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.

Feel French, eat French at Goût de France on March 21 (GMA News Online)

Ciabatta toast with dried duck breast fillet from Vatel Restaurant

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last March 13, 2017)

Did you know that French cuisine has been named by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity? In fact, it is the only cuisine in the world to be part of its Intangible Heritage list.

Fortunately for us, we don’t have to fly all the way to Paris to be able to taste this cuisine, as the Philippines will be joining the Goût de France event that celebrates French gastronomy.

On March 21, this worldwide affair will feature French cuisine by chefs from different countries. An annual event since the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development organized it in 2015, the Goût de France was inspired by legendary French chef Auguste Escoffier’s idea to serve the same menu on the same day and in different cities across the globe.

This year, 2,000 chefs will prepare 2,000 menus across five continents. In the Philippines, 10 restaurants run by nine chefs will take part in this celebration:

“It is an opportunity for Filipinos to get a better feel of France through different aspects—culture, technology and also what we call art de vivre, the way of living. And obviously a part of art de vivre in France and in the Philippines is good food, good cuisine, fun cuisine,” said French Ambassador Thierry Mathou at a media preview for the event at Vatel Restaurant in Manila.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

Latte lowdown: Must-know facts about coffee (GMA News Online)

Source coffee beans from different countries

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

Whether it’s 3-in-1, brewed, blended, or iced, coffee remains the staple drink of Filipinos. It’s hard to resist this aromatic beverage that puts the “ooh” in good morning. So don’t just get your quick fix of caffeine, learn more fun facts about our local brew.

Did you know that the Philippines was one of the world’s top producers of coffee sometime in the late 1800s? It was the Spanish who first brought coffee to the country.

The Philippines is one of the few countries that produces the four varieties of coffee: Arabica, Liberica, Robusta, and Excelsa. Barako belongs to the species Coffea Liberica, which accounts for less than one percent of the country’s commercially grown coffee. Robusta was the top-produced variety in 2016, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.

Coffee is a good wake-up call since it contains caffeine, which is legally addicting. But the caffeine content actually depends on factors like the roasting of coffee beans and the coffee-making process. “The darker the roast, the less caffeine. The lighter the roast, the more caffeine. The more you burn, the higher the temperature—the caffeine gets converted to sugars or carbon,” said Vie C. Reyes, a coffee farmer advocate who is the director of the Philippine Coffee Alliance and CEO of Bote Central Inc. “The longer you extract coffee, the more caffeine you’re getting.” She said that espresso has less caffeine because of the shorter extraction time. Drip coffee, therefore, has more caffeine.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

Osaka food guide: Eat until you drop! (GMA News Online)

Okonomiyaki is a Japanese savory pancake that has a variety of flavors

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

Have you ever heard of “kuiadore”? It’s a Japanese term that translates to “eating yourself bankrupt,” which is pretty doable in Osaka, the food capital of Japan.

It’s the second largest city in the country, following Tokyo, and it has all sorts of gustatory pleasures, from street food to Michelin-starred restaurants. It’s fun and easy to eat your way around town—but your belly can only take so much, so curb your cravings and focus on the following:

Takoyaki

It’s easy to find a takoyaki stall on every street. Just look for a sign with the image of an octopus and you’ll see some guy cooking this popular snack in round molded griddle pans. My hubby and I found many in the Dotonbori area and chose the stalls with the long lines. (If people don’t mind standing in line for several minutes, the food must be good.) Watching the cook systematically make the octopus balls was riveting and made the waiting time more bearable. We shared one boat-shaped container that had around eight to ten pieces, all of which were doused in takoyaki sauce and mayonnaise, topped with dried bonito flakes and green onions, and served with a side of pink pickled ginger.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

Japanese ‘beauty hot pot’ Bijin Nabe now in Manila (GMA News Online)

Servers help prepare the hotpot to best enjoy the Bijin Nabe

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last January 24, 2017)

The first thing that comes to my mind when someone mentions hot pot is a soup dish that you cook at the center of the dining table. I’ve eaten my share of this popular Asian comfort food, but I just recently realized that not all hot pots are created equal.

My latest restaurant discovery was this Japanese establishment that offers its signature beauty collagen hot pot. Yes, there is such a thing, and Bijin Nabe by Tsukada Nojo has finally brought this farm-to-table concept to Philippine shores.

It was my first time to encounter this unique dish that was already famous in both Japan and Singapore. Apparently, it all begins with the broth that features the Golden Collagen Stock, which uses Jidori chicken from Miyazaki Prefecture. This type of poultry is considered “the Kobe beef of chicken.” The restaurant directly imports the broth and I was extremely intrigued by it, but I patiently waited for my moment to taste this renowned dish.

Tasting golden collagen chicken stock for the first time

Come with an appetite but exercise patience, as it takes a while to prepare the hot pot—after all, good things take time. The restaurant event I attended allowed me to sample some of its appetizers while my palate waited for the star of the show.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

49-B Heirloom Kitchen’s holiday menu makes festive use of olive oil (GMA News Online)

49-b-heirloom-kitchens-festive-flavors-holiday-menu-for-dona-elena-is-available-until-january-17

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last December 27, 2016)

Even when it was just a cozy little restaurant, 49-B Heirloom Kitchen impressed me with its food. Although it had no particular cuisine, its menu was well curated with a collection of family recipes passed on from one generation to the next. There are Filipino, Asian, and European dishes and some of its popular dishes were the paella, the beef lengua, and the chocolate chip cookies.

But during my last visit, I was surprised by its new location and look. It was more like a hole-in-the-wall before. Now, it’s a bigger, two-storey dining establishment where you can comfortably dine with a large group, which is just perfect for this holiday season.

Olive oil in the limelight

Instead of indulging in restaurant favorites, I was able to sample 49-B Heirloom Kitchen’s Festive Flavors Holiday Menu specifically made for Doña Elena. This limited edition menu highlighted the use of three olive oil variants: extra virgin, pure olive oil, and pomace. Executive chef Erica Aquino was able to combine her favorite international cuisines and recipes with a taste of home.

We started with some Grilled Shrimp on Patacones, a South American-inspired appetizer. The twice-fried plantain slices are topped with cooked shrimp, minced onions and tomatoes, and cilantro. It was served with a chilled cucumber yogurt soup drizzled with olive oil. I enjoyed the play of textures and flavors here—there’s the crunch from the patacones, the soft shrimp, and the cool chilled soup that neutralized my palate.

Read the rest of the article HERE.