Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Awesome Wins When you Dine with Australian Grassfed Beef

Red meat consumption is often disparaged due to serious unawareness matters.  I had to admit I am one of those who often dispraise (despise even) eating steaks.  If I am to choose between white meat over red meat, without a doubt, I would easily raise my fork for white meat.  But you see after hearing from meat experts from the Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA), I have come to know  a definite difference between farm lot red meat and grass-fed, pastured beef from happy cows (those come from The Land Down Under, you know).

In cases that I do want to eat beef, I often go for Wagyu and Kobe beef.   When times that I challenge myself to prepare beef, I often check the marbling on the meat, never really realized that I'm putting my health my health and the family’s to danger.  Many gourmands over time have attested to the delightful flavor and texture of a good marbled steak.  The marbling of the meat is actually fat, not the good fat but the cholesterolific one.

This is also true whenever we dine out.

But you see, far from being the heart-disease causing food it is made out to be, grass fed beef (as opposed to grain-fed such as Wagyu, etc.) is a source of many nutrients and is an important part of a healthy diet.

Enter Australian Grass-fed Beef...

Monday, July 27, 2015

Hotel Review: A Hotel Staycation at Discovery Suites my Girls Would Always Want to Have

If you happen to read back from my previous post, about how wild my weekend went, you might conclude that this gal needs to take it slow and de-stress.  Well, that's what I did.

I was referring to this post entitled, Of Friendship, Family and Death.  

God was able to bless me again with a quick weekend get-away, from the topsy-turvy life of an over-worked mom to a blissful stay at Discovery Suites Hotel.  Sadly, we couldn't bring two of our kids, since no one will take care of our three dogs.  

Saturday, July 25, 2015

A Savoring of Australian Grass-fed Beef Specials At Acacia Hotel's A Steakhouse

Among the many firsts in my life - first kiss, first truffle experience, first airplane ride, first zip-line adventure etc., one that I truly treasure the most is my first step into such hotels.  I'm such "mababaw" like that, but who wouldn't, each hotel evokes uniqueness in every details.  Adding to my long list of hotel dining experiences is the one I had yesterday at Acacia Hotel in Filinvest Alabang.

I'm also trying to recall any past feat in a hotel where it involved gormandizing in the lobby.  Maybe there would be an occasion or two, but I could hardly picture them anymore.  I guess it would be safe to say then that the lunch I had at Acacia can be categorized under this.  A Steakhouse, Acacia's premier resto serving it's namesake -steaks alongside The Lobby is conveniently settled at no where else, the lobby.  Haha... On the second floor is Acaci, where buffet is served. 

Aozora Japanese Cafe + Bistro: To Dine in the Clouds of Tagaytay

It has been a while since I last visited Tagaytay, it has been three years in a row that we celebrate family Christmas get-together.  I don't mind coming all the way from the crazy urban jungle that is Manila up to Tagaytay just to have dinner or even a coffee paired with mini pies.  Touted as the summer capital of the country next to Baguio, of course Tagaytay still continues to amaze local and foreign tourists alike, not only because of the all year-round cool weather it offers but also the burgeoning commercial lifestyle it is not imposing.

Having heard of this new Japanese joint now operating, I opted to set aside a time to visit it. Together with fellow food-lovers and reviewers, we all were at awe at how it was beautifully set amidst a breathtaking view of Taal, Batangas and Taal Volcano.  

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Of Friendship, Family and Death

The passed week was a terrible mix of emotions - of joy, grief, excitement, heartbreak, love, emptiness, being over-whelmed, thankfulness, despair, grief, acceptance and peace.  It began when I was planning to meet up with my college best friends one of which we have not seen for over eighteen years.

I didn't realize Sam would still be thinking of us even after moving to Australia to raise a family with her long-time sweetheart Arvin. Tricia and I awaited for this moment for Sam to come visit us, though it took her a long time to do so due to the expense.  The reason why she needed to come to Manila is to accompany her mom in fixing documents and benefits after his father's death.

Well sad to say, her sweet dad, the only pilot I knew personally has passed away last month.  He succumbed to cancer, by the way, and he and Sam's family suffered terribly as well, along the journey.

There is only one thing I hate to write about, and probably many would come agreeing with me, it's about death, losing someone you love, and it would include even the death of a loved pet.

That lovely day came, when the three of us, Sam, TC and me will be reunited.  However, the day and night before it have been agonizing for me, having heard of a bad news about a puppy I gave to my cousin and his fiance being sick.  I almost couldn't sleep thinking and praying of Bucky, my favorite Lhasa Apso and of course with a mix of excitement of seeing Sam in the morning.

Delighted to have woken up the next day, I prepared eagerly and when I was about to leave home to go to Salcedo Makati, Roxanne messaged me in FB that her Bucky, my Bucky died.

Distraught, I shared the news to my husband and he became sad as well.  Though it was hard for him to accept, he just shrugged it off and told me, "just think of the happy days we spent with him and the rest of the pups."

My husband made it sure that I'm okay to meet up with my friends in spite of the grief I was trying to overcome, thus he drove for me and we were trying to figure out what could have happened.  But I was more worried of Roxanne and her family, Bucky's new family.  I can truly understand the condition they were in being there during the puppy's suffering.  I can totally feel for them for we have lost a couple of them years, years ago and it took us many more years to decide to adopt a new angel in the family.

