27 March 2011

Mahal Kita, Maharlika!

In literal Tagalog-English translation, it means “I Love You, Royalty!” If you say it fast enough, it sounds alike too.

I first heard about Maharlika via email from my friend Carol. Quite surprising news since I get all my Filipino restaurant intel from my Filipino friends. In any case, It has been piquing my interest since I heard about it. Eggs Imelda? Naming a tribute dish to the Queen of Shoes (she has a whole BUILDING for a shoe closet, and rumor has it that she gets custom-made shoes from Salvatorre Ferragamo) is mighty fine.

Contrary to Filipino custom, I ate at Maharlika by myself. My husband’s eating schedule and work schedule does not coincide with their 11am-3pm weekends only schedule inside Resto Leon, and I was just hungry. Seated at the bar, I was perusing the menu and having such a hard time deciding between the sisig and the stuffed chicken wings. I said to the bartender, “I’m torn.” Extending his hand, he answers “I’m Enzo.” With nice, warm and friendly staff, Maharlika is truly a blessing for solo diners.

While waiting for my food, I munched on these. They are cracker nuts. They are peanuts encased with a crunchy coating and some garlic flavoring. I know they visually remind you of whole chickpeas but they are far from it. 

True to the activity of weekend brunching, I had a glass of Kalamansi Mimosa. Kalamansi is the Philippine Lemon. The drink is refreshing and only has a hint of it in the end. This drink rounds out the whole meal perfectly.

The Pampangan-Style Sizzling Sisig with Egg and Garlic Rice was good. Totally what I expected it to be. The rice is garlicky good!

DON’T TOUCH THAT HANDLE. It's hot! Sisig has been part of the Filipino Cuisine way before snout to tail dining has achieved its present status in the US culinary scene. In it is pork belly, pig snout and ears. Some versions add liver, but truth is its all minced that you don’t even see it resembling any of the mentioned pork parts. The egg that goes on top of it is perfectly runny - when you mix it up (and you should!) the egg gets cooked and it just becomes heavenly.
Sisig started out as “drinking food.” The drinking culture in the Philippines is about drinking and eating “pulutan.” Pulutan – loosely translated is “something to pick on.” Something like tapas. I am speculating that this is brought about the Spain’s Colonial Era. (Thanks, Spain!) Since it is good, and we like eating EVERYTHING with plain white rice, it just became a meal.

This sisig wins my heart out of all the versions all over Manhattan, Queens and New Jersey because they provide the tables with this Maggi Seasoning. You have to taste it to understand it, but it is better than soy sauce. I should also have asked some Tabasco sauce for my sisig but I was just over the moon for this bottle of condiment.

Stuffed Chicken Wings! Aaaah. This is their take on Chicken Adobo. This is very good. If you don’t know what adobo is, here’s Sam Sifton waxing lyrical about it. I am so glad that they allowed me to order this as a side dish. See? Maharlika truly is a gem for solo diners who want to eat an entrĂ©e and a half.  (Funny enough, the maitre d’ thought that there were two people dining. LOL)

The dish is "chicken stuffed with chicken." In tagalog, we call this process of cooking "relleno." (We also do this with whole chickens, whole milkfish and sometimes lechon)
This is what the stuffing looks like while its inside the wing:
Dining in Maharlika is dining like royalty minus the royal prices. I have only managed to elevate my bill by getting extra food and the mimosa. The entree is a very good sized meal. I took home what was left of my Stuffed Chicken Wings and Sisig

Maharlika was once a pop-up restaurant. All these photos were taken when they were still operating inside Resto Leon in the East Village.They have recently moved to their new home in the Meatpacking District. Please note that the prices may be different from this post.

All opinions expressed in this post are entirely mine. I did not receive any compensation and I had paid the bill in full.

111 First Ave at 7th Street
New York NY
646 392 7880 (reservations of parties of 5 or more)

22 March 2011

Shrimp and Chive Dumplings in Noodle Soup

I love Hong Kong style dumplings. The wrapper is there merely to hold the filling together. Between these and the more usual doughy dumplings, I will pick these any day.

It was to my delight to find out about Sifu Chio thanks to Yelp. The glowing reviews sent me my merry way.

