April 15, 2014

A BUBBLE TEA QUEST IN PARIS

THE DESTINATION: Zen Zoo in Paris, France
THE CRAVE: Bubble tea


NOTE: This is a throwback crave to 2012.

In Paris, I came for a few things and one of them was bubble tea. It was a serious craving because I drink bubble tea often especially when it's warm out due to easy access. My older cousin, Robert, came from New York as well (first-timer in Europe) and it was fun times with cousins in Paris.

I had done research before coming because nowhere in Spain could I find a place that sells bubble tea but this was Paris and there were a handful of options to choose from. It was quite a quest though. With my crappy map skills, my cousin's French knowledge failing him, and being redirected by Parisians to where the tiny street the place was at, we end made it to Zen Zoo, the salon de thé.

Quest completed. Got my bubble milk tea!

Zen Zoo is a Taiwanese establishment with multiple locations in Paris. Besides bubble tea, they serve meals as well. To satisfy my craving, Zen Zoo was well worth getting lost with my cousin. If ever in Paris and want bubble tea, Zen Zoo should be a spot to check out. Happy eating and remember: don't deny, satisfy!

March 28, 2014

A CULINARY VENTURE OF COLOMBIA - A WHOLE LOT OF AREPAS!

THE DESTINATION: Medellín, Colombia
THE CRAVE: Traditional Colombian dishes

Medellín is the only city in Colombia with a modern metro system and
one of the first South American cities to have a metro cable.

When you don't expect anything, it can surprise you and that is exactly what happened when I went to Colombia for my very first time in the city of Medellín.

Two decades ago, it Medellin was the most violent city in the world due to a violent drug cartel run by the infamous Pablo Escobar. Since his death, Medellín has transformed its image with advancement in many areas including public transportation and in 2013 won the title of Most Innovative City in the World.

Surrounded by gorgeous mountains and having temperate weather
year-round, Medellin is called La Ciudad de Eterna Primavera or
The City of Eternal Spring.

And now a confession: before taking this spontaneous trip, I never ate Colombian food. You would think living in the culinary mecca of New York I would have tried it before but nope, Colombian food was never a crave for me. So among many firsts was the chance to explore the cuisine of Colombia. With tons of research done beforehand with many thanks to the blog Medellin Living, I prepared my stomach to go on a culinary venture.

The arepa is a staple in Colombian cuisine and the color of it (white or
yellow) means its made out of either maize or flour.

1. AREPA: Okay I've eaten an arepa before but only the Venezuelan version which is usually stuffed. An arepa is flatbread made out of maize or flour. The Colombian version is more or less the same but topped with ingredients rather than stuffed. I pretty much ate this every day for practically every meal and each arepa had slight variations in terms of how it was prepared and the topping which was either butter, cheese, or scrambled eggs. I miss my daily arepa already.




2. SANCOCHO: Because one of my favorite Filipino dishes contains oxtail, this traditional dish was a no-brainer. Colombians love their starches and they pile it on this hearty soup containing cola (oxtail), yuca, plantains, arracacha (a local vegetable), and potatoes served with rice and avocado. I ate every single thing put in front of me because when in Colombia, eat like a local and boy did I eat like one.

3. LECHONA: You can't be a vegetarian in Colombia when you have pork amazingness that is lechona. Slow roast a pig for hours and stuff it with peas, onions, rice, and a plethora of spices. Grab the crispy skin, take some stuffing and eat it with rice and plantain and you're set. Mmmm mmmm good.


4. BANDEJA PAISA: The Colombian national dish and typically served in one platter depending if it's homemade or restaurant made. I had the homemade bandeja paisa which had chicharon (crackling), pig's feet (because why not to more pork), beans, plantains, hogao sauce, rice, arepa, and avocado. A fried egg is also served on top of the rice but I opted to eat the one without. However, I did eat another version called the tipico montañero which had ground meat. Absolutely delicious and can definitely lead to food coma once consumed :). My favorite plate of food I ate in Colombia.

 

5. MONDONGO: A soup with tripe (cow's stomach) and I was both excited and nervous to try this since I was wary of eating stomach. But I had to eat it. It was the last traditional dish I ate in Medellin and the process of making is labor-intensive because it has a load of ingredients.The tripe is cleaned well and soaked in lime juice. Once boiled to the tenderness needed in a pressure cooker, the diced tripe is mixed together with pork, carrots, onions, peas, green beans, yuca, and an Andean potato called papa crilla. My friend's sisters who cooked the mondongo did a fantastic job.The mondongo is a robust soup with a variety of flavors that all worked together. I LOVED it. Tripe certainly isn't for everyone and I'm glad I tried it.

A week eating Colombian food and exploring new territory was one of the best travel experiences I've had. Medellin really captured many things about traveling I enjoy. From the lush mountainous landscape to the local gastronomy, Medellin took my heart and stomach on a sensational journey. I'm glad to have met such friendly people who welcomed this Filipino foodie with a major appetite. One day I'll be back from more arepas haha.

