Let’s cook! Bistek Tagalog

I’m making lunch today and I had a thought to document the process. Bistek Tagalog is one of my absolute favorite Filipino dishes, and it’s very simple to make yourself so that’s a huge bonus. Now, I don’t remember where I got the recipe that I use. It’s been a note in my phone for over a year, but it works so that’s great! 😆

The ingredient list for this recipe is pretty short: soy sauce, calamansi (Philippine lime), pepper, beef tenderloin (I used breakfast steak), onions, and oil and butter. Calamansi is a key ingredient in this recipe, and although you can substitute it with lemon, there’s nothing like this citrus fruit from my homeland. 😊

So we start by putting together 1/4 cup calamansi juice, 1/3 cup soy sauce, and 1/4 tsp black pepper. Into this mixture, we put 1/2 kg of the beef, make sure they’re cut up into smaller pieces, although the size depends on you, and let it marinade for 15-20 minutes. I let it marinade for an hour or two, although I don’t know if this changes anything.

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After marinading, put some oil and butter in a pan and then sear the beef. Don’t forget to set aside the marinade as this will be used later on. This is the longest step in this recipe because the meat should be seared one layer at a time. I cooked 3/4 kg of beef and it took me about 30 minutes to sear everything–it really depends on the size of your pan and the amount you’re searing.

When all the beef is seared, set them aside and put the onions in the pan, sliced into rings, and cook them until they’re translucent. I like onions so I put in a large whole one, but the amount depends on your preference. When the onions are translucent, put the beef back into the pan and mix them in with the onions. Pour the marinade into the pan, as well as 1/4 cup water, and let them simmer for about 2 to 3 minutes.

That’s it! Pretty simple right? This is a classic Filipino dish that I think you will enjoy. It’s savory and kind of sour, with some sweetness coming from the onions, and it pairs very well with white rice. Try it yourself and let me know what you think. 😁

’til next time,

🐰❤️

P.S. – I had to leave right after cooking and then chowed down as soon as I got home so I wasn’t able to take a photo of the final product. Sorry about that. 😅

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Cali galleries: In-N-Out.

These next 2 posts happened in the same day–my last tourist day in San Diego. If you want to check out the rest of this series, go ahead and click here. I spent two weeks in California meeting with family and friends, and being a tourist. This series documents this trip. Go ahead and check it out! 😄

This day’s adventure started with lunch at no other place than In-N-Out. I’ve heard so many things about this place, and have been told that it’s something that must be tried when in California. I was really excited to finally be trying such a popular thing. I nearly jumped out of the car when we parked. BURGEEEER YAAAAAASS. 😆

In all the time that I’ve seen and heard people talk about In-N-Out, I heard hype around pretty much the same thing–Animal Style. It’s an item on their not-so-secret secret menu, and means the addition of grilled onions, cheese, and extra sauce. Given its popularity, it was clear what my order was going to be–a double double and fries, both Animal Style. 😁IMG_4895

Look at that beaut. It took a lot of restraint to not chow down as soon as the food arrived, but I had to take a photo first–if not for the blog, then for my own memory bank. I took this and another one and then, finally, FINALLYate my lunch. 🤤

The burger was really good and I’d definitely have it again, but it wasn’t as amazing to me as the hype made it out to be. Maybe it was just the fact that I heard too much hype about it, or maybe I just eat too many burgers. Again though, it was super good and filling, and I’ll definitely be going back when I can. 😁

So yeah, just a short post to start off the last tourist day. I’ve gotta say, it was a great start–stomach, heart, and soul full (burgers really make me happy 😆). What followed is a very tiring and fun day–but that’s for the next post. Thanks for sticking with me! 😄

’til next time,

🐰❤️

Surf and sea: Day 1.

