Pappadom-Masala

Swagat Indian Cuisine

686C63D0-6FAC-4133-A693-B64BC32C614A

For a change of scenery from our usual haunts, we decided to explore the other side of Ayala Avenue into Legaspi Village for some Indian Cuisine here at Swagat.

3B4C79F8-9377-40F0-BFD4-9B731C4FA43F

After entering the quaint restaurant, the strong hint of spices permeated through the entire place, a sign of an actual Indian eatery. The pink walls and random portraits added to the simplicity of the facade, and a casual place to dine.

Our dinner started with an appetizer of pappadom masala (a crisp deep fried lentil wafer with spices, onions, and tomatoes on top) each. Kat got some paneer korma (homemade cheese cooked with onions, tomatoes, and spices) and roti, with masala lassi (yogurt drink with masala) to wash it down. On the other hand, I ordered some sangam biryani (lean and tender pieces of chicken and lamb cooked with fresh herbs, spices, and Indian rice and in cream mughalai sauce), along with rose lassi (yogurt drink with rose petals).

159B3B52-A80E-436D-B09A-85C9AEC15462

Pappadom Masala

The pappadom masala was a welcome start to our meal and got our palates going. The pappadom was full of flavor and the crispy texture blended well with the fresh tomatoes and onions on top.

FEA64B65-1E8D-4777-ADCB-A2131C854DDC

Sangam Biryani

The sangam biryani reminded me of a smaller portion of the ones I ate on a daily basis during my stint in Qatar, with the various South Asian eateries around the country. Choosing the mildest spice levels they had, I would say that it was just a touch above the right amount of heat for an ordinary Filipino tastes. The chunks of chicken and lamb absorbed the spices exceptionally well too. Washing it all down with the inherent sweetness of rose lassi became a nostalgic journey back to two years ago, during my stay in the Middle East.

CA9C7B2E-6CCF-4C1F-9383-FD776472B52F

Paneer Korma

The paneer korma was the sort of dish that needs to be shared with friends, all equipped with plenty of bread. The spices give a subtle kick to the milder cheese and tomato flavors, which can also be enjoyed alongside other dishes. The masala lassi was more of an acquired taste, with the strong spices competing with the natural sourness of the yogurt in the drink.

Great things are coming up for Swagat, which  will be moving to their new location at The Columns Legaspi Village at Amorsolo St. cor. Arnaiz Ave. Makati City this December. It should be worth a check at their new home.

03E60B8B-A33B-46D3-A7DD-823D5E5B9AE5

Food Score: 4/5. Food wise, Swagat hits right on the mark with Indian home cooking flavors. At the same time, each dish is done well to complement each other.

Ambiance / Service Score: 3.5/5. The service was attentive enough for taking care of our needs. Unfortunately, the place doesn’t look cozy for anyone wanting to have a pleasant dinner.

GERD Score: 3.5/5. While there are plenty of options here at Swagat, it’s not a guarantee the spices don’t include the usual triggers such as chili powder. One saving grace is the fact that there are plenty of lassi and yogurt choices to help counteract the heat and the aftereffects of the heartburn.

Epilepsy Score: 4/5. While there are plenty of food selections to suit all kinds of diets and restrictions, the heavily spiced dishes may not agree with some diners. We recommend in particular the non-alcoholic drinks section for a safe night out.

Team Glasses Score: 3.5/5. Swagat Indian Cuisine, simply put, is a quaint place for the curious to have a taste of home-cooked Indian food. And with their new spot in Arnaiz Avenue, it should still be worth a look at, if you’re just going out with friends and not too conscious about any health conditions.

Advertisements

Advocafe

Our hot drinks and hearty meals do far more than just quench our appetites. What we pay for our food, more often than not, goes to fund an enterprise that we may not consciously think about when we are gathered for some grub. At Advocafe, one can see where the profits go—and the impact that a meal can have on the life of a community.

B9DC3510-A6EC-410B-8987-ADA3A0C9E2B3

We heard of Advocafe several years ago, from a student studying in the Ermita area of Manila. This was touted not only as a place with reasonably priced dishes, but also as an advocacy for the Philippines’ indigenous groups. At present there are around 110 indigenous ethnolinguistic groups in the Philippines, comprised of 14-17 million persons. Many of their communities have difficulties with accessing basic services and utilities as well as preserving their local culture and traditions. There are several groups involved in the advocacies for indigenous groups, some of which have partnered with Advocafe to provide a venue for marketing indigenous coffee and other products.

