Getting Stout and the All-Purpose Comforter

Oftentimes during my nightly video teleconference with my family, they would tell me that I’m starting to gain so much weight.  That my face has gone so stout that it no longer fits their cellphone screen!  This was further confirmed by a friend whom I recently caught up with.  When he told me that I have gone quite corpulent, I rolled my eyes heavenward and justified that it is because my social life has turned depressingly invaginated, that the mentally-disturbing pandemic has gone so long and that I am still miserably uninspired and alone. 

Yup, my food intake has gone way extra in the past months because of these reasons.  A lot of us, I’m sure, at some stage in our lives have taken to using food as a surrogate for the stuffs we cannot have.  Since the helpless food does not resist and surrenders instantly, it is the best substitute for everything.  It doesn’t fight back when you assault it with your spoon or attack it with a fork.  It does not scream pain nor howl agony when you munch it in your mouth.  It is the ultimate giver of warmth and the all-purpose comforter.

double-chin smile! haha!

I’m almost certain that after checking out his latest (dis)approval ratings, Donald Trump sought solace not from Melania, but from a big bag of chips.  It is just too bad that the sugar high that food provides goes straight to our chin and belly and results to blobs of fat that clogs our defenseless arteries.  And it is disturbing to realize that the quantity of fat in our body is exactly proportional to the size of our doctor’s bank account.

Please pardon my body-shaming-like post today, all these blood sugar seem to have caramelized in my brain already.  Christmas season is coming so expect a bigger me.  Or maybe, I should reactivate my exercise regimen and restart being on ketosis already!  Let me contemplate on this then.  Have a healthy week everyone!

Dine Out, Put Your Seatbelt & Be Safe

Weird as it may seem, dining out in a restaurant at this time of contagion would be like riding a rusty roller coaster, a rickety Ferris wheel or entering a spooky horror house.  Dining out is so scary people don’t know if they would catch the deadly virus or would come out of the restaurant still hale and healthy.

But since I am in a state when I would rather go out and live a life yet would still observe extra precautions to prevent catching the bug, I decided to dine out here in Manila.  The lucky joint I chose is the 36-year-old Bistro Remedios, an authentic regional Filipino restaurant in Malate, Manila.

And I was glad to know that on the day of my gastronomic consumption, the week-long citywide project of Manila City government called Restaurant Week was on-going.  Bistro Remedios was participating in this initiative by the city mayor whom I predict would be the future president of this country.

I ordered and munched on these…

As I was to finish chomping on my beautiful dessert, dining out at this time of pandemic was indeed like having a roller coaster ride.  I experienced the thrill brought about by the visceral sensation of fear – pounding heart and faster breathing – when I was about to enter the resto.

Similar in a roller coaster ride, cheery attendants would ask you to sign a waiver and settle you down by putting on your seatbelt.  It was so similar in Bistro Remedios because the smiling waiter asked me to fill out a health declaration and contact tracing form and sprayed a mist of alcohol on my hand before leading me to my table.

When I sat down and relayed my order, I realized the increased feeling of well-being and wakefulness.  And when the food was served and had my first bite of the delicious meal, I closed my eyes, felt the busting of flavors in my mouth, my endorphins were high and was having a euphoria!  Good thing I failed to scream when I opened my eyes inside that restaurant. Hahaha!

fasten your seatbelt!

Conquer your fear this time of pandemic.  Dine out, put your seatbelt and be safe!

Abe’s Farm Is Like Next To Someone

I know that being next to someone is the ultimate favorite place of everyone.  But if a spot that is about 2.5 hours drive and you no longer cannot count the number of times that you have been there, does this mean that such a place is also one of your favorites?

the compulsory posing! hahaha!

This will be short…

Abe’s Farm, a quiet staycation venue at the foothills of dormant volcano, Mt. Arayat, north of Manila is the place.  For me, Abe’s Farm is one of those perfect getaway places where one can just stay quiet, have a short social media detox, simply breathe and relax.

A perfect add-on to this is the food that they serve.  Situated right in the heart of Pampanga, the culinary capital of the Philippines, Abe’s Farm food offers what one can call an assault to the senses – texture, color, presentation and of course taste.

happy eating! yum!

Yeah. I gave myself some short quiet break.  And just this weekend I am again at Abe’s Farm.  I guess Abe’s Farm though not a “next-to-someone” is one of my favorites.

