May 27, 2015

Food Trip

My recent weeks have been a series of gastronomic adventures, i.e. a whirlwind of food trips.  I have the unwanted additional pounds to show for it. It's always been recognized that Filipinos love to eat. And eating is always at the center of our family gatherings, of welcoming & entertaining guests, of celebrating holidays and milestones. 

It's thus fitting that my family and my close friends look forward to trying new things, and going back for more of our favorites, even when there are no special occasions. We eat out most especially on weekends. It is our true manner of coming together and catching up and relaxing. But I end up having to hold 3 conversations at the same time when I dine with my children!

Let me present a visual "taste" of my recent eating escapades.  These are my highly recommended experiences!

1.  Blackbird at the Nielson Tower, Ayala Triangle Park  

Grilled Pork Belly with Noodle Salad, and a Mojito

2.  Franco's at the Ground Floor of the Powerplant Mall at Rockwell

Hainanese Half Chicken

Garlic Shrimp & Arugula Pizza

French Onion Soup

Ultimate Burger


Ham & Cheese Croquettes, Japanese Chicken Lollipops, Homemade Iced Tea and Mushroom Risotto

3.  Rita's Italian Ice in Greenhills
Frozen Drink, Gelati, and Italian Ice

4.  La Lola Churreria at the Ground Floor of the Powerplant Mall at Rockwell

Churros Clasicos made fresh with Hot Chocolate Dip

5.  Duck and Buvette at the Second Floor of Shangri-la Plaza

Cauliflower Soup with White Truffle Oil

Oeuf en Cocotte & Truffle Cream

Pan-Seared Hake with 3 Grains Risotto

8 Hour Angus Briskets

French Ice Cream Sandwich - Cocoa Nibs & Madagascar Vanilla

Chocolate Sourdough Pudding

El Diablo Intelligentsia Coffee

6.  Locavore at Brixton Street, Kapitolyo

Street Food Platter

Lechon Oyster Sisig

Mac's Boneless Fried Chicken

Dinuguang Lechon

Also try Locavore's Kinilaw (tuna, tanigue, oyster). They're so good!

7.  Craft Coffee Revolution in Estancia, Capitol Commons 

8.  Earth Kitchen along Katipunan Avenue, White Plains

Tempura Salad

Fresh Mushroom Soup

Earth Kitchen Ravioli

Pastillas de Leche Homemade Ice Cream

Must-try also are the Four Mushroom & Egg Pasta, Beef Kebab, and Beef Bulgogi Soft Tacos!  

9.  Cafe Sanso along V. Cruz, San Juan (beside the Sanso Museum)

Jamon Serrano, Melon and Mango Salad

Paella Chorizo y Quezo

Leche Frita

10.  Minami Saki by Astoria along Escriva Drive, Pasig

Tamago, Ebi Tempura, and Kaisen Yakimeshi

Soft Shell Crab Karaage

Spider Maki

Aburisushi 5 kinds

Kaki Papaya Yaki

Read Bean Pannacotta

Coffee Jelly with Vanilla Ice Cream

11.  Wild West Roadhouse Grill at Level 6 of the Shangrila Plaza

Wild West Quesadillas with sauteed mushrooms

Blackened Steak

Oreo Mud Pie

12.  La Creperie along Calderon Street, San Juan

Crepas de Cajetas and our own Butter Crepe with Mangoes & Homemade Bittersweet Chocolate


Also try their Apple Crisp a la mode Crepe and their Angus Beef Tapa breakfast rice meal!

"Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare."   Isaiah 55:2
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May 25, 2015

The Bookseller

This book caught my eye recently.  On the shelf of Fully Booked in Promenade was a title that embodies a long-time ardent wish of mine.  I opened and run a bookshop, although for a short time, in the 90's. I thoroughly loved going through catalogs of book titles, meticulously ordering my choices, and proudly displaying them on our self-designed racks.  And though the tides of life have brought me elsewhere, I have never lost the burning desire of wanting to own and to run a bookshop.

Sigmund Freud in his "The Interpretation of Dreams" first introduced the relationship of our dreams to our unconscious, and how dreams continue our conscious daytime thought processes, albeit altered by sleep. Such is evident in the story of Kitty in "The Bookseller". Lines blur between two alternate worlds of our protagonist.  The two distinctive existences of Kitty and Katharyn present the ultimate “what if” possibilities in one’s life.

Kitty is an old-maid bookseller who is independent and quirky, and shares her business with her long-time best friend, the also single, Frieda.  Not everything is perfect though; the bookstore business is becoming difficult to continue.  But Kitty and Frieda are so close, they do not seem to want for anything else beyond their daily friendship and companionship.

Katharyn, on the other hand, has given up running a business for a life that revolves around a doting husband and their adorable triplets.    She has a lovely suburban home, which she runs with help, and she seems to live a perfect life. But slowly, Katharyn finds out it’s not so perfect after all. One of her children is autistic and is “incurable”, and doctors declare that it is her fault as "she was not there for Michael when he was young and needed her". Then she also discovers that her parents have passed in the life of Katharyn.  And she is devastated.

