Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Food & Art at Silya't Sili

If you regularly pass Katipunan Ave., White Plains in Quezon City, I'm sure you've seen the sign board of Silya't Sili. We pass the area only occasionally but the green and bold red color of the sign, plus the intriguing combination of silya (chair) and sili (chili) puzzled us - what is the connection of the two, save for both starting with the letter "s"?

So we gave in to our curiosity and visited the place one lunch time. We were at first apprehensive since we're not sure if it's a restaurant or a furniture shop. Unlike other restos, it doesn't have the feel of being in a glass aquarium that most often make costumers look like goldfish.

Once inside, it evokes a classy elegance that doesn't come handy anymore these days - there are no shouting food servers that greet you with "WELCOME MA'AM-SIR" at the top of their voice. Instead, a plain 'Good morning ma'am/ sir' from the staff is enough. And the paintings - oh, the paintings. Big, small, and huge decorate the walls - some are modern, others are post-modern!

As we sat, we admire also the chairs - simple and elegant. Indeed, the place evokes a feeling of being in a fine-dining resto.

When we checked the menu, we understood instantly the odd combination of "Silya't Sili" - the owner of the restaurant also loves to 'play' with chili - either to add an 'umph' to simple dishes, or to simply put a little 'red color' in a rather bland brown-colored "sisig."

The price range is also very friendly! For instance, we hosted a meeting in the resto for 15 people, and ordered 3 chicken teriyaki, 3 grilled pusit, 3 binagoongan-lechon kawali, 3 veggie curry, 3 okra salad, 3 sisig, 2 fish sinigang, 3 fried fish, adobo rice for sharing, bagoong rice for sharing, and plain rice, and bottomless iced tea/ lemonade - and guess how much was our bill? P9,000 only - that's just about P600 per head (and we did brought home a loooot of left-overs). The place has two function rooms that can accommodate 15 and 20, respectively - and the room can be used for a minimum of P5,000 consumable, for 3 hours)

My favorite, thus far, is the veggie curry (crispy and very flavorful), lechon kawali-binagoongan (sinfully delicious), kare-kare (all beefy-meaty goodness), chopseuy (crispy veggy, just as we like it). The adobo and bagoong rice are also good. In fact, all the dishes we've tasted so far are good - kudos to the cook! It's definitely one of our favorite resto at the moment.

Silya't Sili is along White Plains, QC (near David's Saloon). Visit their website at http://silyatsili.com/
A painting of a praying girl at Silya't Sili
Blog written by Apple

Friday, November 4, 2011

Today's Menu at Pinggan

Before going to school I usually take my lunch at Pinggan which is located at Mapagkawanggawa St, Teacher's Village, QC. Pinggan is a popular eatery - "turo-turo" style - of employees from NHA, QC City Hall, Hilti and nearby NGOs. The price of the food is very reasonable and it's a resto where you can eat really "lutong bahay" dishes. Price ranges from P35.00 (Veggie) to P70.00 (Pork/Beef). Pinggan's all time favorites include the lechon kawali, lumpiang shanghai, lumpiang ubod and the patatim. Read an earlier blog about Pinggan. Here are my favorites at Pinggan.

Lumpiang Shanghai

Ginataang Langka

Beef Steak

Lechon Kawali: A Best Seller

Sweet & Sour Fish Fillet
Crispy Dilis

Chicken Adobo sa Gata


Sunday, October 30, 2011


Happy Halloween to everyone. This is the time where kids love to frighten themselves with ghost stories - a white lady who haunts taxi drivers during the night, skeletons walking at the corridor, eerie sounds from a dark alley, the piano playing by itself and the lights turning on and off by themsleves...... spooky, scary, creepy, hair-raising - these are terms used to describe these ghost stories.

In our house, we also a have very scary experience ... there is a cute little girl whose head moves from one body to another. Once she was a mommy and the other day she became a daddy. It's really frigthening to see the headless body ..... and the head of the little girl ...... awoooooooo!