Rediscovering Asiong’s Restaurant

Fed-up, tired and cloying from staying indoor due to the pandemic, me and 3 of my close colleagues decided to sneak out of the metro.  Despite the continuous spike in coronavirus cases, we agreed to break the monotony of staying in our respective houses and drove up to the scenic city-province of Tagaytay, an hour and a half drive south of Manila just to have lunch. 

We nevertheless took extra precautions prior to leaving the metro.  We were wearing face-masks and face-shields, brought along bottles of alcohol and I even have a huge pack of disinfecting surface wipes!

But only about five minutes away from our destination, we encountered a highway check point.  To make the story short, we were prevented from entering Tagaytay because we do not have the local government’s required travel pass to enter the province.  Yeah, this is how strict it is here in the Philippines due to this ridiculous pandemic.

We made a U turn yet decided to still have lunch someplace else.  And when I turned on Google to check for the nearest highly recommended restaurant, it responded ‘Asiong’s’.

I remember having dined at Asiong’s in the past.  I know that the food is really good but the atmosphere is something I really do not admire especially that moment when it would be the first time after a very long time of not dining out.  I know Asiong’s is not even a casual dining restaurant but some sort of a low-grade canteen or a roadside eatery which in the Philippines is called carinderia.

I nevertheless still suggested to proceed to Asiong’s because of their great food!  But I warned my colleagues that the ambiance is not like the typical snooty restaurants found in Tagaytay.

But when we followed and let the GPS navigation app point us to our destination, the road we were taking was totally different.  It seem no longer the same road I took when I last dined at Asiong’s eight long years ago.  (Click HERE regarding my 2012 blog post about Asiong’s)

pose first (the obligatory photo taking session)

a collage of photos i took (with jb, willy and mj)

The location of Asiong’s now is a totally different spot in Cavite!  And the establishment is totally dissimilar from the way it was!  The concept and its aesthetics has impressively been improved.  Their alfresco dining is no longer by the dusty road side but a cool garden dining set-up.  We actually settled alfresco for we did not want to be confined in a closed area during this time of pandemic.

The only akin and parallel to how Asiong’s was in the past was the marvelous food!  The awesome gastronomic experience was still the same.

asado de ignacio (braised meat and innards) an authentic savage caviteño dish

adobong pula (pork adobo in annatto sauce)… a must in asiong’s

pancit pusit (rice vermicelli noodles cooked in squid ink)… a house specialty

crispy tawilis (a fresh water sardine exclusively found in the philippines)… this dish is gone in 3 minutes!

a filipino meal will not be complete without the rice. this one is “binagoongang rice” (fried rice in shrimp paste)

Thanks to the valiant military men manning the highway check point. Hahaha!  If not for their being so rigorous in implementing the pandemic rules and protocols of the province, I would have not rediscovered the fineness of the present Asiong’s restaurant.

A Snake Thing

Which among the creatures of the animal kingdom that you fear most?  The animal that provides irrational trepidations.   The beast or creature you don’t know why you dread the most.  I got one.

It would be the snake.  I don’t know why, but the mere site of a snake gives me discomfort.  If virile, macho big guys can hit the highest note known to mankind when they encounter spiders, my vocal stamina can be tested by the mere site of this reptile.

Oftentimes, I don’t remember my dreams but each time I dream about snakes, I can always recall it when I wake up.  I haven’t touched a serpent and I don’t have plans of holding one.  I don’t know why I abhor and fear the poor snakes. 

And I don’t know why I am including a video of my cooking Snake Beans Adobo in this blog post. Hahaha!  Maybe it is because while cooking this dish, I am reminded of my fear of the said animal.

I know that the heavens will not place snakes on mother earth if it does not play a significant role in the ecosystem.  Regardless, I will not hug a black mamba or a king cobra any time soon but will instead run my fastest at the sight of one.

Oh, and by the way the Snake Beans Adobo was heavenly.  I guess it is the only type of snake that I can personally deal with.

A Pointless Chicken Adobo

One worry and hesitation that I have when posting a write-up on this blog is that readers won’t get anything – a point, a learning, a realization, a wisdom – from my writing.  Non-sensical, worthless and throwaway posts already abound in social media.  Lots of it can actually be seen on Instagram and watched on YouTube (in the form of absurd senseless vlog posts).

But let me be brazen this time by posting a short ridiculous clip of my cooking a chicken adobo, the national dish of the Philippines.

I have posted in the past my first-time cooking of a pork adobo (tagged as New York Style Pork Adobo) so let me then include my experience on my first cooking the poultry version of it.

