Monthly Archives: August 2012

Date Night Diaries { da.u.de Tea Lounge }

Ok guys, there’s another new place in town, and I think it’s going to be big!  Move over Starbucks and make way for, da.u.de Tea Lounge!

da.u.de is pronounced da-you-deh.  It refers to the markings on the frontal part of the bahag, a loincloth worn by tribesfolk from the Cordilleras.  Pretty unique name, right?  And let me tell you, like its name, there is definitely nothing typical about this place!  da.u.de is actually the first and only tea lounge of its kind in Manila–practically everything from the food to the dessert is infused with tea!

To be honest, I was a bit misled by the term tea lounge.  I thought this place only served tea.  Being a hard-core coffee drinker, I didn’t think that this place was for me.  But the lure of a beautifully designed, chic restaurant was too hard to ignore, plus it is conveniently located across the street from where I live, so the H and I decided to give it a try.  And we are so glad we did!

First of all, they serve pretty yummy dishes!  I’ve tried the chicken pho–super sarap especially on a wet, rainy night like the ones we’ve been having lately. The broth is tea-based and very flavorful!  And at Php240 for a large bowl, it’s filling and definitely value for money!

Next time I’m there, I’d love to try the crisp pork banh mi, and the mushroom and mascarpone pasta.  Many a blogger have raved about it, so those dishes are definitely next on my list!

I’ve also tried some of the desserts–the tea and chocolate bread pudding, as well as their brownie ala mode!  Both desserts are worth the extra pounds and inches on my waistline, let me tell you.  Hahaha!  But I especially loved the soft yet crunchy bread pudding. Mmmm…!

Interestingly, because the concept of the restaurant is very influenced by the New York dining scene, da.u.de also has its own “secret menu” that changes frequently.  Just ask the waitstaff for the secret food items not on the menu, and impress your company by being “in-the-know”!  *Wink, wink*  That’s an insider tip from da.u.de’s owner herself!

For the teas, I’ve tried the 2nd flush green tea, and another one that I forgot but remember that it tasted like raspberry.  Hahaha!  Both were very good, but surprisingly, I liked the raspberry one more!  It was served in this clear, really sleek-looking, chic tea pot, that dispenses the tea as it sits on top of the tea cup. Pretty cool, huh?  The hubby was quite impressed, and is thinking of getting one for our home.  Hahaha!  And to think we’re not really tea drinkers!

Actually, there are over 50 different types of teas and tea blends that you can try at da.u.de.  Yup, the owner, Renee Sebastian, is very serious about her tea!  She is the only certified tea master in the Philippines so you can be assured that she really knows her stuff!

But if you feel a bit overwhelmed with the long list of choices, then you can also walk over to their sniff jars and get a good whiff of the dried tea leaves.  They’re very fragrant, and give you a pretty a good idea of the taste that’s to come!  I just love this little detail!  Such a cool idea!

Speaking of cool details,  I am quite in love with the chevron patterns found throughout the lounge as well.

I also love the print on their upholstery!  Very sophisticated!

It’s these little details that show how much thought and care have gone into the planning and execution of this tea lounge.  Definitely, the result speaks for itself :).

So have I convinced you to give da.u.de a try? :)  I sure hope so :).  Trust me, word is going around and it won’t be long before this place starts getting filled to the rafters!  And with good reason too–there’s a little bit of everything for everyone! Food, desserts, drinks–they even have “coffee-esque” versions for those looking for their java fix.  Feel like a cocktail?  They have spiked tea drinks as well!

So if you haven’t made any dining plans for this weekend, it’s time to head on over to da.u.de at BGC.  Trust me, once you try it, you’ll keep coming back for more!

Two

My baby just turned 2.

The H and I spent the whole day with her, and celebrated very simply :).

I made her a crown, which she loved!

Here she is, about to blow her candles.  I just love that expression on her face! Priceless! Hahaha!

I still can’t believe my little miss is 2.

Don’t grow up too fast, Baby G!  While mommy is so proud of your independence, enjoys watching all your new antics, and listening to you sing and chatter away, I think I’d like you to be a baby just a little while longer :).

Cirque Sunday

The circus was in town again!

