Candied Figs




I made candied figs for my parents’ 25th wedding anniversary except they were dipped in dark chocolate and drizzled in caramel. The guest loved them and I thought it was a classy way to cleanse the pallette instead of a heavy dessert. I think this is the perfect recipe to share with you since it is a week before Halloween and people are getting excited over candies and treats. Paleofied Reeses Peanut Buttercups, paleofied gummy bears, paleofied this, paleofied that… the list gets pretty extensive. Not to mention, people are going crazy over pumpkin! Pumpkin-chocolate-pumpkin-this-with-pumpkin-candied-pumpkin-layered-that. With pumpkin sprinkle on top. #sarcasm.
But what about FIGS? And persimmons?! (next recipe hint). These are the underexposed and underrated fall ingredients that need some spotlight, I think.
Figs are perfect for the adult taste during the fall holidays because 1) it is a fruit. Kids won’t go for fruit if they have candies and cookies in their picking. 2) Figs are fruits for grown-ups. At least, that is how I remember fruits as. I freaked out at the sight of the inside of the fig. “Am I eating bugs?! Why is it furry-looking?!”, my 7-year-old self exclaimed. No. Save these treats for yourself as your kids are trick-or-treating. Or share them during your fall dinner party.
1 basket of black mission figs. About 10 to 12 figs
1 package of Enjoy Life dairy, nut and soy free chocolate chips
1/2 cup crushed pistachios
1/2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds
2 ounces gojiberries (for color)
Using a double boiler, melt your chocolate chips until they dribble down a spoon in a fluid fashion. Keep stirring the chocolate to make sure all chips have been melted.
After gently and thoroughly washing your figs, pat them down to dry with a paper towel. Set aside.
Add the pistachios, roasted pumpkin seeds, and goji berries into a small to medium sized bowl and mix until you get a bit of each ingredient spread throughout the mix. The smaller the bowl, the deeper the nut mix can be and the dipping process can be a breeze. Lay out a sheet of wax paper on your table to catch spilled chocolate. You’re going to be glad that you did this, especially if you’re working with kids.
Set your mes in place of figs, bowl of melted Enjoy Life chocolate, mixed nut bowl and extra sheet of wax paper. Utilizing the Ford assembly line process you’re going to take a fig grabbing on to its top stem and dip it into the chocolate, then dip it into the nut mix. After a while, you’ll realize how thick of a chocolate coating you’re going to want your figs to have. Dip and coat accordingly.
Set dipped figs in refrigerator for one hour before serving. The chocolate will have a hardened layer. Or, if you don’t mind chocolate on your lips, feel free to bite into them straight from the assembly line! Enjoy! And respect the fig!

Recipe – Ahi Tuna Poke


Makes about two 1 cup servings

1 lb fresh sushi grade ahi tuna steak
1/2 large cucumber, peeled and cubed
3 green onion stalks, thinly minced
1/2 medium onion, thinly minced
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 ounce toasted sesame
1 to 2 dried red peppers, chop
1 sheet of nori paper
1 cup seaweed salad, for serving
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1-2 tbsp sriracha (you can substitute 1 tbsp red chili flakes)
1 tbsp chili sesame oil
2 tsp coarse sea salt
Note for Paleo readers. These are the ingredients I used. Please substitute the paleo-friendly ingredients listed on the bottom of the post. :]
Slice tuna steak into about 1in cubes, set aside in mixing bowl. Cube cucumbers, mince green onion, onions, red peppers and garlic and place in bowl of tuna chunks. Mix sesame oil, vinegar, soy sauce, sriracha, chili sesame oil in a separate bowl until all ingredients are incorporated. Pour over bowl of tuna and vegetables. Using a large spoon, stir all ingredients until all tuna chunks have been covered by the liquid ingredients. Season with salt and toasted sesame seeds.
To plate, cut the remaining cucumber into 1 cm thick, diagonal slices and plate. Spread 1 cup seaweed salad on top. Plate tuna poke on top. Sprinkle crushed nori wrapper paper on top. Garnish with more toasted sesame.
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You can add 1/4 cup mayonnaise to the recipe for a creamy effect. You can also serve this with rice, or wrap it in another sheet of nori. You can even add crispy onion strings for a unique crunchy element. The cool thing about poke is there are so many ways you can change the recipe to make your own. Poke can be eaten right after preparation but you may wait for an hour or two before serving so the acids in the vinegar can “cook” the tuna. Enjoy!



