Wednesday, December 2, 2015


December often ushers a bounty of memories spent with family and friends. Especially when there is a reason for you and your loved ones to bond. Sadly, for my family, our reason for this season is the passing of my kuya (older brother). The past few weeks have been spent sharing memories of my brother. The thing about memories is that they can make you happy and melancholy at the same time.
In one of those moments spent as a respite from all the filial duties I found myself being seated by the hubby in a small open-area cafe in the mall. The wait staff of Mary Grace Cafe, seeing that I was undecided (and perhaps looking a little lost) recommended the Hot Chocolate. Thick, warm and, yes, like memories, bittersweet. 
I decided to have some ensaimada with it. The light, fluffy pastry topped with cheese and sugar used to be a Christmas staple during my childhood. After all the aguinaldos were opened, my titas would serve it with hot chocolate before sending me and my cousins back to bed, happy with our Christmas hoard. Mary Grace's version did not have stringy shreds of cheese, instead, the cheese is finely grated and melted to a delicate golden perfection. No wonder, the business is thriving. There is something to come back to in this cafe.
The secrete to eating ensaimada with hot chocolate is to cut the pastry into small bite-sized pieces and then dip it in the hot chocolate. The saltiness of the cheese in the ensaimada brings out the sweetness of the chocolate.
After the first bite, I found myself smiling. Like the effect of the ensaimada on the hot chocolate, the simple delight of eating a perfectly paired merienda brought back sweet memories I will forever be grateful for.

Thursday, November 19, 2015


Jus reposting this video I saw on Facebook.

With the help of 3D projection mapping technology, one can watch a lilliputian chef preparing your dinner on your plate. I am now going to include this dining experience on my bucket list.

Skullmapping, an artistic collective run by painter Antoon Verbeeck and filmmaker Filip Sterckx created the mini-mapping project. On their website, the duo explains that "for this project, we experimented with projection onto a dinner table. By making use of a combination of 3D animation and motion capture, a miniature chef turns your dish into a projected grill."

That is what you definitely get and a big smile on your face as you are served your actual meal.

Saturday, November 7, 2015


The first time I visited Runner's Kitchen was for a meeting.  The location was a bit odd, beside the creek along the periphery of Tomas Morato and E. Rodriguez. In my mind, it would be like a gym with a milk tea shop serving protein shakes.  It was nothing like that at all.

The earthiness of the wooden fascia extends to its interiors, which feels like a well-appointed Baguio B&B. A central wooden table awaits a big group or individuals willing to share a table during a meal.

Quirky lighting fixtures ang wall decor add to the coziness of the whole place.

Being wary of menus that group "proteins" or "carbohydrates," it took me some time to decide on what to order first. Without much expectation for taste, I decided to order the Healthy Whole Wheat Nachos and Spicy Tuna Quinoa Roll.

The nacho platter was overloaded with toppings but was good for one person, two if you're dieting.  Instead of ground beef, the meat topping was mad of crispy adobo flakes which gave the appetizer an interesting Filipino touch. 
Healthy Whole Wheat Nachos
The Spicy Tuna Quinoa roll, is a Japanes maki  roll that uses Quinoa instead of Rice.  
Spicy Tuna Quinoa Roll
Quinioa is grain crop cultivated as early as 4,000 years ago in the Lake Titicaca Basin in South America. It became wildly poplar amongst the health conscious as a substitute for white carbs like bread and rice because it had a high protein and low gluten content. In fact, 2013 was declared by the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), as the International Year of Quinoa.
Photo courtesy of Michael Hermann for
The dipping sauce is not served on the side,  instead it's integrated in the plating, drizzled in waves over the rolls along with toasted black sesame seeds. Interestingly, it's not that spice and the sauce is on the sweet side.
Spicy Tuna Quinoa Roll
Then there was the Chicken Malunggay Pesto on Whole Wheat Pasta which I ordered with trepidation because whole wheat pasta tends to absorb water more than your regular supermarket pasta. This often results in a bland dish. The chef, however, worked on the nuttiness of the whole dish, layering the taste one upon the other from the pasta to the pesto. The malunggay, as you can see on the pic, is not evident. So, I guess it was added for the nutritional value more than for the taste. If nutty is your type, then this dish will work for you.
Chicken Malunggay Pesto on Whole Wheat Pasta
On two other occassions I tried two other dishes.

The  Crispy Beef Tadyang (rib) which I asked to be served with instead of the carrot potato mash.  It is as spartan as it looks. The combo of lightly spiced beef, brown rice and some veggies is a heavy meal for those who are not looking to be wowed.

