Monday, May 31, 2010

Salthouse, SF

A spontaneous night out in San Francisco! After bar hopping to three different bar scenes and having three strong drinks, my friends and I just happened to stumble by Salt House. We've heard good things about this place, and there was a table ready for us! It was meant to be. What a great San Francisco restaurant! Great ingredients, beautiful presentations, and a fun city dining atmosphere.

Epi Bread
From Acme Bread. Good, satisfying San Francisco bread. Yum!

Fanny Bay Oysters
Juicy and plump! A great refreshing start.

Kennebec Fries, Short Rib Gravy, Bravo Farms Cheddar. Delicious! The quality gravy and cheddar definitely won our palates.

Fulton Valley Chicken
With bacon and leeks. Perfectly cooked chicken - tender, juicy, and crispy on the outside. So delicious!

Roasted Lamb Loin
With sunchokes, chanterelles, and turnips. Another winning dish - yum!

Pecan Square
With Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and Toasted Pecans. A nice ending, but not the star of the meal.

Bar Food!

When I'm back in the bay Area, I also look forward to pairing tasty beers with some good ol' bar food. But, of course, since it's the foodie-filled Bay Area, bar food is a bit more refined and a lot more delicious.

Old Pro
This is one of my favorite sports bars. I love the set up of large flat screens all around the walls. This is a great place to hang out with friends after work while watching some sports games.

Fresh Monterey Bay Calamari Fritti
With the classic tartar and marinara sauces.

Garlic Fries
Waffle fries coated with chopped garlic bits and parmesan cheese.

Pulled Pork Sliders
Tender and tasty pork topped with some fresh coleslaw.

Slider Bar Cafe
I love sliders! This is a new place on University Ave. in Palo Alto (my hometown hang out spot). The concept is great, the restaurant and menu set up is trendy, and the execution is successful. And, it's cheap! (For SF/Palo Alto standards.)

Baked Fries
Fresh tasting, but it could be a bit more crispy. Served with organic ketchup.

Kobe Beef Slider
Juicy with a pretty good flavor.

Mediterranean Slider
Yum! Great tastes of feta, olives, artichokes, and red onions.

Slider Dog
What a generous portion!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Beer Me!

Aside from family, friends and food, I look forward to the beer selection in the states. In the past few years, I've drank my way around numerous breweries in California. When I look at menus in restaurants and in bars, I try to order beers that I've never tasted before to expand my beer knowledge. When I visited the states a couple weeks ago, I enjoyed some of my favorite brews that I can't find in Asia.

Trio of Tastiness
Gordon Biersch Marzen (left), Gordon Biersh Hefeweiss (back), Stella Artois (right). Marzen is a tasty lager that has a roasted malt and caramel finish. The Hef is a refreshing beer with citrus notes. And, Stella is my first favorite beer.

Anchor Steam
One of the real San Francisco treats with bold tastes of malt and light hops.

Dogfish 60 Minute IPA
Great hops with an earthy background. (A true taste of home: a great beer at a bar while watching the SF Giants beat the Padres!)

Dogfish 90 Minute IPA
Of the IPAs I've tasted, this is so far my favorite. It's has such deep and whole flavors, including citrus, raisins, and a hint of brandy.

Trois Pistoles
Definitely one of the better Belgian beers. The flavors are full of spice, fruits, and malt. Well done, Unibroue.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Mt. Pulag Weekend

A couple weeks after our Sorsogon trip, my cousins and I took another trip in Luzon. This time we drove up north to Baguio and to Mt. Pulag.
Our Itinerary:
Day One
Drove from Manila to Baguio (about 5 hours).
Checked into our hotel and slept.
Day Two
Met our group at the Baguio Cathedral at 4am.
Drove up in Jeepneys to Mt. Pulag, with a breakfast stop along the way.
Hiked up from 2400m to 2700m.
Camped for the night.
Day Three
Hiked up to the summit (2900m) at 3am.
Watched the sunrise at the summit.
Breakfast at the campgrounds.
Hiked down and drove down to Baguio.
Day Four
Baguio Market.
Lunch Buffet.
Drove back to Manila.

Camp Food
My cousins cooking up a storm (in the rain) for dinner! Pasta, Salpicao (Stir-Fried Garlic Beef), and Steamed Rice.

