Seasons by Olivier Elzer

Seasons by Olivier Elzer was one fine restaurant we recently got to try in Hong Kong. It has just opened for a little more than a month but it is already busy with a lot of diners. Blame it on the fact that the head chef of the Michelin-rated L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Central has jumped ship to establish a resto carrying his name, at Lee Gardens in Causeway Bay. Seeing that we don’t always see handsome, youthful chefs around, Olivier E is as refreshing as the name Seasons, don’t you think? :)

Olivier E

Upon entering, you immediately get a glimpse of the staff working in the open kitchen. The bar set-up is rather informal compared to the other sections of the resto, but at least you get to see all the action.

Seasons

My friend Barbie Chan, marketing communications director of Sáv Hospitality treated me to lunch (because am always a lucky girl!) I trust her when it comes to knowing the hottest eating places in town and sometimes I hate her for not gaining a pound, lol. Here’s our photo while waiting for the food service to begin..

with Barbie

First to arrive was the complimentary bread basket with two kinds of butter. You just know a resto is good when they know their dough, but I had to resist from carbo-loading in anticipation of the three courses ahead.

Bread & butter

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@samsungPH recipe challenge: win a Smart Oven + RT6000 ref!

Recipe challenge

We’ve partnered with our friends from Samsung Philippines to launch a recipe challenge which will give one reader of this blog a chance to win a Samsung Smart Oven worth at least P14,000. I’ve written about it in this post.

But there’s more. The winning recipe will be pitted with the recipes of two other participants in a cook-off end of July 2014 where a Samsung RT6000 digital inverter ref (worth at least P40,000) is at stake for the grand prize winner. The RT6000 ref is the perfect fit for the modern home maker because of its reliability, excellent cooling performance, efficiency, durability and excellent design. It’s an appliance you’d want to have in your kitchen!

Sounds easier than winning the lotto, right? All you have to do is submit your best, award-winning personal recipe to this page from July 15 to July 28, 2014.

The participating blogs for this contest are the following: annalyn.net, animetric.blogspot.com, kellymisa.com. Reader must submit only to one blog site to join.

Here’s the rest of the contest rules:

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UP Town Center resto: Pinác Capampangan Cuisine

Kapampangan cuisine (or the cooking of the province of Pampanga) is one of the first I loved. There was this old resto in Malate called Mequeni which served great food but it has closed ages ago. So when an invite came from Ms. Angel Pelayo of Grandmomma’s Kitchen to try eating at her pet resto Pinác with other food bloggers, I said yes. Somehow, she got me at the phrase “Heirloom Capampangan Cuisine.” Coming from a political family in Candaba, Pampanga (a popular place to watch the migration of birds), Angel is showcasing in Pinác precious family recipes handed down through generations.Comfort Filipino food, no less!

First, Pinác is located in UP Town Center which is awash with a lot of interesting restaurants. Unfortunately, it’s far away from me. Imagine the traffic I encountered on week night rush hour just to go to Katipunan. This was the scene at C5-Kalayaan flyover..am sure some of you can relate :)

Kalayaan traffic

So I arrived close to 9pm for a 7pm appointment, and my colleagues were already eating dessert, LOL

Gladly, the waiter plopped down a plate of the lengua con setas, one of the house specialties offered during lunch (P255). Delish sauce plus mouthwatering ox tongue plus toasted garlic and vegetables..these were enough to make me forget that I was in purgatory earlier with the traffic.

Lengua at Pinac

And to wash away the tiredness, a refreshing glass of Cucumber Mint Dalandan Shake (P85).

Cucumber shake

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Raffaele Woodfired Pizza at The Bayleaf Hotel Intramuros

Like any resident of this Big Bad City, I have a love-hate relationship with Manila. My hatred for its chaos and viciousness at times outweighing my love for it. But beautiful places within the city make me keep the faith and believe that yes… perhaps, there’s hope for this seemingly hopeless place :)

My love affair with Manila was rekindled as we discovered this new restaurant called Raffaele Woodfired Pizza on the 3rd floor of the The Bayleaf hotel. First thing to love about this place: the ambiance. Plush chairs in bright colors complementing the view of the lush gardens and the Spanish-era fortresses that make Intramuros such a historic area.

