Sunday, December 15, 2013

Mrs. M: Pork and Bean Casserole

pork and bean casserole

GUEST POST: My mom has always enjoyed writing (must be where I got it from) and she has happily expressed interest to write a guest post for Savvy about Nothing. Very cool! Here's her very first post, one about a simple everyday household recipe. SaN finally has recipes! Haha. - Joaquin

During all my years as a stay-at-home mom to 3 little boys and wifey to a guy who appreciates good food, I was always challenged to come up with tasty but simple day-to-day dishes. I would indulge them on weekends with special dishes but it was on the weekdays that I ran out of ideas. I figured they deserve better than just fried foods and canned goods. With all my domestic duties and family/personal errands at the time, I did not always have time to linger in the kitchen.

That’s when I came up with this dish, especially dedicated to busy bees who do not have more than 30 minutes to spare. I decided to pump up a Filipino favorite, Pork and Beans.

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Yield:  7 servings depending on appetite!
Total Cost: about P225 to P265

Oil for sautéing 
Onion, 1 chopped coarsely (P5)
Garlic, 1 head crushed or chopped (P5)
Lean ground pork, 500 g. (P135)
Pork and Beans, 2-3 (390 g.)cans (P40 each)
Tomato catsup, 3 tablespoons, optional

1. Sauté onion in little oil until slightly caramelized or brown in color.

2. Add garlic and cook until fragrant.

3. Add in the ground pork and cook until it loses its pink color.

4. Add in the pork and beans and catsup. (I usually use those catsup sachets from fast food restaurants. 2-3 are enough or according to taste)

5. Cook until slightly thick. Serve hot with rice.

The pork and beans is well-seasoned so salt and pepper are optional.

There are many ways to make this dish special. Jazz it up with grated cheese, spice it up with hot sauce or chili flakes or sliced hotdogs for a kiddie version.

Enjoy the dish in no time at all!

- Ellie

Dippin' Dots: The Ice Cream of Future Past

I've really liked Dippin' Dots since I was a little kid and we occasionally had it in Glorietta 3. Self-proclaimed as the ice cream of the future, I thought this was what all ice cream would be like in the year 2015. I couldn't have been more wrong. Haha. Just the same, when we saw a voucher from Ayala Deals, I figured I'd take advantage before Dippin' Dots becomes an ice cream of the past.
dippin' dots
Strawberry and Cookies (Large), P165.00 (P99.00 through voucher)
Out of so many flavors, why did I pick this pale, boring one? Well, cause we had no choice! Voucher users only get this flavor, and this was conveniently left out of the voucher. Chalk it up to voucher woes. PRO-TIP: If you own a restaurant and decide to have a voucher deal, try not to screw your customers over for using it. You may save a few bucks, but you ruin your own reputation. This happens a lot, and what sucks is it isn't worth the trouble of dispute.

So, yes, about the ice cream. It's the good ol' dippin' dots alright. I really like the unique and futuristic texture, but I'm not quite sure if that's my 12-year old self speaking. It could all be nostalgia. Haha. What my 12-year old self and I do know though, is this tiny tub of ice cream is overpriced. It's barely worth 99 pesos, and is definitely not worth P165. Well, I guess the futuristic process costs much, and that's a pity. Even expensive gelato is cheaper.

Just the same, I was happy to have tried Dippin' Dots one more time before they (probably) go.

dippin' dots
Where'd all the dippin' dots go? :(
They have a new spot in the strange new Glorietta area, but they are also still in their old place in front of Kenny Rogers. Drop by if you're ever curious to try the ice cream of the future and if you don't mind to spend a bit more than you should for it. :)

dippin' dots
The new Dippin' Dots spot.
Love Dippin' Dots? Hate it? Let me know by commenting below, or just tweet me!

2/F, Glorietta 3
Ayala Avenue cor. Pasay Road, Makati City
Facebook: Dippin' Dots

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Brasas: Latino Heat

Latin American Street Food.
In the semi-new SM Aura, there is a food court called Food on Four, and in that food court, one of the first restaurants that opened is a Latin American restaurant called Brasas, which means embers, as in the embers from charcoal. Lookin' forward to some warm Latin food!

