Kusina Maria

Food Blog + Food Shop

Seared Tuna Nicoise Salad by Chez Nous

Seared Tuna Nicoise Salad by Chef Chino San Jose of Chez Nous

Seared Tuna Nicoise Salad by Chez Nous

I believe that good food (really good food… not just yummy or delicious) is one that changes the way I see food. And that is exactly how I would describe the Seared Tuna Nicoise Salad by Chez Nous.

Nicoise Salad, or Salade Niçoise as the French call it, is a composed salad. It is pronounced as “niˈswaz.” Various sources describe traditional Nicoise Salad in different ways. Some sources describe it as having potatoes and beans in equal parts. Different sources list various ingredients as traditional ingredients of the salad. If there’s one thing all sources agree on, it is that it is dressed with a vinaigrette.

Most of the Nicoise Salad that we see in restaurants, modern recipe books, and even on blogs seem to be based from “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” The book calls it a Mediterranean Combination Salad. It lists the usual ingredients in the salad.

Tuna, anchovies, tomatoes, potatoes, green beans, hard-boiled eggs, and lettuce are the usual elements for this appetizing combination, and you may arrange the salad in any manner you wish.*

Do a Google image search for Nicoise Salad and you’ll know what I mean.

Most restaurants use canned tuna for it and I am not fond of uncooked canned tuna. Needless to say, Nicoise Salad does not interest me. And I usually love salads.

I have heard of Chez Nous’ Nicoise Salad and it made me curious. Seeing it’s description on the menu made me excited. It is listed as “Seared Tuna Nicoise Salad” and described as “Seared Sesame Tuna, Lettuce, French Beans, Honey-Lemon Dressing, Deep Fried Anchovy.” Whew! The Seared Sesame Tuna is enough to make me happy.

When I saw the salad, I was not just excited but really . It is nothing like other Nicoise Salads I have seen or tried. If I sound like I am exaggerating or medyo OA, I offer no apologies. It was as if the Chef knew exactly everything I love and put them all together. LOOK!

Seared Tuna Nicoise Salad by Chef Chino San Jose of Chez Nous

Seared Tuna Nicoise Salad by Chez Nous

Where do I begin? Perfectly cooked fried egg and deep fried anchovy over a bed of fresh greens. I am a sucker for a perfectly cooked fried egg with a runny yolk. It is a pleasant combination of textures and flavors that will make any good dish, even better. I mean… serve me a perfectly cooked fried egg any time of the day and I will be happy. When eating this Nicoise Salad, break the egg, chop it up, and make sure to have a bit of egg in every bite.
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Truffsilog by Perch Modern Kitchen + Bar

Truffsilog by Perch Modern Kitchen + Bar, Tapa with Truffles, Fried Egg, Garlic Rice, and Tomato & Onion Salsa

Truffsilog by Perch Modern Kitchen + Bar

If adobo is the Philippines’ “national dish,” one could argue that Tapsilog is our “national breakfast.” It is delicious, it is accessible, and it has many different variations just like the adobo. And Filipinos love to eat it not just for breakfast, but also for lunch and dinner, and as recovery food after a late night of partying. So when it comes to tapsilog, you can say it is hard to please diners and be talked about as if it is something new or exciting. After all, there is a tapsilogan in almost every kanto (street corner).

Perch Modern Kitchen + Bar manages to stand out with their Truffsilog. Don’t get me wrongm they are not the first ones to offer such, but they have certainly led the pack in Davao and they have done it masterfully.

Look at that beauty.

Truffsilog by Perch Modern Kitchen + Bar, Tapa with Truffles, Fried Egg, Garlic Rice, and Tomato & Onion Salsa

Truffsilog by Perch Modern Kitchen + Bar

Tapsilog is short for Tapa, Sinangag, at Itlog. Tapa is cured beef, Sinagag is garlic fried rice, and Itlog is egg. Tapa is common breakfast dish around the Philippines. It is available in various cuts and classes of beef. The curing process differs in each region but the most popular one involves curing beef in salt, garlic, and soy sauce. Some variations include calamansi juice (lemon), sugar, or vinegar in the curing marinade. After curing the beef in the marinade, it is drained, pat dry, and fried. Tapa is often salty with a hint of sour and sweet. The curing process gives the meat a sublime of umami flavor.
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Cookware Set with Kitchen Utensils [Lazada Kitchen Deal]

Want to start your own kitchen set but don’t know what to buy? Here’s a great starter set currently on sale at 85% off. This 20-Piece Cookware Set with Nylon Utensils contains all the basics you need for your kitchen.

