Bondi and Bourke

Veering away from the more usual French or European-themed events, the International Wine and Food Society Philippines Branch held its monthly event at Bondi and Bourke, a new Australian restaurant in Legaspi Village. The restaurant is helmed by Chef Wade Watson who has earned several distinctions in his native Australia and more recently, was chef at Cebu’s Abaca. Although certainly capable of doing what he calls “fancy” food, he does stick-to-your-ribs hearty, traditional Australian fare at Bondi and Bourke.

While waiting for everyone to gather, we were treated to canapes of Aklan  oysters in a citrus and chive sabayon and dates with parma ham and goat cheese. The oysters in particular were a great hit. This was paired with a medium-bodied and very refreshing Jansz Sparkling wine from Tasmania.

Aklan Oysters with Citrus and Chive Sabayon, Medjool Dates with Chevre and Parma Ham

Aklan Oysters with Citrus and Chive Sabayon, Medjool Dates with Chevre and Parma Ham

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MaArte Fair 2015 opens today!

MaArte Fair 2015

Do you love discovering world-class Filipino finds as much as we do? Then see you at the MaArte 2015 Craft, Art, Food & Design Fair, which opens at the Rockwell Tent today!

Organized by the Museum Foundation of the Philippines, this  globally conscious design affair will feature 70 carefully-chosen participants showcasing the best the Philippines has to offer–from gorgeous indigenous weaves, reinvented artisanal crafts, and museum-quality art pieces,  to gastronomic treats prepared by local purveyors. Now on its 7th year, we can’t wait to check out all the exciting new brands and designers at MaArte, as well as fresh designs by our perennial favorites (we’re looking at you, Filip + Inna and AMarie)! Best of all, a percentage of the fair’s earnings will go toward programs that promote and protect Filipino culture and heritage.

Come visit the MaArte Fair 2015 this weekend, August 28-30, Friday to Sunday, from 10 AM to 9 PM at the Rockwell Tent.  For inquiries, contact the Museum Foundation of The Philippines at 6979509 or email inquiry@museumfoundationph.org.

 

Spice and Cleaver

One of the newest restaurants open at the basement of the Estancia Mall is Spice and Cleaver helmed by the Jose brothers of Brothers Burgers. Hearty, substantial and flavorful dishes are the mainstays of the menu here. We got to try some of the favorites recommended by the owners.

We started with a Caprese Salad, perhaps more to assuage our guilt before indulging in the carnivore’s feast to follow.

Caprese salad

Caprese salad

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Menage a Trois at Lung Hin

I was recently invited to attend a dinner at Marco Polo Hotel’s Lung Hin to showcase the wines of Menage a Trois. Menage a Trois is a label by the Trinchero family of California and is one of the best selling wines in the US. The wines are usually blends of 3 or more grapes or regions hence the California appellation and the name.

The dinner was preceded by some excellent canapes of pork roll in XO sauce, a tomato in a sweet/sour sauce and black fungus in vinegar. The tomato and black fungus (tengang daga) were particularly good. To pair was the basic California white which was a blend of chardonnay, muscat and chenin blanc. It went quite well with the appetizers.

Canapes - Pork roll with XO sauce, Tomato, and Black fungus in vinegar - excellent!

Canapes – Pork roll with XO sauce, Tomato, and Black fungus in vinegar – excellent!

Menage a Trois California White

Menage a Trois California White

After the guests were seated, Edna Diaz of the importer of Menage a Trois, Bestworld Beverage Brands, and Mirko de Giorgi, Food and Beverage Director of the Marco Polo Hotel both gave a short introduction to the dinner.

Edna with the chefs and Mirko de Giorgi - Marco Polo F&B Director.

Edna with the chefs and Mirko de Giorgi – Marco Polo F&B Director.

As the US Department of Agriculture was a co-sponsor of the event, some of the dishes also featured American ingredients. The first dish of US Oyster with Sweet Sour Sauce was one.

