Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Cupcake Love: Gigi Coffee & Cupcakes

I just loooove food and receiving edible gifts makes my eyes sparkle.
M surprised the February celebrants (that’s me and F) with a box of Gigi cupcakes each. I’ve tried their custaroons and I was pretty confident that the cupcakes are equally good.

After a whole day of walking while lugging around my box, I was surprised that the cupcakes were still very much intact and photogenic. After taking quick snapshots of the goodies, I began to try each one.
The chocolate cupcake was very dense and moist. It wasn’t the overly sweet type either so eating it will not make you gasp for a beverage. I didn’t like the chocolate ball on top though as it was not as smooth as the cupcake.
The chocolate chip cupcake was fun to eat. It wasn’t as chocolatey as the chocolate cupcake but the chocolate chips added bite making it more enjoyable. I wasn’t very happy with the frosting though as I find it quite grainy or rough.
I read that red velvet is one of their best sellers so I was excited to taste it. Moist and soft just like the other two but it seemed to be a tad sweeter. I think it’s because of the frosting on top. I ended up removing the frosting so that I could enjoy the red velvet flavor.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Weekend Love: Gourmandise Patisserie

I had a solo date a few Saturdays ago and though at some point it felt a bit lonely, I was able to visit some stores I wanted to visit and one of which was Gourmandise Patisserie. 
While walking, I spotted a small éclair place that could house at most 8 people. I remembered the name of the store. It was one of the featured sweets in the desserts issue of Yummy magazine and I even got to sample some before! Oh yum!
I hurriedly entered the place and checked out the different flavors.

I wasn’t feeling very adventurous then so I opted to order the more popular ones such as Salted Caramel, Chocolate, Praline, Vanilla Bean, and Coffee (PHP100/each). I also ordered some Salted Caramel macarons (PHP65/each) and a cup of cappuccino (PHP85) as snacks while resting from my mini walkathon.
While waiting for my order, a party of 5 arrived and I realized that the place was really packed already. No wonder there was a table outside the shop too.
The coffee is your typical cappuccino and it isn’t anything spectacular and I really do not have high expectations as it’s not a coffee place. The macaron on the other hand is another story. It was HEAVENLY.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Restaurant Love: Apartment 1B

I hate goodbyes so I normally say “see you again soon” even though I know that soon isn’t really soon. At least it doesn’t sound like an end right? Despedidas are meant to wish the person leaving a happy trip and not a sob exchange fest. And I think that’s what happened during Frannywanny’s despedida lunch with the Creative Solutions team.

We had a hard time choosing where to eat as we had a lot of choices and by a lot I mean A LOT. We’re lucky to have an office near foodie spots. There’s Kapitolyo, Ortigas, Makati and The Fort a few minutes away from our office. After a few uhms and aahs, we finally decided to go to Apartment 1B.

The place was pretty packed for a weekday (fine, it was a Friday). I was excited as I have never tried their food before. Frannywanny suggested that we share an order of Eggs Benedict with Salmon and Spinach (1 pc., PHP460; 2 pcs., 790) and Three Cheese Vegetable Lasagna (PHP490). For starters and for sharing with the whole team, we ordered Baked Samosas (PHP350) and Chicken Quesadilla (PHP350).

We arrived a bit late so we were nursing really grumpy tummies already so when the starters came, we had little patience to take photos as we just want to eat. So as soon as we took some photos, we started to attack the dishes.
The Baked Samosas were divine. Stuffed with mushrooms, spinach and cream cheese (plus served warm), this is a yummy dish to start your meal. It had a slight crunch and I just love the slight tanginess of the cream cheese.
The chicken quesadillas was more flavorful than the samosas. Each quesadilla was filled with chopped chicken and it went so well with the tomato salsa and the sour cream. I personally love the sour cream (well, I love anything sour).

Monday, February 18, 2013

Restaurant Love: Mangetsu

It’s finally a few days before my birthday again! It means lots and lots of eating and planning lunch and dinner dates with the people I love. I just love celebrating birthdays (even if it’s not mine). 