Whether you are cooking for one for two or for a small family, this Cookware Set has you covered. The set contains the following:

  • 1 piece 3.8 Quart Covered Dutch Oven (3.5L) for soups, stocks, stews, and for boiling pasta and eggs;
  • 1 piece 2 Quart Covered Sauce Pan for sauces, small batches of soups, and for boiling vegetables;
  • 1 piece of 1.4 Quart Covered Sauce Pan for sauces and gravies;
  • 1 piece of 21.99cm Inch Fry Pan for deep frying and stir frying;
  • 5 pieces of Black Nylon Utensil Set for use with your non-stick cookware; and
  • 8 pieces of Nylon Measuring Cups and Spoons to help you in your cooking preparations.

All cookware pieces are made with stainless steel with non stick coatings and all lids are made with tempered glass.

Here are some important cookware tips for such pieces:

  • Never fill your pans to the brim to avoid spillage.
  • Clean only with a soft sponge. Never with steel brush.
  • Do not expose the nylon utensils to high heat over long periods of time. Take it off the pan if you are not using it to stir.
  • Make sure all pans, lids, and utensils are thoroughly clean and dry before you store it somewhere dry.
  • Only use nylon or wooden utensils when cooking with pans with non stick coating.

Remember always use your cookware only for cooking. And don’t forget to keep this in mind for your cooking utensils, as well.

Do you have questions about cookware, kitchen tools and utensils, and other kitchen must-haves? Comment below to ask.

Tequila Rose Truffles by Kai Artisan Chocolates

Tequila Rose Truffles by Kai Artisan Chocolates

Tequila Rose Truffles by Kai Artisan Chocolates

I believe that when you’re eating excellent chocolate, one piece or one bite is enough. A piece of truly decadent and rich chocolate, whatever form or flavor, should be enough to satisfy your chocolate craving. This is true for every piece of handcrafted truffle and praline by Kai Artisan Chocolates.

One of my favorites is Kai’s Tequila Rose Truffles.

Tequila Rose is a specialty tequila made of a combination of Strawberry Creme Liquor and Tequila. It is a popular liquor ingredient for drinks and pastries. It is a bit creamy with a distinct strawberry taste with a splash of tequila. It is only 30 proof or contains just about 15% alcohol.

Kai Artisan Chocolates uses Tequila Rose to make a Tequila Rose cream pastry, mixed with a bit of white chocolate (I think). It is then rolled in dark chocolate and dusted with rich dark chocolate powder. The result is a fruity, sweet, rich filling contrasted with a luscious dark chocolate cover. The flavors are contrasting but the texture of both the filling and the coating is melds together to be uniformly rich and creamy.

Each bite of this Tequila Rose Truffle is heavenly. The decadence of one piece is more than enough to satisfy your chocolate craving.

Kai Artisan Chocolates

Kai Artisan Chocolates

Kai Artisan Chocolates are only available seasonally. Other highly recommended flavors are Rhum Truffles, Salted Caramel Praline, and Hazelnut Praline. For special occasions, order their Chocolate Dipped Strawberries.
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Davao Gourmet Collective

Jam Foods USDA Tapa at the Davao Gourmet Collective at SM Lanang Premier

Jam Foods USDA Tapa at the Davao Gourmet Collective at SM Lanang Premier

There is no better way to celebrate Kadayawan than with food. And the best place to do exactly that is at the Davao Gourmet Collective (DGC). For Kadayawan Festival 2015, DGC will be presenting a unique Kadayawan Food and Music Fair.

I had the privilege of attending the sneak preview of the Davao Gourmet Collective and here are my highly recommended picks of must-try dishes at the Kadayawan Food and Music Fair.

SOUL Kitchen Co

Soul Kitchen Co at the Davao Gourmet Collective at SM Lanang Premier

Soul Kitchen Co at the Davao Gourmet Collective at SM Lanang Premier


Being healthy is the en vogue to do right now. And the best way to be healthy is with fresh, wholesome food. Grab a salad or a wrap from Soul Kitchen Co for a healthy start to your Davao Gourmet Collective food trip.

Alibaba Shawarma

Alibaba Shawarma at the Davao Gourmet Collective at SM Lanang Premier

Alibaba Shawarma at the Davao Gourmet Collective at SM Lanang Premier


Try their Shawarma Wraps and Shawarma Pockets all made from scratch.

