Friday, August 30, 2013

A Taste of Singapore at Boon Tong Kee

Whenever I find myself in Singapore, I have a little routine I like to do before visiting my sisters and step-mum in Johor, which just so happens to be right next door. There is this hawker centre near Bugis Street that I frequent where I'd order char siu and chicken rice with a side of complimentary sliced cucumbers and a glass of Thai iced tea. I'd have a meal before I get a cab to cross over to Malaysia, and it would be the first place I'd go to once I'm back on Singapore soil. This was one of the little things I'd do with my dad when he was still around, and having a good Singaporean meal at that hawker centre was one of our simple bonding moments I still do when I find myself there.

With Singaporean food slowly finding its way to Philippine shores, I can relish in as many fond memories as I want, with imports like my newly discovered Boon Tong Kee serving my favorite Boiled Chicken and Cereal Prawns. Now that's damn shiok!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Yellow Cab Pizza's Mrs. Hudson

Waking up to rain pitter-pattering on my windows makes me want to stay in bed all day, hide under the duvet and just veg out and sleep in with my dog. Thanks to my very flexible job schedule, as long as I have an internet connection, I'm good and can do just that.

The rain also allows me to enjoy another guilty pleasure: pizza. The one I can't seem to get enough of is Yellow Cab Pizza's newest specialty flavor, the Mrs. Hudsons. And after one particularly rainy evening, that's exactly what I had delivered to my doorstep.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Virtual Mae: A Long Lusting Shoe Affair

I have enough shoes... said no woman, ever. I think I spend more on shoes than I do on clothes. I admit, I'm a shoeholic. It's gotten so bad that not only do I end up buying shoes for myself, I end up buying shoes for other people, too. I have either bought or picked out half the shoes in both my brother and ex-boyfriend's closet. I can't help it. If I think it's pretty, I buy it.

I think I end up buying shoes for other people to compensate for the fact that I find it harder to buy shoes for myself than a boyfriend. Either the pair I like doesn't come in my gigantic size 10, or the gigantic size 10 shoes that are available look hideous. But thanks to the innovations of the 21st century, US shipping, and an abundance of online shoe sellers, finding a pair that I like has become less of a problem, especially now that I've discovered Virtual Mae.

Monday, August 26, 2013

An All American Food & Wine Festival at Diamond Hotel

When I was invited to the Diamond Hotel's All American Food & Wine Festival at the Corniche, I was looking forward to one thing: Turducken! Yup, the poult-ception of a chicken stuffed inside a duck stuffed inside a turkey was enough to keep me up all week in giddy anticipation of the big day. For P1,780++ per person, my goal was to stay at the Corniche 'til the cows came home! You can also opt to add an extra P495+ and savor your lunch or dinner buffet with a free flow of Beringer Wines - but I figured that would hasten the said cows returning and skipped it this time around.

Braving the downpour, the flooded streets, and Friday traffic, I slowly made my way to Manila at the only place in the area where it doesn't flood. Not even the basement, thanks to the Japanese and their super pump technology (insert dirty joke here), gets flooded - so no floating cars here. Nothing was going to stop me from experiencing the magical Turducken!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

PODE!: Feng Shui Basics for the Home

It's Sunday, which made me get to thinking about a new Project: Overcome Domestic Entropy! post since I haven't gotten around to doing one this month. Moving into a place of my own and living independently is quite the grounding and growing experience, although it can be quite stressful at times. I have to say, I'm pretty proud of myself. I know of 30-year-olds who are married with three kids that still live with their parents - which is just a sad predicament to find yourself in, no matter what country you live in.

After moving my sparse amount of furniture around, trying to get a better feel of the place, I realized how old habits die hard and how Asian traditions live on forever. I got to thinking, "My place looks great, but how does it feel?" Shit like that feels important, especially when I've had such a heavy handed Chinese influence. My ex's mom was all over me with her 'this-is-how-we-Chinese-do-it' schtick, and it stuck.

With my living space being my home, my studio, and my office, I have always found the basic Chinese practice of feng shui to come in handy - if not with bringing in more luck and money, at least in keeping my place organized. And with businessmen and women shelling out thousands of pesos to feng shui masters, there must be some validity to it.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Dessert Series: Cara Mia Gelateria

After enjoying quite the Japanese maki feast at Omakase with the Schmuze Crew, we were all soy-ed and dashi-ed out and were looking for a palate cleanser (and another excuse to hang out) before heading our separate ways. Not wanting to shell out P400 for halo-halo at the nearby Manila Penn, we found ourselves at Amici's Cara Mia Gelateria next door, eyes wide open like kids at the candy store, ogling all the different gelato flavors and ice cream cakes they had on hand.

