Monthly Archives: June 2012

Mmmm…Mangetsu!

There are so many good restaurants to try in Manila, it’s insane!  Almost every week, my list of must-try’s gets longer and longer.  Unfortunately, the H and I have also been getting busier and busier… :(  Haaaaay, such is life!

Which is why weekends are truly treasured and taken full advantage of by filling them to the brim with new or different experiences.

Last Saturday, as we were in the neighborhood running errands, we decided to try Mangetsu on Jupiter Street.  I’ve been reading about it in several blogs, and have had several recommendations from friends to try it, so we finally found the perfect opportunity to drop by :).

I love Japanese food–only second to Filipino though ofcourse :)!  Hahaha!  Give me a fresh plate of salmon sashimi, a bowl of steaming ramen, or a serving of really good shrimp tempura, and I’m a happy camper!  I’ve heard, however, that Mangetsu serves really good uni tempura, and because I looooooove uni, it was a no-brainer that I would have this for my main course :).

On to the food…

For starters, the H and I shared a spicy tuna roll :).  Yup, it was quite…spicy. Hahaha!  I ended up having to order a glass of iced tea to wash it down, and neutralize the heat a little :(.  Spiciness aside, I like that the tuna tasted very fresh, and that Mangetsu did not seem to scrimp on their ingredients :).

As I had mentioned, I chose to have the uni tempura for my main, while the H went with the shoyu ramen.  The little one had a chicken meatball and leek soup, and some steamed broccolli.  She’s been especially picky with her food lately so I was crossing my fingers and praying that she’d like the soup.  Broccolli is her favorite vegetable, so I was pretty sure that she would eat that :).

I am happy to say that I was really quite satisfied with my meal :).  In fact, I loooooved it!  The serving was just right, the uni was very fresh, creamy and sweet–just the way I like it!  While I usually have a tendency to get “umay” eating too much uni, I thought that the nori and the tempura batter helped to neutralize the taste.

Speaking of batter, I liked that it was nice and crunchy (not soggy), and there was just a thin layer of it that covered the seaweed and uni.  There are too many Japanese restaurants that serve tempura with such thick batter, that sometimes it tastes like that’s all your eating.  I love that the tempura in Mangetsu is cooked just right :).

While I didn’t get to try the H’s ramen, he said that he also enjoyed his meal :).  I guess I’ll have to take his word for it, although his empty bowl provided undeniable proof as well :).

The verdict?

I would definitely recommend that you all try Mangetsu–especially if you find yourself in the neighborhood :).  The fact that the sushi chef and the owner are both Japanese, and that there were many Japanese patrons at the time of our visit was a good sign!  Also, aside from using fresh ingredients and serving decent size portions, the food is definitely authentic  and yummy Japanese!  I can’t wait to go back for another serving of that uni!  Yumyumyum!

My Ms. World Experience

In my entire life, I never would have imagined that I would one day be on stage, presenting an award at the Ms. World pageant.  And last Sunday, that is precisely what I did!

In front of hundreds of people, I handed over a sash, a bouquet, and a check to Candidate Number 17 aka Ms. OraCare Confidently Cool :).

While I’m not one to enjoy being in the spotlight, I must say that having my 15 minutes of fame on stage was actually pretty fun!  Ofcourse prior to my appearance I was really nervous of tripping or falling flat on my face.  But I guess I was just so fascinated by the entire experience that when it came to my part, instead of feeling fear, I was actually quite excited!  Hahaha!  And I’m pretty sure no one was paying any attention to me anyway–they were probably so busy looking at the 25 beautiful contestants!  Hahaha!  So I guess there was less pressure on me to do what I came to do :).

I still can’t quite get over how surreal that night was :).  While it’s not something that is listed on my bucket list, it’s definitely a story that I would love to tell A and the grandkids :).

On First Days + Happy Weekend

The Little Miss started school this week.  Thankfully, it was not as emotional for me as I thought it would be.  Maybe because I used to be a teacher, so I’ve gone through the experience of separation but obviously from the other side?  Or maybe because I know my child is confident and curious, and the classroom will provide both the stimulation and interest to keep her little mind and body busy? Or it could also be because I’m a bit relieved that finally, A will have other kids her age to interact with, instead of just her usual company–Yaya and Ate E?

