Saturday, May 30, 2015

Dear Diary

My brother was helping us do some spring cleaning at the basement when he saw. . . 

MY DIARY. . . . from the '90s!!!  

This diary was a birthday gift from my younger sister (we share the same birthday, 6 years apart!) which makes it extra special.  My sister actually remembered giving it to me.  

Going through the pages brought me back to that time when . . SM Megamall was THE mall . . or when lunch or dinner at Pancake House, Racks or Aristocrat was already a treat.  I remember attending classes, group meetings, doing presentations and still be able to catch a movie AND still go to a "disco" (which are called "clubs" today) after.  (For the record, the movie and disco happening in the same night did not happen often!  Haha)  I can sleep at 4:30 am and still be on time for an 8am group meeting!  I wish I had this kind of energy NOW. . now that I have two toddlers!  Oh youthful energy. . . where are you when I need you most?! Haha!



The diary was only filled up half way and everything in it was about a guy. . . a crush of mine when I was a Junior at the University.  (not the first love, not the first boyfriend. Just.Crush.)

He was a guy I met through a friend.  We were in the same College but different Majors.  We have common friends and shared a couple of classes.  We became friends and we always had a nice time talking to each other when we do.  At the end, I think he kind of knows that I liked him, haha!

I really think I looked like this when he talked to me, hahaha!
Image from www.wikihow.com

As I read each page of the diary, there were a lot of laughs. . . then came louder ones, haha!  And then there were some cringe-worthy moments too, heehee.       

It has been a loooong time but I am sure you know how it feels to have a crush!  Just for fun, let me walk you through some of the things that happen when you do. . .(as I've read in my diary, haha!)  

1.  You have a code name for your crush --- I gave my crush the code name "Snuffleupagus" or "Snuffy" because (I thought) he was cute (even when he had eye bags! Haha)  

Mr. Snuffleupagus of Sesame Street
Image from www.muppet.wikia.com

2. You notice everything he wears --- from the color of the shirt to the brand of his shoes!  You probably even have a favorite among his shirts!  And when you see that you wore the same color of shirt one day. . . you may even regard it as a sign of greater things to come! Hahaha!  

3.You like what he likes - You love mellow songs but you start listening to his kind of music . . even if it's rock. . .or heavy metal!   

4.You get nervous, your heart beats faster, you get too excited, your face turns red. . . even with the mere sight of his hand or the back of his head!  Hahahaha!  (Aminin!)

Image from www.allposters.com

4.  And when you get the chance to face him, you can't look at him in the eye.  Or you just try to steal a glance . . .or you ask your friends to look at him for you, haha!  *cringe moment*   
Image from www.wikihow.com

5. For some reason, you get some "super powers"!  The ability to pick him out in the crowd or to be able to see him even from the corner of your eyes.  And this happened to me more than a few times, he just suddenly appears just when I wish I could see him!  (the power of the mind!)
Image from www.wikihow.com

6.  Seeing (or not) him can make (or break) your day!
Image from www.wikihow.com

7. You get jealous when you see him talk to another girl!  Enough said, haha!
Image from www.wikihow.com

You know what's the hardest thing when you have a crush?  Dealing with this hard truth. . .when your crush doesn't have a crush on you!  Haha!  I know this hurts. . . a lot.  But if this happens to you. . . 

Image from www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

And don't forget. . . there are other fishes in the ocean!

Have a nice weekend everyone! =)


Thursday, May 28, 2015

Hello DTF, we meet again!

DTF stands for Din Tai Fung.  It is a restaurant which originated from Taiwan and is known for their Xiao Long Bao (aka soup dumplings).

The first time I tried DTF was when I was still working for a bank (that never sleeps, haha!) and had the opportunity to travel across Asia.  This restaurant never fails to attract a crowd!  Yep, be it in Asia . . . or LA!

We went to South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa and saw the restaurant by chance!  


As always, blockbuster ang pila!  (*pila means queue---Filipinos like to call long queues as "blockbuster" in ordinary/everday conversation) 

Since this brand originated from Asia (where it is popular), it is expected that diners are mostly Asians.  So it is funny to see the reaction of some people (who are not familiar with DTF) when they see the looong line for the place.  It ranges from curiosity to amazement!  Haha!

And this is what they we were lining up for:

Xiao Long Bao!


Xiao Long Bao are dumplings which have broth inside.  Eating it is actually tricky because you have to make sure you catch all that delicious broth!  You got to have a technique!