It took us some time to find Advocafe owing to its being a relatively small location in a neighborhood of large businesses. Its relaxed and warm interior was the perfect place for us to stop for a leisurely brunch. We ordered the Biya (dried fish) all day breakfast meal, Pesto Pasta, and a cup of Hot Chocolate as well as a cup of Dilaw (Turmeric) herbal tea.

305ACEFB-52A1-4A4F-BA93-DF5249F8E5A6

The crispy Biya came with a cup of upland rice, with its signature reddish-purple grains. We realized that the perfect combination would be this Biya meal with the sweetish hot chocolate, the latter being perfect for pouring over the rice. The fish itself was not greasy or overly salty, giving some mild sharpness to the meal.

The Pesto Pasta was at least well cooked, with the pesto itself having a mild flavor. The Dilaw Tea was rather strong for our tastes, and we figured would be better for pairing with rice cakes.

CEAE5E18-00E7-4443-8ABB-7DB43FA76EDC

To cap off our brunch, we got a slice of Advocafe’s signature moist chocolate cake. To our delight this treat was not sickly sweet, but provided just a mild hint of dark chocolate. We recommend this for diners who may not be so accustomed to rough tablea flavors, but still want a taste of local dark chocolate.

849BC2E8-8889-40F2-8451-1BB1B6894D3C

All net profits from Advocafe  go to educational programs for various indigenous groups in different parts of the country. These educational endeavors include livelihood training as well as adapting to climate change. Other local products such as tablea blocks and herbal teas are also available here on a retail basis. This is truly one place to dine for a cause.

Food Score: 3.5/5: While we certainly enjoyed the all day breakfast, we feel that their pasta could be improved in flavor and presentation. The portion sizes are reasonable for student and backpacker budgets.

Ambiance/Service Score: 4/5: The service here was fast, even at an early hour. The ambiance of this place is very inviting with its comfortable seating and warm colors. The photograph displays also help provide a bird’s eye view as to what Advocafe is all about.

GERD Score: 3.5/5 For anyone dealing with heartburn, there are some options one can select such as the cakes and tea, along with a meal or two. One could say that Advocafe is a good spot for an quiet afternoon snack.

Epilepsy Score: 4/5: Some of the breakfast selections involve processed meats such as hotdogs, which may not be tolerated by some diners. However the herbal teas and non-coffee selections make this place very worth the visit.
Team Glasses Score: 4/5 : Advocafe is a place with a heart: simple and reasonably priced food, with a mission to help others. We definitely recommend a visit to this place not only for the meals, but to also learn how you can help our countrymen from these indigenous groups.

Advocafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Le Petit Souffle

E0409CB2-2AE3-4D47-B097-72B578007ECA

French and Japanese fusion has been something not unheard of. What comes to mind for me when this type of fusion is mentioned are the ending scenes of the Japanese movie “Tampopo”, replete with mouthwatering ramen. But as Kat has pointed out on more than one occasions, Le Petit Souffle takes fusion to another level. And on another level it sure was.

B3804A61-48B4-47D4-8C7C-6F75AC0DDB1B

Furikake Pomme Frites

For our date and de-stressing session, we started out with an appetizer, which was the Furikake Pomme Frites. When it arrived, the imagery of a pile of shoestring potatoes was a long step up from that of canned shoestring snacks. The texture was crunchy yet light on the taste buds. We managed to catch the natural flavor of the potatoes as well as the combination of nori, sesame seeds, and other seasonings they’ve mixed in, without the typical oiliness one usually expects from fried appetizer.

931338FE-D912-4A72-9EEE-C7EAA3FF8632

Carbonara Souffle

 

 

 

For our main course, Kat picked the Carbonara Souffle. And it was a treat to be had aesthetically with the egg on top like a cloud ready to be mixed in with the firm pasta, crisp bacon, and grated parmesan. And once mixed together, it transcended all our expectations because the creaminess of the carbonara sauce wasn’t overpowering. The pasta created a platform for each ingredient to shine through.

 

845FF6AB-956F-4C4C-ADD9-064D2F22B09D

Japanese Beef Curry Souffle

I, on the other hand, took on the Japanese Beef Curry Souffle. I honestly did not expect myself facing a meal that’s good for two people. At the same time, it was just as inviting to the eyes as to the tastebuds. The fluffy texture of the scrambled egg complemented well the rice and curry underneath it. The beef was thinly cut into strips that absorbed the flavor of the curry, though I felt that the texture would have been better with the meat cut into cubes.