It’s been a while since I went on a road trip (Tagaytay doesn’t really count because it’s only about 2 to 2 and a half hours away), so when I knew that a long weekend was coming up, I decided it would be a good time to go somewhere and take a break. It’s also been quite some time since I’ve gone to the beach, so that’s where I decided to go. 😁

We left at around 8:30 AM in order to arrive in time for check in at Costa Villa Beach Resort at 2:00 PM. Holy shiitake, that was an insanely long drive. Granted, I wasn’t driving, but I was already incredibly tired so I could only imagine how much more tried the driver was. It was about 3 and a half hours on the road, going through three different expressways. 😵

One thing we forgot to do before leaving Manila was getting cash for the trip. So there was a point that we were getting quite frantic when we reached the La Union area because there were barely any banks. We ended up having to go on another hour driving in search of a bank after checking in just so we had funds. So that was crazy. 😅

The place we stayed at was simple and of a really good value. What could possibly be my favorite part about Costa Villa is the fact that it isn’t located right in the center of surf town. It’s located a little past it which gives them a separate strip of beach that isn’t as crowded and gives a bit more of a private feel. And if you wanted to check out the bars and food places in surf town, it’s just a few minutes walk away. 😊

When we got back, we didn’t waste any more time. We changed into our swim clothes and headed down to the beach to check it out–but couldn’t resist jumping into the water and playing in the waves. We were there for about an hour, and then we rinsed off and relaxed a bit before going out for dinner. 😊

We walked down the beach to get to our dinner destination. It was nice, walking by the waves as the sun started to set. In ten minutes, we arrived at Mad Monkeys, and tried their burgers with beer cheese sauce. I’ve got to say, the patties were perfectly cooked, and the cheese sauce just added to the rich flavor of the sandwich. It goes really well with the beverages we got them with (beer and orange soda), and was a really taste bud satisfying meal. I love love love burgers, and this has my two thumbs up. 😁

After dinner, we started walking back to our room. This time we walked on the road–it was a bit too dark to walk by the sea. I knew we were going to pass by a well known coffee place called El Union on the way back, but I didn’t plan or expect to be dropping in that night. When we passed it by though, I was immediately pulled towards it. 😊

The place itself emits such a chill vibe, and the people there–from the staff to the patrons, were just as chill. We approached the counter and stared at the menu for a bit. They’re popular for their brews–the owner is the reigning World Barista Champion (So flippin cool)–but they’re also known for a drink called Horchata that’s made with rice milk, cinnamon, and vanilla. 😊

We were pretty full from dinner, so we decided not to get any particular food just then, but we decided to try the Dirty Horchata. This drink is their Horchata with a shot of espresso, and is a very interesting and delicious beverage. I, for one, am not a fan of cinnamon, but the espresso balances everything out and was just a delight. 😄

This drink pretty much ended our day. We went back to the resort, got some beers, and drank while munching on chips and watching a movie. It was a good day. Our short vacation has officially begun. 😁

’til next time,

🐰❤️

Cali galleries: Boodle fight!

Welcome back! In the last post, we started with the second day of my family reunion. If you want to check that out, or any other post in this series, go ahead and click here. We’ve taken in the view and the air in Mt. Helix, and we’ve gone home to take some time to relax as we waited for the next event. 😊

The Filipino culture is one of community–even to the point of some opening their homes during fiestas and inviting strangers to grab a bite. Also exemplifying this is something called a boodle fight–a giant spread of food on top of banana leaves. The idea is that everyone stands around the table, and everyone, at the same time, eats off of the spread with their hands. This was the next event of our day. 😄

While most of us were lounging around, some of the tita‘s and tito‘s fired up the grill to start cooking the seafood and meat for the boodle. The comment later that night was that something that took hours to prepare was devoured in minutes. It was such a fun dinner, and the time-lapse that was taken was funny to watch. This was the aftermath (about 10-15 minutes later). 😆IMG_4783

It was a pretty quick dinner, filled with laughter and good food. The night wasn’t over though–the family decided to make more out of the day and go bowling. That was the end of the family reunion. When we got home that night, most of our relatives started packing their things, readying them for their departure the next day. It was a pretty short reunion, but it was very very sweet. 😊

This wasn’t the end of my adventure tho. 😉

’til next time,

🐰❤️

Size matters.

A few years back, I went to this thing in La Union, and I got a bite of a burger from one of the concessionaires. The bite was so good that when I got back to Manila, I looked up the place to check if they had stores nearby. The upside was that they did. The downside was there was only one near me. I made a mental note to check it out, but never really got to. 😔

A few weeks ago, I went to Alabang Town Center in Muntinlupa and, knowing that one of their branches was there, I decided to finally grab a bite there. SIZE matters in ATC is pretty small, just 3 tables and a bar. Their menu is more diverse than I expected, with rice meals and pasta dishes that can cater to those that don’t particularly want sandwich type food. 😊