Bayleaf

View of the walls

Props to the management for choosing an all-glass concept for the wall and ceiling of the resto. This used to be the hotel veranda. The view is simply precious, and I caught a glimpse of the Manila City Hall from the rain-speckled window.

Manila City Hall

After relishing our surroundings, it was now time to enjoy the food. We were first served the complimentary focaccia bread, and thanks to the chef for including their homemade ricotta cheese to go with it.

Foccacia with cheese

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OWL coffee giveaway is on – 5 winners! #OWLCoffeePh

Am the type of person who has to have a cup of coffee to perk me up in the mornings. But am finding out that good old 3-in-1 will do as am usually hurrying off to work and have to settle with instant gratification of my caffeeine cravings. The stronger cup of brew can come later in the day.

Coffee!

Anyway, I’ve been using local brands but was lucky enough to be gifted with packs of Owl Coffee for our consumption. I suddenly went into coffee heaven!

OWL coffee packs

OWL is a Singapore brand and there are several varieties to enjoy. My favorites are the 3in1 Strong and Kopi-C which has evaporated milk as its creamer, but of course in powdered version. There are also choices for the diet-conscious like 3in1 Regular Low Fat and Kopi Siew Dai with Less Sugar. I thought the most luxurious of the line is the Nanyang White Coffee, it’s rich and creamy but sweetened with coconut sugar so it’s healthier.

Not to forget, OWL also has a tea line! They have Teh Tarik in packets…it is like Singapore’s version of the milk tea, and the Soothing Brew Ginger Tea – a bit stronger in taste but reminds me more of salabat. Some of my officemates who don’t drink coffee loved the Owl Teh Tari every step of the way!

Now, here’s the good news: you can be one of the five winners of this blog’s Owl Coffee giveaway which starts today. Each winner will receive 2 gift boxes containing 1 full pack of coffee and 1 full pack of tea – flavors may vary, plus there’s a bonus sampler box too. The only requirement is that you must live in Metro Manila in order to win.

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Just follow our simple mechanics via Rafflecopter to join, and tell your friends how wonderful OWL coffee and tea is!

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Dessert du jour: the Rogue Magnum

The lines are still long during peak hours at the Make Your Own Magnum bar in SM Aura and for those who don’t have much patience to queue up, we recommend a move to the Magnum Cafe proper where at least you can sit down in comfortable couches and relish the full line up of dishes on the menu, which doesn’t just include desserts!

But yes, Magnum Manila will always be known for its desserts. In the past week, we were lucky enough to taste The Rogue Magnum – the latest creation by chef Miko Aspiras to entice the sweet-toothed. The word ‘rogue’ may connote something negative (like rogue senators in jail, lol), but it is just so named because it is the pop-up resto’s collaboration with premier lifestyle magazine Rogue.

So here it is. Happiness in a jar, described by the chef himself as “composed of a light cashew meringue with mascarpone mousseline, topped with fresh strawberries and drizzled with fig-flavored Crema del Duca balsamic cream.” A vanilla Magnum bar dipped in Belgian white chocolate is perched atop the tub, which is then topped with “freeze-fried strawberries and shards of salty almonds.”

Magnum Rogue

We know you want it! :)

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Blue Bay Walk restaurants: Hot Star Large Fried Chicken

Blue Bay Walk is the newest resto & shopping strip developed by Federal Land along Macapagal Avenue in Pasay City. It’s across the street from Blue Wave and the best thing is there’s no parking fee (yet!) when you hang around the area. Blue Bay Walk gained repute because of its two most popular restos, The Food Club buffet and Project Pie. But there are other establishments as well like BonChon, Army Navy, Papa John’s Pizza, Angel N Kiss (a Korean bakery), Chef J. Tesoro’s Mini Pies & Tarts, Curry Bee, Kimono Ken and others.