We booked our flights about 2 months ago knowing that we would visit Portland strictly for the intake of deliciously legendary food. I don’t know about you and your girlfriends but I know my girls are the forever type because we can all strangely agree on traveling primarily to grub. I mean, we could have said “We want to get away” but no, we wanted to EAT. The news of Portland’s mystical food joints only increased as we would see features of them on Food Network and hear about it from people who have visited in the past. Oh Pok Pok chicken? Foie at Le Pigeon? I want that. In my mouf. Like, yesterday. We all knew that we would come into this trip with a hunger of a woman in her second trimester, and leave with happy hearts. Hearts as in fat bellies. Ah. Portland. Cheers to your lush green land and happy people. Cheers to your fresh air and fresh culinary ideas. A weekend in Portland was not enough but the memories will last forever. Gals, this post is for you – for the forever kind.




I arrived in PDX about noon from a smooth flight with Southwest Airlines (Thank you, Southwest!) and my girls Stephanie and Christanne (Stanne) were already in front of the arrivals section of the airport. They had enjoyed breakfast and some quick touring around the city as they arrived in the early morning. First stop together was Lardo.  Lardo is known for their flavorful sandwiches, burgers and dirty fries. As planned, each girl would order one dish from the menu and we would just take a bite out of each dish. I ordered the Porchetta sandwich, Steph the Bahn Mi, and Stanne the Dirty Fries. Out of all the dishes I think my sandwich was the winner in flavor. Everything about the Porchetta sandwich was delicious – the fresh bread, the fatty porchetta, and (my favorite) the caper mayo. It added a pesto-like taste to the sandwich that I couldn’t quite get in the beginning but it was just delicious! The flavor was so unique and robust I still remember it until today.



Nong’s and Food Pods

Portland on that Friday afternoon was, dare I say, eerily quiet. I don’t know why it crossed my mind and I kept saying it to my girls how you can SEE the bustle but you couldn’t HEAR the bustle. Pedestrians walking, pigeons flying, skateboarders at the park. I can see it all but it seemed so quiet. No firetrucks or airplanes or cars honking. And to know that it was a Friday afternoon, I was expecting MORE. Nonetheless, it was a pleasantly different and peaceful environment to enjoy my second dish out at a park: Nong’s (Khao Man Gai). Within 1 hour of consuming Lardo, mind you. We bumped into Nong’s food station because our car was parked right outside. We decided to explore the perimeter of the food pod. The recognition was quick as I heard of Nong’s from Food Network and she was there in the front serving her chicken and rice. She was very humble in her red beanie, dressed in a tank which flashed her tattoo sleeve, and spoke very softly during our quick transaction. I said hello, paid a compliment, bought her chicken and rice dish and swiped my card all under 3 minutes. The chicken and rice dish was double-wrapped in a paper parcel. You’re supposed to eat it with the spicy paste, ginger sauce and ginger soup while holding the paper parcel in your hand. If you’re lucky, which is what we were, you would be able to eat at the park across the way with your friends so that way you can each take turns eating while the other girl shoos away the inquisitive pigeons. It was good. It reminded me of home and it was a pleasant welcome during the cool afternoon in PDX. In fact it tastes just like the filipino dish Tinola. I would go back again but this time order double chicken skin. Mmm.


One characteristic about Portland is its food pods. Pods are groups of food trucks or vendors located on a street block or corner. They are everywhere in Portland. Downtown has a couple of food pods while the surrounding neighborhoods have smaller pods that are nestled in between houses. They are the charms of Portland and the center for foodies and hungries. I like food pods because they are never pretentious in any way. I’ll talk more about these pods through out these posts.


