Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Pit Lane Grub? More please.

First of all, apologies for not having had a post in a while. I was away overseas on vacation for the better part of a month, and I'm still trying to gather my thoughts writing about it. Now, on to the matter at hand...

JM and Aibo attacking the chicane at Batangas Racing Circuit, 2/28/2010. 
Most people who visit this blog probably don't know that I am involved in amateur car racing. I've been driving the nuts off my little Honda in trackdays and time-attack events around various racetracks in the Philippines for a few years now, honing my skill and reducing my lap times in the process. One recurring theme is that, in the sweltering heat of your typical trackday, one would normally depart around noontime in search of food and water. (For example, when Subic International Raceway was still around, one of our favorite pit stops was Meat Plus Cafe, which Mabie wrote about in a previous post.) Very rarely would people bring along packed lunch or soft drinks kept chilled in a cooler.

When Mabie and I attended round 4 of this year's Circuit Showdown season in Batangas Racing Circuit last June 4, we saw a plucky little stand selling burgers grilled right on the spot. This little kiosk, appropriately enough, is named "Pit Lane Grub."

Somewhere in BRC's paddock... a stall that serves hungry racers and spectators their much-needed protein fix.
Pit Lane Grub's menu at Circuit Showdown round 4
Apparently Circuit Showdown has attracted enough of a steady following for food-savvy entrepreneurs to cater to hungry racers' appetites. Pit Lane Grub gives you a bit of freedom with what you put between your buns: you can choose between a quarter- or half-pound patty, and can further tweak your burger with a cheese slice, some wasabi mayo or blue cheese sauce. Curious, we decided to order a couple of quarter-pounder burgers. Mabie had hers with the cheese, while I had mine with the blue cheese sauce.

Look at 'em patties!

Prepping the rest of the burger
It took a while for our burgers to get served as there was a queue. While waiting, we were salivating at the sight of the burger patties and buns grilling away. When our orders were finally ready, we dug in.

Mabie's quarter-pound burger, with a cheese slice.
My quarter-pound burger. Don't see the blue cheese? I can't see it from outside either :p
One thing has to be said: these patties are served really, really juicy. Better still, they're an honest quarter pound each, with a satisfying heft to the meat. The patty is definitely the star of this show - so much so that my blue cheese sauce barely made any impression on the overall taste of the burger. I could pick very faint notes of its signature pungent scent as I swallowed each bite. I finished off my burger quickly as it was dripping into my fingers as I was enjoying it. For the price, it's a pretty good deal, but I figure I could've done away with the blue cheese sauce next time.

The next round of Circuit Showdown is at Clark International Speedway, on the first week of July. I have the feeling that Circuit Showdown's regular participants would love more Pit Lane Grub served piping hot and fresh.

JM and Aibo at Circuit Showdown round 4, Batangas Racing Circuit 6/4/2011. Photo by Marcial Pallera.

Pit Lane Grub
181 Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City

Monday, June 13, 2011

Come and dine with me the Brazil Brazil way!

You already know how much I love to dine at my heart’s content—aka buffet meal. So when a friend told me that Brazil Brazil is worth a visit, it’s Php777 per head on a Sunday lunch, I totally bought it. So one Sunday, while JM was away I treated my family to a lunch at Brazil Brazil.
I’m not denying that I am a big meat eater, I’m the type of person who would not be satisfied on bread alone:D. So Brazil Brazil is the best place to be, as I was told. They offer grilled pork, beef, chicken, sausages and fruits. They even have a salad and pasta bar.
Once seated, you’ll be given a yoyo which has a red and green side. If you want grilled meat and fruits to come non stop on your table, leave the green side of the yoyo facing up. When you want to halt the delivery and enjoy your food first, let the red side visible. One thing I’ve also noticed is the alertness of the crew in attending to their guests’ needs.
It’s sad to say that I was quite disappointed with Brazil Brazil, the grilled meat does not have the magic I was looking for. It was rather ordinary, in a sense that you could easily prepare it at the comfort of your home. The saving grace for me was the avocado ice cream, which I really loved and had x number of cups. Oh well, maybe if they had lamb chops on the day that I went maybe I would sing a different note for them – or maybe not.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Bangers just gave me my Paris Hilton fix!