644C23A3-3BF3-4FC2-A10A-FDE1742B96EC

Valrhona Guanaja Chocolate Souffle

As we were in dire need of stress relief after the rigors of graduate school, we immediately picked to our old stress relief motto of ‘Get chocolate when stressed’.  The one thing that would fit the bill was the luscious Valrhona Guanaja Chocolate Souffle. The dark chocolate caressed our taste buds, while the souffle itself achieved a balance of moist and firm  textures in the same bite. It was the ideal decadent ending to our meal.

After our meal, we took time to glance around the place, which evoked the feel of being in an Parisian garden cafe., with a touch of adorably barmy courtesy the rolling pins hanging out among the leaves and branches. This odd and welcoming charm cinched the deal for us.

Simply put, this was a dinner date to remember.

 

Food Score:5/5. Each item of the menu here is well thought of and combines well with each other. But we personally like the Carbonara Souffle because it is a class of its own, and the Valrhona Guanaja Chocolate Souffle is sublime.

Ambiance / Service Score: 5/5. The entire restaurant gives of the vibe of being in a chic Parisian garden, which makes it a calming and comforting place to dine in. Their servers are also on top of our dining experience, informing us when the souffles will be ready and even assisted us to have the chocolate souffle come out 25 minutes after our main meals come in.

GERD Score: 3.5/5. My only problem with the menu is that since it is French-inspired is that there are plenty of dairy and eggs, which doesn’t help my heartburn. But thankfully they have plenty of options in their menu that can cater to most diets.

Epilepsy Score: 4/5. Hooray for well sourced ingredients, and rich dishes that do not rely on preservatives. Although coffee is a must-have at Le Petit Souffle, the teas and juices are also very much recommended.

Team Glasses Score: 4/5. All things considered, it was an amazing experience dining in Le Petit Souffle’s way of doing Japanese-French fusion cuisine. And we recommend that it should be experienced at least once by any casual gourmet here in the Metro.

 Le Petit Souffle Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Recovery Food

The search for a cure to hangovers may be almost as old as the existence of breweries and alcohol consumption. Old wives’ tales and urban legends list a whole plethora of remedies ranging from peppercorns up one’s nose (not recommended!) all the way to consumption of copious amounts of coffee. More sound cures include rehydrating as well as getting a good breakfast, two things that all-day restaurants such as Recovery Food are more than ready to provide.

BD1DD8B2-F7F4-4BC8-A45C-4EFBEBC8E24B

We visited Recovery Food’s branch in the BGC Stopover, and found it to be quite full even as early as 8 in the morning. The no-frills menu here featured a complete lineup of dishes from starters, rice bowls, all the way up to dessert. For our breakfast here, we picked the Amadobo rice bowl: traditional pork adobo and rice, topped with a scrambled egg. We also indulged with a bowl of Hey Jude’s Paksig: bangus belly with rice. For this venture we chose to upgrade the rice in this dish to ‘talangka rice’, or rice cooked in crab paste. We also ordered the Oriental Salad, which was comprised of greens mixed with a combination of fruits such as green mango and pineapple, with a choice of either peanut dressing or citrus vinaigrette.

22714A46-4C95-4BF8-ACD2-309F651F5130The Amadobo had just the right blend of salty-sourness that one would expect from an excellent adobo recipe, with an added kick from a crunchy garlic topping. The fluffy scrambled egg provided a good contrast to the stronger flavors of the pork and the sauce soaked in the rice. In practice it was not much different from home-cooked adobo, but it was an adobo done very well.

BF78B539-026E-477F-AC7F-62D37BA6C915The Hey Jude’s Paksig is a treat with the subtle flavors of the talangka rice and the sweet and fresh bangus blending together. Along with the well-cooked sunny side up egg mixed in, it’s a succulent experience mixing in all three.

0BC91025-6CBF-4AB2-94D4-57DB7BE4D7B9We made a good choice with having citrus vinaigrette with our Oriental Salad, since this dressing provided a light tanginess that complemented the sweetish flavors of the fruits and greens. This refreshing starter was a surprisingly good partner to our more savory entrees, thus rounding out our breakfast in a way we never had before.

 

Although Recovery Food caters to those who need a hefty meal to end a late night, we would recommend this place too for those who want a filling start to their day, or just plain good food to suit all hours.
The Food Score:  4/5: Recovery Food serves up its meals in two sizes: regular and Full Recovery. We tried the Full Recovery size, and found it good for two, or for one very, very hungry person. The menu here also features soups such as pho and mami, Filipino desserts, and a wide selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, making this place perfect for dining at all hours.

