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

tunka-atmosphere

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

Chaya

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.

Tunka-View

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

tunka-pak-liang

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,

Tunka-Pork-stir-fry

Pork stir-fry with butternut and minced shrimp, and

crabmeat-stir-fried

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

Suay-facade

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.

Suay

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,

Suay-tuna-tartar

Grilled Sea Scallops with exotic fruit salad,

Suay-Green-Papaya-Salad-and-soft-shelled-crabs

Green Papaya Salad with Crispy Fried Soft Shelled Crabs,

Suay-Fresh-Prawn-Spring-Roll

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,

Suay-shanghai-noodles

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

Suay-Turmeric-Sea-Bass

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

Raya

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,

Raya-Pork-with-Kefir

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!!

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Vietnam Eats

September 3, 2015 § Leave a comment

If you’re thinking of visiting any part of Vietnam, the first thing you need to know about is that food is an integral part of their culture and livelihood. Anyone who has traveled to Vietnam will tell you that it is one of the major attractions. You can’t go to Vietnam and not have a taste of their cuisine.

food-cartsMore often than not, the street is its stage – street food stalls can be found anywhere from the main roads to the alleyways. Small plastic stools and a table taking up the sidewalk is a common scene.

small-tables-and-chairs

So what is Vietnamese food? It has a distinct flavor yet it is almost universally accepted palate-wise. The taste comes from fish sauce, shrimp paste, soy sauce, and fresh herbs such as mint, cilantro, and lemongrass – think spicy, sour, bitter, salty and sweet when combined. Influenced much by the Chinese and French, Vietnamese love their noodles and bread. Theirs is a cuisine that is light and refreshing, which is probably why it is easy on the palate. Their taste for fresh ingredients and simple methods has actually placed their cuisine on the map of the foodies.

On my recent visit to Hanoi, I rediscovered favorites and got introduced to new staples. So without further ado, here are a few staples and must-haves when in Vietnam, in my opinion.

Pho – THE staple of Vietnam, available all day and night long.

phoThe national food is a steaming, fragrant broth of rice noodle with chicken or beef topped with bean sprouts, mint, and a few more herbs. Squeeze a wedge of lime into it and the freshness of this simple noodle soup raises the bar for all noodle soups. It’s impossible to walk a block without bumping into a hungry crowd slurping noodles in a makeshift pho stand on a sidewalk.

Banh Mi – The French has stamped its mark on Vietnam through its baguette and has since been given a Vietnamese spin.

banh-miThis Vietnamese sandwich (more commonly called Banh Mi) is a heavenly concoction of crusty baguette filled with pork, pâté, butter, and an array of local ingredients (cilantro, cucumber, jalapeño and pickled carrots and daikon). Indeed a product of cultural and culinary blend that managed to put Vietnamese cuisine on the map.

Bun Cha – If Pho is Vietnam’s most famous dish Bun Cha (ubiquitous in the North) is what everyone prefers over lunch in Hanoi.

bun-cha-up-closeIt’s charcoal grilled patties and sliced pork belly served with a basket of herbs, cold vermicelli noodles, a bowl of nuoc cham (fish sauce, sugar, and rice vinegar mixture).bun-cha

Nem Cua BeBun Cha lovers normally order a side dish of this spring roll filled with small amounts of crab meat, minced pork, garlic, herbs, mushrooms, and glass noodles, then deep-fried to juicy/crisp perfection.

nem-cua-beDipped in the same Bun Cha sauce, this spring roll has become a favorite. Ah, Nem Cua Be! I’m dreaming of you now.

Goi Cuon – Fresh spring rolls, light and healthier version of Vietnam’s many spring rolls.

Goi-Cuon-Spring-RollIt is definitely a wholesome choice especially if indulging too much on the fried ones. Dip it in peanut sauce and your taste buds will be jumping for joy.

Nem Nuong Xa – Grilled minced meat on lemongrass skewers.

Nem-Nuong-XaI’ve always loved these and have long been one of the familiar Vietnamese dishes on my side of the world. It’s meat patties wrapped around lemongrass stalks/skewers then grilled. Simple yet so satisfying.

Ngo Chien Bo – It’s sweet corn kernels fried in butter. Introduced to us by the locals we befriended at the beer corner.

ngo chiem bo buttery cornThe one served to us had salty dried fish added to it. Crunchy, buttery, sweet and salty goodness… so definitely addictive, this little kernel of heaven.