It was Julia's idea to take these photos using trick photography. With a pretty face like Julia's, I'm sure halloween will not be scary but merry! Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Meaty Curacha of Zamboanga

In a recent trip to Zamboanga City, a gracious (magnanimous, I should say) friend sent us loads of curacha and lapu-lapu. Lapu-lapu is all to familiar to us Manila-based folks so let me tell you about la curacha.

The Spanish term for cockroach (which I abhor from the depths of my being), I think the curacha doesn't deserve the unflattering name. The curacha is a sea crab specie which can be found in the waters of Zamboanga. This crustacean is like 'crab-leveled-up.' Outside, you'll see a pagong-like (turtle-like) appearance but with tentacles. Andy describes it like the predator in the alien movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The alien look of the curacha

Meaty Curacha!

Once you remove the 'gigantic' cover, what appears is like the regular crab except that the shell is harder (I had to use a knife to cut the body in the middle). The tentacles also have less meat. The curacha-meat is like crab-meat but firmer. The taste is also similar but i'd say it has more texture as the strands of meat are thicker (more like crab-meat has hair-like-strands, while curacha-meat has crochet-thread-like-strands). It also has loads of aligue (crab fat) that I had to literally restrain Andy from devouring all of it (it's his super fave!)

The "aligue" - Andy's favorite
What can I say - we had bulging tummies and satisfied palates after the experience!
by Apple

The World of Pan De Amerikana

It's an inverted world at Pan De Amerikana
When you go to Pan de Amerikana along White Plains Ave., it is like visiting Alice's Wonderland (local version). Outside, the facade is an inverted house, with the corresponding inverted car and table and chair set. Once you're in, you'll find more colorful chairs and tables - at the ceiling!

The place is refreshing and cozy. There are a lot of plants and recylcled ceramic decorations (even the toilets are peppered with broken ceramic designs). The ceiling is high and there are a lot of open windows, making it energy efficient.

Now comes the food - they are ultra affordable. Where can you find a restaurant with a price range of P20.00 to P200.00? Steamed vegetables like the okra we ordered was P20.00. Their bangus belly sinigang was P80.00; pinakbet at P30; caldereta at P60. The sisig was P145.00. Brewed coffee is P20; turon langka at P20. Pan de Amerikana is like a classy carinderia that offers good "lutong bahay" food at very reasonable price.

No wonder parking is hard - patrons troop here for that eat-out-pig-out experience that's not hard on the pocket.

Food and Coffee at Pan De Amerikana

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Coffee Mates: Pandesal, Ensaymada and Empanada

Drinking coffee in the morning perks you up; but  having a good coffe-mate makes it even more exciting.  That's especially true if these 'mateys' include the all-time favorites - hot pandesal, warm ensaymada, and crunchy empanada!   

The pandesal from Pan de Amerikana is the first in our books.  For P6.00 you get a 4"x 3"x 2" soft and moist and chewy pandesal. It's even better when toasted and eaten with  your favorite butter or cheese...hmmmm .....yummy.
Ensaymada is one of the kids' favorite for snack or breakfast. Mom's manyaman (tasty) ensyamada at Trinoma is a discovery. The bite size ensaymadas are pillowy-soft, creamy,  and cheesy. They also have queso de bola ensaymada which we have to try.
Finally, the empanada.  At Magiting St., UP Teacher's Village, Diliman,  just opposite "Ate Fe's" corner restaurant/ carinderia (which is the subject of another blog entry :-)  at Maginhawa St.,   we discovered a new stall called Empanada Avenue (just beside the 24 hour grocery store) which sells empanadas with various fillings - beef, pork, asado, chicken, and tuna.  Of course, it is not your gourmet empanada, but for its affordable price, this empanada is already good but not as good as the empanada of  Gateau de |Manille.  We've tried the pork, chicken and tuna, and....they all taste the same! (magical :-)    But really, this empanada  is very filling, and served to you hot/ newly cooked.  

So, next time your coffee looks forlorn, try these 'mates' - it gurantees not only to wake you, but to also fill your grumbling tummy.  :-) 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Exploring Nuvali! We got "Pig Out!"

Nuvali. We've heard that it's a nice place. Last Septmber 4 (Sunday), we trooped to the place, ready to explore.