Mine goes like this. . . I put the dumpling in a spoon (referring to the Chinese spoon), make a really small hole so some of the broth would go out slowly,then I start slurping away until what is left is the dumpling. . . waiting to be eaten.  (Okay, this is the best way I can describe it, haha)

Personally, I'm not fond of Xiao Long Baos but I love DTF's because the thickness of the dumpling's skin/dough (whatever it is called, haha) is just right. 

My personal favorite from this restaurant is their Shrimp and Pork Wontons in Spicy Sauce!


Why?  Because I love dumplings and I love anything spicy!  I'll let this photo do the talking, haha!  



They are also known for their Pork Chop which we also ordered because the kids like fried rice . . . and hubby loves pork chop!

We loved this too!

In our succeeding visits to the restaurant, we tried their noodles . . .
Noodles with Sesame Sauce

Chicken Fried Noodle

Both were just okay.  Between the two, I prefer the Noodles with Sesame Sauce because it has a mild nutty flavor which I like.    

I love DTF because it is a good place to eat something tasty (Asian food is still the best for me!) and filling!  

And for a mom who has toddlers who love to eat rice and noodles, this is heaven-sent!    

Din Tai Fung
3333 Bristol St.,
Space 2071 Upper Level
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Operating Hours
Monday-Friday - 11AM - 9:30 PM
Saturday - 10AM - 9:30 PM
Sunday - 10AM - 9PM


For more details about  Din Tai Fung (USA) and their other locations, please visit their web page.





Tuesday, May 26, 2015

My favorite recipe for Stuffed Jalapeños

I looooove Jalapeños!  I don't remember exactly when or how it started but I love them! (but for some reason, I couldn't bring myself to try Cheetos' Cheesy Jalapeño, haha!)  I usually put them in my sandwiches (burgers or Subway subs).  But thanks to Guy Fieri (of Food Network), I found another way!  I love his recipe for Italian-stuffed Jalapeños!

One time, I had leftover peppers from cooking Sinigang.  I thought of Guy's recipe but had to make most of what I have in the pantry.  I am glad I had some Italian sausages sitting in the fridge. The recipe calls for some mascarpone cheese (which I don't have) so I used cream cheese!     

So thank you Guy!  I was inspired by your recipe!  

(For the exact recipe, please click on this link to go to Food Network's site.)



*Sorry, I don't have any measurements for the ingredients, I just eyeballed everything.

Ingredients:
Jalapeños or any Chile peppers, cut in half, seeded and de-veined
Italian sausage, remove the meat from the casing
Garlic, chopped
Onion, chopped
Bell pepper, chopped
Cream cheese
Cheddar Cheese, grated
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Pre heat your oven to 350F and roast them for 10  mins.  (or you may use toaster too, I tried it once and it worked naman)

2. For the filling, sauté the Italian sausage meat in garlic and onion.  After a few minutes, add the bell pepper and let it soften up a bit.  Add salt or pepper if needed.  After sautéing the filling, let it cool to room temperature, then add spoonfuls of cream cheese (depends on the consistency you like).

3. Put some filling on your peppers and top it with grated cheese.

4. Put them in the oven (or toaster) and broil until the cheese melts.

5. Don't forget the Ranch dip!  It brings everything together, haha!  

I loved how this turned out that this has been my go to recipe for anything that is stuffed vegetables, haha!


Happy Cooking!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Late Post: One day in Tagaytay

I have been reviewing my draft folder for half written posts.  Let's say I am decluttering my digital life!  (Found the perfect time, while the kids are sleeping)

This is definitely a super, duper late post!  I think I started writing this a couple of years ago! Haha! (read: procrastination!)

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One of the things I learned from my married friends is the importance of having some Mom and Dad "alone time".  When couples have children, we tend to (we actually do) "forget" our respective partners because everything is all about the kids. . . they become the center of our universe.  And raising kids means . . . you need lots of energy!  Yep, those adorable faces with tiny hands and feet can suck the life out of us!  Haha!  We get so tired that at the end of the day, there's nothing left to give to your partner.

We try very hard to become the best parents to them, but we should not forget to be the best partners to our better halves too.     

So when Hubby went to Philippines for vacation, we went to Tagaytay for an overnight stay for some "us" time.  We went to Carlo's Pizza for some merienda . . . 



Our view. . .


Our conversation. . .

Me: Akala ko ba perfect cone ang Mayon, eh parang hindi naman! (I was saying this with my as a matter of fact voice)

Hubby: Baby, Taal Volcano yan eh.  Yung Mayon nasa Albay.