Carne Asada (Beef) Rice Platter, P250.00
The meat is as reddish as it should be. It was buttery, flavorful, and had good texture. It was, however, a bit reminiscent of beef misono, which I do not like because I find the meat to shredded up to be appreciated. I would have preferred thick cuts. I know a lot of people like beef misono though, so this Latin version could be the right order for you. It came with a small salad and chimichurri sauce, which is made out of herbs and olive oil.

Grilled Chicken Wrap, P250.00
I love wraps (believe me, even 7-eleven ones), so this was more my style. I expected it to be a bit bigger, but I liked it. It was quite moist inside too. So moist, that, when I picked it up for a bite, I spilled oil all over my white pants. I'm a genius. Haha. I think it would be better if they had a spicy option, too.

Menu: Fast food menu

Carne Asada (Beef) Rice Platter: Good
Grilled Chicken Wrap: Good

There aren't many Latin food places around, so it's very convenient to have this around in SM Aura. They also have a new branch in SM Jazz at Makati, one with more choices I believe, so I've got to try that too! I love Chivitos and I want to try their version.

Love Brasas? Hate it? Let me know by commenting below, or just tweet me!

4th floor, Food on Four
SM Aura Premier, McKinley Parkway
McKinley Hill, Taguig City
Facebook: Brasas

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Other Restaurants in SM Aura:
SM Aura Premier: Pepper Lunch Express under the Sky Park
Yabu: Bed of Rosus

Other Restaurants in The Fort:
Chuck's Deli: Buffy the Sandwich Slayer
Good Earth Roasts (GER)
Gyu-Kaku: The Time is Ripe to Grill Some Tripe
IHOP: The Latest Pancake Craze
Jollibee: Ultimate Burger Steak and Flip Float
Kasbah: A Moroccan Lunch
Kebabers: Cheese Kebabs
Órale!: The Best Quesadillas
Pancake House: Cookie Butter Pancakes Surprise
The Best Pasta of Pasto
Racks: My Favourite Ribs
Red Garlic Bistro: Trotting the Globe, Clove by Clove
S&R: My Favourite Pizza
Saboten: Enjoyin' Some Loin
Saint's Alp: Taiwanese Chicken Goodness
Sarsa Kitchen + Bar: Fancy Kansi
Sbarro: Rolling in the Deep Dish
Seattle's Best: Sea Salt and Salad
Stacy's: The Sweet Kind of Retro
Stella Wood Fired Bistro: Nothing Less Than Stellar
Sunshine Kitchen: Second Dawn
Tapeo: Spanish Surprise at the Fort Strip
The Cheese Steak Shop: Philly Cheese Steaks in the Phillyppines
Toast Box: Going Goreng
Tokyo Tokyo: Burgers and Chopsticks
The Kebab Factory: The TKF Trilogy
URBN: Dining with Style
Uncle Cheffy: A Piece 'a Panizza
Wildflour's Cronut: The Doughnut and Croissant's Love Child
Wrong Ramen: The Weirder, The Better
Let Me See That Zong

Xin Wang Hong Kong Cafe: Mango Christmas Tree

xin wang hong kong cafe
A welcoming facade.
A Hong Kong Cafe! We were early in MOA for a concert (as you should be if you don't want to wait an hour to park) and looked around for a place for a good, quick dinner. We ended up in the inviting Xin Wang Hong Kong Cafe.

