Agony & Ecstasy

This heat. This tropical heat. Oppressive. Since my return home a few months ago, I have singlehandedly doubled our power bill with 24/7 air-conditioning and incessant opening of the fridge.

Ice creams and other frozen concoctions have been a big part of island life. These mostly sugar-upon-syrup-upon-some-other-sweets have also been a big part of the nation’s collective waistline. While these coolants start off innocently enough as plain fruit, they just wouldn’t go without the addition of full-cream milk, sugar and (why, oh, why?) condensed milk. Now able to enjoy all-fruit, no sugar, no dairy frozen fruit desserts with Yonanas, I had to take the quintessential summer fruit for a spin: Watermelon.

I cut a large watermelon in half then cut deep into the flesh just up to the inner wall of the “shell”, taking care not to cut all the way through as it will later be used as a mold and serving base. I progressively cubed into the flesh until all of it was removed. The remnants were cleanly scraped off. It got tedious where I had to remove all the seeds with a knife tip but the seedless variety wouldn’t have been as sweet. The cubes were frozen for 24 hours and the empty shell was chilled. The cubes were later Yo’d, packed back into the empty shell and refrozen for a few hours until it held form. Cut into wedges with its shell as you would the real fruit, tadaaa . . . the Yotermelon!

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Also in the effort to keep cool, try the Chilled Watermelon Shelmet.

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Burgerlito

Burger Cupcakes

Little burgers, quite literally. For my Annual Auto-Update event: Hamburgero | 21finity, Chedz Designer Cakes came up with these charming little slider cupcakes. Plain vanilla cupcakes cut across in half for the top and bottom bums with a chocolate cake patty, red, green and yellow icing for the tomatoes, lettuce and cheese. The guests got quite a kick out of these.

Guest Chammy Burgerzilla inhales a Burger Cupcake

Guest Chammy Burgerzilla inhales a Burger Cupcake

As with form, Chedz definitely kept up their standards of taste and quality. The vanilla and chocolate layers married well with the subtly-sweet icing with each bite. Well, each took no more than three each. It’s the kind of cake you’d want to have with a cold glass of milk. I did with some of the leftover cake when I got home. Heeeeeee…

Burger cake

Worth mentioning is my giant burger cake from last year’s event, Hamburgero | Forever 21, also by Chedz designer cakes. Vanilla cake burger buns sandwiching a chocolate cake patty with gumpaste tomatoes, lettuce and cheese, served with a generous side of very tasty Cookie “Fries”. Yummymummy.

Contact Chedz here.

Yo [sic] Are Gold! (Gold!)

You are Gold (gold)
You’re indestructible, always believe in…
–Gold, Spandau Ballet

In an old TV ad for a local rum brand, the man next only to Chuck Norris in awesomeness: Steven Segal, declared that he “found gold in the Philippines”–a rum variety aged fifty years. What he did not discover was a sweeter kind of gold, one that grows from trees plentiful among the islands: mangoes.

Mangoes have long been cultivated in Southeast Asia. It is the national fruit of the Philippines and the pride of The Island, Cebu, where the sweetest mangoes are grown. Famous for our dried mangoes worldwide, the local industry has also come up with several other products and permutations from nectars to purees, candied fruit and fruit combinations to meal items. It IS gold.

Naturally, mangoes were next on my list for yo…er, ing, The result was naturally sweet with an almost creamy texture akin to very thick puree. This would make a great alternative for fresh mangoes in preparations like the Cebuano favorite Puto, Mangga ug Sikwate (sticky rice, mangoes and native chocolate sauce), Mango Float, Mangoes and Tapioca for the summer. Hmmmm. Now those are some ideas for future “yocreations”. Heck, it’s perfectly good just on its own.

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B3

Burritos, Beers and Babes, the tagline on their banner said. It can’t get any more straightforward that that. Opened just in January, this rather unassuming restaurant is located at the ground floor of the Onael buiding, one with an interestingly designed façade sticking out like a sore thumb among the more dated structures, along “that backstreet near Chong Hua.”

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We stepped from the searing summer sun into the cool, dimly-lit interiors. Going for non-campy Mexican with repurposed furniture –bar stools, chairs and décor out of pallet racks, and their “babes”– upcycled plastic mannequin torsos painted in a variety of designs, they scored major points with the top chick, Mother Earth.

Still in soft operations, the menu already boasted of several food items including a wide selection of drinks. Cutting quite an imposing figure behind the bar in all eight months of her pregnancy, the ‘Babe’s Momma Babe, owner Amanda, helpfully walked us through. Keeping it simple for starters, we ordered the Mex standard of nachos, burritos and beer.

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Juls Supreme Nachos, their best seller, came crowned with homemade tortilla chips on a blend of cheeses , caramelized onions, tomatoes and lettuce. Upgrade options for the more carnivorous was in the addition of regular or spicy ground beef or chicken. The chips were decidedly unseasoned allowing a perfect base for the rest of the ingredients–the freshness of the vegetables cutting through the decadent cheese sauce.

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The Super Burrito with Grilled Chicken filling was the biggest I’ve seen among local Tex-Mex joints and for a surprisingly reasonable price. Generous slices of grilled chicken on a bed of Spanish rice doused in Red Salsa, Cheese and Sour Cream with Refried Beans, fresh diced onions and cilantro all wrapped in a twelve-inch blanket of Homemade Flour Tortilla. We were let in on the secret of the addition of non-traditional spices on top of the earthy flavors of turmeric in the rice which added to its fragrance and taste. Having split the flavorful and extremely stuffed order between two, we found ourselves well-stuffed, as well.

Our hostess fueled the meal with endless engagement and with a selection of music she wrote and performed herself playing in the background. It’s not hard to forget time in this little laid-back hideout. They do get packed on weekend nights and host special events, too. As they have more in store to explore, it’s definitely a “hasta la vista” for me . . . babe-y.

