Drink what you like and store it well: Simple tips on wine appreciation (GMA News Online)

Bordeaux native, Laurent Ducourneau, shares his knowledge about wine

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last April  2015)

I can’t forget the time I opened a bottle of merlot, poured myself a glass, and sipped on what tasted more like vinegar than wine. I found myself setting aside the wineglass for the first time, and feeling bad for having to throw the wine away. I considered using it for cooking, but I thought that it might affect the food’s taste in a bad way.

Have you had a similar experience where you were expecting a good glass of vino but got rancid wine instead?

It turns out that storage and service can affect your wine drinking experience. Generally, we Filipinos aren’t wine drinkers—well, not like the French anyway, but don’t let that intimidate you. Anyone can develop a greater appreciation for wine by following these simple tips.

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Nobu Matsuhisa’s cuisine comes to Manila (GMA News Online)

White fish dry miso

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last March 30, 2015)

A man garbed in a white chef’s coat, blue jeans, and sneakers sat unassumingly at one of the dining tables at the elegant Nobu Manila. I had to do a double-take to confirm that it was really Chef Nobu Matsuhisa in the flesh.

I recognized him from the glimpses I would get of this celebrity chef from international food television shows that I am fond of watching. I expected to see an intimating man—maybe dressed in full chef’s uniform complete with a toque, but was pleasantly surprised to meet an approachable fellow who even joked about the infamous Filipino time.

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Tips for traveling on a shoestring budget (GMA News Online)

Have you been bitten by the travel bug?

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last February 27, 2015)

In the spectrum of types of travelers, I would classify myself as somewhere in between the luxurious kind and the backpacker sort. Five-star hotels aren’t my first choice and neither are dormitory-type rooms. Whether I visit a domestic or international destination, I choose to travel within my means, but still make sure that my experience will be comfortable and enjoyable.

Here’s how to make the most of your next trip.

Be a travel agent for a day

Booking through travel agencies has become passé with the advent of the Internet. Nowadays, anyone can book a flight, reserve rooms, and even schedule tours as long as you are connected to the World Wide Web. It’s easy to search for promo airfares, budget accommodations, and itinerary suggestions with just the click of a button.

<Read the rest of the article HERE>

Tagaytay road trip? 5 must-try destination restaurants (Rappler)


(This feature was published in Rappler.com last February 22, 2015)

Apart from the picturesque Taal Volcano, there is another reason for the surge in popularity of Tagaytay. From a sightseeing spot, it has turned into a dining destination, thanks to the variety of food establishments that have mushroomed in that area in the recent years.

<Read the rest of the article HERE>

Where to go when food tripping in Baguio (GMA News Online)

Fresh Baguio strawberries

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last February 7, 2015)

Baguio comes top of mind whenever there’s an upcoming long weekend or holiday in the metro. Its lush landscape and cool climate make it an attractive destination for city dwellers. It’s also my preferred destination because of the fresh food finds there and because it’s home to one of my favorite fruits: the strawberry.
I always make it a point to buy fresh strawberries from roaming street vendors, roadside stalls, or the public market. I like the sweet and tart combination of this crimson berry that has found its way into other foodstuffs. Whenever I see a taho vendor, for instance, I always order a cup of strawberry taho or two. The strawberry syrup replaces the usual sugary brown syrup and gives it a fruity punch.
<Read the rest of the article HERE.>

Puñta’s Latin American food won’t put a hole in your pocket (GMA News Online)

Start your meal with some anticuchos like Pincho de Cerdo and Higado de Pollo

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last January 28, 2015)

I’ve been hearing about this new Latin American restaurant making waves in the local food scene ever since it opened last October. As I wasn’t familiar with its location, I had to ask around for directions and the restaurant’s name didn’t roll off the tongue quite easily—for me, at least.

Puñta (pronounced pun-ye-ta) is an oasis in the heart of Shaw Boulevard in Mandaluyong. As I made a left turn inside the establishment’s parking space, I was bowled over by the restaurant’s site and ambience. The place was huge, with an al fresco area that could accommodate around 50 seated guests. The interiors were another story. I was intrigued at how they were able to juxtapose the sleek industrial look with the homey vibe of the wooden accents and customized seats.

I couldn’t wait to have lunch in one of the tables outside so I could take in the cool breeze while enjoying the big, bold flavors of Puñta.

