Happy Halloween!!!

Halloween is always special when you have children. Playing dress up with costumes and candy? What a fun combination for my little ones! This year I was asked to do a cooking demonstration for the kindergarten class of my second daughter. I took the opportunity to make some Halloween inspired treats, which (believe it or not) made use of absolutely no candy!

The challenge was finding something that was crafty, easy enough for the children to make and completely edible! Making sure the kids enjoyed the treat was a stretch but I was willing to take the chance.

We are so fortunate to live in the generation of the world wide web I tell you, where so many ideas are right at your fingertips. I found these 2 adorable snacks that met my challenge stated earlier. So it was decided, I would demonstrate how to make cream cheese and cookie owls and raisin ants on a log. I edited my ingredients a little bit based on availability, health benefits and economical value. Here are my versions of the popular snacks.

Cream Cheese Cookie Owl & Raisin Ants on a Log

OWLS

Ingredients:

Digestive Cookies

Spreadable Cream Cheese

Whole Almonds

Monde Eggnog Cookies

Raisins

Peeled Watermelon Seeds (Butong Pakwan)

Procedure:

  1. Spread cream cheese on one side of the digestive cookie and smoothen.
  2. Place an almond, rounded side up, in the middle of the cookie to represent the owl’s beak.
  3. For the eyes, place 2 eggnog cookies, flat side down. Finish the eyes with 2 raisins, using leftover cream cheese as a glue to ensure they stay on.
  4. Place 2 almonds, rounded side down, above the eyes to represent the owl’s ears.
  5. Use the back of a small spoon to create a feather like pattern on the owl’s body.
  6. Arrange watermelon seeds on both sides of the owl to represent the wings.

Check out this link:

http://www.parents.com/videos/v/79901569/halloween-treat-savory-owl-snack.htm

 

ANTS ON A LOG

Ingredients:

Celery Stalks

Natural Creamy Peanut Butter

Raisins

Procedure:

  1. Slice celery stalks. I made mine around 3 inches long, a good size fore kids.
  2. Spread peanut butter.
  3. Top with raisins in a straight line, leaving a bit of space between each.

Check out this link:

http://www.marthastewart.com/335401/ants-on-a-log

The kindergarteners busy working on their crafty snacks

The demonstration turned out to be a success. The children were very excited and happily followed along. They did a wonderful job creating the little owls and logs and you could see their sense of accomplishment when their end product looked similar to mine. And if that wasn’t enough, they all devoured it… Yes, even the celery! There were so many highs, but none more than how proud my 4 year old was to call me “Mommy.”

Scary Faces – Me with my daughter and her class

Bali Beautiful

I decided to spend a weekend away with my best girlfriends recently. One of them had to migrate to Jakarta earlier this year so we took it as the perfect opportunity to visit Bali for the first time. We were very fortunate to have PAL start flying direct from Manila to the Bali Denpasar Ngurah Rai International Airtport. It was convenient and quite reasonable. Though the flying times are not ideal, leaving Manila at 8:40pm means you arrive passed midnight with a return flight scheduled at 1am, it was quite comfortable and included an in-flight meal.

We opted to stay in Seminyak, which I quickly learned, is one of the main and more bustling cities. Though our resort was not beachfront, it was quaint and lovely with a very friendly staff and good amenities. As always, this trip was (at least for me) centered on the restaurants and dishes to sample. So I gathered a list from friends who frequent the island and planned an itinerary, which would also take me to other scenic areas such as Ubud Beach and Jimbaran Bay.

SEMINYAK

NAUGHTY NURI’S

Our first stop was Naughty Nuri’s for some barbecued ribs. I generally prefer Asian flavors to American when it comes to barbecue so these were some of the best ribs I have ever had. Don’t be fooled by the size of the slab… It may seem big enough to share, but please treat yourself and eat the whole thing.  Remember that there is bone and fat in there so the actual meat portion is just right.  As a side dish, you must try the ‘porn corn’, juicy, sweet, slathered in butter and powdered with spicy deliciousness.

Interiors of Naughty Nuri’s are relaxed and fun with funny sayings on the walls, pig illustrations and unique knickknacks around the place.

Original Pork Ribs and Porn Corn

Ribs slathered in sauce

Homemade Chili and Barbecue Sauce

They have quite an extensive menu in case ribs aren’t your preference, with other grilled options such as chicken, tuna and sausages. They also have comfort food like burgers, quesadillas, nachos and a salad selection, and even some Indonesian dishes like chicken and pork sate and Nasi Goreng. One thing you must have is the Martini, which locals will say is the “naughtiest” thing on the menu. Acclaimed American chef Anthony Bourdain stamped it as “the best martini in the world.” Their price points are quite low compared to the other restaurants in Bali. I would say that you will spend around 15-20USD per person.