Friday, August 23, 2013

A Shmu-riffic Dinner at Omakase

I haven't seen my Schmuzter fambam in a while, and have been having meetings with my team over Skype for the most part. So when Lori, The Empress of Schmuze, held an editorial dinner for everyone to sit down and to know one another out of work, I was stoked!

The editorial dinner had a few extra company stragglers - okay, everyone came - and our little get together turned out to be a celebratory company dinner, which was even better! There was a not-so-new sales person, a tiny new graphics designer, and a new content marketing writer to say hi to. And in true Schmuzter fashion, all the introductions are best done over good food.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Banco de Oro: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Are you a Banco de Oro client?

Doing business with Banco de Oro has left me with mixed feelings. In a span of three years, I have opened two different bank accounts with two different bank branches and my experience has been like night and day.

Three years ago I opened a Passbook Savings Account at BDO's Pasong Tamo branch, and the customer service there made me a BDO convert, especially compared to the neighboring red-and-white bank next door which was just always packed with people and miserable looking tellers. After I got back from the U.S., I opened another savings account at their BF Resort branch, and wanted to strangle everyone who worked there. The service couldn't get any worse - they should get a plaque that says, " The Most Awful BDO Branch Ever."

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

New Pizzas & Bar Chow at URBN Bar & Kitchen

If there is one bar I'd frequent on a regular basis, it would definitely be URBN Bar & Kitchen. Not only do they make killer cocktails and sick beats, they make pretty meant bar chow as well, thanks to chef extraordinaire, Chef Benjo Tuason. So whether you're there to see and be seen or you just want to get a happy buzz after work with your girlfriends, URBN is the place to be!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Trying Out New Dishes at The Cheesesteak Shop

I would always pass by The Cheesesteak Shop whenever I find myself in Makati and it finally piqued my attention when its newest branch opening at The Fort Strip. I had dismissed the place as another greasy sandwich shop, but after doing my homework on the place I thought I'd give it a go the next time I venture near it.

The original Philadelphia style sandwich shop has been on my "to try" list for quite some time now, and the Cheesesteak god with his flying hoagie in the sky must've heard me, for I was pretty stoked when I was asked to come by and try their newest dishes.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

30 Books I Need to Read Before I Turn 30

I'm turning the big 3-0 in two years, and to say that I'm feeling apprehensive about reaching the next milestone in my life is an understatement. I'm panicking! I feel like I should've done more, accomplished more, traveled more. I used to have my nose buried in a book 24/7 growing up, but after I started working my reading time has gotten shorter and shorter.

After getting my library of books that I had so lovingly collected stolen (long story), I've decided to reignite my passion for the written word and searched the interwebs for a list of must-reads that supposedly would make me a little more wiser and understand life a little more better, and saw this list.

If you haven’t read these books yet, I highly recommend doing so.  They will enrich both your library and your life. I still have a few I need to tick off before my 30th birthday looms up, and this is more of a reminder for me than anything else:

Friday, August 16, 2013

RELIK Tapas Bar and Lounge Introduces Its New Lunch Menu

One fine afternoon I once again found myself with my foodie fambam at RELIK, summoning up the mental fortitude I needed to come out of Chef Banjo Tuason's food fests in one piece. RELIK Tapas Bar and Lounge, famous for its delicious bar chow, has also come up with a new lunch menu to feed the starving masses of Bonifacio Global City. About time they did, too!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Shawarma Guys Take Your Tastebuds to the Middle East

Contrary to popular belief, I'm not a huge shawarma fan. Sure, I'll have it if I need something to fill my belly 'til the next meal, but I don't have a particular craving for it.

Let me explain: I'm not a huge fan of the shawarmas HERE. What I truly miss is the shawarmas I'd get in Dubai - big pieces of flat bread rolled up with veggies, chicken or lamb, and fries, and a platter of hummus on the side. Add a glass of salty laban and I will be in ecstasy for however long it would take to finish that shawarma and the drink.

I would beg my friends in Dubai to pack a frozen shawarma (or four) whenever they visit Manila, pop them in the microwave, and savor the remnants of what was once a phenomenal meal. Yes, it's kind of disgusting, but what's a girl to do to get good shawarma around here?