JM and I went to see Thor at Rockwell last week; it was awesome by the way. Since we only had half an hour to eat before the movie, we decide to try out Bangers and had our sandwiches to go.
Ever since we discovered the beauty of hanging out in Rockwell (and my fondness for sausages), we wanted to try out Bangers but never had the chance in the past.
The first thing I noticed is their logo and the menu board, which is cute and will give you a diner-type establishment feeling.
They serve sandwiches, side dishes and a little of pasta. You can get your sandwich ala carte or in a  combo (sandwich + side dish + soda).
I had the Paris Hilton combo. I don't know why they call it Paris Hilton but it consists of hotdog, onions, tomato, relish and bacon -- I'm after the bacon, never mind the relish:p. The sandwich is quite fulfilling and the hotdog is very juicy. 
JM had the hotdog with chili (oops I forgot the name). Same as mine, the hotdog is packed with meatiness and is very juicy. He liked it a lot since it also had slices of jalapeƱo, which gives the sandwich its worth deserved chili kick! 
The combo came with a potato salad which we think is just plain ordinary. Maybe a little more mayo and egg will do the trick :).
All in all Bangers gave us a wonderful sandwich dinner and we will gladly be back to try out the other entries on their menu.

Monday, April 25, 2011

I scream, you scream, we all scream for...

Let's face it: It is HOT this summer. Baking hot. Sometimes, given the choice, we would rather just stay at home and laze out in bed for another hour or three instead of heading out and enjoying all that solar radiation. Besides, even if you do enjoy prolonged doses of solar radiation, you'll probably want to find something to cool down with after a while...which is why we're featuring a gustatory treat most relevant this season. I mean, just look at the title. :)

Haagen-Dazs meets Starbucks meets Blue Bunny

After our jaunt to Pancake House, my mom and I proceeded to S&R for a bit of shopping. Amid the folding tables and frame walkers we bought, we also brought home a few pints of ice cream from S&R's admittedly varied lineup.
For this visit, I decided to try a new flavor and an old favorite. I've heard raves about Starbucks Coffee's eponymous line of ice cream, so I grabbed a pint of Caramel Macchiato to see if it tastes anywhere near that infamous sweet blended coffee drink. I also got a tub of Blue Bunny's Double Strawberry premium ice cream. To the best of my knowledge, both of these are only available at S&R. My mom got a pint of Haagen-Dazs' Strawberry ice cream as well.

When they mean Starbucks ice cream...
...they mean it
Caramel Macchiato ice cream. Doesn't look like much, but wait till you taste it

Pleasantly surprising was how Starbucks' ice cream mimicked the nuances of flavor of its namesake blended coffee drink. I thought it was a bad imitation at first, but upon subsequent spoonfuls of the stuff it definitely felt really familiar, as I was a big Caramel Macchiato fan in years past. The coffee flavor of the ice cream melds well with the caramel drizzle taste-wise that despite appearing like separate entities it's very hard to distinguish them apart on your tongue. Deelish. Whatever trickery they've done here, it works quite well.

"It's so fluffy I'm gonna dieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee"

On we go to the tussle of the strawberry scoops. Blue Bunny and Haagen-Dazs are both premium but they go about it in slightly different ways. Haagen-Dazs is all about the density and richness of the ice cream, evident from just the darker color of the stuff and how heavy it sits on your spoon. Blue Bunny's ice cream on the other hand is much lighter and fluffier - easier to roll into a scoop and jam into a cone. "Double strawberry" refers to the embedded pieces of strawberry (which Haagen-Dazs also has), and the strawberry sauce lacing the tub (which Haagen-Dazs doesn't).

Between these two, my palate prefers Blue Bunny, although Haagen-Dazs isn't very far behind. The latter is more easily purchased, however...

Lots of Blue Bunny ice cream tubs on sale only at S&R. They have sugar-free and frozen yogurt tubs too
Yummy :)
Finally, Mabie and I got to sample another of Merry Moo's creations from our last visit to Mercato Centrale. They name it "Aztec Chocolate" and we were curious to see how different it was from your usual chocolate ice cream.

Appropriately enough, the Aztecs invented chocolate

The interesting thing was, when we asked for "Aztec Chocolate," Arvy the friendly scoop man gave us a little explanation of what this flavor was and what we should be expecting out of it. It's a combination of chili and chocolate, basically. You may remember that Empire's macaroons also promised a similar-tasting product from a previous visit.

Arvy doing his thing

Now, for those uninitiated with matters of the pepper, milk and dairy products are a common and effective remedy for washing away the burning, stinging bite of capsaicin - the stuff that makes chili peppers so spicy. Ergo, it initially doesn't make any sense having ice cream that brings on the heat; it should be implausible right?

The proverbial calm before the storm...

When Mabie and I dug into the PhP70 scoop, we were surprised. Sure, the initial taste is of pretty good,  chocolate ice cream that's slightly on the rich side, but gulping it down releases a flame of heat that can only come from a chili pepper. That said, if you can stomach the spice, the whole experience is delectably smooth and the sensation is akin to drinking shots of a given hard drink. You'll definitely feel it burn evenly down your throat. Mabie had to give up halfway due to the strength of the chili flavor, so I experimented with taking frequent scoops if there would be any difference or "relief" - no such luck. Let's just say this ice cream flavor is a treat for chili lovers; capsaicin-intolerant folk need not apply.

