Author: anjc815

Dining at Foo’d

Many of my friends turned forty this year. And it’s been a lot of fun seeing how they decided to celebrate their personal milestones. A college friend of mine had her very own pictorial with her besties, while another one decided to treat us to a 5-course dinner. Since it’s a rare occurrence for me to be treated to such a fancy meal, I decided to write about it.

The dinner was held at Foo’d by Davide Oldani, a relatively new resto in Shangri-la BGC. When you receive their menu, they will give you their standard signature dish. However, they’ll also give you many other options in case you don’t like one (or more) of the items. So, you have a lot of room to customize your menu. I chose their signature 5-course meal which consisted of Cipollo Caramellata, Truffle Cacio e Pepe, Salmon D’o, Pork Ribs and Dark Chocolate Mousse for dessert (fancy names I will explain later).

As the orders come in, the chef will approach you to explain what he is serving. It was a bit hard to listen to him because I was hungry and wanted to eat the moment the food arrived. Hahaha.

Ok, now to evaluate each plate. By the way, they also served appetizers, such as super flaky breadsticks and complimentary bread. However, I suggest you go easy on these because a five-course meal is very filling, even if the servings look tiny.

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Complimentary bread

The first plate was the cipollo caramellata. It was white onion on a very flaky pie crust. The edges of the crust and the onion had a caramel coat on top, making this a very sweet appetizer. I love white onions and if you’ve ever had one, it really is already sweet on its own. I loved this first dish, but I was also very conscious that I still have four more plates to go.

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Cipollo Caramellata- caramelized onions, 24 months aged grana palano gelato, grana Padano hot cream

The second dish was truffle cacio e pepe–spaghetti with lemon and truffle oil. I loved this dish and hope that someday, I can replicate it. The truffle oil wasn’t overpowering so you only had a hint of mushroom. But the lemon in the pasta was so refreshing. I could eat this on its own and be very satisfied with it.

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Spaghetti, lemon, pecorino romano, black pepper, truffle oil

On the third plate, we were given the option of seabass or salmon. I’ve always enjoyed salmon so I opted for this one. The salmon skin was crispy, but in my humble opinion, the salmon itself was a little overcooked. So, out of the five dishes, this was my least favorite. However, my friend who ordered the seabass said that it was melts-in-your-mouth delicious.

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Seabass or salmon, lettuce, caviar d’o

The fourth plate was my meat dish. I had a lot of choices, from wagyu to conchinillo, but I picked this for health reasons. Hahahaha! Under it was a flavorful gravy, which hubby likened to Mang Tomas, but of course, it wasn’t. The pork was very soft and easy to chew. This would be perfect for those on a keto diet because it wasn’t paired with any rice.

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Pork Ribs (I actually forgot to write down the correct name of this dish)

And the finale was a dark chocolate mousse. I’ve got to say, I think the bit of rock salt sprinkled on the chocolate and the freeze-dried raspberries really made the flavors pop. Too bad I had taken coffee before going to Foo’d. Otherwise, it would have made a perfect partner, and a great way to end to this five-course meal.

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Cacao crumble, framboise, dark chocolate gelato
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Beauty Review: Etude House Bebe Foot Mask

 

I’ve always used cosmetics by Etude House, but this was my first time to try its Bebe Foot Mask. On a recent trip to Korea, I purchased a box for myself because I wanted to have softer and more evenly-colored skin on my feet.

At the back of the package, it says that the mask can remove dead skin cells and can lessen foot odor.

The Etude House Bebe Foot Mask box is light green, with an illustration of a pair of feet. I’ve had to clarify with the sales woman that this was in fact a peeling foot mask, and not one that just moisturizes the feet.

