Harman & JBL wireless speakers + headphones!

Having teenage kids, music players and other sound peripherals are definitely on my list of things to buy this Christmas.Of course, these days we can get super cheap stuff that’s Made in China from friendly mall stores like CD-R King but methinks one no-fail guideline when buying is to always go for quality. And most of the time, quality can only come from a solid, prestigious brand.

That’s why when the invite came from Harman International Industries Inc. to view their latest product lines, I didn’t hesitate further. They’re the company behind such premium labels as Infinity, AKG Acoustics, JBL, Mark Levinson Audio Systems and of course, Harman/Kardon.

An extensive lineup of the Harman product line is available at Abenson’s newly-opened sprawling store in Ascott Bonifacio Global City. I felt love at first sight with this Harman/Kardon Soho headphone. For starters, it looks so classy with its camel color…

Harman

Sound delivery was awesome, but this should be expected of a headset that costs more than P10,000. Definitely a choice for the music aficionado or sound connoisseur who wants to splurge this Xmas.

Me at Harman launch

The JBL line has more affordable pricing, like this Pebbles portable plug & play computer speakers at P2,599.

JBL Pebbles

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BlackBerry Passport lands in the Philippines!

Reporting & Coverage by Angelique Misa

While many have been wondering, especially the techies and avid BB users as to why they’ve been MIA for quite some time, I think it’s safe to say that the brilliant minds behind the brand were busy creating a new smartphone that will cater the needs of the techie consumers. Thus the birth of the new BlackBerry Passport!

Last November 25, 2014, Blackberry Limited, a global leader in mobile communications, introduced the all-new BlackBerry® Passport in the Philippines. It features a large square 4.5” touch screen and a physical QWERTY keyboard. The fun part is that the device is actually the size of a Passport which explains the name.

BB Passport

During the event, the Philippines & Singapore Managing Director – Cameron Vernest said: “We are excited to mark a new milestone for BlackBerry here in the Philippines, with the introduction of the first square screen design and touch-enabled keyboard smartphone – the BlackBerry Passport. Aimed at mobile professionals and equipped with the new BlackBerry 10.3 OS, this groundbreaking device will allow users to elevate their productivity and collaborate more effectively. The BlackBerry Passport will definitely be the talk of the town, breaking through the sea of rectangular-screen, all-touch devices.”

Aside from its latest OS platform – Blackberry 10.3, the device is pretty much loaded with enhanced application features that will sure amaze its potential clients. Blackberry Passport highlights Blackberry Blend, an application which allow users to manage the content of their Blackberry phone from different devices like computer and/or tablets. Blackberry Assistant which can be used with a voice or text command is also one of the highlight features of the Blackberry Passport. A Dual App Storefront – Blackberry World & Amazon Appstore are also preloaded in the new smartphone.

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Akira sushi & teppanyaki resto in Alphaland Makati

It’s my second time to eat in Akira Japanese restaurant and seeing the Akira branch in Alphaland Makati was refreshing, to say the least.

The interiors are different from the one in EDSA Shang-ri La Mall. This store is designed by the world-renowned local furniture designer Kenneth Cobonpue. The overall look evokes the seasons in Japan but with a Filipino touch. The resto tastefully showcases Cobonpue’s masterpieces, like the Kawayan Too chairs in the main dining area and those eye-catching red Yoda chairs by the sushi counter (which reportedly cost more than $1000 each)

Akira Alphaland Makati

Akira Makati

The giant floral-themed Cobonpue mural by the entrance is an attraction in itself.

Akira Makati

But even while dining in such classy, designer surroundings, Akira can be affordable if you steer away from the more pricey Wagyu/Kobe/ Matsusaka beef selections.

We feasted on their bestselling sushi rolls which were ample and delectable. Also costs a little more than P250 for six pieces. Not bad at all.

rainbow roll

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The Aristocrat Bakeshop giveaway : sweets perfect for the holidays!

Aristocrat Restaurant isn’t just known for their excellent Filipino comfort food. Their cakes, breads and sweets are equally addicting. I wrote before about the dessert buffet they had to introduce their baptismal package and it was an occasion we can’t resist. For example, the reputation of their Torta de los Reyes is legendary. A simple bite of this sans rival is enough to bring me to seventh heaven..it’s oh so delicious!

