Saturday, August 28, 2010

Bistro Luneta


It's as much about the presentation as the taste of the dishes we selected at Bistro Luneta in San Mateo. For starters we ordered the shrimp ukoy which I thought was well prepared. It was served crisp and brown and not a minute longer in the pan.  

Tortang Talong
The tortang talong or grilled eggplant omelette was perhaps the most visually appealing dish and as delicious as it looks above. The eggplant (the restaurant served Japanese eggplants) is topped off with sautéed ground pork like an open face sandwich. It's important that the eggplant is grilled long enough else it's too chewy which is why it may take longer to prepare it.

We also had fish escabeche with teriyaki sauce. This is more appetizing to the American palate. I prefer the Pilipino version with some vinegar and soy sauce. On the whole, we enjoyed our dinner at Bistro Luneta amidst a simple zen background and convenient parking at the back of the restaurant.

Recipe for ukoy:

Recipe for tortang talong:

Bistro Luneta is located at 635 -3rd Avenue in San Mateo, California. For more info and a peek at their menu visit:

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Images by Charie

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Let's Shop Around the World!

On Takeshita Street in Tokyo

From Tokyo's trendy Takeshita Street to Amsterdam's Flower Market and across Europe and the Americas then back to Southeast Asia, shopping is a journey of discovery, retail therapy for some and bittersweet parting with hard earned "dinero" for most of us. Here are some irresistible finds and incredibly beautiful shopping meccas.

Flower Market

In the tulip capital of the world, you can find a variety of bulbs in Amsterdam's Flower Market on the Singel.

Galeries Lafayette

I like to stand in the center underneath the glass dome for the best view of these balconies at the Galeries Lafayette on Boulevard Haussmann in Paris. Then I go upstairs to get a birds eye view of the ground floor with its perfume and cosmetic counters. O la la.

Ponte Vecchio

At the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, fine jewelry glitter from shop windows lining the bridge. It's a feast for the eyes and a treat just to see the beautiful pieces on display and imagine it could be yours. Dreaming is free.

La Boqueria

How sweet it is to find this colorful selection of bonbons in La Boqueria, along the famous La Rambla. There are more treats to find in this market where fruit stalls, deli, bread and pastries, fresh seafoods, and wine shops compete for space and shoppers' attention.


Guadalajara is famous for two things, among others: its tequila and its colorful pottery. In Tlaquepaque, you can buy from an array of dishes in stalls like this. When you're through shopping, there are a number of restaurants with mariachi music and tequila, por supuesto!

Cowgirl Creamery Artisan Artisan Shop

Say "fromage, please" at the Cowgirl Creamery in the Ferry Building in San Francisco. Cowgirl sells its own cheeses made from organic milk as well as "artisan farmstead" cheese from famous cheesemakers in the U.S. and Europe.

Bikini shopping

Four important things to take with you to Hawaii: swimsuit, suntan lotion, slippers, and sunglasses. But if you forget any of the above, no worries. Waikiki has some of the best shopping streets in the world.

HongKong Market

Shopping in one of HongKong's outdoor markets is still a thrill with the possibility of a good bargain. If you're up to jostling with the hordes of shoppers on the eve of Chinese New Year, then prepare to be tempted to buy stuff you hadn't planned to and be completely entertained.

Dried Fish Market, Lantau Island

Locals and tourists come to this unique island not only to see the houses on stilts but to pick up some dried fish.

Sutukil on Mactan Island

And speaking of fish, diners in Cebu can check the availability of fresh fish and other seafoods for their main entrée before picking a restaurant. Or take home a pompano for dinner. Sarap (delish)!

Greenhills Tiangge

You can find just about anything at Greenhills Mall in Metro Manila. In a previous article I had written about my shopping experience at Greenhills where I bought a woodcarving in the Balinese style, a Manny Pacquiao jacket for a friend, necklaces and bracelets for my family and friends, keychains for the two dozen keys I have at home, and I'm planning to buy, on my next visit, a painting to hang in my guest bedroom. In the photo above, traditional Philippine parol or lantern is a Christmas decoration staple.

Happy shopping!

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Photos by Charie

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Limerick, Galway, Ennis, and Doolin

King John's Castle in Limerick City

History plays amidst spectacular surroundings and small towns enchant. Fáilte (Welcome) to Western Ireland.

The River Shannon runs along the side of this 13th century fortification, King John's Castle. There's a tremendous view from the top of the cylindrical towers following the river to the green hills beyond. During the Great Seige of 1642, Cromwell's army dug mines beneath the castle walls to undermine this once mighty fortress. Invincible? Hardly.

Two Writers - Galway

In this imaginary scenario, two famous writers, Oscar Wilde and Eduard Wilde (from Estonia) are deep in conversation. It's anybody's guess what their talk is about. They had never met in real life. May I dare say they're exploring their "roots" since they bear the same last name?

Healing Hands by Shane Gilmore
Pro Cathedral of St. Peters and Paul, Ennis

There are various interpretations of these limestone hands modeled from the hands of Willie Walsh, the Bishop of Killaloe. All of these attributions - peace, cooperation, faith, and the welcoming of immigrants hit the mark. But the best interpretation may be this quote from Isaiah 49:15 that is engraved on a plaque by the sculpture: "I will not forget you. I have carved your name on the palm of my hand." How beautiful!

O'Connell Street, Ennis

My home base in County Clare was Ennis, a small, colorful town about 30 minutes from Shannon Airport and on both train and bus routes. This turned out to be a good choice as Ennis is well situated between the cities of Galway and Limerick and a short drive to the Cliffs of Moher. At the end of the day, I went home to peace and quiet except on the day of the World Cup finals when the occupants of the hotel room next door to mine were pounding the walls and shouting angrily. I guess their team lost. tsk tsk.


The coastal town of Doolin is famously known as the home of traditional Irish music. Its pubs are alive with music sessions nightly in the summer and in February, a music festival is held to honor Doolin's own, the Russell brothers, for their many contributions to elevate traditional Irish music to the world stage. Doolin is centrally located between the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher and the perfect kicking off point for walking explorations in the area.

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Images by Charie