Saturday, February 9, 2013

FOOD - La Maison Rose

I have heard of La Maison Rose for quite a while but given my lack of interest on French cuisine (first hand experience here), I have always shrugged it off.  This changed though when I drove one of my bosses here.  Sure looks like a good place to have a date so a week after, I surprised my wife with a lunch date...

La Maison Rose is a tough place to miss given its pink exterior.  It's just along Gorordo Avenue right beside the Mormon temple.

This building used to be a residence of the Velez family until Alliance Frances de Cebu rented it in 2012.  Ground floor was turned to a restaurant while the 2nd floor, a culinary school.  What's really impressive is they managed to maintain the "classic" feel of the area despite these changes.

Now for the food...which you can order/ choose from using iPads...

For starters, they offer the usual baguette slices but to our pleasant surprise, they gave a complimentary sampling of this dish.  It's a combination of truffle paste, smoked salmon and my favorite, bread puff with cheese (which justifies how cheap my taste bud is).

For our main appetizer, we ordered the goat cheese salad.  The combination of bacon and goat cheese together with their signature vinaigrette sauce is a sure way to build up your appetite.  My only caveat here is the goat cheese inside the crust is mixed with flour of some sort.  

For our refreshments, we just ordered their lemonade.  There's nothing really special about it other than the hint of mint and cucumber which is more than enough to satisfy our taste.  

For the main course I had the black pepper steak.  I mistakenly ordered it as medium well so the texture is quite hard for me but nonetheless, it packs a lot of flavor which more than compensates it.  If there was a disappointment it's the gravy that came with it as it doesn't really complement how the steak was cooked.  A steak sauce would've been a better option.

My wife in the meantime ordered their fish papillote.  In contrast to the sauce of my black pepper steak, the one that came with this dish was great.  It's a ginger cream sauce which complemented even the potato wedges. date with my wife would be complete without one.  We had the very safe chocolate coulant which is very simple but baked to perfection.  Crunchy on the outside yet the inside is really moist.

Note though that La Maison Rose change their menu on a daily basis.  They also offer set meals (appetizer, main course, dessert) for ony P500.

If you plan on dining here, it is recommended that you make a reservation as seats are limited.

So that's it, another culinary treasure in our Cebu restaurant checklist.  Really loving life in Cebu!

La Maison Rose
632 2685411

Friday, January 18, 2013

FOOD - La Lagrima Taqueria

I have always been a fan of Mexican food but the lack of options remain to be one of my frustrations staying in Cebu...until NOW.  There are actually options in Mooon and Maya but the former is too "commercialized" (can't even consider it being Mexican food) while the latter "ultra expensive" (albeit quite good).  Then we came across this Mexican restaurant thanks to our new friends Chiqui and Luna.

Name of the restaurant is actually La Lagrima Taqueria.  But don't look for any signage showing this as it's nowhere to be seen. Mexican food is all you need to look for.

I actually had friends who have seen this (me including) but opted not to check it out.  The missing signage might be a factor but I think the bigger issue is it being always empty.  Which is both good and bad.

On a supposedly busy afternoon, we were the only customers (albeit 2 just left).  It actually doesn't look like a taqueria at all as even the cashier table, wherein all the ingredients, etc should be on display to entice our taste buds, is very bare.  And the chairs...not comfy at  all.

BUT all these issues doesn't matter...let's dwell into their menu...

For starters, we had their Super Nachos.  What can I say...if you're a fan of Man vs. Food and is craving for the Nachos Adam Richman is munching on...look no further!  You actually have the choice of what kind of meat to put and we settled for beef...which unfortunately for some parts, takes a lot of effort to chew.

Juvvy in the meantime, sticking to her so-called "diet", just had a soft taco (she almost single handedly finished the Super Nachos though).  Nothing special but the salsa, beans and beef are really authentic in flavor.  

I ordered the regular burritto and I was not disappointed at all.  Nothing special as it's just rice, grilled chicken and salsa but it packs a lot of flavor and is way way more authentic in taste compared to that of Mexicali. 

Drink choices are very much common except for this.  Make sure to order their Aguas Frescas.  It's a "rice" juice of some sort with a twist of vanilla.  It's a little rough in the throat so make sure to drink it while cold.

Our companions ordered the Flautas (photo above) and Quesadillas (no photo...but just think of the usual Quesadillas in steroids).  Flatuas are just like Juvvy's soft tacos with the main difference of this being deep fried.  Wasn't able to test it but they finished it easily so it should be good also.

