Trattoria Italia at Eastwood (formerly Balducci)

Mama Maxi visited us on Father’s Day so we ended up celebrating it with Honky’s family including Pj’s mom. We were supposed to try out Il Pirata and were surprised that the “ship” vanished into thin air replaced by TGIF. So we went back to Trattoria Italia even though we thought Ma wouldn’t enjoy it very much.

We ordered a platter of cold cuts and cheeses because Phil and I both felt like spoiling ourselves. As we shared an order of pasta, I thought it was worth it. I have been eyeing that on the menu for so long and I am thrilled that it is a third I tried from Italian joints that offer such an appetizer. You can say I like numbers. I just hope they named each of the cheeses and meats so that we will know what our favorites are.

Trattoria formerly Balducci have very big servings of pasta so you can actually request a dish to be split. This, I think is only applicable to pasta. I expected a huge serving for the 190 peso mushroom soup that Phil’s mom ordered but I thought it was a rather small serving.

<- What’s up with the chili oil? I often find heat quite strong in Italian joints but this is quite ineffective.

Oh, here’s a photo and I am the one behind the camera!

We were quite early and we ordered right away so we didn’t have problems with our food. Honks and the rest arrived a bit late so I thought it was understandable that their orders took some time considering the place was flooded with families celebrating father’s day. But yeah, I suppose the restaurant could have done better in preparing for the occasion. Extra hands maybe?

mushroom soup, spinach and ricotta ravioli, seafood marinara in cream, gnocci (there were two other orders but since those arrived late, I didn’t want to pester those who ordered ’em)

There’s nothing fancy with the soup and I found it too pricey. I loved the hint of truffle oil in their ravioli but I thought it was a bit dry. The fettucine Ma ordered was heavenly and I bet my dad would love it even if he is not a fan of cream-based pastas. Everyone of us found the gnocci too heavy. Is it really supposed to be like that? I tasted more flour than cheese.

And of course the platter of goodies that made the trip worth it despite the fact that boorish little me still haven’t learned how to eat olives.

 

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5: How to Cheesesticks!

Hmmm. This post is somewhat of a guide as to what you can do with the boring cheesesticks. I listed several ways you can transform your basic appetizer to something that you can serve at parties.

wrap: Flour/crumbs/ground crackers/molo wrapper (for siomai)/pastry wrapper (for lumpia)

Any of these can be used to coat your cheese before frying. Pastry and molo wrappers are easy ones. Flours and crumbs may be more demanding because you’d have to make sure it won’t crumble while frying. But really, it’s as simple as putting it in the freezer for a couple of minutes before frying.

cheese!

Have you tried Magnet Cafe’s kesong puti cheesesticks? If you have then you know that just about any kind of cheese will do. From the basic cheap quickmelt that is readily accessible to not so cheap ones such as edam, mozzarella and monster. If you have the time and money for it, you can even experiment mixing cheeses in a stick. Think blue cheese, feta, ricotta and a big etc. For instance a kick of blue cheese will be magical with mozzarella if your dipping sauce is tangy.

heat: jalapeno/chili/garlic/hot sauce/sriracha/franks chili and lime/chili oil

If you want your cheesesticks hot, then put in some chili in there. If you are not a fan of chopping chili then you can make use of hot sauce and other spicy sauces to achieve that perfect level of heat. If you want something fancy, you can halve a green chili with its stem and put cheese in the middle before wrapping and frying.

tidbits: celery/onion/carrots

Others may not like the heat but it doesn’t mean a less adventurous option. Sometimes it’s also much about the texture. Chop celery, onion or carrots into itsy bitsy pieces and stir it in your cheese before frying. You’d have your guests guessing.

sauce : ranch/sour cream/salsa/garlic yoghurt/lemon/lime/mustard/ketchup/raspberry/strawberry/mayo

Go out of your way for the sauce. Forget the Thousand Island dressing and surprise people with something new. Remember that it should be something that complements your previous choices. For instance, if you went with the basic Quickmelt which is rather salty, salsa will be your best bet because of its tanginess and spiciness. Mozarella which has a strong flavor yet little saltiness compared to local cheeses can be paired with sour cream or ranch dressing. It can also be a combination of dips!

I know a lot of people addicted to cheese, like Andrea, Cheers!