Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Seattle's Must Try Dish: Porchetta

When we were planning what to do and where to eat in Seattle,  several foodie friends of mine recommended the Porchetta at Salumi, the deli of Mario Batalli's parents. Unfortunately, Salumi is only open from 11am-4pm Mondays to Fridays, while we were only in Seattle one Saturday and one Sunday.

Porchetta is pork loin, roasted the Italian way, served with crisp Pork Skin. Our mouths were watering at the thought of yummy roast pork that we googled until we found an alternative porchetta place with good reviews that we could go to.

We opted to go with Lecosho since their porchetta also made
it to several Must Try Lists.
If the menu is any indication, it seemed like a good choice.
Lecosho is mid-way along the Harbor Steps,
On University Street.
We all wanted to order porchetta but we played it safe by ordering 1 dish to share between 2 people so we could also order something else.
I ordered the Columbia City Bakery Baguette (US $3)
with sea salted butter and olive relish for Fi because I wasn't
sure if she'd like the porchetta,  but the artisanal baguette
was so good, we kept on ordering more.
The sea salted butter went really well with the crusty bread.
Ady and I shared the house salad with boiled egg (US$7),
Cooked in the semi-soft way as when served with ramen.
The highlight of our meal was the Lecosho Porchetta (US $19),
Described as Pork Belly wrapped around Pork Tenderloin,
Usually served with Corona Beans and baby turnips.
However,  as our family is not fond of beans, they changed it.
You can see from the picture that the pork skin was cooked till it was crisp, and if I remember right, the fat of the pork was evenly distributed,  so you can pretend it never existed, as if you eat it fast enough, there would be no evidence left. It was good that we ordered it to share with a salad so it felt like we tried to make it a healthier meal.

We also ordered a Cheese Plate (US $12).
And a Chocolate dessert which I remember tasted better
than it looks.

Lecosho has an open kitchen set-up.
You can see the chefs cook, but I don't think we ended up
smelling like dinner afterwards. 
The place wasn't crowded on a Sunday night, but the concierge
at our hotel made us a reservation just to make sure.
This was the last meal in our US-Alaska trip and it was just
the right way to end our holiday. 

While I really enjoyed all the dishes we ordered from Lecosho,  I can't wait to try Salumi. If I ever find myself in Seattle again, I will definitely plan to be there for a weekday lunch. just saying.

The Harbor Steps (Mid-way)
89 University Street
Seattle,  Washington

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Hyatt Place Seattle Downtown

When we were in Seattle, we stayed at the Hyatt Place Seattle Downtown one day before our cruise and another day when we got back. My aunt chose this hotel for it's proximity (around 15 minutes or around US$15 by cab) to the Cruise Terminal.

I loved the location of the hotel on 6th Avenue. We had such a great view
of the Space Needle, I didn't feel any need to see it an closer.
Sofia trying to "buddy-up" with Tito Ian when we arrived.
The front desk staff are also trained as Starbucks baristas,
but they don't carry the Venti size at the hotel.

We weren't really that close to Pike Place Market (it's around a 20 minute walk), but the good thing is the hotel offers a complimentary shuttle anywhere within a 1 mile radius covering most of the downtown area. We normally took the shuttle to go downtown, then you can call the hotel for a shuttle pick-up, or you could also just opt to walk back to the hotel which we did a few times.

Sofia horsing around with Lolo Bong while we were
waiting for the shuttle.
The van was just the right size for our group. Hahaha.

The rooms at Hyatt Place were also big and comfortable. On our first night, we shared a room with Auntie Celit, Me, Ady and Sofia, but on our last night after the cruise, we shared the room with Pa and Ma, so Ady, Sofia and myself shared one bed.
We had a room with 2 queen beds.
There was also a large couch in the living room side.
I think someone could also sleep here comfortably.
Across the couch, there's a table for working,
and a counter with the complimentary coffee and tea.
Then on another side, there's a toilet and tub, with the sink for
washing up outside the bathroom.
The room was big enough for our hole group to hand out and have pizza delivered for dinner, our for Sofia to get everyone together for Bingo Night.
Our Bingo Master with her new Bingo Set from Ross.
Everyone had to pay US$1 to get 2 Bingo Cards to play. Hahaha.

Another great thing about the location was the Walgreens across the street that was open until midnight. We normally went over before calling it a night hoping to find something more to buy to fill our luggage with, as Seattle was our last stop before flying back home.
You can also see the Space Needle at night behind Walgreens.
Sof and I found the Clearance Bin at Walgreens and it took a lot of
self-control to walk away from the 1Direction paraphernalia on sale.

Another great thing about Hyatt Place is the breakfast! In my experience, the hotel buffets in Asia are normally so much better than the hotels in Europe and the US where you normally just get some orange juice, weak coffee and bread, but at Hyatt Place they had a complete spread of food that we love. 

It's generally help yourself to everything. You just enter and eat.
They don't even have a person standing by to ask for your room number.
They had fruit (and grapefruit), muesli and yogurt.
Different breads and pastries
Single serve cereal and oatmeal
This is my favorite section.
I love brown and serve sausages so much, I honestly don't know
how many sausages I ate on the whole trip!
Fruit, Water, Milk and Juice
Ady had the brilliant idea of eating her toasted bagel with honey
and cream cheese so I bummed some from her.
The breakfast crowd.
Another plus of having Walgreens nearby...
It was easy enough to run and get Sofia some bubble bath.
Bath tub #availed just before we left!
If we were going to take another Cruise departing from Seattle, I would love to stay at Hyatt Place again. But if we were just visiting Seattle to shop, I would probably look into staying at the other hotels closer to Pike Place market.  just saying. 