Doesn't look like much but these two are the difference maker.  Hands down best sauces I tasted...EVER!!!  The beige colored sauce is the hot sauce while the green one their mild sauce.  I hope I can decifer the ingredients but it was so good, I opted just to enjoy as much of it as possible!

So there you go.  Price wise, it's not cheap but to which I can consider good value for your money.  Authenticity is it's main selling point together with that amazing sauce (can't really get over it).

As an added tidbit, the owner/ chef has his own chain of taquerias in California.  He fell in love with Cebu and decided to put up one here as well.  Life is good isn't it?

La lagrima Taqueria is located at the GF of RCDC Building, located along Banilad, Cebu (right beside Banilad Town Centre).

Friday, December 7, 2012

TRAVEL - Yogyakarta Day 2

We left Jogja around 5am and arrived at the temple grounds of Borobodur around 6am.  By this time, there's already a cue for foreign tourists.  I think foreigners can come in earlier as the cue for locals have yet to open at this time...probably a trade off for the exuberant entrance fee.

USD 20 per head in my opinion is just too steep.  Knowing locals just need to pay USD 3 doesn't help the cause either.  But what the heck, I came here to enjoy the experience of Borobodur.  Upon seeing Borobodur though, my immediate reaction was not WOW but WTF!!!

It's being renovated!?  While a good thing in terms of its preservation, couldn't they have scheduled it after my visit!?  I think this is already a curse as the same thing happened during our visit in Angkor Wat.

But a photographer makes no excuses!!!

Taken with a Canon 5D Classic, 17-40 4L, ND400 and .9 GND

Myself in courtesy of my friend Robby
It was really tough taking photos of the temple not just because of the tourists, but the security personnel who are all wearing ultra bright reflective yellow vests.  I actually have a wider shot of the temple but unfortunately they are all in the way.

Climbing the steps of Borobodur Temple and going around its walls, I just can't help but be in awe of all the stone carvings along its walls...and the way the colors pop when hit by the sun...

At a glance all walls may look the same but they are distinct in every way...

Walls are filled with impressive stone carvings such as this

Unfortunately, I only have so much time wondering around these walls.  Tourists are starting to arrive in droves and I can't afford not to take my desired photos of Borobudur's famed stupas.  So I blazed my way to the upper platform and managed to get these photos...

Achieved this shot via HDR...combining 5 photos in 1 stop increments.  Taken with a Canon 5D Classic, 17-40 4L, ND8 and CPL

Taken with a Canon 5D Classic, 17-40 4L, Hoya ND8 and .9 GND

Underexposed my shot to show a silhouette of the 2 mountains.  Taken with a 5D Classic and 24-105 4L

A few minutes later, place is already jam-packed both by local and foreign tourists.  Locals are composed mainly of students probably on their field trip.  I would've wanted to take more photos but there's just no way I can get the shots I want.

I just enjoyed roaming around the temple as a tourist and just took these snapshots on my way back...

Can't get enough of these stone carvings...

And another...

For some reason I'm still not that satisfied of my shot of the temple.  After going around looking for a better angle, I ended up with this.  Nothing really original but at least I got my shot...

Solution for tourists ruining your photo?  Blur them out! Taken with a Canon 5D Classic, 17-40 4L, ND400 and .9 GND

With more time to spare, we went to tour the foothills of Mt. Merapi.  An active volcano that erupted last October 25, 2010 and caused major damage to the city of Jogja.  Unfortunately, rain has started to fall and there was nothing but gloomy skies to show.  

These are the photos I managed to scrape up...

This huge boulder was spew out kilometers away from Mt. Merapi's crater

Myself enjoying the surroundings of Mt. only if the damn helmet didn't smell so bad!

Remains of the vehicles of Mt. Merapi's spiritual guardian  Mbah Maridjan.  He stayed at his home during the exlposion and was found dead in a praying position.

Local dessert...which name I forgot but will update as soon as I get to know it :)

This was my first time to experience the adventure lifestyle of Indonesia and I was not disappointed.  Never have I been this excited to go back to this country.  Good sites, good vibes, good views and a good travel buddy...

How can you not love life? :)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

TRAVEL - Yogyakarta Day 1

Finally...another destination crossed out from my bucket list.

Borobodur Temple has always been a target destination of mine ever since I first went to Indonesia 5 years ago.  Time and company (I just don't want to be a lone traveller) has always been an issue so when the opportunity came, I didn't dare pass it up.

