Saturday, December 31, 2011

Classic Indulgence: Strawberry Ice Cream from Yellow Cab

If Audrey Hepburn donned pink....

...she would be strawberry ice cream from Yellow Cab -- simple yet satisfyingly sassy.

This classic frozen treat is lightly sweet and creamy; you'd want to take one strawberry spoonful after another.

Eat it alone or better yet, share it with someone special.

Like I did.

New Year date with mommy

1/2 pint ice cream comes in four flavors
photo from: Yellow Cab 

Strawberry Ice Cream (P105) bought at Yellow Cab Eastwood City Walk 1, Eastwood City Cyberpark, E. Rodriguez Jr. Ave., Bagumbayan, Libis, Quezon City. Call 02-4212222 or 02-4219421 for delivery. 

Friday, December 30, 2011

Ceramic knives: a cut above your average steel knives

A woman who cooks needs her cutlery.  Her chef's knife should be as enduring as her spirit and as sharp as her tongue.  The moment she takes hold of her knife, she should know that they belong together, like fragrant kitchen smells and mothers.

I'm not a woman who cooks. But my mom is. For quite some time now, she's been harping on about the colorful ceramic knives used by the kids in Junior Master Chef Philippines.  When I saw this handsome charcoal black ceramic knife, I just knew that its dark sturdy grip would be perfect for her smooth white hands.   

Ceramic knives seem to have dull edges, but you'd only have to lightly touch their tips and look closely at the curbs of their smooth bodies to realize how cutting-edge they truly are. They're not necessarily sharper than all steel knives, but these guys can out-cut your average steel knife contender anytime.

Don't let their hardy exteriors fool you; they're more lightweight than steel knives of the same size, making them less fatiguing to use.  They're also resistant to corrosion and won't leave any aftertaste on your food. 

However, since they're created from very hard material (ceramic is second in hardness to diamond), ceramic knives are also more brittle. Don't use them to crush garlic or cut through bone. They should also never be handed over to an abusive partner who takes his cutlery for granted. If you're one to toss your knife to the kitchen sink after using it, don't get a ceramic knife. However, if you're one who knows the worth of his cutlery, then this baby is for you.  Take care of it and you can be assured of long years together.  

You can trust your ceramic knife to be with you ten times longer than a high carbon steel knife.

Unfortunately, I wasn't aware then that there were also "best brands" when it comes to kitchen knives.  The best ceramic knives are said to be made by Kyocera (the first to actually market them) and Asahi.  A 7-inch Kyocera Chef's Knife would cost you around P3500.00. 

If you dislike sharpening your knives frequently and know how to pamper them, then go and get a set of these sharp-edged cutlery.    

Kaiser Hoffmann 7" Ceramic Chef's Knife, Dark Edition (P1250) is available at Rustan's Supermarket, Shangri-la Plaza Mall, Shaw Blvd., Mandaluyong City.  

Monday, December 26, 2011

I took a bite out of an iPhone: iPhone Chocolate by Park Avenue Desserts

What do you do when you need a quick pick-me-up?  Get your phone and take a huge bite. 

 I just did...from this creamy bittersweet Belgian chocolate iPhone creation by Park Avenue Desserts.

Our boss (who tells me that PAD makes the best brownies too) gave each of us this fun treat for Christmas.  He also tells me the icons are all wrong.  Who cares? It's a big block of CHOCOLATE I can gobble up!

I couldn't take a nibble at first, since it looked too cool to ruin with my little teeth.  But today, I couldn't resist. It was calling me!

There's still some left on the table, waiting for the next big bite.  Who wants to answer?

Belgian Chocolate iPhone is on limited supply at Park Avenue Desserts.   PAD by Chef Buddy Trinidad is located at #7 G/F MagaCenter, Paseo de Magallanes Commercial Center, 1232 Makati, Philippines.  For inquiries and reservations, call 02-8526141.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sweet Christmas Gelato Cakes at Cara Mia Gelateria - Di Lusso and Mango Felicity

I was excited to stuff myself with dessert while out on a date with Tiffany, one of my very best friends.  After a filling dinner, we checked out the delectable-looking treats at Cara Mia Gelateria. There were so many gorgeous gelato cakes to choose from!

abbygabyfoodie does not know what to eat
Gelato is an ambiguous italian term for frozen sweet treats like ice cream and sorbet. However, it has come to mean something different from your usual ice cream. Gelato is made with less butterfat, has more milk, and has less air than ice cream. You can also zest it up with with fruits, nuts, spices and liquor flavors.