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The foot sheets were quite big on me, which is why it was helpful that the sheets came with a tie that you could wrap around your ankles. I carefully poured the liquid inside each foot sheet and tied it. Note to those who would want to try this: Make sure that before you do this, you’ve done everything that you need to do (eg. go to the bathroom, get some snacks, set up a movie to watch, etc.) because it is quite a long wait before you can take the sheets off, and it can get cumbersome (and possibly unsafe) to walk around with wet and slippery sheets on your feet. After the hour and a half is up, I removed the sheets, washed the excess solution from my feet and wiped it dry. Except for my feet feeling cold, I didn’t notice anything different the whole time I was wearing the sheets. I thought that maybe the procedure didn’t work.

But lo and behold! Exactly 4 days after wearing the sheets, the skin on my feet began to peel in big chunks, revealing pinkish skin underneath my grayish-yellow dead skin. I’m grateful because a couple of days ago, my feet were soaking wet from the rain, and I was really doubtingl that the solution could still work. But it has. Already, my sole is looking a lot better. Plus, even the top of my foot is starting to peel, which means my discolored skin can even out.

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Graphic content! Avert your eyes if peeling skin gross you out =P

 

Review: MBD White Lily Brightening Essence Mask

The My Beauty Diary brand was first introduced to me by my niece who went to Taiwan and bought a pack for herself. She said that MBD was a well-known brand for sheet masks. And so naturally, when I went to Taiwan, I searched for it and found it on sale at a Cosmed store (something like our Watsons here in the Ph).

On the front of the packaging, this mask claims that it is for brightening and freshening. The essences from olive leaf extracts and the sodium ascorbyl phosphate is supposed to brighten skin complexion.

The My Beauty Diary White Lily Brightening Essence Mask comes in a shiny light green box with seven masks in it. It is very attractively packaged, with drawings of white lilies sprinkled on the box and on the mask sleeve.

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When I opened the package, I was a bit surprised that the under the mask was a foil-like backing. I was hesitant at first to throw it away, but I realized that it might have been placed there to allow for easier opening of the mask.

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When I placed the mask on my face, I noticed the light floral scent of the mask, which was relaxing to me since I can be easily nauseated with strong scents. The mask came a little bit short on my forehead, but long on my chin, which was to be expected since I have a small face.

I set a timer for the product to stay on my face for 20 minutes. About 10 minutes in, I could feel a bit of tingling on my skin, which might be the acids working. By twenty minutes, I could already feel the mask beginning to dry out, which in my opinion, is a good sign since I feel like my face is absorbing the product well enough. I’ve tried masks before that never seem to dry out, and the whole time, you are left feeling sticky and gooey. This was not like that, and once I removed the mask, I could feel tightness around my face. In a few minutes, the liquid was completely absorbed by my skin, leaving no sticky residue. However, I didn’t notice the brightening effect, most likely since I always apply my masks in the evening, when I’m about to sleep.

Conclusion: I plan to repurchase the My Beauty Diary White Lily Brightening Essence Mask since I like how it made my skin feel firmer and smoother. It is also quite reasonably priced.

A Taste of Hello Kitty

Historically, this is not the first Hello Kitty Cafe in the Philippines. So, to those who blogged that the Hello Kitty Cafe in BGC was the first HK Cafe in the Philippines, I’m sorry to dispute your claim, but this is wrong info. When hubby and I were still dating (early 2000’s), I distinctly remember going to a Hello Kitty restaurant situated in a mall. I tried searching it online, but so far, I have not been able to pinpoint exactly which mall (it was either SM North Edsa, or Megamall). I even remember ordering a sort of gelatin-like concoction shaped like Hello Kitty’s head. I recall that everything on the menu was quite pricey. Mostly, I remember that the food was not good. At all. I dutifully packed my souvenir (a Hello Kitty table napkin) and left, swearing I would never eat their atrocious food again.

So, in all honesty, I was thinking that when this new one opened up, I would again do my duty as a loyal HK fan, go in, take pictures, “experience” the Hello Kitty-ness of everything, raise an eyebrow on the prices of items, and then never again return because I didn’t like the food. I was correct on all accounts, except for one. First, the Hello Kitty dining experience was pretty good and consistent with the theme. Except for the restroom (C’mon, cafe guys! You can purchase HK toilet rolls. You just need to do a bit of research!), which was really just a restroom with a bit of decal, the overall store was pretty classy, with the HK bows stamped, carved and stuck on almost everything. HK cutlery would be a nice addition, but methinks they purposely didn’t do that so as not to “lose” their forks and spoons to clients wanting a souvenir.

