Calderon – Paella and More

It’s been open a cuple of months now but honestly, it’s been a bit of a struggle for us to get to Calderon in Pasig because of the very limited parking in front of the restaurant – all of 2 slots. I have heard some good things about Calderon, especially the paella, so we finally made the effort to get to the restaurant early to try to secure parking. Even if we were there before the dinner rush, I still had to park about 200 meters down the street. A minor inconvenience and it gives you a chance to get some exercise before and after the meal.

Calderon has got all the trappings of a typical Spanish restaurant with a selection of tapas and popular dishes. For drinks, they have a good selection of craft and imported beers but the only San Mig product is Light. The wine selection is just one red and one white although they do have sangria. Although the food would have been good with some fino sherry or cava, I didn’t bring a bottle and so we decided on a carafe of the quite decent sangria.

For starters, we ordered a couple of things from the tapas menu – salpicao, Bandeja de Jamon, Chorizo y Quezo and calamares. Pretty standard stuff. Nothing exceptional but nothing to complain about either. There’s a good deal on the Bandeja. You can get that and a carafe of sangria for P 999.00. Considering that ordered separately, they would cost over P 1300.00, that’s not bad.

Bandeja de Jamon, Chorizo Y Quezo (P 620.00)

Bandeja de Jamon, Chorizo Y Quezo (P 620.00)

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Heirloom Pieces by Tambourine Jewelry

Vintage pieces have always held a certain allure, and lately, there’s been a renewed interest in traditional Filipino tamborin necklaces—the kind usually reserved for Filipiniana costumes, but which are now making their way into our everyday style. (True enough, it wasn’t until recently when I realized the appeal–and the value!–of my mom’s vintage tambourin necklace, which I had ignored for years while raiding her jewelry case.)

On the hunt for genuine heirloom tamborins? Through her online shop Tambourine Jewelry, Mireille de Guia-Jison seeks to revive this lost art by offering pieces from the 1800s to the 1980s in their original condition, along with gently up-cycled jewelry featuring preserved vintage components.

Tambourine Jewelry

Tamborin necklaces with relikaryo pendants by Tambourine Jewelry

 

Made of gold or silver tamborin beads (referring to the filigree technique), tambourin necklaces were patterned after the rosary and often carry a relicario—the reliquary that serves as the pendant of the tamborin. During Spanish-colonial times, the reliquary contained actual relics or religious symbols, but later on started to feature nature-inspired theme like flowers or leaves. Unfortunately, only a small number of authentic tamborins remain today, as most have been melted and turned into modern jewelry, or the beads were divided among family members.

 

The relikaryo features a nifty little compartment that can be opened up to put something inside

The relikaryo features a nifty little compartment that can be opened up to put something inside

 

Storied Pieces

Shares Mireille, “I’ve always loved different kinds of jewelry—modern, costume and even kids’ jewelry—but I developed an appreciation for vintage and antique jewelry just a few years ago. It wasn’t just an accessory anymore, it was about craftmanship, learning the story behind it and how it ties to our culture and I guess, a little bit of sentimentality when I find pieces I remember seeing as a child.”

tambourin necklace

Antique tamborin made in silver and plated in gold from Tambourine Jewelry

 

In 2011, after giving birth to her second child, Mireille wanted to something to keep herself busy, yet allow her to spend time with her kids. “I used to make costume jewelry, but having two young kids didn’t allow me a lot of time to create new stuff, so I thought of selling vintage jewelry instead. I kept seeing tamborins and other old Filipino jewelry, so I added them to the mix, and eventually, focused on vintage local jewelry.” Mireille initially sourced her pieces from traders, but soon started getting calls from people wanting to sell their mother’s or grandmother’s jewelry. “One guy emailed me from the province asking if I wanted to buy his lola’s tamborin which was kept in the aparador for the longest time. He sent me blurred pictures.  I said I can’t buy them based on those pictures and he offered to ship it to me and said that if I don’t like it then I can just ship it back to him!  I said, ‘Are you sure?  But you don’t know me,’ and he said it’s okay because he read my seller reviews online. It turned out to be a beautiful piece made in the 1960′s or 70′s.”