Hyatt Place Seattle Downtown
110 6th Ave N  Seattle, 
WA 98109, United States
+1 206-441-6041

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Love Potion no.9 in a Pastel is CDO's best dessert

Every time I find myself in Cagayan de Oro (CDO) for work, I always bring home Pastel, the yummy soft bun filled with yema, that CDO is famous for.

During my last visit here, we discovered Missy Bon Bon, a cafe like pastry shop with pastel that I like better than Vjandep, the established brand, partly because the bun seems softer and the yema filling a tad more generous.

It was only when we passed the Missy Bon Bon stand in the mall that I realized they also had gelato.

We were so intrigued by Love Potion No. 9 we saw in the stand in
Limketkai Mall that we decided go to the main branch to try it.

I wasn't really hungry so I planned to just bum a few spoonfulls from my office mate to taste.
When I saw this poster,  I convinced my friend
to order one so we could try it out.
Guess how much this pastel gelato sandwich costs?
It's only Php35! And that's even because it's a premium flavor.
Cross section of a Pastel Gelato Sandwich
It's a bit on the small side so it was just enough for all four of us in the group to have a bite.
I purposely aimed for the yema side when I got my share.
The creaminess of the love potion complemented the yema so
well, we knew we had no choice but to try out more flavors.
I was dying to try the Peanut Butter Chocolate
Fudge. It's like eating a cold peanut butter
and Nuttela sandwich, but the yema taste was
a bit lost. This was only Php30.
We also ended up trying Sans Rival, Pistachio Sans Rival,
and White Chocolate Walnut, but nothing was as good as
Love Potion No. 9,that we went back for a second one.
We had a system where we'd each take a bite, then switch.
Sugar rush for everyone. 
This is after we had our fix.
Missy Bon Bon also has a huge pastry assortment,
Though I haven't tried anything aside from the pastel.
I can't wait to come back to CDO so I can eat more Love Potion No. 9 Gelato Pastel sandwiches.  just saying.

Missy Bon Bon
Rosario Drive
Limketkai Center
Cagayan de Oro

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Last Cruise Stop: Victoria, British Columbia

The last stop of our Alaskan Cruise was 6 hours in Canada, or Victoria, British Columbia to be more specific. A Canadian Visa is required to board the ship, even if you plan to opt not to disembark in Canada. It was just a little bit unfortunate that our ship was docked in Victoria from 6pm-12midnight so we didn't really get to do much except walk around the main street in town.

Before disembarkation, everyone on the ship requiring an entry visa to Canada is asked to proceed to one of the lounges. Then our passports were returned to us and we were escorted as a group to the entry border to get our passports stamped. After that, we all had to get back to the ship, to get the Front Desk to change the status of our ship ID cards so that we'd be allowed to disembark. Quite a lot of steps, but Holland American Lines was very organized. The only downside is if there are passengers requiring visas who don't follow instructions, it delays the disembarkation of the whole ship.

Victoria reminds me of Disneyland. Everything was pretty in a surreal sort of way.

We were welcomed by women in period costumes.
This old man even gave Sofia a Victoria pin.
You also see old cars around town.
I am not sure if old people were riding it.
We wanted to walk around as a group so we just jumped into cabs and waited for each other at The Empress, an iconic landmark in Victoria famous for it's Afternoon Tea.
We took the first cab with Tita Ignie and Sofia. (Ady took the picture)
A semi-jump shot.
Victoria's iconic hotel is now run by the Fairmont chain.
Group picture while waiting.
Family picture while waiting.
The Victoria Parliament is right across The Empress.
A closer look at the Parliament.
The main harbor in Victoria. Also across The Empress.

We just started walking on the Main Street, which was lined with Souvenir Shops (surprise!surprise!)
Sofia and the Moose.
Free Wifi Downtown while waiting for Kuya Ian to find
our other relatives.
As usual, Sofia can't leave without buying anything.
We ended up adopting a Big Moose and a Small Moose.

Once we were all complete, we just started walking towards Chinatown. If my memory serves me right, it was just all the way down the Main Street. We chose our restaurant based on the availability of hakaw (Shrimp Dumpling DimSum) for Sofia and Free WiFi for all of us. Hahaha. Ordering was tricky because some of us ate more on the ship vs the others.

Tito Bong claimed the serving bowl of soup while Tita Nenen and
Kuya Ian looked on. Hahaha.
For a group that claimed not to be hungry, we did pretty good damage
on the Roast Duck, Crab, Salt and Pepper Squid we ordered.
We got a free yummy Prawn dish because it was Mother's Day.
Group Picture Take 1: I think Tita Winky said something funny because
Kuya Ian sans Auntie Celit sure are laughing.
Group Picture Take 2 was much better.
Sof wearing Tita Cheritte's hat.
It was much darker when we walked back so we were able to see
the Parliament all lit up.
And it was also the first time we saw the Oosterdam at night.
We all kind of hurried back on board because we needed to finish packing to have our luggage ready out of the door by 10 or 11pm. I don't think we saw enough of the real Canada to know whether or not we liked it. We just need to plan a trip back to give the country another chance next year. just saying.

You can read all about our Alaskan Cruise here, about Juneau, Alaska's Capital City here, and about the Alaskan cities of Sitka and Ketchikan here.