Thankfully, Chef Benjo Tuason heard my prayer and helped to put up Shawarma Guys in Bonifacio Global City! It was almost as if it was meant to be. I didn't have to hike all the way up to Mandaluyong or Quezon City for the mediocre Mister Kebab anymore. Here was something way better at almost the same price point. I was very happy.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Giveaway: Zomato Fever Takes Over Metro Manila

If the United States has Yelp to tell people where to go for a good bite to eat, then Zomato is the Philippine equivalent. I was super excited to hear that Zomato had landed on Philippine shores. More popular on the other side of the world, Zomato is based in India, but had set it sights on the west, taking over London, Doha, Dubai, Cape Town and Rio de Janeiro.

It was downright awesome that the first country in Southeast Asia they wanted to tap into was the Philippines. But then again, although Singapore and Hong Kong have a lot of awesome restaurants, most the foodies that passionately rave and rant about it are Filipino.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Dessert Series: Nomama

After finding myself in Quezon City for the lechon degustation, compliments of Diplahan Lechon, I was in search of a good dessert place - I didn't drive all the way here for cake at the nearest Starbucks. As luck would have it, I was surrounded by the best food bloggers around, so when I asked I got a ton of recommendations.

I went with Eugene's recommendation, and off we went to check out Nomama. Popularly known for its ramen dishes, I was promised that they also made a pretty mean Flourless Chocolate Cake with Miso Salted Caramel, so we trooped on over to give it a go.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

NACI Comfort Food: A Tribute to Chef Ed Quimson

I was honored to receive an invite from one of the owners of NACI Comfort Food to join them as they blessed their new store at BGC as well as paid homage to the late great Chef Ed Quimson. Popular for his "mestizo" way of cooking and marrying European cuisine with the local favorites (i.e. bleu cheese wontons), I was very excited to check out the last restaurant he consulted for.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Outback Steakhouse: Everyone Needs to Eat Steak!

One of the simple joys in life is enjoying a good steak. Being served up a steak that is spiced generously all over, seared with a nice char on the outside, and still a blushing pink inside with the perfect baked potato on the side is my idea of an awesome last meal

Whenever I think about a good steak with all the sides and fixins, Outback Steakhouse comes to mind. The laid back atmosphere makes for great casual conversation, catching up with good friends over good food, and swinging back a few brewskies in the process. And that is exactly what happened when I met up with the rest of the foodie fam bam for dinner at Outback's Glorietta branch.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

7 Pieces of Offbeat Advice I Wish I Knew Sooner

There's this funny thing about people: We love giving advice. Especially the older folks. They just have to get in there and tell you what they think, what they think you should do, and follow up on whether or not you followed said advice.

Most of it goes in one ear and out the other, but every now and then you get those offbeat gems that just stick with you throughout the rest of your life. Since it's a meditative Sunday, I just want to share some of them:

Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Next Big Food Entrepreneur Challenge 2013

I had been bugging my brother, Nap, to join the Next Big Food Entrepreneur Challenge. This was something totally up his alley and he already had a product people have been raving about, even trying to get the recipe so they could try to recreate it at home. But alas, my brother can also be quite lazy and didn't make the deadline, no matter how much I nagged him to join. He ended up kicking himself in the nuts after I told him what the prize was.

Running on its second year and in partnership with Solane LPG and Mercato Centrale, the Next Big Food Entrepreneur Challenge hopes to provide opportunities to aspiring food entrepreneurs and help them start up their businesses through the exposure they will get and the prizes they will win from the contest. Up for grabs is a cash prize of P100,000 (tax free), a six month rent-free stall in Mercato or Soderno and a feature in both Entrepreneur and Yummy magazines.

I checked out the participants of this year's Next Big Food Entrepreneur Challenge with Jericho, taking notes on what the competition consisted of, what the usual food concepts were, how they presented their food, and overall just having a good time, trying my best to taste all sixty-five food products!

As it turns out, I'm a lightweight when it comes to food events like these and could only sample a few. Here are my favorites this year:

Friday, August 2, 2013

Diplahan Lechon: Zamboanga's Pride Is Now In Manila!

Trips with the foodie fam bam are always fun! Meeting up with fellow foodies who just want to share their food discoveries and the stories of the owners with the rest of the world is something quite special. And when people of the same passions and tastes come together to celebrate just that, well, it's magical. Throw in lechon to the mix, and it's a party. Make that two burnished piggies with crisp, crackling skin and I'm in fucking Disneyland.

My Disneyland happened to be on the rooftop of a building somewhere in Tomas Morato, which also happens to be the headquarters of Diplahan Lechon. Being asked ever so nicely by a very picky eater, I braved the horrendous traffic of EDSA to see and taste what makes this kind of lechon from Zamboanga so special.