Enjoy life before it melts

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Got into a fight before the holidays ‘coz my friend looked dazed after that last big lunch at Baroo, and we missed the stop going to the ice cream place, which meant I had to go on a month-long hibernation without getting my ice cream fix.

Yeah, ice cream is the happiness you can buy that won’t make you go broke. It’s actually better than sex.

And at Gresescent you can have a multiple orgasmic bouquet of different flavors. So I had a cone filled up with lychee rose, blackberry mint mojito, lemon bar, salted caramel buttercake, and rosemary toffee — how does that sound? I-scream’ed lychee rose!

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Spent two days-off to go to Quenelle, in Burbank, trying to have funnel cake ice cream sandwich, available only on Wednesdays, at a certain time of the day, but wasn’t really lucky in love. Got to try a scoop of Hot Cheetos, though. But the revelation was the cheesecake ice cream bar. Had a twosome.

At Saffron and Rose, in Westwood, where I had the signature saffron pistachio, ice cream in Middle Eastern flavors is all organic, and very dense, which I enjoy more.

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One of my most memorable ice cream flavors in LA is amaretto from Eatalian Café.

The Grom gelato shop, at the Dolby Theater on Hollywood Blvd., proved to be less than a tourist trap. I got my money’s worth. Not content with just gelato, I also tried their refreshing fruit granitas.

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Filipino ice cream is well-represented in LA, and ube is honored at Wanderlust Creamery, which specializes in travel-inspired artisanal ice cream flavors.

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I’ve had an awful lot of ice cream in Los Angeles. Some were uninteresting, some were too sweet, some were not worth the hype, some were too fancy, but there are those that keep haunting me like I keep going back to Sonny’s Amazing Italian Ices and Creams for balsamic strawberry, maple pecan and salted caramel, Bennett’s for cabernet sauvignon sorbet, Coolhaus for Thai iced tea (oh, Netflix with cheddar popcorn and Doritos nacho notes was suprisingly good), and Scoops has very interestingly unique flavors like Korean creator Tim Kai has already created more than a thousand flavors that were featured in their shops over the years. But it’s always a good idea to have Häagen-Dazs or Thrifty Vanilla and Baskins-Robbins Old-Fashioned Butter Pecan in the fridge.

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‘Coz I can relate to very Asian flavors, but nowadays, Asian feels are becoming more and more universal, I can appreciate flavors like plum, or mango and sticky rice, or Thai iced tea, or cocoa curry coco, or ginger whatever, but I swear by Tamashii Ramen House’s red bean ice cream, wherever it was made.

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There’s a current trend for making simple soft-serve ice cream into Instagram-worthy subjects. A whole lot of Korean and Japanese style ice cream are being introduced like the taiyaki with a fish-shaped waffle cone, the cotton candy-covered ice cream, and the powder-dusted cremia.

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Ta-da! Buko ice cream that is presented like traditional Filipino buko ice candy is a hit at Rice Bar on 7th St. in DTLA.

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Worth mentioning, the cassata Milanese at Spumante Restaurant on Magnolia Blvd. at the Noho Arts District was ambrosial.

An awesome find, Mateo’s Ice Cream and fruit bars, in Culver City, satisfied the Mexican in me. Had too much tamarindo popsicles there.

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Well, after all is said and done, if I’d be asked to pick an ice cream flavor to be my lawfully wedded husband, then it has to be Salt ‘n Straw’s masterfully crafted black olive brittle and goat cheese, with the perfect texture and all the right ingredients.

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Tomorrow, I’m ending my hibernation, and back to eating what makes me happy.

LA from my POV

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Only until I was able to confidently hop on a train to go to Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA), and take the bus without really looking at the bus app anymore, that I was able to fully enjoy exploring the hidden gems of the city. I have company on Thursdays, but otherwise, it’s a better idea to have your own loose schedule, making room for randonimity.

I have my favorite spots like I’d want to go back to over and over again, and share it with friends.

The Last Bookstore on Spring St. is walkable from my other fave places like the Grand Central Market.

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The Los Angeles Arts District is for someone who doesn’t mind walking blocks of old warehouses converted to galleries, hip bars and cafes and trendy boutiques. If Instagrammable settings are your thing, then you should be hawk-eyed for catchy street art.

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Hipsterdom Silver Lake also happens to be a foodie heaven. Too many options, but so far liking Pine and Crane for Taiwanese food, Millie’s breakfast plates, El Cochinito for Cuban homestyle cooking,  kitschy Thai restaurant Night + Market Song, Milk for desserts, and on the border of East Hollywood, there’s Sqirl which I never tire of. If you eat only organic, you will love the weekend market.

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Not your ordinary vintage shops abound in this neighbornood.

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Any Chinatown in the world is interesting, but what makes the Los Angeles Chinatown more interesting is the fact that the Far East Plaza, which used to house Chinese cultural art and traditional products, has opened its doors to an insane hodgepodge of globally liked dishes, like there’s a good ramen spot, a Chego, which creates modern Korean rice bowls, a banh mi and pho place, a bao house owned by actor Eddie Huang (they have the best coffin bao!), an inexpensive but fantastic Chinese restaurant, Scoops with the most original ice cream flavors, the newly opened contemporary Filipino LASA, not to forget Howlin’ Ray’s which has an impossible long line always.

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Not far from the Far East Plaza are great dim sum restaurants like Ocean Seafood (if you find the San Gabriel Valley out of the way).

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The Grand Central Market. Yes, the iconic 1917 Grand Central Market is better than ever, what with the new Los Angeles food culture. And then mixing the old with the new makes the experience more evocative.