I wanted something chocolate and something strawberry, and finally settled on Di Lusso (lusso is italian for luxurious or rich). The description sounded lavish enough -- a combination of pistachio, chocolate and strawberry gelato enrobed in chocolate ganache and resting on a bed of crushed graham.

Di Lusso, photo from Cara Mia Facebook page

Tiffany placed her sweet bet on Mango Felicity, fresh mango chunks on a soft sponge-y bed.

Mango Felicity, photo from Cara Mia Facebook page

Both cakes were beautifully presented.  I couldn't wait to dig in!

I liked the rich ganache which went perfectly with the more subdued sweetness of the strawberry, chocolate,  and pistachio center.  You can't go wrong with this combination of flavors; they just melted, blended, settled, and just like that, they were gone.  So you just have to take another tongue-cooling bite.

What I didn't like were the chocolate flowers on top.  They looked so pretty and yummy, but eating them was like putting a spoonful of butter in my mouth.

The Mango Felicity was even less sweeter.  As Tiffany said, without the graham crust, this cake would lack taste. The mangoes were also not as "succulent" as advertised.  In fact, I could barely distinguish the mangoes from the gelatin they were embedded in.

I don't think I could be blamed for expecting a rich gelato treat. Since gelato has less air, it's known to be denser and to have more intense flavors. However, these cakes were very light and in the case of the Mango Felicity, the flavors were a bit imperceptible.

Still, I had fun with my bestie. Cara Mia's atmosphere was good for girl bonding.


taking crazy pictures...

...and of course...


Cara Mia Gelateria is located at SM Megamall Atrium, 3rd Level EDSA corner Julia Vargas Ave., Mandaluyong, Metro Manila, Philippines.  For inquiries, call 02-6361341.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Family Feast at Trio

Italian-style dining for friends and family
published in Appetite Magazine, August 2011 issue.

When I think Italy, I think food.  To go to Italy without getting a taste of Italian cuisine is tantamount to culinary blasphemy.  Italy’s food bible The Silver Spoon actually calls eating “a serious matter in Italy.”    Just like us Filipinos who can’t resist a family feast, Italians also thrive on good company, good wine and good food.

I didn’t have to go far to get a taste of Italy.  It took just one ride to the Fort to discover the spirit of a hearty Italian meal in the ristorante Trio.  Classy yet comfortable, Trio is what it markets itself to be – the perfect place for gatherings Italian (or you could say, Filipino) style.  In fact, the whole place which seats 140 can be reserved for parties or company functions.

Managing Director Ian Palabyab says that other restaurants claiming to be Italian would also be pricey.  Trio meals, to my delight, served huge portions at reasonable prices.  Aside from the single serving, the recently upgraded menu captures the essence of an authentic Italian meal – that is, family-sized helpings of yummy no-nonsense Italian food which could serve three or four people.

Given the eight-year track record of Trio, I was surprised to learn that the kitchen was under the direction of a young chef.  Don’t let his youth fool you though.  26-year old Corporate Chef Benny Liboro trained under the strict supervision of several chefs, aside from being schooled in an Australian culinary school.  His resume is a tour on world flavors as he has worked in Greek, French and Japanese restaurants.  This includes one of Perth’s famous eateries, Etro Bistro, where he was supervised by French Chef Patrick Panier. 

Talking to Chef Benny would already give you a foretaste to a Trio dish. Confident and vigorous in his speech, Chef Benny exemplified the robustness of a simple yet filling meal.  He tells us that Italian food is actually simple. Authentic Italian food uses light ingredients which can fill you up, without making you feel heavy.  Although I was excited to try the main courses, I couldn’t pass up on the Trio Salad (P275, P595) which was a generous serving of fresh mesclun greens topped with dried cranberries, candied walnuts, gorgonzola and raspberry vinaigrette.  

