Thursday

A letter to my favorite readers

Dear readers,

Thank you for keeping up to date on my adventures and recipes on this blog. I have enjoyed immensely your readership. An exhilarating ride for a newbie blogger, it was most rewarding.
Along the way, I have found some limitations on this blog, and would like to improve how I offer my writing to you. So, I am moving to new place.
I recently purchased my own domain. And gave it a totally different name, a different persona. One that reflects what I really am and the kind of cooking that I usually do in the kitchen.
Please follow me to the new blog site HarlequinnCooks.com. I promise it is a better portal for most everything you might need.
Again, thank you. And I hope to see you there.

Chef Ivan

Tuesday

Thoughts on a new blog title

I sit in front of my pc. Just one thought invades every nook and cranny of my brain. And it’s beginning to be bothersome. Only because I want to get better. Doesn’t everybody.

I am going to make a few changes to my blog. And one of those is the title. I have racked my brains for the last couple of weeks. And I came up with some:

chefivan.com (too egotistic. Might as well be on facebook)
chefivantheterrible.com (ha. But not professional)
kitchenconfidential.com (taken)
Kitchenworks.com (taken)
thespiritofcooking.com (taken. And it restricts the blog to just a few topics)
spiritedcook.com (can’t tell if it’s catchy)
cookieschef.com (might think it’s all about cookies)
personalchefmanila.com (taken)
chefmanila.com (taken)

So, my train of thought has derailed. I need a new blog title. Something that easily rolls off the tongue. Something easy to type. What can I give you? I don’t know. Never did a contest. Don’t know what to give away. Apart from permanent credit to the creator of the title, I give my thanks. In advance.

Saturday

Apple Crumble and feeling good

Apple Crumble slice

It is not the season of leaves falling to the ground, but one of my favorite ways to fatten up is with a rich apple crumble. In other parts of the world this recipe can do so many things during the cold times and cold months. A warm slice can lift you up when the world seems to be against you, can keep you company when curled up with a book, or to bring friends together over a cup of coffee enjoying the brisk air at a neighborhood cafe. I personally like indulging when the sky is grey and the rain is falling, washing away all my worries, anxieties and inhibitions. Leaving me with just sweetness, quite and solitude as I sink my teeth into the flaky crust and rich filling, messing myself up with the crumbly topping. I believe a scoop of vanilla ice cream topped with strawberry balsamic vinegar adds to the sinfulness .

So we start by making the pie crust. This is one recipe that is reliable. But I do depend heavily on the digital weighing scale, as with baking other recipes. I just find that measuring cups leave a lot of room for error. With exact weights this pie crust comes out exactly the same every time

320 g All purpose flour
15 g sugar
3 g salt
175 g butter unsalted
Juice of half a lemon
85 ml ice cold water

In a food processor, pulse flour, sugar and salt. Add butter, then pulse to a coarse crumb

Apple Crumble (2)
Add lemon juice and water, and pulse to a moist crumb
TO a fine Crumble
Turn out to a cold surface, and flatten to a round dough. Cover with cling film and chill 1 hour or overnight
Butter a pie pan on all inside surfaces.
Rolling out the dough
Roll out dough to a fourth of an inch. Transfer to pie pan and press evenly and lightly
Apple Crumble (8)
Brush with egg wash on all sides
brushing egg wash

For the apple filling I used green apples as do any other self respecting baker. Peeled and cubed, they are perfect for some slow cooking

12 pcs apples
Juice of half a lemon
150 ml water
30 g white sugar
30 g brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/3 tsp ground cinnamon

Peel apples and cut into 1 inch cubes
Apple Crumble (4)
Place apples in a stock pot and add in all the other ingredients
Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer
Apple Crumble (5)
Let simmer uncovered until apples are tender, about 25 minutes
Remove from heat and let cool

For the crumble:

150 g all purpose flour
60 g white sugar
60 g brown sugar
100 g butter

In a bowl combine all ingredients with a fork.
crumbled topping
Mash with fork until it resembles coarse crumbs

Preheat oven to 200C
Pour cooled apple filling into the pie shell
Sprinkle crumble over pies until completely covered
Pop into the oven and bake until golden brown. About 25 minutes
Remove from oven and let cool completely

Apple Crumble (1)

Now grab a book, blanket, pop in Barry White or Smokey Robinson, and let the good times slowly lull you into decadent relaxationl. Please, Kenny G does not go with apple crumble.

Friday

Best Adobo Recipes in on-line mag!

0611_maria_clara_fbox
So after winning the AdobOlympic s 2011, my family got first wind of mass publication when Yummy Magazine posted our winning recipes on-line. Today’s sunny morning seemed even brighter as our adobo recipes were immortalized in digital print. Imagine, the demure Maria Clara having never looked better. And the Maria Clara Exposed gathering interest as well. We are all happy. The cooks who made it possible: My life partner, Rossana; daughters Alie and Maxine; and moi, who was reluctant at first to join. What good things will come out of this?