You see, I eat these dumplings in a “slightly different” manner. Here’s how I do it. mmm.

Provided on the table is a plastic basket full of condiments: soy sauce, chili oil, chili garlic sauce, white pepper and salt.

While waiting for my order, I mix chili garlic sauce and soy sauce in a dipping bowl. Don't forget to ask for your dipping bowl.

I know they kinda look like mini brains floating in noodles and broth - but take my word for it, these Shrimp and Chive Dumplings are good!

Up close, you can tell that the skin is very thin, you could see the chives through its translucence.

Dipping it in my soy sauce and chili garlic sauce dip before each bite is the way i like to enjoy them!

Each bite is filled with shrimpy-chivey goodness! I would suspect that there is a person in the kitchen who personally checks that each dumpling has at least 2 pieces of shrimp. How they do this perfect chive-shrimp-and-ground-pork balance in each dumpling is mind blowing.

This is always a wonderful and filling meal. I cannot pass up going here whenever I am in Flushing running errands. It is even better with it's wallet-friendly price tag.

One thing to note is that their outdoor signage does not reflect their name. You must come here knowing their address and knowing that their storefront looks like this.

To me, running errands in Flushing, Queens is always wonderful with this place. Mmm. I can't wait to go back!

40-09 Prince St
Flushing, NY 11354

16 March 2011

Happy St. Paddy's Day and Belated Happy Pi (pie) Day!

Although, I used to work by 5th avenue and have seen a lot of drunk St. Patrick's Day revelers at 10am, drinking beer contained in McDonald's Supersize cups - I have never celebrated the great New York City Drinking Holiday properly. 

They say Irish Food is bad food. Truth be told, it isn’t usually in the usual cuisine choices. It was really going to be a regular Tuesday night for us when I woke up to an email from Sara asking if we wanted to come to eat with her at the Irish Pub PJ Horgan’s. I know from my culture to never say no to a pregnant lady craving (haha) so I took my half-Irish husband to the quintet that we were.

We sampled the following dishes:

Appetizer Combo Platter

Chicken Pot Pie
Photo Courtesy of Roxwriting

Bangers and Mash

Shepherd’s Pie
Fish and Chips

And it won’t be an Irish meal if I don’t wash it down with a pint.

You see, i am dreaming about someone else's dinner because I ordered the fish and chips - and once the monstrous chicken pot pie came out in that glorious golden brown dome of dough, I was passionately jealous. Hmpf! I wanted to keep eating it but i was diagonally across from this wonderful dish that I had to eat what I am served. You know, tiger mother lessons never really left me, even if my real tiger mother lives halfway across the globe from from New York City.

So yeah. I still ache for that chicken pot pie. The shepherd's pie was good too. mmm. Thank you to Roxwriting and Sara Markel-Gonzalez for letting me taste a bit of Irish heaven. Follow Roxwriting follow the Chicken Pot Pie to Sunnyside.

I must say, we had a Happy Pi Day and St Paddy’s Day Celebration in one. 

Irish Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner? Sara's got the Scoop at Serious Eats!

4217 Queens Blvd
Sunnyside, NY 11104
(718) 361-9680

Photos taken with Canon Powershot A3100IS, Macro Setting at 1600ISO, No Flash. Minimal Color Correction using Lightroom. Sadly, after the appetizer photo was taken, they turned down the lights.

11 March 2011

Photo Engagement Ring

This morning, my boss hands me this ring and tells me –

Take a nice photo of this ring, print it out because the guy is going to propose but without the actual ring. He does not want to bring the ring with him because they might lose it (maybe they are going camping?)

Try to put something, like “I love you” on the print out. You know what I am talking about.

Design Dilemma: How to pull this off without being cheesy.
Future Bride Dilemma: How do I say yes to a photo of an engagement ring?

So as I edited the gorgeous ring, I thought of making an exact paper replica of the ring – because I know how it feels like to be proposed to. And who wouldn't want to wear their ring?! (even if it is paper)

I printed out my ring this way. 
I know it is a little wonky but my boss was telling me to not spend too much time on this thing as I have other administrative stuff to do (I am an admin assistant for a jeweler and I also do their product photography. Yes, I am awesome!) All the wonkiness get cut off after cutting it anyway.