Ambiance/Service Score: 4/5: Despite its simple, no-frills ambiance, this restaurant was still comfortable and well-lit. The service at this branch was prompt and courteous, adding to the dining experience.   

GERD Score: 3.5/5: While there are options for different people, Recovery Food doesn’t offer much for anyone with heartburn. And if one makes the mistake of ordering the full recovery size alone, best to have half for take out.

Epilepsy Score:  3.5/5: Some of the dishes here are prepared from canned and preserved meats, thus making them less of an option for some diners. Nevertheless there are other fresh dishes (apart from the salad) that are worth considering even for those with concerns about medication interactions or high preservative intake.   

Team Glasses Score: 4/5: Recovery Food is certainly an option not only for late nights but also for early mornings and even casual lunches and dinners out. Although this is not exactly a place for fine dining, it is one for good old comfort food to suit most everyday ventures.

Recovery Food Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wild Ginger

9B5A152B-A2D0-426D-AB39-BD73AE8CE6E8

During one of our recent dinner trips, we initially thought about having big and juicy burgers. After a bit of consideration we opted to dine at Wild Ginger, a place that offers something closer to our tastebuds, which is Southeast Asian and South Asian cuisine.

Upon stepping inside, we found that the restaurant has a homey dining room feel to it. With subtle walls, various paintings, comfortable atmosphere and knick knacks adorning the interior, Wild Ginger is perfect for dining in with company or not, particularly for quiet and casual dates.

Their menu encompasses a selection of Southeast Asian entrees such as curries and rice toppings, as well as street food favorites such as Banh Mi, and Adobo Flakes Sandwich. We decided to try out two full on meals, namely the Vegetable Biryani and Indian Butter Chicken.

DB7B3E8A-9FA5-4EA3-92BE-C8ABB846DCEB

Vegetable Biryani

The Vegetable Biryani was superb, with the balance of flavors and textures all encompassed within this one dish of biryani rice with a mix of carrots, peas, potatoes, lentils and other veggies. The crunch from the roasted garlic and peanuts blended in perfectly with the parsley and melded together with the biryani.

634793C0-93BD-422D-BD13-36AFF289CF5E

Indian Butter Chicken

In the case of the Indian Butter Chicken, the heat from the spices of the curry was subtly cooled down by the butter without making it seem too creamy for its own good. The chunks of chicken were perfectly seasoned from within, which was enhanced by the curry. The papadom that accompanied it was just the right amount of crisp and ability to hold the curry itself. The only gripe we had was that there was not enough papadom to do justice to the sauce. We actually ordered an extra cup of rice when there was still some curry left.

During our meal here, we also found out that Wild Ginger is involved with Action Against Hunger, a global humanitarian organization that’s committed to ending world hunger. And their restaurant is listed as a Restaurant Against Hunger, wherein proceeds from certain dishes are donated to food aid and assistance efforts especially for refugees. Not only is this restaurant a treat for the tastebuds and the stomach, but it is also doing its part to feed the world.

Food Score: 5/5. Simply put, the food at Wild Ginger is sublime. Each dish is well executed and thought out from the textures to the flavors. This is a good pick for diners still needing initiation into the nuances of Southeast Asian cuisines, as well as culinary diehards.

Ambiance / Service Score: 4.5/5. The place gives a calming home vibe to it, which lends itself to a quaint dining experience. And their servers are attentive to our needs throughout our meal here.

GERD Score: 4/5. The good thing about Wild Ginger is their selection that leaves a lot of options for people who have various triggers on their heartburn.

Epilepsy Score: 4/5. Hooray for freshly cooked home-style meals with quality ingredients! The food here utilizes all natural flavorings without resorting to powdered or artificial seasonings. The non-alcoholic drinks selection is also a boon.

Team Glasses Score: 4/5. Considering all factors, Wild Ginger is lovely restaurant to go be it for lunch or dinner, even with people with existing health concerns to consider.

Wild Ginger Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Ziggurat: Going All the Way With Mezze

Appetizers are an important part of a sit-down meal as well as food trips and bar crawls. During a recent night out in the Poblacion area, my companions and I decided to whet our appetites further with a stop at Ziggurat, a cozy casual dining establishment on the corner of Durban Street and Makati Avenue.

 

During previous visits to Ziggurat, we have always been charmed by its Persian inspired ambience, complete with luxurious low seating arrangements and silver accent pieces. This restaurant’s extensive menu has always been a challenge for us to navigate, owing to the sheer variety of Middle Eastern, Indian, Mediterranean, and African dishes available to adventurous diners. On this particular jaunt we decided to eschew heavier dishes such as curries and kebabs in favor of lighter dishes dubbed as mezzes, a term which originates from the Persian word for ‘taste’ or ‘snack’.