Burrito Babes is open from 1PM-1AM every day at the ground floor of the Onael Building (across Capitol Tourist Inn/beside Hotel Stella), Don Gil Garcia Street, Capitol Site, Cebu City.

Credits to Amanda Aworuwa / Burrito Babes for the photos.

Stay Puft

The Stanford marshmallow experiment was a series of studies on delayed gratification. In these studies, a child was offered a choice between one small reward, often a marshmallow, provided immediately or two small rewards if he waited approximately 15 minutes. The researchers found that children who were able to wait longer for the preferred rewards tended to have better life outcomes, educational attainment, body mass index and other life measures. (paraphrased from Wikipedia entry on the subject)

Marshmallows are a big part of the Pinoy kid’s childhood. We had everything from the extra-large roasting variety, the teeny-weeny ones, the twisted, the colored, flavored, chocolate-covered, the specially-shaped and even the extra-long. We’d play Chubby Bunny and a host of other food games with those. And who could forget the kiddie party centerpiece of marshies on cocktail hotdog kebab ends? That’s as Pinoy as sweetened ketchup-sauce spaghetti with hotdogs.

Kraft Jet-Puffed Marshmallows, a personal favorite, came out with Marshmallow Crème which is a delightfully fluffy spread much like a pack of marshmallows in the lunch kit you left out in the quad. Sticky-sweet. I used it on ordinary sliced bread, ice cream topping, on fresh fruit, in my hot chocolate and cookies. Made for a very delicious shaving cream, too. Haha!

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Gawdzilla!

Zojimo (Insikticus Oslobanonicus), an ancient creature which feeds off radiation and radioactive material, joins his offspring, a MUTO–Massively Uh . . . Uttractive Terrestrial Organism codenamed Hamburjiro, in witnessing “the world’s most famous monster pitted against malevolent creatures who, bolstered by humanity’s scientific arrogance, threaten our very existence. A story of human courage and reconciliation in the face of the titanic forces of nature, where the awe-inspiring Godzilla rises to restore balance as humans stand defenseless.”

While these creatures proved the Theory of Natural Selection and lay waste to San Francisco in collateral damage, I laid waste to a Super cup of Green Tea from Tater’s and an entire day’s caloric requirement worth of T.G.I. Friday’s Cheddar & Bacon Potato Skins . . . paving the way for the movie spinoff sequel, FATZILLA.

I drink like a camel so I get the Super (size) cup of Green Tea from Tater’s as my movie staple. I love tea in general. This one has that authentic brewed bitterness that bathes the tastebuds and that I can somehow taste on my teeth cut subtly by a slight sweetness that I would like to think is Stevia. One of the draws here is the label, sugar-free.

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I skipped the usual large bag of popcorn for a monster bag of T.G.I Friday’s Cheddar & Bacon Potato Skins. The chips had enough of a crunch to mindlessly much on along the guttural animal screams of the Stegosaurian and the mutant Madagascar Roaches without distracting my equally monstrous seatmates from their viewing pleasure. It had the pungent smokiness of bacon and the overwhelmingly sharp smell of aged cheddar, an olfactory compliment to the assault of their respective savory flavors.

Pops said he liked this better than the last one he saw…the original, Japanese-language one. I referred him to the ’98 take where the lizard sported a slimmer profile with killer quads and runner’s calves. Its diet of helicopters and tanks was high on carbon fiber and pretty low carb. G’14 ‘got a potbelly and cankles. No one watches epic monster movies and expects to get moved by any of the acting but lead Aaron Taylor-Johnson did have moments with Godzilla where they locked eyes in meaningful connection. Twice and to the dramatic swell of music. That made me want to egg them to get a room.

The perpetual kid within having enjoyed all that mindless action, I later realized that Pops tricked me into paying for the tickets and snacks on the pretense that I secure those in time for the screening while he parked the car. Well, deception is very primal animal. Well played on Darwin’s cards. Well played.

Tater’s is conveniently located behind the ticket office of the Ayala Center Cinemas. T.G.I Friday’s Cheddar & Bacon Potato Skins is from S&R Membership Shopping.

Zojimo is a play on my dad’s name Zosimo, Hamburjiro is the MUTO name of my alter ego, Hamburgero. Do follow me on Facebook: facebook.com/hamburgero, Twitter: @hamburgero, and Instagram: @thehamburgero

Burikaaat!

Hastang lami-a’s burikat!

Double entendre is something that has become very Filipino. Sexual references permeate everyday conversation. Colloquials, coinphrases and novelty jingles involving dirty wordplay are so common that even young schoolkids utter these, hopefully, in innocent ignorance.

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Burikat is the vernacular for prostitute, now also referring to loose women not necessarily into the world’s oldest profession. That this soft roll and/or its red-dyed pudding filling is made from days-old bakeshop leftovers, it being “used” and as a reference to the rather, er, sensual color, earned it that name. Pan Burikat.

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Terribly unremarkable in taste with its only defining characteristic being it’s coloring, it brings about a homey feel from nostalgia and a naughty curl to the lips from the reference. Industry geniuses later came up with a variety of color options and appropriate alternative names with the crackdown by the very zealous local anti-indecency groups.

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Inspired by The Cupcake Theory’s Red Velvet Cheesecake in a Jar, I crumbed up some Pan Burikat and layered it with Sour Cream and Cream Cheese in a clear container. Tadaaa! Burikat in a Bottle! The bland, dry bread crumbs gave into the tangy creaminess of the Sour Cream and Cream Cheese with the slightly sweet bread pudding balancing it out. The help loved it! How’s that for a market test? LOL

Pan Burikat is available at most corner bakery stores all over The Islands.