What to bring to…Christmas potluck parties (GMA News Online)

Photo from Aperitif

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last November 28, 2017)

‘Tis the season for yearly get-togethers, where food is almost always the honored guest. The big question is: “What to bring?”

Make your potluck contribution more special than the usual pancit and barbecue-on-a-stick with the following impressive food finds.

1. Graze platter from Aperitif Catering

The titos and titas of Manila will love you when they see a pretty platter of appetizers that would pair perfectly with wine. This graze platter (P6,000) from Aperitif Catering would be welcome at any gathering and would be the perfect conversation starter. It is jam-packed with five luxury cheeses, four kinds of premium Italian deli meat, nuts, crackers, and fruits. Everyone will enjoy snacking on these chic finger foods throughout the event. The serving is good for 8-15 people. There’s also a sweet graze box (P2,850) filled with wine, chocolates, and donuts for those who want something sugary.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

Tokyo on a budget? Yes, it’s possible! (GMA News Online)

You must see Shinjuku, a large entertainment, business and shopping area

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last November 21, 2017)

Most people think Japan is expensive, but with the various options in transportation and travel-related stuff, it has become less prohibitive to visit the Land of the Rising Sun.

I first visited Japan three years ago and I loved the experience so much that I have been going back every year since. Along the way, we’ve learned how to make the most of our travel experience without breaking the bank. Below are 4 tips we picked up.

1. Prepare for the trip. Unlike our neighboring Southeast Asian countries, Japan requires tourists to apply for a visa. But don’t worry, the process is simple — and fast. Google ‘Embassy of Japan in the Philippines’ to see the short list of requirements and the list accredited agencies where you can lodge your application. Not all offer the same rate so make sure to ask around or let your fingers do the walking by calling each one on the list.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

Dipping into the cheese fondue at Korean fried chicken joint Kko Kko (GMA News Online)

Cheese lovers must not miss the Chicken Cheese Fondue!

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last July 6, 2017)

If you’re not familiar with Korean fried chicken, you must be hiding under a rock. Many have become smitten with this crispy and crunchy dish, judging from the number of chicken joints mushrooming around the metro.

You’ll find that most places serve almost the same menu items. But Kko Kko is different. Yes, it has the traditional crispy fried chicken marinated in Korean spices, and the yang nyum variety that is tossed in sauces like classic soy and sweet chili. But what makes this restaurant stand out from the rest is its chicken and cheese fondue.

Kko Kko was established by local TV personality Grace Lee, who was born in Korea. “The idea behind Kko Kko came from my mom,” she said. “She had been in the restaurant industry for about a decade when she came up with the idea of creating a modern Korean restaurant, with Korean fried chicken as [its] specialty.”

And modern-looking it is. With its newly opened branch at Market! Market! (the third one already) showcasing an open space with colorful steel chairs, wood wall panels, and a high ceiling with exposed ductwork and vertical gardens in full view.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

The Night’s Still Young No Matter How Late You Are at This New BGC Hangout (Spot.ph)

IMG_4499

(This feature was published in Spot.ph last July 3, 2017)

The bright neon sign at the door is hard to miss as you step into Early Night? where a big chunk of Aracama used to be. Instead of an upscale Filipino restaurant and bar, you’ll be transported to a more casual concept that attracts the nearby crowd of office-goers who want to de-stress from the demands of their nine-to-five jobs.

The same management team runs both establishments, but “Early Night? is a place where people can just go to for a drink without the need to dress up or pay for door charge. It’s a place where you can come as you and have one drink and an early night,” says Managing Partner Pamela Solilapsi.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

4 dining spots to sample the goodness of Australian grassfed beef (GMA News Online)

Wildflour's California Burger has become a crowd pleaser

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last July 2, 2017)

Eating “healthy” could mean opting for leaner and healthier cuts of meat. For other’s, it’s going vegan all the way. I consider myself someone in between—a flexitarian.

When I do eat meat, I go straight for the good stuff like Australian grassfed beef, which has less saturated fat than regular beef and a high level of omega-3 fatty acids essential for a healthy heart.

It’s a good thing, then, that Australian beef has become more accessible in the local scene. The Australian Embassy even has an ongoing promotion, running until August 20, with 36 participating restaurants and 60 outlets in Metro Manila, Cebu and Davao.

Where’s the beef?

Wildflour Café + Bakery

My personal favorite at Wildflour Café + Bakery would be the California Burger.

Made with 1/3-pound Australian grassfed beef, cheddar, caramelized onions, and tomato, its components seem simple enough but one bite into the juicy patty will transport you to burger heaven. The high-quality ingredients really made all the difference.

Those who like their meat in its purest form can also go for the Steak and Eggs: rib-eye steak slices topped with chimichurri sauce and plated with crispy potatoes. The steak was cooked perfectly—a bit seared on the outside but still pink in the middle. I couldn’t help but sigh as I relished the tender meat and its juices with each bite.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

8 must-try items at Spiral’s Sabores Españoles (GMA News Online)

Make your way to the Cheese Room to get a serving of Jamon Iberico and Manchego Cheese

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last June 22, 2017)

I felt like a kid in a candy store at Spiral. I didn’t know where to start from the 21 dining ateliers because the food offerings were so overwhelming. There were stations such as the boulangerie, salad and appetizer, rotisserie, churrasco, French, Indian, Asian… so whatever you’re craving, it would most likely be there.

But my lunch visit coincided with the Flavors of the World series featuring Sabores Españoles so I was able to focus on one cuisine alone, Spanish, which is one of my favorites. I admire Spain’s culinary traditions so much that my travel bucket list includes having wine and tapas at Catalonia. Since I’m not flying there any time soon, I would settle for sampling curated dishes at one of the city’s grandest hotel buffets.