 

Ziggurat offers its signature mezzes ala carte, or in various mezze combos and platters good for three to five persons. We decided to try a large mezze sampler known as Mezze Forte, a tower of eight different appetizers served with toasted khobiz, a bread that is a little thicker than the usual pita breads utilized for dips.

IMG_20171101_174504

Our eight mezzes for the evening were as follows:

-Muttabal: chopped grilled eggplant with tahini

-Muhammara: roasted capsicum and walnut puree

-Qeema: ground beef with eggplants

-Jazar: spiced carrot puree with tahini

-Hummus: garbanzos with tahini

-Taramasalata: a Greek recipe for smoked cod’s roe

-Dukkah: a traditional Egyptian nut dip

-Mahroussa: fava beans with tahini

 

This combination of sweet and savoury mezzes necessitated our ordering extra khobiz for us to fully appreciate and polish off the entire order. In particular, the spicy mezzes such as Muhammara were a delight to the palate. Some like the Dukkah were a little difficult to eat owing to the crumbly textures, but were otherwise excellent in terms of flavor. My personal favorite had to be the Qeema, as its richness would make the perfect prelude to a hearty meal.

 

Other mezze combinations such as Mezze Vege (an all vegetable combo) and The Great Pyramid of Mezze are available for larger groups or diners with particular tastes. It may take a good number of visits to fully appreciate Ziggurat’s menu, but these appetizers are a good way to begin a round the world food trip, or a night out.

 

The Food Score:  4/5: The food at Ziggurat, in particular the appetizers, will suit both finicky diners as well as newbies to less known cuisines. While some menu items may not be available on some evenings, there are more than enough dishes to compensate for any gaps.   

Ambiance/Service Score: 4.5/5: The staff here are friendly and are quick to inform diners if there are unavailable foods in the menu. They are also more than happy to help patrons navigate the assortment of appetizers, as well as give recommendations.  The ambience is comfortable, casual, and yet gives one the feel of having stepped out of Makati and into another country.

GERD Score: 4/5: The wonderful thing about Middle eastern cuisine is that, even without chili, you get the heat spikes without ruining your stomach. Of course it depends on one’s tastes and heartburn triggers, but overall, Ziggurat is definitely be a good place to just kick back and dine.

Epilepsy Score:  4/5: While some of the more heavily flavoured items may be problematic for sensitive diners, there are still enough dishes to cater to different tastes and conditions. There are also non caffeinated and non alcoholic drinks available at the bar.

Team Glasses Score: 4/5 : While we acknowledge that mezze or other items on Ziggurat’s menu may not be to everyone’s tastes, we still suggest including this restaurant either as the main star of a casual night out, or as a stop in your Poblacion food crawl.

Ziggurat Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tong Keun So

BCCD6E24-3083-44B9-8E56-D6EAD1BF6933

In our many months of writing down reviews here in the Team Glasses Food Blog, we finally had a chance to eat at a Korean restaurant. And all of this due to a last minute change of plans when my dad arrived from Davao, a day before his birthday.

To celebrate, we ended up at Remedios Circle in Malate and picked a place called Tong Keun So. For the frugal person my dad is, the signage displaying the PHP 990 for the Tong Keun So Hanmari (which consisted of rib finger, prime chuck eye roll, and brisket point) was enough to seal the deal.

4701D2A3-4B3D-42E8-89A5-815FABABFC6A

Tong Keun So Hanmari

The wooden tables and bright room, along with the lively crowd dining made for a perfectly casual and cozy place to dine in. Best of all, aside from the usual side dishes like kimchi, the servers were doing the grilling of the meat for us.

AA7C340F-D9A9-4E23-8824-7AE030779740

Bulgogi-Jungol

9CBAB461-EA74-4173-80C9-0D5EAAC8856D

The Dips

Aside from the grilled meats and side dish staples like kimchi, we also had a medium-sized Bulgogi-Jungol (which is a beef stew with mushrooms and other assortments of vegetables), and Haemul-Gyeran Jien (an egg dish) came with the Hanmari. Accompanying the meat are some crisp lettuce, and three dips, which are a spiced red paste, a sweet soy sauce-onion combination, and a mix of salt, pepper, and sesame seeds.

B5AE14B6-2E40-48F4-9C88-F3FCE996B673

Haemul-Gyeran Jien

Even without the three dips, the grilled meat, rice, and lettuce wrapping these all together was amazing and simple. A word of caution, one has to remember to dab lightly when dipping the meat in the salt-pepper-sesame mix. I dabbed a little too much and it overpowered my tastebuds a bit.

