Aikyatchi: Clean-up Time

Because I’ve decided I’m taking blogging and food writing as seriously as I can, I took the time to clean up a bit and add bits and pieces that can help me attract more visitors to this site. I can’t believe this is such hard work, but I had it coming!

1200H: The first entry for this post. Started looking for widgets to add to Unlimited Grub Grabs. At the same time I’m looking for recipes for Spam musubi.

1234H: Added a hit counter. Memo to me: buy nori and try making Spam musubi. Hope local rice works.

1236H: Registered to MyBlogLog. Hopefully I get visitors who’d register with me.

1240H: Internet Explorer crashes right after entering MyBlogLog. Time to rehydrate.

1300: Posted an authentication link from MyBlogLog so that I can work on my widgets.

1324H: Tried to grab MyBlogLog from another site, but failed. How come MyBlogLog has classified me as a porn site? I don’t have adult content!

1328H: Removed the authentication link. I now just proved to myself that I own Unlimited Grub Grabs. What the heck.

1333H: I now have MyBlogLog and a hit counter on my site. Sweet!

1345H: A certain “haitromoi7” dropped by my site. Looks like my widgets are working. Dropped by Chocolatier Maxx and Kate the cat lover’s site while I’m at it.

1630H: Opened my blog at work. So far, so good. Started fixing the posts; I noticed the spaces between the pictures and the titles are too bunched up close.

1830H: Checked my Flickr account. Paksiw na bangus (boiled pickled milkfish) and pineapples for dinner.

2100H: Defragged my laptop. Still working on the posts and the pictures from Flickr.

2307H: Finished editing my posts. Still have a lot to edit over the Flickr page, especially the picture titles. That’s it, I’m pooped.

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I still have a lot to do to improve this blog. As I said earlier I hope I could attract more readers and gain more ideas for food articles, and perhaps meet other fellow foodies along the way. Then again, an attractive blog doesn’t always mean a good writer, so I’ll work on that part as hard as I can.

In the meantime, I need something else to write about. XP

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Episode 7: The BGC Passion Fest 2010 Food Tour! (Epilogue)

How long has it been? It’s been over a week since the Passion Fest Food tour at Bonifacio Global City, but I’ve yet to get over the excitement brought by learning about so many dishes and seeing food spots I could only visit in my dreams. First timer’s hangover much?

I’ve thought of myself most of the time as a gourmand, one who appreciates food, or a glutton to some extent. Admittedly, that’s because I prefer my food in big quantities, at reasonable prices, with the look and flavor that can attract my attention.

That changed after this tour.

Throughout the food tour, I felt that my ultimate goal was to shift to being a gourmet, an expert in the art of food. And why not? There was so much to learn in all the places we visited.

At Cupcakes by Sonja and Miss Desserts, I feelt the need to learn how to distinguish certain tastes from desserts, instead of just calling each one simply sweet or nutty or cheesy. Eating at Polu Kai Grill was a learning experience, since I’ve not really delved into flavors from other cuisines such as Hawaiian cuisine.

My visit at Italianni’s and The Stock Market changed my views about restaurants, chain or otherwise. Trio, which offered a stricter look into yet another cuisine (Italian), gave me an eye opener on eating in style. Amber Ultralounge? Let’s say this guy whose only concept of fun was drinking sake and going to bars to watch UFC was in for a culture shock, but in a good way.

I eventually learned that in a sense I was neither a gourmet nor a gourmand after all; I was just someone who loved his food, not to excess but not enough to be knowledgeable about it. In a way, as far as looks and expertise I felt I was way below the level of the bloggers, writers, food critics. What a downer!

Despite my massive drop in self-confidence, I felt that this food tour was just what I needed after all to get my spirits up, especially with the slump that has all but extinguished my drive to write about food. After all, I write after my experiences and my thoughts first before anything else. Judging by the last posts I’ve had, somehow my feelings – and surprisingly, my tastebuds and appetite – are now more in synch than before.