Last Sunday, the H and I caught the last performance of Saltimbanco, Cirque du Soleil’s longest-running touring show.  This is the second time a Cirque show has hit Manila shores, and like its predecessor Varekai, Saltimbanco left me mesmerized, enthralled, and totally entertained!

It was held at the SM Arena.  I kinda wished they did the whole big top thing again like they did the last time because then it would have truly felt like a real circus to me.

And unfortunately, the arena was so big, it didn’t quite fill up…

Venue aside, I have to admit that Saltimbanco is one of my favorite Cirque performances!  I liked that the acts had a little bit of everything you can find in a regular circus, but with ten times the thrill and awe—acrobats, trapeze artists, strongmen (on steroids!  Hahaha!), contortionists, etc.  As is usual with Cirque shows, the characters performed hair-raising feats that displayed such remarkable flexibility and athleticism!  Many times I caught myself catching my breath as the performers would contort their bodies into the most unbelievable positions, or as they would execute acrobatic stunts at the most dizzying heights! Grabe talaga!  Uh-mazing!!!

I loved the costumes too!  So colorful, vibrant and happy!

It was truly a wonderful way to cap off our Sunday!  Definitely, I don’t think I’ll ever grow too old for the circus :).

The Brunch Files: Wildflour

The restaurant scene in my neighborhood has just gotten mighty interesting with the opening of 3 brand new places to dine!  One of them in particular, Wildflour Cafe and Bakery, has been causing so much buzz in the foodie blogosphere, so it was definitely the first one the H and I opted to try.  Luckily, it’s practically across the street from where we live, so we took advantage of the proximity and walked in for breakfast during the weekend.

Walking into Wildflour, I felt like I was walking into one of my favorite brunch places in New York.  Particularly, I remembered Schillers and The Smith over on the Lower East Side.  Wildflour has a very similar vibe, but still holds its own unique character.  I loved the wooden tables, and the white brick walls.  I particularly liked the painted designs and “menu” on the wall too—very bistro lang ang dating :).  Hahaha!

The focal point of the room was the frames of cartoony artwork displayed at the back of the restaurant.  I like that it added a bit of quirkiness to the restaurant, and color too.  The H didn’t like it, though.  According to him it was “not bagay”.  Hahaha!  I was telling him that because it’s so unexpected, it gives the restaurant more character.  He wasn’t buying it.  Hahahaha!

On to the food:

I am a huge brunch fan and one of my usual orders for brunch fare is the Croque Madame.  I’ve tried only one other restaurant in the Philippines that serves this type of sandwich, and unfortunately, it was not something to rave about.  Based on my readings, Wildflour serves a mean version of their Croque Madame so I was very excited to try it out.

For his breakfast, the H opted for the Wildflour Plate.  Mistakenly, we thought they were serving Steak Frites at that time, but were informed that they would only begin serving it at 11am (we were there at around 9.  Bummer!).  So the H had no choice but to order the Wildflour Plate since the other breakfast items were mostly served with bread (he has this quirk of not eating bread :o), and he wasn’t in the mood for pancakes either.

This is how my Croque Madame looked like when the plate was laid in front of me.  Can you see the sauce dripping over the sandwich?  I liked how pretty that egg looked as well, sprinkled with some spring onion.  Lovely presentation :).  It really made my mouth water, and my stomach growl–I kid you not!  And let me tell you, it tasted even better than it looked!  The bread was freshly baked, soft and creamy.  It went very well with the thinly sliced ham, béchamel sauce and fried egg on top.  Indeed, I relished every bite with matching oohs and ahhhs :).  Craving satisfied!

The hubby was not as satisfied, though, with his food.  For Php495, he did not feel his serving of potato crisps, eggs and two slices of sausage were worth it.  He also thought his double shot of espresso was a bit watered down.  Poor hubby. He is extremely particular about his food pa naman.

On the bright side, he is looking forward to trying out their dinner menu offerings, and giving Wildflour a chance to redeem itself.  Hahaha!

The verdict?

As with the ambience and design of the restaurant, the H and I have mixed reviews of our initial visit to Wildflour.  While I loved my eating experience, the H would like to sample the other dishes first before giving it his definite thumbs up.

