Archive for March, 2011|Monthly archive page

swagat – homestyle indian cooking

In eating in manila on March 28, 2011 at 1:27 pm

amidst the proliferation of indian restaurants in manila, one remains to be a favorite. swagat, located along rada street in makati, doesn’t offer any swanky interiors – the furnishing is simple and is reflective of what seems to be their general philosophy. they don’t offer styled food, but instead cook up very homey dishes. the sort of cooking i would imagine a homesick native to long for.

we started with an appetizer, bhel puri (P100) which was originally recommended to me by a former indian officemate

this isn’t even a cooked dish. tomatoes, chick peas, onions and puffed rice mixed in with some spices. nice and light and serves its purpose of whetting the appetite perfectly.

we cannot do without ordering palak paneer – homemade cottage cheese in spinach – and so we had to try the swagat version (P140)

immediately we noticed the color. it wasn’t bright green. but we didn’t mind because this color looks more like what a pureed leaf would look like. flavor-wise, spot on. quite fresh, actually.

the third dish was aloo bhindi (P105) or okra stewed in masala spices

first time to try something like this and it was interesting. not as familiar as other indian dishes like curries or tandooris, but a nice change of pace. it had a strong smoky flavor making it seem  like it came out of the grill. will try this again but with other vegetables.

given there seems to be only one branch of this restaurant, it’s not as accessible as more popular choices like new bombay, but if you like indian food then swagat is certainly a must try.

eating in bohol – off the menu

In places, Uncategorized on March 23, 2011 at 10:21 am

the best dishes we’ve had in cebu were actually those not found on regular menus. like this seaweed salad

we asked the resort kitchen to buy some lato (seaweed) in the market and they were happy to oblige. they just charged us for the seaweed and a P50 prep charge. not bad at all!

the other find happened one day when we were lounging by the beach and we saw these people walking by carrying buckets.

looked like a fresh catch of something so we ran down and peered into the buckets and saw these

aninikad, or a small sea snail a relative of the popular bahamian conch. freshly harvested from the seagrass. looked perfect – and at P15 for a 1-liter container, a no-brainer buy. so we took our haul to the kitchen and asked them to make a soup

it was warm and gingery and tasted of the sea. perfect. that P15 buy plus the P50 cooking charge lasted us two meals. memorable.

so now we’ve determined to try this at every island place we go – ask where we can find fresh local catch and have it prepared. we have a sneaking suspicion that whatever it is, it will surely be good.

food at linaw beach resort

In places on March 21, 2011 at 10:32 am

since we were at linaw which wasn’t near any restaurant strip, we mostly ate at the resort. for our first dinner there, we decided to order their speciality, the seafood platter

this had 2 lobsters, a crab, a bunch of shrimp, some squid and some cooked clams. at P550/head, it is indeed cheap. unfortunately, it wasn’t all that good. the seafood was largely overcooked removing most of the succulence. the cooks at linaw also have this love affair with an herb (we’re not sure, we think it’s oregano) that they use much too liberally.

dessert was much better: grilled pineapple with chocolate sauce and ice cream

linaw offers a buffet breakfast. but at the price of P350, it wasn’t worth it. the selection was too small. instead, we discovered on the menu bacon and eggs for P90. that was much more like it

this had enough bacon and egg to make us happy each morning. so yeah, we had it everyday. with some yogurt to ease the cholesterol levels.

the nice surprise we discovered at linaw was their pizza

the crusts would be think and crisp and the tops perfectly gooey. as soon as we tried one, we just kept going having pizza for merienda, dinner… at around P200 per pizza, it wasn’t bad at all.

but the best meals we had in bohol were the ones not found on any menu – and will be the subject of the next post.

linaw beach resort in bohol

In places on March 17, 2011 at 9:05 am

another super long overdue post.

we spent the christmas vacation in bohol. it was tough deciding where to stay – so many to choose from! in the end we went with other reviewers and picked linaw beach resort on the southern tip of panglao

the resort was pleasant in the sense that it’s very private. it’s not adjacent to any commercial resort and so there aren’t really other people aside from the guests – and given the resort isn’t that big, there is not much chance of crowding.

we booked a deluxe seaview room (P4950/night peak season rate), which was on the ground floor facing the pool and we were surprised at how big the room was

this we appreciated a lot because were were there for 4 nights and with the room size, we really didn’t have to worry about where to put things, etc.

the staff was also very efficient and helpful (more about that in the food post following this) and we booked all our tours through linaw at reasonable rates. so all in all, we would recommend this as a good base in bohol. the only possible downside is that the beach is not a swimming beach

you can see how low the water is exposing all the seagrass. so while there’s sunbathing facilities like those chairs, you can’t take a dip in the ocean. but since we went snorkeling and visited another island for the whole dip experience, we really didn’t mind this time around.

and bohol just isn’t about the beach anyway. there’s so much to do, all one needs is a comfortable place to return to at the end of the day and for that linaw is one of the better options out there.

a weekday lunch date at cav

In eating in manila on March 13, 2011 at 9:28 pm

we availed of a voucher from deal grocer which entitled us to a three-course lunch from cav for P490 (50% discount). the voucher specified we had to go on a weekday, so we did. one tuesday we headed out in eager anticipation. honestly, i was more excited about the wine because i knew cav had this

a selection of over a dozen wines that we could try either with tasting portions, half glass or a full glass. but since it was the middle of the day, we only had enough wine to go with lunch which was, rightfully, the star of the show.

starting with a smoked salmon salad

a great way to start lunch. very bright and vibrant flavors. and what’s not to like about smoked salmon?

main course was braised lamb shoulder

this was good, but not great. it was the tenderness of the lamb that really impressed me the most. the pork twill on top – which tasted almost like chinese pork floss – added a nice counterpoint to the dish.

but the best course had to be dessert. a deconstructed carrot cake

first of all, we’re suckers for anything served on tiles. and this dessert was just overall clever. the swirls on the side was the icing and the classic cinnamon taste actually came from the ice cream. the orange squares on top of the cake was carrot jelly. very nice.

i don’t know if this meal was worth the full price of P890. probably not. but at P490, it was certainly a good deal and one we were more than happy to have sampled.