Much could be said about how the Passion Fest Food Tour changed me as a writer and a food lover, but what I probably would not be able to express properly is that I learned so much, and someday, I can see myself as a better foodie, critic, and Kuishinbou Chojutsuka than before.

Well, I’m hungry. I want something hot and salty, something fishy and bursting with fat… Something with Omega-3. With seaweed. Ah, whatever. I think I’m more inspired to get myself something delicious on the way home.

With this, I’d like to give my special thanks to:

Bonifacio Global City,
Ivan Man Dy from Old Manila Walks,
Cupcakes by Sonja (Serendra),
Miss Desserts (Serendra),
Polu Kai Grill (Serendra),
Italianni’s (Bonifacio High Street),
The Stock Market and The Ice Cream Bar, (Bonifacio High Street),
Trio (The Fort Strip),
Amber Ultralounge (The Fort Strip),
My brother MC,
All the bloggers, foodies, and critics who came along with us,
and of course, my blog mascot Kero-chan!

See you in the next food adventure! Gouchisousama deshita!

Episode 7: The BGC Passion Fest 2010 Food Tour! (Part 7)

At last, we have reached the end of the BGC Passion Fest Food Tour. Throughout the day, we filled ourselves with sweets (Cupcakes by Sonja’s and Miss Desserts), visited a Hawaiian beach, sort of (Polu Kai Grill), took a slow walk to an Italian villa (Italianni’s), rushed through pineapple fields (The Stock Market), and munched our way to the classy side of Italy (Trio).

To complete the tour, Ivan Man Dy led us to our last stop, a large building just a few meters away from Trio with a simple facade…

“Hey, I’m supposed to hang out here later tonight,” MC said.

Amber Ultralounge, which opened on August 2009, is owned by partner-entrepreneurs Conrad and Kay Alcantara, Kim Liu III, Howard Gotauco Co, and Jessie Suaco. (Conrad and Kay Alcanatara own Trio too; Amber was their way to venture at the nightlife industry.)

The lounge is classified as a modern “hybrid” bar, meaning it’s a chill-out spot, a dance club, and party place all at the same time. Apparently, it also caters to corporate meetings, after parties, and other special events.

The place has two floors. The first is where the dance floor (and the party, XD) is at. The second is a VIP mezzanine called “Scarlet”, where wine, single malts, and bubbly drinks are served to patrons who want a subdued moment away from the crowd.

Amber has a stylish, comfortable interior. The lounge was designed by architect Ed Calma, who used ergonomic, aesthetic and conducive elements to complement its “state of the art” lighting and sound system.
The lounge serves mojitos, their best-sellers, as well as muddled drinks and other spirits. Their menu is also something not to miss; signature pizzas such as five-cheese, vegetarian, and shrimps and scallops are some of the must try treats.

MC said he goes to Amber with his friends often, especially on weekends. He says he usually hanging out at the Scarlet mezzanine, which if I remember correctly is reserved for VIPs. He adds that it’s a nice place overall, but really expensive. Being a mere writer whose only concept of hanging out is being in some bar in Malate drinking sake or San Miguel Beer, I’ll take his word for it.

Amber Ultralounge served three cocktails for us to try.

First up was the Coco Lychee Smash Margarita. The coconut and lychee mix is refreshing, a bit sweet and not as hard (alcohol-wise) as I expected. This is something you’d be drinking while lounging at a bar on a warm, summer night while looking at the starry sky and the sea from the horizon. Which reminds me of Polu Kai, but I digress.

The second drink offered to us was the Strawberry Mojito. This cocktail is sweet (strawberry) with a hint of spicy (mint), resulting in a somewhat cool and refreshing aftertaste. Apparently, this is also the drink everyone liked the most. Definitely a must try for every cocktail party.

The third was the Chocolate Martini. Bartender, what’s a Chocnut doing in my Martini? The Martini kinda burned my throat, but the Chocnut tones down the liquor’s strong flavor. The result of the combination is a strong taste for drinkers who’d like to try something new.

