Rock Salt restaurant in Timog satisfies

In a nutshell: This a review of a new restaurant in Timog called “Rock Salt.”

Last night, after a fruitless attempt to get into Trinoma for its Green Light Sale – luckily, we were also there the night before, where we were able to secure a 15% discount on iPod earphones (with remote and microphone) – Cathy and I decided to drive along Timog Avenue looking for a restaurant in Quezon City to eat in. Because I had kare-kare for lunch, I didn’t feel like eating at Jay-J’s Inasal, which is usually where we eat when we’re in that area, so we decided to look around.

We then saw a Timog restaurant nearby, right beside Savory Chicken (which is another delicious place to eat). I gotta admit that the font of its name was what attracted me to the restaurant, which called itself Rock Salt. We walked in and were pleasantly surprised to find out that 1) the first level was a lounge for customers to wait if the second floor was full of diners, and 2) it’s a hatchery for a culinary institute! “Eh, eat food cooked by students?” was my first thought. Then again, my wife does do work for DLS-CSB, and I’ve had good food cooked by the kids over there, so I figured what the heck.

Rock Salt was decorated tastefully, with mostly creamy-white furniture and new art. Deciding to eat there was a good decision, because the food at the Rock Salt restaurant in Quezon City is awesome! Pics – grainy ones shot with my Nokia 5300, sorry – follow with my comments on each item.

The angry shrimp cakes were perfectly cooked. Just the right amount of crispness. The side chili sauces come in two variants, mild and hot. Delicious, guys!

This nice little collage of various food-related pictures and images decorate the stairwell leading to the dining area.

Notice the pretty girl, then the pretty wire bowls hanging on the wall.

Some of the students hard at work.

This is their Cheese Steak Burger, obviously based on the Philly Cheese Steak premise. I wasn’t expecting it to be so large. And delicious. Panalo to. I asked for it well done, but it was delivered, at best, medium well, which wasn’t half-bad. The cheese steak was ridiculously good. Hindi ko naubos in one sitting. Plus the side salad was great.

This is the pan-fried salmon with asparagus and dill cream. It’s larger than it looks. Flaky goodness, check. Well-cooked fish, check. Breadcrumbs on top, check. Dill cream, check. Sarap sarap? Check.

Another shot of my burger reveals the bottom of the buns were toasted, arguably in butter. Forget your diets this one time if you go for this. Plus, the fries are barbecue-flavored, which is great for the kids, but I found ’em a wee bit salty.

Their bathroom set-up is unisex, but it’s clean and large.

Cathy and I really enjoyed our meal at Rock Salt. She’s already planning which friends to bring. I, since I have no friends, will tag along and eat another cheese steak burger at another table.
Ironically, I forgot to take photos of the outside, but trust me when I tell you the font’s cute, kinda old-school with a touch of Rockefeller class.

Three terrific foods to stock up on

Quinoa paellaIn a nutshell: There are many great reasons to love healthy food. Here are five terrific foods that you may not know offer great health benefits.

If you’re like me and love to eat, often you may find difficult the challenge of selecting between healthy food and drink that taste like cardboard and food and drink that taste terrific but will kill you shortly afterward. (That’s right, vodka, I’m talking to you!) There are many, many great foods out there, however, that are actually delicious and deliver a powerful health punch to keep you in terrific shape. These are five of my favorites:

1) Quinoa. I love quinoa, and can’t resist anything with quinoa in it. My wife usually makes it into a minestrone soup with tomatoes and beans for a delicious, high-fiber dish; she also sneaks it into Nathan and Nicki’s creamy macaroni soup. (You can click here for three terrific quinoa recipes from Patricia Green.) Its health benefits, according to this website, include the following:

  • It has high protein, calcium, iron, vitamin E and B vitamin content;
  • It has an almost perfect balance of all eight essential amino acids needed for tissue development in humans;
  • With 12% to 18% protein content, quinoa has more protein than barley, corn, and rice. Half a cup can provide a child’s complete daily protein requirement.
  • Its 6-7% fat content may be higher than other grains, but it’s low in sodium and high in starch and fiber.
  • Quinoa is gluten-free, which is great for folks who suffer from high uric acid, arthritis, and gout.

