What to Eat When in Bicol: Sili Ice Cream, Anyone?

September 30, 2016 § Leave a comment

ice-creamCredits: Paper from Splendid Finn’s Now is paper series; Polaroid Frames from Splendid Finn; Happy Day worn ribbon by Trixie Scraps

Sounds strange to some but surely got me interested. And so I found myself in 1st Colonial Grill on Rizal Street in Daraga one evening after dinner with my team.

First of all, I can take the heat and secondly, bold flavors always call out to me. They don’t always appeal to my taste bud but more often than not, I like what I discover.

Such is the case with this Sili (chill pepper) ice cream. You taste the fruitiness of the pepper first then the punch at the end. It comes in 3 heat levels, we chose the middle. Pretty good but unforgettable is Tinutung na Kanin (toasted rice).   A familiar flavour presented in an unusual fashion. The taste (of toasted rice) was very subtle and quite refreshing.  And last but not the least is Salabat (ginger tea). I chose this because… well, you should know me by now. And it did not disappoint.

Other unique flavours also worth trying are Pili nut and Malunggay (mooring). But despite its many unique ice cream flavours, 1st Colonial Grill was first known for its Tinapa Rice and other iconic Bicol dishes.  Yes definitely something to come back for.

Peanut Butter Pie

September 21, 2016 § Leave a comment

This is for peanut butter lovers.


With cream cheese and whipped cream, this pie is a lighter, creamier version of the spread. So good. Ambrosially addicting, if I may say so myself.


Browsing through some recipes lately, I came across this peanut butter pie and thought of using up that slightly consumed bottle sitting in the pantry for a while now. I am not a peanut butter fan. I mean, I like it but never top of mind so I often have a bottle lying around untouched for months.


And besides, I bought a bottle of Almond Butter that’s waiting its turn to be consumed. Yes, I am anal that way.

What You’ll Need

  • 1 (8-inch) graham cracker pie crust (how to make your own)
  • 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 8 oz. whipped cream


What You Do:

With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Blend in peanut butter and vanilla. Fold in whipped cream.


Spoon mixture into pie crust. Refrigerate for 4 hours or until firm.

Easy peasy.


Well Hello There!

July 12, 2016 § Leave a comment

Arugula-Salad-with-Smoked-Duck-BreastCredits:  Splendid Finn Now is paper in blue; zigzag stitching by shabbymissjenndesigns; Splendid Finn 4ever striped ribbon and pennets

It’s been a while… Can I tell you that I am still not spending enough time in the kitchen? So much for comfort zones and “everydays”. It’s just been a bustling kind of year for us. We’ve started a bed and breakfast up north (will write about that shortly), we just got back from a rejuvenating trip from the Holy Land, and we’ve gone on a diet since.


Nothing to do with the Holy Land, our diet, but more of a healthy resolution to keep our blood sugar and cholesterol in check. Recent check ups called for it, that’s why.   So here’s sharing one of the winners (slightly tweaked from here) served on our table recently.


It’s a flavourful salad of smoked duck breast paired with a punch of a mildly sweet blueberry dressing that definitely qualified as mainstays on our table.

Arugula Salad With Smoked Duck Breast, Berries, and Hazelnuts

What You’ll Need

  • 2 large handfuls Arugula
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • 2 tbsp Champagne Vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1/4 cup dried berries (I used wild blueberries)
  • 2 tbsp coco sugar
  • 1 smoked duck breast, cold, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts, roasted and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup very sharp, good aged Cheddar or Gouda
  • Sea Salt

What You Do

  1. Place the dried arugula in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Place the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, sugar, and berries in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir with a whisk until warm (not boiling – 3 minutes or so).
  3. Pour over the arugula, sprinkle with a little salt, and toss to coat.
  4. Place the arugula on a plate and top with the duck slices.
  5. With a vegetable peeler, peel thin slices of the cheddar or gouda over the salad.
  6. Top with the chopped hazelnuts and a little extra dressing. Sprinkle with a little salt.