Hamburger with Potato Wedges

Homemade Gourmet Sausage with Potato Wedges

Simple Green Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

METIS

For dinner that night, we decided to go to Metis for some fine dining. The place is truly breathtaking. The exterior shows modern Balinese style. You walk in and find yourself facing quaint accessory boutiques while the actual restaurant is outside. The music is low and soothing and the lounge areas overlook lily ponds and rice paddies. It is a feast for all the senses. It was no surprise that the price points are quite high, depending on what you order, but I would be ready to spend anywhere between 60-100USD per person.

Metis Exterior

Soft lighting at the dining area

Pretty evening view

I began my meal with the lobster bisque, which came with a crab tortellini. The soup had a nice consistency and was packed with flavor. The tortellini was a delicious little morsel of fresh crabmeat and finely chopped Portobello mushrooms. I wish there was more than one in there! I followed that with the grilled Australian lamb rack, which came with marinated artichoke heart, oven dried tomatoes, baked capsicum, black olives, roasted garlic and a rosemary jus. The side was a beautiful potato gratin. The lamb was nice, but underwhelming. The vegetables were all well cooked and well seasoned so I enjoyed them. I ended this meal on a sweet note, sampling their medley of a Caribe chocolate soufflé with a pistachio parfait.  The soufflé was light and airy and the pistachio cream that poured over it tasted so good. It also came with a refreshing pistachio ice cream, grapefruit confit and vanilla cream.

Lobster Bisque

Grilled Australian Lamb

Potato Gratin

Caribe Chocolate Souffle with Pistachio

LA LUCCIOLA

Brunch is my favorite meal. There is something about it that feels so festive. It was a beautiful morning so we opted to go to this beachfront Italian bistro called La Lucciola. Again, this place was breathtaking. It is a very open space with rustic interiors and a lush garden lined gorgeous palm trees facing the powdery sand and pristine ocean.

La Lucciola has two floors for diners. The top has a better view of the ocean while the bottom shows the lovely garden

Breathtaking frontage, mere steps from the ocean

The sun was blaring so I cooled off with a strawberry guava granita, which was fantastic. I then sampled the banana passion fruit, also a winner. Because it was brunch, I opted to start with something light so I ordered the zucchini flowers filled with mud crab, prawn, chili and lemon. The batter was crisp while the zucchini flower maintained its delicateness. The filling was delicious and fresh. My friend Natalia got the caprese salad, which I stole a bite from. The tomatoes were so sweet, a nice contrast to the caper infused dressing.

Banana – Passionfruit Granita and Strawberry – Guava Granita

Mini Sourdough

Crisp Zucchini Flowers with Mud Crab, Prawn, Chili and Lemon

Caprese

For my main, I decided on the crispy poached egg with prosciutto, asparagus and hollandaise. It was a fun play on eggs benedict. The egg was poached perfectly then breaded and fried. It was excellent. My friend Ines had the pan seared barramundi, which she enjoyed.

Crispy Poached Egg with Asparagus, Prosciutto and Hollandaise

Perfectly Poached Egg

Pan Seared Barramundi

I liked this place so much that I returned with my husband (he came to see me because my girls left a couple of days ahead) and we didn’t want to leave. We sampled their pizza rustica topped with Spanish chorizo, roasted eggplant, fresh rosemary and mozzarella. Of course, we have had better pizzas but it was still quite good with a nicely toasted crust. I would say that you will come here and spend about 20USD per head. With the view and the relaxed vibe, that price is more than reasonable… definitely worth every penny.

Pizza Rustica

Freshly Pressed Coffee

UBUD

DIRTY DUCK DINER

One restaurant that came highly recommended was Bebek Bengil or The Dirty Duck Diner. This place took us to Ubud, which is quite charming and has a cooler climate. The restaurant itself was a sight to behold. As you enter, it seems like a normal, open veranda, but when we were about to be seated, we were led to a beautiful tree-lined pathway beyond that space, with single detached cabanas around. Some cabanas had multiple tables while others were private. We sat in one that had a relaxed lounge with a beautiful view of the rice paddies that bordered the restaurant.

Tree lined Pathway

Cabanas

Coming from a morning trail in the monkey park, my husband and I were parched. I sampled their iced tea, which was refreshing, freshly brewed and flavored with fresh lime and syrup. My husband’s fresh young coconut juice was fantastic… I am usually not a fan.  It was different from our local buko here, not as sweet but because it was flavored with a spritz of lime, there was a nice contrast.