UPDATE:

The AdobOlympics have now been covered in the PHILIPPINE INQUIRER. Read the story here

And here is the video as covered by HIP MANILA

Saturday

The very reasons not to be a chef

Admit it. You personally know at least one chef or professional cook. At least have come across a professional cook significant enough to warrant a second look. Or know of someone who recently graduated from a culinary or hotel management school. Maybe 10 or more years ago many people looked down on the lowly cook. Thinking they were criminals, half-lifes, never amounting to anything. Ironically, it is the spirit that keeps professional cooks going, chugging out thousands of identical plates every week, working in near-submarine conditions, at very low pay. Because we love it.

Photo1501 Recently though, it has been very difficult to weed out the posers from the professional cooks. Every technical, vocational and fly-by-night schools sport culinary programs, making diploma mills spit out more culinary certification. Is it the ‘in’ thing? Are more and more people considering a career in the culinary arts? For what reason? These should not be one of those reasons:

For the glamour – a chef, by definition, is a cook that leads other cooks. The personalities you see on TV? They are called chefs because they earned that title, not bestowed upon themselves. Anthony Bourdain documented his rise in the ranks. Eric Ripert made a name for himself. Gordon Ramsay got michelin stars. But Rachel ray? She’s not a chef. She is just another Martha Stewart wannabe. If you want your 15 minutes of fame, you have to travel a long and winding road before you get there. Earn your battle scars.

For the money – this is an attainable dream. We all dream of a high salary, royalties and product endorsements. But one gets into this profession with more spirit than a ready checking account. In fact, most start out as stagiares earning next to nothing. For years on end. As an apprentice, or someone lower than an apprentice. A pot scrubber, a peeler. Yet they trudge on, because they learn something new every day, every year, working on their craft.

Because everybody is doing it – Keeping up with the Joneses is very bad at the get go. If you think following the trend will turn you into the mindset of a chef, much less an actual chef, then the line cooks will skin you alive and sear your working hand with a hot iron pan. This is a sign of a finicky mind, only learning how to cook because somebody told them to. Where is the passion there?

Because I cook at home – A professional cook is very different from a home cook. Even if you could make the best BBQ sauce in your small town, or make a mean casserole, that does not make a chef. There are a lot of things to learn. Because whatever you learned at home will be obliterated from you mind as inefficient, redundant and a waste of space. Professional cooking is an art. In some cases, it’s a discipline, a way of life.

Be a chef, a professional cook, because you love cooking the same thing over and over again with no difference from one plate to another. Because you have gone through the burns, the cuts, the bruises, humiliation, and other such forms of rite of passage to earn the title. Earn it. Don’t call yourself a chef. hear it from someone else’s lips. Someone that matters. Not from your culinary school instructor.

Tuesday

Paradise found…and it is definitely not Boracay!

palawan (9) It was dawn on a Wednesday when i was kidnapped. As everyone slept, I tiptoed out of the door into the waiting van, knowing nothing of my destination. The driver appeared groggy from interrupted sleep, struggling to stretch out the last few milligrams of coffee in his system he had the day before. The only thing reliable about McDonald’s these days is their breakfast menu, so a quick detour for some hot fluffy pancakes and bitter coffee was in order. Half an hour was spent discussing rumors and and gossip while slathering maple syrup and rich butter. The driver, too, did not know where I was going. He was just a driver.

Minutes have passed, and eventually closed on my time of departure. As I was dropped off at the airport, I was instructed to deliver two boxes. Knowing security is tight nowadays, even for domestic travel as I soon found out, I unceremoniously stuffed the boxes into my check-in luggage. resulting in being three kilos overweight. No problem.

After going through the numerous security procedures, I found myself buckling my belt back on in a small coffee shop just a few meters away from the departure gate, waiting for the plane to arrive. Flight was on time, according to the board, so it afforded me to enjoy the Manila sun for a few minutes and mooch off the wifi. Why is it that when one travels we find solitude in a good strong cup of coffee?

My fellow passengers were all dressed in their summer’s best. Colorful shorts, ridiculous shirts. Most sporting that dreaded iPad, not doing anything useful. A few backpacking foreigners were just whiling away the time reading pocket books and rolling their joints. As we boarded, the excitement mounted, because we were all going somewhere unknown, at least for most of us. Because the lure of an island beach paradise south of Manila seemed more inviting than staying in hot and humid Manila this time of year. We took off at exactly 7:20, the city growing smaller each meter we go higher.

