February 13, 2014 § 1 Comment
We’ve been experiencing cold climate of record-breaking proportion (relative, of course, to my part of the globe) since the start of the year. This wonderful weather seemed to have followed us from San Francisco, where I spent my Christmas break with friends and family. They say though that summer officially starts right after the Chinese New Year. And true enough, a few days after the lunar calendar started, the temperature began rising.
Although a cold front has hit the country again this week, last week was particularly warm and humid. I’ve also been spending a lot of time at work, and the heat and exhaustion averts my desire to sweat out in the kitchen.
And so my new cast iron Panini grill has come to the rescue several times last week. I love my Panini on focaccia, but any kind of bread will come out a winner really.
A few nights ago, I layered generous slices of Milano salami (I always have those on hand), sliced brown mushrooms (sautéed in olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper), and arugula on whole wheat focaccia bread.
Then off it went to the grill, pressed into this gorgeous sandwich. Yummy!
February 4, 2014 § Leave a comment
Davao. Home to some of the country’s pride— the world’s largest bird, the monkey-eating Philippine Eagle and a rare orchid of exceptional beauty, the waling-waling— both found in Mt. Apo, Philippine’s highest peak. But there is more to Davao than these. Let’s not forget the “king of fruits”, durian. The area is known to be the center of durian production, thanks to its rich fertile volcanic soil and until recently, typhoon-free area. But more than durian, Davao is favored with other fresh, quality produce and fruits that are available all year round— pomelo, banana, mangosteen, lanzones, rambutan, mongo, peanuts, cabbage eggplant… among others.
The city is a fascinating mix of small town allure and modern metropolis refinement. A metropolis inhabited by 1.4M people of different ethnic groups, culture and faiths. The city teems with good food and on my not so very recent trip there, I discovered a few worth mentioning.
Along JP Laurel Ave., in Lanang is a deli and restaurant offering fine sausages, cured meats like bacon and hams, a selection of cheese, US and Australian steak cuts and even ostrich meats. Owned by a butcher and a baker, Swiss Deli has been around since 2005 catering at first to expats and Davao’s upper crust. Today, they supply some of the bigger supermarkets nationwide. On my visit, the restaurant was packed for lunch.
Claude’s Le Café de Ville
We drove into a driveway of a well-lit ancestral house. The garden well polished, the interior emulates the facade with old photos gracing the walls and well-appointed antique pieces scattered around.
My favorite part of the house would be the porch— what a wonderful way to be greeted.
This house epitomizes old world elegance through and through. An ancestral home of the Oboza family (also called the Oboza Heritage House) now dwells the only full-service French restaurant in Davao, Claude’s Le Café de Ville.
Complementing its charming home are wonderful dishes served from its kitchen headed by husband and wife team Claude and Tess Le Niendre. I had the Crab Cocktail to start and the specialty of the house, the Fillet of Beef Tenderloin with Pepper Sauce.
The crab appetizer was excellent, and my main, albeit a bit overcooked for my taste (it was more medium well than my preferred medium), was tasty and still juicy.
A pretty authentic French restaurant in Davao was definitely a pleasant surprise.
Malagos Farmhouse Artisan Cheeses
Davao surprises me, I tell ya. After an evening of wonderful French feasting, we were on our way, the next day, to buy artisan cheese. This wasn’t the first time I had tried cheeses from Malagos and so impressed I was, I had to find them and see what else they had to offer.
Olive Puentespina, the woman behind Malagos Artisan Cheeses, has been producing cheeses since 2006. All made from hybrid cows and goats from their dairy farm.
A cheese spread was laid out for us to try over at the farmhouse—from quesong puti, to flavored chevres, to manchego blue—an unbelievable spread, all proudly made in Davao.
Personal favorites are: Queso Rustico (semi-soft cow’s milk similar to a manchego), Blush (Queso Rustico with a tint of blue), La Maria (similar to a camembert), Feta tricolor (feta with chili and rosemary, infused fresh), and the Chevre with mango (a blend of creamy French style goat cheese with sweet mango bits).
For wonderful pasta and pizza, Spirale Ristorante will not disappoint. Thumbs up for the Vongole ai Chorizo (a wonderful combination, don’t you think?) and the pizza, which is cooked in a wood-fire oven. Crust was doughy yet crispy.
Chicco di Caffe
For their Durian Brazo di Mercedes. Yum!!! Anything durian is possible in Davao. I had my first taste of durian in an ice cream in Davao some 20 years ago and I’ve never looked back. I. Adore. Durian.Swiss Deli JP Laurel Ave., Lanang, Davo City +6382 234 0271 Claude’s Cafe de Ville 29 Rizal St., Paseo de Habana, Davao City +6382 305 2635 / +6382 222 4287 Malagos Farmhouse Bolcan St., Agdao, Davao City +6382 226 4446 Spirale Ristorante Damaso Complex Angliongto Road, Lanang, Davao City +6382 234 6298 Chicco di Caffe Gen. Douglas MacArthur Hwy, Davao City +6382 305 3534 Faura St., Davao City