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Perfect place for a bro date…pretty bows for pretty guys!

The items were a bit on the high side, with the main meals hitting 350 php and up. But I guess my biggest surprise (and the thing I was wrong about) was that the food was actually good. Really. I’m not saying this because I was momentarily distracted by the pastel bows on my herbed pork. I’m also not saying this just because I happen to like French food (most of the food on the menu were French). Even my benefactor, (let’s call him Professor J) said that the food was decent. We ordered the roasted pumpkin soup, mMoroccan chicken, herbed pork, spaghetti bolognese and another dish that I forgot.

My daughter dearest polished her plate off in no time at all!

Suffice it to say, I was wrong…the HK Cafe in Uptown BGC is a place I would go back to…mainly because I failed to sample their desserts. Ahaha!

Happy eating!

5 Tips for Beach Travels with Kids

The sun is my enemy, obviously.

Frankly, I’m not what you would call a beach person. I love a lot of things about the seaside–obviously, one is that in most cases, the air is clean and pollution-free. I love strolling on the sand, looking at seashells and fishies when I go snorkeling and waddling. Swimming, on the other hand, that’s another story altogether. I have a little bit of a fear of the breadth and depth of the seas. And because I am a mom, I am doubly worried that I might lose sight of my child whilst I frolic in the waters. 
But, having said that, I still find relaxation whenever I do go the beach. And as I also want you to have as stress-free time when you go with your family, here are five tips that I want to share with you.

1. Have your child wear his/her bathing suit before traveling. I am the type of person who hits the beach the minute I get there. If you’re that type as well, simply wear your bathing suit inside your regular clothes. Tours nowadays begin with island hopping anyway, so it’s most convenient that all you need to do is peel off your outer clothing and you’re good to go! Putting the bathing suits on your kids beforehand also saves on a lot of time. Your super excited kid won’t have to wait for mommy to put on his trunks.

There’s her swimsuit peeking from underneath her floral dress

2. Bring an inflatable life vest for your child. I used to pack an actual life vest for my daughter, but it does consume a lot of space. An inflatable life vest solved my packing problems, and it made it easier for us to lug the life vest in our carryon. (FYI: When my child didn’t know how to swim yet, I had her wear a life vest on the beach, just in case a strong wave hit the shore. I know, I am a worrywart. ) 

3. Bring 2 sets of slippers. You could bring a pair of aqua shoes, or just plain rubber slippers will also do, plus an extra one for when you enter your hotel room. This way you don’t bring in the beach to your room and the bed.

4. Bring mesh bags. Mesh bags are not only great to store your wet clothes in, they’re also awesome for storing your child’s sand toys! Again, this helps lessen the sand you bring home.

5. Check beforehand the government’s policy on shell-picking. There are are some places in the Philippines where bringing home shells from the beach is prohibited. Palawan and Romblon are two of those provinces. Knowing what is allowed will save on heartache when the child refuses to part with his/her beloved collection. 

My HK Marathon Journey (Part I)


On October 21, 2017 (age: 40 years, 2 months and 6 days exactly), I will join a 5k marathon with my daughter. 5k marathon? Big whooping deal for some regular runners, but not for me. The last 5k marathon I ran was when I was in high school, so yeah, I need to train if my goal is to come out of the run alive.

As with most marathons, there is a cause for this run…an important cause that is near and dear to my heart. I am running for (and hopefully with) Hello Kitty! Yes, it’s a Hello Kitty Run here in the Philippines and I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

I work better with concrete goals, so I have outlined my plan for the success of this run, the definition of successful being that 1.) most importantly, I don’t collapse and die; 2. I don’t injure myself or my daughter; and 3.) we finish and be deserving of the finisher’s medal.