The other dish I had tasted was the Prawn and Quinoa with Sun-dried Tomato Sauce which the restaurant boasts as one of its best-sellers.  And no wonder, it was bowlful of complementing flavors and the fresh veggies balancing the soft and fleshy textures of the quinoa and prawns.
The place, which seats less than thirty gets filled up on some days, so don't go looking for a quiet dinner.

Runner's Kitchen 

Address: Ground Floor, Creekside Square, Tomas Morato Avenue, Kamuning, Quezon City
Telephone: (02) 415 6870

Sunday, November 1, 2015


Bitter-sweet is how I would describe my relationship with Ampalaya, the extremely bitter vegetable I hated and avoided whenever my lola cooked pakbet but I have also come to love it as the lead character of my hubby's first published children's book, Alamat ng Ampalaya (The Legend of the Bitter Gourd).  
Source: Adarna House
Often, when people find out I have one degree of separation from the anti-hero of this modern children's tale, I am asked if I like the bitter gourd. I would often reply, "yes but only if it is cooked the way I like it."  Problem is, I have rarely encountered cooks or chefs who could make me eat ampalaya.  Bitter has never been my thing.
Source: Flora de Filipinas
Is bitter really better for your health?
Dr. Andrew Weil, the man who established the field of integrative medicine (a combination of alternative and conventional medicine) said in an interview with Huffington post that "one of many other things you can do to improve your daily diet is indulge -- or cultivate -- a taste for bitter flavors" because bitter foods can help moderate your blood sugar levels and hunger.

Recent health concerns with high sugar levels have made me  think twice about my sullen attitude towards this often unloved vegetable.  Here's what I tried:  Ampalaya Polvoron and Ampalaya Chips.

Ampalaya Polvoron
Polvoron is a sweet shortbread made of toasted flour, sugar and powdered milk. This version created by Nutri-Vron of Pampanga uses stevia sweetener instead of sugar and has powdered ampalaya for flavoring.  Sounds really healthy, right?

It does taste a bit like your regular polvoron- powdery, milky and sweet but with a bitter aftertaste, not like the tartness of beer malt, though. More like the bitterness of aspirin, but only for a second.  

Ampalaya Chips
Made with flour, spices, salt and ampalaya powder,  these chips are produced by Ocean Fresh from Cavite. The foil pack kept the chips crunchy.
At first bite, I couldn't taste the ampalaya at all because the chips were heavily spiced with too much pepper. Then just before swallowing, that's when the taste receptors got activated by the ampalaya bitterrness.

After trying both snacks, I have decided that I would take healthy snacking at my own pace... a very sluggish pace. I would still like to try other ampalaya  flavored snacks. Ampalaya ice cream, perhaps?

Friday, September 4, 2015


There's ice cream and there's ice cream with weird toppings.
I often pass by the Eastwood branch of the Korean franchise Milkcow. I'd often find a line of kids with their moms and  teens, buying the organic soft serve ice cream. Curiosity stung me like a bee.

The small ice cream parlor serves basic vanilla flavored soft-serve ice cream with a multitude of topping choices. Millenials like their choices but a Gen-Xer like me would have their decision-making skills challenged.
Image courtesy of

There's the Snow Drop with cotton candy, sea salt and jelly beans; there's the Black Pearl with hazelnut syrup, sea salt and coco balls; and if you're feeling adventurous, there's the Cheesy Berry with strawberry syrup and cheese cubes.

I decided to try the classic Milky Cube which is served with a cube of honeycomb. Not just honey but the natural honey packaging. I ordered mine with an additional drizzle of chocolate syrup.
Honeycombs are a work of art, made from consensual female bee slavery.

Female worker bees consume about 4 kilos of honey to secrete 1/2 kilo of Cera alba, a natural wax, from eight glands on the sides of their bodies. The wax is formed into a series of hexagonal shapes which serves as a multi-purpose basket to hold honey, pollen and larva. So, it's basically functional and edible bee furniture.
Image courtesy of Waugsberg
The food attendants prepare everything in front of you so you know everything's hygienic.

 This is what I got.
The soft serve ice cream is silkier than our usual suprmarket or fast-food soft serve, but only slightly so. The honey comb was waxy and rubbery. It did not add any additional excitement to the ice cream experience.  So maybe next time, I will just try the cute combo toppings.

Milkcow Eastwood
Address: Ground Floor, Eastwood Mall, Libis, Quezon City
Telephone: 3743698

Monday, August 17, 2015


The pioneer in the buffet concept restaurant in the Philippines adds another feather to its cap as it turns 38 on August 26, 2015. For one day only, guests can enjoy the beloved buffet at a special 50% discount at P444. This Anniversary gift to their loyal guests can be enjoyed in groups of 6 or more. There are 2 time slots guests can choose from to dine in during lunch and dinner. The half-price treat is strictly on a pre-booked and prepaid basis. Guests are required to call any of the 5 branches to acquire a slot to avail of the promotion. Click here to view the full mechanics or visit their official website:

Saturday, August 15, 2015


Was pleasantly surprised that since Friday, the Eastwood Mall has a Spice Souk instead of their regular Weekend Market stalls.

