Ahhhhh, good food.

This is also an open letter to March, the month. What I want March to do is to dispense a few extra hours, even days – whatever it takes just to delay April’s arrival. The days seem too short for comfort, and as much as typing this surprises me, I just want to put it out there that I don’t want cooking school to end. I’m just having too much fun! Too much, it seems, that I’ve been lounging under the radar for a while now.

A change of pace is great. One of the perks of being a student is that once in a blue moon you get to go on a field trip! And how many people can say that their field trip itinerary involves eating at a really great fine dining restaurant? Like I said, I’m having too much fun.
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So I’m just going to devote the rest of this space to the photos, and the little stories along the way because it’s already 1am and I have midterms in a few hours. But still, I’m here!

The Goose Station is tucked in a building and nestled in an area of Bonifacio that is more quiet, and doesn’t get a lot of action 24/7. In fact I would have had difficulty finding it if I went by my lonesome. It’s owned by the same chefs that run the school I go to and most of the staff are graduates of said school. I wouldn’t mind working at The Goose in the future, just so you know. (fingers crossed)

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Now the butter. Then the bread. That’s a mini baguette.
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For the snack we were served foie gras mousse in a flaky cone. It was followed by a lumpiang hubad served on a prawn cracker and a tuna tartare. I wish I could have had a second (and third) helping of the tartare, because it was delicious. It had a little kick of wasabi to it, which was simply perfect. I also keep on remembering how good the velvety foie was, served out of the box and in a nice cone.
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I don’t have much to say about the roasted tomato soup with parmesan foam, except that it hit the spot really well. It’s nothing spectacular…it’s just really good simple soup.
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The salad could be a meal in itself…and here lies its complexity. It’s made up of sweet potato sticks, little cubes of cured bagnet, watercress puree, salad greens, and drumroll…a piece of crisp chicken skin, a perfectly seared scallop AND an egg yolk that has been cooked sous vide (under a vacuum). Mix all of these components together – the smooth velvet liquid from the egg yolk, the crunch and salinity of the chicken skin and pork, the crisp taste of the greens and the juicy scallop… and you get a rich orchestra of flavors in your mouth. I was amazed.

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At this point the main course was well worth the wait: we were served a chicken roulade stuffed with Italian sausage and pistachio, adobo jus, green beans, smoked onion and a squash puree. All the components made sense. A big shout out to the roulade itself, which was made with (and I hope I’m right) chicken thigh, which I hold in high regard. I was a happy camper.

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To cap off our lunch, from Gourmandise patisserie, eclairs and spiked chocolate truffles. I made a mess with the truffles, and my personal favorite among the eclairs was the salted caramel.
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Here’s a parting shot of Gustare, which I didn’t expect to find just beside The Goose. It’s basically a low-profile food and pastry takeaway/commissary + kitchen lab, owned by Ginny Roces De Guzman the author of Bake Me A Cake, one of my favorite cookbooks. I didn’t get a chance to buy anything from the shop, but with products like santol bagoong…I’ll definitely be back.

In more ways than one.
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9 mornings: Garlic, Pesto and Lemongrass Chicken

The holidays can be stressful. Here I am again, apologizing for an inability to post anything edible yesterday. I was supposed to share this recipe a few hours ago, but the holiday rush caught up with me and I was left out of breath.

At around 11 pm last night I finally filled all 60-ish cupcakes with peaches and strawberry jam for my mom’s office mates. This morning as soon as we got back from church, I perused one of my first ever cut-out recipe cookbooks (basically a drawing book with snippets of recipes from magazines to the back of a milk can) for simple buttercream frosting. Frosting a cupcake is murder on my self-esteem, since it’s always been a hit and miss with me and nicely piped frosting. I almost cried. No joke.
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Then my friend R came over and brought her handmade gift boxes to put the little devils in. But as luck would have it, I forgot to tell her that I’ll frost the cupcakes so she didn’t take that into consideration when she made the dimensions (but still her boxes are really nice and I’ll probably post pictures next time). I can already imagine my mom’s officemates opening their boxes, and probably wondering why the top portion of the cupcakes are sticking to the lid.
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Things like that happen. When you’re caught up with making sure everything’s perfect, most of the time it’s disappointing when you feel that the universe is against you. So this little project (“9 mornings”) didn’t really live up to the hype (that I just imagined in my head). But it’s not the end of the world (or is it?). Maybe if there’s something I got from this experience, it’s that you don’t have to force things to happen. Sure cooking involves patience, skill and technique, but without the love for all things edible, all you’re left with is a vapid, aseptic white plate.
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This chicken recipe, which isn’t vapid at all, was made at the top of my head and I went along with whatever combination I was craving for. I was surprised at how good this was. The chicken meat practically fell of the bone and it was still tender and juicy. I’m definitely light-handed when it comes to seasoning with salt. The seasoning measurements aren’t really 100% spot-on but that’s why people invented liquid seasoning afterall.
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Garlic, Pesto and Lemongrass Chicken (serves 6 – 8 )