Torta de los Reyes

(Photo courtesy of Aristocrat FB page)

My other favorites from this chain are the pillowy cheese rolls, the caramel cake, mucha leche (a frozen cake covered with white chocolate curls) and basically EVERYTHING!!! haha. At the original Aristocrat restaurant in Roxas Boulevard, they have a separate section for their baked goodies and dessert lovers can literally get lost in there. Am sure it will be a destination for families feasting this Christmas.

The lovely Miss Earth 2014 candidates visited The Aristocrat Bakeshop recently and they sure forgot their diet to taste the heavenly goodies. Pls watch this video…

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January 15 to 19 2015 holiday in Manila due to Pope Francis visit

Pope Francis

(Photo from Pope Francis Facebook page)

While President Aquino is still thinking whether or not to declare a national holiday on the much-anticipated visit of Pope Francis , the city of Manila through Mayor Joseph Estrada has already decided that there will be no classes on all levels and no work in government offices from January 15 to 19, 2015 – the time when the beloved Pope is in town.

In the interest of ensuring “public order and convenience,” Estrada signed Executive Order 75 declaring the suspension of classes and government work in the city. He left it to the private sector to decide on the matter of declaring holidays in their respective offices.

Exempted from the order, however, are policemen, traffic personnel and those whose work are in disaster risk management, health and sanitation.

The Pope’s official itinerary in his visit to the Philippines shows that he will spend majority of his time in the city of Manila. The highlights are his courtesy call to Malacanang, masses at Manila Cathedral and Rizal Park, meetings at Mall of Asia Arena and the University of Santo Tomas.

January 17 is the only day he will be away from the city as he will spend it with the survivors of Typhoon Yolanda in Tacloban.

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Amazing Food Challenge: Fun in the Philippines tonight!

Amazing Food Challenge: Fun in the Philippines Season 1 was so successful that they wasted no time to make Season 2. And the second installment will premiere tonight, November 27, 9 pm on on SkyCable (Channel 22), Dream Satellite TV (Channel 27), Cignal (Channel 26) and Destiny Cable TV (Ch 71 Analog and Ch 22 Digital). The show will run until February 9, 2015 with one triumphant contestant standing to win the grand prize of US$30,000 and a three day two night travel package in the Philippines.

For the uninitiated, Amazing Food Challenge: Fun in the Philippines is a travel and culinary reality show produced by the Asian Food Channel in collaboration with the Philippine Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Tourism Promotions Board Philippines (TPB). It gathers together 10 intrepid contestants who will tackle grueling physical and culinary challenges. They will be basically out-smarting, out-running and out-cooking one another to be able to win the race!

All will be kept under the watchful eye of program host slash celebrity cook Sherson Lian, resident judge Chef Rolando Laudico, and a guest judge from each of the five Philippine regions they will visit.In each episode, one contestant will be eliminated until only three remain to compete for the championship.

AFC

Let’s get to know each of the contestants for the Amazing Food Challenge:

KAREN CHOW
Malaysia
Investment Manager

Karen digs Indian cuisine and is a huge fan of Nigella Lawson. She hopes to host her own food and travel show one day!

KENTON WU
Hong Kong
F&B Student

One of the youngest contestants in the show, he enjoys cooking at home for his friends and girlfriend. Kenton hopes to work up the ranks in the kitchen and open his own restaurant one day.

PHAN THANH TRUC
Vietnam
Reporter/ Blogger

Phan enjoys drawing and writing. Born into a family of cooks, this Vietnamese enjoys spending time in the kitchen perfecting her cooking technique. When asked what she prefers to be her last meal, Phan chose Vietnamese Salad because she loves vegetables!

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25 years of French Baker and a Visit Paris promotion!

We recently attended The French Baker 25th year anniversary at the SM Mega Fashion Hall which was filled with luminaries from Manila’s society. It was a grand celebration full of good food, chocolates, sweets, wine, coffee and everything you’d ask for. The milestone was really worth celebrating as it takes a certain degree of awesomeness to last 25 years in the business.