Here’s the real ring and the paper ring (after it is cut) side by side:

See how awesome it looks on my hand!

I printed the ring actual size because I wanted to the future bride realistic expectations of her ring. I removed the scotch tape and put some glue runner on to the back. Now he can tape over his paper engagement ring in style! Im sure this will look good in photos! I wish them all the happiness for the rest of their lives together and the patience in planning a wedding.

Ring available at:
264 Main Street
Huntington NY 11743

All photos were taken using Canon SD1200IS, Edited in Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom (but only to have a white background and a bit of color calibration) and printed using Adobe Indesign.

10 March 2011

How to eat Pho: In Photos

I will pretty much eat anything placed in front of me. However, when I first encountered pho, I didn’t understand why it has a cult following. it was bland, and i just didn't get it - yet.

My friend Grishan taught me how to eat pho. It was with a bad bout of sinusitis, unresponsive to overdoses of OTC decongestants that made me revisit the lessons Grishan taught me. Thanks to her, I have never looked at a bowl of pho the same way ever again. 

Asians, for the most part - take pride in self-seasoning. We love condiments. We urge you to make it your own. Pho, is exactly just like that.

At Vietnamese restaurants, they give you your bowl of Pho, a platter of bean sprouts, basil leaves and lemon. Squeeze the lemon, tear your basil leaves into pieces and put your bean sprouts in (if you have never had them, they are tasteless. they are there for texture).

There will be an abundance of condiments on your table, so squirt some hoisin sauce (The black one, and im telling you - this sauce can make your soup sing!) and some Sriracha to taste. Remember, you can add but you can't take away. 

Mix a little bit, and hide your bean sprouts under your noodles so it cooks. You’ll know it is ready if the “plant-y” taste is gone, or your soup has lowered its temperature to a comfy slurpable temp.
 Bon Appetit!

If you haven’t tried it, go get some! I got this bowl (#4 on the menu) for about $6!

4010 74th St
Jackson Heights, NY 11372

All photos were taken by a Motorola Cliq Smartphone. Minimal Color Corrections using Lightroom. All hand modelling done by me.

09 March 2011

Tenpenny at The Gotham Hotel Tasting Menu

I love food. I love GOOD FOOD. At the newly opened restaurant of The Gotham HotelTenpenny, I tried their tasting menu.  

Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer

Everything I had was great, very well excecuted and nothing schmanzy or way too out there. Truth be told - it is not trying to impress, but it does impress well.

Rachel Antonio waxes lyrical about the whole experience on her blog.

Thank you, Chris Cipollone. Thank you, to all the wonderful staff at Tenpenny. I will save my (not too pretty) pennies and come back soon.

6 Course Tasting Menu $68
10 Course Tasting Menu $110 (because they HAD to)

16 East 56th St
New York NY

All photos are taken with Canon Powershot A3100IS with minimal adjustments on Lightroom.(I wish i brought the DSLR with me. :S)

08 March 2011

Wacom Intuos 4 Stand Hack Prototype

I've had my Wacom Intuos 4 (medium, wired) for about a month now and all I get is weird shoulder pain and weird hand pain. So annoying that I actually learned how to use the touchpad on my laptop - I love the mouse. I have a wrist rest mouse pad because I have (undiagnosed) carpal tunnel syndrome.
I searched for a stand for it because MAYBE I'll be able to use it better if it was inclined. I couldn’t find one - and didn't want to spend the money on something that might prove to be useless to me, so I thought of using a FedEx Medium box and did this:

FedEx Medium Box
Tape (optional)

Im not too sure if this works for me, but it seems that my wrist will not be resting on the pad and hopefully eliminate shoulder pain. I will post a proper instructional once I feel that this works for me.

Note that the side of the box is secured by the glue that is on the FedEx box. That flap? I didn't cut it on purpose. I'm thinking that it could serve two purposes:

1. to stop the pen from rolling off the incline
2. to support my wrist.

Right now, the flap is flimsy, but hey, if it allows me to edit my photos more comfortably at no cost, why not?

How do you use your Wacom pen?