Oneonta Gorge and How to Reach the Trailhead

So for this trip the girls all agreed to pick their number 1 spot they want to visit in Portland. This was Stanne’s. She’s been to PDX before but wasn’t able to explore the greener parts. We hit Oneonta Gorge which was about a 30 minute drive east of downtown in the middle of the afternoon. We were afraid it was going to rain or get dark early so we were in a rush to fit this hike into our schedule. When we arrived, we were able to park our cars on the street. There is a railroad track on the outer side of the street and you need to walk through a short tunnel to be right on the bridge where the trailhead is. When you see the bridge, you’re already at the start of the trailhead. You’ll see the beginnings of a creek underneath the bridge. Walk to the right side of the bridge and you’ll see concrete steps leading you down under the bridge. Once you’re down, you’ll see a stream of water, rocks, and logs. Just follow where the water is coming from – at least, that’s what I told myself. The only other hint was there were sounds of people ahead of us. We followed other traces we could follow: footsteps in the mud, treaded pathway, and a fallen tree. As we walked through the bushes, we saw that people were headed in the direction upstream. Then we saw the entrance: a log jam and a narrow entry way which looked like the picture of a gorge I had seen through Google-ing Oneonta Gorge. This was IT. As we walked closer to the jam, we saw hikers walking back to the bridge with water marks lined all the way up to their chest. We already knew without asking that we would get a little wet on this trip. Also, as we reached the front of the massive log jam, we felt a sense of retreat. The log jam was huge. It looked like a 20 feet puzzle we had to walk over. It was wet, slippery and dangerous. It was like the fourth and last challenge before reaching the Grail (Some Indiana Jones for ya. heh.) It was massive and intimidating but we knew we had to overcome it to get to the goods: the Gorge.



One by one we climbed the massive logs. We crept up the cracks and planks that made the challenge of the jam. There was one part of the jam that led us to the tallest peak. We hesitated to proceed by climbing over the logs but instead we climbed underneath. Here are some hints: Use the “stay low” method, the “tripod” method, and don’t pretend like you’re Spiderman because the fall will lead you to sharp logs on the bottom. Dangerous. Once you’ve past the log jam, it’s nothing but beauty from here on out. Your feet will get wet as the first steps are already in water through rocks. You’ll see hues of all sorts of the green spectrum from the flora on the stone walls of the gorge. As you keep walking, you’ll hit parts where the water will reach your ankle or parts that will hit your knees. Be prepared and most importantly, just enjoy it. As we got closer to the source of the stream, the water level became higher as some parts hit our thigh. The last wet challenge is a dip where the water reaches your chest. You can pass this part one of two ways: swim through the deep water with your carry-on held above your head. Or you can carefully climb the wall of rocks on the right side. The latter option will eventually lead you into the water anyway. And this is where I stopped. Stephanie was the only one who reached the waterfall at the end. According to her description and her videos the waterfall was tall and beautiful. If I could do it over again I would bring a packed lunch and have a quick sandwich there. The hike was short and challenging but truly a unique experience of Oregon. It was a perfect piece of Oregon that I will never forget. Magical!

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The Legendary Pok Pok and Salt & Straw

So after our beautiful hike and after we burned off half of our meal at Lardo, we were ready to carb-load again. We decided to cross off my number one place of Portland: Pok Pok. When we got to Pok Pok it was about 7pm and we were greeted with a frank “It’ll be a 2 hour wait.” by the pretty hostess. Drats. Well, luckily we had called the restaurant 30 minutes before to order their legendary Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings to-go. Booya! Thinking ahead here. I just wanted to try the wings and since eating was the reason of our trip, the girls were always down to sit at a quiet spot and eat picnic-style. And that we did. The wings were BOMB. Large in size, these were actual chicken wings and not drummettes from your typical BWW. There were 6 pieces total so we each had two massive wings to dirty our faces with. We ate at a planter in front of Salt and Straw (next destination on our hit list) with no shame. The night was cool and it was slightly drizzling from the residual rain cloud of the day before. People were at the planter with us that night but we, however, were straight grubbing on the sticky, salty, and spicy wings. Gangsta! The wings were just how I described it with a robust flavor of garlic, spice, and sugar. The skin was crispy and sticky. The sticky stuck the spice on your tastebuds so that way you can engage the memory into longterm. Get me? I swear, it was the best. Steph started a debate on whether these wings were better than San Francisco’s San Tung Wings. And as we ended the slightly biased conversation (lol), we all agreed – like a bunch of amateur food critics – that Pok Pok was in a division of its own.