The Haemul-Gyeran Jien we had for a side dish were light and fluffy, flavored subtly with vegetables. These made the perfect complement to our more strongly flavored main entrees.

Like with most Korean restaurants here in the Metro, the serving size per order is meant to be shared. Overall, it was an enjoyable experience sharing a meal with loved ones, just like what we had here.

 

 

 

 

Ambiance / Service: 4/5. The entire place has been inviting to dine in, no frills at all. The real star here was the attentive servers who took care of the preparation of our meals here, especially with the grill.

Food Score: 4/5. While simple in appearance and preparation, the dinner was quite hearty, filling, and satisfying without the guilty feeling one normally gets, because these weren’t oily at all.

GERD Score: 3.5/5. Even with the spicy chilli-based selections that’s a staple in Korean cuisine, there’s still enough choices to pick from with anyone dealing with heartburn.

Epilepsy Score: 4/5. Some of the seasonings may not be amenable to more sensitive persons. However the more subtly flavored dishes may be given a bit of extra kick with one’s choice of condiment, which allows for persons to choose flavorings more suited to their conditions.

Team Glasses Food Score: 4/5. Tong Keun So is a must-try, when craving for Korean food but without the worry of having too much about our own respective conditions, provided however that one’s meals here are experienced as a group.

Tong Keun So Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Good Bugs

Most of us grew up with an (acquired) aversion to bacteria and germs. We were always told that having these little entities in our guts would make us sick. However, not all bacteria cause stomach upsets; in fact, there are some kinds of bacteria which promote better digestion and health overall. These microorganisms are better known nowadays as probiotics. These special bacteria can resist the extremely acidic and enzyme-filled environment of the human gut, and thus can reside there for a relatively longer period of time.

So why eat or drink these kinds of bacteria? In recent years, probiotics have been studied for their beneficial effects in managing digestive problems such as gastroenteritis, diarrhea, and even irritable bowel syndrome. They are also helpful for children suffering from colic. They may be beneficial in managing allergies, atopic dermatitis, and inflammatory bowel disease; however, more studies are needed to show the effectiveness of probiotics for patients with these disorders. Probiotics may also have an antioxidant effect by reducing the ‘oxidative stress’ and damage caused by harmful bacteria in the gut.

Various strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are among the more well-known probiotics. These bacteria may be found in special preparations marketed for therapeutic purposes, but they are also found in some commercially available foods such as yogurt and some dairy preparations. Other foods containing beneficial bacteria include sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, and kombucha (fermented tea). Like all things, these foods and other probiotic preparations must be taken in moderation. In fact, probiotics are not recommended for some critically ill persons, or those with severely weakened immune systems.

6933791485_91ca684502_b

Kombucha tea (Source: statickflickr.com)

 

In our anecdotal experience, regularly taking probiotics in addition to making necessary dietary and lifestyle changes has been helpful in preventing attacks of GERD, or at least in limiting their severity. We’ve also realized that drinking probiotics help us recover more quickly from our relatively rare stomach upsets and food poisoning misadventures. We hope that as more research is done about probiotics, that we can better incorporate these into our recommendations for healthy eating.

 

Sources:

Connor, E. (2017). 6 Probiotic Foods to Add to Your Diet. Retrieved from: http://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/probiotic-foods#kombucha6

 

Sanders, M. E, Guarner, F., Guerrant, R., Holt, P.R., Quigley, E.M., Sartor, R.B…Mayer. E.A. (2013). “An update on the use and investigation of probiotics in health and disease.” Gut, 62, 787-796. doi:10.1136/gutjnl-2012-302504

 

Wang, Y., Wu, Y., Wang, Y., Xu, H., Mei, X., Yu, D….Li, W. (2017). “Antioxidant Properties of Probiotic Bacteria”. Nutrients, 9, 521. doi:10.3390/nu9050521

Food in the Time of Conflict: The Marawi Siege Crisis, and How We Can Help

ph_locator_lanao_del_sur_marawi

© Mike Gonzalez, 2005.

Photo By Mike Gonzalez (TheCoffee) (English Wikipedia) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Bullets and bombs are the most well-known, but not necessarily the most widespread of weapons during times of war and conflict.  Displacement, disease, and hunger affect both combatants and civilians, with the latter often winding up as refugees forced to make perilous journeys to safety away from the ‘Ground Zero’ of war zones, places that had once been home to them. In different parts of the world, refugees from all parts of the world are forced to make do in crowded temporary housing, camps, and evacuation centers. In these places, they often face shortages in basic necessities such as food, potable water, clothing, and medication.