Chef Benny’s love for food began with his love for eating.  He remembers his dad feeding him Dominoes pizza when he was young. Now, his dad doesn’t need to deliver the pizzas to him anymore. Benny makes them!   I especially like the fire-baked Capriciossa thin crust pizza (P255) which had toppings of salami, smoked ham, mozzarella, basil, tomatoes, olives, mushrooms and eggs. 

Some of the dishes which are said to be single serving could arguably feed two people.  Take the Bistro Steak (P445, P995) for example. This juicy chunk of US Angus Beef is thick, tender, and served with a huge helping of garlicky home-made mashed potatoes and vegetables. 

Of course, we cannot talk about Italian food without thinking about pasta. If you want the perfect light pasta dish to complement the heavier meat dishes, I would also recommend the Vongole (P295,P695).  This is simple linguine drizzled with the white wine oil and topped with fresh clams, diced tomatoes and parsley.

My favorite dish would be the Al Forno Shrimps (P495, P895) which translates to four big mouth-watering shrimps covered with melted parmesan. Now this dish, you would want to finish on your own. The shrimps are oven-baked thermidor style and served with the staple side dishes of mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables.  The family-sized serving would include around 12-14 shrimps.

 I remember Ian saying that they don’t want people to come to Trio for the promos; they want people to come because of the dining experience.   Trio’s happy hour, every hour – buy 1 take 2 cocktails – may be added motivations to get your appetite for Italian food going. But the Al Forno shrimps and other surprises from Chef Benny are definitely the reasons for me to come back. Next time, they can expect the whole family to dine with me, Filipino style.

Trio is located at 2nd Level, Fort Pointe Bldg., Fort Bonifacio Global City Taguig, Metro Manila. For information and reservations phone (2)8841601.

You might still be able to grab back issues of Appetite August 2011 in selected newsstands 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Healthy Options (and sinful choices) for hungry young writers - Pancake House, Megamall

Verdict:  Good for a casual lunch with friends or family.
Damage level:  around PHP 400-450 each, including dessert

They say that there's no such thing as a free lunch. But it looks like I'm being treated to quite a few lately. Last Tuesday was Pancake House free lunch day, and I decided to try their new healthy options.  I wasn't prepared to be taken to a lunch treat, so you'd have to forgive me for the yellowish cellphone photos.

My Healthy Option

Salmon Cakes with Brown Rice Tabbouleh and Dill Mayo (PHP185)

Tabbouleh is a traditional Arab salad made primarily with bulgur, a cereal food consisting of different wheat species. The Pancake House version was supposedly made with brown rice, but this doesn't look brown to me.  Even with the yellowish photo tinge, it clearly looks white, right?  I also couldn't get a taste of any spices. The tabbouleh reminded me of watery white rice with baby food consistency.

According to the menu, the salmon cakes were supposed to be crunchy. I couldn't feel the crunch, but I liked the tender texture of the salmon beneath the breading.  This viand is perfect for those on a low-salt diet.  For those looking for a tastier dish, skip this.

Ching's Healthy Option

Spicy Chicken Fillet with Brown Rice Pilaf, Garlic Cream Mayo and Lemon Wedge 175

Ching tried the chicken paillard (pounded or thinly sliced meat) with pilaf. The dish had strong hints of thyme and was lightly seasoned.   It wasn't salivatingly amazing, but it was a good choice for a healthy eat in Pancake House. I'd rather have this, or better yet, their cream dory, than the tabbouleh.

Sinful Endings

Of course, you can't end a healthy meal with something as tasteless as water.  We just had to have dessert.

Sunrise Orange Pancake Tower with cream cheese filling (PHP235)

Elea's perfectly manicured hand pours in the orange syrup

The cream cheese didn't exactly "fill" the pancakes, but this was a decent dessert.  Considering that we each ordered mango crepes, I can't complain about not being filled.

Mango Crepes for Three Hungry Young Writers 144 each

Mangoes were sweet and the crepe itself was thin and soft. Next time I order this, I'd have it with my staple ice cream AND whipped cream.  Whipped cream only does not satisfy my sweet tooth.

Any free lunch on a working day is a good lunch, wouldn't you agree? Thanks to our supervisor for the treat!

Ching with daddy D.

Pancake House, Megamall is located in SM Megamall Basement/Lvl. Bldg. B, Julia Vargas Ave., Mandaluyong City, Metro Manila. Phone 02-633-7843 for inquiries.