I find myself seated next to two German backpacking tourists, looking out the window. Their conversations was interesting, as my rusty grasp of the Deutsch caught their plans once they deplane. They were headed to a resort just a few minutes away from Puerto Princessa, our destination. Half an hour into the flight, they fell silent as I have, just watching clouds roll by.

We arrive at Puerto Princessa just over an hour later. palawan (41) It was drizzling, no ounce of sunshine. But it didn’t matter. I had work to do. After stowing the luggage in a Fortuner, we took off for a long drive to the town of San Vicente. The laptop proved useful here, as I was able to catch two movies while going through rough jungle roads.Twice i thought we have arrived, for the gleaming Palawan coastline can be visible. After lunch we were at a private cove, a resort called Capari.

“Located in the final frontier of the Philippine archipelago of Palawan, is the spectacular tropical setting of San Vicente. Capari Resort is a modest boutique resort of 15 rooms situated in a private cove, offering serenity, privacy and non intrusive service with the warm Filipino hospitality.
A place where you can reconnect with nature, unwind and relax. Conveniently located in the centre of the emerald islands of San Vicente and near the Philippines’ longest 14.7 km white sand beach cove called, “Long Beach”. Deserted beaches, waterfalls and captivating viewpoints that will surely take your breath away.
Tropical beaches are plentiful and an abundance of marine life provide many activities to enjoy. Snorkeling, beach games, swimming, scuba diving, island hopping, mountain biking, hiking or running trails. After all these activities, a rejuvenating spa experience is at your service.
We provide tasteful accommodations, good food, new world and old world wine and activities for all. Capari Resort San Vicente is a secret waiting to be enjoyed.
We pride ourselves with eco-consciousness, being sustainable, helping local farmers, fisherman and employing the local community. Minimalizing our carbon footprint and working hard to keep San Vicente… Clean, Green and Pristine.”

palawan (10) 

palawan (2) The light rain added to the mystery of wilderness, as flaura and fauna were more pronounced. The resort had an elevated boardwalk, flanked by small cabins leading up the beach. And it was a sight to see. Tall palm trees, the water, the sand. At that moment I cursed the rain gods. I spotted a couple of cabanas along the beach front. Nice place to relax. After checking into my room, I went to the rustic kitchen to meat the crew. They fed me fried fish, egg and garlic rice for lunch. And after half a day of travel, it felt like the most delicious plate of seafood I have ever had.

I was to help prepare the food for the mayors of Bukidon, Iloilo and Palawan who were arriving the next day. With a four day menu in my hand, we set about organizing the kitchen. Fresh seafood as I have never before seen in any seafood market in Manila. So fresh they had rigor mortis, gleaming eyes, the scent of sea salt. We gutted Tanguigue, red snappers, milk fish, squid, Talakitok. Crabs. Spider crabs. That first night i slept under the stars. The cabins were small but comfortable. The twin bed was a welcome treat after a long day. No TVs, or internet, it was a world away from everything. So quiet was the place at night you could hear your watch tick.

The next four days when by in a blur. A line cook by the name of Jimmy was a fisherman by trade, and he really knew his fish. How many kitchen cooks have you seen that can cleanly fillet a meter long marlin under 5 minutes? He took me spear fishing one morning 5 minutes off shore. Snorkeling isn’t what I’m good at, but my struggles were rewarded with a vast coral world just beneath the surface, swarmed with every fish of every color and size. The corals formed avenues that were a delight to swim through. We caught a few fish, and after an hour we headed back. Before we beached, a lone snapper jumped out of the water and into our outrigger. That night we feasted. And Another Fisherman would go out at night to do the same, with a lamp attached to the front of the boat to attract the fish.

Each night after a 14 hour day, I would go to bed, listening to the drunken guests belt out in karaoke at the adjacent pavilion. It was amusing, the warbling lulling me to sleep, for each morning I had to get up before dawn for the breakfast service.

On my last night, tired as we are, the Capari staff and I built a bonfire and just lay down in the sand. The guests have departed, and I was just gaining strength for my flight back home. Next morning, the trip to the airport seemed a lot shorter. After checking in and purchasing some gifts, I boarded the flight, filled with sunburned tourists who were uncomfortable in their seats. An hour later we landed in Manila in the middle of a storm. Ironic. That’s ok. I have a whole gallon of wild honey to show for my trip.

If you want to move away from over crowded and over commercialized Boracay, book a few nights at Capari, an Island cove in the Northwestern town of San Vicente, Palawan. It is worth the trip.