Iced Tea and Young Coconut Juice

We started with the escargot provencial, garlic snail served in a butter sauce infused with herbs.  This was to die for. We quickly finished it but even then I couldn’t stop dunking the accompanied garlic bread in the leftover sauce.

Escargot Provencial

I could not come to Indonesia and not sample their national dish, Nasi Goreng. The Indonesian fried rice topped with a fried egg and served with pork sate and kropek was delicious. The peanut sauce was crunchy and flavorful. I also could not come to the dirty duck diner and not sample their original crispy duck. It is a half portion steamed in Indonesian spices then deep fried to completely crisp up the skin. Served with white rice, pickled vegetables, bean sprouts and fresh chili, this dish was a real winner! This was one of the meals we didn’t spend too much on, around 15USD per head.

Nasi Goreng

Original Crispy Duck

JIMBARAN BAY

MENEGA CAFE

Menega Café is a beachfront restaurant in the heart of Jimbaran Bay. Though it is quite crowded because of its popularity, from there you can witness up close the beautiful Bali sunset. When you arrive, make sure you secure yourself a table first, especially if you are there at the peak hour right before dusk.

Tables By The Beach

Happy Hour Mojito

Though the menu is extensive, you must stick primarily to the grilled seafood. You choose them fresh then they are cooked on the spot. And even though seafood is light, your order comes with a basket of rice and a vegetable side, so rest assured, you will be satisfied.

Lobster

Clams

Our meal consisted of crabs, prawns and clams, which was more than enough for 2. You cannot go and not get the clams. Though everything was excellent, the clams were truly superb, the best I have ever tried. The sauce that it was brushed with was so good and I cannot even tell you what was in it. Just trust me… The clams! Because you are getting the freshest seafood, the place is quite pricey, but it also depends on what you order. Out meal cost about 150USD.

Crabs

Prawns

Clams

Complimentary Rice

Complimentary Vegetables

Dipping Sauces: Chili, Barbecue, Vinegar with Red Onion and Chili; Garlic Butter

This is a trip I won’t soon forget and one that comes highly recommended. Bali has many activities, is high in culture, has wonderful food and can be very relaxing. Before I end this post I would like to share something that has nothing to do with the dishes I savored but is a memory of Bali I hold dear to my heart. One of the things I wanted to do on the island was see a healer, someone to help guide me and open my eyes to a lighted path. Because of time constraints, I never got to do that. But in the hour and a half ride to Ubud from Seminyak, my driver truly served as an inspiration. He was such a happy fellow and his aura was contagious. Listening to him speak became therapeutic because even though he was driving, and all I could see was the back of his head, I could feel his big smile. When the topic came to religion, I wasn’t sure if he and I would agree on a take on spirituality as I am Catholic and he, Muslim. But he said something to me that I will never forget… he stated “Everyone has their own God, their own belief and they are all right. There may only be one God, but he manifests himself in many, many different ways.” Like him, the statement was simple, but so genuinely honest and true. So even if I did not see the healer I intended to, I definitely left the island with guidance and an open heart.

Some of My Best Girls – Sandra, Natalia & Ines

My Hubby Armand & I

 

Naughty Nuri’s

Jalan Batubelig, 41 | Kerobokan Kelod, Kerobokan

Metis

Jalan Petitenget No 6 | Kerobokan Kelod, Kerobokan

La Lucciola

Jl. Kayu Aya | Petitenget Beach, Seminyak

Dirty Duck Diner

Jalan Hanoman | Padang Tegal, Ubud

Menega Café

Jln Four Seasons Hotel, Muaya Beach, Nusa Dua

 

Details Magazine names Filipino Food “The Next Great Food Trend”

I was so happy to see the feature on Filipino cuisine in the September 2013 issue of Details magazine. The writer of the piece wondered how Filipino food has managed to stay under the radar for so long, which is something I have often questioned myself. I always tell people that the most Filipino parts of me are probably my taste buds because I love, love, love our local fare! This story explains the many different flavor notes our dishes hit and calls ours a ‘pork-centric’ cuisine. It also gives a short list on widely used terms in our local kitchens and dining tables such as ‘banana ketchup’, ‘lumpia’ and ‘tinapa’. With its gaining popularity, more and more Filipino restaurants have opened and Details has named it “the next great food trend.”

If you want to read the article, click this link: http://www.details.com/style-advice/food-and-drinks/201309/filipino-cuisine-new-asian-food-trend or you could grab a copy of the September issue of Details Magazine.