@SpiralManila foodgasmic buffet makes you want more!

It’s nice to know that some good things never change, and if they do..they only get better. With the buffet competition heating up in Manila these days, one luxurious resto by the bay still lords it over the city for being the best of the bunch. And the honor belongs to Spiral at Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila.

Spiral panoramic_sunset

(Photo courtesy of the hotel)

I’ve been avoiding all sorts of food debauchery to adopt a healthier lifestyle but I was truly excited when I received an invite from Jane of Sofitel’s sales & marketing office to try the ‘new’ Spiral. The last time I ate here was before it closed due to typhoon Pedring in late 2011.

Spotted: a truly yummylicious caviar pie with the Spiral logo, best eaten with bread or crackers.

Spiral caviar pie

I wasn’t really prepared for the ultimate culinary treat that awaited me. The renovated Spiral is so much better in terms of design and food offerings. The diner is certainly spoiled for choice with the 21 dining ateliers ranging from Japanese to French cuisine to Brazilian churrasco!

Most eyecatching was the L’Epicerie section which was separated from the rest of the buffet by glass panels. Maybe those smoked cold cuts and artisanal cheeses from Europe need to have their own temperature.Not only were there premium aged hams, there were also sausages of all kinds, pâtés, terrines, jams, olives and other gourmet essentials.

Spiral Manila

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Spam Tocino for real …. @smsupermalls

There’s been so much fuss about the SPAM® Tocino that I’ve become one of those rabidly curious about it. Perhaps, Hormel (the manufacturer) has finally recognized the Philippines’ clout as a Spam-eating nation that it has decided to make a Spam flavor in our honor…it could have been adobo! haha.

Acting on a tip from fellow blogger Mommy Peach, I went to SM Hypermarket (Sucat) last night to check out the availability of Spam Tocino and found it glistening in tin can glory in the shelves. O hai…it’s not a hoax after all! I immediately bought three cans at Php105 each :)


Unboxed. Or should I say…un-canned! :)

Spam Tocino unboxed

Special instructions for cooking at the back.

Tocino prep

Unlike other Spam variants, Spam Tocino needs to be simmered a bit in water until liquid is reduced. If you want it healthier or less greasy, you don’t need to add oil anymore and just wait for the water to reduce or dry a bit then caramelize. But the caramelization wasn’t what I expected like in the real tocino.

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Black ink risotto & bacalao recipes for Lent

It is Good Friday now for Catholics in the Philippines and the time is usually associated with fasting or abstaining from meat. Fish, seafood, vegetables and the occasional hunger are the order of the day.

Anyway, am sharing here a rather belated post about the Spanish cooking class I attended at The Maya Kitchen mid-March. On the podium was Spanish chef Chele Santiago who lords it over one of Manila’s celebrated culinary kitchens, Gallery VASK in Bonifacio Global City. It is rather expensive to dine at Vask, but those who attended this class took the shortcut. We got to see a former Michelin resto chef in action and got to sample his dishes without the hefty price tag. Haha.

Chef Chele in action

The black ink risotto with seared scallops was utterly delish. I prefer this to paella negra anytime. This looks like a gourmet treat but at the end of this post, the chef kindly shared his recipe on how to make this at home.

Scallops & black ink risotto

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Alaska teams up with Royal FrieslandCampina (RFC)

Royal FrieslandCampina (RFC) is one of the world’s Top 5 dairy companies with over 130 years of experience in producing milk. It is composed of dairy cooperatives with about 19,224 member-farmers from European countries like Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium.

RFC recently firmed up its foothold in the Philippines by entering into a solid partnership with Alaska Milk Corporation (AMC), whose 40 years in the local market has made it one of the country’s leading milk brands.

grass to glass photo

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Cheap clothes at Mango outlet store in San Pablo, Laguna

It’s nice to go out of town especially when you stumble upon little gems and unexpected things. It’s a luxury I don’t get to indulge in these days, which means…we should do this more often! :)

In my previous post, I told you about our visit to this mall in San Pablo City, Laguna called Ultimart. It’s more low-key than SM San Pablo but this place is perfect for when you want to spend a laid-back evening or afternoon, away from the crowds.

Upon arriving in Ultimart, my attention was first caught by the Mango outlet store in this strip.The sight of this store excited me (what is it with women & shopping? LOL) Mango is one of my favorite casual clothing brands along with Zara, Warehouse, H&M and others. It thrilled me what items I can find in here. And the best part: outlet usually means cheaper prices!

Mango outlet

My blogger-friend Rowena warned me that they don’t allow photo-taking in the store so I set my camphone to silent and pretended to text when it was time to shoot pics, LOL.

Look at the price tags. However, most of the merchandise were off-season items and mostly in small sizes (a boon for slim ladies!) -

Mango at Ultimart Laguna

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The great Aristocrat food trip….. to San Pablo, Laguna!