Deep fried US Oyster with Sweet Sour Sauce

Deep fried US Oyster with Sweet Sour Sauce

This was followed by Steamed Egg White with Alaskan King Crab Leg paired with  the 2011 Menage a Trois Chardonnay. This was a fairly oaky wine although not in any way over the top. It paired exceptionally well with the King Crab dish. This was my favorite pairing of the night.

Steamed Egg White with Alaskan King Crab Leg

Steamed Egg White with Alaskan King Crab Leg

The whites

The whites

Also with the chardonnay was the Cod Fish in Chinese Wine with Gineger and Onion.

Cod Fish in Chinese Wine with Ginger and Onion

Cod Fish in Chinese Wine with Ginger and Onion

We moved on to the red wines after the fish. Chef Sunny’s US Roasted Duck was next paired with the cabernet.

Chef Sunny's Special US Roasted Duck

Chef Sunny’s Special US Roasted Duck

It was back to seafood after the duck with the Steamed Scallop in Lobster Cream. Up until the duck, I was quite impressed with the food. Unfortunately, the lobster cream in the scallop dish seemed burnt and perhaps overly reduced. The scallop would also probably have been better if seared rather than steamed to give it a more interesting texture.

Steamed Scallop in Lobster Cream

Steamed Scallop in Lobster Cream

 

The minor hiccup with the scallop was forgotten with the next dish of Sliced Garlic US Beef Cubes. This was quite a spicy dish but the wine chosen for it, the Menage a Trois Midnight blend of cabernet, merlot, petite sirah and petit verdot did an admirable job of cutting through the spice. The Midnight was the favorite wine of the night, soft and plummy with ripe dark fruits, it is excellent value for less the P 1000.00.

Garlic US Beef Cubes

Garlic US Beef Cubes

The reds

The reds

The obligatory rice rounded out the dinner.

Dried Scallop Fried Rice in Egg White

Dried Scallop Fried Rice in Egg White

Dessert of Tian Tao Jelly paired with the Menage a Trois Moscato ended the dinner. Unfortunately the moscato wasn’t sweet enough for the dessert. Perhaps the wine would have been better as an aperitif rather than for dessert.

Tian Tao Jelly

Tian Tao Jelly

 

One last treat awaited our table. It also happened to be the birthday of our good friend Helen who was seated with us. The hotel graciously sent out a cake with the entire wait staff singing happy birthday!

It was also Helen's birthday so she got a cake!

It was also Helen’s birthday so she got a cake!

 

Menage a Trois wines are available from Bestworld Beverage Brands Tel 6378491 to 94

Lung Hin is located at the 44th Floor, Marco Polo Hotel, Meralco Ave, Ortigas Center Tel 7207777

 

 

 

 

Foot Finds

I’ve been living in sandals lately and have since become hyper aware of my feet. There’s nothing more unattractive than cracked heels, dingy toes and unkempt cuticles! Whether you prefer to lounge in a luxe Nail Spa or would rather DIY, here are some ways to keep your toes and soles looking fresh and SOTD-ready.

1. L’Occitane Dry Skin Foot Cream, P510 (30 ml) or P1500 (150 ml)

courtesy of L'Occitane USA

A bit of a splurge for an everyday foot cream, I rely heavily on this as my go-to sole protector. I like how non-invasive the shea scent is, and you really do feel the richness of the cream in your hands after you’re done giving your feet a good rub. I love applying this after a shower and a good foot scrubbing.

2. True Blue Spa Shea It Isn’t So Super Rich Foot Cream

courtesy of Bath & Body Works

This isn’t available locally, but if you’re making a trip to a Bath & Body Works and need a good treatment for your feet, this is a must. I spent half a year commuting and walking in a cold climate and my heels took a huge beating because of it. The best remedy was slathering this on my heels at night, slipping my feet into some thick socks and waking up to amazing baby soft skin.