Thankfully, Wildflour is practically a stone’s throw away from where we live, so I can totally see ourselves becoming regulars in this neighborhood café and bakery :).

We Will Overcome

When I first started this blog, I promised myself that I would only write about all things sunshine-y and positive.

These past few days, however, it’s been a bit difficult not to focus on and write about the depressing images of houses being swept away by raging waters, and streets turning into lakes.  It’s practically all I see on TV and out my window.

And then this…

I love how hopeful this statement is.

I love how it speaks of the resilience of the Filipino spirit.

I love that it is positive and determined.

Because the Filipino is precisely that and more.  We’ve proven it during Ondoy and Pepeng, we can definitely do it again.

Yes, we are stronger than these rains.

Yes, we will definitely overcome.

Image from CANVAS – Center for Art, New Ventures and Sustainable Development

Date Night Diaries { La Girolle }

Last week was really hectic.  And I mean crazy, tiring hectic.  Like, “I-Wanna-Catch- My-Breath-and-Take-a-Day-Off” type of hectic.

So finally, I did.

And what a day to choose to take off–it was a stormy, gloomy day, perfect for staying in and curling up in bed.

But did I do that?  Ofcourse not!  Hahaha!

Instead, I figured it was the best time to treat myself and redeem some Deal Grocer coupons I bought for La Girolle, Chef Ian Padilla’s French restaurant at the Fort.  Since the terms of the deal were that we could only use it for a weekday lunch, off the H and I went to enjoy a well-deserved meal, despite the slightly psychotic weather.

Located at the second floor of the Blue Sapphire Building on 30th Street, getting to La Girolle is like getting to some super secret location.  From the elevator, we were showed through a door, then led down a hallway of offices, and a parlor.  I totally would not have guessed that a restaurant of this (supposed) caliber would be hidden amongst these establishments.  It’s a good thing that they had a welcoming committee at the lobby that showed us the way :).

When we finally got to the end of the corridor, we arrived at an understated, simply decorated, surprisingly small space of a restaurant.  We were greeted at the door by Chef Ian, and were ushered in by the maitre d’ to a table by the window.

After showing us our menu for the day, the H and I (and our stomachs!) were ready to begin our culinary feast!  Here is what we ate:

I’m glad that my La Girolle experience truly lived up to, and actually even exceeded my expectations!  After reading about it in other food blogs, I came with high hopes and was truly expecting to be “wowed” by the food.  And “wowed” I was!

The tasting menu came with a sampler of some of La Girolle’s more popular dishes.  We had the Grapes and Bleu Cheese Salad, the Veloute of Cauliflower Soup, Pan-Seared Fish of the Day, and the Red Wine Braised Beef.  For dessert we had the Caramelized Lemon Tart.

The entire meal was, to me, perfection!  It was served nicely plated, and at just the right temperature :).  The portions were sizeable enough so that we weren’t “bitin“, and had enough room in our tummies for the succeeding courses.  Eventually, though, everything piled up and I found myself quite full at the end of the meal!  Hahaha! :)

I loved the flavors of each dish as well.  The fish of the day was also very fresh, while the beef was sooooo soft and tender.  It is obvious how Chef Ian and his staff pay attention to each and every detail of the eating experience, and make sure to give their customers food that is not just of good taste, but of best quality as well!

While La Girolle is a classic case of “Don’t Judge a Restaurant by its Looks,” I’m still hoping that a bit more pizazz and creativity can be added to its ambience.  There is no doubt that the food here is top notch, but having  more interesting interiors, I think, can only add to the experience :).

A’s 1st Birthday on Smart Parenting

A huge “Thank You” to Smart Parenting for featuring A’s 1st birthday in their August issue!

And so timely too, because I’m busy prepping for A’s party next week!  Can you believe how time flies?  My baby is almost 2!

Gosh, this brings back such wonderful memories!

I had such a great time planning this party, and ofcourse, I wouldn’t have been able to pull it off without the help of Bambi Hernandez of Alice’s Wonderland!

For those of you looking for a super talented event stylist, Bambi is definitely your girl!

Photo via Alice’s Wonderland Bambi Hernandez’ FB page