REVIEW: J. Marie’s Wood-Fired Kitchen & Drinks (Wapakoneta, OH)

I accompanied the husband to an overnight trip to Wapakoneta, OH this week.  I was teasing him for being clingy and not wanting to sleep a night alone, but in the end, I was the one more enthused to join him.

Our flight from Newark was quick, as we were thoroughly entertained by a United Express flight attendant.  So calling United Airlines!  Whoever was manning flight UA 4186 last 21 March, give her a big hug and lots of commendations because she was absolutely caring and doting to each and everyone.  That is not an exaggeration.

We arrived in Dayton International Airport a little after 6pm.  We weren’t sure how far Wapakoneta was, but GPS said it’s about an hour from Dayton.  Whenever we’re travelling, I try to find a local favorite to eat at.  Top of the search was J. Marie’s Wood-Fired Kitchen & Drinks.

The restaurant interior was very impressive, like straight out of prohibition with a modern twist.  It wasn’t one of those over-the-top hipster places.  It was just a local hangout, with pieces of history all over the place.

The open kitchen was far at the back, far enough from customers to not smell like the food they’re cooking.  But the highlight would have to be the wood-burning ovens.  Large and imposing, they were wonderfully aged and situated in a spot enough to be recognized but tucked away from service traffic.  Funny though, we didn’t really end up ordering their pizzas.  With the long drive, we ended up quite hungry.

The menu is quite simple.  I wish though that they highlighted the items that are cooked in the ovens.  I mean, it is in their name, might as well capitalize on it.  We can’t really leave our joy for sriracha chicken wings so we had to have that.  It came with a side of red cabbage slaw and some dip that we forgot to ask about.  I think it’s ranch.

The wings are tasty but absolutely not spicy.  For me, that was a letdown since I was looking forward to that kick.  It favored the husband very much since he’s been getting heart burns each time he eats spicy food.  But he looked for the kick too.  We saw that the wings were bathed in its sriracha sauce in the oven, so I guess that’s the closest dish we ever got to experience from that baby.

Our main course was the flank steak, medium rare like always.  It came with the vegetable of the day (cauliflower) and potatoes with bacon and crumbled bleu cheese.  Needless to say, it hit the spot so well.  We asked for the chimichurri on the side, and that was a good decision.  If you’re tired and hungry, you want just the essentials.  I did have a bite or two with a pat of the chimichurri and it was good.  It’s just that the meat was good on its own.

I looooooved the potatoes.  But then, you must remember I love cheese.  Having the crumbles tickled my fancy.  However, the husband found the cheese overwhelming.  With the fat and salt from the bacon and the potatoes obviously seasons, the melted crumbles of bleu cheese brought the side dish over the top to salty.  He still finished it though, but not without pointing that out.

We refreshed ourselves with fountain soda (him) and the J. Marie signature lemonade.  THAT WAS ABSOLUTELY REFRESHING.  The tartness and the hint of strawberry… OH WOW.  I just loved it.  If I had more space in my tummy, I would have ordered another glass.

When we arrived at J. Marie’s, there was something going on, something that I’ve missed doing with my friends:  QUIZ NIGHT.  FRIGGIN’ QUIZ NIGHT WITH SERIOUS CATEGORIES LIKE ACTORS/PEOPLE WITH THE NAME ED, BEN/MATT COLLABS AND FIVE-SECOND NAME-THAT-TUNE NUMBERS.  I swear I was thrilled.  It made time waiting for the food easily fly by and I mean really fly.  I didn’t even notice that we were waiting.  For those who want to join, it’s every Tuesday night.  I’m not sure when it starts as it is sponsored by a group of DJs, but it’s definitely a must-see or must-participate.  Seeing Wapakonitans (is that right?) bringing their game faces on that night was a real treat.

It was a great night spent at J. Marie’s.  Looking back now, I do wish we had tried the margherita pizza or one of their burgers.  But a classic steak can’t fail you, especially when it comes with a side of potatoes, cheese and bacon.

Here’s the full menu as of 21 March 2017:

J. Marie’s Wood-Fired Kitchen & Grill
7 W Auglaize Street
Wapakoneta, OH 45895
(419) 674-2436

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The Taste of Home

My first taste of spring was optimistic, to put it lightly.  I was welcomed by Blizzard Jonas, and while my husband was slaving around shovelling snow, I was jumping in them.  Spring, though, looked exactly how I pictured it:  a true rebirth.  Everything that was dull and grey suddenly became bright and green, full of life and bloom.  So that only meant one thing:  it was time to fire up the grill.

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I meant it when I said that I miss my father’s cooking.  A part of me always struggles to bring that to the table, whenever I cook for our family or for a gathering.  In a way, I’m making sure that my father was not forgotten, and he was always known for being a good cook.  He’s a mechanic by the way, like my husband, but when he starts working in the kitchen, he will blow you away.

