Sunday, July 23, 2006

Pig-Out at Patio Filipino

Kuya, Liz, Aidan, and I recently went to the Bay Area for a long weekend. The drive (if we had gone non-stop) would have taken seven to eight hours. Because of leisurely eating and shopping breaks (a totally different story), it took us much longer than that. Anyway, our itinerary for the trip included mainly seeing friends and family. Our purpose wasn't really sight-seeing or shopping in San Francisco, though we didn't discount the possibility.

As it turns out, our visit became one food trip after another. We were stuffed full every single day from eating in different Philippine restaurants. There were a lot more good ones in the Bay Area than we were aware of in Southern California. These restaurants were not the usual cafeteria-type Pinoy eateries or grills that are the found in the LA area.

One place we went to was Patio Filipino, a fine dining restaurant featuring Filipino/Spanish cuisine, where we were brought by Kuya's high school friend, Ferdie. We were eight (five adults and three children), and we ordered around eight dishes. I ate a big plate of garlic rice to go with the Bangus Sisig, Crispy Tilapia, and Coco Loco Shrimp (their version of Ginataang Hipon which went perfectly with the garlic rice).

Bangus Sisig

Crispy Tilapia

Coco Loco Shrimp

We were already bursting at the seams after the main course, but we still found some room for dessert (probably in our lungs). We had chocolate cake a la mode; a mango dessert which was made of sylvannas, ice cream, and mango balls in syrup; and a dessert served in buko which had beans and jello (a distant relative of halo-halo). We left this restaurant stuffed virtually to our noses.

I liked Patio Filipino because it was similar to my favorite Filipino fusion restaurants back home. (I always order Crispy Tilapia in a restaurant called Timpla at the ABS-CBN Broadcasting complex where I work.) Fine dining Filipino restaurants are a recent phenomenon in the Philippines, and I'm glad to see it has come to the US (at least California) as well. This is the kind of restaurant that you could take your international friends to, so that they can discover for themselves that there is so much more to Philippine cuisine than adobo, pansit, lumpia, and bagoong.

Patio Filipino
770 El Camino Real
San Bruno, CA 94066

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Fried Fair Food

The Orange County Fair was held for most of July at Costa Mesa. We planned to go one Friday to make my nephew Aidan happy. What kid doesn't like carnivals? For us adults, we were simply looking for an excuse to eat more fair food. So off we went to the OC Fair. The sight of all that cotton candy and pop corn was enough to make one dizzy.

As soon as we got there, we looked for something to eat. In an attempt at eating healthy, Liz and I got some fried zucchini. In the picture on the billboard, this dish was lightly battered then deep fried. In reality, it looked like a corn dog, except that it had zucchini inside. The bread part was soaking in oil since it wasn't fried properly. But, we still proceeded to eat it. This we regretted later because all that oil upset our stomachs. To make ourselves feel better, we decided to eat even more fried food. This time, we made sure it tasted good. So we headed out to eat funnel cake, the food staple of all fairs.

We got the Bavarian Cream variety, and as always, the funnel cake delivered the goods. It's greasy and fattening, but at least you know from the get-go exactly what to expect.

We needed to drink a lot of hot tea when we got home in a desperate attempt to fight the ill-effects of consuming too much fried food. Too little, too late.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Bayadera (Traditional Serbian Chocolate Dessert)

Here's a recipe from my Serbian friend Biljana for a delicious (traditional!) chocolate dessert. I had been pestering her about this recipe since she served it at a party. She recently flew back to Serbia (I don't know when I'll ever see her again, sniff sniff), and as a parting present, she finally gave me this recipe by posting it on her blog. I'm reposting what she wrote here.

"Bayadera; it’s Serbian, delicious and easy to make, so try it out:)

Cook 330g of sugar with a little water (enough to just cover sugar) until it gets sticky and syrupy.
Add 125g of margarine, 150g of ground walnuts and 150g of Graham cracker crumbs. Divide into halves.
In one half add two bars of melted chocolate.
First spread on the tray the dark half (one with chocolate);
on the top of it spread the other half (they should both be between 0.5 and 1 cm).
Top it with the chocolate glaze made by cooking half cup of sugar with two tbsp of milk and 2 bars of chocolate.
Once the glaze is homogenous, add small square of margarine… and ENJOY!!!"

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Turtle Pie at Walt's Wharf

One of the great things about being in California is that the beach is just a short drive away. My sister-in-law, my nephew and I headed off to Seal Beach one lazy Thursday to soak up the sun. Before going to the sand and sea, though, we decided to have lunch in one of the quaint restaurants along Main Street. After strolling up and down the street to check out what each had to offer, we decided to eat at Walt's Wharf Restaurant.

Liz and I both had fish dishes, which we did enjoy, and thankfully, they didn't come in gigantic portions that I've come to expect at American restaurants. The highlight of the meal, though, was dessert. Though we were both stuffed from our meal, we ordered the Turtle Pie. (Had we been less full, we would have asked for two things from the list.) I'm a big fan of Turtle Pie, and this one didn't disappoint. What I liked especially that there was so much caramel. Having a very sweet tooth, I finished it all up. Others would probably find it too sweet, but if you like your sugar, this Turtle Pie will satisfy.

Walt's Wharf Restaurant
201 Main Street
Seal Beach, CA 90740

Friday, July 07, 2006

Charo's Peruvian Cuisine

My Peruvian friend Maria-Ines always brags to me that food from her country is very good. She told me that their seafood dishes are particularly delicious, and that I was sure to enjoy them. Being the geographical moron that I am, I was surprised to hear that Peru is a coastal country (The association with the Andes mountains is probably what threw me off-track). So when I saw that there were several Peruvian restaurants here in Southern California, I told my brother and my sister-in-law that we should go and try it. We went to Charo's Peruvian Cuisine in Long Beach, and ordered different seafood dishes.

Ceviche de Camaron a la Piedra

Macho Pescado

Picante de Mariscos

Among the dishes that we had, the one we unanimously crowned "Miss Universe" was the Macho Pescado, which was pan-grilled codfish. The Picante de Mariscos was very hot, but since we like food that way too, we enjoyed that as well. After such spicy food, we had some dessert. We ordered one that sounded like something our taste buds would be familiar with. Sweet Stephanie, as the dessert was called, was made of Helado de Lucuma, which is house-made tropical fruit ice cream; a crepe with caramel; and some fried bananas. Fried bananas are very common in the Philippines, of course; but what I found interesting in this dessert was that the caramel tasted like our very own "matamis na bao", sometimes called coconut jam.

Sweet Stephanie

I called Maria-Ines to tell her I had tried her much-vaunted Peruvian cuisine. She asked what I thought of it, and I told her it was good. She then said I probably didn't try the right kind of food, because if I did, my answer should have been "Great!"

Charo's Peruvian Cuisine
7563 Carson Blvd.
Long Beach, CA