Giada’s Cafe and Kitchen

It was a lazy Sunday.

After spending my whole Saturday nursing an unknown illness, the body has recovered and is ready for anything other than lying down.

I decided to have a lunch out.

I haven’t done it in quite a while as most of my lunches are either at parents’ home when I visit them during weekends or at my place with my measured lunch as I am trying to lose weight.

I found myself in Berthaphil, Clark rounding some restos. I zeroed in on Giada’s Cafe and Kitchen.

A lady opened the door and welcomed me. There were only two persons inside that time plus two new customers who came a little over a few seconds before me.

As I got seated and was handed the menu, I looked up and there was no one to take my order. I have to catch the attention of somebody from the counter (there were a lot of them huddled together) so somebody can attend to me.

I asked for the bestseller. The baby back ribs was mentioned as well as the chicken steak. I was waiting for some nice explanation on why but did not get any. Just curt responses.

I ordered barbecue grilled spare ribs and Italian soda, kiwi fantasy flavor.

While waiting for the food, I noticed that the interior looks nice. There is a great wall paper on the far end of the wall, nice cushioned chairs, decors by the counter and some wall art. Music was also being played adding to the place’s ambiance.

What I find distracting though are the people in the counter. There were just too many. Maybe because it wasn’t so busy yet so they can have time to chit chat before crunch time.

Drink and food came.

The Italian Soda – Kiwi Fantasy, I must say tastes refreshing. The lady who served me said it is made from Sprite and some syrup. I saw the bar man pick up a Torani so I am assuming that is where the flavoring came from.

P1190530

Then lunch arrived.

P1190532

The mashed potato tastes normal and the gravy tastes like it came from a packaging. Too seasoned, maybe. The barbecue spare ribs looks yum and tastes ok. It was the buttered veggies which I enjoyed the most.

For the value relative to the price paid, I would say it is ok. I have tasted similar food at a better price and service.

Will I come back again? Maybe yes.

Or

Maybe not.

Giada’s Cafe and Kitchen is located at Berthaphil III, Clark Center along Jose Abad Santos Avenue, Clark Freeport Zone , Angeles City, Pampanga.

Advertisements

Sayur Assam

So maybe I was not telling the whole truth on why I am OOO (Out of Order) today.

Last Saturday, a colleague brought me to the market. I love markets despite being a little bit chaotic. It reminded me so much of the ones we have in the Philippines. The problem was the heat. It was like I was punched in the face. It was a sweltering 32 degrees Celsius there in the city.

2013-05-17-11-29-04_deco

I lived in a tropical country all my life but since I migrated to one of the hills in North Sumatra, it doesn’t feel so tropical at all. We have 18-24 degrees Celsius everyday, sometimes lower.

wpid-Screenshot_2013-05-20-09-24-45.png

So I think that one set me back. And then I had to attend a travel fair which could have survived the light of day without me. I have to remember not to attend such things again unless I need to buy a trip for a cheaper price.

And then I went to Cemara, the biggest Buddhist temple in Medan. It has become a local attraction. People of all kinds are there. The rows of street kitchen and restaurants probably also added to the appeal.

2013-05-20-10-29-46_deco

wpid-2013-05-20-10-34-20_deco.jpg

2013-05-20-10-34-57_deco

So dinner time and we decided to have our feast there. The colleague has been dying to let me try Sayur Assam since she learned that I like sour taste. She caught me picking green mangoes from the tree in the city office one time and that sealed it. Anything that is sour, Leslee will like.

I was curious what this Sayur Assam is. Sayur means vegetable and Assam means sour in Indonesia. From the picture I saw it looks like the Filipino version of Sinigang. If it is, I won’t have a problem with it.

sayur assam

I checked the ingredients: shrimp, beans, cabbage, eggplant, tamarind, fish stock, turmeric, almond, shallots, garlic and dried shrimp paste. Sounds like Sinigang to me except for the shrimp paste.

The dish came. A soupy dish. I tried it. The sour taste is overpowering. Then there is the sweet taste. But the killer was the shrimp paste. I almost puked. It was horrible.