JAM Foods

Jam Foods USDA Tapa at the Davao Gourmet Collective at SM Lanang Premier

Jam Foods USDA Tapa at the Davao Gourmet Collective at SM Lanang Premier


Their Tapa made with USDA Certified Beef is probably the best tapa. It is perfectly salty and a bit sweet with a whole lot of beefy taste.

The Crazy Cook

Satay by The Crazy Cook at the Davao Gourmet Collective at SM Lanang Premier

Satay by The Crazy Cook at the Davao Gourmet Collective at SM Lanang Premier


Satay is a popular Malay dish. It’s spicy and tasty. And the dipping sauce is wonderful.
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Kadayawan Specials by Chef Alex Destriza

Sous Vide Beef Tenderloin with Bistek Sauce with Chorizo Pumpkin Risotto, Kangkong 2 Ways, and Glazed Carrots and Onions by Chef Alex Destriza of Marco Polo Davao

Sous Vide Beef Tenderloin with Bistek Sauce with Chorizo Pumpkin Risotto, Kangkong 2 Ways, and Glazed Carrots and Onions by Chef Alex Destriza of Marco Polo Davao

Davao is known for many things… the durian, the Philippine Eagle, Mount Apo, the Waling-Waling, and of course, our diverse and bountiful harvest which we celebrate with a unique Thanksgiving festival every August. This thanksgiving is called Kadayawan Festival.

For the Kadayawan Festival 2015, Marco Polo Davao has prepared something a special tasting menu prepared by their newly appointed head chef, Chef Alex Destriza. Chef Alex has crafted two Kadayawan Specials Set Menus to showcase Davao’s fresh bounty of fruits, vegetables, livestock, poultry, seafood, and dairy, and livestock.

There are two Three Course Sets you can choose from.

Set A starts with a uniquely luscious Sweet Corn Bisque with Lapu-lapu Croquette, and Ube Tarragon Cream.

Sweet Corn Bisque with Lapu Lapu Croquette and Ube Tarragon Cream by Chef Alex Destriza of Marco Polo Davao

Sweet Corn Bisque with Lapu Lapu Croquette and Ube Tarragon Cream by Chef Alex Destriza of Marco Polo Davao

The Sweet Corn Bisque base is subtlety sweet and creamy but not too rich. The perfectly deep fried Lapu-lapu croquette provides umami flavor and a crunchy texture. These two components are tied together by an Ube Tarragon Cream. All three components blend perfectly together to produce a unique soup experience. The dish is as delicious as it is pretty.

The soup is followed by a memorable Sous Vide Beef Tenderloin with Bistek Sauce with Chorizo Pumpkin Risotto, Kangkong 2 Ways, and Glazed Carrots and Onions.

Sous Vide Beef Tenderloin with Bistek Sauce with Chorizo Pumpkin Risotto, Kangkong 2 Ways, and Glazed Carrots and Onions by Chef Alex Destriza of Marco Polo Davao

Sous Vide Beef Tenderloin with Bistek Sauce with Chorizo Pumpkin Risotto, Kangkong 2 Ways, and Glazed Carrots and Onions by Chef Alex Destriza of Marco Polo Davao

The beef is succulent and tasty. It is served medium rare, the right way. The Bistek Sauce is the right combination of salty and sour with a hint of sweet and peppery. My favorite of the three sides in this dish is the Kangkong served two ways. The Adobong KangKong below the beef is the element which brings the meal back to the simplicity of Filipino cuisine. This is paired with deep fried Crispy Kangkong, a favorite appetizer of Filipinos. Together with the Chorizo Pumpkin Risotto and the Glazed Carrots and Onions, all the components form an elegant plate that highlights the most popular flavors of Filipino cuisine. Bistek. Adobo. Deep fried. All in one dish.

Your Kadayawan Specials Meal will end with another unique marriage of flavors: Biko Pandan with Chocolate Mousse and Caramelized Pecans.

Biko Pandan with Chocolate Mousse and Caramelized Pecans by Chef Alex Destriza of Marco Polo Davao

Biko Pandan with Chocolate Mousse and Caramelized Pecans by Chef Alex Destriza of Marco Polo Davao

Biko is a traditional Filipino rice cake made of glutinous or sticky rice and cooked in coconut milk. In this unique iteration, the Biko is flavored with Pandan and served with pandan jelly on the side. Hence, the name Biko Pandan. It is complemented by a Dark Chocolate Mousse that is decadent but not overwhelmingly rich. I would have never thought the two would go so well, but they do. After all, Filipino rice cakes (commonly called “kakanin”) are usually served with Native Hot Chocolate. The Caramelized Pecans add another layer of sweetness and crunch to the beautiful plated dessert.
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