at any given time, you are definitely going to experience burn out. And the two that can let you sleep after each service? The day's revenue and guest feedback. Other's are summarized in your monthly statement. These two are the only ones you look at each day, that act on each day. And it just takes 15 minutes.

Subscribe to the Five Levels of Service - It's about people thinking about taking care of people. It is what differentiates on restaurant to another. It goes against celebrating mediocrity. The five is a straightforward way of assessing what you are doing now, and where you should be. Ask yourself what would it take to get to the 'Trademark' level.



Aphrodisiac Oyster stew

The month of love has begun. It is interesting that oysters still remains to be the sensuous ingredient of choice among the hot blooded males and females. In various forms, oysters have inspired poems, battles, odes, and loves. And the love of oysters has created a steady following. And with that following of course comes recipes that burn the shortest route to heart. Let us start off February with this Oyster stew with bacon and onion. Serves, of course, two.
3-4 small potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 white onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1 tbsp butter, unsalted
4-6 smoked bacon slices, chopped
1 cup milk
1 cup 35% fat cream
1/2 cup chicken stock
Salt and pepper
10 pcs oysters, shelled and cleaned

  1. Put on a CD of 'Astrud Gilberto', 'Julia Fordham' or 'Everything but the Girl'.

  2. In a small stock pot over medium heat, melt butter. Add bacon and swirl around with a spoon to coat evenly. Cook until the fat turns transparent and the delicious smell of bacon permeates the kitchen, about 4 minutes.

  3. Add the garlic and onion, and stir. Cook until garlic is tender and the onions start caramelizing. Follow the rhythm of the music playing in the background. Toss in the potatoes. Hear the sizzle, feel the heat.

  4. Add the oysters. Toss around for a minute or two, then add the chicken stock. Bring to boil, then lower heat to a smimmer. Let simmer for around two minutes.

  5. Add in the cream slowly, stirring, then the milk. Let simmer for another minute, or until the potatoes are tender.

  6. Sensually season to taste with salt and pepper. Add a few drops of tabasco if you like
  7. Serve in deep bowls, or serve each other.