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The long line leading to Eggslut is still there. I always get the Fairfax with avocado and bacon add-ons. Sari-Sari Store is good news to Filipino food lovers. Liking the sisig bowl, super nakaka-nostalgia.

A lot of food for the soul here.

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Right across the Grand Central Market is the Bradbury Building, a living proof of stellar historical preservation. If it looks familiar to you, it is because it was used as filming location to scenes in the original Blade Runner.

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Something I enjoyed was tracking down the Camera Obscura that gives a pinhole view of the Santa Monica beach.

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Discovering the Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine on Sunset Blvd. in Pacific Palisades was serendipity. So Zen, it is a place to forget all your worries, or just be away from the urban wild.

I like spending my time in museums. I love LACMA where Picasso made me cry. And The Broad was so much fun. Across The Broad is the Disney Concert Hall.

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They say the best thing about LA is Koreatown. If you like Korean food you will definitely agree, but there’s more than Kbbq and bibimbap and jap chae here. The busiest Boiling Crab is in Ktown. It’s also home to Sun Nong Dan, which serves the best sullungtang bone broth and cheesy galbi jjim. I swear by Cassell’s Hamburgers at the Hotel Normandie. And the best bingsoo, to me, is at Anko. Wako Donkasu, for its  cold soba and pork katsu, is another personal fave. I’m having an affair with a Korean hairstylist. I buy my green tea here, and checking out the latest in Kbeauty is therapeutic.

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I’ve never enjoyed Los Angeles like this before.

Saté, new and the only Indonesian restaurant in Ilocos Norte

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Last night we were brought to Indonesia via Saté, an authentic, I repeat, a real deal Indonesian restaurant that opened in San Nicolas just a few days ago. Of course, nasi goreng and sate (satay) ring a bell, but on my latest gustatory adventure, my taste buds were treated to a higher level — a full course dinner prepared by Indonesian Chef Robby Satiawan, a former executive chef at Banyan Tree in Macau, who has also worked in other parts of the globe like Maldives, and Qatar, where he met his Filipina wife, Marie. Looks like they are loving their new home, as I feel the excitement radiating from them.

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How we found ourselves at Saté was by accident, utter serendipity, as my besties Marla and Louie and I planned to go to another resto, then we changed our minds in the car ‘coz someone said there’s a new Indian or Hindustani resto in the next town, then we were thinking yogurt-based, masala and so on, and then I realized Brandon told me about an Indonesian restaurant he saw last week, but couldn’t remember the exact location (he said he went to so many places that day, if that’s not premature Alzheimer’s).

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The diverse menu says a description of every dish, so ordering is easy. Found Ilocano gado (gado-gado/salad), but desired all traditional. We started with brief dishes (a la banchan) of veggie appetizers. Our fave was the pickled Ilocos ampalaya (bittermelon). By the way, Chef Robby buys everything from the tiendaan (public market). Another appetizer, perkedel, a fried corn dumpling that reminded me of our very own squash okoy, when topped with the shallot-sambal condiment (something like a spicy atchara), made beautiful contrast.

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I love unusual drinks, so hot bandrek, a black pepper pandan drink with coconut bits, traditional in Indonesia the chef said, was surprisingly refreshing. Imagine a spiced sago at gulaman (the liquid).

Chicken sate and kukus (steamed chicken marinated in chili and sambal) went great with coconut rice. If you’re a chicken lover or on a diet, I highly recommend kukus, easily our favorite. Isi tahu (stuffed tofu) was also light and lovely.

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The langka (jackfruit) sweet course on the menu was not available, but my discontent vanished as soon as we scooped out the flavors of the two other desserts. Penyet, grilled bananas with toasted coconut flakes and cubed jelly (with the texture of Turkish delight) sent me to cloud nine. A West Javanese treat, sarang burung, which means bird’s nest, but had pseudo bird’s nest (agar-agar) has Chinese influence. I remember to have tasted a cold sweetened bird’s nest soup back in the days when I was eco-ignorant.

Chef Robby’s cooking has fantastic balance, nothing overly seasoned nor cloying, aromatic yet delicate. And spiciness was tempered as he is still in the process of feeling the local palate. But I’m sure you can request your level of hotness.

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Had to have a photo with my FB friend Trixie Ablan, who is apprenticing with the Indonesian chef.

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Ending this post with a message to Chef Robbie and Marie, naragsak a isasangbay idtoy Ilocos!

Sate Modern Indonesian Dining
NationaL Highway, Barangay 1-San Francisco, Ilocos Norte, Philippines

© Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2016

The 0ne-hundred-peso lunch for two at Kristina’s Carinderia

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Was actually billed 101 pesos, but made tawar (haggled) the 1 peso. And a plate of rice was included.

Kristina’s Carinderia (facing the Jehovah’s Witnesses church on the western portion of Rizal St., and near the Iglesia ni Kristo) was Brandon’s find. Local senior citizens, families, office employees and policemen were fixed on their food when we arrived. You enter through a kitchen, (neat, btw) and point at your chosen items from among a see-through cabinet of noticeably freshly prepared viands.

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Presko a baka (raw beef), also known as kilawen here, flavored with light papaitan, was delicious. The subtle use of seasonings such as sukang Iloko, salt, etc., let out the natural flavors of the main ingredients, like dinardaran was not overly sour, but rather naturally came out with that hint of sweetness (from the pig’s blood), and the katuday (katuray/corkwood flowers) salad was not too vinegary nor salty. I’m not sure, but I didn’t detect any use of MSG.

Yes, satisfying Ilocano food this cheap still exists.

Kristina’s Carinderia
Rizal St., Laoag City

© Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2016