Tuesday, June 23, 2015

PAMPANGA EATS: Everybody's Café

Last Saturday was one of the best days I had!

It was a day of celebration. . . .reconnection. . . and rediscovery!  The last three words apply to the good friends I met up with and the sumptuous lunch we had.

We met up with a High School friend who we miss so much because we haven't seen her for a looong time!  She came to visit (she lives in a different province now) and told me that she would like to eat in one of our province's (Pampanga) culinary gem . . . the Everybody's Café!  

We are all true-blooded Kapampangans but somehow we don't get to visit this place regularly, and for some of us, it was their first time last Saturday.  I knowww. . . haha!  It's ironic how people from Manila would drive all the way to Pampanga just to eat in this restaurant and we don't go to this place that often.  I guess human nature makes you take things for granted when that thing is within your reach. 

The last time I ate here was when I was probably in Grade School.  I remember coming to this place with the family to have merienda.  We would always have palabok (or pansit luglug as we call it here in our province) which was served with toasted bread and butter and halo-halo!

Goes without saying that it was a good time to rediscover this famous food destination as we also celebrate a lifelong friendship!

Having these girls around is like being back in high school except that our stories range from dealing with teenagers, hormones (not the teens'!), moisturizers and change in vision (well, hello 40s!), varicose veins and real estate taxes. . . such diverse topics ano?  Haha!  Yes, this is the story of our lives. . . now.

What goes well with good friends and endless conversation but an array of good food!


Welcome to Everybody's Café, the home of authentic Kapampangan cuisine!


Food here is served cafeteria/turo-turo style (direct translation by Filipinos: point-point, haha!) where you place your order by pointing at the dish you like from the food counter.  There are lot of choices but I think we did a pretty good job in "balancing" our meal.


One of the things we ordered was their specialty. . . Murcon!  Murcon is our local version of a meatloaf.  This is a staple in every Kapampangan household during fiesta or any special occasion.


The Murcon is served with additional sauce (made from its drippings) and I wish we slathered some over it before we took a photo, haha!  But even without the extra sauce, it's already good and tasty!
  


Of course, being the Kapampangans that we are, we had to order Pork Sisig. I love their sisig because it has some toasted parts.  I like it as it is.  We didn't even need to do anything (like put calamansi or soy sauce).



I did mention having a balanced meal . . .so we also ordered fish!  (Nah, we just felt guilty for ordering the pork dishes, haha)  We got some some fried hito (mudfish) which was fried perfectly!  It is served with buro (fermented rice and fish) and fresh mustasa (mustard leaves) ----- a popular trifecta of goodness for the Kapampangans!
   


We also ordered *Pako (pronounced as Pa-KO, stress is on the second syllable) Salad which has a vinegar dressing.

*Pako is Fiddlehead fern (thank you Google!)



And Bangus Torta which was something new to all of us . . .surprisingly good.



We also ordered Kare-Kare . . . 



And because I remembered eating their palabok, we placed an order too.

Something different. . . Palabok with slivers of Kamias

Naku, hindi. . .hindi kami gutom!   

We were not really hungry, hahaha!  We Kapampangans just love food!  We are known to be good cooks but we also love eating (well actually, who doesn't?!).

Another Kapampangan dish that is worth trying which we didn't order (because there is this thing called gluttony, haha) is Kilain (pronounced as Kila-yin).  It is an adobo-like dish (because it is also cooked in vinegar) sans the soy sauce. But its taste is entirely different from Adobo.  I find its flavor deeper and richer. I guess because of the liver component of the dish.  (Okay, I am not a Capampangan food expert, this is just my humble opinion, haha!)  When we cook this at home, we use finely chopped liver to thicken the sauce.  Some households also put lungs in this dish (we don't). 


Everybody's Café is also known for their exotic dishes like Betute (Stuffed Frog), Adobong Camaru (Crickets) and they also have Pindang Damulag (Cured Carabao Meat---*carabao is a water buffalo) as seen below.  I also saw Kalderetang Kambing (goat) and a lengua (tongue) dish (I forgot what it was) among the food choices.