I guess it’s a little bit of all :).

But definitely, I could not help but play the role of the proud stage mama, clicking away and capturing all the memories I could of A’s first day.

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I can’t believe how time has flown!!!

Have a Happy Weekend, folks!!!

Aracama

In my last post, I mentioned that my family celebrated our pre-Father’s Day dinner at Aracama.  I’ve gotten several inquiries about it since then so I decided to devote this entire entry to discussing our dining experience.

Aracama is the latest addition to the growing number of chic restaurants that have been sprouting up in Bonifacio Global City.  Not only do I love that the exteriors are already very eye-catching (which is why I even noticed it was there in the first place!), but it is also a stone’s throw away from where I live.  That its kitchen is run by one of Manila’s celebrated chefs, Fernando Aracama, is another plus :).

Photo Credit: Our Awesome Planet

When I was making dinner reservations, I was informed that the main dining area would be on the second floor.  Initially, this was not a problem for me as I was looking forward to seeing how the interiors of the restaurant were done.  I told the reservations agent that I didn’t mind.  Also, I had already caught a glimpse of the downstairs dining area, and while it has clean, modern and minimalist lines, it was a bit too austere for my taste.

When we arrived at Aracama, however, getting to the second floor was not as easy as I thought—especially with a young child.  First of all, it’s a pretty high climb.  By the time I reached the first landing, I was huffing and puffing already!  I know, I know—it’s my fault and not the restaurant’s that I’m extremely out of shape.  Haha!  But if I had to think about their patrons who are seniors, children, or who have some disability, these stairs would not be very friendly to them either.  Thank goodness we decided to keep our stroller at home!  Otherwise, it would have been a bit of a workout to lug upstairs as well.

One last note on the stairs…they are not enclosed or child proof either.  So if you have children who are a bit malikot and enjoy exploring, better make sure they avoid the stair area altogether, or are properly watched over.

Stairs aside, when we finally reached the second floor, I was definitely pleased with what I saw!  I couldn’t help immediately whipping out my camera, to capture the beautifully designed and executed interiors.

Pretty right?  I love how they made it look like someone’s living room-slash-dining area.  Very unpretentious and not intimidating at all!  The space had the right balance of sophistication meets homey, especially with the addition of “sala sets” which also functioned as their waiting areas.

I also love how the place gave off such a natural, clean vibe.  Probably because the color palette was very neutral—lots of browns, whites and beiges were used for the walls, furniture and accessories.  There was also a lot of plants used in the interiors which I thought was quite nice :).

On to the food…

Aracama offers Filipino food, but with ilonggo and negrense influences.  For starters, we decided on the Pancit Molo, because it’s something that the little one loves to eat.  The broth was actually quite flavorful, and perfectly warm—my belly was satisfied!  The wontons, however, were a bit too densely compact for me.  I would have preferred and am used to something a bit softer or mushier in terms of mouth feel :).

We also tried another one of their appetizers called Salpicao de la Casa.  The meat was wonderfully soft, while the sauce is something you’d love to drizzle all over your rice and eat as is (yup, ulam na!).  Which was why I was actually a bit puzzled that this dish was served with crostinis.  Oh well.  We ended up not even bothering with the crostinis, although the little one loved munching on them :).

For our mains, we had Crispy Pata (they ran out of Kare-Kare, which is what we really wanted to try),  Pinakbet, and KKK or Kalkag Kalo Kalo—a rice dish with dried baby shrimps, garlic, and green onions.

In hindsight, I think we should have tried dishes that we were more unfamiliar with because while everything tasted very good, the cooking was also also quite typical.  The only thing that was different or unusual was the way the Pinakbet was served—deconstructed style.

But ofcourse, that’s not to say that we didn’t enjoy our meal :).  I would definitely love to come back and try Aracama’s other offerings.  In fact, that night, they were still serving their soft opening menu, so most of their dishes were not even listed yet.  Another reason to come back!