Salt & Straw was whole ‘nother animal, though. Salt and Straw is the best ice cream I have ever enjoyed. EVER. and I say this with the pride of a Portlandian. I’ve tried OC’s nitro-induced Creamistry. I’ve tried LA’s Milk and Sweet Creamery. I’ve tried San Francisco’s BiRite and Smitten’s and Salt and Straw wins by a large margin. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Flavors: The flavors at Salt&Straw were fearless. It’s as if they rolled dice with ingredients as the numbers and decided the flavor combinations by what was facing up. If you’re going to even say “But do they have salted caramel?”, you need to get the fuck out. You’re officially obsolete. Your taste palette is uncool. Anyway, When you reach the front of the ice cream assembly line you are greeted by a happy worker with the loaded question “Would you like to sample any of our ice creams?” This is the part when you say “HECK YES! I WANT TO TRY EVERYTHING!” … but only in your mind. At this point I was in such awe and borderline confusion of all the combinations. The most interesting combinations tasted served as the best and most unforgettable. I had – don’t judge – these samples: pear and blue cheese, fresh oregon peaches and walnuts, Stumpton Coffee and bourbon, Honey and Lavender, Chocolate and Almond brittle, and a root beer float. The winner for night 1: Pear and Bleu Cheese. It was divine. Who came up with this? Nobel Peace Prize pronto.
  • Cone: I’m a cone judge. I’m the type that would push for double cone instead of double scoops. The cone at Salt and Straw was perfect because it wasn’t too sweet. Cones in LA from Milk and Sweet Creamery are too sweet, totally eclipsing the fresh flavors of the ice cream. The cone at S&S was just perfect. Thick and fresh in crunchiness. And the smell of freshly ironed cones hits you and lures you from a block away and, alas, you find yourself at the end of a 30-person line. Its like Main Street U.S.A. at Disneyland but this time its for real and organic.



  1. Grub at food pods are just as amazing as restaurant food.
  2. Oregon is so beautiful with its lush greenery. Get lost and take advantage.
  3. Salt&Straw is king.
Salt and Straw –

RECIPE – CAPPELLOS Fettuccine pasta with pancetta, scallops, romanesco, and white cream sauce


RECIPE – CAPPELLOS Fettuccine Pasta with Pancetta, Scallops, Romanesco, and White Cream Sauce

