Monday, September 21, 2009

Lookie, Lookie! More Wasted Binary Code!

As many of those close to me know, I quit my day job to become a freelance writer. Because I'm waaaaaay too introspective for my own good, I've decided to chronicle my thoughts on living life where corporate douchebags fear to tread on another blog. It's nothing fancy, and I haven't even customized the layout yet, but it's there, and I've got the introduction post written down and everything. So, if you've got time to kill, feel free to waste some of it at

P.S. This counts as my shortest post yet. I'm tempted to pad the word count to my usual thousand or so, but bleh. Hurrah for brevity!

Read on >

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

On Meat and Marlboro Men; or A Steak Dinner at Texas Roadhouse Grill

There isn’t a single dish more masculine than a steak (besides, of course, a steak wrapped in bacon dipped in batter and fried in beer, but such awesomeness shall sadly only exist in fantasyland). Perhaps it’s because of the fact that a steak is a thick slab of muscle. Maybe it’s because said thick slab of muscle is cooked over a roaring fire, a symbol of man’s dominance over the natural world. It could be the delightful marinades and seasonings that IT’S PERFECT WITH BEER.

In the Most Sacred Church of Masculinity that every male is born baptized into, sinking your teeth into a juicy steak is a spiritual experience that takes you back to the raw, primal days when our cave-dwelling ancestors hunted down beasts of old and feasted upon their fire-grilled flesh. Much to my chagrin, I found myself severely lacking in this holiest of man-foods. In normal, non-pretentious English, I haven’t had a steak in a while.

But life has a funny way of fixing things. Last night, the Gods of Manliness took mercy upon me and led me to perhaps the manliest place I could imagine – Texas Roadhouse Grill. It was a Western-themed restaurant. With Marlboro Men on the walls. That served big, beefy steaks. Hallelujah.

A place of worship, really.

It turns out that this Palace of Masculinity has been around for a while, opening its two branches way back in 2007. How it could have escaped my sight for so long eludes me, but that doesn’t matter. I know about it now, and so too, should every red-blooded male.

As Lauren and I walked through the doors, I knew immediately that the establishment took its theme very seriously. Everything, from the wooden doors and frames, to the lights that hung overhead, reminded me of a saloon from the Old West, the types where cowpokes and outlaws and gringos alike sat down for a steak and some beer. The pictures of cowboys saddling up that adorned the walls added to the ambience.

We sat down, eager to learn if the same attention to detail put into the interiors would translate into the food. After a quick tour of the kitchen (wherein Texas Roadhouse Grill earned major bonus points for its strict adherence to rules on cleanliness and proper waste disposal, and also for owning an icemaker big enough to hide a body in), we were served our first appetizers: Chunky Corn Soup with Bacon and Nacho Strips.

The soup tasted as good as it looked. Each one of the flavours was distinct, from the sweetness of the corn to the saltiness of the bacon, but pulled together into a harmonious, hearty soup. With the nacho strips adding some delightful texture to the dish, Lauren and I had no trouble enjoying every bit of it.

Underneath the surface: hidden treasure. Bacon is treasure.

The soup was followed up with the Jesse James Sampler plate, which allowed us to taste a trio of Texas Roadhouse Grill’s most popular appetizers. The dish featured Buffalo wings, cheese fritters, and chicken fingers, each with their own sauces. The Buffalo wings had a nice combination of tanginess and heat, and was cooled down by its blue cheese dip. While I enjoyed the wings, and maybe had more than I should have, I couldn’t help but hope that they put a little more of the Buffalo sauce on them. The cheese fritters, on the other hand, were your usual deep-fried sticks of mozzarella with marinara sauce – which, needless to say, is a very good thing. Again, while the fritters were very, very good, I think jalapeno bits would have knocked them out of the park. Lastly, the chicken fingers were delightfully tender and matched with the honey mustard sauce really well. Lauren made a most wonderful discovery, though – the chicken fingers were even better with the blue cheese dip.

I want jalapeno cheesesticks.

By this time, the appetizers had my mouth watering for something a bit more... meaty. Along comes the main course, The Great Rib-Eye. This gargantuan 10-oz. hunk of meat was about the size to both of my hands fanned out, and about an inch thick. Perfect for the manly man I am. With beer Pepsi in hand, I took my fork and knife to the steak and took a big, juicy bite. The steak was good – well-grilled, seasoned just right, and tender enough to cut with ease. I would’ve preferred that they gave us a choice over the doneness of the steak (it was served medium, and I like my steaks medium-rare), but the steak was very good nonetheless. I have this belief that a good steak is one that you don’t have to add any sauce to, and this fit the bill. Also, the rustic mashed potatoes served with the steak were a perfect complement.

My inner savage approves.

The next dish served was their Shrimp and Salmon Skewer plate – juicy pieces of shrimp skewered alternately with hefty chunks of salmon and grilled to any diner’s delight. I love my seafood, and this entree didn’t change a single thing. The flavours went exceptionally well with the lemon butter sauce served on the side.

Even something as dainty as seafood can be made manly with skewers and a grill.

Unfortunately, this is where my adventure ended. The event lasted longer than I expected, and I had a birthday party to catch. I despise eating and running, but I hate going back on my word even more, and I had already promised my friend I'd be there to celebrate the evening with her. It’s a shame that Lauren and I didn’t get to try Texas Roadhouse Grill’s Baby Back Ribs, or their Mighty Oreo Mud Pie, but I have a strong feeling that I'll be heading back there soon to do so.

Overall, I find Texas Roadhouse Grill to be a great place to get your RDA of man-food. Wash their great menu items down with some beer (P260 a bucket), and you’ve got yourself a recipe for an awesome night of manliness. Unless, of course, you don’t like beer. In that case, a Pepsi or one of the many fruit shakes available is a manly enough substitute.