Unfortunately, by the time we were ready for dessert, A was getting tired and sleepy already (read: cranky).  While I would have loved to sample their mouth-watering postres (I had my eye on the chocnut ice cream and the dulce gatas with banuelos) it was just not meant for that evening :(.

The verdict?

Aracama is definitely a welcome and wonderful addition to the Fort’s strip of restaurants.  I love that they serve Filipino food—my default cusine when I’m in the mood for something familiar and comforting.  And with it being located so close to home, I can foresee that this kitchen will already be an extension of mine!  Hahaha! :)

4 Elements of a Simple (but Meaningful!) Father’s Day

I really wanted to make up for the lack of fanfare in which we celebrated Father’s Day last year so I put together a simple surprise for the H, to make his day extra special :).

Here are the elements:

1. The (Surprise) Gift

The hubby and I aren’t really big on extravagant gifts.  Simple items that are well thought of and unexpected are more our style.  The H is a huge fan of Fred Perry, and has been on the lookout for this classic color combination for a while now. Finally, they had one available at Rockwell :)!  Just my luck!  And because the H is extra particular about fit, I simply had to “borrow” one of his shirts for comparison while he was at the office!  Haha!  Naturally, the shirt fit perfectly! And even more perfect, he was totally unsuspecting of the entire covert operation!  Haha!

2. The (Handmade) Card

In my opinion, nothing says “you’re special” more than something that is handmade.  So the little miss and I decided to get crafty, and made an accordion card for Dada.  It was pretty easy and took all of 30 minutes to assemble!  While I naturally did most of the artwork, A did her part too by sticking the circle-shaped stickers.  She also “signed” her name on the card, which Dada loved!

3. The Family Dinner

Here is our little fam.  On special occasions we like to dress up in coordinating outfits.  Haha!  And this day was no exception!

A and I treated the special man in our lives to dinner at Aracama.  It is a beautiful new restaurant located where Embassy used to be at the Fort Strip.  I made sure to plan all the details so that the H wouldn’t have to lift a finger.  He basically just had to sit back and relax, enjoy the food, and ofcourse, the wonderful company! Hahaha!

4. The (Favorite) Breakfast

It’s been a while since I last cooked a meal for the H.  That was about 2 years ago, prior to the birth of A.  So I thought to myself, what better way to top off this year’s Father’s Day celebration than by cooking the H his favorite breakfast :)? He just loves the sukiyaki tapa from Blue Kitchen paired with slightly runny scrambled eggs.

So this morning I found myself in the kitchen once again, cooking up a storm! Hahaha!  It was nice to see the look on the H’s face when he saw the simple but yummy breakfast that I had prepared :).

So there you have it–a Father’s Day celebration for the H to remember :). Mission accomplished–don’t you think?  While unfortunately I’m unable to pamper the H with such special treatment on a daily basis, I hope I was able to make him feel how much A and I love him, and how we think he is the best dad in the world! :)

I am Loving…

…the Proenza Schouler PS1 Tote!!!

Oh Em Gee!!!  Not another bag to obsess over!!!  It’s not like I don’t have a gajillion bags in my lust list already!  Hahaha!

As I was looking for the Celine Canvas Phantom Luggage bag (which was totally out of stock in the US, by the way), I came across the PS1 tote.

I immediately fell in love with the classic design, the soft buttery leather, and the yummy bold color (it comes in several other cool colors, btw).  And the size?  Just right to be taken from morning to night, especially for a working gal like myself.

*Sigh*

I wonder when you will be mine?

Paging Hubby!!!  Hahaha!

Hope you have an awesome weekend, folks :)!

To Alaska and Beyond!

My family loves to cruise.  Ever since our first one on the Mediterranean 7 years ago, we’ve been hooked!  Not only is it a great way to travel and to see different places all at once, but because you eliminate the need for making hotel reservations per destination, and are guaranteed food supply 24/7, then it is more bang for your buck as well :).

This year, my dad decided to treat the fam to another cruise.  While in the past we’ve always opted for some European itinerary, this year, we decided to do something more nature-y and different.  So off to Alaska we went, for a little bit of outdoor adventure :).