Where to Eat in HK: Under the Bridge Spicy Crab

April 12, 2016 § 1 Comment

Work will bring me to Hong Kong in a few weeks and I am reminded of the last dish I had a few years ago in Wan Chai. We walked from Gloucester to Lockhart Road to look for Hong Kong’s famous Under the Bridge Spicy Crab Restaurant. Known for their authentic and mouth-watering typhoon shelter crabs.

Back in the day before modern HK, there lived a community of fishermen living in typhoon shelters. Within this community rose a distinct culinary culture that centered on freshly caught seafood. As Hong Kong’s status as a fishing city decline, this community started moving to land, the younger generation trading up for better jobs.


We found the modest restaurant with staff that hardly speaks English. With an atmosphere like this, it almost always promises an authentic meal. The star of the show is the bits of garlic, chili peppers, and spring onion stir-fried till crisp then tossed with the deep-fried mud crab—insanely addictive. I love this version because I prefer fried or just steamed crabs sans any sauce, which sometimes masks the sweetness of the crab.  The dry chill-garlic bits, albeit on the oily side, adds just the right flavour and heat to the crabs.  A must-try when in the area.

See you in a few weeks Hong Kong. I hope to devour your impressive crab dish once again. And hopefully, introduce you to the people traveling with me.

Shop 6-9, G/F, 423 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai

Banana Breads and My Everyday

February 19, 2016 § Leave a comment

The first month of the year has passed in a blink of an eye. Gong Xi Fat Choi! Well, it is still February, isn’t it? And since the new year had passed (twice in fact), it’s now time to get serious about 2016. Truth be told, I have not been spending time in the kitchen since the Christmas break. I was traveling and as always with long respite, it was difficult to get back into the grind. With deadlines at work calling, I barely had time to myself. And before I knew it, I was on holidays again — this time, to go with hubby’s cousins and close friends to our choiced Philippine destinations. Not complaining.


Had a wonderful time showing them around and getting to know them better. But every single time a trip is over, the list of things to do pile up. Have you ever felt the need to recover from a long trip? Man!


The way I recover is to get back to my everyday ASAP. Well, baking isn’t my everyday but it is a comfort zone so I made Banana bread, an all time favorite. But not just the plain old banana bread but one that’s leveled up.


I love it because it has all my favorite things. You know me well if you know that I love candied ginger. I love it so much, I always have a pack or two in my kitchen just for anything.  I’m not as much a fan as hubby is of chocolate bars but give it to me in the form of a cake, ice cream or even cookies… can’t resist that.


So. Imagine me when I came across this recipe from A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg.   Of course I had to try it. The result was a moist bread, more like a dense cake, interjected with bits of biting, sweet ginger candy and semi-sweet chocolate.   It’s comfort with a kick. Addictive.


Banana Bread with Chocolate and Crystallized Ginger (Molly Wizenberg of Orangette)

WhatYou’ll Need:

6 tablespoon (80grams) unsalted butter

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

¾ cup sugar

¾ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

¾ cup unsweetened chocolate chips

¼ cup finely chopped crystallized ginger

2 large eggs

1½ cups mashed bananas (from about 3 large ripe bananas)

¼ cup well-stirred whole milk plain yogurt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

What You do:

  1. Set rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease a standard-sized (about 9 by 5 inches) loaf pan with cooking spray or butter.
  2. In a small bowl, microwave the butter until melted. Or, alternatively, put the butter in a heatproof bowl and melt in the preheated oven. Set aside to cool slightly.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Add the chocolate chips and crystallized ginger and whisk well to combine. Set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, lightly beat the eggs with a fork. Add the mashed banana, yogurt, melted butter and vanilla and stir to mix well.. Pour the banana mixture into the dry ingredients, and stir gently with a rubber spatula, scraping down the side as needed, until just combined. Do not overmix. The batter will be thick and somewhat lumpy, but there should be no unincorporated flour. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth the top.
  5. Bake until the loaf is a deep shade of golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 50 minutes to 1 hour. If the loaf seems to be browning too quickly, tent with aluminum foil.
  6. Cool that loaf in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Then tip it out onto the rack and let cool.

Enjoy!!  And I hope you had great Valentine’s Day!

Phuket Eats

December 23, 2015 § 1 Comment

Not only once did work bring me to Phuket, not exactly a destination on my bucket list. Sorry to say that I don’t particularly find the beach appealing and I’m not one who really care for big resorts. But one thing I love above Thailand is its food. Thai flavors had appeal to me since my university days when I first discovered its cuisine.