I’ve been wanting to try Mangetsu for quite some time now and since some of my friends and I finally found a date where we’re all free, I took it as a chance for us to all go to that Japanese restaurant.
 Konnichiwa, Mangetsu!
I was a bit scared that we might not have seats given we're meeting on a Saturday so I made sure to reserve a table for 6 the day before. I was expecting a full house but there were still a few tables left vacant when we arrived. 
I love that they welcomed me by first name. It made me feel like a regular customer. :D

Friday, February 15, 2013

Weekend Lunch Date: Lemongrass Asian Bistro

Ask me which mall I frequent the most and I’d always answer Shangri-La Plaza. And since I’m the one organizing the mini reunions with friends, I always suggest having lunch or dinner at Shangri-La. So when some of my Dongguk friends and I met up for lunch, we decided to meet at… you guessed it.
I remembered that I haven’t tried the restaurant beside Dome so off to Lemongrass Asian Bistro we go. Actually, we were supposed to have lunch at Pho Hoa but we were too hungry to take another step.

T and I went first as E and D were still busy buying stuff for E’s trip to Palawan (which she found out that same day and that she’s off the following day).

T and I decided to order light dishes as we do not know what E and D were craving. We ended up ordering Thai Catfish Salad with Green Mangoes (PHP265) and Crispy Fish Fillet with Tamarind and Sweet Chili Sauce (PHP350). I also ordered a glass of Thai Iced Tea (PHP105) and Chilled Sago with Mango and Coconut Milk (PHP105) to complete my meal.

The salad arrived first and just like in other restaurants, the sauce, nuts, onions, and mangoes were all on the side. Since we were not sure if E and D are fond of the other ingredients, we just took enough to top our portions and opted not to toss the salad.
It was crunchy and it was a great contrast to the softness of the shredded green mangoes. I needed to put more sauce though as the catfish was really dry and it made my throat slightly itchy.
The fish fillet was served in a very cute way. It looked like mushrooms! It could pass for cocktail gatherings as you do not need utensils to eat it. It was nothing extraordinary but I loved that it was served freshly cooked. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Shack: Better than The Boiling Crab?

The Boiling Crab was part of my I-have-to-visit-this-place-no-matter-what list when I went to the States a few months back but unfortunately, even though I was in LA for quite a long time, I wasn’t able to visit it. The closest was standing outside the place. *sad* Then again, I was able to visit a restaurant that has a similar concept. Well, close enough, I guess.

Hey, The Shack!
The place has a beach feel to it. I guess it is to reinforce that they serve seafood thus the seaside ambiance. We easily got a table as the place wasn’t that packed and ordered right away.
We ordered some shrimps with mild sauce ($8.99), seasoned fries ($2.99), crispy wings ($4.99), and raw oysters ($7.99/half a dozen; $13.99/dozen).

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

After Dinner Stop: Meow Meow Cafe

Milk tea is such a craze here in Manila and every time I think that it’s slowing down, I see a packed milk tea place. But things are a bit different in the US. Perhaps the boba craze has been long over in the US so there were no long lines or waits in the shops. At first I was a bit skeptical with the taste given there was no line. But I was wrong.

Hello, Meow Meow Café!
The first thing I noticed was that the surrounding area is filled with high school students. I felt young for a moment there. :)
The place had a few customers so when we arrived, we were next in line. N and I got a Brown Sugar Milk Tea each ($3.50) and it sure was sweet. The pearls (or boba as they call it) were chewy and not the yucky gooey type. It sure was love.
I love the added texture given by the brown sugar sprinkled on top. It gave a bit of roughness and crunch. It was a tad too sweet though but since we were having it for dessert, it made my sweet tooth smile.

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Royalty Life: Hearst Castle

So after our mini stop to Solvang, we went all the way up to Hearst Castle. On our way to the huge mansion of William Hearst, we watched a video explaining the history of the 40,000 acres ranch land and how the host pampers his select guests.
It sure was a loooong way up to Hearst Castle but the grandeur sure made the trip worth it. We were greeted by the huge door of the castle and we were in awe.
Flash photography was strictly prohibited inside the castle but most of our tour mates were not as cooperative and kept on using flash and stepping outside the carpeted area (a big no-no to our tour guide who almost lost her patience).