Monday

Summer cooler: Refreshing Lemon Sorbet

So we have a function that required a palate cleanser. Naturally, lemon sorbet came to mind. Try as we might, for convenience sake, we scoured most of the supermarkets and gourmet shops, and nobody seems to have it on stock. So with a little research and some testing, a recipe was developed for the crisp taste of semi frozen sorbet. great for in between courses, the sorbet can also be a great way to cool down during the hot summer months.
The following recipe was quite simple. Only we had to do it without an ice cream machine. With a little effort and a whole lot of love, it can produce one of the lightest most refreshing sorbet anyone can make at home.
It is important that you use fresh lemons. Try and find lemons that are uneven as they guarantee they are not the waxy type. Roll it whole with the base of the palm to loosen the pulp before juicing. I recommend a Microplane to get the zest. The tool can neatly get fine shavings of the peel without getting the bitter rind, as that would be bad news for what you are about to create.

Bohemian Lemon Sorbet

Serves 6

Grated zest of one whole lemon
235 ml water
100 g sugar
120 ml lemon juice
1 egg white
120 ml carbonated mineral water
Candied lemon for garnish

  1. In a sauce pan, stir together lemon zest, water and sugar
  2. Bring to boil, then lower heat to simmer 5 minutes
  3. Remove from heat and let cool completely
  4. Whisk egg white until stiff
  5. Incorporate into lemon syrup
  6. Stir in lemon juice and carbonated water
  7. Place in a tall canister and place in freezer for about 90 minutes
  8. With a stiff wire whisk, break up ice crystals and beat to distribute evenly. Place it back in the freezer
  9. Break up ice crystals every two hours. The more the sorbet is beaten, the lighter and fluffier it gets

A stiff wire whisk makes breaking ice crystals easy. So get one that does not flex so easily. I used a mayonnaise plastic jar as a canister as it is easier to store and cover. Aluminum canisters tend to react with the lemon’s acid giving it a very faint grey tinge.
As compared to a granita, which is a frozen dessert, sorbets have egg whites to give it a softer texture. And since the beating incorporates air, the volume increases the velvet smoothness.
Let me know how yours turns out. Any suggestions to improve the recipe are welcome. Just post it up in the comments section.
Ciao.

Friday

The things that annoy us

image Or to put it bluntly, what pisses the hell out of hospitality professionals

  1. Announcing they’re bloggers or critics the moment they get in the door. Especially when don’t know jack-shit and act all Amuse-Douche like.
  2. Attention grabbing fake allergies. One customer came in and said they were allergic to garlic. I say ‘then don’t go to an Italian restaurant’
  3. Nursing their solitary beer or cup of joe for hours on end, mooching off the free wifi
  4. Getting boisterously drunk
  5. Treats waiters like 3rd class citizens, acting like they are about to be married to Prince William
  6. Splitting a bowl of soup, salad or sandwich for two
  7. In Manila, it’s the bodyguards they bring. Occupying other tables and not ordering anything
  8. Asks for non fat, decaf, artificially sweetened cappuccino to go with her slice of Black Forest cake
  9. Asks to speak to the chef in the midst of dinner service. On a Friday night. When the kitchen is deep in the weeds
  10. Showing up 30 minutes late for a reservation. On a Friday night. Expecting a table ready
  11. Leaving their valuables such as a DSLR camera displayed on the table, then blames the wait staff when it gets nicked
  12. Utters the words “Do you know who I am?!”. Obviously not, buddy. You are given the same VIP treatment as everybody else
  13. Finishing two thirds of the meal before complaining, then wanting it written off the check.

Monday

Man in the mirror

Photo0741We look at ourselves in the mirror during our alone time every morning before heading off to work. And these are the moments when we are at our most introspective. Have you asked yourself any of these questions?

How old would you be if you did not know how hold you are?

If you had the opportunity to spread the word to a large group of people, what would your message be?

If not now, then when?

What would you differently if you knew nobody would judge you?

Are you holding on to something that you need to let go of?

Have you done anything lately worth remembering?

Do you think crying is a sign of weakness, or strength?

Would you break the law to save someone?

Do you celebrate the things you do have?

When it’s all said and done, will you have said more than you’ve done?

When the last time you tried something new?

Which activities make you lose track of time?

If you could do it all over again, would you change anything?

If you had a friend who spoke to you in the same way you sometimes speak to yourself, how long will that person be your friend?

If you had to teach something, what would you teach?

Are you aware that someone has it worse than you?

What makes you smile?

What would you regret not fully doing, being, or having in your life?

Do you ask enough questions? Or do you settle for what you know?

Saturday

38 ways to chill

The heat is bearing down on the pavement and bouncing up to our sanity. Yes. It is summer in the metro. It is ludicrous that we could not run the airconditioning at full blast during the hot summer months, owing to the fact that the Philippines has the 3rd highest electricity rate in the world (crazy, isn't it?) and it is not entirely safe for the environment. So what can we do to stay cool? Here are some suggestions. Some are obvious, of course.