Bo Bia Ngot – a dessert so intriguing though it didn’t call out to us at first sight until some kids on a night out convinced us to buy some.

bo-bia-ngotIt’s a rolled up crêpe made up of shredded coconut, sesame seeds, and light sugary candy pieces (sometimes just sugar). Made to order at a food stall. Another simple concoction that delivered a sensation of complex textures and flavor.

And because I have caffeine running through my veins, all meals end with coffee,

coffeeVietnamese style of course.

Ubud Eats

June 2, 2015 § Leave a comment

Ubud. The heartland of Bali where gently rolling rice paddies and volcanic hillsides offer a cinematic backdrop to a land steeped in culture.

Ubud-culture

Add to this a vibrant dining scene and you can’t keep me away for long. In this wonderland of art and culture, one can eat extremely well whether it be in fine dining spots, warungs or roadside eateries. Global or local, the choice is likewise abundant. Barely scratching the surface on our last visit to Ubud (last year), here’s sharing with you some delightful new discoveries and old favorites.

Bridges

Campuhan Bridge, Jalan Campuhan, Ubud. +62(0) 361 970 095

Bridges

Our Ubud escapade started here. Fine dining without the steep price tag tucked neatly along Ubud’s famed Campuhan Bridge.

Campuhan-Bridge

The elegant multi-level white veranda overlooks the tumbling river through lush greenery. A few small nooks at the corner of the upper dining hall offer uninterrupted views of the river, so I recommend calling ahead for these corners.

Bridges-tables-with-a-view

The menu is a mix of modern continental with local dishes thrown in, beautifully executed.

Open-Mushroom-RavioliOpen Mushroom Ravioli

Bridges-creme-bruleeCinnamon Creme Brûlée

Bridges-lemon-slice-strawberry-basil-sorbetLemon Slice with Strawberry Basil Sorbet

Bridges-PavlovaLemon Scented Pavlova

Expect salads, pasta, meat dishes and an array of imaginative desserts.

Naughty Nuri’s

Jalan Raya Sanggingan, Ubud +62(0) 361 977 547

Naughty-Nuri's

A simple shack this place may be, but the irresistible aroma of pork ribs grilling by the roadside is what will lure you in.

Naughty-Nuri's-grill

This grill house located halfway along Jalan Raya Sanggingan (and luckily, a stone’s throw away from our wonderful boutique hotel) has as main highlight its pork ribs—succulent and fall-off-the-bone tender.

Naughty-Nuri's-Pork-RibsNaught-Nuri's-sauceSauce To Die For

So pleased with the ribs, we forewent exploring more restaurants for a last bite here before heading to the airport. This might indeed be the best ribs in Bali.

Bebek Bengil

Jalan Hanoman, Padang Tegal, Ubud _62(0) 361 975 489

Bebek-BengilBebek-Bengil-Accompaniments

Bali is known for its duck. Set in beautiful, relaxed surroundings, Bebek Bengil (also known as the Dirty Duck Diner) serves a wonderfully tender and flavorful dirty duck with skin so crispy. Steamed in Balinese spices then deep-fried to crispy perfection.

Balinese-Smoked-Duck

Another specialty is the Balinese Smoked Duck. This needs to be ordered one day in advance. The duck is smothered with Balinese spices, wrapped in betel nut leaf then slowly smoked the traditional way, which is the whole day.

 Warung Pulau Kelapa

Jalan Raya Sanggingan, Lungsiakan, Ubud +62(0) 361 821 5502

Warung-Pulau-Kelapa

This came highly recommended by our guide instead of Bali Guling (Balinese Suckling Pig). I can’t say though that this is a better choice as I have not tried Ibu Oka’s famous suckling roast pig, but I can say that this was one of the best recommendation one can give.

Warung-Pulau-Kelapa-entranceWarung-Pulau-Kepala-interiors

First of the all, the warung is a beautiful, original Javanese village teak wood house with a beautiful herb and vegetable garden at the back.

Warung-Pulau-Ayam-Bumbu-Rujak

Ayam Bumbu Rujak: Stewed roasted chicken cooked in a mixture of coconut milk, Indonesian spices, and mild chilis. An East Javanese dish.

Warung-Pulau-dessertsDesserts of Banana in Coconut Cream and Red Rice Pudding in Coconut Milk

The menu is an extensive array of authentic Indonesian dishes taken from different islands cooked without MSG—Bali, Borneo, Sumatra… No disappointment there.

Cafe-at-Warung-Kelapa

At the back, behind the restroom area is a café where they serve excellent Indonesian coffee. They were test-running and invited us for a free taste of their coffee. We returned the next day to enjoy another round of coffee and dessert, this time we insisted on paying.