One such ongoing crisis is the siege in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur, Philippines. Marawi was a beautiful city, the provincial capital with a rich history because of the heritage of its Muslim and Christian inhabitants. On May 23, 2017, a group of extremists known as the Maute group attacked Marawi City, leading to clashes with the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Most of Marawi’s 220,000 residents were forced to flee to neighboring cities and municipalities such as Iligan City and Cagayan de Oro City to escape the continuous firefights and airstrikes between government forces and the extremists.

At present, more than 55,000 refugees are staying in Iligan City and neighboring municipalities. The Department of Social Welfare and Development, as well as other agencies involved in the relief and evacuation efforts have to stretch limited supplies of food and other relief goods to meet the needs of refugees already being housed in 37 schools, multi-purpose halls and other buildings converted to evacuation centers, as well as newcomers who have just been rescued from or escaped the conflict zones in Marawi City.

One of the most immediate needs of the refugees is food, whether ready-made or in prepackaged forms. What makes this food crisis more challenging is that food donations for refugees from Marawi must be halal or prepared according to Islamic dietary laws. Halal foods are free from pork or pig by-products, therefore even vegetables and other foods fried in pork lard or fat are not permissible for consumption. Halal foods must also be free from blood, alcohol, and also involves a specific means of humanely butchering animals to be used for food.  

Apart from the Department of Social Welfare and Development, other groups involved in the relief efforts for the refugees from Marawi include the Red Cross, Alagang Kapatid foundation, Save the Children, Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership, and the Office of the Vice President. Universities such as the University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila, Ateneo de Naga, De La Salle University, and La Salle Academy in Iligan are also accepting and coordinating donations for the refugees. One group directly involved in preparing and distributing halal food to the refugees is the Art Relief Mobile Kitchen. The Art Relief Mobile Kitchen (ARMK) at present prepares 10,000 to 12,000 meals each day for the evacuees in Iligan City.

Art Relief Mobile Kitchen is no stranger to feeding refugees from calamities after all. Starting all the way back from the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda (International Name: Haiyan) in 2013, ARMK set up a mobile kitchen near the area where refugees landed from Leyte and other typhoon-hit areas, with the efforts from volunteers and donations either in cash or in kind helped feed the multitude coming to Manila for safety.

Now the same case is happening in the evacuation centers in Illigan and Cotabato City almost a month in with the fighting in Marawi, where there are still reports of people in need of assistance and relief. Let’s not sit back and allow hunger to become a weapon of terror, help out in anyway you can, especially with addressing Art Relief Mobile Kitchen’s herculean task of feeding of our brothers and sisters in Marawi during Ramadan.

To learn more about Art Relief Mobile Kitchen and how to donate, one can visit their Facebook page by clicking here.

Throwback Thursday Summer 2017: Where Do We Send the Hobbits?

It’s the last Thursday of May, a perfect opportunity to look back on half a year of great meals, adventures, and laugh trips all in lieu of getting ‘beach bodies’. It has also been six months of reading all kinds of books; this week I’m reading through biographies, while Lee is making his way through Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings.” While geeking out over the latter book, we found ourselves speculating about the eating habits of Middle Earth’s various denizens, and how they would fare in the hustle and bustle of Metro Manila. As a result, we have decided to look through our entries and scores, and bring back our personal favorites as well as hearty food recommendations in the odd occasion we ever come across such valiant folks with appetites that surpass their heights.

 

So without further ado, here are our two lists: Team Glasses Summer Favorites and Where Do We Send the Hobbits?

Team Glasses Summer Favorites:

  1.       Corner Tree Café Vegetarian Food: A wide range of delicious dishes inspired from different world cuisines, cozy ambiance, excellent service…and did we mention the food is vegetarian and all natural? This is definitely our pick for date nights, quiet group outings, or even a chic family evening out.
  2.       Faburrito: This is not just Tex-Mex; it’s Tex-Mex without the drawbacks of searing one’s tastebuds on chili, or feeling heavy in the gut thanks to too many oils in the cooking. It’s definitely a healthy upgrade that is friendly to Tex-Mex newbies as well as diehards.
  3.       Urban Chick: This place is solid proof that eating on a student budget isn’t limited to instant noodles, siomai, or even fast food burgers! The sandwiches and plated meals are hefty and tasty—especially the wings!
  4.       Hummus Elijah: Who ever thought there would be so many ways to appreciate hummus? The fact that the selections here come pretty close to authentic Middle Eastern cuisines is definitely a treat.
  5.       Paris Delice: There is more to French food than escargot and croissants; a lot of French cooking is all about using fresh, quality ingredients to come up with everyday dishes that are still on the healthy side. The sandwiches, salads, and pastas here are light on the stomach and yet leave a lasting impression on the palate.

