Thursday, September 29, 2011

Tapas at Ciao Baci, Little Rock, AR

Holly wanted to bring me to a place where we could have a nice glass of wine outdoors, and she said the perfect place for this was Ciao Baci. When we got there, the inner dining area was empty but the balcony was packed. We joined everyone else who wanted to enjoy the pleasant weather outside.

We were with her friend Robert and we had a few drinks there. Holly and I shared a bottle of wine while Robert had a few beers. The place offered tapas, so I had their grilled shrimp crostini. This is not a very clear picture of it. The balcony was very dark, and we only had one little bitty candle to light our table.

Grilled Shrimp Crostini

I'm not complaining about the lighting though, since I do prefer dim lights when I'm drinking (my eyes get bothered easily by light when alcohol's involved). Not good for taking pictures though. I liked what I had, although I thought the bread was a little hard. It was pretty toasted so it was very crunchy when I bit into it. I would have wanted it a little less well done.

The place was a bit pricey compared to the other places that Holly has brought me to so far. Maybe there are other (social ?) factors that make it so, but I am no expert to be able to determine this, not being a Little Rock resident. Overall though, I liked the ambience in the place. A good place to chat and share some wine with your friends.

Ciao Baci
605 N. Beechwood St.
Little Rock, Arkansas
United States
Phone: 501.603.0238

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Light lunch at Panera Bread

During certain days of the week, Liz's work at the dental clinic starts at 2:00pm. This means we can have lunch together sometimes during weekdays. We started off a bit early one day so we could start at 11:00am and have a leisurely meal. We went to Panera Bread Cafe to keep it light.

I really like Panera because I associate it with my happy grad school days at Mizzou. My good friend Felicity and I would hang out at the branch of Panera in the university for hours, me with a mug of coffee, Fil with a cup of hot tea with milk and lots of sugar.

So I equate Panera with long hours of chatting with friends, and that's what Liz and I enjoyed. For lunch, I had a bowl of their Broccoli Cheddar Soup which I've always loved. It's so rich and thick, it's hard to believe it's only 300 calories (according to their nutrition calculator).

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Of course, one reason why I only had soup was so I could have something extremely sugary for dessert. I opted for their Chocolate Duet Cookie, which was moist and chocolatey.

Chocolate Duet Cookie

I enjoyed my lunch tremendously, and I'm sure it will be the first of many weekday lunches when I'll be lucky enough to have some bonding time with Liz.

Panera Bread
11300 South Street
Cerritos, California
Tel. No. (562)467.0104

Monday, September 19, 2011

Dome Cake from Purple Oven

The night before I was set to fly to LA to visit my brother and his family, I had dinner at my parents' house with the rest of my siblings and their respective families. It was kind of a despedida for me, but more importantly, it was a pre-celebration of the 8th birthday of my only niece and inaanak (godchild) Trixi.

As I always do when I'm at my parents' house, I overate. But I particularly had way too much of Trixi's birthday cake, which came from Purple Oven, owned by my friend Jack Colet.

Chocolate Dome Cake

It was a chocolate dome cake and this is how it looked after a few slices were cut from it.

Well, what are birthdays for if not to overindulge in cake? Happy birthday Trixi!

Purple Oven
63 Saint Peter Street
Oranbo, Pasig City
Tel. No. 632.631.4221

YMCA Bldg.
Dau Street
Makati City

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Hebrew Cafe, Quezon City

Hebrew Cafe stands where Figaro used to be at Sgt. Esguerra Avenue. I missed Figaro when it closed shop, as it was a convenient place to get some quick pasta and wifi. Now that Hebrew Cafe has taken its place, I don't miss it quite as much.

I like the food in the new place. I particularly like their pasta with shrimp, as well as their sole. The food is reasonably priced too. I think some items were more expensive when they first set up shop, but they've probably adjusted their menu and prices as well.

Some of my colleagues like holding meetings there because there's a smoking area inside the cafe. This can be a downside for non-smokers, of course. But it looks like there are enough smokers for the cafe to make brisk business.

I think a lot of people continue to hold meetings in Hebrew, just like they used to in the old Figaro. This is due to the centrality of its location. (I noticed that a lot of people from different TV stations set their meetings there.)

Sole with Mashed Potatoes

Personally, I like having lunch there by myself. There's not much of a lunch crowd, as it seems more like a place for night owls, so I have the place pretty much to myself at that time.

Hebrew Cafe
Sgt. Esguerra
Quezon City

Monday, September 12, 2011

Quick lunch at Uno

I had lunch with Chi at our usual lunching place, Uno, and it looked like they changed their menu since the last time I was there. They're still probably changing their menu every quarter. I didn't have the lunch special because the pasta choices looked so good. I had their Shrimp, Basil, Roasted Pepper and Feta Cheese Spaghetti.

