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Posts tagged Philippines

Life / Writing

two things

I.

A former teammate / work colleague had gone missing more than a week ago. His family searched for him for days and a serendipitous circumstance led them to ask for driving directions from a certain faraway police station. The station happens to have located a lifeless body; ‘would you like to see if it is your missing person by any chance?’

Of course it was him.

There were no conclusive reports but there have been multiple withdrawal transaction from his bank account since the disappearance. Yes,  it can happen to anyone– a desperate thug living anywhere in this world will abduct and bludgeon someone to death for $2200. Or a lot less than that. When it hits close to home, the danger is very real.

When we worked at the same company, he would relentlessly ask everyone to pose for group photos at events or meetings. I remember it drove me bananas because it hassled people, it was seemingly unnecessary to document the mundane. In retrospect, I perfectly understand now. There are hundreds of photos of him on his Facebook account and they all show how he truly lived a full life– traveling, working, keeping fit, mentoring kids, serving God, being with his family.  His posts were so full of positivity and joy.

We were not terribly close, but the way he lived his life– it is a constant reminder to fill your days with meaning.

I wish you the best journey ever, F.

II.

I was coming down with a fever one day but I just took a personal day off the week prior and I could not afford to be away for another day. I trudged on and finally had it on the third day– I was too sick to even get up.  I have not felt that ill in a long time and yet, work still hounded me. I am reminded that my work will not care even if I am in my deathbed, it will only care that the report gets done or the stakeholders get notified. I would love to break away from these chains, if I only can.

Food / Philippines

8-course Degustation at The Goose Station

This meal was courtesy of a Deal Grocer deal: “Sensational 8-Course Degustation Dinner with Foie Gras.” Photos taken with a camera phone!

Foie Gras Cone (Foie Gras Mousse, Port Jelly, Fig Jam, Hazelnut)
Light and delicate, a good start to the meal.

The Goose Station's foie gras cone
Tuna Crudo (Grapefruit, Beet, and Raspberry Vinaigrette, Herbs)
I honestly don’t remember much from this dish.
The Goose Station's tuna crudo

Trio of Bruschette (Chickpea, Salmon, Chicken Liver)
Overall a good dish. I love a good chicken liver bruschetta, I vividly recall the best one I have ever had, from Il Latini in Florence. The Goose Station’s version comes close, I wish this serving was bigger because it’s one of my favorites.
The Goose Station's trio of bruschette

Egg and Sweet Potato (Textures of Sweet Potato, Smoked Bacon, Goat Cheese, Select Produce)
For me, the best dish from this degustation is a slow-cooked egg with lardons and chips. It is beautifully plated, too.
The Goose Station's eggs and sweet potato

Intermezzo (Strawberry Sorbet, Lychee Granita, Strawberry Chip, Balsamic Reduction)
Refreshing.
The Goose Station's sorbet

Scallop and Carrots (Textures of Carrot, Potato Chips, Fennel Froth)
Scallops were well cooked with a nice sear. Carrot brunoise and carrot puree and half of a baby carrot… make no mistake this is indeed a scallops and carrot dish! The carrot flavor to me, did not elevate the scallops– I wonder, why this combination?
The Goose Station's scallop and carrots

Foie Gras Taho (Foie Gras Chawan Mushi with Sherry Reduction and Tapioca)
Had to plug my nose to finish this dish, foie gras tastes very good but not in this preparation. It had a, for a lack of a better word, malansa quality. Not to say it’s fishy, but it had an unpleasant smell and aftertaste.

The Goose Station's foie gras chawan mushi

TGS Burger (Angus Patty, Brioche Bun, Asiago-Raclette, Fries)
Good burger and fries, but it seemed out of place. “The last seven dishes may not be enough for these cheapo deal hunters, let’s throw in a thick burger for good measure!”
The Goose Station's TGS burger

Halo Halo
A nice reinterpretation of the beloved Filipino desert.
The Goose Station's Halo Halo

Overall, a hit and miss. The selling point of this degustation  was the foie gras. It was not the real deal however – they were delivered in a mousse and chawan mushi preparation. The progression didn’t make much sense; this Deal Grocer set felt a bit like a throwaway menu, solely for the purpose of luring diners who normally can’t afford to pay full price. (Oui, c’est moi!) I felt the service was a bit awkward, like we were not really welcome; that would probably be because we did not get a cheerful server.
I think I am bound to have a better meal if I ordered from the regular menu.

The Goose Station
http://thegoosestation.ph/
G/F W Tower 39th Street
Taguig, Philippines
Tel. 632-5569068; 0917-85GOOS

Food / Philippines

The Vegetarian Kitchen

Photos by Ian of firstcomesrock.com

The Vegetarian Kitchen

The Vegetarian Kitchen has been around since 1990 and is considered one of the pioneering vegetarian restaurants in the country. It had closed a few years later, only to reopen in April of 2012. A family of vegetarians, the Soliongcos, run it and are entirely hands-on with everything from the menu planning to the cooking and the restaurant service–a true testament to their passion for food and cooking.