TOINKS!  Hahaha!

I knew I needed my caffeine fix!

So guess where our next stop was. . . STARBUCKS!



Saturday, May 23, 2015

Marikina Eats: Concho's Sisig

Last month, Hubby and I went to Marikina (their village's address is actually in San Mateo, Rizal but since it sits in the boundary of Marikina and Rizal, I still call it Marikina, haha) to check on their family's house and to do an errand at the City Hall.  Since we were in the Marikina area, I was thinking of a place of where we can have late lunch since Marikina is fast becoming a foodie haven now just like Kapitolyo and Maginahawa St.  Thanks to hubby, he remembered the sisigan place that Kris Aquino featured in her Kris TV show.  This place is co-owned by Kean Cipriano, a Filipino band singer/actor who (I've read) goes to the restaurant to check on it occasionally.  So if you're a fan of Kean, you might want to try eating in this place, you  might just see him!  If I remember it right (as shared in Kris TV), this sisig was a recipe of their driver (if you know the story, please feel free to correct me and I'll update this post). . . and as they say, the rest is history. 

So what did we have? 

We ordered the Sisig Super Size (good for 2-3 persons) . . . and isang bandehadong kanin please! (Haha!)


We loved the sisig, it was good!  If you like your sisig to be all meat (yep, no other "special parts"), this is for you!  Hubby liked the way it was cooked.  This sisig had vinegar dip to go with it.  While it was not super special (because you can also get good sisig somewhere in the Metro), it is good in itself.  If you are in the Marikina area and you are craving for some sisig, go to this place. =)  


Beef Salpicao


What I like about their Salpicao is it has lots. . .LOTS of garlic! (No kissing allowed after, haha!)  I like that the meat was cut into bite-size pieces.  However, I want my salpicao to be more on the savory side.  This has a certain sweetness in it.  In my not-so-expert opinion, it has probably some oyster sauce?  Also, I find it pricey (at Php 350).  

For the Princess, we ordered Mac and Cheese (which came with pandesal) for her.  I found it a little bit dry and prefer it be cheesier.


Concho's ambiance is simple, casual, come as you are type of atmosphere which makes it a nice neighborhood joint where friends and families can relax, drink and enjoy their food.


For your reference, here is the restaurant's menu:



Concho's Home of Sisig Goodness
#48 Lilac St., Marikina City

Going to this place, we actually missed it!  It was at the second floor of a building (on top of a Metropole laundry shop).  The building is in front of the village gate of Ranchero 1 Estate.







Pampanga Eats: Zenco Fusion Restaurant in Clark

Weekend is here!  One of the things I love doing on a weekend is go on food trips!  I love going to Angeles City and Clark Freeport Zone (which is probably around 25-30 kms from our city) because of the abundance of restaurants to try.  One of the restaurants my sister mentioned (she has yet to try it though) was ZENCO Fusion Restaurant (which she heard about from our cousin) located inside Clark.

Before trying a new restaurant, I go online and google about the place first!  So I am happy to have read good reviews about Zenco and I also learned that it is a Japanese restaurant owned by a Korean couple.  

A couple of weeks ago, I had the chance to try this restaurant located at the Bertaphil Compound in Clark. Bertaphil is one of the commercial/business areas in Clark where you can find several offices and restaurants.  (You can also find the famous C's Italian Restaurant in this lot as well) 


Photo from www.clarkisit.com

The restaurant is not that big, has a no frills interior, clean and with a good air-conditioning system.  If you live in a place where temp can go up to 39C, this is a big plus!  Haha!   

Photo from www.clarkisit.com

We needed some time to order because we didn't know what to get, haha!  I was looking for the standard Japanese food items such as gyoza, agedashi tofu, kani salad, chicken teriyaki etc. which I didn't see in the menu.  (But then I thought, probably because this was a fusion restaurant)  

While they don't have some of my favorite items, there is more than enough items to choose from (they have tonkatsu so we were fine, hehe)  and have a filling (they have big servings) dining experience.  They also have a good number of noodle soups to choose from which I want to try next time.  

We ordered the following:

California Maki - just because I always order this in a Japanese restaurant, haha!


It was okay, it wasn't bad.  But my friend and I prefer the usual California Maki that we are used to which is "dry".  This has some kine of a sauce over it.

Salmon Sashimi Salad - I know my friend loves Sashimi so I told her to get some.  She chose this salad.  I haven't mastered the art of eating (and appreciating) Sashimi. . . but I know how a fresh fish looks like.  I was impressed with the freshness of the Salmon!  I did try this salad (just the lettuce leaves) and the dressing was good.  The salad was light and refreshing.  