The birth of Puñta

Puñta is the first resto-lounge of television personality Paolo Bediones, who put up this venture with partners Adrian Capunfuerza, EA Tejada and Anj Valencerina.

The team decided to create a good mix South American fare—getting inspiration from the cuisines of Peru, Brazil, Patagonia, Colombia and Mexico.

The names of the dishes may twist the tongue, but their flavors please the palate. I started my lunch with some anticuchos—skewered meats or innards that are traditional Peruvian street food.

<Read the rest of the article HERE>

In Michigan: Discovering Frankenmuth and Mackinac Island (GMA News Online)

Frankenmuth is perfect for sightseeing

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last December 27, 2014)

Cold. That’s the first thing that comes to mind when I hear the word Michigan. The destination may not be top of mind for most Filipinos visiting the US—not like sunny California—but I have been to this Midwestern state a couple of times already and I can say that I actually enjoyed exploring it.

I admit, I have an ulterior motive for going there—my sister. If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t even think of taking a trip there. I’m glad though that she’s there to take us around and show us what Michigan has to offer.

A winter wonderland

There was a little bit of snow on the ground when we landed in Detroit, but this girl from the tropical isles came fully prepared. I covered myself from head to toe, wearing a hat, wool scarf, overcoat, leather gloves and even knee-high boots. It was my first time to travel there during this time of year. I didn’t expect snow though—well, not this early, but it was nice to experience it even for a short while.

We had a flexible itinerary, which pretty much centered on shopping. There are a lot of outlets in the area that would take the whole day to explore. Shopaholics would revel in the fantastic deals at the Great Lakes Crossing Outlets and Birch Run Premium Outlets that both feature discounted high-end brands. In between our shopping trips, we did some sightseeing to satisfy the tourist in us.

<Read the rest of the article HERE>

#Throwback2014: A fulfilling year for foodies (GMA News Online)

Ippudo's world-class ramen

This feature was published in GMA News Online last December 26, 2014)

It was indeed a year for foodies. 2014 was the time when we saw a lot of happenings in the food scene—from trends to international restaurant franchises, and everything in between. It was the year when our palates rejoiced at new offerings like authentic ramen, organic food, juice bars and Latin American cuisine.

Let’s review and look back at 2014.

Hola, Latin American food aficionados

Filipinos have welcomed the big, bold flavors of Latin American cuisine with open arms. We’ve long been familiar with Mexican food, but now we have the flavors of Argentina, Puerto Rico, Chile and the like. We witnessed the opening of new establishments such as Brasas, La Cabrera, Sofrito, Gaucho Cocina y Vinos Argentinos, and Puñta. Thanks to these establishments, we have now expanded our Latin American vocabulary to more than just tacos.

Of gastropubs and charcuteries

The simple restobar has evolved into a more high-end lounge that offers first-rate food and even craft beers. People are willing to pay a premium for libations and the bar chow (usually European classics or American grub) that go with it. One of the pioneers in the scene is Draft, which has imported beers on tap and quite a selection of drinks. Find beer-matched food concepts in other notable new players like Tipsy Pig, Wolf & Fox, and The Perfect Pint. Another dining destination that made waves this year was the charcuterie The Black Pig, with its menu of prepared meat products, cheese, steak and wine.

<Read the rest of the article HERE>

An afternoon in downtown San Francisco (GMA News Online)

Ride the iconic cable car

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last December 21, 2014)

San Francisco is not a new destination for me, as I have set foot in the Bay Area a few times already. Somehow though, I seem to discover new experiences on every visit. My recent trip this autumn was no exception.

For one thing, it was my first time to visit the place during this time of year. My past trips happened during the summer when the weather was fine, but this time, the air was a bit nippy. In fact, I saw that the Union Square Ice Skating Rink was already open when my college friend and I strolled along the area.

Sights, sounds and taste of San Francisco

Before we embarked on our downtown excursion, we made a stop to SOMA StrEat Food Park for late lunch. Being a foodie at heart, I made a special request to check out the food truck scene in the area so we headed to that location where several trucks were parked alongside each another.

<Read the rest of the article HERE>

Coming Up Roses (Calyxta.com)


(This feature was published in Calyxta.com last December 2014)

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