Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Look Where Yummy Took Us For Lunch

I make a terrible food blogger!  Every time I make an attempt to write a post about a fabulous hole in the wall resto that we just discovered, alas, there are no food photos to go with the article!  I just happen to be the mother of the three most starved children this side of the universe. :)  Their hands dig in the moment the plate is put down.  And let's be honest here, what's a food post if there are no mouth-watering photos to match the narrative.  

Take the absence of visuals on my AmoRoma Ristorante Italiano blog post, for instance.  No amount of enticing text can stand up to a lip-smacking, delectable photograph.   The post did manage to convince a few friends to give it a try.  But I am sure a lot more people would have wanted to try it out had we not been the gluttons that we are and took a few minutes off to manage some photo op with the food. :)

When I learned that Yummy Magazine had arranged for me and my family to dine at Mr. Jones, I decided straight-away that I should do a post about this much-celebrated modern art-deco diner, if only to scrutinize if they are indeed deserving of all the exposure and hype.  I have a very poor memory (blame it on an appendectomy and three c-sections) so I had planned to photo journal everything, taking notes and photos as the meal progress.  Which would have been convenient - if I remembered to lug along the D90 with me.  

In its absence, I decided my Nokia camphone would do.  I had used it before to take photos for a blog post with satisfactory results.  So I clicked away while we waited for our orders to arrive.  The place has a retro vibe to it; highlighted by a vintage jukebox in one corner and zebra printed couches.  There are several huge cookie jars on display above the cashier stand which contain an assortment of toys typically found in your neighborhood sari-sari stores:  yo-yo's, pick-up sticks, jack stones, et al.  My kids were delighted to be offered a pick of any of the selections, and they hurriedly took it up with pleasure. 

B ordered the tomato soup, which arrived with a cheese and watercress micro-greens panini on the side.  She found the tomato too tangy for her taste, and quickly shoved the plate away.  I guess everyone found something wrong with it that after doing the rounds in our table it was left alone, which allowed me to take a photo unhurriedly.

Right about the time when the server puts the second platter on our table, an order of Truffled Mac and Cheese, six stubby hands go right in.  They loved this grown up and sophisticated version of Mac n’ Cheese with three kinds of macaroni, bacon, four cheeses, Portobello mushrooms, and with a generous drizzle of truffle oil on top.   Here is one hand reaching out for seconds, accidentally taking a swipe at my arm while I was clicking the shutter button ..... sorry for the blurry pic.

And then my camphone ran out of battery...

Still, having no photos is no excuse not to enjoy our meal, especially if it's one that we didn't have to pay for. :)  Our server was right when she said that the Tapa and Garlic Overload is one of their popular dishes.  And rightly so!  The thin slices of beef topped with crisp garlic chips was soft to the bite and very flavorful.  It is served with your preferred style of eggs, garlic rice and atchara. 

The bechamel sauce of the Melted “Old Bay” Crab and Dory Thermidor is too annoyingly creamy that it overpowered the crab and fish.  Will not order again.   

Two Dogs in Bed, 2 wienerli franks sandwiched in a hotdog bun with sauerkraut, sweet relish, fresh onions, wholegrain mustard, ketchup, jalapeno peppers.  French fries and coleslaw served on the side.  This is something that I think I can easily do at home so I am not really impressed.  The key to replicate this dish is to get the franks from a reputable delicatessen. 

For dessert, the kids agreed to get the Blueberry Lemon Ricotta Pancakes,  5 layers of  absolute goodness served with powdered sugar, candied lemon twists, whipped cream, maple syrup and whipped butter. 

The servings are true to the tradition of American diners which allows for sharing.    A free dessert is also dished up if you pay using a partner credit card.  

Just for the Truffled Mac and Cheese, this place deserves another visit!

Mr. Jones 
Greenbelt 5, Legaspi St., Legaspi Vill.
Makati City, Metro Manila
(02) 501-3682 to 83

Friday, August 27, 2010

Yummy Cooking Demo

If you are in the Quezon City area on August 28, 2010 and have nothing better to do you might be interested to join Yummy magazine's cooking demo at  Landmark Trinoma.