It all started when the family matriarch, Tita Soliongco, was forced to change the way the family ate. After being bored with “conventional” boiled or steamed vegetarian fare, Tita challenged herself and reinvented traditional family recipes to suit the vegetarian palate. It resulted in a repertoire of exciting dishes that were thoughtfully developed for both vegetarians and meat eaters alike.

Reading through the chalkboard menu is such a pleasant surprise. Spareribs, lengua, fish sticks, prawns, caldereta, meatloaf–these dishes are not exactly vegetarian, but vegetable meat alternatives made it possible to recreate home-cooked family favorites with a healthier twist.
The Vegetarian Kitchen's chalkboard menu

If you are craving something with a little spice, order the Vegetarian Shrimp Curry with Yellow Brown Rice & Fresh Mango Slices. It is a recently developed dish and it is still not on the menu, but you might want to try and ask if the kitchen has it available. Each component of the dish makes up a perfect spoonful with the sweetness of the mango balancing the heat of the curry. This will, for sure, be a new bestseller.
The Vegetarian Kitchen's shrimp curry

The Crispy Sesame Fish Sticks (P190) are served in a bowl and rest on a bed of kimchi fried rice with steamed bok choy. The kimchi rice is mildly spiced hence not overpowering, and the bok choy is sprinkled with flavorful nori flakes, which add an interesting crunch.
The Vegetarian Kitchen's fish sticks

If you are in the mood for breakfast food at any time of the day, try the Crispy Vege Danggit with Tofu Tomato Scramble, Camote Tops Salad, & Fried Rice (P220). The vege danggit is light and non-greasy, while the tofu tomato scramble is flavored with turmeric and salt and intends to simulate eggs; it is a vegan meal after all.
The Vegetarian Kitchen's Crispy Vege Danggit

The camote tops salad that came with the vege danggit makes for a tasty side dish.
The Vegetarian Kitchen's camote tops salad

If you are not in the mood for rice meals, we recommend the Couscous Paella with Curried Shrimp Tempura & Eggless Wasabi Mayo (P220). Olives, carrots, beans, and juicy cherry tomatoes are spooned over the couscous, lending a Mediterranean flavor. The curried “shrimp” and all of the vegetable meat alternatives surprisingly taste similar to real animal proteins, and they intend to mimic the texture of real meat.
The Vegetarian Kitchen's couscous paella

The Orange Cheesecake (P140) is a perfect end to a good meal. Creamy and moist with the right amount of citrus flavor, it is not airy as most cheesecakes go.
The Vegetarian Kitchen's orange cheesecake

All of the restaurant’s main dishes are well under P300, and the portions are generous. The Soliongcos continually develop new dishes, and cook through the seasons based on what is affordable and locally available. The menu is also constantly evolving based on customer requests and suggestions. Most of the dishes, in fact, have now been tweaked to suit vegan diets, meaning nothing contains dairy and other animal byproducts.

The Vegetarian Kitchen is a great place not only for those who follow vegetarian diets, but also for people who want to eat better. It definitely opens up a new world of possibilities to healthier eating.

Vibrant vegetarian plates
The Vegetarian Kitchen dishes

The restaurant space is painted in cheery orange-yellow tones, seats about 20 people and can accommodate 8 more in the space outside. TVK can accommodate small private parties as well
The Vegetarian Kitchen

Also published on http://kristn.com

The Vegetarian Kitchen
https://www.facebook.com/TheVegetarianKitchen
62B Mother Ignacia Avenue, Quezon City
Open Tuesdays to Saturdays: 11:00 am – 9:00 pm

Food / Philippines

Lolo Dad’s

Lolo Dad’s has always been on my ‘someday’ list, until the opportunity presented itself by way of a Deal Grocer offer. The deal wasn’t really a steal to begin with, 38% off for a thousand pesos worth of food– and this strictly applies to one diner; meaning you can’t use two vouchers for one person. While a thousand pesos (US$ 23) barely covers the cost of an entrée, I’m still glad to have finally tried this restaurant, it is one of the best in the country after all, and it definitely did not disappoint.

I was looking forward to trying the menu dégustation to sample the specials of the season, however, they didn’t offer a tasting menu that evening.