We had so much food but we had more stories to share that lunch ran for 3 hours!

And at the end of this perfect day, all I can say is our hearts were full of laughter and our tummies filled with good food!

(Thank you BFF for the photos you shared for this post!)



For more details about Everybody's Cafe, please visit their FB page.

Main Branch: Del Pilar, McArthur Hi-way, City of San Fernando, Pampanga

Second Branch: Nepo Mart, Angeles, Pampanga

*I know that they are also part of the Salcedo Market in Makati every Saturday.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Bangkok Finds and Pasalubong

As I've mentioned in an earlier post, I know two girls who are going to Bangkok!  Well, they are back!!!  And they are still on a high after being in Bangkok for four days and three nights!  How do they (my sister and our cousin) sum up their trip?  Their vacation days ARE NOT enough!  Haha! Must. come. back!  They have not even gone for a Thai massage and didn't get to do a proper food trip (they ate because they had to in places where they can---but still found the food to be good and cheap!). 

Two days were spent going on tours (Ayutthaya, Floating Market and the Reclining Bhudda) which basically ate their day plus Bangkok is also dealing with traffic congestion problems (something which Filipinos are accustomed to).  By the time they go back to their hotels, the malls/shops are nearing its closing time.  Some malls close at 5:30 pm.  They close and open shop early. Some of the shops even open at 8am!

Where to shop?
Bangkok is a shopping haven!  The girls stayed at Hotel Novotel Bangkok Platinum Pratunam which is located above Platinum Mall, one of the more popular malls in Bangkok.  There are also two other shopping places near their hotel which sell goods that are even cheaper than Platinum Mall:  City Complex and Krung Thong Shopping Plaza.

For their other pasalubong items (like food, groceries), they went to the Big C Superstore, one of the biggest supermarket chains in Thailand.

Some shopping tips from my sister:
1. Bring cash. . . lots of it! Haha!
2. The vendors will give you a wholesale price when you buy at least 2 pcs. of the item
3. No return, no exchange
4. No fitting of garments. . . some vendors would allow you to do so but there are no fitting rooms, haha!

Here are my sister's Bangkok haul (well, some of them, haha) . . .


My sister brought home some fruits.  We also have these in the Philippines but it would be nice to taste how Bangkok's fruits compare to ours.

All of the fruits were good and sweet.  Philippines still have the best mangoes (these mangoes from BKK are sweet too!), their Makopa tastes better while the Atis and Jackfruit will always taste good to me because they are my favorite fruits, haha!.


Atis (Custard Apple)

Makopa (Wax Apple)

Langka (Jackfruit) . . . .SUPER Sweeeettt!

My sister also got these at the airport be and bought some. . .


 I like the middle one and the last one (round shape) best.  They are cookies with coconut and chocolate, yummm!!!




This local candy doesn't have any English translation.  It's so good!  It tastes like our local "bukayo" (a dessert made from coconut and sugar ) but with a crunch and chopped peanuts! 




There were some interesting stuff like a Lychee-flavored wafer, Roasted peanuts whose flavors include coffee (not overpowering) and Tom Yum (which we have yet to try)!  The Bangkok Cookies with Crab curry flavor are actually rice crackers.  



Some spices to add in our lives!


We tried the Thai Stir-Fry curry paste for dinner. . . .and it was gooood!  I just sauteed chicken with the sauce and added a little bit of oyster sauce and voila. . . dinner is served!


It tastes better than it looks! Haha!  There were no leftovers.



My mom loved the White Sesame Bar (on the left) because it was crunchy and wasn't too sweet (Chao Sua brand), I love dried dilis and we all loved this Birdy White Choco Mocha 3-in-1 drink (by Ajinomoto)!