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Summer 101: Get Shaved

It’s getting hot. Really hot. I was pretty happy a few weeks back as it felt like the Christmas breeze finally arrived but it is now gone. (T.T) Oh well. Then I remembered this shaved ice place N loves so much to the point that he was proud to bring me there. 
Hey, Get Shaved!
The place was charming with its cool blue interiors. It makes me feel cooler already. The choices also have cute names such as Root Beer Dream and Monkey Brains. I ordered #5 Sour Puss on a UFO bowl ($2.75) as I was not sure if I will like it while N ordered an Ice Cream Sandwich ($3/piece).
In less than 3 minutes, we have our orders ready.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Place I Love: Caffe Bene

I miss Seoul. I even miss the intense walking (or should I call it hiking?) and trekking to the university. I miss the cold breeze. I also miss all those people I met and saw who were so carefree and do not care what others think about them as long as they are having fun. I miss the adventures and misadventures. But I have this feeling that I’ll get to experience that again soon, may it be in Seoul or not.
I was thrilled when T told me that one of our favorite coffee shops in Korea is coming to Manila. Caffe Bene (yes, that’s with two Fs), I have been waiting for you! 
When our good friend E went back to Manila, we decided to have a mini reunion and Caffe Bene seemed to be the perfect place to go to.
Okay, words can’t explain how giddy I was when I stepped inside. I was taking photos of everything I see. Having fun is an understatement. The interiors, the cute clock, the brick walls, the unfinished look, the wooden stairs… love~~~<3

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Budget 101: Valentine's Day

It’s finally February, the month of love… my favorite month! Here’s the thing, I have this weird thing for Valentine’s Day since I was young. Come college (a.k.a. bigger allowance), I managed to convince my friends to have a “Valentine’s Barter Day” where we each buy something such flowers, chocolates, heart shaped balloons and the like and give it to everyone in our group. It was actually fun and we all felt that we all had dates that day. But once you enter the realm of the “real world” or what people usually call as corporate life, sending gifts is a bit more expensive (okay, a lot more!). So here are some tips to avoid spending waaaay to much.

1.)    Buy flowers months in advance.
Prices of flowers go wild on the 14th and hey, those are still flowers and do not sing like the ones in Plants vs. Zombies. Save extra bucks and call that flower shop now if you plan on giving your special someone flowers. (Plus, I heard on TV that there might be shortage in flowers this year.)

2.)    Why not make some homemade chocolates?
Yes, it might not look like a perfect heart or the “Will you be my Valentine?” lettering will look like a hundred year old man did it. But guess what? This is still way sweeter compared to store bought ones. (Well, maybe a huge box of Ferrero is also a good idea. *slaps glutton self*)

3.)    The no gift gift
Ever heard of serenade? Yes, that still works. Want to make it extra special? Sing an original. Even if you are tone deaf, the effort will surely make her (or him) smile. [Group of friends? Visit the nearest KTV and sing your heart out! And I~~~ will always love you~~~~]

4.)    Cook a meal for your special someone or friends
Instead of the usual dinners outside, why not whip up a dish at home? With a budget of PHP500, you’ll have a decent meal for a group of 4.

5.)    Celebrate the day after
I heard someone say, if you love someone, everyday should be Valentine’s Day. Good point. And nothing’s sweeter than giving flowers or whatnot on a regular day. Talk about surprises. (And flowers will be cheaper again too!)

Friday, February 1, 2013

Food Truck: Tako

Food trucks. It is starting to create a wave here in Manila. There are now Mexican food trucks, ice cream trucks, and even a fruit juice truck. (Jamba Juice, anyone?) But in other countries, there are more choices. N and I spotted a Korean food truck on our way back from San Francisco and we just have to eat there (since we needed a break from Chinese food—as our tour guide kept on bringing us to Chinese restaurants throughout our 3 day tour!). 
Hello, Tako!
This Korean barbeque fusion food truck has a simple menu (well I think most if not all food trucks have simple menus). You have 6 choices for meat—bulgogi, spicy pork, spicy spam, short ribs, spicy chicken, and tofu. The fun part is that you can have it on rice, tacos, or even turn it into a burrito, quesadilla or burger. Since the drive’s still pretty long, N and I opted to have rice bowls instead.