Freshly-baked dinner rolls with herbed butter, served hot and are very tasty
Lolo Dad's

Ahi tuna loin and marinated salmon, grilled watermelon with soy vinaigrette and aioli (P264, modest portion)
Lolo Dad's ahi tuna
There was a certain flavor in the salmon that was quite off-putting, and the vinaigrette in the salad is too sharp for my taste. Loved the ahi tuna and the grilled watermelon, with the brown sauce that quite tasted like rendered beef fat. I actually finished those components last, as what I usually do– I eat the best ones last. 😛

Not my dish, but had a taste. The crab salad and the soft-shell crab were very good– but the flavors aren’t out of the ordinary. Soft-shell crab fritter on Gribiche sauce with Dungeness crab, mango, and cucumber (P378, modest portion)Lolo dad's soft shell crab

refreshing lemon sorbet in a clay pot served on a bed of dry ice
Lolo Dad's sorbet

Herbs de Provence crusted rack of lamb, 3-cheese risotto (Roquefort, Gruyere, Parmesan), forty melted garlic and tomato confit (P1,525, regular portion)
Lolo Dad's rack of lamb

I usually don’t like lamb because of the aftertaste, but I’m glad I picked this dish. The lamb was PERFECTLY COOKED. I have learned by now that meat shouldn’t be ordered well-done, and chefs would usually scoff at those who ask for their food to be cooked this way. This was a medium– with no traces of blood, juicy and tender (except at the bone). The herbs de Provence was subtle and not overpowering. The 3-cheese risotto is to die for. The roquefort, I reckon, is the tastiest and added the most depth to the dish.

another angle, with the forty-melted garlic
Lolo Dad's rack of lamb

pan-fried fillet of seabass with blue crab potatoes and smoked salmon filled mushrooms in oyster cream sauce (P1,320, regular portion)
Lolo Dad's Chilean seabass
Now I know why seabass is very pricey. Aside from not being locally available, it literally melts in your mouth when you cook it perfectly. I didn’t believe it until I tried. The flavors are fairly simple– fried fish seasoned with rock salt; and still it was very good. The creamy potatoes are generously drizzled with truffle oil.

dark chocolate and almond layered cake with quenelle of white chocolate mousseline and vanilla almond ice cream (P290, regular portion)
Lolo Dad's dessert
Truth be told, I love savory stuff more than sweets. My favorite part is the mousseline and the fresh berries.

Lucky to have ordered the bestseller entrées, without even having to ask for recommendations from the waitstaff. That being said, I wish I have ordered different starters instead. The dessert isn’t that great, but it’s not bad either.

Service is attentive and unintimidating. I dislike pushy waiters telling you to order more than you should, e.g. wine. The staff at Lolo Dad’s are nothing like that, and I’m glad they aren’t the snotty types either. The place is great for cosy, intimate dinners, and I would be glad to go back again to celebrate special occasions.

More of my Philippines someday list:
The Goose Station
Antonio’s Garden Tagaytay

Lolo Dad’s Cafe
http://www.lolodadscafe.com
899 Pres. Qurino Ave. cor. Leon Guinto St.,
Malate, Manila
Phone: (632)5242295
Mondays: 6:30pm – 10:30pm
Tuesdays to Saturdays: 11:00am – 2:00pm; 6:30pm to 10:30pm
Sundays Closed

Food / Philippines

Whimsical Café Noriter

I now have a somewhat decent camera phone and it has made me take more pictures in the past month or so 🙂 My trusty point and shoot has long given up on me, and for obvious reasons I don’t really carry around my (crop) SLR everyday.

Noriter means playground in Korean, and this cosy themed café indeed has a playful, whimsical feel.
Cafe Noriter
Cafe Noriter

The decor & details are delightful.
Cafe Noriter
Cafe Noriter
Cafe Noriter
Cafe Noriter

Café Noriter serves the usual hot and iced coffee-based beverages, blended drinks, and smoothies. The savory food selection limited to waffles, toast, and sandwiches. They also have ice cream and halo halo.
I really don’t have a sweet tooth (at least I’d like to think so) and I’m glad I ordered the honey bread (Php 120), it’s not too sweet and done just right. Would definitely order this again. Iced café latte, Php 100.
Cafe Noriter
Andrea’s meal
Cafe Noriter French Toast

Café Noriter
Facebook
2nd Flr. Reyes Bldg,
Estrada St. cor. Taft Ave., Malate, Philippines
Mon-Fri: 10:00am – 10:00pm; Sat: 11:00am – 8:00pm
cafenoriter@gmail.com
Phone: (632) 489-5223

Food / Philippines

Weekend lunch at Sonya’s Garden

I have been hearing about Sonya’s Garden for the longest time and finally I had the chance to visit one Saturday with my family. Sonya’s Garden is a charming place with an organic farm, bed and breakfast, spa, and restaurant somewhere past Tagaytay City.

We ordered the set menu (P610 per person), which was served sit-down style. The best thing about the meal is that you can ask for more servings if you run out. 🙂 The meal also came with bottomless freshly-squeezed dalandan juice.

Salad spread – The greens are lettuce and arugula, with pineapple, carrots, jicama, papaya, mango, jackfruit, eggs, cucumber, and melon, broad beans. Served with Sonya’s dressing.