We were in awe with the hundreds of kois in the pond! Fish food pellets are available for P15/small pack and the fish just gorge them - literally. They would swim (looks more like swarming, though) to the food as soon as the pellet touches water. You can really prove that Darwin's law is true - it is really the survival of the fittest! Seeing how the fish eat, we got hungry ourselves, so off we go to "Pig Out" to have lunch - the place was recommended by friends (and also by a famous food blogger). We were really excited to go to Pig Out! As a matter of fact we had a plan a week before to eat here but the plan did not push through because of the typhoon. Before entering the resto, we had a photo infront of the place expecting an enjoyable dining experience.

However, our Pig Out! experience was not pleasant. First thing we noticed was the food was a bit pricey - barbeque at P110 a piece, 2 pieces fried chicken at P220, mongo bean soup at P85 per (small) bowl, eggplant dip at P145, rice for sharing (good for 3) P105, coke in can P65, and a glass of iced-tea at P75. But hey, if the taste is good, who'll complain?

But then, there were a lot to complain about. First was the service. The table next to us, who just finished ordering when we were seated, have already finished their meals before our food arrived. Among us, Geof is actually the most gracious and patient when it comes to restaurant eating (he always gives the restaurant the benefit of the doubt every time we complain about something), so in my world, when Geof complains re restaurant service, you have to take notice. And he complained twice! ("is the food not yet here?" "what's taking them too long to cook?") When it finally arrived, I asked for table napkins. The attendant, using his wet hands (with motorcycle gloves), handed us a bundle of tissues --- Eeeeewwww!!! Talk about cleanliness, manners, and sanitation! I had to rummage the middle part of the tissue bundle since the outside parts have all the wet finger imprints on them!!!!
The barbeque sticks were small (I think it's just twice the size of the sticks we get at UP stalls whose price range is only between P15 to 20 per stick). It doesn't look anything like the huge picture in the menu. The mongo soup has alukbati leaves on it - but the leaves were uncooked!! The soup they served us was lukewarm, and obviously the alukbati leaves were dropped when the soup is no longer boiling hot - they were as fresh as the morning sun!
But the fried chicken really blew our top. When I cut the chicken, fresh blood ooze from inside both pieces! (How hard is it to cook fried chicken? The Mcdo chicken is way much better in terms of taste and preparation! What kind of chef would serve something without checking if it's cooked?) We complained, obviously, so the attendant took the chicken, and returned after about 15 minutes, with the same two pieces chicken, re-fried!!! The color is no longer golden brown, it's deep brown. The outside and the inside are not juicy anymore, they were tough and dry. I wanted to complain again, but my kids just went ahead and ate - they were realllllly hungry after all the waiting. And personally, I just want to get out of the place ( I was mad and I don't want to give the manager a dressing down and spoil the mood of everyone - after all, it was supposed to be a happy family outing).

We got out of the place (still hungry), and robbed of P1,100 for food that is way, way, way (WAY) below our expectations - and I hope whoever owns "Pig out" reads this! (And never give us the excuse "bad timing" - cleanliness and food quality are non-negotiables in the food business! We were pigged-out! Na-"baboy" kami.Obviously this will be our first and last visit at Pig Out!).

But enough of that. There were other things we did that redeemed our stay at Nuvali - the boat ride was a joy, especially for Julia, and Geof's 1st attempt at planking allowed us to forget our horrible lunch experience. The ice cream at "Crisostomo" was a delight - it's thickness and creaminess remind me of the ice cream I enjoy growing up in Malabon. In all, it was a good trip and refreshing because of the wide and green environment (save for the torture we had during lunch). There are other restaurants at Nuvali which I believe can give good service and food - Conti's, Crisosotomo, Nature's Trail, Domo Tomo, Brothers Burger, Yellow Cab . According to the Nuvali website, there is a wildlife and bird sanctuary - but we never attempted to go there because of the heat. Nuvali should offer more attractions - like a butterfly park/ zoo, go-cart rides, kite flying areas, museum and other things that a family can enjoy doing together.