 

Tambourin necklace

Big relikaryo on alfajor chain

 

The Real Deal 

Though Mireille also carries lovely reproduction and “gently up cycled” pieces, she specializes in authentic heirloom pieces. How does she assure her clients her pieces are genuine? “Seasoned antique experts were very helpful to me. It’s difficult to assure buyers that it’s an authentic piece because they don’t come with certificates and have no hallmarks. If I meet up with a buyer, I show them how an antique (more than a hundred years old) looks like, versus a vintage (less than a hundred years old) and a repro. Some repros are made well though, so it’s a little tricky.  If bought online, I show buyers a lot of pictures to compare. I also have a good return policy. I think it’s very important to earn the trust of my buyers and if I make a mistake, I would gladly accept a return or exchange.”

Tambourine Jewelry

Vintage lockets

 

When determining if a piece is genuine, touch and see if it’s smooth—worn areas show that the piece has been pre-loved for a long time. “Seasoned sellers would say that the antique tamborin beads are very smooth when you run your fingers over them. Same goes for the reliquary or relicario penant,” shares Mireille. Size-wise, tamborin necklaces and vintage Philippine earrings are much smaller than you probably expect—in fact, antique creolla earrings should only be as big as a penny. “Safe to say that the Filipinas from the olden days were a little more conservative and kept their bling to a small size.” Check the craftsmanship—antique jewelry has fine details that are obviously handcrafted because of subtle imperfections. And beware of too-shiny, garishly gold pieces. “Antique pieces have this soft gold wash but with some gold darkening on them,” tips Mireille.

 

Small antique creolla earrings

Small antique creolla earrings

 

To preserve the authenticity of the pieces, Mireille usually sells the jewelry as is. “I look at them as pieces of history so I’d rather not change them, but sometimes they come in broken pieces so I try to gently upcycle them, like adding new beads to necklaces to lengthen them or adding a missing stone on a ring.” But this doesn’t mean she’s closed the door to designing pieces herself. “It’s something that I am looking into in the future, when the time comes when I can’t get old jewelry anymore.”

vintage coral ring

Vintage coral ring with leaves and cubic zirconia

 

Apart from antique tamborins, Tambourine Jewelry also offers other heirloom pieces, and the lovely selection of rings, earrings, bracelets, and other vintage baubles can be viewed and purchased online at the handmade/vintage site Etsy.

vintage diamante ring

Vintage old rose cut diamante ring 14K gold

 

Vintage diamante earrings

Gold 8K diamante earrings in white gold top and yellow gold back

 

Visit Tambourine Jewelry at www.etsy.com/shop/TambourineJewelry. For inquiries, email TambourineJewelry@gmail.com or visit Mireille’s blog at tambourinejewelry.wordpress.com.

 

L’Indochine now at SM Mega Fashion Hall

It was love at first sight for thehappylab when L’Indochine opened at SM Aura Premier in 2013. With their mantra #handpickedforinspiredliving, dynamic sister-in-law tandem Charlene Panutat-Carlos and Leona Lavina-Panutat (C+L) filled the store with lovely finds by local artisans from their Asian adventures. The store quickly became a hit, a favorite place to source interesting home accents, exquisite yet affordable gift items, or even bohemian fashion. Fans of L’Indochine will be thrilled to know that they’ve just opened their flagship (AKA bigger, more fab) branch at SM Mega Fashion Hall last week! “Here you’ll find bigger furniture pieces, plus more fashion and accessories from India, Myanmar, Thailand, and Indonesia. We’ve also restocked some of the popular pieces that were sold out from our very first collection,” shares Leona. We’re told that the store will also carry furniture, bedding, and rugs in the future, as well as furniture pieces from up-and-coming Thai designers. We dropped by the store opening last August 27, and here’s a peek at what’s in store for you at L’Indochine:

 

ceramic knobs


Ceramic drawerpulls/knobs from India

L'Indochine

Boho mannequins welcome you to L’Indochine’s flagship store

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Tagaytay Trip

Last long weekend, Jocel and I took off for an overnight trip to Tagaytay. The timing was great as there happened to be a Deal Grocer coupon for an overnight stay at Taal Vista Hotel. Being unable to pass up a good deal, we took advantage of it. Although there are a lot of charming boutique hotels in Tagaytay, it’s still a treat to stay at Taal Vista as it is undoubtedly the top hotel along the ridge with a fine view of Taal Lake and Volcano.

Taal Vista Hotel View

Taal Vista Hotel View

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Summer Truffles at Brasserie Ciçou

Just back from France, Chef Cyrille Soenen brought back with him a supply of black summer truffles for some special dishes at his Brasserie Ciçou at Annapolis St. in Greenhills. After seeing a couple of friends post pictures of the dishes on Facebook, we decided we had to have some of those rare fungi and so had dinner Sunday night at Brasserie Ciçou.