 

Where Do We Send the Hobbits?

  1.       The Balkan: One word: Goulash! We’re sure if we set up each hobbit with a hefty bowl of the Balkan’s rich stew, they’d be merry all evening. There are many other dishes suitable for hobbit appetites, as well as a wide selection of drinks to wash them all down.
  2.       Wok by 4900: There’s a bowl here for every taste—and thus every hobbit. The creative drinks here would definitely pique the interest of the more adventurous of their kind.
  3.       Urban Chick: Hobbits may find themselves hard pressed to match the appetites of the students and foodies who frequent this establishment. It’s just as well that Urban Chick is more than up for the task of accommodating the many and the hungry.
  4.       8 Cuts: Because who can pass up a luscious, dripping burger and some crisp thick cut fries?
  5.       Dekada: Filipino food is meant to be shared, if not with another person then with the entire table. Dekada takes this to heart, and brings in quality to go with quantity. And that is not something that most hobbits would pass up!

 

The best part is that one does not have to go all the way to Mordor and back for these great food picks and your last hurrah for the summer. Stay tuned for more food adventures and in time, another Throwback Thursday from Team Glasses!

 

Got any suggestions or places you think we should review? Feel free to leave us a comment or drop us a line at the ‘Contact Us’ page!

Dining at The Farm

The Farm

The wonderful thing about farm-to-table restaurants is their thrust to bring organic food back into the mainstream food choices. As UK’s Department for Environment Food & Rural Areas would define it:

“Organic food is the product of a farming system which avoids the use of man-made fertilisers, pesticides; growth regulators and livestock feed additives. Irradiation and the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or products produced from or by GMOs are generally prohibited by organic legislation.”

And The Farm at Rockwell aims to do just that. In our many trips at the Power Plant Mall, we’ve been keeping tabs on when it’s going to open up for business. One of it was The Farm and now, finally got to give it a try.

The first thing we noticed is the rustic feel the restaurant exudes, making for comfortable casual dining in a western-inspired farm. For our dinner here, I picked the vegan mushroom sandwich and Kat had some spaghetti puttanesca. For something cool to wash it down, we went with pandan iced tea for me, and an “energy” smoothie for Kat.

D38A2979-6DD5-4020-A45A-0DDF9583DADB

For the sandwich, I opted to have the sesame bun. I would say that the vegan mushroom was subtly flavored and moist, the microgreens were and good on my own sandwich scale. The sandwich is quite light and good for a snack. However, I have to say that I was underwhelmed by it. Perhaps grilling the buns would give it an added dimension to it, and I also found that the vegan mushroom filling was too malleable for my tastes.

B3BA6598-8A81-44E1-B953-84B22F04F740

As for the pasta, it was cooked to an perfect al dente texture, and the sauce had just the right spice and tanginess from the capers, olives, and anchovies. It at least met the bar of what we expect from a good spaghetti puttanesca, which we appreciate very much.

Our drinks were superb. Kat’s energy smoothie, a concoction for various greens laced with chocolate chips, cleaned out the palate quite well. The pandan iced tea was the right level of sweetness that would be perfect on a warm summer day. These made the perfect complements to our simple dinner.

Food Score: 4/5. Snafu with the sandwich aside, The Farm does have some really good selections of meals and drinks for a great casual dining experience.
Ambiance / Service Score: 4/5. With its western ranch ambiance, the casual dining feel of the place shines through nicely. Safe to say, it’s perfect for a date or for a quiet meal with family on a sunday evening.
GERD Score: 4/5. Objectively, there’s only a few food options for those dealing with heartburn, if cheese or butter is a trigger point. But on the plus side, they’re conscientious with putting in spice warnings on food that’s on the hot side.
Epilepsy Score: 4/5. Hooray for healthy options, and all-natural bacon as offered on the menu. This restaurant prides itself on serving meals sans preservatives, with lots of greens and other healthy options
Team Glasses Score: 4/5. Overall, The Farm does well with it’s advocacy of farm-to-table dining, and we did enjoy having our dinner here. Another thing of note at the Farm is nitrate-free bacon. That particular product gives people with certain health conditions to finally have that crispy bacon in the morning without the worry.

 The Farm Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato