Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Christmas Dinner at Pepita's Kitchen

Last Christmas, my friends and I had a 12 course Hayop na Degustacion at Pepita's Kitchen.

Dedet dela Fuente, the woman behind Pepita's Kitchen, opened her home in Magallanes Village to host the private dinner.


I would have came to dinner early if I only knew that my favorite childhood snacks were ready for picking before service began.
Tray of Chocnut

Mixed Nuts

Dedet guided the degustacion experience expertly by explaining every dish that was served.

Let's get started...
Pepitas Magic Potion: Cotton Candy + Lambanog

Unique drink that made me all the more excited for the food to come! 

Tendon Chips with Dip
Tasted every bit like chicharon minus the guilt!

One of my favorite dishes! Perfectly cooked shrimp covered in salted egg and aligue sauce. Do us all a favor Dedet and bottle the sauce pls.

So good that it deserves a close-up!

Bone Marrow w/ Oxtail Marmalade and Special Salt of Chicharon
 Dedet said that some choose to eat the components of this dish separately while others prefer to mix the crushed chicharon and oxtail marmalade with the bone marrow. I, of course, chose the fat on fat on fat way of eating and absolutely loved it! The crushed chicharon gave the dish the needed texture while the slightly sweet marmalade was the perfect contrast to the richness of the bone marrow. 

Salad Surprise
Lettuce, homemade yogurt cheese, pureed cashews. The surprise? FIZZ CANDY! 

Sipit Sarap
The fat and juicy crab claw was lathered in coconut milk. I'm a sucker for anything that has coconut milk so this was another winner for me. 

Lucky You
A simple dish of cold noodles that had a clean refreshing taste. Wished that I could have drowned the noodles in the salted egg sauce of Hiplog!

Tender lamb kaldereta which had the right amount of spice.

Cheers Palate Cleanse
A tamarind palate cleanser to prepare us for the star of the night. 

Spanish Lechon
Pepita's Kitchen offers several stuffed lechon variants but we chose the Spanish Lechon. We had to pay premium for this stuffing.

Dedet's daughter was an expert pig carver!

Our Spanish lechon had chorizo and aligue rice.

The best part of the lechon was the skin! It was so crispy that I could hear every delightful crunch in my mouth. The aligue rice and lechon itself could use more flavor though.

Cholesterol Sweeper
After all the rich dishes, we were given a shot of creamy oatmeal. I'm not sure if it helped in containing all the fatty food we ate but it certainly was the best oatmeal concoction I've eaten so far.

Pinoy Dessert
Dessert came in the form of Dedet's Pinoy take on the classic creme brulee. It was sweet and light which was the perfect way to cap the 12 course meal.

Bravo to Dedet dela Fuente for being a culinary genius. The dishes were all well-executed and thoughtfully prepared. For me, the true test of success when it comes to any dining experience is my willingness to go back. For Pepita's Kitchen, the answer is YES... in a heartbeat.

Degustacion at Pepita's Kitchen starts at 2,200php per pax. Minimum of 15pax. For inquiries, call 09178660662 or 425-4605. You can send an email at pepitaskitchen@gmail.com. Click here for more information.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Murtle's Wedding at The Fairmont San Francisco

It's only apt to end my San Francisco series with the reason why I was in the city:

Murtle got married at the historic Fairmont San Francisco located atop Nob Hill. 
Photo Credit: www.hotels.com

It's home to the famous Tonga Room, a tiki bar which has been featured on Anthony Bordain's show Layover... 

The Penthouse Suite at The Fairmont San Francisco where Murtle's wedding ceremony and reception took place was not too shabby either.

The suite is 6,000 square feet and spans the entire eighth floor of the main building of The Fairmont San Francisco. President John F. Kennedy, Prince Charles of Wales, Mick Jagger, Tony Bennett, and Nat King Cole are a few of the VIPs that have stayed at the Presidential Suite.

One has to take a private elevator to reach the Presidential Suite and this charming entrance is what greets guests. 

The suite also features an expansive living room which was transformed into a wedding hall for the ceremony.

There are three large bedrooms in the suite and this travel inspired room is one of them: 

The formal dining room, on the other hand, can seat up to 60 guests. It was perfect for Murtle's intimate wedding celebration.

One of the highlights of the suite is the "two-story circular library crowned by a rotunda where a celestial map is rendered in gold leaf against a sapphire sky."  

At the second floor of the library, there's a secret passageway concealed by bookshelves. It used to lead to the rooftop of the hotel for the ultimate in stargazing. Rumor has it that JFK conveniently utilized the passageway for his trysts with Marilyn Monroe.

Books are mostly vintage with 1st edition copies part of the collection.

