Sunday, June 10, 2012

Food, Glorious Food

     Food - it nourishes the body and soul, provides fuel for us to keep going in our day to day activities and a good reason for friends and family to gather round. I am one of those people who likes to cook, but I love eating even more. One of my dream jobs is to either be a food critic or food blogger, traveling all over the world to try different cuisines and writing about them. Since that's not the reality, I'll be content with sharing some of my favorite foods.

green mango salad
     I like different salads like the usual Ceasar's or house salads that they serve in restaurants. But my favorites are potato salad and green mango salad. I like potato salad best when it has some chicken and boiled eggs, and just the right amount of mayo. Mango salad is a salad that I've only had in the Philippines although other Asian countries have their own versions. It's made with green mangoes (I like Indian mangoes best), tomatoes, onions, bagoong (fermented shrimp paste) and chicharon (pork rinds). It's a good side for grilled meat or fish but I can definitely eat this salad on its own.


sizzling sisig

tokwa't baboy
     I love eating meat or chicken more than fish or seafood, so I have quite a few favorites.  There's this pork dish called tokwa't baboy that's made of chopped up and browned pig's ears and pork, diced fried tofu, vinegar, salt, and onions. This can be an appetizer but is more popular as an accompaniment to beer. I prefer to eat it with rice. A similar dish is sisig, also made of chopped up pork and pig's ears, pan fried with salt and pepper to taste until crispy. This is served still sizzling on a hot plate. Just thinking about those two dishes makes me drool. Among grilled meats, liempo (pork belly) is my favorite, dipped in a mix of soy sauce, vinegar and chillies. Yum! Lastly, I can't forget the rich taste of peking duck. The crispy skin and flavorful meat is just so good I loved it the first time I tried it. Unfortunately it's also high in cholesterol so not a good thing to eat often.


seared scallops
     I've already said that I prefer meat to seafood, but that doesn't mean I don't eat it. I do, and have some favorites as well. I'm very partial to ebi (shrimp) tempura that I'll have it whenever I see it on the menu. There's something about the tempura batter coupled with the flavor of shrimp that I find so addicting. Aside from tempura, I also love calamari. This is the go to appetizer for me and hubby. We love it so much that even if it's still too hot to eat we attack the plate as soon as we get it. Not all of my favorite seafood are battered and fried though. And in this category belongs scallops, a type of shellfish that I first ate when I was in Hong Kong. I like them simply sauteed or seared, done just right that the meat is tender and almost melts in your mouth. I don't often find this on menus though so I don't get to eat it as much I'd like.


pansit malabon
     I know a lot of people who like spaghetti or pansit bihon (vermicelli noodles), both staples at Filipino parties and special occasions, but I am not one of them. Given a choice, I would rather have pansit Malabon (aka palabok) which is my all time favorite. I love everything about this noodle dish. I love the salty sauce and the thickish noodles; I love the many toppings - squid, shrimp, boiled eggs, crushed pork rind, pork/chicken/beef pieces and chinese cabbage strips. Having a plate (or two, or three) of this makes me and my tummy very happy.


pecan pie
cinnamon rolls
      I definitely have a sweet tooth so I love ice cream, cakes, pastries and pies. I'm also a chocolate lover, so it's a foregone conclusion that I love chocolate cakes. That aside, I do have other favorite dessert options. At the top of the list are cinnamon rolls. Those gooey rolls oozing with their melted sugar and cinnamon filling, sometimes with nuts or cream cheese icing - just the smell of them makes me drool. There's nothing like a hot cinnamon roll and a cup of hot coffee or tea. Next is my favorite pie, which is pecan pie. I love it when the filling is not too sweet, with just the right amount of pecans to syrup ratio. I also adore cheesecakes, which I think of as a kind of pie. I like all kinds of flavors, but sometimes New York style is simply the best. Lastly, I would like to make a special mention of my favorite ice cream flavor, Turkey Hill's Butter Pecan. It's a very simple mix of vanilla ice cream and roasted pecans, but there's something about this sweet and slightly salty ice cream that I just love.


kwek kwek
    Street foods make a quick and tasty snack when on the go or simply having an attack of the munchies. Kwek kwek is the quintessential street food that I can't have enough of. It's basically boiled quail eggs that are battered and fried, then dipped in a sweet and spicy sauce. I used to eat about two dozen of these in one sitting, that's how much I love them. A close second to them is a tie between squid balls and siomai. I can easily finish about a dozen squid balls, dipped in sweet and spicy sauce of course. Meanwhile, siomai is best when dipped in chili soy sauce. Hen Lin used to be my go to place for these absolutely yummy dumplings. Don't ask me how many I can eat, it's a secret.


     To round out the list on a healthy note, I'd like to mention some of my favorite fruits. Oranges are my number one fruit, particularly mandarin oranges. I love how they are so easy to peel and have such a sweet scent and taste. In the same category are clementines, citrus fruits that I like to think of as mini oranges. I also love sweet cherries when they're in season. My favorites among the tropical fruits are lychees, rambutan and guyabano (aka soursop/guanabana/pawpaw). Lychees and rambutans belong to the same family, thus their similar appearance and taste. Guyabano is a spiky skinned fruit that has a slightly sour taste. What I like about all three fruits is their juiciness and refreshing taste. For me, they are at their best after being chilled.

     This has been a rather lengthy but by no means exhaustive list of the things I love to eat. I've definitely enjoyed writing about them as much as I enjoy eating them. Now it's time to raid the fridge.

© Margj Castillo, Between You and Me, 2010 - Present.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Simple Pleasures

     I am by nature someone quite easy to please. I laugh out loud at the silliest jokes, give a sigh of content over a hot cup of lemon tea. And today being a cool, rainy Monday in summer I'm glad I don't have anywhere to go and can just snuggle in bed with a hot mug of tea. Here are a few more things that bring a smile to my face:

  - eating a slice of moist, really scrumptious chocolate cake
  - seeing a cute animal in unexpected places (like the baby bunny I saw early one morning on my way to work)
  - getting hugs and kisses from hubby

  - getting email containing good news from family and friends
  - seeing someone empty a plate of food that I'd cooked
  - eating any of my favorite foods
  - hearing a song that I like

  - having a refreshing bath at the end of a long tiring day

     So, what makes YOU smile?

© Margj Castillo, Between You and Me, 2010 - Present.