Chowder at SFO Fisherman’s Wharf

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Clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl is a must try at Fisherman’s Wharf. After a lot of walking around and the cool breeze at Pier 39, the heartwarming soup was just so perfect. The Boudin Bakery makes the best sourdough bread I have ever tasted! This bakery has been operating since 1849 and even has a museum for tourists. For bakers who understand the bread making process, the mother dough starter they are using has been nurtured for over 150 years! That’s a bit of history in every fresh batch of bread. Amazing !!!

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Lodi California Farmers’ Market

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It is a nice and sunny day here in Lodi California. Lodi is located in San Joaquin County, at the northern part of California’s Central Valley. This wine appellation may not be as touristy as Napa and Sonoma, but the area is known for the world’s best Zinfandel. It is home to over forty wineries, including renowned New World wine brand Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi.

Surrounding the vineyards are various agricultural producers. The county supports the “farm to fork” movement by having a Farmers Market every Thursday afternoons at Downtown Lodi. Over 70 vendors showcase their wines, sell local certified farm-fresh produce, summer fruits, vegetables, cheeses and different food specialties. Must try are the Lockeford sausages, Saint Lou ribs, Filipino spring rolls, Dancing Fox bread pudding, and Hummus Heaven.

Here’s a video by Izzy Obieta Lodi Farmers’ Market

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Norwegian meatballs

blog7blg1Norway is home to the Vikings but for me it was more like being in “Barbie” land. The women and men are so attractive with their slim and tall figures, blue eyes and blond hair. During my visit a few years ago, the Oslo weather was pleasant for a trip to Vigelandsparke or Frognerparken to admire the sculptures of Gustav Vigeland.blogn2

I was glad to come during the spring time; I don’t think I could survive the severe winter cold. During this season flowers are in bloom, berries and cherry trees bear fruit; it is a magnificent time to fish for trout and salmon in the lakes and rivers.

blog14The most popular Norse dishes are smoked salmon and cured salmon called gravlaks.  Gravlaks means salmon buried in a curing grave of salt and sugar. It is Norway’s greatest culinary contribution and has become a staple in international buffets all over the world.

blogns1Nature takes center stage in this very scenic country.  Sailing through the Fjords and the experience of lodging in a wooden cabin in the mountains made my holiday unforgettable. The scenery of towering trees on the Scandinavian ridge was just breathtaking!  It would have been perfect if only I could have caught a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis or the Northern lights. Perhaps a reason to return…

The only drawback about Norway is that it is ridiculously expensive for someone like me from the third world.  In Norway eating in restaurants can be quite costly which is probably why Norwegians themselves cook very well. Cecilia’s husband is great in the kitchen; he taught me their family meatballs recipe.

bl3Norwegian meatballs (Kjøttkaker med brunsaus)

500 g                      ground meat ( beef or veal)

100 g                      onion minced

30 g                        bread crumbs

1 pc                        eggs

150 ml                   beer

To taste                salt

To taste                pepper

Dash                      nutmeg

100ml                  clarified or melted butter ( for frying)

For gravy:

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Happy 2010!

2009 was one big adventure and a real blast! Traveled the world, went on a culinary adventure, tasted everything possible, helped save a nation, met so many new people and made new friends, did new things, cooked with love, and loved recklessly!  Loved every minute of 2009…. with no regrets! Life is meant to be lived!  To those who touched my life thank you so much! A happy 2010 to everyone! May you be blessed with the abundance of the universe!

Extreme Cuisine: Palawan’s Tamilok

palawan2Last year I had a wonderful time diving in Coron.  This year I find myself back in Palawan to explore Puerto Princessa.  I realize that three days is not enough to fully experience Palawan. So I have to come back again and next on my check list are beautiful beaches of El Nido.palawan1

In Puerto Princessa  tourism is organized and the city is clean. The locals are environmentally conscious and are very keen on saving the forests, seas, and even practice recycling. In fact there is a P200 fine for littering. I was also surprised to see lamp posts with solar panels.  They are also very active in mangrove and tree planting.

palawan3I asked our guide about the native dishes. Palawan food is all about the bounty of the sea. I tried to get a reservation at Kalui and Badjao Seafood Restaurant, unfortunately a reservation is needed as they were fully booked from tours. I was already feeling fustrated until our guide mentioned I must try “tamilok”.

One thing that intrigued me was that this exotic delicacy is a wood worm that lives in the mangroves. Biologically it is not a worm but classified as a mollusk. The long slimy creatures are cleaned and served raw. It is dipped in vinegar before eating. So after our city tour, my bus-mates and now my new found friends went to Kinabuch restaurant to try  tamilok. Apparently it is a specialty at Kinabuchs Grill and Bar, so things turned out for the best.  Like a dare, we took turns trying it and washed it down with San Migule beer. They looked scary but tasted like long super slimy oysters!

In an urban legend the name tamilok comes from two foreigners who were with the Batak tribe.  The tribesmen were about to eat the “u-od” which means worms in Filipino, and the westerner in astonishment upon seeing the dish called on to his companion “Look! Tommy look!”. The tribesmen thought the white men were the experts  who knew the dish.  So “Look! Tommy look!” became “tamilok” and  thus became the name of the dish. What a funny story! 🙂

Day two was the Underground River tour and day three was our Honday Bay tour. For both tours lunch was served by the beach. They consisted of grilled pork and chicken, salted eggs and tomatoes, cucumbers in vinegar, grilled fish and prawns. And coconut juice served in their husks. At Pandan island along Honday bay we had a real treat!  The fishermen caught lobsters and they were being sold at 500 pesos a kilo (that’s around US$10 or 7 Euros!!! for a kilo for lobsters!!)  and so we bought them and had them for lunch.

