Friday, September 29, 2017

First Bite: Taco Bell

Would you believe me if I tell you that I've never been to Taco Bell before? Well, aside from it having few branches in Manila, I'm always more inclined to visit a non-fast food Mexican joint for my taco fix. I'd find myself just walk past its purple and yellow facade without any second thought. But last week was different. 

Hello, Taco Bell

I was at Trinoma last week for the opening of my favorite yogurt, llaollao. I came in a bit too early for the VIP party so I decided to look for a place to have late lunch instead. I was leaning towards getting Turks Shawarma but I bumped into a friend who wanted to go for Taco Bell. Since I've never been to Taco Bell, I figured that it's not a bad idea.
We saw this meal for two that includes nachos, fries with sour cream, tacos, churros and drinks priced at less than PHP400. Sweet deal right?

Thursday, September 28, 2017

When in Bohol: Isola di Francesco

One of the perks of having a local contact in Bohol is that they'd know the best places to visit in the area. And if they have their own boat, you don't even have to worry about transportation. And that was pretty much what happened when R and I visited Panglao. It is still one of my favorite vacations to date as everything was well prepared by R's dealer, I. And for our second and last stop for island hopping, we went to Isola di Francesco. 

Hello, Isola di Francesco
Isola di Francesco is located at Pontod Island and owned by St. Pio devotee, Mr. Ramon Rodriguez. Designed to be a place suitable for retreat and reflection, the place is adorned with several religious sculptures. It also holds regular mass in the island's chapel. 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

First Sip: Cafè Barbera

Italians are known to be particular with what they eat and drink. To some extent, they can be what millennials describe as savage when they eat anything non-Italian. I can't blame them though as they have been spoiled by the finest ingredients. However, not everything that Italians love and rave about is well received by the local market. But for something universal as coffee, it's a different story. 

Hello, Cafè Barbera.
This Italian cafè has been around for over a century and has grown from a small street coffee vendor on the streets of Naples to a global franchise. You'd think that this place would most likely have the best coffee. After all, espresso is something deeply rooted into the Italian way of life. 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

When in Bohol: Virgin Island, Panglao

I always look forward to island hopping whenever I'm in Visayas. I enjoy bringing out the Ariel of The Little Mermaid in me with snorkling gear and life vest in tow. And one of my favorite spots to date is the Virgin Island in Panglao, Bohol

Hello, Virgin Island, Panglao
This small island is far from the Virgin Island of Bantayan Island. It doesn't have the hipster vibe of the latter. There are no hammocks, cottages, washroom, benches or tables in sight. It is indeed what a virgin island should be... pure. 
Several visitors will drop by to be immersed in a place untainted by civilization. 
Aside from the Virgin Island signage, there are only two vendors selling seafood and fresh buco and a handful of vendors selling pearls. Since I'm not fond of jewelry, I zeroed in on seafood. 
Only a handful are available--sea urchin, sea cucumber and a bunch of shelled fish-- which they could cook adobo style for you.
And one of the things I love about the province is that sea urchin's super affordable. We got five sea urchins for just PHP100 or PHP20 each! Not bad at all. 
We also got abalones for PHP50 a piece and had it cooked adobo style. But we realized that it would have been better raw and just drizzled with calamansi. 
We also got one fresh buco for PHP50.
Since we came in a small boat, we decided to eat our roasted chicken and steamed prawns there. And the seafood vendor was nice enough to let us use a portion of his prep table.
Though this is often visited or included in island hopping, I was impressed with how the locals keep the place as clean as possible. And the vendors sure know how to speak Chinese! This is enough to prove that several Chinese tourists visit Panglao. (I have to admit, I was a bit envious because I could only say three phrases in Chinese.)
True, there's nothing much to see in this island and all you can do here are to eat and buy pearls. But there are times when I just want to spend time in places like this... away from the chaos of Manila. My short stay here definitely recharged me and I'd love to drop by again for more sea urchin and abalone. 

Till next time!

Monday, September 25, 2017

First Bite: Pastry Armoire x The Wander Space

Ensaymada has been a staple merienda dish in the Filipino food scene. The fluffy bread topped with generous serving of butter and sugar on top can be bought in local bakeries and chains like Goldilocks and Red Ribbon. The growth of the market with discerning taste gave room to premium ensaymada offering more than your usual buttered pastry. We have the famous ensaymada of Pampanga hitting food bazaars like Yummy Eats and Ultimate Taste Test and we also have the like of Pastry Armoire. And I was lucky to be one of the guests of the later to its food tasting at the Instagram heaven, The Wander Space.

Hello, Pastry Armoire x The Wander Space
I was carrying several shoot items with me to the event and I gulped with cold sweat dripping down my temples when I saw The Wander Space on the third floor of a building along Maginhawa. With the elevator out of order, I took three flights up to get to the beautiful shop + coffee shop. And I was warmly greeted by Raymond of Pastry Armoire and Kim of The Wander Space. 