Coffee break at Café Angsa

Jalan Hanoman 43, Ubud

Cafe-Angsa-coffee-and-dessertBanana Fritters and Coffee

All over Ubud, coffee shops with scenic views of the paddy fields abound. Walk into any along Ubud’s three main roads, JL Monkey Forest Road, JL Hanoman, and JL Raya Ubud and enjoy a break from shopping or walking around town. In between shopping, we came across Café Angsa along JL Hanoman.

Cafe-Angsa-rice-fieldsCafe-Angsa-lounge

A cute little café with views of the rice paddies, cushions on the platform makes for a beautiful relaxing rest.

Seville’s Good Eats

August 30, 2014 § 3 Comments

“Where can we go for paella?” we asked the front desk guy at our hostel. He looked at us, bewildered. “Valencia?” he finally replied. Obviously, Seville isn’t the place to have this famous Spanish rice dish… so much for that, I guess. A self-proclaimed tapas capital of the world though, some of Spain’s most imaginative tapas can be found here.

plaza-dona-elvira

The most popular way to eat in Seville is to ir de tapas, go out for tapas. You can’t be in this city and not do a tapeo, bar crawling. A humble tradition turned international phenomenon.

manchego-and-olives

The simple bread and cheese (used only to cover the glass to prevent flies from entering) has evolved to fancier feasts of foie gras and truffles. What used to go with the drink for free could actually be the star these days.

La Flor de Toranza

la flor de toranza

So instead, front desk guy pointed us to the Arenal district, a few meters away from our hostel, and there we found La Flor de Toranza (also called Casa Trifon after the founder, Don Trifon Gomez Ortiz). They had a traditional menu with specialty tapas of the fancier kind—foie gras, premium sausages, marinated turkey breast, anchovy rolls…

Toranza-montaditos-

Anchoas con leche condensada (Anchovies with condensed milk), a curious combination caught our eyes on the menu, and so did the lomo y mansanas (salt cured pork loin and apple sandwiches). Interesting play of salty and sweet on crusty bread, the anchovy sandwich came out a winner although the ham and apples didn’t disappoint either. A restaurant with a pleasant atmosphere and friendly staff—a Filipino wait staff even got out to chat with us when they found out we were Filipinos. Close to Plaza Nuevo and Avenida de la Constitucion.

Sierra de Sevilla

sierra-de-seville

Then we moved on to a few bars down. Sierra de Sevilla had Jamon Iberico (cured ham of the Huelva sierras) hanging at the rafters and that sealed the deal for us.

jamon-iberico

We found ourselves a table and ordered a raciones (a full plateful and not a small snack size) of this nutty cured ham sliced thin enough to melt in your mouth and a plate of Quezo Manchego from the La Mancha region.

Being a hot region of Spain, Seville is home to gazpacho but instead of the famous chilled tomato soup now popular all around Europe, I was introduced to Salmorejo, gazpacho’s richer and thicker cousin.

salmorejo

Topped with egg and Jamon Serrano, this creamy soup is sometimes used as a dip but is a lovely starter or even a light meal. I instantly fell in love with the fresh flavors of tomatoes, a hint of garlic and the fruity taste of olive oil blended together in this gloriously creamy cold soup.

Eating and socializing is embedded in the Spanish way of life and mealtimes here needs a bit of getting used to. A simple toast and café con leche are good enough to start their day, but they will need a pick-me-up at 10 in the morning, then lunch somewhere between 1-4pm. Most bars or restaurants close between 4-8pm for the essential siesta. And so lunch ended on our 2nd bar hop.

Confiteria Filella

Adriatico-Bldg

Walking out to Avenida de la Constitucion, we came across the gorgeous Adriatico building that housed Confiteria Filella.

confiteria-filella

Practically an institution, this confectionary shop serves exquisite traditional cakes and pastries. We walked in and were overwhelmed with a plethora of sweet goodies. We walked out with these:

filella-our-pick

Unfortunately, on April 5, Filella Isabel Gomez passed on at 74 and with it this historical shop, hopefully temporarily because if it indeed shut its doors forever, what a loss this will be for the Sevillanos and its visitors.

