Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Sarsiado and Utan

This is a dish that i first encountered when i was living with my tita in Manila during my college years.

I do not know if Sarsiado is how it should be called but somehow the name has stuck. My tita used to make this when the markets were awash with cheap, overripe tomatoes. This is now a dish that regularly appears in our Cebu home and we make it even when tomatoes are not cheap or overripe.

Sarsiado Recipe

1 kilo ham cut or pork belly, cut into cubes
(i prefer the pork belly because the fat becomes very mushy and goes well with the sour tomatoes)

1 kilo ripe tomatoes, cut into quarters

Place all the ingredients into a saucepan with enough water to cover. Simmer until pork is very tender. Season with salt. Serve with hot white rice.

Reportedly, a great accompaniment to this dish is the Utan Bisaya, a soup made of malunggay leaves, alugbati, squash, tomatoes, sikwa (i dont know what this is called in English, but it's a type of gourd and when dried, is made into loofah sponges), eggplant, and flavored with fried fish flakes.

Personally, i just hate this soup and would like to abolish it forever from our dining table but the rest of the family loves this. So we will just have to take their word that this goes well with Sarsiado and other fatty dishes like Humba, Grilled Pork Belly, and Braised Pork. They say it takes away the yucky, fatty, oily aftertaste of the pork belly.

Well, to each his own. I like my fat to taste fatty.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Afternoon at Bo's

I often find myself sitting at Bo's Coffee Club these days as this is where a good friend holds his "meetings".

Bo's Coffee Club is the pioneer of the coffee culture in Cebu. While Starbuck's was blooming in Manila, Cebuanos were still satisfied with their instant coffees, 3 in 1's and the occasional brewed that we can get in good restaurants and hotels.

When Bo's was opened in the Ayala Mall in the mid 90's, it immediately became the place to be, to meet, to be seen, inspite of the prices that everyone thought to be unbelievably unreasonable for just one cup of coffee. Their rate until now remains P55 for a cup of ordinary brewed.

Everyone thought:

a. Bo's would die when Starbuck's would hit Cebu;

b. Starbuck's would not flourish considering the Cebuano love for products made by Cebuanos, and the Cebuanos tight-fistedness;

c. Starbuck's will probably survive with one outlet in a posh location where the spending gadflies gravitate.

And how everyone was wrong. Bo's has flourished and so has Starbuck's. Cebuanos learned to embrace the coffee culture in a one easy step. In fact, Cebu became so enamored with Bo's that they could not wait for Starbuck's to step foot in the province. The word from the Manila frequenting crowd was that Bo's was so "Starbuck's kaayo!" (English: So Starbuck's!).

I am not a coffee drinker so i really cannot say whether the coffee in one place is better than the other. However, i am a tea drinker and i have to say that tea selections at the international chain is better. Hot chocolate from the international chain is also better, but maybe because i am not fond of sweet drinks that i prefer Starbuck's to Bo's.

Tea Selections at Bo's. Not very wide nor wild.

My Lemon Grass Tea

In terms of food items, bread and sandwiches from Starbuck's are way better than the Bo's array. Cakes and pastries are somewhat neck to neck as they are often sponge cakes disguised as other confections by clever tricks of shape, size and the application of ices and fillings.

A veritable flood of chocolate this and chocolate
that. I am not a chocolate cake fan obviously.
Although i would pay a LOT for a GOOD chocolate
croissant, if someone would kindly point me
towards the right direction.

The mandatory Mousse. Oh what would
a coffeshop be without the Mango Mousses
and Blueberry Cheesecakes?
Oh, give me something new please.

Oh what i would give for a REAL flaky croissant!
Aren't you tired of all these choco chip stuff: muffins,
bread, cookies, brownies, sigh, sigh, sigh

There was this one fantastic pastry though, that i would go back for again and again at Bo's, which was the Mocha Torte, but this item was discontinued sometime early this year for some strange reason. Maybe i was the only one who ordered it >:-p

As for the juices and flavored waters, none of them measure up. Too sweet i still say. Although the Esprit line from Starbuck's is ok because of the Passionfruit which i just love. I still keep on asking for the Lorina line (which is available in Starbuck's HK and Singapore, and which i bring home everytime i go) but no one at either stores seem to listen.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Laguna Garden Cafe Gets a Facelift

Dinner at the Laguna Garden Cafe last week was a tad uncomfortable. The place was getting retrofitted together with Ayala Center's expansion so diners were crowded in the ground floor dining area. Conversation was twice as difficult with the bad acoustics, loud music punctuated with the whine of drills working in the second floor.