When asked if I like it, I said it is interesting.

Liar!

I finished one whole bowl without breathing but promised to the self that I will not touch that dish ever again in this lifetime.

Until now, I can still taste it on my tongue. It has that lingering effect which makes me cringe my nose.

I hope I learned my lesson. Just say no.

But the problem with me is I always find it hard to say no. Haaaayyyy.

Dining in Medan

DSC_0753

You go to Medan not for anything else but for eating, to satisfy your gustatory cravings.

I don’t have a very nice impression of the city. It is crowded, chaotic, dirty in some areas, always jammed with traffic, bustling. Typical of any Asian city that was caught unprepared in the burgeoning commercialism that is its future. Just like Manila.

DSC_0714

Nevertheless, Medan is coping. Indonesians, I believe like Filipinos, are made from the same stuff. Resilient and adaptable.

So there, I haven’t really stayed long enough to explore the city save for the rare rendezvous I have here and there.

All I remember is that when I am in Medan, I always eat good food.

DSC_0228

DSC_0235

Medan is usually just a short stopover for people who want to explore North Sumatra. I haven’t really been around much as my work takes most of my time but the nice wildlife and scenery this part of Indonesia can offer is just amazing. One of these days I will just grab my backpack and see as much as I can on what this island can offer.

Going back to the food, they say Medan is such a delight to dine in because different people melded together here and brought with them their own culture particularly their way of cooking.

Malays, Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Western, they have it. You got one rocking city full of food.

From cheap to expensive, from roadside to fine dining, from halal to haram (haha… yikes), Medan got it covered.

Last week, colleagues brought me to Cambridge, a hang out place for those who wants to be seen. I cannot be bothered with that stuff actually but the restos in the place are just amazing. Floors and floors for diners, I got confused which one to try.

After a while, I chose Chatterbox. The interior beckons. It looks so pretty. Plus the colleagues told me the food is not that bad too.

DSC_0723

DSC_0729

Chatterbox serves various cuisine. We ordered Chinese, Indonesian and Western food altogether. The food tastes good and fresh.

DSC_0739

DSC_0735

DSC_0743

cb

But what I like most about the place are the drinks!

DSC_0734

DSC_0741

DSC_0740

They are so cute!!! They are such eye candies! And they taste so good too.

We were meaning to try a nice dessert place after dinner. Agenda canceled. No space for additional food. That one has to wait for my next visit, it seems.

For the moment, I am back to my everyday organic dining up here in the hills where I live. I am not complaining.juice

My Accidental Snoopy Lunch Date

Guess what I found today? πŸ™‚

I am down in Medan for a couple of days.

Medan is the capital of North Sumatra and is the third largest city in Indonesia.

The boss asked me to check out some shops and have my much needed R&R as well.

Lunch time.

We went to Hermes, a lifestyle mall in the city. We were looking for Buffalo, a resto where a friend of my colleague works. As we were searching for the place, I saw the elevator. My heart skipped a beat. OMG.

DSC_0674

I followed the trail and look what I found?

DSC_0692

Charlie Brown Cafe!!!

I went gaga.

DSC_0680

DSC_0679

snoopy

I am not a big fan of the characters. My encounter with Charlie Brown were limited to the cartoons I watched when I was a kid and the coloring books back in elementary days.

But I know somebody who is gaga with Snoopy. And it kind of rubbed into me.

I started clicking away. It was crazy. My colleague wondered what the hell happened to me. I became a kid.

DSC_0682

DSC_0687

There were just so many interesting things. It looks like a mini museum. I love it.

DSC_0685

I managed to convince her to drop the Buffalo resto plan and instead eat in the cafe.

Oh my. The inside of the cafe is prettier. Too many kid’s stuff. Too many Snoopy stuff.

DSC_0695

DSC_0704

DSC_0697

DSC_0706

DSC_0707

DSC_0701

Even their Chinese New Year decor has Snoopy in it!

DSC_0690

It was just a disappointment that the food sucks. It was bland. Or maybe it was just what I ordered.

DSC03574

Nevertheless, the cafe was the highlight of my day.