Our first stop was a town called Ketchikan.  I was amazed at how small and sleepy this place was!  My subdivision in Quezon City is not only bigger in size, but in the amount of residents as well!  Hahaha!

The main attraction of this town is Creek Street.  Formerly home to Ketchikan’s red light district (with over 30 brothels!), today it is basically a row of shops and galleries where tourists can sightsee and do some souvenir shopping.  In fact, Creek Street has earned the distinction of being the “Most Photographed Street” in Alaska.

Aside from this, Ketchikan also holds two other noteworthy titles.  It is the “Salmon Capital of the World”, as well as “home to the largest collection of totem poles in the world”.  Not surprisingly, there are more than 80 kinds of totem poles displayed throughout the city!  Not only do they serve as a reminder of the traditions and values of tribal culture, but are also an imposing and awe-inspiring example of Alaskan native art and craftsmanship.

According to our port guide, totem poles are either commemorative, memorial, or lineage poles that celebrate a tribe or family’s unique heritage.  I was surprised to discover that the most important figure in the totem pole is the figure at the bottom, and not the one at the top :).  I guess you really do learn something new everyday!  Hahaha!

Our next port of call was Juneau, Alaska.  It was a bit of a shock for me to find out that despite it being the state capital, there are NO access roads leading to Juneau.  To get here, one must go via boat or via floatplane!  Talk about hard to get to!

The downtown area is again very small, comprised mostly of souvenir shops and restaurants.  One of their must-do activities is riding on the Mount Roberts tram. It has the best view of the Gastineau Channel, as well as that of downtown Juneau.  At the very top of the mountain is a restaurant, where one is encouraged to have a meal, or to enjoy a steaming cup of coffee (Alaska is proud of their brews :)), while taking in the breathtaking sights.

The most popular natural attraction in Juneau is the Mendenhall Glacier. Nicknamed “the drive-up glacier”, it is about a 20-minute drive from downtown. Once inside the Tongass National Forest, the glacier is easily accessible by foot, allowing one to actually walk up right to it versus viewing it from the air or by sea.

Having never seen a glacier before, I have to admit that for my first sighting, Mendenhall was pretty impressive :).  According to my research, it is about 12 miles long, half a mile wide, and about 300-1800 feet deep.  But unfortunately, because of global warming, the Mendenhall Glacier is not as massive as it used to be.  It has  been slowly retreating since the early 1700′s.  Size aside however, this glacier has been able to survive much longer than other glaciers in the North American region.  The geography and unique climate of Juneau contribute to this.

Though I dislike gloomy weather, glaciers are actually best viewed on overcast days.  We were “lucky” that this was the kind of day we had when we visited Mendenhall.  I thought that the bright blue glow that the glacier emitted was very pretty and magical-looking :).  Apparently, this is caused by the ice’s absorption and reflection of light :).

Our third port on this cruise was Skagway, Alaska.  It was actually my favorite among the Alaskan ports.  It was also the most modern-looking and the least deserted–the streets were bustling with tourists exploring the town, and scouring the shops for souvenirs.

Interestingly, Skagway is the least populated of the Alaskan cities we visited. Year round, it only has about 750 residents.  During cruise season, however, this number swells immensely.

Another interesting fact about Skagway is that it is considered the “Sunshine Capital” of Southeast Alaska.  Unfortunately, the morning we landed, the sun was nowhere to be found :(.  Hahaha!

As for attractions, Skagway’s must-do for visitors is the White Pass and Yukon Route Railway ride.  It is basically a 3-hour scenic ride up to the Canadian border. The railway was built during the era of the Klondike Gold Rush, and took 35,000 men 26 months to finish under extremely treacherous conditions.  This engineering landmark climbs up to 3,000 feet, and is held in the same esteem as the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, and the Panama Canal.

Even though the train ride itself costs a pretty penny, I think the experience itself was worth it.  I thought it was interesting to hear stories about the railway’s history and to learn more about life during the Gold Rush.  It certainly made me appreciate all the modern conveniences I now enjoy.  It also made me appreciate the work that went into building the structure, considering the materials and equipment that were available during that time.  Factoring in the weather conditions that the men had to endure… *shudder*…definitely this railroad is an amazing feat!