Amber Ultralounge also prepared Boneless Buffalo Chicken to go with the drinks. Of course, what’s a few drinks without beermates? The chicken is spicy and juicy, exactly what I wanted along with the cocktail samples I’ve imbibed so far.

MC and I took the time to look around, meet some of the participants, and have our pictures with Ivan Man Dy. It was the best way to wrap things up. For us and everyone else, Amber was the perfect place to cool down, socialize, and cap such a wonderful experience. The last thing to do… was to party! Wait, how about a few more drinks? More buffalo wings? Maybe I should save up and come back here instead to fully experience the place.

Wait, where’s Kero-chan?

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(Photos of Amber’s facade and cocktails courtesy of Amber Ultralounge. Check out the rest of our pictures at the BGC Passion Fest Food Tour at my Flicker account.)

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Amber Ultralounge

The Fort Strip, Bonifacio Global City
Telephone Numbers: (0917) 8508088 / (02) 8876838

Episode 7: The BGC Passion Fest 2010 Food Tour! (Part 6)

A few minutes away from The Stock Market is The Fort Strip, one of Metro Manila’s top locations for gimmicks and night-outs. The Fort Strip is home to many of  BGC’s clubs, lounges, restaurants and coffee shops. Also what seems to be MC’s favorite hang-out place.

So when we ended up in front of the Trio Family Style Italian Bistro, he gave me a surprised look… Probably because he’s been at The Fort Strip often and he didn’t expect this to be part of the food tour, but I digress.


Trio  integrates the concept of a modern Italian bistro, pizzeria,and wine bar. This place specializes in classic Italian entrees, authentic thin crust pizzas, homemade pastas,and freshly made desserts. Worth noting is its wide selection of wines from the Old and New world.

(Old World wine is made in Europe and the Mediterranean countries, while New World wine comes from non-traditional wine-making areas such as the United States. Fact, fact. XD)

It’s surprising that except for a few blog posts and entries in directories, Trio is not well known. Unlike the similarly-themed Italianni’s, Trio’s has a classy feel to it with its contemporary, elegantly designed and stylish interior. It still has the look of a family restaurant despite the classy features. Perhaps it’s because Trio and other similar places are overshadowed by The Fort Strip’s lounges and party spots. I guess Trio would be considered as a gem for the discriminating diner.

First to be served to the group is Cannelloni, rolled pasta sheets stuffed with beef and spinach, and topped with béchamel crème sauce and parmesan cheese. The cannelloni smelled so good. The pasta was so soft to the tongue, and the beef and spinach stuffing had a subtle taste that blended really well with the creamy sauce. The canneloni itself was so filling.

The next dish was Osso Buco with Portobello Risotto, braised beef on top of creamy risotto. (“Osso buco” in Italian loosely means bone with a hole.)

The osso buco’s meat was soft and juicy. The spices are all there playing with your tongue, bringing out an exciting mix of flavors. The risotto was less creamy and flavorful than the risotto we had at The Stock Market, but it was able to bring out the flavor of the meat.

The last to arrive on our table was the Pizza Capricciosa, a thin crust pizza with hard boiled eggs and the usual pizza toppings.

The Pizza Capricciosa was the trickiest of the three. The unique aspect of this pizza is that it had hardboiled egg on top of it. This added an extra kick on the freshly oven-baked crispy thin crust, and the toppings… Ah, who am I kidding? I LOVE this pizza! It’s so delicious and flavorful, I felt like having seconds, or thirds even. Way to go though, Kero-chan, for aiming at the last slice of the pizza. (-_-;)

Before we reached Trio, we passed by a branch of Fitness First at The Fort Strip. As we stopped there, Ivan Man Dy remarked that we’ve been taking in and burning calories here and there. Which makes me think, all those carbs and sugars, proteins, calcium, fiber and vitamins are swimming so well in our stomachs, which means it’s a struggle between burning calories and storing them in our bellies.