I want to come back and try the Snoopy cake and coffee!

DSC_0711

Babi Panggang Karo

It was a Wednesday. The bosses allowed me to escape from the hills and gave me a few days off.

I have a flight to catch the following day and with the distance of my hills to the nearest airport, I have to go down a day before.

I was with other colleagues in the car. They are going back to the city too. Lunch time and we decided to have a rest from the 4-hour drive. We stopped by KFC. They know I love KFC (only because there is no McDonald’s in sight).

As they were having their cigarette break before we walked into the fastfood, one colleague asked me if I would like to try one of the specialties that North Sumatra offers. The place is not so hygienic but serves good food, he said.

I am not picky. I can eat anything. I love new experiences. So we forgot about KFC.

We ended up in BPK.

P1160457

P1160439

BPK stands for Babi Panggang Karo. Babi means pork. Panggang means grilled. Karo is one of the ethnic groups in North Sumatra.

When I saw the place, I smiled. This is a place where my Dad and I would not cringe to eat in. My Mom, brother and sister, well, that’s another story. πŸ™‚

According to Wikipedia, Babi panggang Karo and Babi panggang Toba are two similar dishes made by the Christian Batak Toba and Batak Karo of North Sumatra. Pigs are slaughtered and used in their entirety to make babi panggang – bones for a clear soup, meat (including offal) to be grilled, and blood for a dipping sauce. The three dishes are served with plain rice and a sambal andaliman, made from fresh sichuan peppers.

P1160446

I am familiar with bones being used for soup and meat being grilled. But blood as the dipping sauce? I almost died (not). I am used to soy sauce and kalamansi or vinegar with crushed garlic.

P1160443

I was a little bit hesitant to try that blackish sauce but then I remember we have Dinuguan back home which is a thick soupy dish made from the blood of the pig mixed with meat from pig’s face and its innards. And I eat Dinuguan with passion so who am I to be scared of this small bowl of blackish dip with pepper in it? It should be child’s play.

Still. πŸ™‚

The experience was interesting.

First, they served steaming rice with a bowl of salty clear soup and Camote tops. Only a spoon was given and a bowl of water where you can wash your hands. The spoon is meant to be used only for the soup. The rest of the meal you have to eat by hand.

People love to eat with their hands in Indonesia. That same bowl of water will be used later on to wash away the remnants of food that clung to the hands.

I am not up to it that moment. I asked for a fork.

P1160444

As the Babi (pork) was being grilled, I asked my colleagues what they use to marinate the meat. Do they dip it in special sauce or do they just put salt and pepper? They said none of the above. No condiment whatsoever is added. The meat is just grilled directly. Say what?

I hope the meat was washed before that. I remember how my parents always talk about meat hanged by the roadside and sold to people. They were saying how much bacteria sticks to the meat from the dust and other elements of the earth.

I have seen a lot of exposed, “unprotected” hanging pig’s head and meat on the way to the BPK resto. Is that where the meat came from? OMG. No Monterey? Yikes.

So the grilled meat arrived. I can still see some pig’s hairs sticking out. Ok.

P1160448

My lunchmates started digging in and eating the food passionately. I was a bit slow. I asked if they sell cola. Grilled meat is good with cola. They have none. But the owner of the shop was nice and bought me a bottle from the nearest sari-sari store or small store by the road side. Very much like the Philippines. The cola was not cold. I asked for some ice. The owner came back with some irregularly crushed ice. I wonder where she got it. I should not think too much.

P1160449

The grilled meat with no condiments in it didn’t taste much. And I love tasty food. So I did it. I dipped my meat in the blood sauce.

I think I enjoyed it. The thick soupy blood mixed with the finely shredded hot chilis added extra flavor. Interesting.

The salty soup and the Camote tops completed the meal with my iced cold cola.

I must say it was a great first BPK experience.

But with all that smoke getting into the shop from the griller, the noise of the cars passing by the road and the incomplete cutlery here and there, this place is not for the fussy eater or the weak at heart.

P1160454

But we only live life once so what the hell.

Experience everything, I always tell myself. It will be worth it. πŸ™‚