My favorite room though is the billiards room! It is covered in handcrafted Persian tiles from floor to ceiling making it one of the most beautiful rooms I've seen in a long long time.

From the living room, there is a door that leads to the terrace..

for sweeping views of San Francisco!

Here's a collage of some of the special moments during Murtle's wedding!!!
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The Fairmont San Francisco is located at 950 Mason Street San Francisco California, United States. For more information, click here.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Everything Truffle at Umami Burger

I love burgers and heard a lot of good things about Umami Burger so it was a must try when I was in San Francisco.

Umami Burger offers freshly ground, premium beef patties that are infused with secret ingredients that have umami (a flavor that falls outside salty, sweet, bitter, and sour) properties. Umami induces salivation and a sensation of furriness on the tongue, stimulating the throat, the roof, and the back of the mouth.  

Umami Burger has full bar service and wait staff, concepts not common for most burger joints.

Umami's Bar Menu

I had a hard time narrowing down my choice as I wanted to try a lot of things on the menu!!! In the end, my meal consisted of The Royale Burger with a side of truffle fries and root beer.

Abita Root Beer
Bottled root beer is the best!

Truffle Em' Thin Fries
Fries are topped with truffle cheese and truffle salt.  Sad that they scrimped on truffle.

The Royale 
Beef patty topped with braised short rib, roasted garlic aioli, and truffle cheese.

Just look at that beautiful chunk of meat! The patties at Umami Burger are always cooked medium rare just the way I like it! Flavors were spot on and the melt-in-your-mouth ribs tied the Royale Burger beautifully. 

Umami Burger has multiple branches in California, Florida, and New York. For more information, click here.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Mighty Tall Trees at Muir Woods

Let's take a break from San Francisco and move 19km north of the city to Muir Woods National Monument. Muir Woods is a good option for nature-loving tourists who want to wander outside San Francisco as it's only a 45 minute drive from the city.

From www.parksconservancy.org:
"People do not just visit Muir Woods. They come from around the globe to pay homage to nature in this cathedral of redwoods. The trees' ages range from 400 to 800 years, their height up to 250 feet. Flat easy trails loop through the groves. Muir Woods National Monument was established on January 9, 1908 when President Roosevelt signed legislation to protect an old-growth coast redwoomd forest from destruction. In the light gaps beneath the redwood trees are red alders, California big leaf maples, tanoaks, and Douglas fir. The forest floor is covered in redwood sorrel, ferns, fungi, duff, and debris. Several bridges cross Redwood Creek, which flows through the park year-round. Wildlife residents include the endangered coho salmon fingerlings, Pacific wren, woodpeckers, owls, deer, chipmunks, skunks, river otters, and squirrels to name a few."


Due to the very cold weather, we explored Muir Woods in record time but it's best to allocate 2 hours to explore the area. 

Lines don't lie and this piece of wood is VERY old.


When at Muir Woods one can't help but look up and admire the redwoods which are as tall as skyscrapers.

Just take a look at these two who were easily dwarfed by the trees:

Muir Woods National Monument is located at Highway 101, Mill Valley,Califonia, U.S.A.For more information, click here.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Diners in San Francisco

I love diner food so I made sure to have my fill of classic greasy Americana that these late night joints offered when I was in San Francisco.

I'm glad to have had the chance to visit the iconic Fog City Diner at Embarcadero before it went on a serious remodel. It has now reopened minus its neon lights and black & white tiles which is sad because I loved it the way it was.


Mac & Cheese

Bacon Burger

Lori's Diner,  located at the heart of Union Square, reminded me of Pop Tate's Chock'lit Shoppe from the Archies. 


Food certainly didn't look appetizing but it sure was filling. I have to admit though that Lori's Diner was my least favorite among the diners I tried.
Buffalo Wings

Lori's Garden Salad

Spaghetti & Meatballs

Reuben Sandwich

Chicken Fried Steak

Lori's Signature Burger

Vanilla Milkshake

Hot Chocolate

We also went for snacks at Mels Drive-in which has many locations in California. Some might recognize this diner because there are replicas of Mel's Drive-in at Universal Studios theme parks worldwide. 
Photo Credit: http://www.melsdrive-in.com/


Mel's Drive-in also gets a failing mark in presentation just like most diners but food, I promise, tasted better than it looked.
 Cheese Fries

Short Rib Sliders

The Famous Melburger

Chicken Salad Sandwich

Spaghetti & Meat Balls


Fog City is located at 1300 Battery St, San Francisco, California 94111, United States. For more information click here.
Lori's Diner has multiple branches in San Francisco. For more information, click here.
Mels Drive-in has multiple branches in California. For more information, click here.
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