So here is where I’m at right now.

June 25- My good friends tag me in the official announcement of the HK run via FB. By tagging me, they have proven that they are GREAT friends, and have my best interests in mind. I respond with a resounding YES!!! I speak with my daughter and we agree to run together just so that in case we come in first place, headline reads “Adorbs Mother-Daughter Win the Marathon,” and not “Crazy 40-year old HK Fan Runs Marathon Solo.”

June 26 onwards – In the days that follow, I watch Youtubers and get advice for diet and running tips. I buy a bag of Muesli and replace one of my meals with muesli and yoghurt (something to do with energy). I also shift drinking my morning fruit shake before I do my morning walks. Daughter and I also schedule our walks to establish a routine. 


July 1 – At around 4 am, I pay for the registration fee. Can’t be too early for this. I don’t want to waste my efforts only to find out that I’ve no slot anymore.

So that’s where I’m at right now. Envisioning abs by October. Planning to craft cat ears as well…Stay tuned!

Discover Desserts @ Hong Kong

Okay, so the real reason we came back to Hong Kong was because of the Hello Kitty popup grocery that would be closing by the end of May. It wasn’t even a question of whether I’d go back. As my daughter puts it, “You simply have to go there.” So there. I am an obedient mother.

 

But as it was already our second return to Hong Kong for the year, I was determined that we would not just shop the way we usually do, but also try to experience more of what the city had to offer in terms of food. I was glad to find some dessert gems that we would definitely go back to.

Dim Dimsum – The one that we tried was in Mongkok. Thank goodness there was only a short line outside the restaurant. It is just a tiny place with simple furnishings, but my friends (who were big dumpling fans) really enjoyed eating a lot of different food! I personally liked the presentation of their milk tea, and enjoyed my piggy salted egg custard and pineapple buns!

Filled with hot salted egg custard, these pig buns are cute AND yummeh!

The ice outside the milk tea keeps the drink cold, but doesn’t dilute the taste!
Oddies Foodies- Located at the Soho district, this dessert place serves egg waffles with gelato. The one we ordered had brownies pressed into it. They also had packed Nutella meringue which you could buy to give away to friends.

Egg waffles are a very popular dessert in HK
Taste Cafe in Macau – Ok, so technically, it’s not in Hong Kong, but if you have time, Macau also has very interesting places to eat in. Sadly, I don’t know the exact location of this place, but it is along Senado, when you attempt to walk to the ruins. They had a purple yam sandwich, that was really a dessert because apart from purple yam, it had condensed milk as a topping!

Taste served cold brew coffee in this beautiful container
I’m glad we explored a lot of eats in this trip! Happy travels =)

 

Dumaguete on the Cheap

This year, I made a promise to my family that we would explore the Philippines more. We are avid travellers, but sadly, we rarely choose to go around places in our own country because 1) it is hot most of the time and 2) it almost costs as much, or sometimes more than travelling to certain countries with more pleasant weather. But, I told myself that I wouldn’t make any excuses this time and really put the Philippines in our travel agenda.

Dumaguete was actually our second planned trip around the country. The first one was to the Pagsanjan Falls in Laguna, which was really just a day trip so I don’t have a story for that visit.

Dumaguete surprised me with its natural beauty and accessibility. There are so many gorgeous places to go to in this tiny island of just over a hundred thousand people. But, as we were newbies, we took the more expensive route and hired a tour guide. You can skip this part, and benefit from my experience by reading along and finding a more cost-effective way of going around Dumaguete.

Transportation

As I’ve said, all the major attractions in Dumaguete are just 30 minutes to an hour away from the main city, so if you’re travelling in a group, just hire a van. This will set you back Php 3,500 per day, but the van is very comfortable and can easily sit 9 people, ideal for families and groups of friends. If you’re on your own, best to hire your own motorcycle guy to bring you to different places. Of course, you have to risk it because Dumaguete doesn’t require helmets for motorcycle drivers and passengers (go figure).