PS: Because we were still hungry after our Nuvali trip, we stopped by at the Paseo de Sta. Rosa and ate at Kanin Club. Wow, we feasted on pancit canton, toron and banana con yelo. Our Sta. Rosa trip was redeemed! We went home satisfied. LOL!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Mommy's special pasta

"Kesong Puti Pasta" - my version :-)
I had a dinner date with friends at LA Cafe in Timog QC. Among the food we gorged, I mean ate, is the "kesong puti (cottage cheese) pasta" that, according to the waiter, is the late Doreen Fernadez's favorite. And indeed, it was really nice - it has a taste so finesse, you can savor each of the ingredients in your palate - fresh cherry tomatoes, kesong puti, and basil leaves. The simplicity of the flavor lingered in my palate-memory (if there's such a thing) that I've attempted to imitate it.

Instead of cherry tomatoes, I used the big, plump tomatoes (those as big as apples), and instead of just kesong puti, I added mozzarella (for the simple reason that the kesong puti you get from groceries are too madaya (cheats) - it looks big, but it's actually just the banana-leaves' wrapping that's bulky. The actual cheese you see once all the wrappings are removed are too small, you can perhaps fill 4 small pandesals (Pinoy buns) with it. (I later discovered that the Nestle cottage cheese taste almost the same, and with the same price you get more cheese, and its shelf-life lasts longer.)

Preparing (my imitation) is actually easy.
1. Heat olive oil, then add crushed garlic - the amount of garlic depends on how much garlic-ky you want your pasta.
2. Once the garlic's in (maybe after 20 seconds) - don't let it brown - add the sliced tomatoes. For 300g (spaghetti) pasta, I use about 1/2 kl of tomatoes (you can also use ordinary tomatoes). Add a dash of salt (adjust according to your taste)
3. When the tomatoes are cooked and saucy (the skin easily peels from the meat), add the cheese and basil. Allow it to boil for about 30 seconds (1 minute max) only, since the cottage cheese, when cooked, melts and sticks to the pan. You don't want that, you want the cottage cheese to retain its texture and taste. As I've mentioned, I've added mozzarella in my first attempt.

Voila - my kids loved it! (see picture above)

In succeeding attempts, I've been more adventurous. Once, I made it with 4 different cheese - cheddar, mozzarella, Colby's (Anchor/New Zealand), and cottage cheese; on another occasion, I added canned tuna (see picture below).

"Tuna Pasta"
Now, whenever my kids feel like eating pasta on any (special) occasion, they'd alway request for "Mommy's special pasta..." aaahhhh, music to my ears :-)

PS: Daddy likes Spanish sardines pasta (we tried it at Mary Grace Cafe) .. maybe I will try it soon ....

Blog written by Apple

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Landscapes by Lola Cons

Lola Cons loves painting flowers. Remember her paintings which I dubbed "Flores de Mayo." Recently, Lola Cons has ventured into painting landscapes. When I saw this painting of a church, the strokes and colors reminds me of Van Gogh's landscape paintings. Posted below are some of her landscape paintings - a mountain and a waterfall.




Monday, August 29, 2011

Surprising Mambukal (Bacolod)!

I was in Bacolod for the Negros Occidental-Oriental leg of a research project. On the last day of our stay, our host toured us in Mambukal resort. I've been to Bacolod so many times, and heard of Mambukal since 1987 (my first trip to Bacolod), but this is the first time I've really appreciated Mambukal.

The resort boast of a natural spring water pool, sulphuric hot bath, butterfly farm, water falls, rapids, and hot mud (off-limits, of course). Let the pictures speak for themselves. Next time you're in Bacolod, try and visit Mambukal. The best part? Entrance fee is only P30. :-)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Pork! Glorious Pork at TRES Resto (The Block - SM City)