I asked what their best-sellers were and, surprisingly, their top two aren’t sausage burgers. Their number 1, the T.W.B. (The Works Burger) is composed of a monterey jack stuffed beef patty, bacon, american cheddar, lettuce, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, and an oat bun, with a choice of garlic cream cheese or bleu cheese. Their number 2, the B.S.B. (Beef & Sausage Burger), is composed of a beef and sausage patty, garlic mushrooms, colby jack, lettuce, onions, tomatoes, and an oat bun. 🤤

We got one of each of these burgers, just to see if we could taste a difference between the patties, as well as a single order of their chili cheese fries. Let me tell you, when the food got served, I’m pretty sure I started to palpitate. They looked SO good, and showed me that they pay attention to the appearance of the food they serve. They don’t stop there though, everything we got tasted really good. I didn’t get to take a shot of the T.W.B. but here are the fries and the B.S.B. 😄

Imagine: a gourmet tasting burger for a not-so-gourmet price. I think it was absolutely amazing. My thought from when I first had a bite years ago, that of wishing they were more common, just kept ringing in my head as I took bite after bite. Burgers are one of my favorite things to eat, and Size Matters is up on my list of local places to go. Their staff is nice, their food (at least the two burgers and cheese fries we tried) both looks and tastes good, and I will definitely be returning to try more of their menu. 😁

So yeah, if you ever come across this place, and you really love burgers, I really do suggest you give it a shot. They have two branches–one in Alabang Town Center and one in SM City North Edsa. If you do end up checking them out, lemme know what you think, okay? 😄

’til next time,

🐰❤️

Cali galleries: Lucille’s flying pig lounge.

No trip would be complete without checking out the local food scene. I’m a huge fan of barbecue, so when my mother’s friend suggested we have lunch at this really good barbecue place, I was stoked. 😆

From the minute you enter the place, you are bombarded with the scent of food being grilled, as well as the visuals of the decor around the place. It was kind of crazy in the sense that there wasn’t really a single theme to the whole place–the bar area was dimly lit and, for lack of a better word, bar-like, but the outer extensions of the bar seemed to have a more homey vibe to them. Their setup was kind both in-cohesive and cohesive at the same time, if that makes any sense at all. 😆IMG_4547

Now on to the food. So Lucille’s has 3 different barbecue sauces that you can try when you eat there, and purchase to take home if you’re into it. I tried all three, and my favorite is probably the original. The Memphis sauce was a bit to tangy for my liking, and I was never really a hot & spicy type of girl. 😕IMG_4548.JPG

When I was looking through their beverage selection, I saw the words “Muddy Waters” and I was so fascinated by the name, I just had to try it (although my tita did say that it was a good drink too). The drink is a mix of iced tea and lemonade, which isn’t too unusual a drink mix. Back in Manila, actually, I liked to mix different drinks and this was a mix I’ve tried. There is a difference though–iced tea in the States is different from Iced tea in the Philippines. I can’t explain it, but even International sweet tea is not the same as the iced tea I’m used to. 😆IMG_4549

Let me tell you, that was soooo good. Again, it’s different from what I’m used to, but it was such an awesome mix of sweet, bitter, and sour. Aside from the flavor itself though, the drink also looked cool with the gradient of brown to yellow in the huge mason jar. It makes it look all the more elegant and chill. 😊

IMG_4550.JPGOkay, now on to the food. Let’s begin with the biscuits and Honey Apple Butter. Now, I’m not really a big fan of biscuits and butter, but as always, I didn’t knock it ’til I tried it. It was different from other things I’ve tried. As can be guessed from its name, the butter was sweet–and way different from what I’m used to. It wasn’t bad at all, but not exactly my type. 😕

IMG_4551Next up is what my tita said was a must try for this place: their Onion Straws. This is Lucille’s version of onion rings–thin strands battered with buttermilk, seasoned, deep fried, and served with their BBQ ranch dip. It was amazing. First of all, when they put it down on the table, I was surprised at the size of the serving, it was just a mountain of onions and I got excited. I love onion rings, but am kind of picky about it, and this was just really really good. In a way, it was both something very familiar, and wonderfully surprising. 😊

Now for the main. When I was looking at the menu, I had a really hard time deciding what to eat because there were so many choices and they all looked good. I then found that they had lunch combos. It was an opportunity to try multiple items on one plate, but not too much of each. I decided to get their St. Louis Spareribs with Brisket Burnt Ends and Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes. 😄IMG_4552