Our cousin bought Nestea Milk Tea.  Guess what, I haven't tried drinking Thai Milk Tea at all!  I guess I better try it one of these days, haha!

Besides food and groceries, my sister got these cute clothes for the kids. . . my most favorite are the white shirts with animal patches on them.

Thank you Nang-nang for the pasalubong!

Cuteness!

And for the plus-size ladies. . . rejoice!!!  There is something for you in Bangkok. . . I know, in Bangkok?!!  Haha!  Gone are those days when the biggest size you can find is like the standard medium or large here in Philippines, haha!
   
My sister got a good deal for these clothes . . . some of these tops are even cheaper than a Big Mac Meal at McDonalds!



Other finds/buys . . .



Bangkok and its amazing colors as shown in these souvenirs . . . 


Clockwise from (L to R): Super cute coin purses, Embroidered bag, Throw Pillow covers


My pick!

They also found some people who personalize almost everything. . . . cellphone cases, key chains, notebooks, shoulder bags. . . 

Bag tags (on the left) and Passport cases (on the right)




If there is one word to describe the shopping experience in Bangkok. . . they said it was OVERWHELMING! They wish they had more shopping time!  I won't be surprised if they go back to Bangkok again just to eat and shop (til they drop)!  

These girls did a pretty good excellent  job in shopping. . .considering they had time constraints!   Haha!  Well done ladies!  Yep, nothing can come between girls and shopping!

Besides it is also a good exercise!!!

Image from www.shegoeswear.com

*(Thank you cousin A for sharing some of your Bangkok photos for this blog post) 


Sightseeing/Shopping Information:

Group Tours - Their group tours were booked online with Sun Leisure World

For food/grocery items, they went to the Big C Superstore.  Please click on this link for store locations.

Platinum Fashion Mall
222 Petchburi Rd, Bangkok
Open from 8AM-8PM

City Complex Pratunam - located at the opposite side of Platinum Mall
Open from 10AM-9PM 

Krung Thong Plaza
Branch 1: 813/8 Petchburi Rd. (Sol 21), Pratunam, Bangkok
Branch 2: 833 Petchburi Rd (Sol 17), Pratunam, Bangkok
Open daily: 9AM-6PM

I also found a blog which lists down places (and tips too!) to go for shopping in Bangkok.  I am bookmarking this for future use, haha!

Here is the link; 




Monday, June 15, 2015

Tried and Tested: Crinkles Recipe

I love Crinkles!  I have a sweet tooth so anything that has sugar (and chocolate!) is heaven for me! Heehee. . . Some people call them cookies.  How do I describe them?  Eating them is like eating a chocolate cake/fudgy brownie coated in powdery white sugar!  

The best Crinkles I've had (in no particular order) were from Becky's Kitchen (along P. Ocampo St. in Singalong, Manila), HungryPac, and believe it or not. . . from the cafeteria of ADB!  (THE Asian Development Bank in Mandaluyong).  So if you have family or friends who work in ADB, consider yourself lucky because you have a way of getting them!  

When we moved to LA, I had a sudden craving for this sweet treat so I googled for a recipe and found this posted at www.allrecipes.com (Thanks to a member, Ingrid!).  I chose this recipe because the ingredients are easy to find and the directions are pretty simple.

These crinkles turned out pretty good and have given them as Christmas gifts to family and friends (which they liked. . . sabi nila, haha!).  But I am still dreaming about those Crinkles which I've mentioned earlier.  

This Crinkles recipe works so I am still keeping it but I would like to still try other recipes for this chocolate treat.  Do you have a favorite Crinkles recipe?  Care to share it? =)

(UPDATE as of June 2016, I found my favorite crinkle recipe for keeps!  Please click here if you want to read about it.)

If you want to try baking Crinkles, you may want to try this recipe =)

Please click on this link to go to the original post at www.allrecipes.com.