Surprisingly, the menu had so many choices that it was not easy to settle on anything. Here's what we ended up with.

xin wang hong kong cafe
HK Braised Beef Brisket Bamboo Rice, P215.00
Braised beef has always been a favourite of mine so we chose to try this one out. It was interestingly served in a wooden bowl and of course, it was great with rice. It was quite good, but there was not nearly enough meat for the very deep serving of rice that came with this meal.

xin wang hong kong cafe
Cheese Baked Rice with Chicken Chop, P245.00
Yum!!! This Macau Cheese Baked Rice was good! Don't expect your taste buds to be overwhelmed because it is not super tasty, but I really enjoyed the texture of the chewy cheese with rice. Doesn't cheese just go perfectly with everything? Also tomato-based, this reminds me of the old Greenwich cheesy rice meals. This one does it better but of course, is more expensive.

xin wang hong kong cafe
XW Special Mango Snow Ice, P145.00
I love snow ice and snow cones and all kinds of cold dessert. This towering meal-ender was very much worth the price tag. There was so much of it! It tends to get a bit tasteless as you dig in to the center, but I didn't mind at all. Even though I ended up shivering after we finished it off, it was totally worth it.

Bamboo Rice
Macau Cheese Baked Rice

HK Braised Beef Brisket Bamboo Rice: Okay
Cheese Baked Rice with Chicken Chop: Good
XW Special Mango Snow Ice: Very Good

I wish this place was somewhere more accessible to me than Mall of Asia. Their food is reasonably priced and lots of fun. There's just so much to choose from too. I could eat here every day for a month and not get tired of it.

Love Xin Wang Hong Kong Cafe? Let me know by commenting below, or just tweet me!

G/F North Wing (next to IMAX Theater),
SM Mall of Asia, Pasay City
(02) 822-7518
Operating Hours:
Mon - Thu: 10:00 am - 12:00 am
Fri - Sat: 10:00 am - 1:00 am
Facebook: Xin Wang Hong Kong Cafe - SM Mall of Asia

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Game Review: Bayonetta

Image from here.
Bayonetta. This is basically Devil May Cry without Dante and well, it's Devil May Cry with better action but horrible plot and characters.

Lookin' very.. um.. strange. Image from here.
Yep, horrible. You play a witch (literally) called Bayonetta (also literally) who has to beat all the bad guys in a world that has lost its balance. It's quite obvious that the game is banking on how attractive they design her to be, but this was not nearly so. It would have been more interesting if she actually looked normal. Her extremely long slender-man type limbs and weirdly proportioned body ruin any chance of her looking remotely attractive.

The only saving grace of this game. It surprisingly plays really well and it is quite fun. There is no shortage of epic boss battles and the great action temporarily blinds me to how bad the plot actually is. It gets quite challenging at times, but it always stays within that right balance of difficulty while keeping frustration at bay. Towards the second half of the game, though, even the action started to become old.

Not surprising because I started this game really late, but the graphics were very so-so. Generic PS3 graphics.

Sound was techno-ish and strangely girly and feels forcedly girly. Not my thing, but the techno version of Fly Me To The Moon was at least entertaining.

Verdict: 2.5/5 
I had to trudge on just to finish the game, though the gameplay started quite promisingly. I should really value my time more. Haha.

Loved Bayonetta? Hated it? Let me know by commenting below, or just tweet me!

Here's the trailer!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Sentro 1771: Sensational Sinigang na Corned Beef

OpenRice is taking me places. First, it was the Hong Kong trip, which I've only started writing about, and now it's something a bit closer to home, or since it's a place of good Filipino food, a lot closer to home.
sentro 1771
Right at the center, or "sentro", of Greenbelt 3.
After a boring hour-long taxi ride from BGC, I found my way to Greenbelt. I had to start walking from Ayala Triangle due to the insane traffic. Haha. I was late to the event, but most were more late, so I didn't miss anything. It was fun seeing Edel aka The Kitchen Goddess, who I went with to Hong Kong for the OpenRice event, as well as meeting her blogger friends, Heidie of OpenRice, and Angelica of the Chateau group. Sentro 1771, and a couple other establishments including Chateau (obviously), are a part of that group. I have not tried Chateau yet, but I've had happy dinners at Sentro in Serendra before.