  1. Wear loose clothing, or as little as possible, if not none at all
  2. Go commando
  3. Drink mint iced tea
  4. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, they are natural diuretics
  5. Get up before the sun rises
  6. Go out more often at night
  7. Walk slowly
  8. Cut your hair, or tie it up into a pony tail
  9. Go to the mall and soak up
  10. Sleep beneath the stars
  11. Put you favorite pillow in a freezer bag and chill for a couple of hours
  12. Keep a spritzer within reach
  13. Take a cold shower before and after work
  14. Chill your pulse points for a few minutes
  15. Place iced water in your hot water bottle before calling it a night
  16. Soak your feet in a bucket of cold water
  17. Go downstairs, because heat rises
  18. Eat spicy food
  19. Schedule errands for when the sun goes down
  20. Stay in the shade, if not indoors
  21. Drink lots of water
  22. Stock up on Popsicles
  23. Plant a tree
  24. Go cool-pooling. Like car-pooling, you share an airconditioned environment with friends
  25. Do the wet t-shirt
  26. Keep condensers clean and free of dust
  27. Park your car in the shade
  28. Be sensible when exercising. Cool down with these tips
  29. Go fly a kite
  30. Spend a few hours in an inflatable pool
  31. Go to work with a cold lunch
  32. Turn on heat generating appliances only when needed
  33. Hang an ice towel in front of the fan
  34. Sleep in a 'spread-eagled' position
  35. Freeze water bottles to rub over your neck with during the day
  36. Think cool. Rent movies that deals with ice, winter, cold hard rain
  37. Stay out of the kitchen as much as possible
  38. Take the airconditioned public transport instead of the car to work


I know there must be other ways to beat the heat this summer. Maybe you know of some. Post it here so everybody can 'chill'

13 things that say you are an AMUSE-DOUCHE

We know or have come across at least one person like this. Hell, we may even have a friend who is exactly like this. Sometimes amusing, most of the time annoying, we put up with them for one reason or another. I hate stereotyping, but there are characteristics that can help anyone spot one a mile away. And here are some of them…

You just graduated from culinary school, and you think you are better than the chef

You appear on TV as a celebrity chef, but never have worked in a professional kitchen

Your professional timeline is that of a precious antique. You go to the highest bidder

You are a chef-whore. Hang around professional chefs and bona fide foodies just so that you can say you are

Vegetarian or carnivore, you impose yourself on the other side of the fence

You show up at functions and events uninvited, hogging all photo-ops

You have a whole line of cooking products under your name, yet you do not know how to fry an egg (K___ A_____?)

You have a steak cooked medium well to well done

The amount of cookbooks you actually have and used are less than amount of mobile phones you’ve owned

You blame ‘Climate change’ on irresponsible companies but haven’t changed your lifestyle to at least help the situation

You own a $100+ chef’s knife but never used it in the kitchen

As a culinary school graduate, you have no respect for cooks who learned it the hard way

You don’t know the difference between a hollandaise, a bĂ©arnaise and a maltaise sauce

Do you know any more traits? Let everyone know, for goodness sake!

The PERFECT MORNING AFTER BROWNIE

I have a very soft spot for anything chocolate. In another life, I would have enjoyed chili with chocolate, or ended up as a successful pastry chef. I have not had the opportunity, however. Like most cooks in the hot kitchen, bakery is our Achilles Heel, the one thing that we could not even begin to imagine the precision of the recipes and execution. We do have basic recipes, though. And these recipes come  by once in a while, something so great, something so different, you just can’t let it go. Even rare the proofed recipe. Baking is an exact science, ironically since there are millions of variations to the recipe that follows. I found this recipe at a point when I just felt like nibbling.

if you have the inclination to indulge, forget new year’s resolutions, please have a go at this. I did, and it was snapped up while warm, from the hungry sleep deprived kitchen crew, to the board members of IBM that needed something other than the mass produced bagels, waffles cookies and pastries from the nearby coffee shops. This recipe serves as a guide. Put your heart into it as I did. And like all things that have worth, take your time. Feel every step and put some spirit into it. Only then can you call it the PERFECT BROWNIE.

250g unsalted butter
200g dark chocolate bar
80g Hershey’s cocoa powder
85g all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
360g brown sugar
4 eggs, beaten
Zest or orange

Preheat oven to 180C/350F
Pop in some Bob Marley and raise the volume to just audible.
Line baking tray with butter and grease-proof paper. Smooth out wrinkles with your hands feeling the surface and every corner, taking in the smell from the butter is melting slowly with your fingers.
Over a double boiler, melt butter and chocolate. Stir until smooth. Take your time. Watch how the chocolate crawls down the sides. Be mindful of the patters of dark brown and yellow.
In a separate bowl, sift together cocoa, flour, baking powder and sugar. It should form a fluffy mound in the center of the bowl
Remove chocolate from heat and gradually add the sifted dry ingredients.
Stir with a wooden spatula for about 1-2 minutes
Add the eggs and mix until smooth
Pour batter into prepared baking tray. Tap the sides lightly to let loose any air bubbles and to level
Bake 25 minutes
Transfer to a cooling rack and allow the residual heat to slowly cook interior and dissipate
When it has reach room temperature, transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate overnight
On the morning after, bite into the soft chewy inside of the brownie, and then tell me…what do you feel?