Friday, September 22, 2017

Love at First Bite: Kumori's Ube Hanjuku Cheese

I always look forward to a Kumori branch opening as it always mean that a new product will launched. I went crazy over the apple cheese tarts which was released during the opening of Kumori's Robinson's Manila. The lovely crunch of the apple bits, creamy cheese tart filling and cinnamon on top made this an addicting snack. And when Kumori launched its Ube Hanjuku Cheese in celebration of its SM Mall of Asia store, I promised myself that I will swing by and try it asap. But given that SM MOA is in a faraway land, it took me a long time before I managed to drop by.

Hello, Kumori!
Unfamiliar with SM Mall of Asia, I asked several guards its exact location. And I was pointed to different areas. One of the guards said that it's on the second floor while another said it's on the ground floor. One said to turn left while another told me to go straight. In short, I ended up circling the main mall for two hours. (And I ended up spending a few thousands at Forever 21.)

Thursday, September 21, 2017

When in Davao: Paradise Island Park & Resort

Mindanao used to be a place I was afraid to visit. With media and elders saying that this part of the Philippines as an unsafe place, I didn't even consider to travel and spend my vacation down south. Sure, there are cities that are considered safe like Davao. But it being a few miles away from NPA surrounded areas and even a war zone made me feel even more afraid. But all that changed this year when I visited President Duterte's hometown not just once but thrice. And for this trip, I got to enjoy Paradise Island. 
Hello, Paradise Island Park & Beach Resort

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

First Bite: Marugame Udon

I've been eying this new Japanese restaurant franchised by Suyen Group for quite some time now. Sadly, my uncooperative schedule keeps me from visiting High Street. Hence, when my client requested for us to meet in Marugame Udon, I quickly said yes. 

Hello, Marugame Udon
I dropped by the newest Japanese udon joint around 1pm so I was able to avoid the lunch queue. 

Monday, September 18, 2017

Love at First Bite: Auntie Anne's Two-Cheese Pepperoni Nuggets

I love scoring deals as much as food and combining the food makes me giddy like crazy. With the food scene becoming more and more competitive, eating out has never been this fun and affordable. There are several apps and websites offering attractive deals that slashes at most 70% off your bill. Lately, I'm hooked to Booky's Buy One, Get One (BOGO) deals. And I've recently claimed another deal from Auntie Anne's.

Hello, Auntie Anne's.
I dropped by its Greenhills branch before heading to my meeting in Promenade. Since I haven't had lunch yet and needed some serious thirst quenching drink, I decided to claim two of Auntie Anne's BOGO deals, Large Lemonade (PHP80) and Two-Cheese Pepperoni Nuggets (PHP99). My total bill was PHP179 instead of PHP358. Not bad at all!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Love at First Sip: Up in the Clouds Ice Cream & Milk Bar

With Manila's crazy heat getting worse and worse, it's not surprising to see milkshake shops and ice cream parlors to pop here and there. Though I've had my fair share of horrible experiences with new dessert places, I always keep an open mind and tummy for new ones. And this time, I tried Up in the Clouds Ice Cream & Milk Bar. 
Hello, Up in the Clouds.
I decided to reward myself after a smooth shoot with something sweet. Given that I haven't had lunch yet and it was already past 6 p.m., I figured that ice cream will just cause an upset stomach. I then zeroed in on the shop's iced tea variants. 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Unagi Festival at Izakaya Sensu

I think Izakaya Sensu is out to make me fat. It wasn't enough for them to rollout delicious and bang for the buck rolls so they released its mouthwatering wagyu sukiyaki. And now, they released an unagi line for its Unagi Festival. Izakaya Sensu, you have already won my heart and tummy so why do you keep making me drool?! Well, not that I'm complaining or anything close to that. 

Hello again, Izakaya Sensu
I got an email from the lovely Mela of Raintree Restaurant inviting me to its Unagi Festival last August but I was out of the country that time so I missed its launch. Thankfully, the unagi festival is until the end of the month so I got my unagi fix as soon as I got back in Manila. 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

National Gem: Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park

This year has been a crazy year packed with travels to different provinces. And I started the year visiting one of the places I've been dying to visit... Puerto Princesa's Underground River. Hailed as a World Heritage sites on December 4, 1999, this gem has been one of the must visit destinations when in Palawan. 

Hello, Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park.
R and I booked a tour to this beautiful site and paid PHP1,800 per head which covers round trip van transfer to and from the underground river, buffet lunch, motorized boat transfer, fees and permits, tour guide and audio device you'll use while on the underground river tour. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

First Bite: Teppan Okochi

We've been searching for good wagyu places for almost a month now ever since our favorite Buta + Wagyu closed. We've been to Wagyu Japanese Beef which was said to be very close to our love but we found it different and underwhelming. This time around, we decided to go with Teppan Okochi, a new Japanese teppan restaurant raved by many. 

