Quick affair with Indian food

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Tamilnadu Meal

The waiter laid out this round tray on my table, and I just stared at the hodge-podge of selections despite the hunger that already numbed my senses. It’s the result of just pointing to the first item that seemed attractive from the menu.

I learned that hunger makes you cross-eyed and I only realized I ordered total “strangers” when the waiter set it on our table.

By strangers, I ordered the Tamilnadu meals for 225 rupees—let me copy the whole thing here: sweet, kadappa, koottu (vegetable), poriyal (vegetable), pachadi, sambar, rasam, special rice, special kuzhambu, curd, appalam, pickles—served with one small bowl of rice and one poori.

All strange words for me, except for the rice, that is.

I don’t even know how or where to start eating, so I just stared at it. For someone who grew up pushing garlic and onions around and around my plates, I just had a feeling by looking at every little bowl that they were all unfamiliar and extra super spicy.

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My buddy and I were craving for were the familiar crisp crunchy pieces of fried chicken from KFC, or a ready to bite on hamburger from McDonalds. Unfortunately, it was a holiday in New Delhi and everything was closed for the day. We had been driving around and around and the only place open in the past hundred blocks or so is this restaurant serving Southern Indian cuisine.

Some of you may start salivating and having foodgasms just thinking of the variety of dips and flavors in those cute little metal bowls, but for an ignorant palate like mine, it worked differently. My tolerance for spicy food is below sea level. I was simply overwhelmed.

I feel that I have to get to know each ingredient and flavor really intensively first and maybe fall in love with them gradually.

IMG_3213The waiters were surreptitiously looking at me and one asked how my food was, or if I wanted anything else.

Anyways, back to my order. We were in a real hurry and I am embarrassed to say I only ate the poori—that crunchy deep-fried bread, four spoonfuls of rice and nothing else. Give me another chance—one flavor at a time, and a longer time?

TipSy:

If you got picky taste buds and you are in a different country, it won’t hurt to slip in packets of crackers or instant snacks in your purse. They can save your life, ulcer or sanity.

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Rice coffee hitch at the airport

kape.JPG I come from a non-coffee drinking family but when I got out of the nest, coffee kicked its way into my life and decided to stay.

I’m not really a big time coffee addict because I can go for days without, and I’m easy to please. Give me a 3-in-1 instant coffee (San Miguel please :-D)  and I’m good to go. Instant coffee is so convenient, although I splurge on my favorite Caramel Macchiato from Starbucks every now and then.

One of my ex-favorites is rice coffee which I used to buy at Bangkerohan in Davao City for 10 pesos for small glass. I say ex-favorites because rice coffee is not easy to find and it has been decades since I last had a cup of rice coffee.

That is until very recently when I went home. I suggested buying some from the market and my Mama insisted it was very expensive and more practical to just make it at home. While I was watching my ma stirring and roasting the rice, I suddenly remembered I had to go through numerous airports.

I knew I was going to run into airport security troubles but I couldn’t break my mama’s heart by refusing to bring some. Not after all the trouble she went through—investing time, energy and effort roasting rice in our old kawali (it was already there when I was born) outdoor kitchen, then repacking it in small plastic bags. I didn’t put it in a glass or plastic container because I was trying to go as lightweight as possible, and you know how everything adds up in weight fast.

True enough, a TSA scanner at the Hong Kong International Airport must have detected the black powdered stuff and they nit-picked through all the rest of my worldly possessions in my luggage. The TSA officer sniffed it and took the plastic away with him for further checking and as I didn’t close it well, some of the black powder rained on his pants and shoes. He should just have believed me when I said it’s just rice coffee.

Anyways, back to the rice coffee.

To enjoy it, put a cup of the roasted rice in a kettle, add some water and boil for five to 10 minutes. The amount of water depends on how concentrated you want your coffee to be. You can still use the same coffee mix by adding more water and boiling it again.

I need my coffee fix right now but I can’t wait 10 minutes to boil the rice coffee until later when I will run into a kettle and have 10 minutes. Got a 3-in-1 instant coffee, anyone?

Mango sweet sticky rice

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IT was not a case of love at first bite for me with this street food delicacy called Kow Neuw Ma Muang, or mango on sticky rice, but when I finally tried it, I wished I tried it earlier.

This dessert is a serving of steamed sticky rice topped with slices of ripe mangoes, doused with hot coconut milk and others sprinkle toasted sesame seeds on top for more flavor.

This is a very popular traditional summer dessert especially in northern and northeastern Thailand when mangoes are in season, and I’ve watched both locals and tourists in the streets of Chiang Mai eat this before finally trying it out for myself.

Mango sticky rice is sold for 50 Baht a serving. There are lots of recipes available online if you want to make this yourself.

NOTE:

I’ve never tried making it but if you do make it, whatever you do, don’t put leftovers in the fridge. The rice will harden and it won’t be the same anymore. I made that mistake so take it from me. The best thing to do is eat everything so there will be no leftovers.

Garlic fried fish

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Crispy-fried fish topped with garlic and peas, served with a spicy dip and a side of vegetables. Perfect, except that I don’t eat garlic so first task is always to scrape off all the garlic and shake the fish free of garlic crumbs before digging into it.

One of my most-ordered and most favorite dishes at this crowded restaurant by the  street in Chiang Mai.

Ginanggang

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Ginanggang na saging, guinanggang, or ginang-gang is one of my “most favoritiest” street food in the universe. It is a banana in a bamboo stick grilled over medium hot coals.  This is a snack of my childhood years whenever somebody in the neighborhood installs a portable grill and the smell of ginanggang wafts into the houses. The next day, another neighbor will do the same, and yet another one will follow the next day until by the end of the week almost everybody in a neighborhood is grilling bananas for sale.