For this third installation of the culinary series, Spiral highlights the specialty dishes of guest chef, Executive Corporate Chef Nicolas Diaz from Barcino Wine Resto Bar. My taste buds especially enjoyed the native Basque dishes that he prepared. If you’re a foodie like me, make your way to this limited culinary engagement and indulge in these eight must-try Spanish specialties.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

PHL’s first European Food Festival happening this month (GMA News Online)

Tapas are a must when indulging in Spanish food

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last May 7, 2017)

What comes to mind when someone mentions European cuisine? Some may associate it with fine dining, but there’s more to it than just that. Its wide range of cuisines encompasses the different countries of the continent, and that’s what we will discover in the first-ever European Food Festival in the Philippines.

The EU-Philippines Business Network (EPBN) is hosting this month-long festival celebrated in conjunction with Europe Month. Diners can indulge in authentic European cuisine at these participating restaurants:

  • Balkan
  • Brotzeit
  • Carpacio
  • Caruso Ristorante Italiano
  • Cyma
  • Cirkulo
  • Maria Louisa’s Garden Room
  • Paul Boulangerie
  • Poco Deli
  • Restaurant 101 (Enderun)
  • Salvatore Cuomo
  • Tauro Pintxos Tapas Wine Bar
  • Wagner German Bakery

Here are three good reasons why you should participate in the festival.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

A Balearic-inspired grill and an Ibiza vibe in the city (GMA News Online)

Photo from Ibiza Beach Club BGC

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last April 19, 2017)

I’ve heard tales of Ibiza—an island in the Mediterranean Sea that is notorious for its nightlife and party lifestyle. It was on my bucket list for a while, until I outgrew it. Now, I prefer destinations with a more laid-back vibe where I can simply relax, indulge in some good food, and maybe enjoy some cool entertainment.

Ibiza Beach Club meets my expectations.

It is the newest dining and entertainment destination in the metro, opening on April 16, right in the heart of Bonifacio Global City. I have been to the first branch in Cebu, but Ibiza BGC is massive: the 1,000-seater flagship restaurant occupies 4,000 square meters in one of the city’s prime structures. But instead of getting a view of the beach, visitors would see landscaped greenery and the cityscape.

Manny O., a prominent entrepreneur and award-winning vintner, conceptualized this uniquely Filipino brand that has a registered trademark. The brand has become known for its Balearic-inspired, signature 15-course grill, which left a memorable mark on my mind during my last Cebu trip. I was happy to find out that the new Ibiza BGC is more accessible to urbanites like me.

The meat of the matter

I came with an empty stomach. I was prepared for the unlimited grilled meat and seafood choices—Filet Mignon, Angus Rib-Eye Steak, Baby Back Ribs, Ostrich Meat, New Zealand Lamb, buttery Rock Lobster or Salmon, Tiger Prawns, Cuttlefish, Chicken, Crispy Pork Belly, and Beef Short Ribs. As if these weren’t enough, the 15-course repertoire also includes a serving of salad, Pao de Quejo (cheese bread), side dish, and grilled Queen Piña specialty dessert in its lineup.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

Limited-edition coolers to beat the summer heat (GMA News Online)

Coconut Fruit Refreshers (Photo from Jamba Juice)

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last April 12, 2017)

It’s not even the peak of summer and yet the heat is getting to us already. Best to cool down with these thirst-quenchers from big chains to keep you sane during those very hot days.

These are available for a limited time only.

The Coconut Fruit Refreshers from Jamba Juice

Some street vendors peddle the ubiquitous, delicious coconut, but if a fresh one is not available to you where you are, Jamba Juice might be.

The juice company’s Coconut Fruit Refreshers come in two variants that highlight hydrating coconut water and real fruit. There’s Summer Guava and Tropical Mango (left to right in the photo) that are both excellent sources of vitamin C, potassium, fiber, and essential electrolytes. A 16-ounce cup is equivalent to three servings of fruit already. What more could you ask for? These started blending on April 10.

Honey Vanilla Ice Blended from The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf

Like the fragrant flavor of vanilla and the sweet taste of honey? Then your palate will be pleased with Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf‘s Honey Vanilla Ice Blended drink (right, in photo) that combines both of these ingredients.

The honey and vanilla powder creates a strong base for this whipped cream-topped beverage perfect for those with a sweet tooth. There’s also a hot variant called Honey Macchiato (left, in photo) that combines honey and espresso in one cup.

These drinks are available nationwide until June 25.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

Porchetta kare-kare and tilapia ice cream: Bistro United’s elevated Filipino food (GMA News Online)

You'll fall in love with the Porchetta Kare-Kare

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last March 27, 2017)

Filipino food continues to be in the limelight both in the local and international food scene. New restaurants have been popping up all over the metro, but not all are able to elevate Filipino food and its ingredients like the newly opened Bistro United.

Glass walls beckon diners as they enter the spacious establishment, which has an industrial yet still warm and welcoming vibe. My eyes immediately went to the wall with the vertical garden—its lush texture and vibrant green hue add eye appeal. The exposed beam ceilings, white painted brick walls, and wooden furnishing with touches of solihiya bring a lot of character to the place.

Its ambience actually reflects the cuisine of Bistro United, which executive chef Mia K. Capay calls “feel-good food.” “It’s not pretentious, it’s not something that’s going to intimidate you, but at the same time, we’d like to highlight the local ingredients,” she says.

Read the rest of the article HERE.