Dinner at Outback Steakhouse

It was April 7, 2012. My family and I went to Makati Shangri-La hotel  for my sister’s birthday and for our vacation. We ate lunch at Dad’s and after that we went shopping and went back to the hotel.

We went swimming and we were there for about an hour or more. We took a bath, rested and went out to look for a place to eat dinner.

The Place

Australia

We   dropped by at Outback Steakhouse at Glorietta 4, Ayala Center for Zia’s birthday dinner.

At first I thought it was a bar but when we went upstairs I was surprised to see a   big restaurant  .  We sat at  the window   in front of the S.M. food court.

Australia

Outback Steakhouse has a wonderful theme and great pictures. The outback is a home land for many Australian animals like dingoes and wombats.  Kangaroos and dingoes hide in the bushes to rest  when the weather is really hot.

Australia

There are also birds who fly at the crack of dawn. Snakes and other reptiles bask in the sun .

The pictures on the wall show road  signs  , animals, and geography   of Australia.

The bathroom doors had “Blokes” and “Shielas” on them rather than Men and Ladies. The toilets were really clean and smelled good.

Toilet

The waiters and waitresses also wore hats, vest and shorts used in the Australian outback.

The Food

Bushman's bread

Combo Appetizer

First, we ordered appetizer and water. They gave us Bushman’s bread , which is made with wheat and honey. It’s  brown and served with butter. The inside is soft and the outside is crunchy.

We ordered the Combination Appetizer, which includes  Kookabura Wings, Aussie Cheese Fries and Crispy Calamari.

Kookabura Wings tasted like buffalo wings. It  is deep-fried and crunchy. My little sister found it too spicy but I didn’t think so. The fries had cheese and bacon, and tasted like it was homemade .The calamari is crunchy  and tasted fresh.   The combination platter also had four slices of celery, which was  as fresh as if it was only plucked from the ground the same night.

Alice Springs Chicken

The Baby back ribs

Grilled Chicken and Swiss sandwich

Fish sandwich

Garlic rib eye steak

Next, we ordered our main dishes. I ordered  Alice Springs chicken.

The Alice Springs chicken is a flame grilled chicken breast that has  mushrooms, bacon, Monterey jack and Cheddar. It also has honey mustard sauce.  It’s cheesy, flavorful and cooked properly.

Mom ordered 1/2 slab of Baby Back Ribs . My mom was surprised and happy  because the serving was bigger than she thought it would be.  There were about 5 ribs on the half slab, but it had lots of meat.  Knowing that I love ribs too, my mom gave me a piece so I could describe its taste. The ribs are  tender.  I could taste the smoky flavor on the barbecue sauce and ribs.

My sister got the Grilled Chicken and Swiss Sandwich. I had a piece too because mom wanted me to taste everything. It’s made of chicken breast, caramelized onions, Swiss cheese, lettuce and tomato, and buns.

It also came with fries. It wasn’t very tasty , but I think you’re supposed to add some salt when you eat it.

My younger sister ordered the Fish Sandwich .  It had breaded fish and cheese, with tartar sauce  , lettuce, tomato and burger buns.  Like the Grilled Chicken sandwich, it , too needs a little more salt  and pepper. The bread is soft and crunchy. The vegetables are fresh and still crunchy.

Papa ordered the Garlic Rib Eye steak, which also came with vegetables and baked potato. Papa  said it was cooked perfectly and tasted really good.

The servings were generous and we were all full.  Right after dinner, the crew burst out of the kitchen, singing Happy Birthday to my sister, Zia. They brought her a serving of ice cream with chocolate drizzle and a candle on top.

This surprised us but made us and Zia happy.

The food is worth the price because it’s delicious and the servings were more than enough.

The Service

The place was kid friendly. When we arrived, we were given coloring papers and crayons to keep us busy. They had high chairs for little kids. The waiters and waitresses also talked to us.

Say CHEESE!

The service crew are very friendly and were very helpful all the time. They are smiling every time they came to our table. We always got water refills once our water run out.

It was great that they remembered when my mom mentioned it was my sister’s birthday so that they sang her happy birthday after our meal.