This will blow your mind -- Binagoongang Lechon Kawali for only three pesos!!? Ain't that something! Actually, that's what captured our attention. We entered the restaurant "Tres," hoping for a pleasant surprise. And boy, did they ever gave us one!
The ambiance of the restaurant, located at the ground floor of SM North EDSA-The Block, attempts to recreate an old-Philippine house. The walls are decorated with checkered colored-glass window panes. The chairs and tables are solid wood. On the second-floor/ mezzanine, small picture frames that peppered the walls contain sceneries in the country-side. And I really like the attempt to re-create a feeling of being in the 2nd level of the house by having a real 'window' that allows people to see what's happening on the 1st level. And the waiters were all wearing (wow!) white, crisply pressed long-sleeved tops (unlike other restos that have gone too modern with their multi-colored uniforms, or have fallen in love with everything black). So far, so good. I like the atmosphere.
Now, on to the most exciting part: Eating!
We ordered Ginataang Crispy Hito, Sinigang Pork Spareribs, and Binagoongang Lechon Kawali for the main course, and Banana-Ube Turon with Langka Sauce for dessert. Julia had her favorite ripe mango shake, and Geof his usual ice tea.

The Crispy Hito was filleted to bite-sized bits, crisp-fried, topped with fried garlic, and served with the gata sauce and kamote chips on the side. The bite-size boneless fish fillet was really friendly to kids (and adults who always get trapped with fish-bones). The gata-sauce was also good - you can enjoy the richness of the gata without getting the feel that it's too milky-rich (hindi nakaka-umay).

Then the Pinoy favorite, the glorious Sinigang Pork Spare-ribs! The sinigang soup was thick as the gabi (taro) was pureed and mixed with the pork soup - it thus creates that nice feel in your tongue as the taro adds texture to the soup's salty-sour taste. The pork ribs were also generously served. I just wish they put more veggies in the Sinigang. But nevertheless, we were very pleased with this dish.

Then the Binagoongang Lechon Kawali. There were only four crispy strips of it (hey, i'm not complaining, it only cost me P3.00!) and Geof got most of it so I only got to taste a tiny bite. The crunchiness was great, but the sauce feels and taste like the sauce in the Ginataang Hito. Maybe the chef got confused??? or maybe they need to innovate more as regards the sauce of this dish.

In all, we were happy with the main course. So happy that I got adventurous to order the banana-ube turon with langka sauce. Well, it didn't disappoint. The mix of ube and banana wrapped together and fried was a delight. It was a bit too sweet, though. And I wish the langka sauce has more langka taste to it.

What delighted me also was Julia's mango shake served in a very tall glass, it feels like having two servings of mango shake!

Indeed, pork lovers will enjoy the special and unique dishes of Tres (which we noticed centers on the lechon). Maybe on our next visit at Tres, we will try Sinigang na Lechon, Lechon Rice, Crispy Kare-Kare, Pinakbet with Bagnet or Dinuguang Lechon Kawali.

Warning: Eating too much pork is not good for your health. When at TRES, ignore this warning and enjoy.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Museo Pambata: Where Kids Learn & Adults Become Kids

We met the family of a co-student at Nagoya University (Japan), Lanie and her son, Yosh and her niece at the Children's Museum (Museo Pambata) located at Roxas Blvd. cor. T.M. Kalaw. The day was fun and educational for the kids. Julia and Yosh enjoyed playing at the theme rooms and worked with various interactive exhibits. The kids entered a giant mouth maze and discovered how food is digested. Julia and Geof learned that the intestines are so long. At the exhibits about "Old Manila", Geof listened to narrations about our national heroes like Andres Bonifacio. They rode on a tranvia - an old mode of transportation in Manila. There were exhibits about how to protect our environment and posters about young Pinoy heroes.

This was our 2nd time to visit the museum. The first time was four years ago when Julia was about two years old. The museum then has more attractions then. Now, it seems tat some rooms need renovation. The museum is a good alternative to parks and malls. I hope the City of Manila will maintain the facilities and improve the exhibits so that they can be at par with the Science Museums at Hong Kong and Singapore. It would be nice if they have  a Jollibee or McDo nearby or even inside the compound - I am sure their entrance sales will increase.
Geof and Apple
"Ang haba naman ng bituka natin ...."
Yosh and Julia had fun at MP!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Day at La Mesa Ecopark