Post pictures please

What if…

kitchen Life moves forward, change being the only constant. Where would we be other than from where we have been? Each sunrise should mark a new step in the right direction. As if we were propelled to strive to be better, to go farther, to take the bull by the horns and all those new age crap that pervade us each and every morning when we spread open the broadsheet and humor ourselves on the comics section, eventually ending up on what does our birth sign say now.

It is Saturday morning, and after a week of more than usual activity in the kitchen, peace has allowed me to write and reflect on what creeps up on us once in a while when we find ourselves alone. You may be sipping your coffee, or massaging the LV bags under your eyes after a long night, or just sitting still watching the cat gazing into space. When your mind stops wandering, and starts wondering, what if…

…the mobile phone was never invented – half the time the little gadget is acting like a leash, keeping us connected, wagging our tails the moment it beckons. Although today smartphones have proved invaluable, some of us wonder how we survived without it in the first place. But we did. The powers that be survived without it.
…one became a doctor, instead of a professional cook – I would be charging astronomical fees for consultation and procedures. I would be paying off the loan for medical school. By my age today I would strutting around in a lab coat or scrubs, pulling 48 hours of duty in the emergency ward. I would also be surrounded by sick and dying people.
…I wrote a cookbook – one that would change the way the world cooks. Julia Child made that remarkable milestone. Then just recently the ground breaking ‘Modernist Cuisine’ (which is on my ‘must have’ wish list) is making amuse-douche (pretentious chefs) cringe and the foodie population shiver in anticipation. I would write a cookbook that would do just a bit more than that. Not for self glorification, but to change the world. What if we did hunker down and typed out that novel that has been festering in the back of our minds?
…Zuckerburg was beaten up by the twins – maiming him in the process? Facebook as we know it exists in two very distinct forms, depending on which part of the fence you are looking into. One as an essential tool that you have full control of, that actually gives you the results you need, when you need it. On the other side of the tarnished coin, FB exists to rule your life. Like everything about your life is dictated by Facebook. Would life have been simpler without Facebook?
…Gottlieb Daimler came across a concept for solar powered energy - instead of the internal combustion engine. Would we have the energy problems we are currently experiencing now? Would the oil countries be as powerful? Would war and senseless killing be averted?
…among the millions who were killed in the 20th century, one turned out to be the genius that had the cure for cancer or AIDS? – Medicine as we know it can can take care of most fatal diseases. A controversial argument is saying that cures, especially for the ailments that have plagued society and decimated millions, are being suppressed by money hungry pharmaceutical companies. On the other hand, had a cure been discovered, would it not be pleasant that it be introduced to the world just for the sake of the Hippocratic oath, and not for economics?
…free energy was actually ‘free’ – the Philippines was recently rated as the country with electricity rates higher than that of Japan, considering Japan has a much, much higher cost of living. Why is that? Is electricity that expensive? Does it really cost that much to power a home? Or there too many hands in the pot along the way?

I don’t know. I am just rambling. The Saturday morning has progressed into lunch service. I do know either if I should act on these ruminations. Like all points to ponder, crossing the line to make something out of it is just another step forward into one direction. At least it’s a step.

The summer season will be here soon. And soon it will be too hot to move. We are in the midst of preparing meez for lunch and dinner and for tomorrow’s brunch buffet. We will be making shrimp bisque, a rich soup that is a meal in itself. It was never before served in this restaurant, but like the logic of moving forward, there is a first time for everything.

What do you think of when you are alone?

Wednesday

10 great places to have breakfast in Manila

Cafe d’Asie at the Bellevue Hotel – Located in the south, the hotel is situated in the breezy Alabang area. If you are one of the few lucky enough to jog through the parks and wide open spaces, a short detour to this hotel will be most rewarding. A full breakfast buffet with continental and Asian influences that will start your day right. For directions, just follow this map.

The Bellevue Hotel Manila
North Bridgeway, Filinvest Corporate City
Alabang Muntinlupa City
+63.2.771.81.81
Spiral at the Sofitel Hotel – Breakfast by the bay has never been better at this hotel. Served everyday from 6:30AM to 10:30AM, it is the most extensive of all hotel buffets. So vast is the selection that 90% of the time guests are not able to enjoy dessert. With live cooking stations, delicious Asian cooking, cheeses, wine, coffee, and desserts that you really can’t miss, it will be extremely difficult to stay on the current diet regimen.
 