*This recipe makes 6 dozen crinkles

Ingredients:
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 cups white sugar
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
 - 4 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup Confectioner's Sugar

Directions:

1. In a medium bowl, mix together cocoa, white sugar, and vegetable oil.  Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.  Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; stir into the cocoa mixture.  Cover dough, and chill for at least 4 hours.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Roll dough into one inch balls.  I like to use a number 50 size scoop.  Coat each ball in confectioners' sugar before placing onto prepared cookie sheets.

3. Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes.  Let stand on the cookie sheet for a minute before transferring to wire racks to cool.


My Personal Notes:

1. If you are fond of baking and plan to do lots of it, I suggest that you get a digital weighing scale. (Mine wasn't expensive at all, there are reasonably-priced ones out there).  One of the things I learned about baking (unlike cooking) is the importance of accuracy in measuring the ingredients. Also, I suggest googling the right weight for each ingredient.  Case in point, the weight of one cup of sugar (200 grams) is different from a cup of cocoa powder (100 grams). They  may seem the same because they are both "1 cup" but there's actually a big difference in the weight.

2. I read some reviews for this recipe and some of the suggestions I read were:
 - If you don't have 4 hours, freeze the dough for a couple of hours (instead of chilling it)
 - Use Dutch processed cocoa powder for a more intense chocolate taste
- Make sure to really cover your balls with lots of Confectioner's sugar so you get that Crinkle to crack

3. If you don't have a number 50 scoop (like me!) to use for the ball, just eyeball it.=)

4. For lesser mess, just drop the ball directly into a bowl of confectioner's sugar and roll it around.

5. I suggest baking small batches in different times (10, 11 or 12 mins) to know which would give you the Crinkles you like. 

6. In my experience and I don't know if this has a scientific basis (because Baking is Science), I feel that the crinkles---which I baked using a dough that was frozen overnight--- tasted better, haha! (Whew, that was a long sentence! Haha!)


HAPPY BAKING!


LA Eats: Brodard Restaurant

When I was still working, I had the opportunity to go to Vietnam for a few days.  This happened a looooonnngg (ages!) time ago that I can't even remember if I went to Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City! Haha!  But I do remember the nice people I've dealt with, being treated for dinner near a river, and being served fresh spring rolls, some noodle soup and a really good grilled fish!  All I can say is . . . I think Vietnam has probably one of the healthiest cuisines in Asia (in my book)!  I don't find it oily compared to the other food in Asian cuisine.

Since Hubby and I always eat Chinese, Japanese and Thai Food, we thought of trying some Vietnamese Food for a change.  So I went online for Yelp's help (as always!) and learned about Brodard Restaurant in Garden Grove.  

If Carson is home to a big Filipino community and Gardena has a large Japanese population, you can find a significant number of Vietnamese in Garden Grove and Westminister.  There are sooo many Vietnamese restaurants waiting to be explored!

Brodard is known for their Nem Nuong Con (Pork Spring Roll).  It is Grilled Pork Sausage wrapped in rice paper, with lettuce, cucumber, carrots, daikon, mint and chives.  One thing I like about their spring roll is the rice paper has just the right amount of thickness.



That brown thing below the sausage is crispy wonton wrappers 
which makes the spring roll even better!  Well, that . . . and the dipping sauce!


We also ordered other items in the menu which were just alright.


Pho Ap Chao - Crispy Thick Rice Noodles with Shrimp, Fish Cakes, Shrimp Paste, Vegetables in House special sauce


Banh Tom Co Ngu - Shrimp with Sweet Potato Tempura


For dessert, we tried this flan (on the left) and coconut jelly (on the right) . . . both  look better than they taste.  I will go to other places for dessert.

My thought bubble. . . "I should have gone to Lee's for Iced coffee!"  Haha!



We haven't been back since then because as I've mentioned in an earlier post, hubby and I were in a Thai food frenzy but I wouldn't mind going back again and have some more of the Pork Spring Roills and to try other things (more interesting) in the menu. 