All four of the ice cream flavors we tested here are variations on old trusty favorites which you might want to check out before scoping out more exotic combinations. :)

So hot, it melts on its own :p

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Transcending the decades

My mom was pretty bored on Maundy Thursday, so she asked if I wanted to accompany her, driving around the Makati and Taguig areas to see what exactly was left open. Having nothing better to do, we got into my car and hit the road.

Much to our chagrin, Greenbelt and Glorietta were virtual ghost towns. Skipping Makati, we crossed EDSA and went to Bonifacio Global City. Pootling around, we noticed Bonifacio High Street was open. We parked, disembarked and spelunked for a closer look. It turned out much of High Street, Serendra and Market! Market! was also closed down, but there were a lot of people gathered round due to the massive, artistic Stations of the Cross exhibits littering the center garden of High Street. What remained open were some restaurants, hoping to capitalize on the visitors.

After walking around, my mom thought of having an afternoon snack at Pancake House. She had told me it used to be their hangout in the 1970s and 1980s, especially when the Magallanes locale of Makati was a much busier place than it is today. In those halcyon days when she worked there, there was a bowling alley, a cinema and a branch each of Magoo's Pizza, Dayrit's, the steak house Mingoy's and Pancake House.

A panorama shot of Pancake House Bonifacio High Street's interior.
The branch in Bonifacio High Street sure doesn't look like a typical Pancake House branch. They took more liberties with the decor, mixing a collection of movie posters with post-modern architecture in the franchise's trademark orange motif.

Bacon Waffles. The bacon is embedded :)
Mom had their Bacon Waffles (PhP160), while I had a three-piece order of Peach Pancakes (PhP175). Both of us had a cup of brewed coffee (PhP70; PhP78 with one refill) to go along with it.

That's some bad-ass coffee!
It has to be said, Pancake House's coffee is some of the strongest you'll ever find in a restaurant. Emptying one sachet of brown sugar into the glass, it still tastes wickedly black. It's a full-bodied brew that Starbucks mixed-drink aficionados might find overpowering. We actually ordered a refill, but as this was already 4pm in the afternoon and the brew was much more potent than expected, we requested the refill be canceled.

I didn't get to try the Bacon Waffles, so I'll talk about the Peach Pancakes, which were pretty interesting. You get a stack of three moderately thick pancakes, along with six peach slices and a small dollop of whipped cream on top. A small beaker accompanies the dish with what looks like peach-flavored syrup.

Peach Pancakes, quite obviously :) Check out the syrup beaker.
The pancakes themselves are fluffy and cake-like, and not very dense. Indeed, if your fork has a large piece of pancake skewered on it, chances are it will tear off and plop back onto your plate after some resistance. I grew up in a household that prefers dense pancakes, but I can appreciate Pancake House's recipe as it's not overly thin or floppy. The peach syrup is surprisingly not very sweet, imparting a just-right kind of taste to go along with the pancakes and peach slices.

Overall it's a good, filling, carbo-loaded breakfast or snack. And that potent coffee is just something else. I usually don't frequent Pancake House but I now might have reasons to go back more often.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

At Army Navy. Enjoy your meal. That's an order!

If there's a place where JM and I have eaten x number of times in the past year, it would be Army Navy. Since we discovered this burger + burrito place we just can't say no. 

So you can just imagine our excitement when they opened a branch near us! We can even go there in our pajamas! Its been a week since they opened and every night is full house night

As a breakfast gift to JM for keeping up with me yesterday, we had brunch at Army Navy Better Living. We got in around 10am and I thought that we were the only customers but after 10mins, more customers came in. 

Panoramic shot of the BL branch

JM ordered the chicken soft tacos while I had my staple chicken quesadilla, we also ordered some freedom fries and chocolate milkshake.   

Freedom fries, just like any other fries, is best consumed while hot. I like how crispy it is but very soft inside, I also like dipping it in mayonnaise. 

Freedom fries, Php60

Burritos and burgers are the most popular food choices in Army Navy but for me quesadilla is the best thing in their menu. The mouthwatering melted cheese wrapped in a soft tortilla makes every bite heaven for me, the chicken or steak filling is just a bonus.  

Chicken Quesadilla, Php135

JM originally wanted hard-shell tacos but since Army Navy does not carry it he ordered soft tacos and he certainly enjoyed it. He said that the meat was good, the serving is large enough for a light lunch or a big snack and it goes particularly well with the salsa.

Chicken Soft Tacos, Php125

I've been craving for milkshake in weeks, nothing special with their chocolate milkshake but this is way better than what Mcdonalds have. Its blended to perfection just the way I like it. 

Milkshake, Php99

If you want to treat someone you can never go wrong with Army Navy :).

Army Navy

Phone: (+632) 4073181 
Telefax: (+632) 4032891 
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