Scholastic Clearance Sale

My family LOVE books!  Just look at our partial collection here.   We do not favor a particular genre, every topic is interestingly devoured.  Read this and know what is one of my favorite things to do on a lazy afternoon. :)

The kids have their own library, almost as big as mine, which is also full of books, most of them with worn out pages.  We do not mind indulging them with purchases of new ones as the books inspire the kids to get creative, like right here.

When they were younger I remember the kids loved the adorable "If You Give"  series...

Geronimo Stilton is also another well-loved series...

And, when we go out, we usually make a stop at our favorite bookstore before finally heading home.

So, it is only but natural for me to be excited in sharing with you about this fantastic book sale by Scholastic! This will be August 27-30 and September 1-2, 2010 at their warehouse in Pasig.  

Discount on books can go up to 75% off! Imagine buying a book as low as P30 only!  The selections available include best-sellers, award winning titles, past season items, stock-outs, samples, and display copies.  What's more they also offer Bag-All-You-Can at P495.00 or  Box-All-You-Can at P1,495.00

Here is how to get there:
1st Scholastic Clearance Sale 2010
August 27-30, Sept. 1-2, 2010
Friday to Monday, Wednesday to Thursday
8 am to 8 pm
Scholastic Warehouse
No. 70 C. Raymundo Avenue,
Rosario, Pasig City
Telephone Numbers: 900-1537; 628-4487
Mobile Number: 09175804784
Email address: scholasticbookfairs@scholastic.com.ph

Monday, August 23, 2010

Food Around The Globe

Ever since my kids can eat table food, we have always encouraged and exposed the kids to try a variety of food.  When we go to restaurants, we order “adult food” and do not go out our way to order kiddie fare for them.  As a result, they have developed quite mature taste buds, and they embrace the world's diverse cuisine as their own. It's not inconceivable, and in most days when I have the time, it would seem that they are traveling the world for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Eating Polish kielbasa and Filipino tapa for breakfast; Persian beef keema and Indian curried vegetables for lunch; Italian pasta for mid-afternoon snacks; and for dinner, a bowl of hot Korean miyeok-kuk (seaweed soup), Japanese beef teppan and mung beans.

When they were much younger and not able to properly verbalize their preference, I never understood why they would be the only kids not excited to see fried chicken and sweet-tasting Filipino style spaghetti frequently served at kiddie parties.   It wasn't until J was about 7 when she asked me why the spaghetti served at birthday parties doesn’t taste anything like our home-made marinara sauce.   I had to explain Italian style marinara sauce vis-à-vis Filipino sweet-style.  And so now she knows that not all tomato sauce are equal.  She has become a tomato sauce snob.  Preferring hers to have the full flavors of Italy, it used to be courtesy of my handy and ever reliable McCormick Gourmet Collection Italian seasoning. But ever since I started growing my own herbs,  I now always use the fresh ones from my own pots.

From Italy, the kids love pasta al pesto Genovese, cacio e pepe, aglio e olio. 

Japanese is another favorite cuisine with Beef Sukiyaki, Kani Sushi and California Maki Roll ranking high on the family's list of fave food.  So much so, that on a recent birthday celebration the party provisions was fused with some Japanese platters.

Long before I discovered Mario Batali’s recipe for Pasta Cacio e Pepe, B was already eating her pasta that way.  I remember we were invited to go on a play date and when snacks was served, she would not let the host put tomato sauce on her pasta, emphasizing, “just parmesan cheese would do, thank you”.  At that time,  I did not even know there was an Italian name for it… Cacio e Pepe.
Mario Batali's Pasta Cacio e Pepe (Pasta with Cheese and Pepper)
olive oil
dried pasta
butter or olive oil
Pecorino Romano cheese, finely grated
finely ground black pepper
dash of salt, to taste

In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over high heat until it is almost smoking. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in the boiling water according to the package directions, until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving the cooking liquid, and add to the saute pan with the oil. Add the butter and toss over high heat 1 minute. Grate plenty of cheese and black pepper over, add salt if necessary and serve immediately.