Let’s see, then… One cupcake would be equivalent to 50 sit-ups, a Spam Musubi would need 10 minutes on the treadmill at six kilometers per hour, risotto equals 20 push-ups…

Wait a minute, what was I thinking? The food tour isn’t even over! This is NOT the time to think of going to the gym!

Up next: This is it, the final lap! The time has come to party! Wait, there’s a Chocnut in my martini?!

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(Check out the rest of our pictures at the BGC Passion Fest Food Tour at my Flicker account.)

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Trio Family Style Italian Bistro

2nd floor Fort Pointe Building
The Fort Strip, Bonifacio Global City
Telephone Number: (02) 884-1601
E-mail address: trioresturant@yahoo.com

Episode 7: The BGC Passion Fest 2010 Food Tour! (Part 5)

When I first visited Bonifacio High Street a few years ago, one of the first shops I glanced at along the way was The Stock Market, which from the outside looked like an organic market cum restaurant.

Thinking that it would actually be a high-end health shop with food and products I would never be able to relate to and afford, I paid no attention to it. I wasn’t exactly a foodie, much less a healthy one to boot back then.

Then again, I didn’t bother to look at its facade, much more see what’s inside. I eventually forgot about the place.

Fast forward to May 1, 2010 – guess where the BGC Passion Fest Food Tour is leading us next.

The Del Monte Stock Market, or simply The Stock Market, is the brainchild of Del Monte Philippines. Yup, THAT Del Monte, the one with Shawn Spencer’s favorite fruit.

Ivan Man Dy said The Stock Market is named such because Del Monte wanted a place where they can sell some of their stock products, including their drinks, food stuff, and even salad dressing. The place has its own test kitchen too! I can only imagine the new recipes they conjure in here…

We were immediately led to our tables, which led us to occupy a large part of the whole restaurant. Because of the space, Ivan encouraged everyone to sit beside anyone and make friends, including “the guy with the doll.”

The place has a rural, homey touch to it, coupled by that organic market-style impression I first had. Add to that the numerous pineapple and pineapple-themed interior and and decorations.

Look around you and you’d feel like staying here at your leisure. The surroundings are relaxing, and there are pineapples. The air smells nice with all the food and fruits around, and there are pineapples. The tables are simple but inviting. And then there are pineapples. (Seriously, there’s nothing wrong with the pineapples. They are there to make the place look charming. And they’re nice to look at, and delicious too.)

Speaking of delicious, I think I heard Ivan say something about the cuisine here being Anglo-Saxon or American. Or pineapple. Or something. Wait…

First on the menu is the Stock Market Fresh Harvest Salad with Pineapple Vinaigrette, served on a carved pineapple shell, no less. Looks good, smells good, tastes good. The pineapple vinaigrette added a little kick to the whole dish. The flavors of the pineapple chunks, banana, grape, apple, and the fresh, crunchy lettuce blend with each other well.

The New England Clam Chowder is next. Mmm, soup. Creamy and warm on the palate, ’nuff said.

Last in the course was the Fork-Tender Short Ribs with Sautéed Beans and Corn Risotto. When they said “fork-tender short ribs,” they meant it. The beef was so soft and juicy, and the risotto was creamy and tasty. What a combination! No pineapples? (whacks self)

We’re already having a grand time with our samplers when Ivan announced that we’re having dessert. Again.

Again? Hell yeah, AGAIN!

The Stock Market is also home to the Ice Cream Bar by FIC, which serves a mix of local and international desserts.

First up for desserts was the Mango Sago Sorbet (cool, fresh-tasting mango and sago). Next was the Mangga’t Suman (mango ice cream over suman drizzled with caramelized sugar and chocolate syrup). The last one is my favorite so far, the Belgian Chocolate Champorado. I’m a sucker for champorado. Champorado with my ice cream? Bring it on!