How nice the color of the fish ano?

Tonkatsu Curry - the restaurant's popular item is actually Cheese Tonkatsu.  It is a tonkatsu filled with mozzarella cheese.  But we weren't in the mood to be more adventurous with our tonkatsu, so we just ordered the Tonkatsu Curry. 

Big serving!

And because we were on a food trip and it was a Japanese-Korean resto, we had to get something Korean, haha!  So, we ordered the Soy Garlic Chicken.  I find it quite expensive though (half chicken for Php 400) but we loved it and will come back for this!  ( I haven't tried Bon Chon so I guess I have to try that first to compare these two)  


If you are in Clark and you are looking for a place to eat and you feel like eating Japanese (or Korean), you might want to try Zenco restaurant. =)

Zenco Restaurant
Pavilion 6A, Bertaphil, Clark Center
Jose Abad Santos Ave.
Clark Freeport Zone
Pampanga
Tel. No. (045) 499 0171

*near Gold's Gym and Koko Buri Restaurant (if I remember it right, haha)

For more details, please visit their FB page.





Friday, May 22, 2015

Pampanga Eats: Xtremely Xpresso Cafe

* This has been sitting in my draft folder since last year and just finished it today! 

*******************************************************************************************************************************
Nachos is one of my favorite things to order in a restaurant because you get a lot of different things! You get some meat, salsa, cheese and sour scream over a bed of chips!  It is a meal in itself and it is quite filling.  It is a perfect appetizer to get especially when you are a big group.

Hubby and I were at SM Clark and wanted to grab something to eat.  I saw Xtremely Xpresso Cafe and remembered that they have good Nachos. , , and that it comes in a big serving!

Nachos and Ice cold (must!) Coke Zero + more ice = Happiness!

For Php 220, I think this is a good deal!  It was good but it would have been perfect (for me) if the sour cream had a little bit of garlicky flavor in it.  (I just love garlic!)

No, we didn't finish this because we were saving room for . . . BIG BEN!  It is the restaurant's famous pizza (which I haven't tried before) so we thought of ordering it.  It comes in 2 sizes, Regular and XL.  The pizza toppings include pepperoni, sausage, bacon, beef, garlic, onion, pepper, mushroom, black olives and 2 kinds of cheese.  

This is just the Regular Size (Php 570)!

It was okay.  I just found the pizza bread a little too chewy for my liking.

Yep, hubby and I ordered food good enough for four people! Haha!  Goes without saying we had leftovers for dinner!  

Xtremely Xpresso is one place I'll go back to because I like the ambiance, the good service by the staff and it's a good place to get something to eat.  They have a good number of things in their menu like breakfast items, sandwiches, salad, pasta, entrees, and next time, I want to try their cold drinks. . . milkshake or coffee drinks!

Oh and I'll order their Tex-Mex Nachos again, haha!

You can try Xtremely Xpresso in the following branches: (Info below is from their website)


SUBIC BRANCH (MAIN)

#1 Dewey Avenue corner Sta Rita Street, SBFZ
Open Daily from 6 A.M till 12 M.N.

Tel: +6347 252 3681
Sun: +63923 748 0838
Globe: +63917 883 7642
E-mail: info@xtremelyxpresso.com

CLARK BRANCH

G/F Meeting Place SM City Clark.
Open Daily from 10 A.M till 12 M.N.

Tel: +6345 499 0314
Sun: +63923 747 8250

ANGELES BRANCH

G/F Marquee Civic Park Marquee Mall
Open Daily from 10 A.M till 12 M.N.

Tel: +6345 304 0972
Sun: +63923 747 8199





Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Summer Destination: Hotel Luna in Vigan

My father never liked travelling by plane and by boat. . . at all!  I think besides it being included in his list of "Worst Ways To Die", he just really doesn't like being away from home.  The only time he left (with my mom) to travel was when he went to the US (I think I was 12 years old that time). It was a very important trip that he MUST take.  And since my parents were out of the country, they thought they might as well include a few cities in Europe.  Well, I'm glad they did because that was the last time he went overseas!

But one thing he doesn't mind doing is take road trips.

My family (my parents and siblings) was actually thinking of going to Ilocos with me and Hubby (we were planning to visit his grandmother) last month but somehow it didn't happen.  Looking back, I'm glad it didn't because he started not feeling well the day we left for Ilocos.  