Pancakes & Bacon!

This is a slideshow of pictures I took during the whole weekend:
Get the flash player here:

This is a slideshow of pictures taken at the Baguio Market:
Get the flash player here:

Monday, May 24, 2010

Donsol, Sorsogon

Touring around the Philippines entails a lot of outdoor adventure. A group of my cousins and I took four days off and flew to the south of Luzon. We went to the province of Sorsogon to swim with whale sharks, or as locals call them, "butandings." We filled our four days with adventure and leisure activity.
Day One
Arrived in Legaspi, stopped by for photos of Mt. Mayon, and drove to Donsol. We checked into our hotel and just chilled. It was nice getting away from the city noise and pollution.
Day Two
We got out boats with our guides and swam with about 6 or 7 whale sharks! Then, later at night we got on another boat on a river to check out the fireflies.
Day Three
Woke up early again to get on another boat to go island hopping! What was so beautifully blue and warm! We visited a waterfall and had lunch on our boat by an island. What a day!
Later that night we drove to Gubat for dinner with some family. We enjoyed some fresh local Bicol cuisine. Delicious!
Day Four
Headed home

This is a slideshow of the pictures I took during the trip. I left my camera safe and dry while we were swimming with the whale sharks. These pictures are mostly of Mt. Mayon, our day of island hopping, and of the beautiful sunset.
Get the flash player here:

Note: If you visit Donsol, bring cash! They don't accept credit cards and ATM machines are far away. Be prepared!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Wine Tasting Night Out

A family night out with a couple of my cousins called for some wine tasting. We tried out CAV in High Street in Fort Bonifacio. Food-wise, it was tasty but for the price you can go to Sala or somewhere similar. For wine tasting, this was a fun place to be!

White Wine Flight
Wild Rock "Infamous Goose," Sauvignon Blanc 2008, New Zealand
Beringer, Chenin Blanc, 2008, California
Leconfield, Chardonnay, 2007, Australia
I enjoyed the variety of grapes for this flight. Each wines were delicious with the variety of cheeses and foods that we paired them with.

Red Wine Flight
Chateau St. Jacques, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2004, France
Claymore Graceland, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2004, Australia
Beringer Founders Estate, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2005, California
I nice horizontal taste of Cabernets. My particular favorite of the three was the French Cab.

Cheese Plate
Tete de Moine, Davao Goat Blue Cheese, Goat Cheese
A nice trio of cheeses that brought out the different tastes of the wines.

A nicely fried plate of croquetas. A nice portion to share with the table.

Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Tart
Yum! I love smoked salmon, and this execution on a tart was successful. It paired nicely with the Sauvignon Blanc and the Chardonnay.

Tapas for Merienda

My parents and I had about two hours before we were going to meet up with some family for dinner, but we were already hungry. So, we went to Terry's in Salcedo Village for some tapas for our afternoon merienda (snack time). Overall, everything was very enjoyable but the tapas portions were huge.

Crispy Bacalao
Crispy little puffs filled with bacalao. Fun bites!

Tawilis Adobados
Baby sardines from Taal lake, marinated in Spanish adobo, and deep fried. Another fun order of tapas.

Fabada Asturiana
Beans with chorizo, jamon Serrano, lardoons, smoked black sausage and Spanish saffron. Yum!

Tarta Imperial Rusa
The original Russian tart served during imperial banquets. In the Philippines, where almonds and cognac were not available decades ago, this exceptional dessert was adapted into what they popularly known as Sans Rival. Delicious! I enjoyed this lighter version of Sans Rival.

Tocino De Cielo
My benchmark for tocino del cielo are the multiple orders my family got from a convent in Avila, Spain. Their egg yolks are superb, and it's reflective in their desserts. This order was pretty good, but the flavor could have been more intense and a bit less sweet.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


At this point, I had been away from the states for about three months. My cravings for my usual eats were on the front of my brain. There were some days when I could only think about Sancho's burritos and fish tacos and Prima Deli's Turkey Special, among other local foods from the Bay Area. Even though I knew I might be disappointed, I tried some places around Manila to attempt to satisfy my cravings.

Agave, Fort Bonifacio
My friend and I were both having ridiculous burrito cravings, so we decided to try out Agave. Unfortunately, our cravings were not satisfied.