While waiting for the others, we started talking a bit, and spend our time snacking on the appetizers (perhaps a bit too much).

sentro 1771
B2B Sticks, P150.00
Skewered and grilled organic chicken gizzards cooked adobo-style.
B2B is not the latest technology, nor the newest popular boyband. In a fancy way, it simply stands for balun-balunan, or chicken gizzard. Lucky for me, I love gizzard! This was chewy and garlicky goodness.

sentro 1771
Garlic Mushrooms with Chicharon, P320.00
Button mushrooms sauteed in olive oil and garlic, topped with pork cracklings.
Pretty straightforward. No fancy names here! Not a fan of non-bulaklak chicharon, but this was pretty normal, I guess. The mushrooms were so soft and tasted great.

Macau Chorizo and Cheese Tidbits, P240.00
Mini spring rolls filled with Macau chorizo, shallots and keso de bola.
With chorizo and queso de bola, how can you go wrong? Lumpiang Shanghai never seemed so boring. Not a fan of vinegar, I ate this alone and I liked it. I was snacking on this appetizer until before dessert. Haha. Despite the usually salty chorizo and queso de bola, I found the flavor here to be just right.

If you visit the Greenbelt branch, chances are you'll encounter this nifty new menu.

sentro 1771
Selecting your dinner or a shade of paint for your house?
I bet it's fun to randomly select your meal, huh? Haha. When everyone was done braving Makati traffic and we were all complete, the main dishes were served.

sentro 1771
Sauteed Lengua with Mushroom Salpicao, P550.00
Tender-to-the-bite ox tongue lightly fried in olive oil and topped with seasoned mushrooms.
Who doesn't love lengua??? Well, many people, but I am one of the few who love it. I enjoyed the soft texture and the garlic-infused mushroom taste.

sentro 1771
Two-Egg Ampalaya Crepe, P150.00
Sauteed bitter melon on an egg crepe, topped with salted duck egg.
Ampalaya anything is never appealing to me, but this crepe was alright. It was surprisingly not bitter at all, and it was an interesting combination.

sentro 1771
Arroz a la Valenciana, P300.00
Philippine-style paella in which rice is cooked with coconut milk, turmeric, chicken, pork and bell peppers.
Fish Photobomb! This reminded me of the kapampangan dish Bringhe, with coconut milk and sticky rice. Actually, I think this is that very dish! I like it and it's something new, but if I were to compare, it's quite far from the wonderful diverse seafood flavor of regular paella. This is something to enjoy in a much simpler way.

sentro 1771
Camote Cups, P240.00
Carved sweet potato filled with stir-fried cabbage, Baguio beans and carrots.
This is basically fresh lumpia, which is in camote instead of lumpia wrapper. It even came with fresh lumpia peanut sauce. It wasn't overly tasty, but I really enjoyed eating every piece of this, from the filling to the firm camote cups. It doesn't hurt that this is healthy food, too!

sentro 1771
Sinigang na Corned Beef, P595.00
"You've got to try it to believe it!" Corned beef short plate and boneless beef shanks in tamarind broth with native vegetables.
The star of every Sentro dinner. I've had this a couple of times already and it is good each time. The meat is so soft and they come in huge delicious chunks. When you normally order this, they usually give you a sample of the broth so you can have it flavored just the way you want it. Too salty? Not sour enough? No problem!

sentro 1771
Unfortunately, I soon had to head back to the office and take care of some things, so I was not able to stay long after the dessert came. I just took a quick taste and headed off, but not before saying goodbye and taking a quick picture below.

The leche flan, salted egg, and queso de bola made an interesting combination, while the fried suman and mango and banana tart were also really good. When eating at a Filipino restaurant, I usually skip dessert, but I think Sentro is a good exception.

With Edel and Angelica
I am happy to have been invited to this fun dinner, especially since now I get a chance to finally blog about the place! I've enjoyed several dinners here during the pre-Savvy about Nothing era. Haha. Based on the good food they have here, I really ought to try out Chateau now, don't I? :)

Love Sentro 1771? Hate it? Let me know by commenting below, or just tweet me!