  • 5 chicken thighs
  • 5 drumsticks
  • 1 head of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 – 3 stalks lemongrass, chopped into 2 inch strips
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons bottled pesto
  • 1/2 – 1 tablespoon rock salt
  • a few dashes of freshly cracked pepper, to taste
  • for seasoning the chicken: salt, pepper and red chili flakes to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 200 C/400 F.
  2. Clean the chicken pieces well. Pat dry using a paper towel. Arrange pieces skin side up on an oven-proof dish. Season with salt,  pepper and red chili flakes.
  3. Make the paste: Combine garlic, lemongrass, pesto and olive oil in a bowl, making sure that everything is mixed well. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Tuck the paste under the chicken’s skin and try to distribute the paste well. If there is leftover paste, rub it on the chicken pieces.
  5. Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes to an hour or until chicken skin is browned. Flip the pieces over to brown the other side. Bake for another 10 – 20 minutes.
  6. When chicken is brown and tender, remove from the oven and serve hot with a steaming bowl of rice. Enjoy!

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What I Ate @ ATOA

“Because I’d like to believe it’s important to tell the world what you ate for breakfast, lunch and dinner”

To start a new angle for my blog, whenever I go to a restaurant, try something from a food cart or stall, I might as well post what I had and invite you to salivate with me. If you might grab the chance to eat where I ate, maybe you can use my visual guide to help you get started. I might include a “micro review” of the place as well. I have yet to really dive into reviewing an establishment, but if it’s important to simply have an unbiased opinion of what I ate, then maybe it’s not too hard. 

Two of my friends and I had lunch at this little resto that serves Asian (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino) cuisine, aptly called ATOA (A Taste Of Asia).

ATOA is actually a memorable place for us because the last time we went here, it was the day our board exam results came out (we all passed). But we are all fans of the place because of its Japanese food. I don’t really enjoy sushi and sashimi, but as you can see we had our fair share of particular favorites:


California Maki – my favorite. Every time I go there, I always make it a point to order this. It tastes really fresh, and when paired with their soy sauce, is foodgasmic.

Ebi (Shrimp) Tempura – this (along with the California Maki) is a mainstay on the table. Sure, it’s just large shrimp drowning in breadcrumbs, but it’s delicious large shrimp drowning in breadcrumbs.

Tonkatsu – breaded pork. Nothing special, you can make this at home. But more protein is a good addition to the meal. You can forego this and order something else.

Chicken Teriyaki – this sings. This is amazing. The sauce, if i’m not mistaken, is simply soy sauce cooked with sugar and thickened with cornstarch but it’s really really good. The chicken itself is tender, moist and really tasty. I’m having a hard time deciphering how they made this but I’ll get there. You can’t go wrong with chicken thighs.

Yang Chow fried rice – a little bit stingy with the goodies. Plain rice will do, but this is good as well, albeit not spectacular. Hey, it’s rice.

Don’t you think this setup is so pinoy?. In our defense however, we were stuffed when we reached this point. Don’t worry, I managed to “grudgingly” clean this up.

Here in Zamboanga, choices are pretty limited. Most of the restaurants here are geared towards satisfying all markets, so restaurants that are exclusively fine dining virtually don’t exist. I’m not really complaining, this is where I grew up and my palate is hardwired to appreciate simple food. ATOA packs a punch, and that’s it. The second floor is also reserved for functions and they also cater. I’m not a fan of their catering, but the food they serve in the restaurant is what keeps me coming back for more.

A Taste Of Asia (ATOA)
Veterans Avenue Extension (fronting Western Mindanao Medical Center) 
(062) 992 – 4600