Outback Restaurant is a great place. I wish we’d go back there again.

Here are my ratings (5 is the highest):

5 stars for the food
5 stars for the place
5 stars for the kid friendliness
5 stars for the service

See you all next time! Adios!

My Passion and My Steak….

Mom and I , when I was 2My mom always told us that in order to be successful, we must first find that one thing that ignites our interest, stirs up our passion, and tickles our imagination as to how far it can take us. To many people, finding that one thing takes a long time. To some, it comes as a surprise. To others, such as myself, it comes as a result of circumstance. Some time ago, I was attending school , like most kids. But my family decided that it was much better for me and my siblings to learn at home.

As a home schooler, I learned the word “pressure”, “catalyst” and “carbon dioxide” by sticking Mentos inside a bottle of Coke and watching it explode in our backyard.

Me and my siblings at Avilon zooI learned about the classifications of animals by going to Avilon Zoo, and taking notes from the tour guide.

I learned about divison by separating candies that my Papa brought home from his trips abroad into 5 of us siblings. I learned about fractions, estimates, units of measure, converting ounces to cups, and boiling points by cooking pasta , risotto,soup, etc.

As I learned Math, I also started to develop an interest in cooking. It often was the case that my mom, seeing my interest, started asking me to do things in the kitchen, such as making omelets for breakfast, cooking risotto for dinner or grilling steaks. Then my mom thought of having me and my brother audition for a cooking show for a major television network. It turned our world topsy turvy. From then on, I never looked back. Experiencing people other than my mom and my Papa criticize my cooking made me want to be better. Well, such were the circumstances that led me to the revelation of my passion for cooking.

But there was one dish that I had specific passion for- steaks. Now I will tell you about the week that was.

The Steaks Workshop

Not too long ago, I enrolled in Chef Ernest Gala’s Steaks, Salad, Pastas and Roasts course at Sylvia Reynoso Gala Culinary School.
Me, Chef Ernest Gala and other classmates

Me doing the sauceWhile waiting for Chef Ernest to arrive, we watched his shows on the television situated in the kitchen. Three friends whom I met there were curious as to my schooling, perhaps because it was a Tuesday and yet I was preparing to grill steaks rather than reviewing for a Math or Science quiz. I told them that I’m home schooled and that I love cooking. That day, we were cooking salads, pastas, roasts and steaks. I really love learning the different aspects of cooking, but my weakness lies in baking. Maybe I’m just not born for it.

We made three kinds of salads. I made a Festive Tuna, potato, beet and apple salad. One of my classmates made Hearty Mediterranean salad with anchovies, capers and feta cheese. My other classmates made the Special crab salad with creamy mayo. I learned that if balsamic vinegar isn’t available, we can use Knorr seasoning or worcestershire sauce. It changes the flavor but it’s good too.

Filets mignons with caper sauce
sizzling italian pork parmigiana topped with magnolia mozzarella cheese
Then we made filet mignons with caper sauce, sizzling Italian pork parmigiana topped with Magnolia mozzarella cheese, and Chateaubriand with Bernaise sauce. Last but not least, the Monterey roast rack of lamb with creamy cucumber sauce. I learned that when roasting, we must use a meat thermometer to know whether it’s over cooked or it’s still raw. I never used a thermometer at home, as I only used a wall clock and my gut feel.

We made pastas like Special Magnolia chicken spaghetti with 4 cheeses and Baked lasagna with ricotta and Magnolia cheese. I learned that in some countries, mozzarella cheese are colored white because they use carabao’s milk. In the Philippines, we have yellow mozzarella cheese because we use cow’s milk.

SALADS

Festive tuna, potato, beet and apples salad

Festive tuna, potato, beet and apple salad
This salad includes all purpose cream, salt and pepper, diced potatoes, beet, apples, pickle relish, onion and tuna. It is served with prepared lettuce and eggs.

I found the salad a little unusual because it had beets in it. It was my first time to eat beets . I actually thought that a beet is a fruit but it’s technically a root. The cream and beet combination gave the dish a subtle but intriguing taste.