Found some tasty stuff from Whisk.
Taste tested these locally made honey fruit flavored mead, an alcoholic drink fermented with honey. My favorites were the Passion Fruit, Marang and Chili Honey.

Will be coming back for the Santol Bicol Express at Aling Dory's. That one ran out early on.

The Spice Souk at Eastwood Mall will run until today, Sunday and next weekend, on 21-23 August 2015.

Eastwood Mall
Eastwood City, E. Rodriquez, Jr Ave (C-5), Bagumbayan, Quezon City
Telephone: 709-9888/ 709-0888


Was recently invited to dine at Dad’s Megamall. I had second thoughts about going mainly because the hubby and I were on a diet. And there was also the mall traffic to consider. But the buffet beckoned and the belly could not resist, our diets be damned.
Buffets are a Filipino weakness. Give us an endless supply of a wide variety of food to be shared with family or friends and we will gladly partake.

Buffets originated as 16th century “smorgasboard,” a type of Scandinavian meal where multiple hot and cold dishes of various foods are served on a table which was, no surprise,  called a smörgåsbord.

Usually, the guests gathered before dinner for a pre-dinner drink, and the smorgasboard was a prelude to the formal dinner.  These side tables, called buffets by the French, eventually, at the dawn of modern day dining, became the center of meals where diners helped themselves and feasted on sandwiches, hot and cold entrées, beverages and desserts.

And that is what  I did at Dad’s.

When dining at buffets, you need a strategy so you don’t end up being full without tasting all the good stuff.

First, get your priorities straight. Find out the restaurant’s specialties. But since Dad's serves hundreds of dishes, this was quite difficult to do. I had to rely on what I remembered from my last Dad's experience and put the roast meat and  poultry with the Japanese dishes at the top of my list.

Cold Soba and Chawan Mushi
Then, map out and do a “recon” of the area.  Go around once before getting any food.  Dad’s has different sections for different global cuisines, a beverage bar and an extensive dessert area, so the walking can be considered as a warm-up for the gustatory marathon that's about to come.
Canapes and breads
Spanish Tapas
Japanese Sushi
US Roast Turkey
Baked Mussels
Greek Beef Souvlaki
And when you're ready, get that plate and take small portions of what you want to eat. Do not fill your plate to  a mountainous PG (Patay Gutom) or, even worse,  SPG (Super Patay Gutom) level.  First, because it's just not good table manners. Second, food is best enjoyed when it looks good. Third, Dad's, like most buffet restaurants, have a "no leftover policy." If you take too much without finishing it, you end up paying more. 
Don't be such a pig!
You can always go back again. And again. And again.

That's  the beauty of buffets. No one is judged for going back for seconds or thirds.

The staff behind the open-theater set-up were helpful in recommending what sauces and side dishes went well with the entrée’s I chose.
Open-theater- set up
Dad's World Buffet makes its own ham.
Special mention goes to the US Roast Beef. It was at Dad's when my own dad took me to my first buffet. This was the dish we both enjoyed the most. Biting through the tender, juicy meat smothered in Mushroom Gravy was a "Ratatouille moment."

For those with Balikbayan guests, the Pinoy selection includes classics like Lechon (and pritchon), Crispy Pata, Kare-Kare as well as regional favorites.
Crispy Pata and Kinilaw
And there are also quirky choices for the adventurous like the adobong balut.

The sign of a good buffet is the absence of lines. Not because people aren’t clogging up the cue to get food, it’s because they’ve already gotten what they want. No lines usually indicate that the dishes are replenished all the time. 

Great food shared amidst wonderful conversation...  was glad to discover, that after 38 years, it’s still the same at Dad’s.

Dad's World Buffet will be celebrating its 38th year with a one-day-only 50% discount on  August 26, 2015. For more details and reservations, pass by the nearest branch or check out their website .

SM Megamall
4th Level Bridgeway, SM Megamall, Mandaluyong
Telephone: 633-1758, 636-3785 or 0917-8961757

207 EDSA, Greenhills, Mandaluyong City
705-1807, 722-8125 or 0917-8988124

2nd Level, Glorietta 3, Ayala Center, Makati City
892-8897 to 98 or 0917-8978896

523 Merchant Bldg., Padre Faura Street, Ermita, Manila
528-1723 to 24 or 0917-8971722

West Avenue
15 West Avenue, Quezon City
372-8845, 374-3767 or 0917-8988844