Credit it to the vision of CEO Johnlu Koa, a former UP business professor who decided to apply what he taught in school by founding The French Baker.

johnlu

“It was in 1985 when I travelled to Europe for the first time that I fell in love with Paris and her baked goodies. Since then I’ve dreamt of doing the same so that I can impart a similar experience to our countrymen in the Philippines,” Koa noted.

And soon, one lucky French Baker patron will get to enjoy Paris for real with three chosen companions as part of the chain’s 25th anniversary promo.

It will be an all-expense paid vacation made possible by the promotion’s partners Insight Vacations,Rajah Travel Corporation, and Etihad Airways as the official airline. The winner and his companions will spend at least three days in each of France’ key cities,including Paris, the old Roman City of Nimes; and finally Monte Carlo.

Aside from the grand prize, 25 pieces The French Baker gift certificates worth P5,000 each are also up for grabs.

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Early Thanksgiving dinner from US Potato Board

Though Thanksgiving 2014 is still a few days away, the US Potato Board fulfilled its annual tradition to host a Thanksgiving dinner in the Philippines with prominent chefs and media guests in attendance. This time around, the venue was the One Rockwell East Tower Ballroom.

Chef for the celebration was Sau del Rosario who was a sight to behold carrying this much-awaited Roasted US Turkey which was the night’s main event.

chef_sau_del_rosario_with_the_thanksgiving_dinner_turkey

It was a seven-course affair that had guests feasting on potato-inspired dishes with a French touch ingeniously prepared by Chef Sau. Like this Lapu-Lapu Rilette Fried Potato Cake (note: rilette is similar to pâté).

lapu-lapu_rilette_fried_potato_cake

Potato ravioli with marinated prawns and micro sprouts Salad….

marinated_prawns_citrus_potato_ravioli_microsprouts_salad

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Anzani New Mediterranean Restaurant, Cebu

And our potato adventure continues.

One of our stops was Anzani restaurant, perched atop Nivel Hills for dinner. It was a good thing that we dropped by here at night since the place is really elegant and romantic. You can stay indoors….

Anzani Cebu

….. or outdoors!

Anzani

This VIP room has a separate enclosure for more intimate functions.

Anzani

The underground wine cellar in this sprawling resto was a nice touch. I simply had to have a photo with Sophia Loren above me :)

Anzani

The man behind the resto is Chef Marco Anzani who has worked with Alain Ducasse and has been hailed by the New York Times as a pioneer of ‘New Mediterranean Cuisine.’ Unfortunately, chef Marco wasn’t around during our visit but no problem since the very able sous chef Randell was there to take his place.We had a five-course dinner and it all began with the complimentary bread served in a pot. It was eyecatching, to say the least.

Anzani

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Circa 1900 restaurant in Cebu #USPotatoSafari

Last week, I flew to the island city of Cebu to join the friendly folks of the US Potato Board in their event called the USPB Potato Safari. They’re marketing US potatoes in the Philippine market (for good reason!) and the idea is to have chefs in the city’s top restaurants experiment with various potato-based dishes for everyone to enjoy.

Making an impression was Circa 1900 which is a former colonial house restored into a sprawling resto serving Asian fusion dishes . It was refreshing to see all the expanse and the trees. It reminded me of my childhood in the province with the grandparents.

Circa 1900

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The tasteful interiors showcase Filipino wooden furniture.

Circa 1900

There’s also a corner where a piano could be found. Unfortunately, the piano man wasn’t playing when we visited as it was lunchtime.

Circa 1900

Circa 1900 serves great food whipped up by owner-chef Steve Shrimski, an Australian. He was a former executive chef in the leading hotel chains around Asia but decided to settle in Cebu for good with his Filipina wife Eya in 2009. It is perhaps the city’s good fortune that Chef Steve is able to showcase the creativity and deliciousness of his dishes in the family restos, which also includes Canvas Bistro Bar Gallery at the Ayala Terraces.

chef_steve_shrimski_of_circa_1900_explaining_his_set_menu

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