Specialty of the House, Sentro Signature Dishes, Pica-Pica
Spring Rolls, A La Sentro, Filipino Favorites
Home Cooking, Inihaw (Grilled), Iba't Ibang Adobo
Vegetables and Salads, Rice

2/F Greenbelt 3, Ayala Center,
Esperanza St., Makati City
(02) 757-3941 / +63917-8660449
Operating Hours: 11:00 am - 11:00 pm
Facebook: SENTRO 1771
Twitter: @Sentro1771

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Monday, December 2, 2013

McDonald's: Holiday Sweet Pleasures

Happy Holidays! McDonald's is making its presence felt even more by releasing some new desserts for the season. The more interesting one is the Salted Caramel Sundae. No big surprise because there's just about salted caramel everything nowadays.

Salted Caramel Sundae, P29.00
I actually liked this one. I wouldn't say it's better than the hot fudge or regular caramel sundae, but it's about as good. Worth a try and worth ordering every once in a while. The caramel here is a lot less sticky compared to that of the regular caramel sundae.

Cookie Butter McFlurry, P45.00
Ah, yes of course... more cookie butter. And by the way, why is there a huge hole in my ice cream? Haha. The cookie butter isn't as creamy as it usually is. The one used here has been turned into a Magic Shell-kind thing (like the McDip), so I didn't like it a lot. I was never a fan of McFlurrys anyway. Sundaes all the way!

Spicy Chicken Rice, about P89.00 (a la carte)
What's dessert without a meal? This is the Spicy Chicken Rice, or as it should be called: McSpicy Rice! It's basically the McSpicy patty with rice. I don't like sticky puto-rice that's usually served in fast food restaurants, so I prefer the McSpicy. What I like about this is it comes with sweet 'n sour sauce, which is a refreshing change, and it's cheaper!

Salted Caramel Sundae: Good
Cookie Butter McFlurry: Okay
Spicy Chicken Rice: Okay

With these new items well, I'm not lovin' it, but I'm likin' it. :) More new stuff, please.

Like McDonald's new stuff? Let me know by commenting below, or just tweet me!

El Sur: Mercato of the South

Alvie and I got invited to the opening of El Sur, the new Mercato of the south, conveniently located at Alabang Town Center. This also marked my first time back in ATC since high school. During the two-hour drive it took us to get there, I remembered why. Haha. Nevertheless, it was a fun night we were more than grateful for.
el sur
Feels like Christmas.
The event was slightly drenched by the rain, but fortunately, it eventually stopped and things started kicking off. Most of the crowd was not at this event, probably because Martin Nievera was having a show about 5 minutes away. Not as festive as I expected, but hey, more food for us, right? Haha.

We settled down and found a small, moist table to start eating. We found some hilarity from Alvie's nametag. On the contrary of some people's assumptions, we are still single! An understandable and funny nametag mixup. :)

Juana Bowl?

el sur
Meat and more meat.
Our very hospitable host introduced us to some of the restaurants, the first being "Juana Bowl?". Yes, I do! Unlike some of the other stalls, you won't get to see the food ready to eat here, but their food is definitely worth a shot.

el sur
Malted Pork Ribs, P100.00
This large slab of meat is a steal at a surprising 100 pesos. It was soft and sweet, just like I like it! I have a habit of not wasting food, so I had to eat all this up (Alvie had her own). Very cool, but not cool that I won't have enough space to try everything at El Sur. Haha! We were fortunate to have a band to listen to while eating. Songs like Sixpence None The Richer's Kiss Me were being played. Nice!

el sur
Lively music.
We got to catch the ribbon-cutting as well. Here, I was able to grab a picture of Anton Diaz and crew launching the start of El Sur.

el sur
Ribbon cutting.
Cheat Day

el sur
Make Everyday a Cheat Day!
There were many stalls, but it is impossibly difficult to ignore mozzarella and cheddar stuffed burgers!!!

el sur
Cheese-stuffed patties!
This was the image that ultimately drew us to the stall.

el sur
Cheat Day Burger, P250.00
1/3 lb. Pure beef pattie stuffed w/ Mozzarella & Cheddar Cheese.
Oh yessss. We really quite enjoyed this one. I would definitely want to order this again next time around. There was also a similar stall with more "stuffing" options like bleu cheese called Macheesemo Burgers, but our stomachs already achieved the recommended daily burger allowance that day. I'd want to try that one too, next time.