Please vote for the Puerto Princessa Underground River. It is now a finalist for the New 7 Wonders .

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Julia Child and my favorite culinary movies

As a rule I never ever bring home work. To relax after a long tiring day in the office I throw my cares away and become a potato chip junkie, sit in (or on )the lazy boy, pop in a dvd, and master the art of becoming a couch potato. I can barely move or budge when I am in this zombie state…. I like to watch chick flicks, epic films, and romantic comedies. I hate horror movies. I have memorized the lines and could watch the “American President”, “Notting Hill”, and “Pretty Woman” over and over again. When it comes to culinary related or inspired movies here are my favorites:

1. Danish film “Babette’s Feast” – this is a real classic that foodies MUST watch
2. German film “Mostly Martha” ( I don’t think the American version “No Reservations” did the original film justice)
3. Ratatouille – this cartoon I recommend to young aspiring chefs to learn more about the kitchen basics
4. The Freshman – A funny film staring Mathew Broderick and Marlon Brando on offering exotic and endangered animals on the menu
5. Chocolat – loved its location in Burgundy France
6. Tortilla soup – American re-make of Ang Lee’s Taiwanese film “Eat Drink Man Woman”
7. Kailangan Kita – Aga Muhlach and Claudine Barretto’s movie on Bicolano Cuisine

I finally got to see the movie “Julie and Julia” last night. Unfortunately it is not on my list of favorites and must watch culinary films. To learn more about the culinary icon I would recommend Food Network’s tribute to 90 year old Julia Child with Wolfgang Puck.

Bouillabaisse in Marseilles

This blog of mine is inspired by National Geographic’s book  “Food Journeys of a Lifetime”. On that book’s list is to have real Bouillabaisse in Marseilles where the dish originated. Cousin Cinnamon was kind enough to drive from Istres to  Vieux Port in Marseilles.  Cin even ordered Rose wine with the dish to complete the experience. Thanks to her I can now say I had real Bouillabaisse in historic Marseilles.

Interesting to know is that the French Chefs signed a charter to define the ingredients of an authentic Bouillabaisse. Rascasse (scorpoinfish), congre(eel), red gurnard, and John Dory fish are the four main ingredients that should be present to consider the dish authentic.  It should also be served with  rouille (a mayonnaise like sauce with peppers or cayenne) on a crust of bread.

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Ice cream in the medieval town of Miramas

Summer in France is 38 degrees! Almost as hot as the tropical Philippine Islands were I come from. So to cool off I am treated to ice cream in the quaint and well persevered medieval town of Miramas.  When I get there I realize why my Italian fashion photographer cousin Alessandro Fuentebella Rabonni loves the place. It is situated on a mountain top and has an outstanding view of Istres and the Mediterranean Sea. My glaces (ice cream) order arrives and it is bigger than a water pitcher. Oh my! It is made up of vanilla, chocolate, chocolate sauce, chantilly (whipped cream historically invented by Chef Vatel), lavender and violet glaces. And for something really French it is topped with Calisson. Heavenly and divine to have during such hot weather… and guess what I finished it!!!!

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A Degustation of French Olive Oils

olive1The South of France is known for their olive oil.  My gourmand aunt brought the family to Saint-Rémy-de-Provence for some olive oil tasting. This was a real treat for me since I teach garde manger in school. One of the topics in that class is learning how to make different kinds of vinaigrette and infused oils. olive2

I have been to quite a number of wine tastings but a degustation of oilve oils was a first for me.  The format was very similar but instead we were given little tasting spoons and pieces of bread so we could sample the eight different concoctions one by one.  First pure olive oil, then we were made to try the infused ones like truffle oil and later the different pulpy and fruity vinagrettes.  Also part of the selection was trying olive, mushroom, and truffle tapenade.

olive3olive5In our family food is taken seriously. Here my nephews  and nieces are starting their gourmet lessons at a very young age.

The markets of Gordes Provence

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Since time in memorial TUESDAY morning is known as market day in Gordes.  Gordes is a very beautiful mountain village located in the area of Luberon in Provence France. The village has a castle and the view from the mountain top is fantastic! In the surrounding plains below one can get a glimpse of the beautiful lavender fields, olive trees orchards, and the vineyards. The lavender fields were already harvested when I arrived in August to my disappointment. However market day compensated for upon see all the produce and food products…. I felt like I was in culinary heaven!!!

gordesMarket day with Jude Orlino, Alessandro Rabboni, Serena Sabatini, Cinnamon and Axelle Van Besauw, Francesca Rabboni, Flavio, Gian Pa0lo Rabboni with Jennifer, Elsja Borromeo and kids, and Jay Orlino at the cafe and location of Russel Crowe’s movie “A Good Year” was filmed in Gordes. (Cedric and Jasmine Van Besauw, Sam, Claire Proctor were also with us but not in the picture.  Sadly group photo was taken by fashion photographer Jackie Borromeo, the summer before he passed away.  )

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