The menu has over a dozen dishes divided into starters, eggs, and main courses. You can also get a few extra grams of truffles if you feel you need more.

 

Menu

Menu

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Practical Magic

I’ve always been a little loopy—I feel like if I were transported to Hogwarts, I’d probably be friends with Luna Lovegood and would be a regular in Professor Trelawney’s Divination class. Back in college, my friends and I would go to fortunetellers for fun. I got myself a deck and an Everything-Tarot Book just to see if I could read on my own, but that fell away pretty fast because there were just too many cards to memorize (and my deck’s illustrations were creeping me out).

Luna Lovegood, Professor Trelawney

Luna Lovegood, Professor Trelawney

My good friend Eunice and I would continue exploring all sorts of readings through the years, getting into everything from crystals to numerology to astrology. (Needless to say, we were both 90s kids and fans of “The Craft” and “Practical Magic.”)

The Craft, Practical Magic

The Craft, Practical Magic

Two Christmases ago, I was killing time at the bookstore when I saw a Fairy Tale Fortune Cards deck. It wasn’t a regular tarot set because there were only 36 cards, and each card had a matching children’s story. The set was too pretty not to buy!

Since then, I’ve been having a better time with my cards (number one rule: the creepy ones are not for me) and have been learning to tap into my intuition and people-reading skills more. To me, the cards really aren’t a method to predict the future, but a fun and engaging way to help someone figure out their situation or themselves.

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Ramen Nagi and Magnolia Flavor House

Ramen Nagi has been around for a couple of months but the long lines have discouraged us from going. When it finally opened at Robinsons Magnolia, we figured it wouldn’t be as crowded and so we finally got to try it for lunch last Eid’l Fitr holiday. We arrived a bit before noon and, although there was a crowd, we only had to wait 10 minutes before we were seated. We did have to share a table with a another group, though, but that was fine with us.

I decided to go with the standard Black King, Jocel went for the spicy Red King and Mikey, the special limited Curry Ramen.

Black King Ramen - Squid Ink and Garlic

Black King Ramen – Squid Ink and Garlic

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Thread 365: Pop of Color

Have I mentioned how much I love Thread 365? Their casual chic tees are absolute essentials in my wardrobe. Lightweight, soft, and shaped for a flattering fit without clinging, they’re just the perfect everyday tee to pair with skinnies, boyfriend jeans, or my walang kamatayang printed skirts, and they’re so easy to dress up with a fab neckpiece or blazer. A current favorite is their navy and white striped bateau top, which looks great with capris and ballet flats, mixed with florals, or to put a contemporary spin to traditional embroidery (see how I styled it here).

 

Thread 365

The super versatile Thread 365 white scoop neck tee

 

Now that I have practically all the basics (black, navy, gray, and TWO white crewnecks—because one is always in the wash), it’s time to explore Thread 365’s new COLORPOP Collection! Their popular V-necks, tanks, and bateaus now come in rainbow bright colors (Coral Reef! Capri Blue! Orange Zest! Island Green!). They’re just the thing to brighten up my wardrobe this rainy season (and throughout the year)!

 

Thread 365

Thread 365 Raspberry tank

 

Thread 365

Thread 365 V-neck tee in island green

 

bateau top

Thread 365 Bateau top in coastal green

 

V-neck tee

Thread 365 V-neck tee in lilac

 

Floombert

Special delivery! Floombert the customs inspector cat checks out the newest addition to my growing Thread 365 collection

 

Need these basics in your wardrobe, too? Order online at www.thread365.com. Thread 365 is also available at Aura Athletica (Bonifacio High Street and Power Plant Mall), CommonThread (Greenbelt 5 and Power Plant Mall), Swim (Power Plant Mall), Nothing But H2O (Robinson’s Galleria and Power Plant Mall), Aloha Boardsports (Alabang Town Center, SM Megamall, SM Mall of Asia, and Trinoma), Plana Forma (Centris Walk and The Fort), Beyond Yoga (Bonifacio High Street and Tomas Morato), Ocean Front (Festival Mall), www.pormada.com, and www.AVA.ph.

Photos (except Floombert the cat) courtesy of Thread 365.  

Flow Bali & Lombok (Part 2)

I was looking forward to the Ubud part of our retreat, since I’d read about the place and had known it to be a place full of yoga, healthy food (despite my still-bum stomach), and pretty shops with really cheap finds.