Hot Star Large Fried Chicken, a franchise from Taiwan, is one of the joints packing the crowds at the moment. Maybe because you can have a filling meal here for less than P150. Mostly I like the blue interiors which were fashioned out of container vans.

Hot Star

Inside

This is Hot Star’s BBQ flavored chicken slab (P125) and I guess the photo doesn’t do justice to how big it is in real, LOL. The cashier said the standard size of the chicken fillet, when cooked is 12 inches. She added that BBQ large fried chicken is one of their bestsellers but I found the breading too chewy and the barbecue taste needed to have more oomph.

Bbq large fried chicken

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P538 eat all you can in Quezon City at The Buffet!

Sigh. A drive to Quezon City really feels like an out-of-town trip for me. But there’s always one good reason why I’d take the pains to go from South to North…F-O-O-D! :)

This time, our bunch of eaters decided to invade The Buffet in Commonwealth Avenue. First impression of the place: it’s huge! (I learned this was a Nissan showroom before)

The Buffet

There’s also a spiral staircase which leads to a second level where they hold big functions and events. This upper floor offers a free venue for weddings, baptisms, birthdays and the like for as long as you have the celebration catered by the resto.

The Buffet

I actually Googled the resto prior to going and saw mixed reviews. But we talked to the charming manager Cathy and she told us that they’ve introduced changes which should make the place more exciting. I like the new concept of the food being cooked as you order. Just because this is buffet doesn’t mean the dishes should go cold and dry on me.

When you go to The Buffet, I recommend first checking out the BBQ & Teppanyaki section. There’s a nice selection of marinated meats that can be grilled to your liking. The beef bulgogi was really flavorful. I also chose chicken teriyaki and curried squid barbecue on this plate (meant for sharing, LOL)

Bulgogi etc

Buffet

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Vom Fass … I heart this store!

Strolling around SM Aura last Saturday, I was happy to find that Vom Fass has opened on the second floor. It is a Germany-based specialty store selling artisanal oils as well as the finest wines, liqueurs, spirits and vinegars which they produce on their own or get from premium suppliers around the world.

Knowing how difficult it is to sometimes source high-quality products in Manila, this place is a gourmet lovers’ delight! (..and the prices aren’t bad too)

VomFass

Containers

I like the whole idea of Vom Fass being a filling station. All I have to do is buy a glass bottle from them (average price of P100), fill it with Latte Machiato for instance and bring the bottle back to the store when I want to buy again.

So I bought white truffle oil which is “luxuriously” priced elsewhere. At Vom Fass, it only cost me P480 (P380 for 100 ml plus P100 for the bottle). And the salesgirl even got to personalize it with her handwriting.

Writing on the bottle

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Banzai eat all you can Japanese buffet at MOA

We don’t always eat in buffet restos (maybe just once every three months) but I had to make an exception when the invite came from the newly-opened Banzai restaurant at the SM Mall of Asia By the Bay (note: it’s in Bldg. J, beside Buffet 101).

With a seating capacity of 500, they pride in calling themselves the biggest authentic Japanese buffet restaurant in town, and they mean it! First impressions: they really stay true to the Japanese theme – from the food, to the interiors, to the decor and the chefs.

The Japanese lanterns hanging from the ceiling look like they’re ready to transport everyone to Tokyo…

Banzai PH

There are 15 stations for food and drinks, serving everything from ramen to takoyaki..roasts..tempura..salads…sushi, sashimi & the whole lot of them. I was delighted over this buffet because I prefer fish & seafood over meat and this is now one of the best places in town to get high quality stuff for a buffet price of less than a thousand pesos.

These selections were from the Teppanyaki Station -

Teppanyaki

Actor Marvin Agustin was in the house…because he’s one of the owners! It seems Marvin prefers Japanese for his restaurants. Aside from Banzai, he also has Sumo Sam, John and Yoko, Akira and Mr. Kurosawa.

Marvin Agustin

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