Sonya's Garden
Sonya's Garden
garden from Sonya's Garden
salad from Sonya's Garden

The salad course was followed by freshly-baked whole wheat bread, with an assortment of toppings— basil pesto, anchovies, tomato & garlic, mushroom pate, olive tapenade.
bread from Sonya's Garden
My favorite spread would be the basil pesto.
basil pesto

The pasta course: spaghetti with two kinds of sauces, sun dried tomato and chicken cream. You may choose to top your pasta with the salmon belly, ratatouille, shitake mushrooms, olives, capers, and parmesan cheese.
pasta course from Sonya's Garden
salmon belly

Also asked for an extra order of the roast chicken (P450), which unfortunately was too dry for my liking.
roast chicken

For dessert: glazed sweet potato, banana rolls with jackfruit (turon), chocolate cake and tarragon tea.
glazed sweet potato
turon
chocolate cake and tarragon tea

The service was brisk and left much to be desired, and this probably is because we visited on a holiday and the place was almost full. Overall, it was a good meal and I would visit again. I’m always looking for places where salads are a big part of the meal and not just treated as an afterthought or an accompanying dish; as the latter is how I usually eat. It was a filling and healthy lunch and Sonya’s Garden seems like the type of place that foreign guests would enjoy. It also was a welcome respite from smoky, polluted Manila.

Sonya's Garden

Sonya’s Garden
http://www.sonyasgarden.com
Barangay Buck Estate, Alfonso, Cavite, Philippines
+63-9175329097 or +63-9175335140
info@sonyasgarden.com

Food / Philippines

Pampanga Food Coma

My friends and I spent a weekend eating in Pampanga. M has graciously welcomed us in her home and overfed us with takeaway food from the local food stores. The rest of the time we were out visiting restaurants. Thanks to G as well for his wonderful birthday treat at C’ Italian Dining 🙂

It has been said that Pampanga is the culinary capital of the Philippines; of course the rest of the regions would beg to disagree. While I did not have enough time to sample the food extensively specifically the local cuisine, I would have to say that it is definitely home to great food, and it’s exactly why people from the city come on food tours and visit. Here are a few pictures from the trip. Needless to say we came home a few pounds heavier.

Breakfast at VFW Canteen

Bread, balsamic vinegar + olive oil dip (C’ Italian Dining)

Panizza – really a favorite from the trip. I’m not even sure how the panizza came about, it most probably is a twist to the Italian panino and of course, pizza. They serve you thin crust pizza cut intro long strips, and you roll it up with fresh greens. The flavours blend so well together! thin but chewy pizza dough + arugula + alfalfa + sharp parmesan cheese + chicken strips. (P800+)

Arugula and alfalfa for the panizza

Roast Chicken (C’ Italian Dining)

Tiramisu (C’ Italian Dining)

Everybody’s Cafe Sign

Chicharon bulaklak (Everybody’s Cafe)

Tapang Kalabaw (Everybody’s Cafe)

Stuffed frogs (Everybody’s Cafe)

Morcon (Everybody’s Cafe)

Camaru / Crickets! (Everybody’s Cafe)

Sinful chocolate cake (A la Crème)

Shey’s Cake (A la Crème)

VFW Canteen
381 Santol Road (Corner Santol Rd. & Pinatubo St.)
Clarkview Subdivision
Angeles City
http://www.vfwpost2485.com/

C’ Italian Dining
1210 Don Juico Ave. Clarkview, Balibago
Angeles City, Pampanga
(045) 892-4059
http://www.c-italian-dining.com/

A la Crème
Alcon Bldg.
MacArthur Hi-way, Angeles City
Pampanga, Philippines
http://alacreme.com.ph

Philippines

Engagement

I tagged along in an engagement shoot and realised there are so so many things I need to learn, and I have to stop winging it especially in indoor scenes. I was reviewing the pictures after and most of the images have severely uneven lighting, and if I were a paying customer this should be unacceptable. The images could have been worse without the assistance from H who lent us most of the equipment and set up the flash. So many things to learn, I look forward to improvement in the days and weeks to come.

Food / Philippines

Chateau 1771

There are relatively pricey restaurants I wouldn’t mind spending my hard-earned money on, and Chateau 1771 is not one of them. The food is okay, nothing to write home about– but I have to admit that their plating is beautiful.

Coffee bean sansrival

dark chocolate ganache tart

lasagna

steamed sandbass

angus ribeye

hunters chicken

Chateau 1771
Greenbelt 5,
Legaspi Village
Makati City, Philippines
Tel. (02)729-9760

++++++++++++

This is my first post of the year, I’ve had this weblog since 2007 with a few entries here and there. I hope I won’t get lazy and post more from this day forward 🙂 If anyone is ever reading this, happy 2011 🙂