The drive there from Canggu was pretty long and the whole day was dedicated to exploring the town proper.

Ubud Market

The local market at Ubud is chockfull of souvenirs, clothes, accessories, food and just about anything you can think of. Many of the wares are sold in specialty shops in Manila so snap them up while you’re abroad to get the best bargains. If you’re not used to haggling, the rule of thumb is to immediately ask for half price. If the vendor says no, walk away and chances are, you’ll be called back with the price you asked for.

Hinduism is a central part of Balinese life and temples are everywhere. These architectural wonders contribute to the charm of the place—not only are the intricate carvings and stone a sight to see, their prevalence also shows how integral they are to the locals, even in the 21st century.

Make sure you’re covered up in a sarong because bare legs and midriffs are not allowed. Also watch out for scooters everywhere—the roads of Ubud are very narrow and while the Balinese (at least in my experience) are very gracious on the road (especially compared to Metro Manila drivers!), you don’t want to get in anyone’s way.

Because surfing was out of the question with the tremendous waves in Canggu, the FLOW girls were generous enough to give us a free massage in Ubud instead. A traditional one-hour Balinese massage cost about 80,000 Rupia (PhP 300++) and was a relaxing relief for those of us who wanted some TLC. If you’re not too finicky about your spa surroundings, walking into one of the many small shops offering massages in Ubud will give you a pretty decent experience sans the fancy treatment.

Seeds of Life

Part of our agenda was a raw food workshop at The Seeds of Life Raw Food Café and Tonic Bar . Now take note, my stomach was still pretty bad during this leg of the trip and I wasn’t sure that diving into uncooked food was exactly the best idea for me (up until then, I’d only had a steady intake of coconut-flavored biscuits and bottled water).

Ben, the owner of Seeds of Life, gave us a short history on his journey into raw food and his four-month old café / yoga shala. The ashtangi from Australia also brought in Brazilian chef Joao to help come up with dishes that combine flavors from global cuisine with the healthy benefits that superfoods and raw food can bring.

They taught us how to make everything from healthy sesame dressing to spirulina-date-nut-honey based Bliss Balls, to crunchy toppers for salads. There was no way I could have gone through the demo without a (tiny) taste of the food… and when it was time to order lunch and dishes like Mexican lasagna, miso soup, sushi (without rice or fish!), and Tuscany pizza were on the menu, I had to risk tummy trouble to satisfy my taste buds.

The verdict? EXCELLENT! If raw food could taste as rich, flavorful, and as delicious as what we experienced at Seeds of Life, I would, without a moment’s notice jump right into the raw movement!

Ombak

We headed over to Kuta beach post-dinner for the annual Ombak Bali film fest. Resembling Boracay’s packed and busy white beach, Kuta is known for it’s wide expanse of bars and parties that drift over onto the shore. The international surf filmfest which showcased shorts and full features over three days was free (you just had to order a drink to get a bean bag to sit on) and was perfectly matched to the surf culture of Bali.

It was a fun last night, especially for the participants who were heading back to Manila post-Bali and a great way to say goodbye to such a diverse, magical, unique place.

Kuta Baru

A quick, 30-minute flight from Bali’s Denpasar airport will take you to nearby Lombok. There are several airlines that offer flights—I took Garuda Indonesia which is typically the most reliable as far as being on time is concerned.

Lombok is a big departure from the sights of Bali in that it is mostly virgin territory—untouched, pristine, and very low key. Adi, who is now based there and is one of the island’s three yoga teachers, says that while most tourists travel to Bali, it is the serious surfers and backpackers who make their way to Lombok and stay for weeks and months on end.

We were billeted at Kuta Baru, about a 30-minute drive from the airport. Taxi drivers will try to overcharge, but the drive should only cost about 70,000 Rupia (don’t settle for anything more expensive!).

The hotel is spacious and wide, with villas fronting a central swimming pool with a common lounge area and an open restaurant offering free-flowing coffee and tea all day, and a selection of a continental or chocolate/banana pancake breakfast each day. A beautiful trellised area is surrounded by huts and Adi’s anti-gravity yoga hammock hangs on a bamboo lintel—a fun addition to the hotel grounds.

Just in front of Kuta Baru is “Galang Information Center”—Galang was actually our trusty, bubbly, driver who runs a business shuttling people around to beaches and other hotspots.