I rarely make pasta (What is wrong with you, woman?!) but when I do, its gonna be loaded, special, and specifically designed to put you to sleep. This is a recipe inspired by the simple carbonara pasta and the fun and unique vegetable romanesco. Although this is a multi-step recipe, if you decide to stray from the directions, you’ll still end up with an amazing flavor explosion in your mouth.
Chef tip: Start off with boiling your pot of water for the fettuccine and have that ready while you are cooking the rest of the ingredients. You want to be able to integrate the ingredients while they are all fresh and warm.
  • One package of Cappellos gluten free, grain free, soy free fettuccine pasta
  • One pound of pork pancetta (or bacon) chopped into small bits
  • Eight to twelve pieces of fresh scallops
  • One head of beautiful green romanesco broccoli chopped into the small spirals
  • Ghee or Kerrygold butter
  • 2 cups heavy cream**
  • 1 tbsp diced garlic
  • 3 tbsp diced parsley
  • salt and white pepper
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese*
*exclude for strict paleo
** use coconut cream as substitute
With a knife, you’re going to want to chop the romanesco branches off one medium spiral at a time. Of course, this is all for presentation purposes, if you want to practice your judo chop skills through the head of a romanesco – GO FOR IT. Set aside the pretty little spirals until later. In this recipe, I kept it raw for added nutrients and for an extra crunch. You may steam them or toss them in the frying pan with the collected pancetta oils for 6 minutes (See below).
Heat a frying pan to about medium, medium high. Add the pancetta bits and stir. You want to render the fat out of the bits to crisp the bits. This usually takes 5 to 8 minutes. Save the fat on the pan, collect the crispy bits with a spoon and set aside on a plate.
Add the butter or ghee to the pan of pancetta fat and let it melt over medium heat. Once the ghee is melted, season your scallops with a light sprinkle of salt. Don’t worry about seasoning the scallops as the pancetta fat will add another level of flavor to it. Add 4 pieces of scallops to the frying pan and let it cook for about 2-3 minutes or until you start to see the pan side of the scallop start to turn white. You want to be careful not to over-cook scallops, as they turn really gummy. You want to look for that buttery texture when biting into them.
Flip the scallops to the other side. When you do so, you want to see that the first side has a dark brown edge. Continue to cook the scallops for another 2 to 3 minutes by tossing the grease and oils over it with a spoon.
Once the pancetta and scallops have been cooked, you can use this fat to make a white cream sauce. You don’t want to waste any part of the dish! Add the garlic, parsley and cook in the pan for about 2 minutes letting the aroma release into your already fragrant kitchen. Next, add the white wine and stir for another 3 minutes. After, using a whisk, add the cream and cheese and whisk over heat for about 5 minutes. You are looking for a creamy consistency. Turn the flame off when you have seen all of the ingredients incorporate. Taste and season to your liking.
You would follow the directions on the box of Cappellos pasta. Basically you want to have your water up to a boil and add the pasta in batches. Cook as directed and quickly collect the strands with a pasta ladle.
In a large bowl, add your cooked pasta. Then, while using a spoon to mix, slowly pour your white sauce over the bowl of pasta strands. Make sure you coat each an every strand. Plate into 4 separate dinner plates. Next add 2 to 3 pieces of scallops to your plate of pasta. Add romanesco and then top it with a sprinkle of pancetta bits.
Another way to serve it is to add the romanesco, pancetta, and pasta in the large bowl and pour the sauce all over all the ingredients. Add the scallops on top last. Which ever way you chose, it will all go down the same way! You’ll love the flavors of this dish and the crunch of the romanesco will please the palette as well as please the eye of the eater. After all, you eat with your eyes first! ENJOY!
All photos on this recipe was shot by Randy Tran of @rtranphotog. Please visit his instagram

RECIPE – Spicy Flavorgod Kale Chips

Don’t worry if you don’t have a dehydrator – I don’t have one too but you can still make these healthy kale chips at home! This is kind of a messy dish. But this is why its perfect to make with your family. The younger members will love being hands on with their new favorite snack!
1 cup cashews
1/3 cup ground golden flaxseed
1/2 cup chopped sundried tomatoes
2 tablespoons of softened butter or ghee or olive oil
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon italian parsley
1 tablespoon crushed garlic
1 tsp white pepper
1 tablespoon of red pepper flakes. Its spicy, after all.
Bottle of FLAVOR GOD’s SPICY Seasoning
Preheat oven to lowest setting. My lowest is 180 F. Or if you have a handy dehydrator,
Apply parchment paper on to baking sheets.
Take your cashews and flaxseed and soak them in water overnight. If you’re in a rush, you may give them a press or two in a food processor and then soak for 4 hours. You’re waiting for a soft consistency.
The kale I used for this recipe is the regular kale. As in, NOT the Lacinato ones. However, you may use whichever kale species you favor but keep in mind, the regular kale leaves have a million nooks and crannies that zig zag through the leaf. This will help contain the yummy flavors of the coating. Just you see! You can substitute the Lacinato but I would substitute the actual Kale leaf for a different vegetable. Kale is perfect for chips because they are fibrous and thick enough to hold shape when they bake.
After you have washed and dried the kale chips completely, start tearing the kale into mouth-sized pieces. I say TEAR and I mean it. The reason behind this is because the kale will be able to be stored for a longer time. If you use a knife, the knife will cut through the plant cells. If you tear through, the cut line will be formed around the microscopic plant cells and will therefore preserve its hold for moisture and water. Theres a tidbit of science for you here – Thanks ALTON BROWN!
In a blender or food processor, you’re going to incorporate the softened cashew and flaxseed mix in with the rest of the ingredients. Process it for about 2-5 seconds as you are looking for a creamy texture mixed with a little bit of clumps from the cashews and the tomatoes. Taste as you go. If you want it more spicy, add some red pepper flakes. If you want it more textured, add more flax or bits of cashews. Once its processed to desired consistency, set aside in a mixing bowl.
Now, with your hands, take a bit of the cashew cream pizza coating mix with middle 3 fingers and then rub it into the nooks of a piece of kale. You want to be able to coat the ends of the kale with chunks of coating while making sure the entire surface of the kale piece has a bit of grease on it. This will help crisp the kale chip. This part takes the longest but its the best part when you have helping hands! It will get messy!
Season with FLAVOR GOD’s SPICY SEASONING. This is another reason why I love Flavor God. You can add heat and flavor to your chips without having to use salt. Very healthy! Very spicy!
When you’re finished coating a chip, lay on your baking sheet and make sure that the kale pieces are not overlapping each other. However, it can be side-by-side. No need to have any space in between.
Now Bake or dehydrate until the kale chips have crisped. It takes a while depending on your oven.
Enjoy and have fun with your food!
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RECIPE – Easy Autumn Beef Stew