Its a good thing Lita Urbina and family were still able to dish out the same good quality food that made up for the inconvenience that the renovations caused.

Fried Calamari with Sweet and Sour Sauce.
The squid is just fried right so its not rubbery. I
think i ate 1 order of this appetizer by myself.

They made a mistake with our Lechon Kawali order
and Lechon Paksiw arrived instead.
No problem.
We enjoyed this more :-)

There was more food on the table that night than these photos show: Crispy Pata, Rellenong Bangus, Chicharon Bulaklak, Tinolang Manok but they were decimated before there was any chance to take photos and I was only able to shoot dishes that were placed right in front of me.

I'm not exactly fond of Buko Pandan dessert.
I don't find green gelatin with milk and buko strips
particularly exciting. Would have preferred
something else actually, in fact, fresh fruits might
have been better. But hey, when someone else
is paying, why complain?

Friday, August 3, 2007

Lechon Manok, Baboy og Liempo

Cebuanos are inordinately fond of anything grilled- pork, chicken, various chicken innards, chorizo, seafoods, leg of calf, etc.

So it is no surprise that there is an almost entire length of a street in uptown Cebu City that is devoted to grill restaurants, ihaw ihaw or sugbahan and to tourists, local and imported alike.

But just a few meters off this street is a tiny, tiny kiosk that for me is one of the oldest and one of the best sources of barbecues and other grilled items.

This is Willer's Lechon, a few steps from the corner of Salinas Drive. It used to be located along Gorordo Avenue across JY but they moved a few meters to a small road across their old spot. They are now located at Sanjercasvil Road, behind the Sinangag Express.

Sign painted on the charcoal grill in front of
the tiny carenderia.

They also have a smaller branch (tinier than the tiny main branch) near the Lahug Elementary School.

Heart Stopping Chicken Skin Barbecue, Pork
Barbecue, and Gizzard and Liver Barbecue.

Your order getting the hot treatment at the
grill before serving.
(In the background), The super crunchy grilled
liempo or pork belly turning on the spit. Salt is
the only seasoning.

Close-up of the Barbecued Chicken Skin.
Slightly salty and sweet. The skin sort of melts and
becomes a chewy, gelatinous piece of heaven.

The perfect dip.
Local vinegar made from coconut. And flavored
with handfulls of chili, garlic, onions and ginger.
Sukang Pinakurat doesn't even come close to the
searing flavor of this one.

A Willer's Lechon specialty: Larang.
Various white fish simmered in a broth with
ginger, tomatoes and lemon grass.
I have not tasted this personally, but this is
a favorite among the taxi and jeepney drivers.

Lunch is often a thin crowd so the choices a bit lean. However, dinner is almost always packed so be prepared to bump greasy elbows with other patrons at the communal tables.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Is My Ipod a Personality Giveaway?

It's almost midnight and I have a 7 am surgery scheduled tomorrow yet the sandman has failed to drop by.

Spent the last few hours updating my Ipod- deleted songs hardly listened to and uploaded more from Limewire.

My playlist tonight is quite eclectic and am not sure if this means that my personality is also eclectic (read: weird/ strange/ disjointed like my musical choices) or merely a reflection of a wide exposure to a variety of music. Come to think of it, my musical education was by all means, pretty limited to the american top 40. So my taste for new wave is understandable but where in the world did i get this fondness for the Carpenters, Simon and Garfunkel, and the Supremes??

Mind you, 80% of the music in my Ipod are 80's classics, 10% from the Disco Fever of the 70's and the other 10% a smattering of Eraserheads, Christina Aguilera and Selena (wait! she's 80's too!).

Here's a sample of tonight's playlist:

Lady Marmalade- Christina Aguilera, Li'l Kim, Missy Elliot
Staying Alive (Ultimate Remix)- BeeGees
Friday I'm In Love- The Cure
Tomorrow- Annie
Our Love (Don't Throw It All Away)- BeeGees
Sahara Nights- Fr David
Sahara Nights- Fr David
Sahara Nights- Fr David
Como La Flor- Selena
Red and Black- Les Miserables
Your Smiling Face- James Taylor
Vogue- Madonna

The more I listen, the more sleep evades me. Methinks i'm missing my College Years.