Lombok beaches

The beaches of Lombok are almost countless—many spots are still unnamed and undiscovered by tourists. Discovering where the waves are, where the secret coves are is part of what gives this beautiful place its draw. One thing is for sure, every hill, every beach, and every point offers a special vantage point that offers a one of a kind look at this spectacular place.

Its skies are so clear that every night, you’re able to spot more constellations than you’ve ever seen anywhere else. Our last night had us counting up to six shooting stars so big they look like rocket ships!

Surf and Yoga

Of course, a FLOW retreat wouldn’t be complete without surf and yoga. Lombok offered us baby waves to learn on (I didn’t catch any on the reef break, unfortunately!); and beautiful hills to practice yoga on.

Riding on the whitewash while the sun set was calming and serene, while moving along to Adi’s vinyasa flow sequence was relaxing and peaceful. There is nothing more satisfying than taking your savasana on top of a hill, breathing in the fresh air as the sun sets.

Night Life

While Bali was rife with temples, Lombok is Muslim country, so instead of temples scattered all around the roads, you’ll find mosques here and there. The people—from the bracelet vendors that run from one warung to the next, to the locals hanging out at dive bars are friendly. Lombok, however, isn’t as tourist-trained as nearby Bali and its unfettered beaches, raw cliffs and rough roads constitute its one-of-a-kind charm.

That said, parties do abound in this quiet part of the country. Wherever you go, chances are you’ll come across fellow travelers who are always up for a spontaneous party, a bonfire at the beach, grabbing some fresh (and delicious!) pizza or going for a vegetarian buffet.

What made Lombok most memorable to me, aside from the picture-perfect scenery, was the people we came across. An amateur French band from Bordeaux, Basque and Spanish travelers, an Irish rock climber / engineer, a Spaniard from Ireland, a German girl chasing waves, and an English woman traveling from Thailand toting whiskey in her bags. All interesting characters, they help make up the diverse and unparalleled wonders that Lombok holds.

I learned that while the friendships that form among travelers may be fleeting, those few hours you all share and are able to connect are as magical as the million and one sunsets that the island holds secret.

FLOW girls

More than all the sunsets we watched, the secret beaches we did crazy antics in, the surf, the yoga and the samba, and seeing brand new places for the first time, what makes FLOW such a great experience for me are the friendships that are formed. I couldn’t choose a better group to spend 9 days exploring a new corner of the world with!

It’s amazing to see people from different parts of the world come together and share in such a special experience. Some of us have stayed on to do more yoga in Bali, find more waves in Lombok, and even explore the famous Gili islands for reefs, one of us is off to party in Tomorrowland(!), while the rest of us have traveled back home to Manila.

As for me, I’m grateful to be back in the comfort of my own bed and shower (!), and happy to look back on our fun adventure as I enjoy all that city life has to offer. On to the next trip!

Looking for Part 1? Click here!

Interested in joining a FLOW retreat?

Check out their calendar at www.flowsurfyogasamba.com and follow them on Instagram at http://instagram.com/flowsurfyogasamba and on Twitter @SurfYogaSamba.

Special thanks to FLOW and @annaalfonso for the Instagram grabs!

The Grand Crus of Germany

There are a lot of good German wines imported into the country. Most, however, are classified according to grape ripeness. It’s understandable to have this classification in a cold climate country like Germany, which is just about the northern limit for grape cultivation. More recently though, the move in Germany was for a classification system more in line with the rest of Europe; that is a system where location is paramount. The Grand Crus of Germany are just like the Grand Crus of Burgundy. These are wines from sites that are recognized as giving exceptional wines year after year. Brumms Quality Wines, perhaps the country’s pioneer importer of fine German wine leads the way with these wines are they are the only ones importing German Grand Crus at the moment.

A dinner was held at CAV last July 23 to highlight these wines. Our first course was a Wild Shrimp Carpaccio paired with the Domdechant Werner’sches Domdechaney Riesling Erstes Gewächs (First Growth) 2009. This was a rather full-bodied wine. Very fragrant with a pronounced floral bouquet. On the palate, it was slightly honeyed with a touch of sweet spice. The dish was quite surprising as it had a savory avocado ice cream topping it. It was quite bold but I enjoyed it as the spice in the ice cream gave depth to it.

Wild Shrimp Carpaccio - Crustacean Glaze, Aromatic Leaves, Spice, Avocado Ice Cream

Wild Shrimp Carpaccio – Crustacean Glaze, Aromatic Leaves, Spice, Avocado Ice Cream

 

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