Chop about 2.5 to 3 pounds of beef shank into large cubes. Season with your favorite seasoning like the ever so delicious @flavorgod SPICY Seasoning. Peel about 10 pieces of pearl onions and a half head of garlic and toss it into the Crock Pot. Add carrots (chopped or whole) and 1 table spoon of coriander seeds. Add leaves of rosemary. Finally, for the braising liquid, add beef broth. Simple! Leave it in the Crock Pot for 8 hours (Go to work, go on a hike, go shopping, go on Pinterest) and when those hours have past be ready to enjoy this dish with the ones you love!


MAHARLIKA: a Taste of NYC in LA

When it was first announced that the genius minds from Maharlika NYC and Jeepney Filipino Gastro Pub would be crossing the country to spread the good news on Filipino food here in Los Angeles, my initial reaction was to hop on that ticket ASAP! This magical collaboration was one of passion between Marian Bacol-Uba of Culinary Escorts, Nicole Ponseca of Maharlika NYC and, the forever champion, Chris Oh of Seoul Sausage and Escala K-Town.
News spread fast as the last pre-sale tickets of the event sold out within the first week of mention. LA foodies couldn’t resist the notion of modern Filipino food coming to visit because there is honestly a lack of a strong Filipino food presence here in LA. I’m just being real. Filipinos have an outnumbering population in Los Angeles and California, but it’s been an inconsistent fact that there is no great modern restaurant present as well. YES there is Filipino food here in California but its not exactly found as exciting as your typical five star restaurant. We need a classy, sit-down-and-order, food-pornography worthy resto amidst all the cafeteria style, lola’s B-grade eatery. (No offense, Lola.) Ask any white person or non-filipino person about Adobo or chocolate meat and they’ll tell you its great, but the time they did enjoy it was at their token-filipino friend’s little sister’s debut. Or they’re used to seeing it hidden in white styrofoam take-out boxes. When people rate Filipino food less than 5 stars on Yelp for reasons like “It didn’t look tasty” or “It was too greasy.” we Filipinos can only agree with a silent “YES. But it’s SO good though!!!”
See, we Filipinos KNOW our food is the best despite the carb, salt, and grease overload. But does the rest of the world know? We need to change this. We need a modernized and excellent presence of Adobo, Kare Kare, and Pancit and we need it NOW. Filipinos need not be feeling “hiya” and should be more showy and prideful of their food. Filipinos need to grow more balls and not just share their culture one baon at a time but internationally with five-star restaurants. *Bangs fist on table*
Luckily, we have a few game-changers in the filipino food world shifting minds one impressed taste bud at a time. And they’re not changing the art of the sisig or lechon completely, they’re just revamping and reconstructing the face of it from lola’s rice and “laman” food plops in styrofoam containers so many Filipino Americans are accustomed to. One star revolutionary is an inspiring female from New York City. Enter Nicole Ponseca – founder of Maharlika NYC and Jeepney NYC. She is passionate about contemporary presentations of the tapsilogs and transforming it hand-in-hand with American classics like benedicts and waffles. What happens when you get the sexy flavors of Filipino favorites incorporated with brunch dishes? Well a cute half-filipino food baby of course! Dishes like the Eggs Imelda, Flip’D Chicken and Ube Waffles, and the Sizzling Sisig have reintroduced themselves as a new definitive edge of Filipino thanks to Nicole, Maharlika NYC and Jeepney.
On June 7, I was able to catch the encore event of the Maharlika and Escala collaboration pop-up and I was so inspired to see this presentation solidify in the bustling heart of one of LA’s foodie cities. I arrived there 20 minutes before the 11am opening and I was able to observe how the team hustled and made sure every single detail was ready to impress the oncoming and hungry crowd. Nicole, such a spearhead and boss lady, reviewed the details of the Sunday Brunch menu with the team making sure each server knew the ingredients and dishes like it was their own lovechild. She quizzed them as a group and received correct responses in an almost military fashion. She made no room for second-guessing as she knew the attendees would be inquisitive. Marian, had asked me to deliver a group order of coffee as not just an energy booster for the day, but as liquid recovery from the successful Kamayan dinner of the night before. It was a big weekend for everyone involved.