Bottomless Margaritas
For 295 pesos (just under $7). It came from a pre-blended frozen mix. It was decent, but the taste was too watered down with all that blended ice.

Carnitas Solo Burrito
The burrito did not hit that food spot. It felt too minimal and the tortilla was too stiff. When it comes to burritos, I'm looking for those hearty fillings.

New Orleans Bourbon Street Steaks & Oysters, Fort Bonifacio
A couple of my friends were in town, so I took them to High Street in Fort Bonifacio. It was a nice place to leisurely walk around. We decided on this restaurant because of it's fitting happy hour feel (loud music and appetizers to share). It was pretty good. It's definitely more of a place to drink with a big group, rather than to enjoy the food.

Bloody Mary Oysters
Nice plump oysters on the half shell topped with cocktail sauce.

Fried Artichokes
Thickly coated with batter, but a decent fried dish. I love artichokes.

Steak Fries

Chicken Barbeque Nachos
What a generous order! This was decent, but I found the barbeque sauce to be too sweet (and Filipinos love sweet tasting foods and drinks. Unfortunately, I don't prefer anything to be too sweet for taste and health reasons).

Mickey's Delicatessen, Makati
My parents took me here to for lunch and to purchase some bread and delis. Overall, I enjoyed this place which helped satisfy a little bit of my American sandwich craving.

Nurnberger Pork Sausages
With sauerkraut. The specialty of the house. Nicely grilled sausages!

Home-made Back Ham and Cheese Sandwich
In a french baguette with coleslaw. Yum! A great sandwich with a tasty ham filling.

Anniversary Celebration

My parents' anniversary! When it comes to celebrations in our family, we eat! Actually, when I put it that way, it seems like every day is a celebration. So for extra special days we step it up and eat even more.

Prior to our meal, we visited the Manila Cathedral. This is the only Basilica in the Philippines. If you're in Manila, this is definitely a notable tourist stop.

Located in the Mandarin Oriental. We came here for lunch, and I would recommend this place for lunch. They offer a great "Business Lunch" special in which you have an appetizer buffet, an entree, and dessert.

The Appetizer Buffet
A nice selection of salads, cold cuts, sushi, and more. The highlights for me were the oysters and jamon. I think I got my money's worth with these two items. Yum!

Potted Foie Gras
With seafood and lobster foam. This was an entree, which also could have been an appetizer if served with toasted thinly sliced bread.

Salmon with Fresh Green and White Asparagus
A delicate dish that accentuates the flavors of the salmon and the asparagus. I love white asparagus!

Baked Banana Pouch
A nice ending to the meal. I love the crunch of the phyllo dough with the warm banana filling.

After enjoying Sala Bistro (see post below), we decided to try out Sala. What a great meal! If you're hungry, definitely go for the tasting menu. It's an incredible bargain, especially compared to tasting menus in San Francisco or Manhattan.

The Table Setting
I was kind of overwhelmed as to why they put all the utensils on our table after we ordered. I prefer changing utensils after each dish and not having it all on the table like this.

Amuse Bouche
Parmesan-Pesto Crostini

A Salad of Spice Crusted Tuna and Romesco Sauce
With Crispy Baby Squid, Rocket and Charred Lemon Juice. A nice small starter plate. The presentation was modern and the execution of the dish succeeded.

Ravioli of Portabella Mushrooms, Ricotta, and Thyme
With Parmesan and White Truffle
Wow! The winner of the meal and of the day. I could have a whole plate of these raviolis in truffle sauce. The portabella taste is bold and complements the truffle sauce so well.

Crispy Fried Lobster Tail
On a Truffled Cauliflower Risotto and Bisque Sauce. We asked to have this substitution from the A La Carte Menu. The tasting menu included a grouper fillet, but since we were celebrating we wanted to taste the lobster tail. We made a great choice. Everything on the plate was so tasty.

Braised Kurobuta Pork Cheeks
With Bell Pepper and Potato Hash, Seared Scallops, and Clams. A generous portion for the main meat dish. Another delicious plate.

Warm Chocolate Fondant
Topped with Peanut Butter Ice Cream. A solid warm chocolate cake that successfully oozed out in the middle.