Hearty Mediterranean with anchovies, capers and feta cheese
Hearty mediterranean salad with anchovies, capers and feta cheese

This salad includes baby tomatoes, black olives, capers, anchovies, Feta cheese or Quick melt cheese, dill leaves (fresh) and peeled cucumber. There is also crushed garlic, red wine vinegar, olive oil, oregano and salt and pepper.

This salad is simple but good and tasty. I like the flavors of the olives and all the cheeses. I also like the cucumber because it’s sliced really thin.

Special crab salad with creamy mayo
Special crab salad with creamy mayo
This salad has iceberg lettuce, peeled cucumber, big salad tomatoes and boiled eggs. For the dressing it has MAGNOLIA mayo, HUNTS catsup, salt, pepper and PEOTRACO corn syrup .

The cucumber – tomatoes – boiled eggs combination gave a crunchy, sour and sweet taste..a taste that appealed to my mom’s palate.

ROASTS

Chateaubriand with Bernaise sauce
chateaubriand with bernaise sauce

Monterey roast rack of lamb with creamy cucumber sauce
monterey roast rack of lamb with creamy cucumber sauce

This ribs has crushed garlic, rock salt, Mc Cormick rosemary, black pepper, balsamic vinegar, olive oil. The sauce has cucumber, grated cheese, minced onions and salt.

I like the ribs because it’s tender and it’s well seasoned. The consistency of the sauce is perfect- not too watery, not too thick.

TENDER ROAST MONTEREY PORK BABY BACK RIBS WITH SPECIAL BARBECUE SAUCE

Tender roast monterey pork baby back ribs with special BBQ sauce
This baby back ribs has garlic, knorr seasoning, rock salt, mustard, molasses, chili powder and Hunt’s tomato sauce. The sauce has chopped onions, brown sugar, vinegar, HUNT’s tomato sauce, Lea and Perrins worcestershire sauce, knorr seasoning and salt and pepper.

I love the flavors of the chili and mustard plus the onions and the vinegar on the tender ribs.

PASTAS

BAKED LASAGNA WITH RICOTTA AND MAGNOLIA MOZZARELLA CHEESE
Baked lasagna with ricotta and magnolia mozzarella cheese

This lasagna has sausages, ground beef, salt, pepper, herbs, sugar, eggs and ricotta cheese, among others. I was not able to taste the lasagna because when we heated the lasagna at home, the glassware cracked in the oven!

SPECIAL MAGNOLIA CHICKEN SPAGHETTI WITH 4 CHEESES

Special magnolia chicken spaghetti with 4 cheese
This spaghetti has Magnolia butter, boiled chicken, cream, grated mozzarella cheese, grated quick melt cheese, Fontina cheese, grated provolone cheese, grated parmesan cheese, salt and pepper….Loved this one too.

We had these dishes for dinner that day. It’s plentiful, very delicious and the taste is right on. I’ll give these dishes *****stars for the taste and **stars for the difficulty. (because it’s yummy but easy)

Now all this talk about food is starting to stir up my imagination again….I think I know what I'm gonna do today.

Mediterranean Cooking with Chef Ernest Reynoso Gala

Me and Chef Ernest Gala

Me and Chef Ernest Gala

As an aspiring chef, my mom said I had to try cooking and eating different kinds of food. We are big fans of Japanese food, so we eat at Yakimix a lot. One of the cuisines which we seldom have is Mediterranean food. Some of the few Mediterranean dishes I have ever tried was the Roka Salata, a delicious, memorable salad composed of fresh arugula, Romaine lettuce, toasted walnuts, sun-dried tomatoes, pears, blue cheese, parmesan and Greek vinaigrette, and the Mixed Meat Gyros, or meat wrapped in pita bread. Papa brought these home from Cyma, a Greek restaurant at Trinoma mall, days before. So when I saw that Chef Ernest Gala was going to have a Mediterranean cooking class, I asked my mom if I could attend.