3. The Body Shop Peppermint Reviving Leg Gel

courtesy of The Body ShopThis has been a staple in my closet for years and years. There is nothing more relieving than slicking this onto my calves and shins at the end of a long day. For extra relaxation, I like lying on the floor and raising my legs up against the wall to help drain all the tension away. Yogis love a good vicariate karani pose—this gel is icing on the cake!

4. Holika Holika’s Baby Silky Foot One Shot Peeling, P375

courtesy of Holika Holika

Korean beauty brands have always fascinated me and Holika Holika, with its cute Bewitched inspired branding is no exception. This unique concoction has you slipping your feet into plastic bag / slippers and pouring a liquid solution into them. You leave your feet soaking in the liquid for an hour and a half (you seal the bags with a tight knot), and after, you find you’re able to peel away the dead skin. It feels a little funny to be walking around with wet feet and finding sitting positions that won’t have you spilling all over, but this novelty item does the job. I have not seen peeling like this in years—and I mean this in a good way!

5. Vaseline 100% Pure Petroleum Jelly

courtesy of Vaseline

This cure-all is a fast and easy solution to any dry skin problem. If you can stand the sticky texture on your feet overnight, you’ll wake up with zero cracks. Plus, it’s nice to have this on hand for emergencies too.

6. Maison by Nail Spa, +63 2 893 2823

Maison by Nail Spa

I have been going to Nail Spa since it opened and while I’ve tried other places, this one always takes the cake for impeccable service, comfort, and color selection. Its most recent Maison by Nail Spa branch delivers the same stellar service a little extra with its hand treatments, chia seed water, lovely interiors and extensive polish selection. When I want a little extra loving for my feet, I go for a pamper feet session here and come out with no regrets.

7. Renegade Folk

RF

Of course with freshly soaked, revitalized feet come the sandals that show off your tootsies. I have too many RF pairs to count—and with good reason! They’re comfy, classic, and go with anything.

 

Tali Handmade: Weaving a Brighter Future

There’s a new line of bags making my heart beat faster, and its name is Tali Handmade. It’s chic, it’s unique, it’s local, and it has an inspiring story behind it—hello, love!

Tali bags

Created with the vision of empowering women and improving lives while brightening our wardrobe, Tali Handmade is a lovely new local line of woven bags made from unconventional raw materials and premium hardware (product shots courtesy of Jinggo Montenejo)

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The Quickest Happiest (Studio) Fix!

Hair has always been my most fussed-over beauty to-do. For the last five years, stylist Alex Carbonell of Studio Fix has taken my hair from short to long, straight to curly, and back again full circle.

IMG_2712

I had time to kill at Greenbelt 5 yesterday and found my feet taking me straight up to the mothership. Alex gets booked weeks and weeks in advance, so I was taking a chance with my unplanned walk-in. Luckily, there was a free chair and Alex had some time to chat about hair treatments.

I have colored hair and an oily scalp, so he recommended Kerastase Chronologiste for my 1.5 hour salon stopover.

courtesy of kerastase-usa.com

courtesy of kerastase-usa.com

The whole process was simple. At Studio Fix, they always dress you up in a comfy waffle robe. The shampoo session is always relaxing, with just the right pressure and temperature.

What makes Chronologiste different from other treatments I’ve tried are its tiny beads that go on scalp and hair. Much like my 90s Clearasil facial exfoliant (only 10000 times more luxe), the gentle pearls are designed to exfoliate the scalp and activate it. My hair was also doused in a rich treatment and put under some heat for a few minutes. Another tried-and-tested bonus at Studio Fix? The excellent hand and back massage!

Et voila! Not only did I come out with a superior blow-dry, I also had some time to spare before my next appointment. My surprise quick fix at the salon plus the constant care and excellent attention to detail Alex Carbonell delivers definitely makes Studio Fix a happy pit stop for me.

IMG_2708

(Now if only I could master the post-salon selfie, like Alex!)