And the views? Ofcourse, they were nothing short of spectacular–nature at its finest!  There were parts where we saw lush green forests, flowing streams, snow-capped mountains–a little bit of everything!  We even saw a baby brown bear and a mama black bear scrounging around for food!  Now that was pretty awesome, especially to see them in the wild :).

Skagway was indeed a wonderful way to end our short tour of Alaska.  Our next and last stop was Victoria, British Columbia.  While it was the prettiest port in our cruise, sadly, it was where we spent the least amount of time :(.  We only had 4 hours!!!  Waaah!  But I guess cruises are really meant to give tourists just a taste of a particular place–enough to make them want to come back for more. And from what we saw, I definitely want to visit Victoria again someday :).

Victoria holds the distinction of being the most “English” city in British Columbia.  Its charm is evident in the architectural landmarks that can be found along the Inner Harbour–both the majestic Fairmont Empress Hotel and the stately Legislative Building are truly a sight to behold.

Considered a National Historic Site in Canada, the Empress is one of Victoria’s oldest and most famous hotels.  In fact, it has pretty much become an icon for the city itself.  I just love its ivy-covered brick walls and enchanting facade! Had we had more time, it would have been nice to enjoy some high tea at the historic lobby, where it is said that many members of royalty and other dignitaries have had their share of scones and clotted cream :).

Constructed in 1893 in honor of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, the Legislative Building is a must see whether during the day or at night.  We were lucky to catch views of this impressive structure during both times, although I must say that it is definitely more wonderful to see at night.  There are about 3300 bulbs that illuminate the entire building, making it look even more striking and captivating.  I had a field day capturing it all with my camera!  Hahaha!

Sadly, all trips must come to an end, but I’m glad we ended this one with such beautiful and extraordinary sights.  It made me wistful of what more I could have seen, had we had more time.  Oh well…I’m sure there will be a next time :).

As I sit and write this post, it again hits me how lucky I am to able to travel and see different parts of the world.  I am so fortunate to be able to have new experiences that enrich me as a person, and that make life interesting for me. Most of all, I am extremely thankful to have such wonderful parents that I can travel with, and who continue to give me these once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. I am truly blessed!  I only hope that one day I can provide my daughter the same experiences that I have been so generously given :).

Starbucks One

There are two beans battling for importance and popularity in Seattle–the coffee bean and the cocoa bean.  Which bean reigns supreme? While in my opinion it is a pretty close call, I’d have to rule in favor of my every morning staple, the coffee bean.  After all, don’t we have Seattle to thank for giving the world such coffee brands as Seattle’s Best, and my personal favorite, Starbucks? :)

Yup, if you didn’t know by now, Starbucks had its humble beginnings in a small shop by the Pike Place Market.  For all you Starbucks lovers visiting Seattle, it is a MUST to drop by the place where it all began.

Surprisingly, when we got there, there wasn’t a very long line inside the store. While you can still order your cup of java from the counter, there are no more tables and chairs for customers to sit down and while the time away.  The Original Starbucks store is mostly a place to purchase souvenirs, memorabilia, and ofcourse, coffee.

I love how “Starbucks One” stays true to its original look, using its very first mermaid logo on the store signage and merchandise.  It is actually one of only two stores left in Seattle that makes use of the initial logo and colors (it used to be brown!).  So vintage! :)

As a fan of the Starbucks brand and experience, it was pretty exciting for me to be able to visit their very first store–yet another place of interest in the charming city of Seattle :).

Seattle Sights { Day 2 }

Bordering Downtown Seattle is the historic neighborhood of Pioneer Square.  To take advantage of the extremely warm and sunny weather, the H and I decided to explore this beautifully-restored district on foot, as it was just about 12 blocks away from our hotel.