Brodard Restaurant
9892 Westminister Ave.,
Garden Grove, CA 92844




Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Hardest Pasalubong to Find!

A couple of Sundays, my sister and I had to (wanted to! ) go to the mall (something I miss doing with her since I moved to LA last year).  The kids had to stay home (Woohoo!  Freeedommm!  Haha!) because it was their nap time.  I told the Princess that  I will just get her a pasalubong (which means gift).

Me: What pasalubong do you want?

Princess: A Baby

My thought bubble: Great, another doll!

P: A Baby . . . Sister!

Me: Huh? (Wasn't sure if I heard it right)

P: I want a baby sister!

Me: Okay, we have to wait for you Papa then!  (She didn't ask why, haha, so I didn't have to explain to her what I meant. . . not now.  We will get there!)

After three hours. . .we were back home and as soon as she saw me at the door. . .

P:  Where's my baby sister?  Did you get my baby sister?  I want a baby sisterrrr!

Huney, I think it's time. . . . to get her a Baby Alive!  Haha!

The Princess meeting her baby brother for the first time! (2013)



Beauty Finds: Snoe Beauty Products

I'm not really into make-up.  My make-up would mean a light blush on the cheeks and some lipstick. IF I have time, I would put some BB cream and work on my eye brows.

While we were walking around the Metro Gaisano Dept. Store (in Marquee Mall here in our city), I was surprised to see a shelf full of Snoe (pronounced as snow-wee) Beauty products.


I heard about this Personal Care line from my younger sister (who learned about it from a friend) a couple of years ago.  Back then, the only way she can get hold of these products was by ordering online (through www.shopinas.com) and I remember her being satisfied with her beauty haul. 

As I was checking Snoe's shelf, I was happy to see this particular shade of cheek blush!  I've been looking for something like this (the orangey, coral-ish shade/tone suits me better vs pinks) for some time now.

The name of this shade?  PATIENCE!
Something I need these days, Haha!

I also tried their Eye Brow Mascara  . . .


and Pore Erasing Powder on my nose. . .



I was so happy with the cheek blush because it looked natural and blended well (easily) into my skin. It was also easy to apply (I just used my finger tips, haha!).  I also like that this blush has natural ingredients like Amazonian clay.  As written in the box:
"Amazonian clay minimizes oil in and around pores to balance skin. . .It helps nourish and hydrate dry skin and restore complexion harmony. "
It also has Pomegranate, Acai Berry and Acerola Cherry which are great anti-oxidants.

As for the brow mascara (one of their bestsellers), I love the color (Khaki) and how it enhanced my brows.  The powder was just okay.  I have to try it again, haha!

The only concern I had was they are pricey.  The Cheek Blush is Php 899!

But I BELIEVE and I SUPPORT Filipino entrepreneurs (Snoe is proudly Philippine made) . . . so I did!


And I believe in taking care of one's self and doing whatever would make you feel good!    

My cousin got hold of these. . . . a Sun Block which smells sooo good (it contains Acai Berry and Singkamas extract!) and a Toner. (around Php 250 each) 


My sister swears by this Lippy Cheeky tint (also one of their customers' top picks) . . .


Snoe has LOOOTTTS of products to offer besides Make-up!  They have something for the Hair, Bath and Body, Skin and Acne treatment, etc.

Here's one that is interesting . . .

It has Botox Serum!

I'm loving their Hair Heroes' line as well . . .



Their Bestseller . . .an Intensive Conditioner with Morrocan Argan Oil!  My sister has tried this before and was happy about it.



Snoe products come in nice packaging and some of them even have cool and witty names like . . .









How cute ano?  Whoever thought of these names is a genius!

For more details about Snoe and its product line, please visit their web page (where you can also find their shopping site).

I've googled and found a blog post (Nov. 2012) which lists down their branches.  I am sure there are new additions to this list.  Hope you find one and be pleasantly surprised like I was! =)

Let's support our Filipino entrepreneurs!


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