Bodega Santa Cruz

Bodega-Santa-Cruz

If you’re looking for a typical tavern where your orders are tabulated in chalk on the bar, look no further. On the corner leading up to the Giralda and just steps off the Alcazar, is Bodega Santa Cruz. When a bar spills out onto the street, you know that this is where you want to be.

pringas-sta.-cruz

With dishes such as Berrenjenas con miel (deep-fried aubergines with swirls of honey), Pringa, Lomo Chipiona and Alitas de pollo, you will not be disappointed.

mushroom-tapas-sta.-cruz

These were tapas that satisfied not only our palate but the pocket too. A good place to end after a tour of the Alcazar or the Giralda.

Restaurante Café Alianza

Cafe-Alianza

We chanced upon this by accident looking to rest in between a few hours spent meandering the alleyways of Barrio Santa Cruz. We thought to sit in the shadows of orange trees and bougainvillaea and enjoy the sweets from Filella with coffee.

tapas-alianza

Then we ordered some tapas and before we knew it, it was time for dinner. It was a good place to be lazy and watch the crowds. Café Alianza is in a charming hidden square of the same name.

rabo-de-toro

They boast of having the best Rabo de Toro in town. Falling off the bone soft, flavored wonderfully with tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and wine, this oxtail dish could indeed be what the owner claims it to be.

Gago 6 Tapas Bar

gago-6-menu

Now, who says you can’t find good paella in Seville? Along Calle Mateos Gago, we saw this menu board and decided, what the heck… we’ve been craving.

paella

Maybe Seville isn’t the best place for paella and this may not be the best paella but it sure did satisfy that craving—it was nice, moist and crusty. With this plate of grilled meats (beef, lamb and chicken), our meal definitely did not disappoint.

One of the many joys of traveling in Spain is the food. Seville being the heart of Andalusia has an abundance of bars and restaurants to choose from. There is no lack of recommendation, the list is plentiful but the fun is in the discovery.   Walk around and go with the flow, you’ll never know what you might find.

La Flor de Toranza
Calle Jimios, 1-3
+34 954 22 93 15
 
Sierra de Sevilla
Joaquin Guichot. 5
+34 954 56 12 10
 
Confiteria Filella
Av. de la Constitucion, 2
+34 954 22 46 40
 
Bodega Santa Cruz
Calle de Rodrigo Caro, 1A
+34 954 21 32 46
 
Restaurante Cafe Alianza
Calle de Rodrigo Caro, 9
+34 954 21 76 35
 
Gago 6 Tapas Bar
Calle Mateos Gago, 6
+34 658 75 22 19

Savoring Ronda

May 25, 2014 § 4 Comments

Andalusia is undeniably one of Spain’s most diverse, stunning, and enthralling region.  I knew that.  Yet it didn’t prepare me for Ronda.

rock-outcrop

This city in Malaga sits on a plateau of a massive rock outcrop, creating a dramatic terrain and a seriously picturesque vista.

picturesque-vista

However, its charm extends to more than just the landscape;

charming-mountain-town

the cuisine, linked to a deep history, was a revelation, a real delight with more than a handful of fine restaurants and tapas bar to indulge in.

One of the most enjoyable ways to understand Andalusian food is to follow the crowds into a typical bar and try their tapas,

taperia

savored with a glass of vino tinto. Did you know that the region produces the best wines in Spain?

vino-tinto

And the ham!  The Iberico ham from Jabugo in Huelga is known to be (and I can attest to that) Spain’s best ham.

Tapas at Doña Pepa

Ten days in Morocco have induced (in us) an immense appetite for pork and where else do we go? Into a restaurant that has this on display.

Jamon

Restaurante de Doña Pepa, right around the Plaza del Socorro, called out to us.

El-Bodegon-de-Dona-Pepa

We entered and never left—our server, Javier, never gave us a chance. With his help, we ordered and devoured plate after plate of lovely Andalusian dishes (mostly pork oriented).

Jamon-Iberico

Our first Andalusian meal may not have been a bar hopping experience,

Dona-Pepa-tapasClockwise: Montadito, Crullentito de chorizo, Croquettas, Cochifrito, Flamenquin, Gambas ala Rodena

but every plate that came out spelled happiness, cravings satisfied and more. Then after all that, Javier delighted us with a sampling of a plateful of desserts,

plateful-of-dessert

ending a long day of traveling with happy spirits despite the gloomy weather.

The Breakfast at Hotel Colon

Waking up to breakfast of sublimely simple tostada con tomate y aceite (toast with crushed tomato and olive oil) is almost haunting.  With just a pinch of salt, the sweetness of both tomatoes and olive oil marries into something magical. This seemingly simple, bland breakfast transforms into a delectably complex feast in the mouth.  Haunting, I tell ya… haunting!

hotel-colonView from the balcony of the room.