Mediterranean food originates from countries like Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Greece, Turkey and other cultures around the Mediterranean sea. Mediterranean diet is dominated by breads, rice, couscous, polenta, bulgur, and other grains, and potatoes.

Vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, cheese, yogurt and olives are also common in meals. They eat little poultry, fish, eggs and sweets. They consume red meat only a few times per month, and they want it lean, not fatty. Wine and water are also an important part of Mediterranean diet.

Mom asked me to pose

Mom asked me to pose

I have never cooked Mediterranean food before, so last Saturday, July 2, 2011, I attended Mediterranean Cooking classes at the Sylvia Reynoso Gala Culinary Training Center at Shaw Blvd. I was happy and excited because not only was I going to cook something entirely new, I was also going to cook with a chef who is also a star. Chef Ernest Gala graduated at several prestigious chef schools all over the world. He is also a well-known chef in this country.

I learned many things in the class:
– If raw lamb is brown in color and smells bad , it means it’s already 9 months old.
– To ensure that meats (lamb, pork and beef) are tender, I must boil them first .
– While grilling always brush with marinade.
– The common ingredients in Mediterranean food are basil and oregano.

We cooked flame broiled pork baby back ribs, slow oven baked Monterey BBQ beef short ribs, oven-baked lamb riblets, moussaka and spanakopitas and tiropotas, Greek appetizers.

Orange Dutch Oven and Pressure cooker

Orange Dutch Oven Pans and Pressure cooker

We used cooking equipment that I have never used before , like pressure cookers and the orange dutch oven pans. We only used wok, non stick pan, pots, oven, and gas stove at home. We also used ingredients I have never used before, like feta cheese, molasses , lamb, and ricotta cheese.

Lamb riblets with baby potatoes

Lamb riblets with baby potatoes

Before I attended the cooking class, I thought that cooking lamb was hard, but it was really very easy.

BBQ Short Ribs

BBQ Short Ribs

While I was cooking my BBQ beef short ribs , Chef Ernest’s mother told me that I cooked like a professional chef. I felt happy that they called me a profesional chef. I remember another cooking class that I went to – the chefs said exactly the same thing.

Pork Baby Back ribs

Pork Baby Back ribs

We cooked the pork baby back ribs with pressure cookers – that’s why it turned out very tender. The sauce for the baby back ribs is interesting because it uses molasses, an ingredient used commonly in cuisines in the Middle East.

Spanakopitas/Tiropitas

Spanakopitas/Tiropitas


Can you say “spanakopitas”? My mom keeps saying it because she likes the sound of it. Spanakopitas are a Greek appetizer that has feta cheese, parmesan cheese, ham and onion, wrapped in a filo sheet and baked in the oven.

Tiropitas are also Greek appetizers wrapped in filo pastry and contains feta cheese, cream cheese, quickmelt cheese , ricotta , and cottage cheese, plus basil.

Waiting room

Waiting room

Mom waited for me to finish the 3-hour cooking class in the waiting room outside before coming inside to take photos of me.

We took home a generous amount of food after the classes. We had those for dinner, along with fried chicken that my Papa had cooked. The beef short ribs meat is hard outside but tender inside. Maybe it needs to be in the pressure cooker for a longer time. But the sauce is yummy. The lamb riblets are tender and the sauce is spicy, but I like it . Even my Papa likes it, although he thought he was eating beef :-). My mom’s favorite was the pork baby back ribs because it was tasty and tender. The vinegar and molasses combination gave it a sweet and sour taste.

My mom asked me what moussaka was and I said it was pasta, but it did not have pasta. What I meant was that it looked like lasagna because it has meat sauce in it and had cheese on top, but it had no pasta. Instead it had egg plant and onions. I guess that’s why it’s called Greek style lasagna. I wasn’t really sure if we were supposed to eat it with rice or just eat it on its own. The moussaka was my baby sister’s favorite because it had lots of cheese.

It was my mom’s and my siblings’ first time to eat these kinds of Mediterranean dishes. My mom says I will enroll in Chef Ernest’s class again next week. I guess she liked the food I took home.

Mediterranean Cooking with Chef Ernest Reynoso Gala- Two thumbs up!