Sofitel Philippine Plaza
+63.2.551.55.55
Pancake House – Their signature dish has never been equaled not imitated. Fluffy pancakes, rich whipped butter, delicious maple syrup. Located almost everywhere, it is a convenient place to have breakfast, although a favorite branch is the Salcedo branch. Casual dining. Modern take. Also serves Filipino breakfasts.
Pancake House
189 Salcedo Street Legaspi Village, Makati
+63.2.894.07.20
UCC Cafe at the Mall of Asia – An extensive coffee menu is the plus side. Crepes for breakfast? And honest to goodness milkshakes. They make great French toasts, with fresh fruits and waffles. Although not the greatest, but the outside dining area is a nice place to enjoy the early part of your day.

SM Central Business Park
Bay City, Pasay
+63.2.556.01.75
Sinangag Express – locally referred to as SEX, their facebook page is an interesting hodgepodge of innuendos, but breakfast reigns here. Tapang Tapat, Sizzling Boneless bangus, Lucban Longganisa, La Paz Batchoy…sigh. hearty Filipino favorite. not high class cuisine, but it hits the spot.
Sinangag Express
70 Presidents Avenue, BF Homes
Paranaque
+63.2.541.49.62
Apartment 1b – some friends say they swear by their menu. And after a run at the Ayala triangle, a properly done three egg omelet and some good coffee is just the right thing to order before heading out to the showers before work. Pancakes and waffles of course, is a pleasant expectation. i would go for the meusli, with shaved fruit…yum!
 
Apartment 1B
One Lafayette Square
G/F Unit 1B 132 LP Leviste corner Sedeno Street
Salcedo Village
Makati City
+63.2.843.40.75
Floating Island – the few and rare times I go to Makati Medical Center (I hate hospitals) finds me in the dead of night looking something good to eat. And absolute favorite is the corned beef with fried egg and garlic rice. The breakfast menu is pretty limited, but it’s homestyle. If you find yourself in the hospital and you don’t want to go mainstream with Burger king and wish for a hot meal, head on to the 3rd floor.

Floating Island Restaurant
3/F Makati Medical Center
2 Amorsolo Street, Legaspi Village
Makati City
+63.2.892.43.56
Somethin’ Fishy – It’s in the quiet part of the city, right smack in the middle of residential condominiums and office buildings. Extensive seafood menu, of course, in addition to the breakfast buffet that ever local seems to be raving about. After a jog, have a seat by the veranda. Very affordable breakfast buffet, it’s a wonder how they make money. Someone said it’s not exactly a date place, but then again, if you spent the night somewhere, this is a good morning after.

Somethin’ Fishy
Eastwood City Walk
Eastwood City Cyberpark
E Rodriguez Avenue
Bagumbayan, Libis
Quezon City
+63.2.421.21.21
Heat at the Shangri-La – Excellent service, excellent food. what more can you ask. The menu changes frequently. It’s an international breakfast buffet that will cater to every taste bud. Sushi and dimsum, grilled salmon, the lechon is to die for. Cooking off the menu is not published, but ask the chef at the cooking station anyway. Chances are, you can get the breakfast you want. Vegetarian menu also available.

Heat, EDSA Shangri-La hotel
Lobby, 1 Garden Way Ortigas Center
Mandaluyong City
+63.2.633.88.88 local 2740
Howzat Sports Bar – off the beaten track. well at least off mainstream. Expats frequent this place for breakfast and the soccer matches. Tables groan under the load of British and Filipino Breakfasts, English bangers, baked beans, longganisa and omelets. heavy on the portions, light on the wallet.

Howzat Sports Bar
Kalayaan Avenue corner Fermina Street
Poblacion, Makati
+63.2.897.3335

If you have eaten at any of these places, please leave a review for other readers. You can suggest a place as well.

But do it after breakfast ;)

Tuesday

Dining by music and lanterns

On a drizzly evening in March, we ventured out to attend an event that promised to be an enlightening experience.

Let me give you the premise: This is an excerpt from Walk This Way, a blog intended to ‘change the way you look at Manila’

In February of 1945, the City of Manila was completely destroyed in a battle between the United States Armed Forces and the Japanese Imperial Army. An estimated 120,000 people were lost and our beloved City of Manila was never the same again.’

Days before the experience, after having made reservations, we were encouraged to bring picnic baskets as we would be dining under the stars and eventually lighting lanterns.

So we trudged on to Manila, the old Manila, the center of Manila, where cobble-stone roads and quaint houses  reminiscent of the early part of the 20th century brought us back in time, if only in spirit.

After a few wrong turns and a detour, because the rains were not helping, we found the gates to La Castellana, a beautiful venue were countless dinners, wedding receptions and events such as the Transitio were held.