You can find Texas Roadhouse Grill at Bldg. 1, Bonifacio High Street, or at El Pueblo, Ortigas Center. For a less masculine (but better-written) recap of the meal, check out Lauren's take on it. It appears we have the same tastes in food. :P

Aside – the event was also pretty edumacational, too. I learned that my dad orders his steaks all wrong. He always gets them well-done, which the chef told us kills the flavour of the meat and dries out all the juiciness. The menu even goes so far as to state that ordering your steaks well-done isn’t recommended. Sorry pop – you’ve been wasting your steaks.

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Fish & Co. Is Psychic, and Their New Just for Me Menu is Proof!

I've had my eye on Fish & Co. for quite some time now. Ever since my sister’s grade school graduation, the time I first ate there, I've been meaning to go back. I fell in love with their fish and chips and puff pizzas, and crave for them from time to time. The problem is, I'm a bit of a cheapskate. Fish & Co.’s well-known for their generous servings which, fairly enough, make eating there a little more costly than I'd like. It’s great to share and all, but sometimes, I just want something smaller. My wallet shares the same sentiment.

And so I resigned to the fact that I'd probably only get to eat at Fish & Co. on special occasions and large gatherings. Dining there, then, would only be a rare and wonderful thing.

One evening, however, everything changed. I was chatting with Lauren when I received the most intriguing proposal:

*DISCLAIMER: Not all details in the following conversation may be accurate. Never mind that I archive all my messages.*

Lauren: bibblez
Lauren: are you busy?
Me: Not really, why?
Lauren: wanna go with me to an event on Thursday night?
[several minutes pass]
Lauren: are joo there?
Me: Sorry, had to wrestle a bear. Man, my rippling pectoral muscles are sore. Anyway, what is this event you speak of?
Lauren: Some dinner thing at Fish & Co. in Shangri-La
Me: I'm there!

The night of the event came soon after. Lauren wanted to window shop for a bit, since we hardly ever hung out at malls. At around 7:10pm, Lauren brought up not wanting to be late for the event. I asked her at what time the event started. “7pm,” she said. Oops.

We made it to the restaurant, but all other tables were filled, and so we were ushered to a table all our own. After a bit of talking and chowing down on chips, we soon learned the purpose of the event: Fish & Co. was debuting their new “Just for Me” menu, a selection of dishes with single-person servings. I heard the hymns of angels. It’s like Fish & Co. read my mind and decided to give me exactly what I needed to become a regular customer. What's more, they let us sample each of the five dishes in the Just for Me menu. Suffice to say, I was an extremely happy skinny fatass-at-heart.

The first dish served was the Bangus a la Pobre, served with seafood rice. I adore garlic, and the dish had oodles of the stuff. The bangus was well-cooked, filleted and fried in batter, and was just big enough to make a single person very full. I'm not used to having my a la pobre sauce that chunky, and it seemed a little too tangy for my tastes. The seafood rice provided balance for the sauce, though, and I ended up enjoying the dish.

That's a whole lotta garlic!

Next was, in my opinion, the star of the evening. If my taste buds were alive, they’d be staging a musical in honor of Fish & Co.’s Barbecued Chicken Fillet. The meat was so tender, we were using butter knives to cut it. And the sauce – the SAUCE! It was to die for. It was smoky, yet sweet, with just the right tinge of alcohol. I first thought that the seafood rice was a curious pairing with the chicken, but it turned out to be an even better match than java.

I think chickens should just naturally evolve into this, their superior form.

The awesome-bomb that was the chicken was followed by another excellent dish, the Cream Dory Fillet Napoletana. This was a much more modest dish, and it served to balance out the intensity of the chicken’s flavour. The dory was battered, fried, and topped with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese. The fillet was then rested atop buttered noodles. I was sceptical of the pairing at first, but found that the heaviness of the noodles contrasted pretty well with the light and fluffy dory. While this ended up being one of the dishes I ate most of, I think it could’ve been better with more marinara sauce.

Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming...

Next up was the Beef and Eggplant Curry. I absolutely love curry, but this particular dish fell a bit short on my expectations. The sauce itself was very good – it was creamy and flavourful, and very hot without being painfully so. My problem with the dish was that there was too little sauce; I like my curry smothered in the stuff. Also, the beef was the only meat we had trouble cutting that evening.

More of the awesome sauce, please!

The last dish served was the Fried Salmon Belly with Mushroom Rice. It’s funny – when I was much younger, I used to love eating fish belly. But then I realized that I found it pretty gross, and probably only ate it because I was copying my mom. While I'm not a fan of salmon belly, I have eaten enough of it to know that this particular entree was well-cooked. The mushroom rice, on the other hand, was excellent.

I don't like it, but it's good for what it is.

Remember how I said that Lauren and I were late for the event? That was a blessing in awesome clothing. We were left with an entire table to ourselves, and so we had all five dishes split between the two of us! There was so much food at the table, Lauren just felt compelled to take this picture of my fatassery:

I was pregnant with a food baby at this point.

All in all, Fish & Co.’s Just for Me menu is something to look forward to. I'm definitely going to go back for the chicken and the dory, and I think I'll give the curry another try. If you want to try any of these dishes, do yourself a favor and become a Fish & Co. fan on Facebook first. Each fan that brings two or more friends to any Fish & Co. branch gets a free Just for Me meal! That’s a pretty good incentive to get your buddies hooked on Fish & Co., in my opinion at least.

You can find Fish & Co. at the Shangri-La mall, Alabang Town Center, Greenbelt 3, SM Mall of Asia, and Trinoma Mall. You can also check out Lauren's take on the Just for Me menu here.

Read on >