San Francisco Union Square Food Crawl

wpid-20150808_122901.jpgThis trip we skipped the popular Fisherman’s Wharf and decided to thoroughly explore Union Square on foot.  Amy is one of my best friends and host in the bay area. She arranged accommodations at the Hilton Hotel because parking is ridiculously expensive in San Francisco.  Amy and her family love to eat, so I share with you our “heart of the city” Union Square foodie adventures:wpid-20150807_143501.jpg



1.  Cheesecake Factory – this iconic and touristy restaurant is located at the 8th Floor of the Macy’s Building. You need to take an old elevator to get to the top. The patio view is perfect for taking great pictures of Union Square.  Large food portions!

wpid-20150808_130721-1.jpg 2. Café de la Presse – voted as one of the best restaurants in the area. It is located just across the entrance of China Town. This restaurant is reminiscent of a Parisian café with food offerings such as escargot and beef Burgundy. It has a nice cozy ambiance, good food and an extensive wine list. Try the steak frites!

3. China Town – nice to explore the little shops and dim sum restaurants. The list for China Town restaurants is too long but here’s  the link:

4.  Tad’s Steak House – a SFO classic that has been around for decades. The old diner is a place to go to for sentimental reasons. I had the steak sandwich and it was yummy.wpid-20150808_143822.jpg

5. Senior Sisig – is a Filipino- Mexican fusion taco truck. Filipino style minced meat is used in the recipes. Must try sisig taco and sisig burrito! Check the website for their daily location. Mabuhay Philippines!

6. Sushirrito – is another burrito concept using Japanese ingredients. It is a giant sushi roll. It’s a big hit among the millennials.  Must try Geisha’s Kiss  (Yellowfin Tuna (Hand-Line Caught), Tamago, Piquillo Peppers, Lotus Chips, Namasu Cucumber, Green Leaf Lettuce, Ginger Guac, Yuzu Tobiko, Sesame White Soya) !

wpid-20150812_211458.jpgI couldn’t leave San Francisco without having a bowl of clam chowder on sourdough, so I had one at the airport just before leaving.  I am back in Manila as I write this blog. Thank you Amy for a wonderful time!

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Portland Food Trip

wpid-20150801_145742.jpgThe Oregon coast is a beautiful drive. We were coming from California while my brother drove down from Canada. Portland  is midway and the shopping is tax-free!!wpid-20150801_114629.jpg

It’s really the many bridges that welcome you to the city. We rented a quaint wooden summer cottage across the river. The Californians were happy to get drive-thru coffee at Dutch Brothers, it was the indicator (according to Waze) that we reached our destination.
Microbreweries are everywhere in Portland. The place is known as the craft beer brewing capital of America; even the groceries offer a wide selection of homemade flavors.  As for wine, Oregon is known for cool climate Pinot Noir!!

wpid-20150801_130203.jpgThe street or food cart culture is also very strong. We got to explore the Portland Saturday Market located downtown. The summer heat was unbearable so instead of trying a food truck I escaped to a rated restaurant called Sube Sushi. I sat by the sushi bar, relished my food and enjoyed the AC.

Later I explored the riverbank and someone tried to offer me weed! Oh my! Cannabis is legal here!

I regrouped with my family and found our youngsters with a box of Voodoo doughnuts. They told me it’s one of those things you must try in Oregon.

Portland for me is an oxymoron. It has a strong hipster culture with health buffs patronizing “farm to table” restaurants, vegetarian, organic and healthy food.  Ironically it also has a strong hippie culture of long bearded men smoking marijuana.  Over craft beer I pondered if this place is more hippie or hipster??

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Chef Pam Obieta’s Chicken Adobo


Thank you Spicebox Travels !

Originally posted on spicebox travels:

adobo garniLast fall, I had the amazing opportunity to accompany my husband on a multi-Asian destination work trip.  Our first stop was in Manila.  I had only 30 hours or so, so I spent my one full day there not shopping, as most people staying in the fashionable suburb of Makati would, but learning to cook.  Previously, I shared my experience cooking with Chef Pam Obieta, and her recipe for PInakbet, Filipino Vegetable Stew.  Chef Pam runs the culinary program at De La Salle University, and has recently opened her private kitchen to teach cooking classes. I can say that she taught me everything I know about Filipino cooking!