We’ve had our fill with the sweets, but the dessert frenzy wasn’t over, after all… up next is Frozen Yoghurt! MC loved this most of all in its simplicity and sweet-sour splendor.

Too bad the food in The Stock Market is expensive. I admittedly will have to think twice and plan it over before coming back here. Notwithstanding that, the dishes we’ve had there are great and worth trying out. Self-contradicting much?

Here’s a fun fact: Pineapples are rich in bromelain, an anti-inflammatory agent that helps improve digestion (remember my pineapple juice at Polu Kai Grill?). It’s also high in fiber, Vitamin C, and manganese… and yes, the phytochemicals (starts with a P-H, sounds like an F) that help prevent cancer. No wonder pineapples are a staple in The Stock Market.

Shawn, enough with the pineapples.

Up next: More pizza! More pasta! What are we doing in front of Fitness First?!

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(Check out the rest of our pictures at the BGC Passion Fest Food Tour at my Flicker account.)

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The Stock Market / The Ice Cream Bar

Bonifacio High Street, Bonifacio Global City
Telephone Number: (02) 8566300 / (02) 8566301

Episode 7: The BGC Passion Fest 2010 Food Tour! (Part 4)

We walked for a few minutes from Serendra to Bonifacio High Street, the hang-out of choice  in BGC. This is where BCG offers a diverse array of cuisines, the latest in fashion and technology, health and beauty, and other special interests. Truly, Bonifacio High Street represents  the good life.

Looks like from Hawaii, we’re about to jump (sort of) to Italy. Our next stop at the BGC Passion Fest Food Tour is the Italian-American restaurant, Italianni’s.

Wait, Italianni’s?!


To quote Italianni’s home page: “Traditionally, Italian restaurants have been owned by families using recipes and cooking skills in herited from the old country and served with warmhearted hospitality. Italian restaurants have been synonymous with warm, friendly, and aimed to please their guests and make them feel at home. At Italianni’s we believe in making our guests feel like they’re in an Italian family villa.”

And this is how the 70+ participants of the food tour (okay, it’s now 70 and 1/10, including Kero-chan) was welcomed when we entered Italianni’s. The staff was warm and accommodating, and the place was cozy. Kinda surprising that  they were able to take all of us in too.

Italianni’s doesn’t need an introduction. Italianni’s is known all over the world; this restaurant chain is popular for having one of the most authentic Italian recipes of all. If I remember correctly, Ivan Man Dy said this place was called Italian-American because it’s Italian cuisine introduced by way of American ingredients and stuff. I got it, somehow. XD

First in was some Dalandan Juice, which is just enough to cool us down after that short walk (seriously, it’s a short walk, but under the El Nino sun? This is refreshing.).

Next was one of Italianni’s best sellers, Shrimp Mushroom Linguini (shrimps and mushroom sautéed in garlic, olive oil and tossed in linguine with marinara sauce). This came in with some focaccia (baked flat bread) with olive oil and balsamic vinegar mixed into a sauce.

The last dish is another best seller, Classico Pizza (thin crust pizza with Italian sausage, mushrooms and peppers with mozzarella and Romano cheese).

The Shrimp Mushroom Linguini was spicy and tangy, with the fresh taste of the shrimp and mushroom blending well with the marinara sauce and the al dente linguine noodle. The Classico Pizza was flavorful, chewy and strangely light to the stomach.

For a moment I thought my stomach would be overwhelmed, especially that Italian cuisine involves pizza and pasta (which is right in this case). I was relieved that despite the small but heavy samples I was able to take them all in. It was a good intro to Italian cuisine, without the heavy belly.

Will you believe me if I tell you that this would be my first time to eat here? I don’t get to eat out a lot so being here like this is already special for me. Maybe someday I’d save up and really plan to eat here. Someday.

After about 20 minutes at Italianni’s, it was time to move on to the next few sights around Bonifacio High Street, and eventually, to our fifth food stop.

Up next: Come sit by the Kuishinbou Chojutsuka and his doll! We have pineapples!