The photo I took doesn’t quite look too appetizing, and I think it looks smaller than what it actually was. The serving was pretty big, almost too big for me (and can eat A LOT). It was a really good combination, and each item was good on its own. I was worried that having two barbecue meat dishes would be overwhelming, but it really wasn’t. The ribs were delicious, they were really tender and slipped off the bone, and they just tasted like really good ribs. The burnt ends, I thought, took the best part of barbecue (the charred bits) and let it stand alone. It may not be the healthiest thing in the world, but boy was it good. The garlic mashed potatoes accompanied the two grilled dishes well, while at the same time being able to stand on its own. It wasn’t the type of thing that I couldn’t eat by itself. 😊

After finishing the main, I was so stuffed that I didn’t have space for dessert, so I missed out on that on this visit. I’ll have to try it next time, and there will be a next time. I really enjoyed my meal here. Their decor, their servers, their food–everything just came together in an upbeat and energizing way. If you happen to pass by one of their locations, I say check it out if you haven’t yet. So yeah, that’s it for this installment. 😄

’til next time,

🐰❤️

P.S. – Check out the introduction to this series here. Links to the other posts are here too. 😄

Golden day: the food.

A few weeks back, I wrote about going to a restaurant in the city for a surprise celebration for a family friend. I mentioned in that post that the food served was amazing. This is just a little post to accompany that post, one that focuses on the food. This isn’t going to be a long one, but I hope you enjoy it anyway. 😊

The place was called Maggiano’s Little Italy, and we were in the banquet building behind the main restaurant. The place was so pretty and seemed to me to be such a fancy place to be in. Side note: I wore my favorite wolf sweater, leggings, and my gray Vans and I felt under dressed when I saw the other people coming in. 😳

Each round table seated around 10 people, and each person was set with a bigger and smaller plate, a napkin, three forks, a knife, and a teaspoon. This just adds to the fanciness of the place and event. Each person also had a glass of water, as well as the option to get drinks at the bar area of the banquet hall–I got sweet tea. 😆

The first course was essentially the appetizer course. It was composed of ciabatta rolls and butter, stuffed mushrooms, calamari, and the house salad. It was a family style setting, so big serving platters were put at the center of the table, and we passed it around as each person put some on their plate. All of it was so good. ☺️

You can’t really go wrong with rolls and butter so that wasn’t a surprise, and calamari is one of my favorite starters so that wasn’t a surprise either, but I’m not really a salad person and I have never tried stuffed mushrooms of any sort, so these last two were very very pleasant surprises. 😊

Both dishes were very simple in terms of ingredients. The salad consisted of prosciutto, lettuce, onions, blue cheese, and their house dressing, and the mushrooms were stuffed with spinach, garlic, and stuffed bread crumbs. Both dishes were so good, and everything kind of went together too. 😊

There were three entrees in the second course: their signature Rigatoni “D”, oven-roasted pork loin with cream sauce and mashed potatoes, and chicken picatta. The pasta was kind of sweet and was better with the other entrees than by itself, I think, but still good. When I got a piece of chicken, I avoided the capers because those are a bit too strong a taste for me, but even without the capers, the chicken was good, and good with the spinach too. The roast pork was my favorite of these three dishes. It was so tasty and the mashed potato was a really really good pairing. I loved it. 😊

Dessert time! There were two sweets on the menu tonight, Apple Crostada and Tiramisu, and when I saw them on their plates, I just had to take a photo of them on their platters. They looked so pretty and soooooo good. 😆

The Apple Crostada was a dessert akin to an apple pie or tart, it is cinnamon-y apples in a crispy and layer-y sugared crust, topped with vanilla ice cream and drizzled with caramel. I don’t think I could properly describe how it tastes, but it’s like an elevated apple pie a la mode. The crispiness of the warm crust goes really well with the cold ice cream, and all the components of it just go together in a way that makes it taste just right–not too sweet but not bland at all. ☺️

Tiramisu is a traditional Italian dessert made with coffee soaked lady fingers, whipping cream and marscarpone cheese, some people add rum or coffee liqueur. It’s kind of a sophisticated dessert, and goes really well with espresso. Like the Apple Crostada, it isn’t too sweet but is oh so delicious. ☺️

Nine dishes and a few hours of a cool experience. ☺️ If you find yourself in Chicago, I suggest you check out Maggiano’s too! I will definitely be visiting again soon. 😄

’til next time,

🐰❤️