At Boudin Bakery, San Francisco

boudin-bakery-san-francisco

If there’s one kitchen skill I’d like to master, it’s breadbaking. I simply enjoy watching and learning the process and really, who doesn’t love the smell and taste of freshly-baked bread? I know how to make only the most basic of loaves and I am in awe of anyone who knows her sourdough and who is not confounded by starters, active yeasts and such. 🙂

In search of dinner on our second night in San Francisco, we were enticed by the wonderful smell coming from the famous Boudin Bakery. They have a shop and cafe area called Bakers Hall where one can stop for a quick meal and a cup of coffee and load up on kitchen supplies (or be sorely tempted to).

boudin-bakery-bakers-hall (2)

Don’t you just love shop displays like these? Makes one want to be a gourmet cook, hehe.

jam and stuff

We brought our meal to the patio looking out into Fisherman’s Wharf and people-watched. (People-watching at Fisherman’s Wharf is a very interesting pastime indeed.) The soup in a bread bowl that I had was absolutely delicioso.

Later, we kibitzed with other tourists in front of a huge observation window along the street and watched some of Boudin’s bakers show off their skills (that’s my envy speaking, haha). Here’s a very short video I took, with some ambient sounds from the streets of San Francisco:

They make the shaping of loaves look so easy, argh!

*****

I wasn’t kidding when I said I am in awe of those who are good at bread baking. I’m learning (slowly) through cookbooks and once, out of exasperation, enrolled in a day-long training just to get a feel for the kneading part, hehe. Months later, I am still the sort of amateur who ‘over-flours’ the counter. 🙂

How about you, do you bake bread? How did you learn? 

Magical Miracle Fruit

(For my last post in this series about my mother’s garden, which is my way of honoring her this Mothers’ Month of May, I am featuring a most unusual fruit — something that, come to think of it, is like our mothers who help make even the worst of times just a little better. :))

Of all the produce in my Ma’s garden, this is probably the most unusual — synsepalum dulcificum, better known as miracle fruit or magic berry. It is so called because of the amazing effect it has on one’s taste buds. Simply put, it makes everything, and I mean everything, taste really sweet.

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Fruits from a Southeast Asian Garden

My memories of childhood summers always include the tambis. One of the bigger trees  in our garden, the tambis or macopa (water/rose apple) was also the only one in our street and bore so much fruit that it gave us our version of a lemonade stand. Every summer afternoon, my sisters and I would set up a small table in front of our gate, arrange the tambis in pyramids and sell them to neighborhood kids for about ten centavos per three pieces.

We also had aratiles and guava trees and our playmates were free to pick a few from those. (I remember that guava tree. I kept peeling off the top layer of its trunk because it was always smoother underneath — a victim of my misdirected quest for neatness even in nature.)

The fruit trees in my mother’s garden are especially prolific now that it’s summer. Around this time, neighborhood kids regularly come around and ask if they can pick aratiles or hagis or tambis. Ma always says yes but also always with a warning for them to leave some on the trees or else, heh. Some things never change. 🙂

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My Mini-Guide to Summer Fun in the Philippines

Since it is already summer over here and everyone is raring to go on weekend vacations, I’ve compiled my posts on a few domestic destinations and activities I tried during the past year. I hope it’ll help you plan your summer activities, whether you’re a fellow Pinoy or someone planning to visit my country.

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Postcards: El Raval, Barcelona

I had some ‘alone’ time in Barcelona and decided to take a solo stroll along the streets running to La Rambla. Our hotel was situated at El Raval, a densely-populated barrio or barri that used to have a seedy reputation but is now considered ‘hip’ with its restaurants, cafes, boutiques, a museum and a cultural center.

I only snapped a few pictures though, because I soon found myself in front of a heavenly-smelling pastry shop that we’d seen the day before and could not resist going in for some savory/sweet bread. I walked on with that in one hand and a drink in the other, window-shopped at some boutiques, browsed in a vintage record shop with a poster of Bob Marley out front, and bought some stuff at the CCCB bookstore. My camera stayed inside my bag.

I had a great time. 🙂

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Food Tripping in Mindanao

Travel planning for me is never complete without some serious research on the must-eats in our destination. (What can I say, I love food. 🙂 ) So before we set out on our tour of the Mindanao adventure corridor, I asked fellow readers of one of my favorite food blogs for tips on what to eat and what foodstuff to bring home from Cagayan de Oro, Camiguin, and Bukidnon. They generously helped me put together a short checklist.

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Local Flavor: Pork Sisig

Sisig

If you’re a beer drinker and you’ve been  to the Philippines but were never treated to a plate of sisig, then let me tell you right now: you got shortchanged by your tour guide. Now if you live in the Philippines and you’ve never had sisig, you really need to sneak out of that convent once in a while, heh.

Sisig is the quintessential Filipino pulutan (beer match). I can’t tell you for sure about its origins but one theory involves a former U.S. airbase in Pampanga and Filipinos living around it who could not let a good thing go to waste (pigs’ heads in this case).

There are as many variations to sisig as there are beerhouses in the country. (One of my favorite food bloggers, Marketman, even has a recipe that calls for the head of a lechon or roast pig and I can imagine it must be a really good and crunchy sisig.) There are now also chicken, tuna, and bangus sisig versions. This super basic recipe, or should I say guide, for preparing pork sisig comes from a former colleague who now suffers from gout and arthritis (or so I’ve been told). Consider yourselves warned, haha.

Let’s get to it. (Another warning: This dish is NOT for the squeamish.)

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