Hello, Teppan Okochi
It was a sudden decision for us to dine here as we originally planned to have dinner at Edsa Shangri-La's Senju. However, R's dad suggested that we try something new so I thought of Teppan Okochi which is just two months old. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

When in Bohol: Chocolate Hills

I'm definitely no mountaineer but I can climb hills. Well, sort of. Okay, it was far from what could be called a hike but I did witness one of the most popular tourist spots in Bohol... the famous Chocolate Hills. 

Hello, Chocolate Hills.
I visited Bohol for the first time last December and one of the places I was dying to visit was Chocolate Hills. Though I've heard that it has lost its charm throughout time, I still wanted to take those few hundred steps up to see the famous local Kisses' inspiration. 

Friday, September 8, 2017

First Bite: Crosta Pizzeria

Aged pizza dough? It's something I've heard in the US but I haven't really tried anything like it here in Manila... till a few weeks ago. A pizza stall at Social on Ebro offers scrumptious premium pizzas at reasonable prices. And what sets it apart from fancier savory pies is its 48-hour aged dough. 
Hello, Crosta Pizzeria

Thursday, September 7, 2017

First Bite: Charlie's Pritchon

One of the things I love about the Philippines is the long celebration of Christmas. As our Facebook and Instagram pages become filled with Jose Mari Chan's face and recycled memes, I only think of one thing... lechon. Though lechon is a staple in all kinds of celebration, it is more associated with the festive Christmas where the crispy roasted pig is shared by the whole family (and more). And Christmas sure came in early when I was invited to sample Charlie's Pritchon. 

Hello, Charlie's Pritchon

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Beauty 101: Clarence launches PicoWay, a Revolutionary Solution to Skin Pigmentation

I never considered having a tattoo for various personal reasons. Growing up with people who never even tried henna didn't help me become more open minded to getting inked. I guess, aside from my fear of a cute heart design turning wrinkly after decades, the lifelong commitment to it made it impossible for me to even think about it. But technology sure can change someone's perception on things. 

Hello, Clarence Anti-Aging, Slimming, and Dermatology Centre
It's interesting to visit dermatology clinics as you learn a lot about how to take care of your skin. I have to admit, I was once a victim of wrong information. I thought that weekly facials can help address my intense acne problem. But it took a very pricey dermatology session than made me realize that it had to be addressed differently and what I was doing was just aggravating it. 
This time around, I've already "graduated" from acne breakouts and my biggest skin concerns now are fine lines and age spots. Though I swear by a famous moisturizer known to combat these, it seems like age (and reality) is catching up fast.
I've learned though from my visit at Clarence that there's another effective way to combat these signs of aging and that is through PicoWay
PicoWay is the "latest and most advanced laser solution for benign pigmentation" and could be the easiest way out to those fine lines. It is also said to have less discomfort and you'd see improvement in fewer sessions. This means that you get to save time and money. 
During our visit, we were lucky to witness how one guest had her tattoo removed in less than 5 minutes! (Of course, that excludes the prep time of putting topical anesthesia cream on the inked area.)
The head of Clarence, Dr. Joan Clarence Morallo, was the one who facilitated the procedure and told us that the PicoWay machine used for tattoo removal and skin pigmentation is the same. It just uses different laser heads (if I remember it correctly). 
It would seem like Dr. Clarence Morallo did magic and just waved a wand over the tattooed finger as the ink disappeared in no time. Though the patient said that it was painful, it was not as painful as the usual tattoo removals available in the market. Though it would create redness, this procedure ensures that it won't leave scars. 
This first in the Philippines technology sure is impressive. And having an international beauty expert like Kristi Burns to vouch it says a lot abot this one of a kind technology. I can't wait to try its PicoWay Facial soon. I just hope that it won't hurt that much. (Then again, no pain, no gain.)

Clarence Anti-Aging, Slimming, and Dermatology Centre is located at 2nd Floor, Mila Holdings Building, 28 Jupiter Street corner Astra Street, Bel Air, Makati City.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

When in Korea: Raccoon Café Kkukkune

I've been to various kinds of cafés. There are the common ones like dog and cat cafés and more interesting ones like owl café. But on my trip to Seoul, Korea, I chanced upon another quirky cafe. A raccoon café! 

Hello, Raccoon Café Kkukkune!
Apparently, raccoon cafés are now the craze in Korea and we were lucky to experience this one of a kind trend during our stay in Seoul. 

Monday, September 4, 2017

First Bite: Wagyu Japanese Beef

I hate it when one of my favorite restaurants suddenly close without any notice. It felt worse than a break up text message. And Taylor Swift should definitely compose a song about this kind of heartbreak. One should be named "Buta Wagyu, Why You". Okay, perhaps that won't make it to Billboard's Top 100. But I was devastated when I found out that favorite wagyu restaurants closed. Then again, it gives me an opportunity to explore and find new loves. And I finally have a reason to visit Wagyu Japanese Beef in Forbestown. 

Hello, Wagyu Japanese Beef.