Transitio 1945 (18)

We dined to big band music, sampled a great spread as you can see below, with a cool bottle of red wine and great company. Carlos Celdran, of course, could do no better as the perfect host, doing a tour of Manila at the start of the program just before sundown, and making sure everybody was having a good time.

Transitio 1945 (9)

Transitio 1945 (13)

Transitio 1945 (14)

The night ended magically with the lighting of the lanterns. This in itself would have been great, it turned more exciting since the rains were dampening the fun. As soon as the stars came out, we ran to the courtyard of the Manila Cathedral like little school girls and lit up.

Transitio 1945 (20)

At first it was a struggle, but one by one the lanterns were taking flight, bring our wishes, prayers and dreams into the cool night sky.

Friday

Recipe Cost Excel Sheet

Whether we create at home or cook professionally, at one time or another, we would want to know how much does it cost to produce a dish from a base recipe. Or on the other hand, how to optimize recipe cost so that we can create a profitable standard recipe. We can crunch the numbers, keep shopping receipts, and calculate yield. But it’s a headache to do it manually. Even us professionals would not rather do it sometimes.

There are automated recipe costing software out there, and they cost in the hundreds of dollars. 75% of the features you don’t understand, much less use. How about a simple recipe cost sheet that you can use over and over again?. One that is user friendly, fully automated, and easy to maintain? Best of all, at a very reasonable price. (Hey, I gotta eat my cake, too).

I am offering a simple recipe cost sheet solution at a price of $4.99. It’s an MS Excel Spreadsheet solution that works. It does all the calculation for you. All you have to do is put in the ingredients, their base costs and yield, and it will give you calculated portion, serving or batch cost. It even automates when you last revised the recipe. It also has a simple ingredients database. A recipe could be calculated within a matter of minutes as compared to manually tearing up paper and going the full 8 rounds with a calculator.

The file is a zip file with the Excel spread sheet and ReadMe file for simple instructions. Just click on the Paypal Button and it will be sent to you schnell.

So, digitize all your recipes. Have it automatically costed out. Compile it. Print it when you need to. In the long run, you will know exactly how much you should sell your cake at the next bake-off.

Thursday

Student Cooking Competition puts pros to shame

The Grand Culinary Challenge National Championships held at the World Trade Center in Manila showcased the skills of culinary students during a three day event. It is humbling that most of these kids are far better than a lot of professionals I know who have been in the industry long before the kids were even born. Here are some scenes…
GCC 2011 (5)

Sunday

Two all beef patty special

It was late. Way past dinner time. I  just came of work, she came from a strenuous exercise of grocery shopping. Most places were already closed, at least that were in the immediate vicinity. Going further out lessened the chances, yet we took what little we have and ventured out in search of something to eat.

Out of the commercial business district, went north on the highway, hung a right at the now darkened mall, past a couple of stoplights, past the motels. A short roundabout, and we saw a hole in the wall the caught our attention. Situated next to a carwash, we went in. Despite the desperation derived from hunger at midnight, we had to admit that it was very inviting, especially if you are slapped with this…

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Extensive. But not overly so. Black Angus Burger with fresh fries. Yes. Two please.

Sign says the pinkness of the burger is the sign of perfection. We decided to take their word for it and headed for a table.The outside seating were already taken. After having paid for our meal with visa (yes, they take cards. Surprising) we went in. It was difficult because of the semi self-service policy. I carried the round tray with a soda and a beer on one hand, feeling like I work here. Ah well. Place appeared not to be pretentious enough.

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Narrow room. LCD TVs on both sides. Packed. We sat down at the corner and patiently waited. Orange color dominated the scene. Stainless tables. The kind you see at local cafes. Cool air from the overpowered air-conditioning units. I had to go back to the car and get Rossana’s jacket.

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15 minutes and two follow-ups later, our food arrived. By then we were through halfway our beverages, and we were presented with this.

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The fresh fries turned out not to be a misnomer. It was fresh potatoes. The way they used to do the fries. Not the mass produced frozen sticks they serve everywhere else. And what is for dipping? It was unexpected for a place like this to be spoiled for choice. Garlic mayo, aioli, Americana tomato sauce, Heinz Catsup, Mustard, Tabasco, all in big squeeze bottles. Ravenous, we dug in.

45 minutes later we were stuffed. The burgers were juicy. Real juicy. It was made in-house. Ground fresh everyday. According to the menu, it was never frozen. The fries were perfect. The beverages cold. The general atmosphere? We enjoyed the place as much as everybody else in the room.

Looking around, I said ‘This is a place I don’t see myself coming back in the next week’. But I will come back. Because by then the burger we just had would have already melted away into a distant gustatory memory.

So Charlie’s will be on our list for a while. Just inside Barrio Kapitolyo, past Cafe Juanita. On the border of Pasig. No reservations. Don’t bother to call. Just show up.