Once the tables had been set, the menu reviewed, the bar reorganized, and the chefs prepped, the team all held hands for a prayer. It was lovely to be see and the growing crowd outside EsCala witness through the large panes a glimpse of the kind of dedication and passion that the team members share for the sake of honoring their food. When the doors opened, Nicole greeted the members of the growing line and introduced their entrance into the beautifully decorated interior of Escala.
The crowd filled the restaurant fast as the reserved guests were seated and the incoming guests were huddled around the bar. I was able to squeeze my arm in between my seated bar friends to order the brunch special calamansi mimosa and Maharlika’s funky rendition of the Bloody Mary. It tasted new but all too familiar at the same time as the components were Jufran Banana Ketchup and Maggi. I liked it and drank it down as a fast as I would typically at Sunday brunch nonetheless. And the calamansi mimosa was refreshing perfection during that warm 90 degree day in Los Angeles.
When we finally received our beautifully presented filipino dishes and our iPhones were finally back in our pockets, we dug in with no shame. Hardly no conversation ensued as out mouths were busily receiving and engulf-err- indulging the forkfuls of sisig, and ube waffes glazed with caramelized macapuno, calamansi hollandaise, and tapsilog. The crunch of the fried chicken was perfected by a modern chef but the flavors as familiar as my mom would make it. The Sisig was undoubtedly the best I have ever had because the crunch of the pork and the addition of the raw egg. Perfect. In 10 minutes, the food was gone. There was satisfied silence and a hidden smile being cleaned by napkins found on each of my tablemates. We were full. We were happy and we were proud. This was how Filipino food should be now: deliciously familiar but fearlessly modern.

Culver City Farmers Market

“Look! A G.L.P.!”
“Good looking potato?” I joked.
Although the farmers market was filled with lovely displays of harvest, I knew this starchy root wasn’t exactly what he was verbally pointing to. Mario and I started an inside joke when he moved to Beverlywood. It’s the in-between nook of Beverly Hills and Westwood; and the people reflect the two-city hybrid well. Energetic like Westwood. Bougie like Beverly hills. Actors. Celebrities. Industry peeps. You know, L.A. people. We say “GLP” whenever we are out in Beverly Hills eating Go Greek yogurt and see a tall, clear skinned, Dior shade hidden character. So gorgeous that we can only guess – celebrity? Of course we can’t say celebrity out loud and neither will Good Looking Person be appropriate. So, GLP fits best. The scene can get really histerical between us like when we’re eating at a Chipotle and I slip out “GLP!” with a smile, followed by a point to the left with my eyes. Or when we’re shopping for Cookie Butter at Trader Joes down La Cienega and I brush shoulders with a tanned and tall character, wearing shades indoors. “GLP!” I think and note the appearance for later report. We’re just excited that we’re surrounded by such beautiful people. Thats all.
If good looking people live in West Los Angeles then Farmers Markets are their watering holes. Whether you’re buying rabbit and sunflowers from Santa Monica Farmers Market on a _____ or Culver City Farmers Market on a ______, you’re bound to see a GLP. And if you’re lucky, that GLP might even be a celebrity… and you’ll drop your cool and faint!
But if you can see past the people and focus on the produce, you may be more surprised. There are hidden gems to be found at the Farmers Market and I’m glad I was able to take my camera with me (Like a typical L.A. food blogger) to capture some of Culver City’s finest!
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RECIPE: Adulterated Banana Bread