In the few times that I have been to this island, I have yet to have a bad meal, a few quite memorable in fact. Here are three that I give my thumbs up.

Tunk-Ka Restaurant


While in Phuket with my staff a few years ago, I decided to treat them to a tour of the town.


I contacted Chaya of Phuket Heritage Trails and as part of her tour, she brought us to this well-known restaurant perched on the side of Rang Hill with panoramic views of Chalong Bay and even the big Budda.


The Café has three separate terraces, foliage surrounds. I think she brought us not only for the view but for the food as well.


From the extensive menu, Chaya chose for us a superb lunch of Pak Liang with smoke-dried shrimp – a chili paste with dried shrimp, eaten with boiled vegetables,


Pork stir-fry with butternut and minced shrimp, and


Crab meat stir-fried with turmeric and coconut milk.

Getting there:

There are two easily accessed ways to drive to the summit; one by Vachira Hospital on Yaowarat Road, the other around the corner on Mae Luang Road. Tung Ka is right on the top of the hill and has ample car parking space.

Suay Restaurant


Top quality food at reasonable prices, Suay offers a range of creative Thai cuisine in a simple, modest house. Upon the recommendation of Chaya’s, we walked through the gate, through the garden setting to our reserved table.


The place exudes a pleasant ambience that promises a good meal.

We chose to go for a set meal, which includes: Spicy Fried Yellow Fin Tuna tartar Isan Style,


Grilled Sea Scallops with exotic fruit salad,


Green Papaya Salad with Crispy Fried Soft Shelled Crabs,


Fresh Prawn Spring Roll with peanut sauce. These are just the appetizers. Main course had us feasting in Roasted Duck in red curry with lychee and pineapple, Grilled River Prawns with Lemongrass salad,


Shanghai noodles with Squid and pesto sauce, green chili salsa;


Grilled Turmeric Sea Bass in Banana Leaf Wrap. A must be when in Phuket.

50/2 Takuapha Rd, Talad Nuea, Phuket Old Town

Raya Restaurant


Set in a beautiful Sino-Thai mansion that exudes old world charm. Not only does it boast of a well-preserved heritage of its colonial past, but it is also known as THE Thai restaurant in Phuket. Serves authentic local cuisine that do not disappoint.

Dishes such as Crab Meat Curry served with rice vermicelli,

Raya-Fish-with-Tamarind-SauceDeep Fried Sea Bass in a Tamarind-Lemongrass Sauce,


Fried Pork with Kefir Leaves.

Locals flock to this restaurant in Dibuk Road, what better way to gauge authenticity then having locals as patrons? Yes?

48 New Dibuk Rd., Phuket Old Town

And with this, I leave you with this thought:

Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us. Hal Borland.

Merry Christmas and an Adventurous New Year to all!!

When It Rains, It Pours

October 21, 2015 § Leave a comment

Do you sometimes feel like troubles and obstacles are a constant visitor? Yes, it is pouring now. One snag at a time, I tell myself. “Don’t let them stress you out, it’s not worth it,” I convince myself. I take comfort in His words … Cast all your cares upon Him, He cares for you (1Peter 5:7). God is in control, He truly is. Adversities he allows for a reason, many times it is to prove to me that He is in control and that I must not worry. Easily said than done. And to relieve me from worrying, I bake.


A recipe I grabbed from Gourmet a while back has become a recipe for keeps. This Zucchini Ginger Cupcake is spiced and flavoured with ginger, cinnamon and a touch of orange zest… wouldn’t it call out to you too?


What’s so marvellous about it is it’s easy and quite healthy as it uses olive oil (I also use virgin coconut oil sometimes) instead of butter and honey instead of sugar. Best of all, this moist cupcake is high up there in the flavor department with or without the cream cheese frosting (the only thing not so healthy, actually).


Half of these cupcakes ended up with the security people of the building I live in. The maintenance guys, the receptionist, and the security people—they make me feel safe, and cared for, so I show my appreciation by feeding them sometimes. I wonder if they know that they are eating a vegetable cake?