Kerastase Chronologiste (medium hair) – P2000

Studio Fix by Alex Carbonell, 4th Level, Greenbelt 5, Makati

Best to book an appointment: (+63 2) 501-3064, (+63 2) 501-3062

Sow and Grow: Organic Grow Kits

I never thought of myself as having a green thumb. Quite the opposite, actually. Over the years, I’ve managed to kill off my fair share of plants (take my word for it:  cacti and aerial plants are NOT indestructible), so I figured I wasn’t cut out for it.  The thing is, after my short stint trying out the Urban Farmer hydroponic cabinet and enjoying the benefits of homegrown lettuce and herbs, I’ve decided that growing your own food really is worth the effort. Which is why, a couple of months ago, I armed myself with a shovel, some seedlings, and several hours of online research about edible gardens and companion planting, and started building my own little veggie plot.

gardener

Farmer Pia finally breaking ground

my garden

My garden at the start of the summer: an assortment of herbs and veggies with some flowers mixed in to attract pollinators (and because they’re pretty!)

Most of my plants started out as seedlings purchased from the Sidcor Sunday Market along EDSA (near Centris).  Recently, though, I’ve been trying my hand at growing plants from seeds.  I used to be intimidated by the idea of handling seeds (how to germinate, what fertilizer to use and when, etc.), but then I came across a product that quickly allowed me to overcome my apprehensions:  Sow and Grow Organic Grow Kits!  It’s exactly what it sounds like — they’re little kits with complete instructions and materials for growing plants from seeds.  I know that there are a couple of branded grow kits already commercially available, but what I really like about Sow and Grow is: 1. it’s completely organic, including the fertiliser; 2. online ordering is super easy; 3. each kit comes with detailed instructions on how to set up and care for your plant; and 4. if you need further assistance, help is just a phone call or email away.

My grow kits: cilantro, lettuce and wild arugula

My grow kits: cilantro, lettuce and wild arugula, P150 each.

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Modesty Preservers!

Jockey Skimmies

 

Nope, these aren’t Spanx (honestly, I couldn’t be bothered—they would squeeze the life out of me!). These are lovely little stretchy shorts-undies, the perfect thing to wear under miniskirts or even wrap skirts for those who are prone to wardrobe malfunctions (like the fabric getting caught in an MRT turnstile—yup, that would be me). I first spotted these Jockey Skimmies on Oh Joy, and since I practically live in dresses, I was thrilled to find these locally (I scored them at S&R!). These microfiber slipshorts feel light, super comfy to wear, don’t roll up your thighs, and even provide a smoothing effect under sheer fabric. They’re also available in black. Now I don’t have to clutch at my skirt like a paranoid fool on windy days!

Jockey Skimmies

About the skirt: This was originally an itty-bitty empire tube dress, but since the length no longer suits me (plus, it’s way too snug now), I simply snipped off the top, and voila! I can take it out of closet hibernation and wear it as a skirt. (It helps that the waist is already garterized so I can bring it down to my hips, letting the hem hit comfortably above my knees). Hello again, dear squirrels! :)

Ooma

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Bruce Ricketts and the crazy but absolutely wonderful things he does at Mecha Uma. But Mecha Uma isn’t the sort of place to go to on a whim. It’s still one of the hottest tables in town so you need to make reservations a few days in advance, it’s not exactly cheap, and, if you want to go for the degustation, you better be prepared to make a deposit to the restaurant’s bank account before your reservation is approved. So I was very pleased to learn that Chef Bruce was opening another, less intimidating, more casual place at Megamall’s Fashion Hall.

Ooma opened last week without much fanfare but I think those in the know certainly made it a point to visit since when we went last Sunday, we had to wait for the better part of 2 hours before we were seated. Good thing we had a couple of errands to do in the mall so we took turns going off to get things done while some of the others stayed to wait for our name to be called.

Ooma bills itself a Japanese rice bar but not every item item in the extremely expansive menu has rice. There is, however, a waiter who goes around with a tub of rice dispensing the carbs on demand – unli rice. I would advise, however, that you skip the carbs and save stomach space for more food from the menu.

Ooma

Ooma

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