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(Check out the rest of our pictures at the BGC Passion Fest Food Tour at my Flicker account.)

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Italianni’s
Quadrant 5, Space 1E14, Bonifacio High St., Bonifacio Global City
Telephone Number: (02) 8564094 and (02)8563890

Episode 7: The BGC Passion Fest 2010 Food Tour! (Part 3)

After having our fill of desserts, Ivan Man Dy led us to the third stop of the BGC Passion Fest Food Tour: Polu Kai Grill, a Hawaiian island-themed restaurant in Serendra. Aloha, new cuisine of interest!

The moment the group entered Polu Kai (which means “blue ocean” in Hawaiian) and I beheld the fishes and tiki figures leering at me, I thought I’d be caught unprepared for the cuisine and end up overwhelmed and bloated before my time. Turns out, I was wrong.

Polu Kai seems to be made with families and large groups out for a special meal in mind. The ambience overall was awesome, with its beach-side feel and quiet, relaxing interior.

(Ivan also said that Polu Kai offers the cheapest beer in BGC, and they are also giving a 50% off on all Hawaiian inspired cocktails. Spending a quiet time at a beach-like environment with a cocktail on hand? Bring in a hammock and I am SO there. XD)

A while ago I mentioned that I was apprehensive with what we’re having at Polu Kai since I’ve eaten one too many pastries back at Sonja’s and Miss Desserts, and then here’s the main course. It turned out that dining there would end up being a pleasant experience, which even energized the gourmand in me.

First on the line-up was a fresh pineapple shake, served in a pineapple shell, where else. It was cool and refreshing, and it helped me really digest everything I’ve had so far… and then there were refills. A few sips later, and I was ready for the main event!

On the buffet table were three dishes: Spam Musubi, Hawaii’s version of the Japanese onigiri (Spam with Teriyaki glaze over flavored rice), Surf and Turf (grilled prawn and sausage skewers), and Fish & Fish (golden fried cream dory with tartar sauce).

MC and I loved the Spam Musubi the most. The Spam and the Teriyaki glaze, followed by the nori wrap was excellent! It made for a great snack (Hawaiians are said to like this as a snack as well) that is light but satisfying.

The prawn in the Surf and Turf was good, lightly roasted and a bit juicy with a fresh taste on it. Ditto with the sausage that came with it.

The cream dory was lightly fried and juicy, and made better with its semi-spicy breading and the sweet and sour taste of the tartar sauce. I liked it even without the tartar sauce. For some reason, I was wishing I had rice; never mind that I’d be bloated.)

Polu Kai really knew how to make a taster’s sampler fit for a gourmand. The Spam Musubi, Surf and Turf, and Fish and Fish complemented each other so well, despite the distinctive tastes they blended so well it made for a feast for the tastebuds.

Ivan came to our table while MC and I were having fun with our samplers. We earlier met him at the registration area where we were asking whether we could still be accommodated even though we were waitlisted. Looks like he was delighted that we made it in. Then, he sort of blurted out one question that caught me off guard:

“What’s with the doll?”

Ivan was referring to Kero-chan.

All I can say is, well, thanks to Ivan, looks like Kero-chan is now recognized as my official mascot. Which is why he’s here in the first place. I mentioned this to MC as we left Polu Kai a bit later, and he just laughed it off.

Without further ado, the group walked on away from Serendra and into Bonifcaio High Street. After a few photo-ops and taking some time to appreciate the artworks, we went to our next food stop.

Thank you, Polu Kai, for giving me the strength (and the digestive juices) to continue with the food tour. Until our next visit, mahalo (goodbye in Hawaiian)!

Up next: Time to take things slow! What’s this, pasta?!

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(Check out the rest of our pictures at the BGC Passion Fest Food Tour at my Flicker account.)

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Polu Kai Grill

Unit 128- 130
G/F Shops, Serendra
Telephone Number: (632) 901-1841.