2) Mustard. Mustard is a must-have on my sandwiches and salads. My favorite mustard-based dish is a simple tuna, mayo, and mustard mix that one can put on whole-wheat bread, salads, or even quinoa! LOL According to this website, mustard has the following great characteristics:

  • Mustard is great for your digestion and helps speed up one’s metabolism.
  • Mustard seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, dietary fiber, iron, manganese, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, protein, selenium and zinc.
  • Mustard can stimulate digestion by increasing your saliva production by as much as 800% percent.
  • Studies have shown mustard can inhibit the growth of certain types of cancer cells.
  • The anti-inflammatory properties of mustard reduces the severity of asthma attack; arthritis, and migraines.
  • Mustard soothes sore throat!

3) Kimchi. Kimchi is one of my favorite foods, a spicy, delicious, and healthy alternative to rice and bread. According to this website, the benefits of kimchi include:

  • Kimchi is low in calories and high in fiber, vitamin C, carotene, vitamin A, thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), calcium, and iron.
  • Its characteristic marinade contains lactic acid bacteria, which aids in digestion.
  • Some studies show kimchi can reduce growth of certain types of cancer; however, excess consumption can be a risk factor in gastric cancer. (South Korea has the highest occurrence of gastric cancer in the world.)

A delightful Korean dinner

Last night, Cathy wanted to have a healthy and delicious dinner, so we decided to head towards Adriatico Circle in Malate, which is known for the quality of its various Asian restaurants. After parking directly alongside the circle, we chose to eat at a restaurant called New Kopiko Cafe & Restaurant, which used to be known as New Korea House. It is located directly beside the Korean Palace Restaurant at the corner of Adriatico St and the Adriatico Circle, and it attracted us because it looked bright, new and clean (in direct contrast to the Korean Palace, which looked dark and dingy; of course, this isn’t any indication at all of the quality of the Korean Palace, because a place doesn’t last as long as the Korean Palace if the food isn’t delicious).

The selection of Korean dishes at the New Kopiko Cafe is extensive, although you should probably be warned that the food is a little on the mid-priced level, with dishes starting around PHP250 and up, good for two persons. Many of their dishes looked absolutely irresistible, especially a Korean chicken and ginseng dish that I would have selected were it not for its hefty Php700 price tag. (This particular dish is the gem of the New Kopiko Cafe: its healthful properties are supposed to boost stamina and increase virility.)

Given these, I selected one of their bestsellers, the kalbi gui, beef ribs barbecued with a special sauce and served with lettuce; Cathy chose their yuk gae jang, a spicy beef soup.

Before our meals were served – in a remarkable ten minutes or less! – the waitresses served up a delicious selection of appetizers, consisting of kim chi (the infamous spicy Korean cabbage that tasted so wonderfully fresh!), pickled cucumbers, dried dilis, vegetable egg pancakes, and garlic Chinese spinach (kangkong). They were all so tasty! I couldn’t make up my mind which of the five I enjoyed the most, and neither could Cathy. I regretted not bringing our camera with us, so all I can show you are these photos, taken with my rinky dink Nokia 5300 XpressMusic, that don’t do justice to the food.

Cathy’s yuk gae jang, on the other hand, was equally delightful, served with fermented tofu paste, spicy sour vinegar, and lettuce, to effortlessly deny whatever carbohydrate cravings you may have. It had the right amount of salty sweetness; the garlic on the side was so lusciously roasted that I just ate them all up.

Our Korean dinner was healthy and fresh; it was pricey, too, at a little over PHP600, but worth it. I kid you not, one of our favorite meals in a long time. We’d go back, and I would recommend you try it out too. They accept credit cards, parking is generally okay, and the window table affords you a nice view of the Adriatico Circle and all its trannies. (I kid, I kid.)

Photo credits: Small photos are mine; the image in the Featured Content segment of the Index page is from MelFoodie of ADOR.

This is why you’re fat

Last night, I ran into an old college buddy. His first words to me were “Ang taba mo!”

This is a real chocolate bar!Pasalubong from Ps Bernard. This box was literally full of chocolate. 30 people shared it, but they left the spoils with me. Ouch.

With Raz & ThonySee that large untouched plate in front? That’s mine. Round two.

The danger's not in the coffeeThe Dezaato Pan cafe amerikano was delicious (touch of sugar, that’s all). You don’t see the berry bread. You don’t see the choco log.