(We took a vacation in PH for close to a month last April.  During the last week of our vacation, he got hospitalized twice.  He got out of the hospital a couple of days before we are scheduled to leave for LA.  I think he mustered all his strength so he can bring us to the airport---which he did.  When we were saying our goodbyes, I hugged him and told him that he owes me a trip to Baguio and that we would do more fun stuff the next time we come back.  After a couple of days, he passed away . . . and I went back home to see him for the last time).

I wish I had the chance to take more road trips with him.  As fate would have it, he went ahead and took a long journey.

Daddy, I hope you are resting well.  I know you miss our home but I am sure you are having the best accommodations you can ever ask for.  We miss you everyday. 

* I started writing this blog post before Dad passed away and never got the chance to finish it until today.  I wish Daddy had the chance to stay in this hotel because I am sure he'll enjoy. . . the breakfast buffet! =)

********************************************************************************************************************************
Every time we go home to Philippines, we visit Hubby's grandparents (his mom's side of the family) who live in Ilocos Sur (which is around 320 kilometers away from where we live),  During our visit last year, we stayed at our favorite hotel in Vigan,  Then we saw a newly opened hotel which looked nice so we took note of it and thought of trying it the next time we go to Ilocos.  And that is exactly what we did last month.

Welcome to Hotel Luna!


As they say, first impressions last.  This hotel did a good job in making a lasting one the minute I entered the hotel lobby.  What I like about this hotel is it blends the old with a touch of modern elegance.
  

The ceiling in the lobby was adorned by a beautiful sun made of bronze and its rays are made of carved wood.  I've read from an Inquirer article that this piece was made by Mulawin Abueva, the son of our country's National Artist for Sculpture, Napoleon Abueva.



I've read that this heritage property was built in 1882 and was given as a wedding gift by Don Jose Florentino to his daughter.  This hotel is hailed as the only museum-hotel in the country because you get to see various Art works/masterpieces displayed around the hotel (you will even see an Orlina glass sculpture piece in Comedor where we have breakfast every monring) done by National and contemporary Artists.


  
Piece by Ramon Orlina

Piece by Guillermo Tolentino

Stairs leading to the Second Floor . . .


where you can find a sala which serves as a gallery for various Art pieces. 



Some of which include the works of
Cesar Legaspi

Fernando Amorsolo

Face to face with a Juan Luna Painting from the 1880s

Ben Cab

In the courtyard, you will see a 3D mural wall by Rene Robles which shows famous landmarks of Ilocos Sur.  (I wish I've gotten a better picture!)




A staff of the hotel told me that only 30% of the original structure has been renovated.  Can you imagine that there were people from the 1880s who also touched these walls?  

If only these walls could talk . . . .


This is the new addition to the heritage property . . . four levels of hotel accommodations which include 44 guest rooms and a number of suites.




OUR ACCOMMODATIONS

For our group (3 adults and 2 toddlers), I got a Double Queen Deluxe Rooms.  The published price for this room is Php 6,000/night . . . but I got mine for Php,3.500 which includes buffet breakfast for 3 adults! (Yayyy!)  Thanks to www.asiatravel.com!  (This is my favorite booking site for hotels)


I love the room because it's clean!


It came with a separate toilet and bath.


"Mama, I want to rest"

We were impressed with the toilet seat the hotel used because it is those kind that you see in Japan (yep, those things that come with buttons, temperature and this even had a water jet adjustment!)




Breakfast was served in Comedor.  I was surprised with how extensive the buffet spread was.  They had cereals, bread, salad, soup, hot dishes (around 7-8 hot dishes).  There's even an egg and pancake/waffle station. (Burp!  Excuse me. . . )

For walk-in guests, buffet breakfast is priced at Php 495 (if I remember it right)---super worth it!


There was a lot of food but I am already happy with the danggit (dried fish) and dried pusit (squid)!  (Don't forget the vinegar!)


While Hubby was happy with the Vigan Longganisa (which I loved too) and Bacon! =)



Besides Comedor, the hotel also has a bar (Chula Saloon Bar) where you can go for some drinks, bar chow, good for a nightcap.


The hotel also has a Roof deck which has lounge seats which is perfect for late afternoons.  I think this can be rented for private events too.


But more than the beautiful hotel and its facilities, I am impressed with the kind of service that all the hotel staff (every single one!) I have dealt with have shown.  And this just gives me enough reason to go back to Hotel Luna next time.   I highly recommend this hotel!

For more details about Hotel Luna, please visit their web page. and FB page.




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