The family run, centrally located Hotel Colon seemed to be a go-to of the locals.

hotel-colon-coffee-shop

Halfway through breakfast, the coffee shop filled up quickly with people tucked in their favorite corner, browsing through the daily, leisurely enjoying their coffee and breakfast.

coffee-and-pastry

Good coffee and wondrous pastries draw crowds into this unpretentious eatery the whole day.

Rabo de Toro and Bullfighting

Ronda is where modern bullfighting began but because it is tucked away in the mountains, bullfighting season in this city is intermittent.

bullring

But that does not stop its people from celebrating the sport. It is known as the home to bullfight after all. Many establishments in this town serve superb Rabo de Toro (tail of the bull)—an Andalusian medieval dish using tails of corrida-slaughtered bulls.

rabo-de-toroRabo de Toro

Restaurante Pedro Romero, opposite the bullring, is where you want to have your first taste of the celebrated oxtail stew.

partridge-patePartridge Pate

secreto-ibericoIberian pork in basil oil and capers

Turning out classic rondeño dishes, this restaurant, named after the legendary bullfighter from the Romero family, was a fine prelude to a profusion of Andalusian meals to come.

Morocco On My Mind

April 26, 2014 § 2 Comments

morocco-on-my-mindCredits:  Jessica Sprague’s DIDer Lesson 5 supplies:  CarinaGardner, Crystal Wilkerson, ITM, Jessica Sprague, LivE

About a year ago in Fes, we were seating on hand carved settees overloaded with opulently bedecked cushions, in front of us was a heavy table set with ornate silverware and copperware.

lavish-interior

The lavishness of Moroccan taste is more palpable in the walls that are decorated with mosaic tiles and the rich color wool carpet covering the floors.

salads

Laid out was a melange of hot and cold salad to start our meal, followed by a lamb tagine, a chicken, lemon and olive dish,

chicken-lemon-and-olives

and some roasted mutton (mechoui).  This sumptuous meal was capped with honey drizzled fresh fruits and a cup of very sweet but refreshing mint tea.

fruit-dessert

Quite telling that Moroccans take their food seriously, yes?

olives-and-lemons

A stroll through the market stalls reveals glistening stacks of olives of all colors, mounds of preserved lemons,

spices

vibrant pyramids of spices, sacks of grains, colorful variety of fruits and vegetables. Morocco is as much about food as it is historic and scenic.

An extremely sophisticated cuisine, thanks to a diverse medley of Arab, Berber, Moorish, French, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, African, Iberian and Jewish influences. The interactions and exchanges with these cultures have been filtered and blended over time into flavors that have become distinctly Moroccan.

camel-meat

Common meals include beef, mutton, lamb, chicken, camel, rabbit and seafood. Its cooking made distinct by the subtle blend of spices not to mask but rather to enhance the flavor and aroma of its dishes.

Similar to my part of the world (Philippines), eating in Morocco is a social ritual, food is served in the middle of the table to be shared. Moroccans take great pride in their meal from purchasing the freshest ingredients to preparing these in lengths and showing these off in elaborate dishes. This sense of pride and fundamental way of life have led to eateries big and small that can really impress. From the slow cooked tagines to the kebabs and sandwiches favored in hole in the walls — a trip to Morocco will surely stir up the palate, a flavor adventure hard to forget.

In no particular order, here’s a list of staples and must tries.

Tagine

lamb-tagine

A stew braised and slow cooked in an earthenware dish with a cone shape top also called a tagine. Normally served in the tagine it was cooked in, and is more often a shared dish served in the center of the table.

dates

Adding dried fruits to meat tagines is very Moroccan – they love the combination of sweet and savory.

Although fish tagines are popular in coastal towns, Moroccans love their meats and lambs are favored in tagines.

Moroccan Mint Tea

mint-tea

Ubiquitous in Morocco is a drink they call Whiskey Morocco – a play in the fact that the consumption of alcohol is considered “Haraam” and is prohibited per Muslim dietary restrictions. Moroccans drink this sweet green tea and mint every day. And making it has become an art, the technique is as important as the quality of the tea itself. Often served in an engraved metal tray with small, ornate glasses boasting intricate designs, the tea is poured evenly into these glasses from a height using a typical Moroccan teapot with long, curved pouring spout.  So soothing, I look forward to it every meal time.  It actually is the perfect cap to a meal.