The slower you grill it, the yummier it gets as you get to slowly cook the insides of the banana. If you’re impatient like me most of the times, you fire up the coals fast and the result will be burnt banana on the outside but mushy on the inside.

For added flavor (and calories), brush margarine around the grilled ginanggang and  roll it in white sugar.

Bubba Gump: Shrimpin’ it the way you like it

P1600173SAIPAN—Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., the island’s newest food destination opened its doors to the public on June 27, 2016, bringing to Saipan one of America’s icons.

Enter Bubba Gump Shrimp’s doors and you will be stepping into a world-class space, assembled and decorated by Bubba Gump specialists to truly embody the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. spirit and brand. This is a hundred percent true to the highest standards of Landry’s restaurant group, according to Triple J Enterprises marketing manager Iliana Pacheco.

hush puppies

Head out to Bubba Gump Shrimp for your total ‘shrimp and seafood indulgence’ starting off with the Shrimper’s Heaven— hand breaded coconut shrimp with dipping sauces like tangy Asian, cajun marmalade, and zesty cocktail; Seafood Trio of shrimp, veggie and mahi-mahi in a skewer; the award-winning Lt. Dan’s Surf & Turf—baby back ribs slow roasted to perfection and served with succulent grilled shrimp and fries, Shrimp Mac and Cheese which is noodles mixed with sautéed shrimp, assorted cheeses and topped with golden brown breadcrumbs.

Another must-order item in the menu is Forrest’s Seafood Feast of hand breaded fried shrimp, fish and chips, seafood hush pups and served with homemade sauces for dipping—known to be Forrest’s favorite meal after a day on the boat.grilled seafood trio

 To get a total feel of Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. watch the movie Forrest Gump (if you haven’t already) and also prepare to answer trivia questions about the movie that the staffers will be asking diners.

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Saipan has over 130 staffers to serve diners with mouthwatering menus using a lot of local ingredients. Like the rest of the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. outlets all over the country, the restaurant’s walls are plastered with memorabilia, still photos from Forrest Gump movie, story boards, and all kinds of knickknacks Bubba Gump is known for.P1600199

Pacheco said most of the merchandise is unique to Saipan as well as a one-of-a-kind pin that no other Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. brand has.

If you want an out-door Bubba Gump experience, the amazingly large patio is also unique to this location with its state-of-the-art retractable awning. Love shrimp? This is your place.P1600213

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. is located at the ground floor of Serenti Hotel in Garapan and they are open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. everyday.

 

Sunshine Café: Dream desserts destination

 

Red Door Fruit Cheesecake

Red Door Fruit Cheesecake

SAIPAN–Bring sunshine into your palates and visit the island’s newest destination to satisfy your cravings for smacking goodness desserts, coffee, organic beverages and healthy food options in hangout you might call your second home.

 

Sunshine Café, located at the Coral Tree Avenue in Garapan issues a warm invitation with its pastel colored walls and comfortable, elegant and homey ambiance.

white chocolate citrus tart

white chocolate citrus tart

I’m not really a biggie on desserts but I can’t stop being curious to check out this new hangout and see what they had to offer.  The chance came unplanned two days after their soft opening. I was a bit hungry but know I couldn’t possibly finish a sandwich so I split one order with one of my buddies. I ordered soda, but one of the food staffers convinced me to try their Pineapple Boost. Albeit a bit steep at $8, it was good and a healthier option than what i originally ordered.

Sunshine Café prides itself on the mouth-watering array of specialty cakes and pastries created from local and imported ingredients, healthy snacks and food to go that caters to the different tastes of customers.

Dig into any or all of the four signature desserts created by Sunshine Café which leaves you with a craving to go back for more—Red Door Fruit Cheesecake, Raspberry Pistachio Macaroons, Chocolate Mandarin Lolly made from dark chocolate imported from Switzerland, and Lemon Citrus Tart—made from dark and white Swiss chocolates. These Sunshine Signature items are just irresistibly inviting from the shelves.

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Pineapple Boost

Try the Red Door Fruit Cheesecake which I learned from the food staffers was inspired nu a restaurant in Beijing located in front of the East Gate of the Forbidden City in Beijing. This is a dessert cheesecake lovers should try.

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Chocolate Mandarin Lolly

Sunshine Café also serves a selection of burgers and sandwiches like Tuna Nicoise, tarragon shallot egg salad and more, pastries, ice cream, homemade milkshakes, cookies in attractive jars and wrappings, and dainty black and white chocolate bites that you can’t ignore from the shelves.

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Sip a tall glass of any of the cold pressed organic juices like Green and Lean, Fruit &Vegetable, Pineapple Boost and Simply Pressed, a selection of fresh fruits and vegetables blended as you order.

The Sunshine Café menu also carries a selection of hot or iced tea including Cappuccino, Latte, Americano, Affogato and Mocha, hot and iced teas, soft drinks and specialty drinks that they are expecting to be a hit with the locals—tropical fruit smoothie, caramel pumpkin spiced latte and Valrhona Sipping Chocolate. Beer, wines and sparkling wine/Champagne is also available.P1420280 2Sunshine Café’s ambiance makes anyone instantly at home, with its fusion of colors and a variety or art works and frames hanging from the walls to the plush sofa sets and brightly lit lamps. It’s a place to hang out and relax after a long day at work, or satisfy your hunger, or just while time away with your favorite drinks.

P1420283Sunshine Café is located beside Winchell’s in Garapan in front of Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan.  The Café has started to attract locals and tourists since their soft opening on April 21, 2016. For information or reservation, call 670-233-8300.

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