Accommodations

Our hotel was located at the heart of the city, and I still think it’s a good idea to do that since all sights worth seeing are just walking distance from the hotel. Next time though, I would opt to book a hotel facing the Rizal Boulevard because 1) the scenery’s great. You’re overlooking the sea and the island of Siquijor; and 2) all the major restaurants are lined up along Rizal Boulevard.

Rizal Boulevard
The Places to Hit

Siliman University- Apart from being one of the oldest universities in the Philippines, it also boasts of its very own anthropological museum and the biggest library in Dumaguete. The library is open to the public, while there is a small fee for entering the museum.

The sprawling campus grounds of Siliman University
Rizal Boulevard- For anyone who enjoys eating, or hanging out, the boulevard is the best place to walk through. More on what you can eat in this area later.

Twin Lakes of Balinsasayao- Oh my, this is probably one of the most gorgeous places you can visit. It didn’t even take us thirty minutes to get her from the hotel. Once you arrive, you can take a boat to see both lakes from a viewing point.

Manjuyod Sandbar- I’ve been to the Honda Bay sandbar in Palawan, but it’s tiny compared to the 7 km sandbar of Manjuyod. White sand, clear waters, boatmen selling fresh buko, who can say no to this gorgeous location? After you get your fill of walking (if you don’t swim) or swimming, they’ll whisk you off to the middle of the ocean to look for dolphins! Then there’s lunch on the boat where copious amounts of crabs, shrimp and fish will be served.

Pulangbato Falls and Sulphur Mountains- Pulangbato waterfalls is another easy-to-reach place in Dumaguete. You can swim here, so do bring your bathing suits along. Very near it is a hot springs resort that gets its heat from the sulphur mountains. The water is really rusty, and the stones are a magnificent copper color!

Twinning in Pulangbato Waterfalls
Eats Time to Eat!

I would be amiss if I didn’t mention all the wonderful food that you can eat and bring home from Dumaguete.

Budbod sa Tanjay – A good thing to snack on, and a cheap pasalubong to take home is Dumaguete’s version of suman (sticky sweet rice). You can choose from just plain suman, suman with chocolate (the one I got) and suman with mango. This is normally served along the marketplace. If you want to take some home, I suggest you refrigerate it, or store in the freezer until you’re ready to eat. I usually fry mine once I take them out in the freezer. Yummy breakfast!

Panda Fried Ice Cream-Located at Maria Cristina St. (very near Siliman University), this treat is like eating a donut stuffed with ice cream. I really liked it!

 Sans Rival Cafe – You can get cheap meals here (some are not even Php 200 a plate), plus you can take home a box or two of their silvanas and sansrival. This, and many more restaurants are found along the Rizal boulevard. That’s it! I hope you learned a thing or two! Happy travels =)

Chocolate silvanas? Yes, please!

Sweet, Sweet Osaka

I ‘discovered’ Osaka in 2010, and since then, have made it a pilgrimage country, one that I keep religiously going back to on an almost yearly basis. Here are the top three reasons why I love Osaka:

  1. I love Osaka because it has a proliferation of Daiso/Seria stores, my favorite fabric stores and oodles and oodles of craft supplies. Yes, it might be weird for other people to see that this is my top reason to go back, what with Daiso stores being available here in the Philippines. But, guys! The Daiso stores here are Php 88! The Daiso stores in Japan are just Php 45-50 (depending on the exchange rate). Plus, the stuff available there are really not available here (particularly craft supplies!). So do you understand why it’s the first thing I go to when I arrive in Osaka? (I imagine people shaking their heads at me…hehehe.)
  2. I love Osaka because of the proximity of very interesting places surrounding it. It’s a train ride away from Kyoto, Kobe, and Nara! It’s the home of Universal Studios, the home of Harry Potter! It’s where the Kaiyukan Aquarium is! Castles, temples! They have it all!
  3. I love Osaka because of the food! Every time I’m there, I just have to order gyoza, katsu and karaage. Not the most adventurous set of meals, but I always get a kick out of how authentic the taste is. I have yet to find a gyoza place in the Philippines that can rival Osaka’s vendo gyoza, the cheapest gyoza you can find there! And the desserts are so plentiful! Methinks Japanese, like Filipinos, love their sweets.