Preserves

olives

Morocco is known for its olives and preserves. Not only are olives a tasty way to start a meal, these are staple ingredients to flavor tagine dishes.

preserves

In an olive vendor, one will find olives of different shades from red to green to black. The red and green varieties go well in many tagine dishes while the black variety are stuffed with cheese and eaten as a snack or added in salads.

Preserved lemons are another key ingredient in tagines and salads. Preserved in a salt-lemon juice mixture, this brings a unique feature to many Moroccan chicken and pigeon dishes.

Breads or Khubz

bread

Moroccans eat with their fingers, using a small piece of bread, their thumb and first two fingers pick up food. They also use it to soak up the flavorful sauce of the tagines. And a meal is never complete without bread.

Most Moroccan households do not have an oven, but almost every neighborhood has a community oven where people take their bread dough to bake.

children-with-breads

Often you’ll see children pass by these communal ovens picking up a stack of freshly baked breads to bring home.

Harira

harira

The most important soup in Morocco as it serves as the break of the fast during Ramadan. Drank at dusk, this tomato-based soup with chickpeas, meat, lentils and small noodles is perfect to warm the tummy before a fast.

Pastilla

pastilla

A delicacy sometimes called bisteeya. Consistent with their fondness for combining sweet and savory, this pastry is made up of shredded chicken or, the more expensive and tastier, pigeon mixed with eggs and crushed almonds wrapped in phyllo pastry. It is then fried and topped with cinnamon and confectionary sugar. A dish you don’t want to miss.

Meats

meat

I will say it again – Moroccans love their meat. Lamb is favored and enjoyed in many ways – with couscous in tagines, skewered grilled over charcoal, braised, or slow roasted until tender.

lamb-chops

The more affordable beef and chicken are also popular meats that are served in a variety of ways.

kebab

The most common style of barbecuing in this part of the world is Kabab-style. It is found in most kinds of restaurants, be it the usual sit-down kind or the hole-in-the-wall grill shops.

hole-in-the-wall

The latter although unimpressive in appearance are guaranteed to satisfy the palate at very minimal cost.

chicken-rotisserie

Grilled rotisserie chicken, a favorite, and the best one I had was in a roadside eatery.

Barbecueing, Grilling, and Sandwiches

bocadios

Snack restaurants or sandwich shops can be found all over Mocorro, ranging again from hole-in-the-walls to larger, sit-down establishments.

sandwich-shop

One can find all kinds of food, from the usual sandwiches, fries and even pizzas to the more Middle Eastern fare of shawarma and brochettes –

shawarma

the Moroccan version of a sandwich that comes in either a baguette or a khubz, the filling usually involves choosing from a selection of meats, vegetables and sauce on display.

fish-stall

In coastal and port towns such as Essaouira, fresh catches of all sorts — St. Pierre (John Dory), sea bream, sardines, etc. are displayed in abundance in the fish market.

grilled-fish

There you get to pick your fish, find your table, order your beer and enjoy the outdoor while you wait for your fish to grill.

essaouira

A welcome respite after all the meat dishes eaten in lavish indoor restaurants in low light settings.

Sweets

sweets

One of the legacies left by the French is in the form of Moroccan pastries. Various types exist, but many are the rich, dense confection of cinnamon, almonds and the ubiquitous orange water rolled in phyllo dough and soaked in honey.

pastries

Fresh fruits, not pastries, are typically what caps Moroccan meal. Cookies and pastries often go with afternoon tea or coffee.

pastry-stall

While many households keep a supply of homemade sweets, these are easily purchased in pastry shops and carts on the street.

Fresh Orange Juice

orange-juice-stalls

Take advantage and enjoy a glass of freshly squeezed sweet orange juice everyday from one of the stalls ever present in most of Morocco. You will not regret it.

grapefruit

Even the grapefruits are sweetly tart – you know what I mean.   😉

Delightful Davao

February 4, 2014 § Leave a comment

Davao-DelightsCredits: Paper from the “Chronicling Life” kit of Haynay Designs

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.

Swiss Deli

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.

Swiss-DeliMy superb lunch of Chicken Cordon Blue and a shared sausage platter.

Claude’s Le Café de Ville

Claude's-facade

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.

Claude-interior

My favorite part of the house would be the porch— what a wonderful way to be greeted.

claude's-porch

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.

crab-cocktail

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

malagos-board

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.

menu-board

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.

cheese-stock

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.

cheese-platter

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).

cheese-stashMy Take-Home Stash

Spirale Ristorante

pizza

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

durian-brazo-de-mercedes

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

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