Tag Archives: friends

Eating With My Hands at Lamesa

23 Oct

Any chance I get, I love to eat my food with my hands. Bacon? I eat with my hands. Scrambled eggs? Piled on toast and eaten with my hands. I have been known to eat gooey, rich chocolate cake with my hands and no one can convince me otherwise that it doesn’t make for a more joyful experience. (You people and your cutlery-for-pizza ways? I do not understand you.) So when I was invited to take part in a kamayan dinner at Lamesa last night, I was genuinely excited. Sitting down at a table draped with banana leaves and eventually adorned with brightly coloured, intensely flavoured food is my idea of a great dinner. Every Sunday, Lamesa is offering this kamayan (translated, means “hand to mouth”) dinner for a very reasonable $40/person that would be great for everyone: a group of friends, a family, a date. Best to make reservations and to know that this is not a fast meal: the idea is to sit with those you care about to share and enjoy a meal together. It’s a Filipino tradition that the owners and chefs want to bring to our awesome city and I think it’s a fabulous addition. It’s a feast for the senses.

Refreshments in hand, our table watched (and drooled) while head chef Rudy Boquilla and chef de cuisine Joash Dy elegantly placed the four different sauces on top of the banana leaves. First was the bagoong caramel, a fermented shrimp paste, followed by a soy garlic puree, sawsawan gel and housemade hot sauce. The sawasan gel was a table fave: thick, sweet and salty, it was made with soy, vinegar and garlic. Every once in a while, I would find another little pocket of it hidden under rice and I’d swipe whatever bite of food I had in my fingers through it. They could bottle and sell this stuff.

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Next to be served was a salad comprised of sour mango, arugula, radish and pretty heirloom carrots paired with mango chutney. This was followed by a sisig lettuce cup: iceberg lettuce piled high with chopped chicken, pork and beef cooked with chili, garlic and onions. Light and crunchy, these were light bites that helped to balance the rich meats that were to come.

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In the middle of the table, chef Dy spread out generous heaps of garlic fried rice topped with crispy garlic bits. On top of the rice, mussels and clams cooked in a broth of coconut milk, ginger and garlic. In between the shellfish, smoked, boneless bangus (marinated milkfish) were artfully placed. The smokiness of the fish and the brininess of the shellfish were making our mouths water. Next to come was the hands-down winner of the night: the crispy chicken adobo wings. This is not to say that the kare kare oxtail (braised in a peanut garlic sauce) wasn’t succulent and beautiful, because it was; but, this chicken was incredible. Maybe the best fried chicken in the city. A grand statement, to be sure, but it has to be tasted to be believed.

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The array: smoked fish, mussels, corn, oxtail, chicken adobo wings, rice, kale chip, pea shoots, lettuce cup and chicken tinola broth.

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Halved calamansi, pickled egg and mango chutney.

 

Not to be left out were the grilled corn, bok choy, kale chips, sweet purple yam cornbread, pickled egg and fresh calamansi that dotted the table. To say this was an epic meal would almost do it a disservice. It was a fun meal. A balanced meal. An “I am so full but can’t stop eating” meal. An “oh my god, did you try this with that??” meal. A meal one does not soon forget. Check out Lamesa at 669 Queen St. W., just west of Bathurst. They will be putting on the kamayan dinners every Sunday night – don’t forget to make reservations!

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Before…

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…after.

 

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On a wee hiatus…

6 Jan

Happy New Year, one and all! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season, ate well and spent time with those for whom you care!

I haven’t had much of a chance to post anything recently as our holidays were very eventful: the birth of the wee foodNURDling, Jackson! Born just a few days before Christmas, J and I are totally smitten with our little man but he keeps us very busy. As a result, not much posting has happened on foodNURD. Thanks to our wonderful family and friends, we have at least been eating well! Our families brought Christmas dinner to us (bacon-wrapped water chestnuts, smoked salmon, turkey, stuffing, Brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes, rice & beans, cranberries, salad and trifle) and friends have come by with tons of food over the last couple of weeks (pizza, Indian food, fish & chips, donuts, Chinese food, bagels, roast beef…), so we are definitely covered on the food front. (And all that time spent in the kitchen before foodNURDling was born has been put to good use: muffins and stew in the freezer have been awfully handy!) Now if we could just catch up on the sleep front…

I will most certainly return to posting as soon as I can. In the meantime, I wish you all nothing but the best and I shall return soon!

The foodNURDling

Inspiration: Girlfriends

20 Aug

Two of my long-standing girlfriends? Oh yeah, they can cook. I have known these girls for 10+ years and, when I was in my “Cooking? Pffft.” phase, they would come over and show me that…well, I was being an idiot. There is a fairly well-worn story about how one of them came over, took one look at my fridge and forced me to sit there and help her clean out the whole thing. She was appalled and rightly so. The other wasn’t going to clean out my fridge, but she was sure going to show me that cooking could be easy and fun.

The Great Fridge Cleaner is the five-course-dinner-party-thrower, the experimenter, the “let’s-throw-stuff-together-and-I-bet-it’ll-be-delicious” cook. The Hot Biscuit can turn any ingredient into magic and loves to try out new items. But her specialty? Baking. We all look forward to our birthdays because we KNOW we’re going to get something home-baked and de-freaking-licious. (Best example: the pony-shaped cake she made for a friend’s birthday earlier this year.) Both women are confident in the kitchen and have, over the years, made some incredibly delicious food. The GFC introduced me to the simple pleasure of edamame and the less simple beef roast; the Biscuit makes the most addictive side dish on the planet: crack dip.

They have extraordinarily different personalities but they do share a love of food. The three of us in the kitchen is a pretty hilarious sight, usually getting in each others’ way (especially in my kitchen, which is annoyingly teeny). But both in their own way inspired me to get into the kitchen and just try it out. Whether it was showing me that a can of tuna could be transformed into something really tasty or how to make chocolate truffles, these ladies know how to be creative and fun in the kitchen…and isn’t that what it’s supposed to be?

Yep, that's a chocolate pony cake.

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