The Aristocrat Restaurant on Roxas Boulevard is a great city landmark, much like the Quiapo Church or Rizal Park. But the amazement goes a notch higher when am faced with its year of birth : it was put up in 1936 which means it was there before the Second World War. If you’re looking for the oldest full-service restaurant chain in Manila, look no further. This is it!

Aristocrat Manila

Being in the business for so long and still drawing crowds day after day can only mean one thing: this restaurant serves consistently good food.

Aristocrat Manila

For instance, I don’t mind eating that Aristocrat classic – boneless chicken barbecue with Java rice and java sauce for breakfast (even though I was also envious of my seatmates’ adobo, tocino and tapa). It’s a treat that can be enjoyed 24/7, whenever the craving hits.

Aristocrat boneless chicken

Had the native hot chocolate to go with my meal and I savored every sip. This was heaven in a cup – thick, rich and with just the right hint of sweetness. Try this on your next visit.

native hot choco

Anyway, even though my family has always dined at Aristocrat’s flagship branch in Roxas Boulevard, our blogger group had the pleasure of being invited to the resto’s out-of-town location we didn’t know about. It was in the City of Seven Lakes – San Pablo, Laguna.

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10 years of blogging Round 2 : giving away 3 Sennheiser headphones for April!

Thank you so much for all those who joined the first round of my 2014 monthly giveaways celebrating 10 years of blogging! Sadly, we can only have two winners for the much-coveted 2TB storage drive from Western Digital (please check Rafflecopter to know who!). For April, however, we will have three winners for swanky new headphones from a respected name in high-quality audio, and that’s the German brand Sennheiser.

April giveaway

Here are our basic rules for this giveaway:

1. You must reside in Metro Manila or be able to claim in Makati City. We will not ship.

2. Join the contest by submitting an entry with Rafflecopter.

Some of the things you can do to gain more entries:

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Digital inverter technology in new Samsung appliances

Had a preview of the new Samsung appliances for the first quarter of 2014 and it’s really drool-worthy (note that am not talking about food here!) Their Smart Oven can make yogurt and cook food without oil. The Front Load Washing Machine can clean clothes even in cold water with the Eco-Bubble Technology. The Smart Air Conditioner has a built-in air purifier and functions you can control with an app on your smartphone.

But my favorite of all is their Food ShowCase Refrigerator. The two-layer door is quite amazing as seen in this photo with Daphne Paez. The outer compartment is for the most-used food products and immediately behind it is the inner layer for stocking more stuff. C-o-o-l, isn’t it?

Daphne Paez with the Refrigerator during the Samsung DA Launch last March 27, 2014

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Up close & personal with Luis Manzano for #Sensodyne

I’ve been hobnobbing with lots of showbiz stars for blogger coverages lately (one of the perks of the trade). And of those I encountered, I find Matteo Guidicelli and Luis Manzano to be the most well-bred, articulate of the bunch.

On Luis: interviews with him these days naturally center on his girlfriend Angel Locsin who he has reconciled with recently.He said he is “happy, content and secure” with the relationship, “communication is open,” and he admits that marriage may be in the horizon.

Luis Manzano

“We have talked about the future in a casual way because we are not getting any younger. I’m 32 and she’s 29. But these things, you gotta prepare. I attended Iya Villania’s wedding recently and found out that engagement rings can cost from P 2 to P3 million so malamang, sa Adoration Chapel na lang ako ikakasal nito..hahaha.” (FYI Luis… the rock Catherine Zeta-Jones got from Michael Douglas indeed cost 2.5 million..in US dollars, LOL)

One thing Luis share with his gf Angel is the passion for worthwhile causes.He has the Luis Manzano Foundation (LMF) which provides free medical-dental missions, scholarship grants to poor children and assistance to calamity victims. Among his foundation’s beneficiaries so far are the Quezon City Jail Female Dormitory in Camp Karingal, Bantay Bata 163, the East Avenue Medical Center and the National Children’s Hospital.

Most recently, Luis signed up as an ambassador for Sensodyne’s ‘Say No To Ngilo’ campaign (pangingilo is the Pilipino word for sensitive teeth, such as the sharp, quick pain one feels in the mouth when ingesting something hot, or cold).

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Hands-on with the Unilever #PureItWater purifier

It was nice to get acquainted last week with the Unilever PureIt water purifier. I’ve always known Unilever as the multinational which produced those ubiquitous beauty and personal care products. It turns out: they’re now into consumer appliances too!

Unilever PureIt

This water purifier which now occupies an important space in our home came right in time because we’ve always bought our water from the neighborhood water refilling station. I guess, for a household decision-maker like me, this has always been the easiest way.

At a suggested retail price of only P5,000, I deem it a worthy investment because it’s certified by no less than the US Environmental Protection Agency as having met microbiological safety norms.

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