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My father always loved to grill… and I never liked it.  I found it difficult tempering the fire (especially back in my country where we do it in coals), it was too hot to keep cooking (since our normal day temperature was at least 95ºF), the food either cooked too fast or too slow, and you always ended up smelling like smoke.  But grilling was my father’s forte.

Imagine my joy when I heard from family members that my husband’s grilled pork belly tasted so closely to my father’s.  Since moving here, I requested for that pork belly every other month or so, and he would make it the same way, and it would taste the same way.  And it would always be perfect.

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Each time there’d be a gathering here, I try to volunteer his cooking.  Most of the time though, they’d request for it, just like when people requested my father to grill.  I feel blessed and fortunate to have the past, the present and the future all existing in the person I chose to spend my life with.

I truly am living the dream.

One of the things that I genuinely miss in this life is my father's cooking. For those who met him, they would say that #sirboy's cooking was warm, savory and inviting. It tasted like you're cared for and loved. When he passed, that was one of my first thoughts: I will never taste my father's cooking ever again. Then, this man came along. I'd like to believe it's a confirmation that I truly am meant to be with him. His grilled dishes never fail to make me think of my Tatay, especially his liempo. And it makes sense too, that my husband would be the one person I'd leave my home for, only for him to bring back to me — laid perfectly on my table, hot and seared to perfection — the meals that would make me feel like I never left. I love you, Allan. #carlallan #love #blessmyheart #foodforthought

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REVIEW: Mad Mark’s, Glorietta 5

The thing with Saturday classes is you’re always tired.

For my final academic term in grad school, I made a decision to completely separate work from school and opted for whole day Saturday classes instead of evening classes.  So far, it’s been working quite well.  Apart from a couple of work stuff that kind of got in the way, everything’s been balanced.  Except my hunger.

First class is from 9:00am to 12:30pm, and next 12:45pm to 4:00pm.  Although our professors are quite lenient on in-room food consumption, trust me when I say on this day, I am always hungry.

So when my classmate Mariah suggested we go out to eat (since she’s starving herself), we headed over to Mad Mark’s in Glorietta 5, Ayala, Makati.

Here’s their full menu:

Mad Mark's Menu

Right off the bat, the items are quite affordable and unique.  Naturally, I got the signature steak.

I asked the staff why is there a price difference.  They said it’s because of the size of the steak.  I chose the smaller one because eh.  I might be biting off more than I can chew.

I didn’t get to take a photo of Mariah’s food, the Yard Bird and Bacon Slab, because she inhaled her food.  Here’s my pretty plate:

Mad Mark's Signature Steak

I asked them to have it just medium rare, so you can imagine my disappointment when I cut it open and it wasn’t so pink.  It still had that soft chewy state though, but I would have loved a little ooze here and there.

The dish can be matched with two side dishes.  For that afternoon, I had garden greens (their version of vegetable fried rice) and mashed potatoes.  I also chose the Bootstrap sauce, sweet and tangy at the same time.

It was absolutely filling.  The cut may seem small but it’s just the right amount for the appetite I had for that day.  The staff was so accommodating too, we had so many questions about their menu.  The names were too unfamiliar I guess, or perhaps comprehension was low because of the hunger.  But they gladly walked us through and even offered their signature ice cream for dessert.  Too bad we didn’t have room for it left.

Drop by Mad Mark’s for filling and affordable food.  I would gladly come back here after class.

 

4 out of 5 stars because it was far from RCBC Tower hahaha

REVIEW: The Taste of SALT, Makati

It has been a while since I last posted a review here, so yesterday, when my friend Emma had a craving for something savory, I immediately thought of SALT.  (Actually, she immediately thought of it, but we’re eating together, so it could have easily been me too.)

I’ve seen the rounds in the blogs for this little hole in the wall.  Located at the corner of Fermina and Enriquez, it wasn’t that hard to find.  From our office along Makati Avenue, we walked to the tricycle station by Polaris St. and simply said Fermina.  The sign is right there, it’s impossible to miss.

(For those who are driving, turn at the corner of Howzat Gym and Bar along Kalayaan Avenue.  The resto is on the third street to your left.)

This being a spontaneous run, please excuse the quality of photos.  Not only were we rushing to finish a sumptuous lunch and squeezing in 15 minutes of quiet time, I only had my phone with me.  All photos are watermarked (poorly, if I may add) in Fotor.

Simple exteriors and interiors, the place is quite inviting.  I had to confirm to a friend if they’re open for lunch, and the only thing he replied is the place is his go-to for “value for money” food.

Salt Facade

Salt In

Salt In 2

Forgot to take a photo of the exterior, but you get the gist.  That small pocket room at the side looks like it can be reserved for big groups.  But then, SALT looks like it was just put up at the back of a big house, so maybe you just come in early with a big group and occupy that space…??  I didn’t get to ask, I was starving.

Emma

Emma is not used to my blogging persona so she felt compelled to take photos too.  Given the shakiness of my pictures, I desperately needed meat.

The T-Bone Steak (P190)

The T-Bone Steak (P190)

Naturally, I had the T-Bone Steak (P190).  I read somewhere that they can’t get the doneness of this steak right.  I asked for medium rare, being the proper carnivore that I am, but because the cut is not as thick, it was cooked closer to medium.

T-Bone 2

Don’t get me wrong though.  The steak is ABSOLUTELY flavorful.  I really took my time eating it, I loved every bite.  They matched it with this barbecue sauce and a taste of potato salad.  It was so good.  Now I get what they say about value for money.

Beef Salpicao (P220)

Beef Salpicao (P220)

Emma had the Beef Salpicao (P220) and it looked like sex on a plate.  Hahaha.  Truly!  I immediately asked if they serve beer but unfortunately they don’t.  (So I sometimes drink for lunch, why judge?)

Beef Salpicao 2

How sexy is that oil touching the rice?  DROOL ALL OVER.  The beef was tender and well cooked, the garlic was tasteful but not overpowering.  All it really needed was beer really.

I read somewhere that the resto only uses Batangas beef, and I approve of that.  The first time I tasted that kind of meat was at a buffet.  Cheers for homegrown food!

Our meals were so savory, there was only one way to end it.

Frozen Brazo de Mercedes (P110)

Frozen Brazo de Mercedes (P110)

The Frozen Brazo de Mercedes (P110) can be shared by two.  It has the right amount of sweetness and the cold dessert makes for a perfect match for the hot lunch sun.  It also washes away the yummy oil taste from the meals.  It truly is the perfect ending.

All in all, it was a great experience for us both.  We walked out of SALT satisfied and satiated, and feeling the need to run 10km because we almost licked our plates clean.  Too bad though for the other table; their orders were not available in the kitchen.  But I have a feeling their best sellers are always in stock.

If you’re planning to drop by, here’s the menu of the place:

Menu

Drop a line if you’re dropping by soon!  It’s so close to my office, I just might join you.

 

SALT
5887 Fermina St. corner Enriquez St., Poblacion, Makati
Hours:  Tuesday to Saturday 5:00 pm – 1:00 am, Sundays from 11:00 am – 3:00 pm, and 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm

RECIPE: Tuna Pate and Cream Cheese

Here’s the thing with travelling intercontinental constantly:  money runs out.  Hahaha.  You can only imagine the gap I have to augment after all the traveling.  Don’t get me wrong; I love seeing my Le Beau!  He’s my perfect compliment and each destination is more romantic than the next.  But let’s admit it — it can get expensive.  Until we solve the distance problem, I have to be more frugal and more conscientious about my spending.  And that means limiting the out of home food purchase.  I am now looking into packing lunch and snacks for work.

Which brings me to my next recipe.  I first made Jenni Epperson’s Century Tuna Caviar Pie a couple of years back and I remember it being so divine.  Recreating it is something else, since I have to make do with whatever is on the fridge.  But I think I got the the bare necessities in stock:

Spring onions, lemon, 1 8oz. cream cheese block, black pitted olives

Spring onions, lemon, 1 8oz. cream cheese block, black pitted olives

2 cans of tuna

2 cans of tuna

Let’s get started shall we?  Grab a bowl and toss in the cream cheese and chopped spring onions.

Cream cheese in a bowl

Here’s the thing:  you might need a hand mixer.  For me, I just folded and whipped the contents until well blended.  Set aside.

Grab your trusty food processor and toss in the drained tuna and about 2 tbsp of olives.  Then squeeze half a lemon in it.  Start pulsing.

Tuna olives in processor

You want to get a paste-like consistency.  You may have to pulse longer than usual.  Jenni tossed in a pinch of pink salt, but for me this mixture is just fine.

Tuna processed

With this, you will need a small round container.  Layer the cream cheese and the tuna mixture evenly.

Tuna cheese layered

Layered tuna

(That photo is grayer than usual lol, excuse me)

Store it in the fridge and it’s ready to go when you are.  This is a perfect match for crostinis, toasted garlic bread, bread sticks and maybe some fiber crackers.  If I know my mom, she’ll spread this over warm toast.  If you want to serve this right away, you can also use a springform pan.  Just freeze it for a couple of hours so it takes form and you can serve it right away.

Tuna caviar pie

I stored them on two separate containers, because knowing my mom she might want to bring one to the office and that would leave nothing for me.  Haha.

This should take about 15 minutes to make.  It’s quite simple too.  Jenni’s recipe also involved capers, so if you have those, just add a tablespoon in the processor too.

Here’s to hoping this lasts me a good three days of snacks.  Let me know if you try this out!  I would love to see your outcome. <3

Happy eating!