Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Nectar Restaurant: Wine Dining 101

Update: Nectar Restaurant has closed its doors on July 7, 2012.
Wine has been an intriguing luxurious drink for me. Most aficionados use fancy words I've never heard before. And although I would love to learn more about this famed alcoholic drink, just the terminology in wine-tasting already intimidates me. Fortunately, there are places like Nectar Restaurant in Legaspi Village, Makati which aims to break away from the norm when it comes to orienting people with wine culture.

Nectar Restaurant Interior 01 Weeping Girl Painting

Instead of basking wine neophytes with overflowing intimidation, Nectar Restaurant provides its wine diners with a casual and laid back ambiance filled with hues of browns and oranges to give off a cozy atmosphere. Beautiful paintings are also hung around its function rooms to exude a feeling of Synesthesia -- the becoming one of senses.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Brasserie CiÇou: Station by Station Degustacion

After touring Istituto Culinario, I along with fellow bloggers got the chance to sample some of the offerings from Brasserie CiÇou, a French restaurant headed by Chef Cyrille Soenen, and where Istituto Culinario students undergo their internship program.

Brasserie Cicou Lights

Being a noob in French cuisine, I didn't really know what to expect when it comes to the food selection. However, the restaurant exudes a relaxing and very casual ambiance to calm even the French cuisine neophytes like me. There were bleached wood tables and chairs, comfy couches pimped with colorful throw pillows, creative chandeliers, colorful paintings and even board games.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Istituto Culinario: Real Culinary Art Begins Here

Although I have already accepted that I have no talent in cooking, my curiosity and eagerness were stirred when I got the chance to attend the grand opening of Istituto Culinario, the Philippines' newest, most innovative institution for culinary arts.

Built on the strong foundations and solid reputation of the country's first specialized school for the culinary arts, the O.B. Montessori College Culinary Institute, Istituto Culinario is committed to nurture professional, creative, and passionate chefs -- a breed of true Culinary Maestros.

Istituto Culinario

Headed by Chef Chris Bautista, and assisted by Chef Jerome Valencia, Chef JA Ventura, Chef Ching Yoingco, Chef JP Anglo, Chef Hames Antolin (International Consultant) and Chef Cyrille Soenen (Primary Industry Partner), a chef-wannabe is assured to get the best training through Istituto Culinario's program.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Recipes by Café Metro: Good Filipino Comfort Food

Whenever my date and I would dine out, we'd often veer away from restaurants serving Filipino food. With moms capable of whipping up really good authentic home-cooked Filipino dishes, we usually reason out that if we crave for a Filipino meal, we can always have that at home, for free. However, earlier this week, I thought of giving a popular Filipino restaurant a try. I've heard of good things about Recipes by Café Metro, so why not give it a shot?

Recipes by Café Metro

I was also looking forward to eat a rice meal for dinner, so this restaurant just fits the bill. And since it was our first time to dine at Recipes by Café Metro, both my date and I didn't know what to get. I actually tried my hardest to remember The Pickiest Eater's Recipes Killer Combo. However, I slightly failed as I forgot 1 out of the 3 dishes.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Daily Quickie: Nongshim Hot & Spicy Shin Ramyun

Daily Quickie is a short tag on the title which I use for blog entries about food I'm snacking at home, work or anywhere.

Being a foodie without a talent in cooking, I've always relied on easy-to-cook foods whenever I'm left alone at home without anything ready-to-eat to snack on. One of these instant foods that I always find myself reaching for are instant noodles. They're so easy to cook, and even a 7-year old child can prepare this no brainer dish. And throughout the years, I've always been loyal to the Lucky Me! brand, and occasionally, Nissin.