Who is real? Whose existence is a dream? Their two situations seem to complement and complete each other’s somehow. Which world is used as the coping mechanism of the other?

Maybe I was mesmerized by this book because I, too, am a woman and a mother. And I used to co-own a bookstore (which has since sadly become "too difficult to continue").  I’m independent and a breadwinner, yet I’m equally subservient to my family’s needs and wishes.   I can identify with Kitty the bibliophile: a former teacher in a life of books, sandwiches, coffee and one close friend.  And I am similar to Katharyn too: a mother of three (I have a pair of twins). The responsibility and the guilt forever entwined together in the role of a mother is all too real for me.

The push-and-pull of Kitty's “real life” and her “dream world” make up the story of this human tale of love and living.  Although fiction, in actuality, we have all at one time or another used fantasy to cope with or to escape reality. The Ocean of Life deals. We can swim. Or we can choose to float while dreaming.  The temptation of a sweet escape appeals to most.  When life situations bog me down, I entertain the thought of an escape to another more agreeable uncomplicated life, where I can throw caution to the wind and live my aspirations to the fullest.

"In that other life, I am the center of my world.  Of course, I love and care about other people--many other people.  But at the end of the day, my thoughts and actions are mainly about managing my own life and my own emotions.

Here, that is not the case.  My life, and my love, are bigger than that.  Even in grief, I have to hold other people close."  

Cynthia Swanson says it best for me in Chapter 27.

"The Bookseller" is a good read.

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May 15, 2015

Bono Gelato, Rockstar Gelato!

Having gelato is such an gratifying experience for me. And the Bono in Podium is my no-fail go-to gelateria.  Bono gelato is an all-natural gelato made from scratch in small batches daily. It is natural: from locally-sourced fresh whole milk to stone-ground matcha from Japan. And handmade: from the chocolate-covered chips in Movie Night to the pretzel crunch in Butterbeer to the sprinkles and honey comb toppings. Their gelato is flavorful and fresh and never too sweet!

But many people do not know that gelato doesn't just mean "ice cream" in Italian. There is a difference between them.

For one, ice cream is made with cream and has a minimum fat content of 10% (and upto as high as 18% fat). Gelato is made with whole milk, and has only 4-8% fat.

I watched how they make a batch of gelato on-site.  Bono uses this Cattabriga blender on whole milk and their "secret mix" to make their popular Movie Night gelato.


Then, the mixture is transferred to the Cattabriga mixer and churned for about 5-7 minutes.  The Effe by Cattabriga is the world's standard for artisanal gelato. It adopts a slow "churning and folding" method.  This ensures that there is less air incorporated into the gelato (compared to ice cream where more air creates more volume). And this makes for another difference: the texture of gelato is more dense than ice cream, and thus it presents more intense distinct flavors for one to enjoy.   


Next, they layer in the unique ingredients to make Movie Night-- chocolate-covered chips, caramel syrup, and malt balls. Several layers are made to make a liter of yumminess!


Bono gelato is stored in Pozzetto cabinets.  They are covered to ensure least amount of contamination from the air. I truly appreiciate this.  While it's attractive to see gelato in the open, with all its colors, I would rather eat something that's clean and fresh.   Plus the covered containers are important to maintain constant temperature.  Another difference of gelato from ice cream involves serving temperature. While ice cream is frozen and served at 10 degree Fahrenheit, gelato is best served not completely frozen, at around 25 degrees Fahrenheit.  In Bono, when you order gelato for take-out in pints and tubs, they blast-freeze the gelato and then put the containers in their own resealable plastic bags.  The staff will advise you to keep your pints and tubs in their plastic bags when stored in your freezer.  This preserves the gelato flavors best and keeps it from getting too hard to scoop.  And it works-- the gelato stays smooth and tasty! I've personally tried this at home.


Bono also makes their own waffles, which go on top over any gelato flavor your order.


Each outlet carries 12 flavors to choose from.  My family's favorites are the Taho, the Mango-Ube symphony, the Pistachio, and the Cioccolato.   Incidentally, two are dairy-free: Taho (soya-based) and Cioccolato (70% chocolate).   And we are eagerly anticipating the come-back of Cereal and Milk; I hear it will be better than ever!

They also serve gelato in an affogato and in a molten brownie sundae.

Taho, Butterbeer, Matcha & Azuki, Milo Dinosaur, Cioccolato, Movie Night, Pistachio,California Strawberry
Head to Bono Gelato soon! They still have a Summer Scoop Sale ongoing!
Find Bono at the SM Aura Premier Mall, SM Mega Fashion Hall, SM Southmall, and at The Podium.
And Bono can go to your parties, school fairs, family reunions! They churn on-site using a liquid nitrogen machine.  And the nitrogen doesn't touch the gelato!  Email

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