Happy Cooking!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Fashion For Less For The Li'l Fashionista

I have noticed of late that the li'l lady and li'l girl have been increasingly asking to frequent Zara, much too often for my comfort.  I try to make sure that the shopping jaunts are well-timed during SALE season... nay, make that the first day of SALE season.  It's best to cut off the shopping addiction before the claws dig itself too deep.  :)
The little lady has been looking high and low for a pair of jeggings in black and washed-up denim.  What serendipity to find the last pair available in the whole store was her size, and discounted at only Php 500?  When I first heard the term, I threw up one eyebrow high up in the air as I could.  What the....?  Just when I thought skinny jeans could not be any skinnier, fashion throws jeggings right at me.  Tsk! Tsk! :)

If you've been a long-time reader, then you must have heard of J's minor issue with shoes.  She is a shoe addict whose shoe cabinet strongly rivals mine.  Her collection of Havaianas flip-flops alone puts mine to shame.  Her love of shoes has led me to call her octopus lady.  Whenever she begs for a new pair, I always come up with, "Why do you need a new pair for?  How many feet have you got?"  We always end up laughing.

She particularly loves the designs from Steve Madden.  While we now have the same shoe size and can make several shoe purchases more cost-efficient, I am not particularly fond of the idea of sharing shoes.  Sadly, even with her lady-sized feet, she is still a spunky little girl who loves to skip and run.  

Her feet grows at an amazing rate, too, that buying an expensive pair doesn't really make it worth it.  Yet, who knows, at the rate she wears her shoes, they might be worn out even before she outgrows them. :)  So bye-bye Steve Madden; hello, Target!  

My online cart at Target is filled to overflowing with shoe boxes for my two girls.  Most of the collection offered are very similar to department store brands, but at very affordable prices.  I have made a "Fashion for Less"  spread below.  Enjoy it!

This sophisticated ruched and buckled sandal from Steve Madden looks amazing with the coolest dresses, skirts and jumpers.  I got her an amazing look-alike hooded sandals from Target at a fraction of the cost

This bohemian gladiator inspired flats looks divine with short or long skirts or dresses that are just the right length to allow the bejeweled ankle design to peek through.

    Tuesday, August 10, 2010

    Case of the Tutor Mom

    It is exam week in my kids' school this week - all three of them! You cannot imagine the chaos that goes around when study time comes. I have them all gather around the dining table where I can see each one of them at my every turn. I had no sooner turn my back from the first child to attend to second child than I catch some playful banter behind me.

    Just when everything is quiet and there's some semblance of studying going on, a closer inspection would show some creative doodling on paper. Or worse, "Mom, I am soooo sleepy!" Of course a Nazi mom's solution to droopy eyes would be a quick trip to the bathroom sink for a splash of cold water on the face. :) There! All awake now! :)

    Where my kids go to school, Singapore Math is in the curriculum. Singapore Math is an entirely different math from what we all grew up with. The hallmark of the curriculum is the careful guidance of students, done in a child-friendly pictorial language. Singapore math programs have a consistent and strong emphasis on problem solving and model drawing. For this reason, what I know as simple addition is now being taught as “number bonds.”

    The Singapore method is poles apart from the traditional way of teaching math that my son’s school is offering a free seminar to all interested parents who want to know more about it. The Singaporean lecturer emphasized that should the tutor/parent not be familiar with the Singapore method, then it is best to leave the teaching to the school, lest any outside intervention is bound to confuse the child even more.

    Having said that, it is of course disastrous that I did not bother to attend any of the said seminars. I was already this close to pulling out all of my hair in frustration as I desperately tried to explain to R the concept of looking for the missing addends – the Singpore math way. “What do you need to add to 2 to get 6?” I said for the second time, pointing to the circles, while my fingers gripped the pencil ever so tightly. Still no answer.

    In desperation, I called for back-up. I called my 7-year old, “B, can you please explain to your younger brother how you do this.” She said matter-of-factly, “this is easy R. First, you look at the two circles on this side, and then look at the two lines connected to these two circles directed toward one circle in the opposite side. These two circles are called the parts, the other circle on the opposite side with two lines pointing to it is called the whole. Blah, blah, blah…. I swear, she sounded a lot like a math teacher.

    That did it. R aced the exam. Mommy is happy. Case closed.

    As I picked the girls up from school today, J tells me how challenging the Filipino exam was. How she found the Filipino language reading comprehension extremely difficult. “Mom, I didn’t understand some of the words in the story.” B cuts in, “consider yourself blessed, still! I didn’t understand almost all of the words in my Filipino exam!” Sadly, my math genius is totally lost in her Filipino class.

    A-ya-yay! And the cycle goes on...

    Monday, August 2, 2010

    Breakfast for Dinner Birthday

    For most families with kids, waking up to the dizzying sound of the alarm clock is the usual way to start another hectic day.  The early morning rush to send the kids off to school and getting to work on time is the predictable morning routine.  Unfortunately, hectic mornings mean that the most important meal of the day is often a hasty affair. 

    My family is no different.  As a mom to three active kids, I hardly ever enjoy a leisurely morning.  Even my weekends are filled with kids’ activities of all sorts that start from the wee hours of dawn, and should there be a friend who is celebrating a birthday, the day can easily extend up to dinner time and beyond.  Just last weekend, the kids had a soccer festival on a Saturday that had us all shriveled from too much sun exposure. Then, Sunday found us waking up earlier than the sun to travel to a place that is the directional opposite of where we live for the purpose of participating in the Ironkids Aquathlon.  Breakfast on days like these, usually consist of just a sandwich or some reheated left-over pasta from dinner.

    But if given a choice, I would surely choose to wake up to the sound of the rattle and clatter of pans, a clear indicator that something good is cooking in my kitchen.  Or better yet, there’s no better way to awaken my peepers than to have my olfactory stirred up and provoked by the delightful and delectable aroma coming from the kitchen, a sure sign that my day is going to be an easy one.  A meal that is made from the finest ingredients and prepared by someone who loves me – surely, that is the best wake-up call of all! 

    Thinking along these lines, when my li’l lady turned a year older, we decided to celebrate it by organizing a breakfast party arranged just in time for dinner!  It is a wonderful change for a birthday theme.  

    She has the busiest schedule of all, with her swimming and soccer training, that breakfast for her is almost always on-the-go.  So on her special day, I made sure she got to eat her breakfast in style.

    Fancy having your own breakfast for dinner party?  Here's what I served in the breakfast buffet table:

    1.  Eggs.  What breakfast table is complete without eggs?  Tamagoyaki makes an appearance in mine.  Tamagoyaki, a popular Japanese breakfast dish, is a type of Japanese omelette, which is made by rolling together several layers of cooked egg.  It is often included in bento boxes as well as being a popular sushi topping. 
    2. Cold Soba. Japanese noodle made from buckwheat flour. Serve chilled with a store bought dipping sauce and cut up seasoned nori sheets.

    3.  Waffle.  Still in line with the Japanese theme, can anything scream kawaii more than Hello Kitty waffles?

     4. Teddy Bear Sushi.  It doesn't really make quite an impression artistically, noh? My sushi making skills definitely needs more practice. But it was certainly an attraction for the kids.  I used the sushi and bento box materials I purchased at the Saizen store.

     5.  Breakfast Croissant with jams.

    6.  Filipino Style Breakfast.  My family's preferred breakfast fare consists of these all-time Filipino favorites:

    Daing na Bangus
    Breakfast Steak
    Luncheon Meat

     7. Fresh Fruit Shakes.  Serve up a bevy of flavors.  I chose favorites like mango, strawberry and melon.

    8.  Fresh Fruits. Stop at the grocery the day of the party and load a platter with whatever is in season.  Mine has strawberries, cantaloupe, dragonfruit and kiwis.

    You can also serve them in too-cute-for-words decorative skewers...
    9.  Danish Pastries
    And what's a birthday party without the birthday cake?
    Happy Birthday Achi!