La Mesa Ecopark is a 33 hectare public park which was developed by ABS-CBN and MWSS to create public awareness on the protection and preservation of the La Mesa watershed. At La Mesa Ecopark, each member of the family can enjoy varied outdoor activities. La Mesa Ecopark boasts of the following facilities:  (a) Five hectares of picnic spots with grilling facilities underneath a forest of varied trees, (b) Salt Water Swimming Pool –  Salt granules are used instead of chlorine making the water safer and less toxic, (c) Superferry Boating Lagoon, (d) Fishing Lagoon where you can relax while waiting to catch a fish, (e) Mountain Bike Trail  where you can test your biking skills under the shade of trees.  (f)Shell Flower Terraces – Two hectares of flower terraces, (g) Ecomuseum – A museum dedicated to environmental education and biodiversity conservation, (h) Butterfly Trail and Hatchery – An educational walk through the wonderful, colorful world of butterflies, (i) Various pavilions for rent for private functions and overnight camping facilities.

We visited the ecopark with the family of my balikbayan sister, Cosette last July 23, 2011. We were fortunate that time - it was a sunny day, the rain came just before we left. It was a relaxing day for us. We held a mini-picnic of fishballs, chicharon and chips. The kids - Geof, Julia and Anne Marie - enjoyed biking. Joey, who love nature, exhausted his energy taking pictures of flowers, trees and plants. We climbed the stairs to view the La Mesa Dam reservoir - Joey lost a lot of calories - that's why he has to refuel during our lunch at Kanin Club, UP Technohub. The park was too big and we were not able to see the other attractions. But the short encounter with nature made our day.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Mouse Clicks: Short Stories by Geof

In 2008 during the summer break, we asked Geof to write short stories as an alternative activity to playing computer games.  Geof was nine years old then and he wrote short stories with a mouse as his main character. He wrote three stories then. And his first story below is my favorite. I named his collections as "Mouse Clicks." 

The Mouse Who Wanted Everything

By Jan Geoffrey S. Oreta

Once upon a time, there lived a mouse who wanted everything. His name is Selfish and he wanted everything in the whole world……..especially cheese and cheese chips so, he went out of his mouse hole to get all of the cheese.

First, he went to the cheese company to get all of the cheese he can find so he asked them where the cheese is. But all the cheese makers screamed because of selfish the mouse. So they ran out the building. Ha! Ha !Ha! laughed Selfish the mouse. Now I can get all the cheese in the company. So he started to get all of the cheese in the factory with a forklift.

He got all of the Swiss cheese then, cheddar chips. After that, Selfish began stealing more cheese and cheese chips. But he wondered how he can bring all of the cheese and cheese chips……….AhA! he cried. I have a brilliant idea! first I will get a truck and put the cheese and cheese chips inside! So that’s what he exactly did. He called all of his friends to the cheese company and drove the truck. When they arrived, one of them asked what to do………finally, he shouted drive the truck you @$$&*%!!!!! So they all ran to the truck to put all the cheese inside the truck. The strongest mouse and then the weakest mouse put the cheese inside the truck. Selfish was pleased with all of the cheese and chips. Faster my dear friends! we have to work faster before the people come here and attack us. So that’s what they did. They worked faster and faster until they heard the car of the chief arriving. They were so scared they hid all around the company. It was Selfish’s turn to hide but he can’t find a place to hide. There where mice everywhere hiding in the machines, tables and chairs. Finally he found a hiding place and it was………….Inside the chief’s car! He hid in the trunk of the chief’s car. Ahhhhhh it felt safe. Inside but not for long………….because the chief is about to get his bag inside the trunk! But Selfish had enough time to escape because the chief had to go to the bathroom to p**p so Selfish opened the zipper of the bag and escaped out of the car. He went back to the cheese company to tell his friends to escape out of the company.

So that’s what he exactly did. He told his friends: let's escape my friends! So all of his friends escaped out of the building before the cheese company’s chief could get out of the bathroom door and scream like a girl. The chief was still p**ping. When Selfish finally made it to his mouse hole, he cannot fit all the cheese in his hole. There was too much cheese wasted. Now he just learned his lesson. Never be “Selfish.”