Nongshim Shin Ramyun

Japanese and Korean brands of ramen or ramyun have been making a buzz within my circle of friends. Fortunately, my beau who is my foodie partner and who I always refer to as my date, gave me 3 packs of Nongshim Shin Ramyun in Hot & Spicy flavor about a month ago. And although I am a big fan on instant noodles, this Korean brand didn't impress me.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Espressamente illy: A Taste of Italian Coffee

Although SM Mall of Asia is one of my go-to malls, there are a lot of restaurants and cafés I haven't tried yet. One of the coffee shops I've always seen but had ignored is Espressamente illy, an Italian café in the main mall's second floor, just beside Haagen Dazs.

While strolling in the mall last week, this interesting café caught the attention of my date. Feeling the need for a hot beverage, I also thought of giving it a shot.

Espressamente Illy

Espressamente illy in SM Mall of Asia may not be as quaint as one would expect from an Italian owned café. However, being situated just above the mall's atrium, it shares the wide modern-looking space with Haagen Dazs. Its area is lined with a faux plant divider and pimped with blacks, reds and creams. And although the café doesn't have a ceiling of its own, my date and I just love how it utilizes the mall's high ceilings, giving its customers a sense of space.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Birthday Giveaway Winner

Happy Friday everyone! Sorry if it took me longer to post this. I was supposed to manually check the entries right after the giveaway ended, but I was really sick to do anything early this week. But now, the moment you've all been waiting for is here. And before I announce the winners, I'd like to thank all of you for the birthday greetings and for joining my birthday giveaway. It was overwhelming to receive 138 entries in less than 2 weeks! Again, thank you so much. Now, back to business.

After manually checking each and every entry -- verifying if the participant's Facebook post is public, if The Purple Doll's Facebook page was tagged, if 3 of the participant's friends were also tagged, and if the participant publicly follows this blog thru Google Friend Connect, I've encoded the qualified names to Random Picker, a free online random generator.

And after the randomizer did its thing, the winners are as follows...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Swensen's: Ultimate Basket Sundae Experience

Being a big desserts lover, I was delighted when I first read that a Swensen's store has opened in one of my go-to malls, SM Mall of Asia. It has been 5 months since then, but it was only last week that my date and I were able to finally pay it a visit.

Although I have not yet been to California nor to other parts of the world which have Swensen's branches, I have already read a lot about this famous ice cream chain. And just the write-ups, as well as the photos of their sundaes were already enough to convince me that I need to try this global ice cream wonder.

Nutty Banana Basket Sundae P265

The couple behind The Old Spaghetti House and Grilla Bar & Grill -- Chito and Lizzie Guerrero, brought Swensen's in the Philippines, believing it will be a hit since Filipinos are known for having sweet tooths. And they were probably right as Swensen's Philippines has already been receiving a lot of raves ever since it opened its doors to the market last September 15, 2011. So for my date and I, our first trip to Swensen's was not only to satisfy our cravings for cold sweet treats, but to also justify all the rave.

Andro: Fun, Fearless & Fashionable

Having a thing for fashion and for photography, I volunteered to help my fashion-savvy cum artist cum designer friend Ronn Wong, with a fashionable clothing line he created for his project brand, Andro.

Equipped with Candice -- my trusty Canon EOS 550D, I was fortunate to not only see but to also be involved in shooting with Ronn's models wearing his oh-so-fasyon blazer collection which took inspiration from vintage prints and patterns.

The Man Sultry Heiress
Shot using Candice + EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS kit lens

At 20 years old, I'm so proud of how my buddy had created these blazers which I would not only gladly wear for work, but to almost anywhere. After slipping into your favorite tee or dress, a pop of print and color from these blazers will bring out a sense of fun, youth and chic fashion to even the dullest of ensembles.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Poco Deli: My First at Kapitolyo

Although I'm a self-confessed foodie, I haven't been out and about in scouring for new food destinations. Aside from the streets of Maginhawa in Quezon City which I have been dying to visit, Kapitolyo in Pasig is another foodie haven housing hole-in-the-wall food spots patiently sitting on my bucket list. Luckily, I was able to finally pay it a first visit last Thursday after a quick snack at Spam Jam. Along with fellow foodies from Pinoy Exchange, I spent my first Kapitolyo trip at Poco Deli.