Photo 26End result: a life of fat.

How do you combat this? The easiest formula in the world, yet the most difficult to apply.

Burn more than you take in.

Hasn’t happened yet. Need more exercise! Need to eat more sensibly! Come on, Ganns! You did it before! Do it again!!


Dear Dad,

I just got home from work today. It was a long and tough day; You know that, You were there with me.

You heard my cry and saw my tears as I prayed this morning for forgiveness for my folly. You stood by as I dedicated today to You.

You saw me fall by the wayside when I had my chicken and salsa with a cup and a half of rice and one longganisa. You saw me dig into Crickette’s surprise cake and ice cream. You saw me wolf down those Meiji chocolates. You saw me eat my beef misono at Tokyo Tokyo. You saw me eat two-thirds of the Pic-a. You watched me make a total pig of myself today. I feel like vomiting, Dad. I feel awful, physically and spiritually. I’ve made a mess of myself again, and I’ve let You down.

Is this really my life, Dad? Should I accept that I just don’t have what it takes to be thin?

I’m sorry, Dad. I’m so sorry!

This is all I’m going to say to You on my blog, Dad. I’ll talk to You in a few minutes, just You and me. Please forgive me my iniquities and idiocies; I seek Your mercy and strength to get through this crossroads. I can’t do this anymore, I just can’t.

Continue reading “Crossroads”

Experiencing 7-11’s Big Bite Challenge

At 11am last Sunday, I swung by the 7-11 store along 32nd Avenue in Bonifacio Global City to accompany a friend who wanted to join the 7-11 Big Bite Challenge. Basically, you buy the Big Bite Pack – five hotdog sandwiches and a giant glass of sugar soda then wolf them down. Fastest man wins, like, PHP50,000 or something like that. Huge amount of money.

Anyway, so I went with my friend Stephen because he wanted to join the Big Bite Challenge. When we arrived, there was a television crew at the 7-11 store we selected. The three hosts of “Boys Night Out” (89.9 Magic?) were there, and apparently, they were awaiting a customer who would avail of that challenge so they could shoot it for MTV. So guess who was unlucky enough to be there at that time?

Stephen bought the hotdogs, signed the waivers, had me “witness” the contract, and chose his hotdogs. After one crew member asked unfortunately which variant I wanted – excuse me, I wasn’t the contestant! Can you blame him for thinking so, though? – Stephen took them over to a table and began to set up. After asking permission to shoot him, the TV crew set Stephen up and the three radio jocks interviewed him. Cue crude homosexual jokes. Then Stephen got to work. It was WILD. He just downed those hotdogs and everything else. When the smoke cleared, he finished 2:47. Like I said, it was WILD. Good enough for fourth in that store, or so I’ve heard. I’ll bet if he gave it another go-around, he may actually beat the record. I’m not kidding. It was his first time; he can do it better, the second time around.

I took some photos and a video of the actual gluttony eating contest, and that was that. It was my first time to experience something like that and it was kinda surreal. I’m real proud of Stephen, though. I wonder how he’d do with pizza…

The Fry Wars (or “Just when Jollibee was about to kick McDonald’s butt”)

Jollibee vs McDonald'sThe world loves fast food French fries, and in the Philippines, there are only two contenders: American fast food giant McDonald’s and Philippine upstart Jollibee. While general knowledge accepts that Jollibee is more popular than Mickey D’s on local shores, there was always one area where Ronald McDonald trumped the Jolly Bee: the french fry.

Recently, McDonald’s launched a larger-sized french fry option. Prior to the release of the largest size box of fries, McDonald’s and Jollibee had only two sizes: small (regular) and large. McDonald’s then decided to upsize its upsized fry offerings. In a rather confusing terminology shift, the new size, retailing for PHP55, was now called large, and the previous large was renamed medium. (Regular stayed, well, regular.) To make matters even more unusual, one could add a few pesos to a value meal to “upsize” their fries, but only enough to upsize to a medium, because one may only purchase the (now) large fries a la carte.

Jollibee followed a few weeks later, offering an option larger than large, and calling it, “extra large.” From my perspective, this was a no-brainer, but when compared to McDonald’s rather strange decision to rename its fry sizes, it seems particularly brilliant. The term “extra large” connotes more value than “large,” and offers a subliminal message that we’re getting value, no matter which we choose. (Compare this to McDonald’s terminology, which now expects us to accept that the formerly large fries are now just medium; where is the value in that?)