Adulterated Banana Bread

with cinnamon bacon bits and maple syrup
When you’re cleaning out your fridge because its the end of the week and you know your budget consciousness simply won’t allow you to do groceries on a Thursday night, you get a little creative in the kitchen. Heck, for my side, you get a little desperate. This is an example of how clearing out your kitchen can evoke an inner baking wizard.
My roomies and I go through the community bananas like a family of monkeys. However, some weeks we end up leaving ugly bananas hanging there to brown. At the apartment we toss them in the freezer because, well, what else do you do to bananas when they’re borderline baby food?
This recipe calls for ugly bananas. All uglies are welcome! And when I say ugly, I mean fugly. The bananas I used were so ugly they were defrosted and lumpy. DON’T toss them! They’re the sweetest gems waiting to be used. Ugly black bananas are packed with so much flavor, you won’t want to waste the wealth of natural sweetness these have to offer. Ugly is goooood!
3 ugly black bananas
3 eggs
1 cup tapioca flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tbsp nutmeg
1/2 tbsp salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
5 slices of bacon
2 tbsp date sugar
3x9x3 loaf pan or a rectangular loaf kind.
Mixing bowl
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease loaf pan with a dab of coconut oil.
In a mixing bowl, mash together 3 ugly black bananas, eggs, coconut oil, and vanilla extract. Do not over-mash, leaving chunks of bananas would be best. In a separate bowl mix together the tapioca flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, walnuts and salt. Incorporate into the bowl of your wet ingredients for about 1 minute of stirring. Do not over mix. Pour mixture into the loaf pan. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes or until the center of the loaf yields a clean toothpick test.
As for the cinnamon bacon bits, take the slices of bacon and chop them into bits. Cook them over medium high heat on a nonstick frying pan until most of the fat has been rendered and the bits have slightly crisped and turned their auburn color. Add the date sugar and the cinnamon powder. Stir until incorporated which takes about another 2 minutes.
To serve, take the bacon bits and pour and spread throughout the surface of the loaf (bacon grease and all!). Drizzle maple syrup to your desire. The texture of this recipe is similar to french toast. The loaf has a bounce to it because of the tapioca flour which is different from your typical banana loaf. A texture much appreciated with the crunch of the bacon bits! This banana loaf is adulterated as paleo can get. With the addition to maple syrup and bacon, its a quintessential paleo breakfast! Give this recipe a try when you have a collection of black bananas stacking up. Enjoy!

RECIPE: Eggs in Clouds


Eggs in clouds may seem as etherial to make as they appear but they are easy to produce if you have a mixer and an oven. If you have special guests over for brunch, these are sure to charm and are as inexpensive to make as scrambled eggs. Believe me when I say that these are SO easy to make! Let me know how you enjoy them!

+ Stand mixer or handheld mixer
+ Baking sheet
+ Parchment paper
+ Four eggs
+ 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
+ coarse sea salt
+ pepper
Separate the egg whites from the egg yolks making sure not to add any egg yolks to the whites. Whisk the whites until stiff peaks form. Fold in 1/2 cup parmesan cheese. Dollop the mixture into four nests on your parchment paper lined baking sheet. Sprinkle cracked pepper and coarse sea salt. Take a spoon and make a dent in the center of the nest. Bake at 450 degrees F for 3 minutes. Add the yolk to the center and bake until desired yolk consistency or until the nests turn a golden brown. Deceivingly simple and elegant! Enjoy!