One of the pluses to walking around town is being able to discover many new and interesting sights along the way.  On our way to Pioneer Square, we passed by this really neat park across the street from the Westlake Mall that had trees painted in bright blue!  Eye-catching, right? :)

We saw a chess game in progress as well…

We also saw this massive glass structure–it’s pretty hard to ignore because it is one of the biggest and most modern buildings on the street.  Apparently, it’s the public library!  Ganda diba, and very impressive!  I’m really glad that despite the advancement of technology and its effects on bookstores, it seems that there will be a home for printed books in Seattle for a long time to come :).

On a side note, I was also drawn to this three-piece sculpture by Henry Moore called Vertebrae, right outside the library.  I must say, I was really enjoying all the street art!

As we were nearing Pioneer Square, we passed by the Smith Tower.  It was once the tallest building in Seattle’s skyline.  It’s observation deck can still be accessed to this day, and offers beautiful, sweeping views of the Puget Sound.

Finally, when we arrived at our destination, we were greeted by the sight of this beautiful, century-old pergola.

Pioneer Square was horrifically damaged during the Great Fire of 1889, so many of the structures that are erected in the area today are a result of its re-building. In the 1970′s, artists helped to further revitalize Pioneer Square, transforming it from what was once a place full of brothels, to an artist’s haven.  I guess that explains the abundance of public parks, outdoor art, and pedestrian-friendly streets :).

After getting our fill of photographs, the H and I decided to make our way back to the downtown area for some shopping! :)  This time, we decided to take a different route so we could see more of the streets and sights of Seattle.

We passed a bunch of interesting and beautiful shops, and we eventually walked past the Seattle Art Museum and its incredibly tall “Hammering Man” (his arm actually makes a pounding motion!).  Apparently, he works all day, everyday, except Labor Day.  Hahaha!  Kidding aside, I was really impressed that Seattle seemed to have a very nice public museum, and a pretty big collection of outdoor art installations.  Too bad we didn’t have time to see most of them, nor the exhibits.

By this time, and after all the walking we’d done, the H and I were in dire need of something to cool us down.  We wanted to sample some of the local treats, and were lucky to find an ice cream place right by Downtown!

After a heaping scoop of Molly Moon’s Earl Grey and Chocolate Ice Cream for myself, and an affogatto for the H, we were ready to do some major credit card damage! Hahaha!

And that, pretty much, concluded our sightseeing tour of Seattle :).  On to the shopping!!!

Instagram Friday

I love days like these that are busy and full of interesting experiences!  Despite the fact that I was exhausted to the core, Friday was such a wonderful day for me and I just wanted to share some snippets of it with you :).

First off, I attended and spoke at a press conference for one of our products, Ascof.  We introduced our two new powerhouse endorsers: Winnie Monsod and Winnie Cordero.  Our brand ambassadress, Congresswoman Lucy Torres-Gomez was also there to show her support :).

My second event was the launch of Daphne’s Home Fragrance at Dimensione Bonifacio High Street.  I was touched that I was invited by Daphne herself :).  Relations aside, I’ve always been a fan of hers and her products.  I love how she has grown her brand, and admire the projects she has chosen to pursue.  Let’s just say, I am living vicariously through her experiences :).  Maybe one day I’ll have the courage to pursue my own passions as well :).

The set up of the event was like that of a tea party.  It suited Daphne’s personality to a tee (no pun intended ;P).  Very old world, sophisticated, and feminine :).  I love how her chairs were displayed too.  Bench really did a wonderful job!

On a side note, Daphne’s Home Fragrance is available at Dimensione and bench stores. There are 3 scents to choose from: Jasmine Mint Infusion, Acres of Lavender and Homemade Lemon Tart. At Php348, I think it’s a steal!

Finally, my day ended with another company event.  While the first two were very lifestyle, this one was a bit more business-like and formal, and involved entertaining a lot of doctors.  Thank goodness the venue was very near home as I was thisclose to collapsing from exhaustion!!!  Hahaha!  It was a fun event, though, and it was nice to see everyone enjoying both the food and the entertainment :).  I particularly loved the event design which carried the theme Filipino fiesta, as well as the song numbers of the “Dalagang Bukid”.  Very old school Pinoy!

So there you have it–my busy, busy, but incredibly wonderful Friday :).  What a great way to end the work week, and to start the long weekend! :)