Thanks to the friendliest people I've had the chance to meet
for a truly memorable trip! Medellin por mi vida.

March 13, 2014

CRAWLIN' ALONG 7TH STREET FOR TASTE OF SEVENTH

THE DESTINATION: Multiple locations on E. 7th street in the East Village
THE CRAVE: Multiple eats

Food crawls. They're awesome and last weekend was the Taste of Seventh, a delicious food crawl with bites of everything from the same block. For a $25 ticket, you get to eat at seven different places offering seven uniquely different eats. I had the chance to go with my friend Domi and we ate our way through East 7th Street.

Our empty stomachs beforehand served us well since we went to six of seven places. Not too shabby.

1. WESCHLERS - A German place that served up pork bratwurst with curry ketchup and fries. The fries were pretty basic but the bratwurst is where its at. The currywurst would pair well with any of the German beers they serve including my go-to, the Kolsch.

The La Mamasita - grilled mushrooms, corn, plantains, and of course
the arepa

2. CARACAS AREPA BAR - Arepas are a flatbread made with ground maize and can be served with a variety of different ingredients such as meats, cheeses, and vegetables. Caracas hails from Venezuela and they had the La Mamasita arepa to try. It was tasty but a tad sweet. However, their regular menu offers a multitude of arepa options to choose from like De Pabellon or Playa Deluxe for under $9. The guacamole and chips here are fantastic too.

The Porchetta half-sandwich normally goes for $7. Pig out time.

3. PORCHETTA -  Dishing out some crispy roasted pork sandwiches, Porchetta is Italian street food in fine form. The pork is packed with flavor coming from a blend of spices and the crispy skin was so good. If you love pork, this is your place, and if not, well that's too bad.

4. OAXACA TAQUERIA - Named after a city in Mexico, Oaxaca makes Mexican food with a twist and emphasizes on fresh ingredients from start to finish. Their chicken taco with pickled red onion, salsa roja, avocado salsa, cotija cheese, and cilantro was the best eat from the Taste of Seventh. Everything worked together and there wasn't too much of anything. I'll definitely come back for more.

Two cupcakes to go from Butter Lane

5. BUTTER LANE CUPCAKES - I don't normally eat cupcakes if I want dessert but Butter Lane is one of my favorite cupcake places. Granted I haven't been to many cupcake places but I really like their banana cupcakes with maple pecan frosting. They unfortunately ran out by the time we got to their place so we just took some to go which were still pretty good. For $3.25 a cupcake, they're in the middle range of cupcake prices.

6. BIG GAY ICE CREAM SHOP - I've mentioned this place before as one of my favorite ice cream shops in NYC and that hasn't changed. The shop is quirky, the staff is quirky, and the ice cream is fun. The Apple Gobbler which was a vanilla sundae with graham crackers, bourbon butterscotch, apple butter, and whipped cream was a perfect ending to Taste of Seventh.

DID NOT EAT

7. LUKE'S LOBSTER - Due to being stuffed to the brim, we skipped Luke's Lobster. They make Maine-style lobster rolls. I honestly don't know much about lobster rolls but I'll come here to check it out.

Although Taste of Seventh is over, you can still do this food crawl if you want. It's a short street but the great variety in food is cool to explore. Check it out and let me know what you think. Happy eating and remember: don't deny, satisfy!

March 7, 2014

LOL DUFFIN DAGELS

THE DESTINATION: Duffin Dagels (Multiple locations in Spain)
THE CRAVE: Doughnuts

NOTE: This is the first throwback crave, posts dedicated to rediscovering food I've eaten long ago.

Duffin Dagels?! Really? I asked one of the employees if they ever heard of
Dunkin´ Donuts and she answered she did.  According
to her words "It's pretty much the same."

Ahh Duffin Dagels. It's a Spanish bootleg version of Dunkin' Donuts, a popular coffee and doughnut chain in the United States. When I first saw it while living in Bilbao, Spain, I couldn't stop laughing. My friend that tagged along with me didn't know what Dunkin' Donuts was but I knew. I had to go inside and lo and behold: same concept, same colors, and same alliteration in the name of the store. The one thing that set it apart from D&D were the doughnuts had stuff like marshmallows, Snickers pieces, and entire cookies on top!

Among all knock-offs, this takes the cake or in this case, doughnut. Its absurdity is what makes it stand out. What a hoot.

They have NY cappuccinos. They do get creative
with their donuts and drinks. I still can't get over the name.

If ever in Spain and craving a doughnut, you could get your fix from here. It's not the best quality of doughnuts but it sure did the trick. Let me know if you have any stories to share of Duffin Dagels or anything else. Happy eating and remember: don't deny, satisfy!