Chef Tabachoy

The name makes sense because how can you really trust a chef's skills if he isn't at least pudgy? Haha! This stall specialised in spreads, and very interesting ones, I might add.

el sur
Cranbeery Jelly, P155.00 per jar.
Brewsky without the Bitter. Dark Fruit. Full Flavored. Guinness Foreign Extra Stout. Extra Hops. Roasted Barley. Me Very Happy.
See what I mean about interesting? That isn't a typo. This is beer/cranberry jelly and it tasted really good. Surprising for me because I usually hate cranberry jelly. I just found the type of jelly I need for turkey! It did taste like beer without the bitter taste. Made with Guinness, too! Many other spreads were there like Pickled Shrooms (really good) and White/Red Wine Jelly but one stood out:

Bacon Jam, P250.00 per jar.
Yep. That's jam made of bacon. Just in case butter isn't heart-attacky enough for you. Haha. It wasn't love at first taste, but even until now, I can't quite say I understand the taste a hundred percent yet. It isn't amazingly good, but it's very interesting, and interesting is what I want. I even bought a jar to take home and let others try! It needs to keep cool, so it comes in a nice thermo-what-do-you-call-it bag.

el sur
Portable Cholesterol!
Rice Pots

Super Mario inspired uniform?
One of the stores our host introduced to us was Rice Pots. Though I was quite full at this point and the prospect of more rice wasn't extremely appealing to me, I looked forward to trying more new food.

el sur
Yang Chow, Adobo, Pork Binagoongan and Sisig Fried Rice.
I love this because white rice is just so boring for me (unless it's Japanese or Basmati). This was a whole lot to finish and was really heavy. Haha. Most weren't as flavorful as I hoped, but they were all good. The Sisig fried rice was the best one.

Pappy J's

el sur
We hung out here for quite a bit!
One of the last stalls we visited was the Wagyu-filled Pappy J's. We were supposed to start heading out, but found ourselves checking out this last stall before we hit the road.

el sur
Chicken Quesadilla, P100.00
I hereby declare these to be the best value-for-money quesadillas ever! A big serving of great-tasting stuff. Don't expect it to be better than actual Mexican restaurants, but it's pretty damn fun.

el sur
Wagyu Steak, P175.00
Oh no, more rice! This steak was good and meaty, but I was expecting it to be much softer. Perhaps the word "Wagyu" just raises expectations for me, but I am no Wagyu expert.

el sur
Wagyu Tapa, available in Wagyu Tapsilog, P150.00
This Wagyu was more like it! It had the usual salty tapa taste but was noticeably softer than usual. I enjoyed snacking on this. It must go great with the silog!

el sur
Leche Flan (Large), P70.00
Pappy J didn't let us end on an unsweet note! This leche flan was good, but noticeably a bit eggy and could have been creamier. As opposed to Wagyu, I do consider myself to be a leche flan connoisseur! But still, for 70 bucks, this is a good buy.

What we missed
el sur

Well, Alvie did get a tiny taste of this, but a tiny taste is not enough! She liked it.

el sur

All kinds of sisig!

Malted Pork Ribs: Good
Cheat Day Burger: Great!
Cranbeery Jelly: Good
Bacon Jam: Good
The Fried Rices: Okay
Chicken Quesadilla: Very Good
Wagyu Steak: Okay
Wagyu Tapa: Good
Leche Flan: Okay

The place was smaller than your average Mercato, but not lacking in the amount of interesting food! Thanks, Ian, for inviting us over! If you're ever in the area, head on over to El Sur and check out all the interesting food!

What's your favourite El Sur restaurant? Let me know by commenting below, or just tweet me!

El Sur Details: