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Celebrating Thanksgiving in the Philippines

Far away from California and longing to celebrate Thanksgiving, I decided to invite a few close friends and family to my Thanksgiving luncheon. I had never had a boodle fight meal and had wanted to experience it so I decided to have a boodle fight on the beach at Bitoy's. It was so nice of them to accommodate my group with less than 24 hours’ notice before the event. And the result was everything I could have hoped for.

I had reserved for 10 people and this is how much food we got.  It sure was a table of plenty. We had oysters, shrimp, milkfish, chicken, eggplant, okra, fried banana, green mango, tomatoes, shrimp paste and rice. I had also brought with me the alimasag (baby crab) we bought at the beach in Ivisan the day before. Guests brought several kinds of dessert including guinataan*, brazo de Mercedes and various kinds of Philippine kakanin (delicacies). Needless to say, we lingered over lunch and slowly savored what was on the table before us.
The simple protocol of boodle fi…

Markthal, the Queen of Markets

Markthal

Seoul Food

Roy's Las Vegas Hawaiian Aloha Hour

Cheers!
Aloha hour starts at 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at Roy's on East Flamingo. With $5.00 drinks and $5.00 appetizers, you can't get a better deal. It's the best way to unwind after a long and exhausting day at the Strip. We sat at the bar surrounded by locals and served by amiable and attentive staff. I ordered the Hawaiian colada, a blend of Montecristo light rum, Malibu coconut rum and fresh coconut purée, with a hint of lime juice and mint. My cousin, who was our designated driver, had a virgin colada and the simple margarita was my sister's choice.
Pork and Shrimp Shumai Check out the pupus we ordered from the menu: pork and shrimp shumai wasabi ogo bazu, beef sliders with wasabi sour cream mayo and garlic truffle fries, chicken lettuce wraps with shiitake mushrooms and chili hoisin soy, and lobster roll . The beef sliders (with Kobe beef) were a big hit as were the chicken lettuce wraps. I liked the lobster roll best. It was bursting with flavor and I tr…

PF Chang's - Las Vegas

Chicken lettuce wrap
Food is always at center stage in any family gathering. Good times together are usually associated with where and what you ate. This weekend's luncheon at PF Chang's in Las Vegas was no exception. It was truly memorable not only for the shared stories, the laughter, the hugs and beso beso, but for the selection of dishes which our famished group devoured in good stead. For starters we had light wonton soup with shrimps and vegies and chicken lettuce wrap. The combination of fresh lettuce and minced chicken with a little bit of hoisin sauce was a "no guilt" sandwich. Stir fried eggplantThere were two choices of eggplant dishes on the menu and we ordered both. I liked the ground chicken and eggplant best over the spicy stir fried eggplant (we requested a milder dish) because the latter had a sweet sauce. Everyone raved about the walnut shrimps with honeydew. Also on our table were plates of Mongolian beef, Cantonese chow fun noodles, and house fried…

Memories of Palma

Pastel of Salmon dish at La Bodeguilla
It was drizzling when we arrived in Palma de Mallorca and the temperature was way lower than in Seville where we had spent the last several days roasting under Andalucian skies. And it rained for most of the time we were in Palma. That sort of dampened our visit but we discovered several places of refuge to while the time away. Off the main shopping street we found two restaurants, both under the same management. El Burladero is a casual taberna on Calle Concepcion where we kept dry and ate a late, late lunch after a long day of sightseeing. As it was late afternoon and some of the staff were on lunch break themselves, we had the opportunity to get acquainted with them and find out about island life. The following day we had an early dinner at La Bodeguilla, an upscale restaurant with several dining rooms. We tucked ourselves in a niche with a big glass window overlooking Calle San Jaime. It was a pleasure to linger over dinner and drinks. I had …

Vivere per mangiare

Umbria
Assisi
*Ristorante Bar Metastasio - Via Metastasio, 9
Bruschetta al Tartufo (Norcia truffles sprinkled over bruschetta)
Love the Braciola Erbe (grilled in aromatic herbs)
House Wine
Panoramic view of the valley from the terrace or eat indoors on a cold day in their rustic cavelike dining room.

Gubbio
***Taverna de Lupo, Via Ansidei 6
Prima Piatti - Sfogliantina al legere salsa bianca with tartufo, ham
Contorno - Timbale de asparagi e patate
Seconda Piatti - Trota in lemon sauce
Dolci - Assortment of biscotti
Wine: Prosecco

Perugia
*Osteria de Gambero (Ubu Re) - behind the Duomo
Antipasto - Bruschetta al tartufo
Entrée - Umbrichelli al persico del Lago Trasimeno
Dolci - Dolcetti delle Umbrie with Vin Santo
Dining room wall is filled with modern paintings.

Tuscany
**Kome - Via dei Benci, 41/R, Firenze
Sushi and BBQ restaurant near Santa Croce
Choose from the array of sushi, gamberi or chicken fry, noodles from color plates rotating around the bar. Or you can order the fixed menu which includes a variet…

Tartufo

It was an overcast day when I visited Gubbio. After sunny days, the cold November winter air claimed its due and it was reason enough to take shelter at a trattoria for some truffles and prosecco. For prima piatti I chose the sfogliantina al tartufo (Norcia truffles that are heaven). This was followed by trout from Lake Trasimeno with a timbale of asparagus and potatoes. The waiter, who lived in New York for a good many years, made sure my glass was always filled with prosecco. I had to say no to dolci (dessert) but he gave me a plateful of local cantuccini (biscotti). How could I refuse? After all that climbing to the top of the hill to see the Duomo, I thought I could afford to eat and not worry about the calories. Anyway, those hilltowns are really mountain villages. The climb is steep and the descent is as much a workout as it pulls the knees, not to mention the cobblestones that are the bane of flat feet. * * * Photo by Rosario Charie Albar

Berlin Dining with a View

On Mother's Day we celebrated by the Wannsea Lake, just a short metro ride from central Berlin. The weather cooperated so we could eat outdoors. I never imagined that potato pancakes could taste so good with chicken kebab.
It was several visits ago that my friends Sonia and Klara introduced me to two restaurants on or near the shopping street, Kurfürstendamm. I ate recently at Le Buffet Berlin inside Wertheim department store. The restaurant offers a choice of hot and cold meals, salads, and desserts. The view from its glass windows of what's left of the bell tower of Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church is priceless.
Down the street at Wittenbergplatz is Kaufhaus des Westens (KaDeWe), the grand dame of Berlin's department stores. Their Wintergarden restaurant has a curved glass roof which is a destination by itself. I took longer to finish my strawberry tart because I was mesmerized by the view of sunny skies. It had been raining for days.
I've always had nothing but good foo…

To be or to bento

One of the many things I like most about Hawaii is the incredible choice of mouth watering cuisine its many kitchens offer visitors and locals alike. A mainstay of island dining is the bento box. During the years I lived in Hawaii, I remember being served my bento order in a black lacquer box with partitions to hold steamed rice, a meat or fish entrée, salad and of course, that quintessential island favorite, spam. (Spam was a staple item during WWII and it has stayed that way since.)

On a recent trip to Honolulu, I was tempted to order the bento lunch at Sam Choi's on Nimitz Highway. How could I pass up a plateful of mahimahi, teriyaki beef and chicken, an omelet, steamed rice and spam? It was a lot of food for under $11.00. I couldn't think of a better way to start our brief and hectic visit to Honolulu.


* * * Image by Rosario Charie Albar

Best Eats - Santa Barbara

24 hours in Santa Barbara and we found two terrific restaurants to talk about. Yesterday we ate dinner at Arigato Sushi on 1225 State Street and were treated to new and memorable dishes including Mrs. Ebilyn, a shrimp gyoza, Locals Only, a mix of scallops and minced crabmeat served in a shell, wikiwiki roll, sushi with crab and avocado, and yellowtail kama (collarbone). The staff, of young people were very nice. And I learned to say "cheers" in Japanese. Kampai!
Today we had lunch at the Harbor Restaurant at Stearn's Wharf. What a view of the beach and Pacific waters! For starters we had the Santa Barbara Roll, a wrap with chicken, avocado, tomatoes and lettuce served with chips, salsa and guacamole. For my main entrée, I ordered crabcakes with steamed vegetables and my sister and niece shared the mixed seafood dish with mahimahi, calamari, breaded shrimp, maui onion rings and vegetables. The portions were generous and we had food leftover "to take out".

We enjo…

Best Eats/Cafés in Amsterdam

Restaurants: Café de Jaren - behind the Hotel de L'Europe Dinner starts at the salad bar where you can get generous helpings of cucumber salad, lettuce, sliced tomatoes, potatoes and other vegies. My order of Victorian perch was served on a bed of buckwheat noodles with mint salsa and watercress. Good food + ambience=my favorite restaurant in Amsterdam.
Thai Company - on Rosengracht 9 I had their steamed sea bass in light soy sauce. It was divine. It takes a little bit longer to prepare than other items on the menus but worth the wait.
Japan Inn - off of Leidsestraat; reservations necessary as this restaurant is small and often booked.
Oriental City - near Damrak Square
Restaurant La Ruche - 2nd floor of De Beijinkorf Dept. Store; choose from grilled meats/fish, soup, pasta, sandwiches, desserts
Cafés: L'Opera on Rembrandtplein - check out the art deco decor Heineken Hoek on Leidseplein Belgica, next door to Heineken, less crowded Cafe Luxembourg on the Spui
Candy Shop: Jamin with several …

Favorite Eats in Oahu

I arrived in Honolulu late in the evening on Friday and all I could think of was saimin. From the airport my sister and a friend drove me to Zippy's where I satisfied my craving. It was as I remembered it. Slices of char siu, fish cake and green onions added a bit of flavor to plain noodles. After dinner I bought apple fritters from Zippy's own bakery.

I was in Honolulu for the weekend to close a chapter in my life. Famished after two and a half hours of hard work emptying my storage space of 20 years (!), sweating as if we've been soaking in a sauna, my sister, her friend and I found ourselves in a dive in Kalihi for some heavy duty lunch on Saturday afternoon. The crab wonton was a revelation. Inside the crisp wonton was crabmeat dipped in cream sauce.

After lunch we drove around the island, stopping to ring the bell for good luck and happiness at the Byodo-In Temple in Kaneohe. Continuing along Highway 83, we got out of the car to view Chinaman's Hat rising from Pacif…