So, on to my actual article. On this trip, we really wanted to sample more desserts. This was the first one I tried–a cream bun from Hop Chou ala Creme in the Shinsaibashi-Namba area. The outside looks like its hard bread, but looks can be deceiving! Inside is yummy, cool and creamy filling! I chose a chocolate-flavored one because you can’t go wrong with chocolate. The thing though is that it’s not heavy on the stomach, so you could be tempted to eat more than one bun. Plus there are many flavors to choose from, which is another temptation.
The next dessert I sampled was the waffle-on-a-stick at Maison de Gigi (Shinsaibashi Suji, Chuo-Ku). We each ordered our own flavor, and I again got the chocolate-flavored one, while Bumbum got the strawberry-flavored waffle. Okay, note that this was spring time in Osaka, which may have accounted for the waffle being a bit cold. But that said, the chocolate on mine was very good, dark (the way I like it) and the waffle had the sugar crystals that gave it a bit of crunch. Bumbum polished hers off in no time.
Finally, we ate the small cheesecake tarts in Pablo and the big premium one as well. I wasn’t able to take a picture of the premium cheesecake (too busy stuffing my face with it), but here is how it looks like:

*photo borrowed from http://mogmog.us/category/review/106/

I really loved the premium cheesecake with the creme brulee-esk top. Honestly, if left alone with this cake, I could probably finish off half of it. The burnt sugar top gives a wonderful flavor to this cheesecake.

I wish I could tell you that I ate more desserts, but sadly, I did not. After all, I’m always on a diet 😜

 

Movie Review: Beauty and the Beast

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Once upon a time (around 1991), I watched the original Disney version of Beauty and the Beast and fell in-love with the blonde prince who only shows himself in maybe the last 5 minutes of the movie. I loved it so much that I watched the Broadway version in New York in 2006. Suffice it to say, I am a fan. The story is a classic made richer by the beautiful songs.

So of course, I was one of the people who was excited to find out they were going to do a live action version of the movie. Finally, my family was able to watch it last Sunday at a block screening in support of the mentorship program of Differently Special Achievers Movement (https://www.facebook.com/SpecialAchievers). Before the movie, we headed to the art exhibit of these kids, entitled Enchanted,  An Art Exhibit of 18 Child-Artists with Disability. That in itself was already a magical experience, having seen the wonderful works of these kids, who thankfully, have the opportunity to have their voices heard through their art.

Moving to the movie itself, I have to say that the little princess in me was still every bit as excited as she was all those years ago. While a lot of things were taken from the original cartoon version, I thought the additional details made the re-telling much more interesting and gave a depth that was lacking in the first movie. (Spoiler alert: If you haven’t watched the movie yet, you should stop reading at this point.)

First, I liked that they explained that the prince wasn’t born cruel. He was made cruel by his haughty father. I also appreciated that they took the time to explain where Belle’s mom was. I had always just assumed that she died, but now I know why. It made their struggles more believable, seeing that they had to go through these experiences.

Second I thought that the idea that the whole village forgot about the castle and the prince was an inspired addition. After all, wouldn’t it be odd not to notice why your prince, nay, an entire castle, suddenly went missing? For me, it also symbolized that maybe, the villagers became cruel too, thus forgetting that they had this hidden gem.

Third, I really liked the beginning, with the prince all made up (makeup and heels–very French) so you couldn’t really see how he looked like. I was wide-eyed as I awaited his transformation. Squee! He is the cartoon-made flesh. Yup, so handsome!

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The true testament to how good the movie was? My little stoic daughter said she cried a little! She has never cried in any movie she has ever seen. EVER.

Yes, it is a story made for kids and for kids-at-heart. So if you fall into one of these categories, you will enjoy this movie a lot!