To top it all off, Jollibee introduces two fry dip options, cheese and salsa, for these large fries! AT PHP10 per serving, it’s a little pricey for its size, but tell that to your drooling five-year-old!

But just when you thought Jollibee had McDonald’s reeling on the ropes, lo and behold! The Ice Age 3 movie-product tie-in ushers in the return of the Golden Arches’ incomparable Twister Fries! Available for PHP55 a la carte (or PHP78 if you want a 16 oz blue-colored Sprite-powered float), Twister Fries are always a surefire bestseller at McDonald’s. If activity on Plurk is any indication, McDonald’s is firmly back in the ball game with the re-release of the Twister Fries. People are microblogging about it and returning to McDonald’s just to order it.

The Fry Wars just got hotter. What will Jollibee do now? Release its vaunted CrissCut Fries? Perhaps come up with something even more different? Will a third burger chain release a French fry that captures the local public’s imagination? Who knows what will happen next in… The Fry Wars!

Image lifted off, no copyright infringement intended.

Your nonstick pans can make you ill

For months, Cathy and I have become more and more concerned with our pans. Two of our pans are coated with polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), more commonly known as Teflon, which makes for great nonstick cookware, but not necessarily for our bodies and the environment.

PTFE can be toxic depending on how we use our cookware. While PFTE is generally stable and non-toxic, it begins to degrade when cooking temperatures reach about 260 degrees C (500 degrees F); if temperatures exceed 350 degrees C (660 degrees F), it decomposes, and fumes are then released into the air. These fumes can kill birds; they can also cause flu-like symptoms in humans.

Nonstick pans are also lethal to the environment. Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) is used to manufacture the Teflon used in nonstick pans. According to Wikipedia, PFOA is a “toxicant and carcinogen in animals, persistent in the environment, and detected in the blood of general populations in the low parts per billion range.” It has been linked to infertility, birth defects, increased cancer rates, changes to lipid levels, the immune system, and liver.” DuPont, Teflon manufacturer, says there is no way at the present to manufacture Teflon without PFOA.

Apparently, international legislation would like to see nonstick pans completely phased out by 2015. If such is the case, then we’d better get used to dealing with other options. What options do we therefore have? Believe it or not, it may not be such a bad idea to use stainless steel. Some people are averse to using stainless steel, owing primarily to the difficulty of the cleaning process, but I’d much rather go with a tested conductor of heat that doesn’t release anything into my body or the atmosphere than with a nonstick that could potentially trigger my body into cancer production overdrive. (Read Is stainless steel good for you? or Stainless steel is great in any kitchen; read Season your pans for non-stick cooking for an opposite view.)

There are other “generic” options as well, including cast iron, aluminum, and copper. I’m not too hot on the idea of using most of these, though, because based on what I’ve read, once these cookware reach certain temperatures, there are chemicals or elements that can leach into your food or get released into the air.

Another option would be to try other cookware that don’t use Teflon. GreenPan is one such option. I’ve seen advertisements for it on the Lifestyle Network – or was it Channel 58 AFC? – for months. I also saw an Eco-Pan at the Landmark TriNoma. It looks eerily similar to the GreenPan, but without much literature about the products online – save for the Multiply page to which I’ve linked – I can’t offer much other information.

This afternoon, Cathy and I bought a GreenPan (the 28cm New York, whose handle allows for the pan to be used in baking, how awesome). According to the literature, it is PTFE- and PFOA-free; production of the pan emits up to 60% less carbon than Teflon-coated pans; and the packaging is made with recycled material, designed to be easier for recycling. It conducts heat so well that it takes less energy and heat to cook one’s meals. Cleanup is easy and convenient, and it’s guaranteed for two years. (Use Messy Bessy Ecofriendly Dishwashing Liquid, or make your own! There’s a great recipe here; all ingredients, including pure glycerine, are available at SM supermarkets.)

It was a heckuva lot more expensive than I would’ve imagined, but I feel much better for it. Better to spend a little more now and be safe than sorry in the long run, I always say. Okay, I don’t always say that – actually, I never say that – but if it’s good for my family and the environment, it’s worth the investment.