Shrimp, Basil, Roasted Pepper and Feta Cheese Spaghetti

Nothing new to report, it was delicious as usual (although I would have loved to have more feta cheese in it). We had some creme brulee for dessert but I wasn't able to photograph it as Chi ate it quickly. (hahaha)

Uno Restaurant
195 Tomas Morato cor. Sct. Fuentebella
Quezon City
Telephone no. (02)374-0774

Thursday, September 08, 2011

The Not-So-Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwich of Starbucks

I felt duped today. I was so hungry after a meeting that ended almost 2pm, so I went to Starbucks to see if they had a sandwich that could be heated up very quickly. I was so happy to see a poster on their wall about their "Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwich", so I immediately ordered it.

I got it in around two minutes, then I sat to get down to business. I sliced the sandwich in half and was surprised to see something that didn't look like cheese inside. There were slices of sausage in it, so I asked the barista if that was really how the sandwich is served. Apparently, the Hungarian sausage is what makes it "ultimate".

Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Normally I ask if there is meat in stuff that I order in restaurants, but really, I have never seen a grilled cheese sandwich with anything other than cheese (and butter) so I didn't see the need to inquire. (Also, as I said, I was in a big rush to eat.)

Since I was so hungry, I didn't want to wait to order anything else so I just removed the sausage slices and ate the sandwich. The cheese was good but I still felt so disappointed. I guess I have to be more diligent in asking about meat in food next time.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Trying out the new Sumo Sam at the ABS-CBN Compound, Quezon City

I hadn't seen my friend Irene for a while, so I called her to set a lunch date so we could catch up, mostly on office gossip. We decided on Sumo Sam, the newest restaurant in the ABS-CBN compound. It occupies the space that my favorite Cibo used to (I think I'd been secretly hoping Cibo would come back). We both hadn't tried the new place yet, so we went to check it out.

I'd eaten in Sumo Sam before, just not in this particular branch. For this visit, I ordered their Tendon, which is basically one of those "rice toppings" meals. This one was supposed to have tempura shrimp on top of the rice. When it arrived, I was not surprised to see that there were only two pieces of breaded shrimp on it.

Usually, toppings meals scrimp on the meat and go heavy on the rice. This was no exception, although the sprinkling of tempura bits did a pretty good job of covering it. Since there was so much rice, there was not enough taste to go around. It's a good thing that the server gave me tempura sauce when I asked for it. It went a long way toward improving the taste of the dish.


Irene and I wanted some dessert after our meal so we ordered the Tempura Banana Split. (It seems we couldn't get enough of fried food.) It was all right, but I was a bit disappointed that there were no nuts.

Tempura Banana Split

All told, I was not all that happy with my visit to Sumo Sam. I think that the toppings meal did not offer good value for money (P308 for two pieces of shrimp, before service charge). I will probably still prefer to eat at its neighbor Grams Diner when I find myself in the area.

I do remember that when I ate at another Sumo Sam branch, my friend ordered a noodle dish that I liked, but unfortunately I don't remember what it was. Maybe I'll give the restaurant another shot when I finally figure out what that dish was.

Sumo Sam
ABS-CBN Compound
Eugenio Lopez Drive
Quezon City, Metro Manila
Philippines 1103

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Sunday dinner at Sweet Inspirations

After a tiring afternoon of climbing, I had dinner at Sweet Inspirations, as I often do when I come from PowerUp. The place was packed, probably because of families having Sunday dinner, specifically their very reasonably priced Mongolian Barbecue. I myself have never tried it, because it has a lot of meat. I ordered one of my favorite dishes there, their Aligue and Garlic Pasta.

Aligue and Garlic Pasta

But I also got to try their Pancit Palabok for the first time, which I want to order the next time I'm there. This is motivation enough for me to go climbing again very soon.

Pancit Palabok

I didn't have any dessert though, and this took all of my self-control. I usually order their toffee sans rival before AND after a meal there, so you can just imagine how hard that was for me. Maybe I should just climb more next time so I can justify the calories.

311 Katipunan Avenue
Loyola Heights, Quezon City
Tel. No. 433-4200
Fax. No. 928-2557

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Z cooks Salmon and Potatoes

Z has recently been in the mood to cook, and I am one of those who are benefiting from this. This mood came upon her again this weekend, and she asked me if I wanted to try her salmon and potatoes. I never say no to a free dinner so I went to her place to sample her cooking. She wasn't done preparing the food yet when she arrived, and I was already so hungry, so she told me to fix myself an Okazu salad from her fridge.

While I was waiting, she finished preparing some mushroom soup, and soon after, she served up the salmon with mushrooms, garlic and potatoes. I didn't get to take a photo of the soup because I slurped it up soon after I got the bowl. I was patient enough to photograph the salmon though. This is how it looked after she topped the fish with the potatoes.

Z forgot to put the cheese though, so she melted some and poured it on top of the dish. Yum!

I finished the meal with some Clodhoppers that I found after raiding her fridge. Perfect way to end the meal. My compliments to the chef! I hope Z keeps up this cooking mood. I am always willing to be the taster of her creations.