Poco Deli Wall Decor

Poco Deli is a small neighborhood deli in East Capitol Drive boasting of slow-cooked, handcrafted sausages and deli meats. Upon entering, you'll definitely feel the inviting quaint atmosphere of the place paired with its slightly dim yellow hued lighting. There are also framed paintings, photos and vintage accents giving off that cozy vibe. And if you've got your eye on those wine bottle decors, you'd have more to feast on when you see Poco Deli's library of beers and wines.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Daily Quickie: Spam Musubi & Winter Melon Alisan Tea

Daily Quickie will be a short tag on the title which I'll use for blog entries about food I'm snacking at home, work or anywhere.

I don't usually buy food items that I can easily whip up at home. However, Spam Jam is an exception. I don't remember when I first fell in love with this food kiosk, but ever since I've tried their Spam Musubi (P48), I always make sure to buy a piece or two when I see a branch.

Spam Jam

Last Thursday after doing some shopping in SM Megamall, I made sure to stop by at Spam Jam to have a quick snack. Honestly, I've never tried anything else from their menu except the Spam Musubi -- a grilled slice of Spam pressed atop a block of flavored rice, and wrapped around with nori. I felt like I can easily replicate a Spam burger, sandwich or better yet, Spam with rice.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Intramuros: Reliving Stories of the Walled City

Tucked in the bustling metropolis is a 64-hectare walled district called Intramuros. Also nicknamed as the Walled City, this historical site in Manila has seen, heard and experienced both the best and the worst since the 16th century. Despite enduring battle scars from not only the World War II, but also of numerous fires and earthquakes, its walls still stand tall. It stands proud as it encloses ruins, mementos, and stories waiting to be told.

01 Intramuros Light 02 Intramuros Tunnel

With Mr. Jeff Velasco of Mabuhay Guides, a Philippine Department of Tourism tour guiding program, fellow bloggers and I had the chance to see, appreciate, and relive some of the stories inside the walled city -- some of which are of military leaders and soldiers who had fallen after the era of foreign occupation; of heroes who had suffered and died for the country; of lovers who either found happiness or endured countless heartbreaks; and of wandering souls who've grown old with the walls.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Tous Les Jours: My Strawberry Birthday Cake

Last week, I intimately celebrated my 21st birthday with my 4-piece family. We had a simple but filling dinner at Causeway, and when we got home, it was time to finally blow my birthday cake. If you're wondering, we didn't bring the cake to the restaurant 'cause I didn't want it to melt while we're on the road. Just look at how pretty and delicate-looking it is!

Tous Les Jours Box Cake

This beautiful Strawberry Inspiration (P598) cake was bought from a South Korean French-Asian bakery in SM The Block -- Tous Les Jours. Although my family is not a big fan of strawberries, I decided to have this as my birthday cake. (It's my birthday anyway!)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Sa Kanto: Street Food Classics by Il Ponticello

Filipino street foods are gustatory delights which are not only close to my stomach, but also close to my heart. Back when I was in grade school, my friends and I would flock fish ball, barbecue and green mango vendors. Growing up, I would always stop by at our neighborhood isaw seller and get myself a few sticks. Until now, I can't just say no to my good ol' Pinoy street foods. However, I am very aware that cleanliness is the main concern with such delicacies, if only there's a restaurant offering such treats.

And yes, Sa Kanto by Il Ponticello just fits the bill. It's a new hangout spot at The Podium offering Filipino street food classics with a twist.