Since my return, the one recipe which I’ve made over and over is the one Filipino dish most familiar to non-Filipinos– adobo.  It’s a classic for a reason.  It’s simple and made with readily available ingredients, and quick to cook, belying…

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Rainbow pepper

Here is a “celebrate pride” pepper!


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Cebu’s Tabo-an Market

Tabo-an is a famous public market located in Cebu. This place was featured by Chef Anthony Bourdain during his trip to the Philippines. Tabo-an market sells dried fish and seafood sourced from the nearby islands. The most popular fish identified with Cebu is danggit (rabbit fish) and is sold here at wholesale prices. The vendors neatly arrange and seal your purchase in plastic to contain the odor. You might pick up that stinky scent of fish in your hair and clothes as you wander around the stalls.  That smell is part and so worth the adventure :)wpid-20150606_141802.jpg

Different kinds of dried fish or seafood in Tabo-an:

Dulong (baudnon)
Fish Tapa
Fish Tocino
Pusit (squid)
Shredded squid
Tarorot (squid)
Tocino bones


wpid-20150606_141935.jpgOther Cebu items available:
Cebu chorizo
Dried mangoes
Little Guitars


How to get to the market:
Taxis are safe and cheap in Cebu. It is for me the best way to get market

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Dumaguete to Apo Island

The dive boat docks at sea near Apo Island. We swim to shore and later snorkel with the giant turtles that nest in shallow waters. The turtles are huge, old and are larger than me!!! I counted five big ones!   Around lunch time we are hungry and find the sandwiches on the boat insufficient. We need a rice dish because we are Filipino. We swim back  and search for food among the natives in this little remote island.

Me: “We would like to order fish or seafood for our lunch.”
Local lady : “No fish available”
Me: “But we are on an island!”
Local lady: “This is a marine sanctuary, no fishing allowed, chicken only.”
Me: “Okay, chicken for four people with rice. How much would it cost?”
Local lady: “I don’t know. First I will catch the chicken. Then weigh it after it is killed and the feathers are removed. Then add the cost of the other ingredients”
Me: “Oh so you need to catch a chicken first ?!??? Alright let me know how much. Can we eat in that little hut by the beach?”
Local lady: “I have to rent place from friend, not mine. Also need to borrow plates and utensils.” Then she starts computing.
Me: “Can you just give me a price? How about P200 (4 Euros) per person for everything?”
Local lady:  “ Okay I catch chicken now. Come back in 2 hours”

I was expecting simple food but she served us a perfectly cooked chicken stew with paprika and bell peppers using wood fire. Where she got the other ingredients I still wonder. It was nourishing and pleasantly delicious!

Accommodation and best place to stay in Dumaguete:

Chef Gabby del Prado has the best food in town!! He also helped arrange our day trips to Apo Island and Siquijor with his resort as our base.
Gabby’s Bed and Breakfast
Florentina  Homes

Dumaguete to Apo Island:

Harold’s Dive Center – snorkeling P1000 whole day with land arrangements, boat, gear and sandwich on the boat

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The faith healers of the paradise island of Siquijor

IMG_0554Black Saturday on the  eve of the blood moon, we went to Bandilaan to attend a potion brewing festival on top of the mountain. Every Good Friday local and international healers, herbalist, witches and warlocks convene to make concoctions in Siquijor. It is a tiny island located south of the Philippines. 


Minerals, herbs, trees barks, plant roots and “other” ingredients are prepared and gathered together.  Then a base brew for potions and herbal medicine with healing powers is cooked in a gigantic communal wok. This Holy Week tradition started in the 1930’s by the famous faith healers from the villages of Cantabon and San Antonio. Today the Philippine Tourism Department organizes the festival with different food stalls, healing and charms booths.    


IMG_0593When I was younger I was afraid of going to Siquijor.  The urban legend was that it was a mystical place of voodoo magic. I spent Easter break in Dumaguete and from there we Continue reading

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