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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At Cable Car The Fort Strip, last Saturday

So Cable Car is still ALIVE.. and expanding! Me and the kids were in Bonifacio Global City last Saturday and noticed that the resto-bar has replaced the Kasbah in the Fort Strip. Curiosity (and nostalgia) got the better me so we checked the new place out. Ooops, we actually opened it for the night.

bartender

The bar hoppers and partygoers arrive around 9:30 so minors (nay, toddlers) are allowed for the meantime :)

Lucia at the bar

I can’t tell you enough how much Cable Car reminds me of the time when my friends and I were still footloose and fancy-free. It would be our last stop after a night of partying in Equinox or Euphoria. And the famous Cable Car Fried Rice would be our midnight snack.

Cable fried rice

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H&M Megamall opening in September?

This is just our wild guess.

Insiders prefer to stay on the safe side by saying the much-awaited opening of H&M’s first branch in the Philippines at the SM Mega Fashion Hall will be “in the third quarter.” I guess it really all depends on the speed and progress of the preparations for the maiden store.

In the meantime, there was the a preview of the Autumn-Winter Collection for the media recently at H&M’s permanent showroom in Makati City. Autumn and winter? Unfortunately, we don’t have those seasons but the pieces are stylish enough to be worn anywhere, where you see fit. Besides, whatever happened to wearing these abroad, in cooler climes?

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Some of us don’t even have to go too far. The airconditioning in the office is cold enough ;)

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Love the sleek lines of this dress, and it looks classy.

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Miss Scuba Philippines 2014: call for applications

Saturday night at Nuvo in Greenbelt, I was glad to be acquainted with a very unique beauty contest: Miss Scuba Philippines. Its aim is to raise awareness for the preservation of the oceans. To be qualified, a participant of the pageant must not only be gorgeous. She must have basic diving skills; not to mention, sufficient knowledge of marine conservation and scuba tourism. Way to go!

Miss ScubaPhilippines2014

Miss Scuba Philippines 2014 is the local edition of Miss Scuba International founded by businessman Robert Lo, proprietor of the Sipadan Mabul Resort and Mabul Water Bungalows in Malaysia. The pageant was held for the first time in 2011, followed by Bali in 2012. In the 2013 event, Philippine representative Christine Paula Love Bernasor placed first runner-up to Jamie Lee Faulkner of the United Kingdom.

Christine Bernasor

For 2014, everyone’s wish is to have a Filipina to be proclaimed Miss Scuba International. This hope was intimated by no less than the Cebu-based organizers led by Charles Lim of SELRAHCO, the official event manager.

Miss Scuba Phils. 2014

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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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Samsung art therapy workshop in Leyte

It’s been close to a year since Super Typhoon Yolanda ravaged the Visayas and rehabilitation for those affected is still ongoing. It is in this light that Samsung Electronics Philippines Corporation (SEPCO) used the power of art to heal the hearts of those traumatized by the calamity.

The tech giant partnered with the Visual Arts Committee, National Commission for Culture and the Arts, and Philippine Science High School–Eastern Visayas Campus to develop Lakas Pilipino: Lakas Natin, an art therapy workshop for the youth meant to provide Yolanda victims a creative outlet for expression. Samsung provided much-needed equipment such as tablets where the students can draw works of art and television screens where they can project the pieces.

A total of 38 teachers and 42 high school students from Palo and Tacloban, Leyte participated in the project which involved not only art but also music and a bit of personal reflection and sharing.

The resulting electronic paintings were meaningful and heartwarming, to say the least:

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Chef Ariel Manuel of Lolo Dad’s at the Maya Kitchen

Chef Ariel Manuel  of Lolo Dad's

One of the Philippines’ notable chefs, Ariel Manuel of the famed (and recently-closed) Lolo Dad’s, headlines The Maya Kitchen’s cooking demo on June 21, Saturday, 9am-1pm.

In keeping with his philosophy of adhering to ‘Simplicity of Flavors,’ Chef Ariel will whip up the following dishes:

- Salmon Sardine with Fresh Garlic Croutons
- Romaine Caesar Salad
- White Onion Soup
-Shellfish Open Lasagne
- Mediterranean Duck Rice
- Mixed Fresh Fruits with Vanilla Ice Cream, Rock Salt and Extra Virgin Olive Oil

We’re warned not to be fooled by the seemingly simple dishes. The Caesar Salad, for example, comes with a dressing that is cooked and keeps for a week. The onion soup comes with a gruyere topping and for a real knock out flavor, Chef Ariel recommends using French Muscovy duck breasts.

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