Our adventure started when we rode a Kereta Api train from Jakarta to Yogyakara (IDR 335,000 for the Exclusive seat).  My local companion, Robby, was actually surprised that I opted this mean of transportation when we can simply board a plane paying just 30% more.  I countered that I want to authenticate our adventure so here we go...

I am a bad traveller in a way that I don't get much sleep while on the road

View of our train carriage
We left Jakarta 2030 and arrived in Yogyakarta 0830...3 freaking hours OFF our ETA of 0530!  I was told that since it was raining hard in Yogyakarta the past couple of days, some railways were damaged. The delayed travel time I can live with...but RAINING!?

As it was too late to go to Borobodur, we went around Yogyakarata.  First stop is the hotspot Malioboro street...

Myself strolling around the busy...though not at this time...street of Malioboro

Travel in style with Jogja's local tricycle Becak

Something to cool the nerves...a bowl of sugar cane like juice with jellies and scraped melon for a measly IDR 6,000

While we're at it, had some traditional meals as well

I opted for this mixed green veggies smothered in sweet peanut sauce...and it ain't bad at all!  And it only cost IDR 6,000

Along the way, we saw a bulding calleded Vredeburg.  We entered it for the sake of curiosity and was surprised that it was a museum of some sort.  This is where I got to appreciate more of Yogyakarta and its relevance in the history of Indonesia's independence (not sure if the photo below has a relevance to it...but I consider it a shout for joy).

With more time to spare, we rented a becak to go around Yogyakarta...

All I can say is riding this is a lot harder than it looks...specially maneuvering the bike.
First stop was a spot wherein you have to cross in between two huge trees...BLINDFOLDED!  The gap between the trees was huge (probably 10 meters or more) but surprsisingly, the success rate of doing so was really low...even despite directions from the locals or your friends.

It is said that when you're successful in accomplishing this task, you have a good spirit and you can make a wish.  The former was the one that made me really confident...OR NOT ;)

View from my start point
I'm well on my way!!!
I actually failed in my first attempt but managed to do it in my second :)  While finding your way is a challenge, the toughest part for me was ignoring the smell of the blind fold they used.

Second stop was a couple of mosques/ temples.  It was a good "teaser" for our trip to Borobodur the next day.  Unfortunately I didn't bring my camera but thank goodness there's alway my iPhone.

Ain't no larger than life structure but still impressive nonetheless

After passing through a couple of awnings we were greeted with this view
View from atop...had to insert my hands and phone out the window bars to take this shot
Some local handicrafts...hammer head at the bottom is from a bull's horn

Another mosque we visited...I swear I will clone that arm at the right with Photoshop
As to my friend Robby, a similar setting from the Immortals movie...unfortunately I was not able to get photos without tourists as it was jampacked
So that's it.  Day 1 is a wrap.  It was still quite early but had to catch up with WORK so we called it a day.

Stay tuned for Day 2 :)

Friday, November 30, 2012

FOOD - Turning Japanese in Cebu

Given the huge number of Japan tourists in Cebu, it follows that there is an abundance of Japanese restaurants to cater to their longing of Japanese cuisine.  The more famous ones are Nonki/ Kagura (along AS Fortuna) and Yakiniku Tajimaya/ Banri (along Crossroads Banilad).  There are of course the so-called "underground or really authentic"...and one of the is Ofuku-San.

I have actually ignored this restaurant for almost 3 years due to its location and rusty look.  The fact that it's been there for more than a decade with minimal (if not no) renovations is a testament to that!  But in our search for better Japanese restos, we gave this a try and man, where we in for a big surprise...

Interior very much reflects its exterior.  It is old and rusty which in a way that it reflects its authenticity.  This is actually a good selling point but doesn't really spell premium which is how its products are priced.  But these are all for the food...

As mentioned, price is on the high side but the serving size and taste justifies the cost.  I had the Inaka Barasushi and Hot Inaniwa Udon set which is priced at P370.  As you can see, serving is generous and the taste...really authentic and good.

My wife in the meantime had the Ebi Furai Bentoh.  A combination of Breaded Tiger Prawns, Chicken Teriyaki, Age Deshi Tofu and Rice.  All priced at P360.

If there was a letdown, it's their Japanese rice.  I wouldn't even go to the level of considering it as one.

All in all, this is one Japanese resto we would eat over and over again and which I would highly recommend.  But stick to their noodles as this is their specialty.  Not sure of their sashimis though...but I would guess they are good also.

Ofuku-San is located along the chain of restaurants of Gaisano Country Mall at the GF.