Interior 01 Sa Kanto by Il Ponticello Interior 02 Sa Kanto by Il Ponticello

My date and I, along with my blogger friends, had the chance to dine at Sa Kanto for an Eat's a Date lunch. In all honesty, I didn't have any expectations of how the food will taste like, more so on how the place will look like. So upon entering Sa Kanto's typical double glass door, I was quite surprised to be greeted by an earth-toned space embellished with a large vase, grand antique-style mirrors, some floor and wall lamps, and a stone arch with black gate grills.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Causeway: Unpretentious Seafood Restaurant

Chinese cuisine has been a staple for our Chinese-Filipino family. Although it was my birthday, I had to choose a restaurant that's near our place and one which serves Chinese food or else my mom wouldn't come along. I was initially geared more on having a buffet dinner with our 4-piece family, but we ended up in Banawe Quezon City's Causeway Seafood Restaurant. I guess it was also timely as my stomach was craving for some good Chinese food fare.

Causeway Dim Sum

Believe it or not, it was our family's first time at Causeway despite and in spite of the seafood restaurant's continuously growing fame since my folks are not fans of long drives. (If you're curious, a few minutes less than an hour is already quite long for them.) But since the traffic was surprisingly light that evening, we got to the restaurant with nothing but good vibes.

Friday, February 3, 2012

BBB: Big Better Burgers

Who wouldn't be tempted to try out a fast-casual food station when it proudly banners a combination of these three very enticing words -- bigger, better and burgers? Definitely not my date and I. So when we were given an opportunity to eat at this burger joint earlier this week, we went ahead and paid it a visit with our big, growling stomachs.

Big Better Burgers

Big Better Burgers is actually not that new to us. We've already tried out some of their burgers over a year ago. However, we never knew back then that BBB is actually a venture of chef-cum-entrepreneur Eric Teotico, with his siblings Chiqui Teotico and Nanette Teotico Soriano. Being a family-owned business, BBB wanted to deviate from the regular American burgers which are often big and juicy, but bland. So to cater to the Filipino palate, they have experimented and tediously tweaked their patties to make big, juicy, tender, pure beef, and grilled burgers that both young and adult Filipinos can enjoy.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Chocolate Kiss Cafe: Serving the Good Stuff

Last week, my date and I were fortunate to try out another café we have never been to. Located in the 2nd floor of UP Bahay ng Alumni, this simple yet cozy-looking comfort food destination is well-hidden in the UP Diliman compound. With no sign boards or tarpaulins to guide a wandering foodie, only UP students and faculty, as well as long-time patrons would have known that Chocolate Kiss Cafe is a gem tucked in the area.

Chocolate Kiss Cafe is owned by a family who are proud alumni of the University of the Philippines. It all started with two siblings who have a strong passion for baking cakes and cookies. But come 1997, what was only a hobby became a business venture as the family finally opened the resto-café to cater to teachers and students of UP Diliman. As of today though, there are already 2 branches in the compound -- one in the 2nd floor and another one in the ground floor (morning 'til afternoon only). They also have a 3rd branch in Roces Avenue.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Purple Doll's Birthday Giveaway

After the recently concluded Chinese New Year, I bet the next special day most of us are looking forward to is the season of hearts -- the (in)famous Valentine's Day. However before we let the sweet-smelling air bring us to a romantic world, pwede bang birthday ko muna?

Don't worry, I'm not a narcissist who would want everyone to fuss over my turning 21 years of ruckus this 31st of January. But with the passing of this not-so-special day, I would like to give back to you -- dear readers, followers, blogmates and friends. Throughout the blogging chapters in my life, the section where I started The Purple Doll, a personal-turned-food blog, is probably the most rewarding. No, I don't really earn money through blogging, but I'm happy to earn new-found online friends and personal satisfaction as well.

Prizes up for grabs may not be much, but they're good treats for the tummy. And unlike my previous giveaway, this time we'll have 4 winners.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

It's more fun in the Philippines

When I was young, I have dreamt of traveling to foreign lands, learning new cultures and savoring unfamiliar dishes. In my 21 years of living, I’ve reached places I never knew existed, enjoyed scenic views which looked like paintings on canvass, experienced great hospitality from strangers whom I met for the first time, and sampled food items that brought me to pure bliss.

However, I have realized one thing. All these, I experienced in the Philippines, in my own country. I need not go to other places. Everything I need, everything I want, everything that's fun is already here.

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