Pointless as it may seem, this Chicken Adobo clip actually garnered 52 likes and 195 views in my Instagram.  And by the way, my average Instagram likes is only 21.

It looks good right?  It tastes awesome too! Anyway, thanks for reading this nonsense of a write up and I hope you encounter in one way or another some pretty good amount of light bulb moments in the course of the day.

Drool, Dribble & Slaver on Vigan Cuisine

The color, look, texture and taste of dishes of a certain region is an excellent way to depict the richness of its culture.  A local cuisine can tell a lot about a place’s unique character.  Say for instance, what food ingredients are rampant in their area, what implements and raw materials are readily available, what type of weather does the place often encounters, and what does the majority of the population’s palatal preference.

During my recent trip to Vigan City in Ilocos Sur (9-hour bus ride away from Manila), I was fortunate to have experienced a delectable treat! From scary black dish to creepy beef innards to comforting sweet indulgences.  Food choices – with very weird sounding names – from Vigan’s local cuisine though seem extensive are so unique and so exclusive that such are rarely found and hardly served in popular restaurants in Manila or elsewhere. 

I opted not to describe the palatal experience I had for each one of these dishes.  I rather settle posting photos of it.  One thing though is for sure, these dishes will not make it to this post if it is disappointing or something to forget about.

I can definitely say that my Vigan food exploit was a totally different yet enriching culinary experience.

Drool…

Deconstructed Dinengdeng (native vegetables in simmered fish bagoong soup topped with grilled fish)

Poqui-poqui (grilled eggplant salad omelette)

Dribble…

Sapsapuriket (spicy chicken stewed in chicken blood stew served with potato chips)

the jewel of region’s cuisine is called Ilocos Empanada

And slaver…

ordered this at Cafe Leona — the classic Vigan Platter (composed of Vigan Longganisa, Bagnet, Daing na Milk Fish plus Vegetable Pinakbet and Ilocos Bagoong with Onions & Tomatoes as Sawsawan)

Chicacorn! (the greatest Ilocano snack)

Balicucha (the sweet handmade muscovado sugar curly bar of the province)

Hotel Luna’s Sapsapuriket

Kicking modesty aside and based on my sense of taste’s practical background of experience, I think I have reason enough to say that I have the authority to judge if a Dinuguan is excellent, atrocious or just passable. Dinuguan is a savage Filipino dish known as pork blood stew!

I am saying this because I know what an excellent Dinuguan tastes like.  I just happen to be the son of the best Dinuguan maker on the planet.  Nengkoy’s Dinuguan is so delicious, this ferocious-looking dish would often be one of the most requested part of our family’s handa (food served during special occasions).

sapsapuriket

looks scary… yum!

My recent visit to the City of Vigan in Ilocos Sur exposed me however to a different variety of a Dinuguan.  Locals call it Sapsapuriket!  It is a blood stew variety in which the meat is not pork but the tasty cage-free native chicken. And the blood used to make the stew was not pig’s blood but from the fowl’s fluid that runs through its veins and arteries (Hahaha!).

I was fortunate that my first time eating of the savage Sapsapuriket was in Comedor, the restaurant outlet of the well-esteemed Hotel Luna in Vigan.  One would know that Hotel Luna’s Sapsapuriket is special, for it is served with potato cracklings instead of the usual rice. The hotel’s style of pairing the dish with potato chips was actually a success.  Texture on the palate plus tangy flavor of the pair was something to praise about!

comedor… dining at hotel luna

loved my short stay in vigan (inside a souvenir shop)

I am writing about Sapsapuriket, the Dinuguan of the north, so I guess, this dish served by Hotel Luna’s Comedor is something to praise and look forward to when in Vigan.

I am @keto_sa_kanto

Reason behind my not being too active in this blog is because I recently launched a new Instagram account. Since it is basically been a challenge on keeping in ketosis and determining what acceptable meal to eat is such a chore and undertaking, I decided to stylize, beautify and might as well take photos of these eats and post it on Instagram.

Let me then reveal that I am @keto_sa_kanto!

keto_sa_kanto if translated in english is “keto at the corner”

my recent instagram post!

What is so amazing about this new Instagram account is that it is slowly gaining popularity.  My 7-year old personal Instagram account that chronicles a cornucopia of stuffs, from travels, to food to friends and other highlights of my being a being, has only so far garnered 301 followers.  But my 1-week old @keto_sa_kanto account has already 125 followers as of this writing!

give me flowers! cauliflowers!!!

Follow me at @keto_sa_kanto and see what I have been eating!