Sure enough, when I met the girls, everything was just brand new, our hearts just run over with joy for each other, the sadness gone, cheerfulness just wiped the grief out.  Friendship is just a powerful thing, which everybody should have.  With them at that time was like de ja vu and reliving college life with them is the only thing I will do all over again.  I was so glad to see them still young-looking, in the pink of health and just being successful both in life and in their careers.

That day was spent hopping from one cafe to another, endless talk of our kids and family-work life balance, and of course, about the passing of one great father, Sam's dad.

I'm afraid of death!

Even the sound of the word gives me chills all over my spine.

The worst news I might not able to bear is losing someone I love.  Having someone in the family sick gives me enough grief and stress what more that dreaded event.  I've known a lot of friends who lost their loved ones and have been with a group who worked on a special project for cancer patients, but all these still could not prepare me, or maybe it did somehow.

But you see, our little pawed friends has a way of teaching us about death.  Sure losing a loved pet gives comparable pain to losing a friend or a family.   Let me quote Rita Reynolds (author of Blessing the Bridge) on this:
"My friend and teacher joined me in this lifetime as a honey-colored terrier named Oliver. Through his living and dying, he taught me there is no such thing as life versus death, or success versus failure. Love given and received, moment by moment, is all that really matters."
Like how the author sees her pets, dogs are masters in their own manner of the flow of birth, growth, death, and beyond. They continue to impress upon me the importance of preparing not out of fear, but out of wonderment for one of the most important events in every life: death. The animals have taught me ways to approach death and dying that can enrich and enlighten.

I've seen a lot of pups suffer from sickness and sometimes I would wish for them to quietly slip away and end their own suffering, but in my heart a prayer echos that God could still prolong their life.

Bucky's death was a shock for me, as compared to the other dogs we had that died, cause most of them died from viral diseases.  I was there when my dog Hazel was giving birth to him and his siblings, he grew up a bit lonesome coz most of the pups are sickly compared to him.  He is different from the kennel and he was ignored for he doesn't have that cuteness factor yet.  Only until he was two months old, when I began noticing him eating and resting without qualms, he doesn't bark so hard like the others and was not rowdy.

While my kids and husband have their own favorites, Bucky was left for me to love, and eventually everyone loved him equally.

Giving him was painful for me, but I have to give up some of the pups since they were six and our house could not hold all of them including their dog mom.  Thinking he will go to new owners who will love him and care for him.  On this sense, knowing that I won't see him grow like Hazel makes it even more unbearable.

But you see, though I'm still in grief over this, I did not show this to my kids and my husband not to pass on the guilt or show them I'm not strong enough to handle matters like this.  More so, I feel so sorry for Roxanne.

Life has to go on somehow.  When I saw Sam's face lighted up when she saw me, and how she was able to cope up with her Dad leaving them, even after knowing that one of her dog who was with them for 8 years died also, I came to realize that life is like that, to let go and let God.

Good thing on that weekend after I got to spend time with my girls and we all had to go through it a little less painful because we have each other.

Though it is hard to say there is life after the death of a loved one, it is true only if you're able to accept it and is willing to be changed for the better.

Perhaps it may not be advisable to get a new pet yet but know that you may get a pup that's better than what you have lost.

Good bye Bucky!  You will be forever loved!

If you are like us who mourns over a dearly loved pet, let me share you these quotes:

"I will always remember the tabby who taught me that not all relationships are meant to last forever. Sometimes, just an hour is enough to touch your heart.”

(Barbara L. Diamond) 

“There is no path so dark, nor road so steep, nor hill so slippery that other people have not been there before me and survived. May my dark times teach me to help the people I love on similar journeys.”

(Maggie Bedrosian) 

I've decide to believe that pets go to heaven too, taking comfort in the idea that the pet is in a place that is warm and bright, that they are no longer sick or in pain, and where they are being well cared for. The same loving God that cares for all of His children on earth I'm sure won't deny the same care to these wonderful animals who add so much to our lives.

Our pets love us unconditionally: They don't care what we look like, how much money we make, or what we do for a living. All they ask is that we give them a bit of our time and our attention. Doesn't it make sense when we are thinking about grieving for our pet thinking that our four-legged friends will be waiting for us when our days on Earth are finished?

If you are still having a hard time, do click on the following links as it would provide certain tips on how to deal with your grief in times of a pet's loss or a loved ones.

How to Cope with Losing a Pet: http://www.wikihow.com/Cope-with-Losing-a-Pet

Ten Tips on Coping with Pet Loss: http://www.pet-loss.net/

Dim Sum Plus at Shang Palace

I was instantaneously slayed by the scene above.  The next thing I knew, I was just snapping photos of the entrance hall of The Shang Palace way before the concierge could have found my reservation. There's just something about hallways and light fixtures that captivates the finesse in me. 

All three photos above where taken at the Shang Palace at the second level of Shangri La Hotel Makati.  

I was completely in awe of the chandeliers strategically hanged on certain spots on the ceiling of this esteemed Chinese restaurant in the aforementioned hotel.

I was there for lunch and to try Dim Sum Plus. Dim Sum Plus at the Shang Palace is available for lunch from Monday to Saturday, 11:30am to 2:30pm for only P 888/per person, subject to tax and service charge.

Sorry to burst your bubbles but I have to go directly to business, trying out as much as I could some of the unlimited dim sum offerings.

First in the order of things is a platter of cured meat for appetizer. Surprised? I was too.  Aside from unlimited dim sum, you can also order unlimited soups  and congee but only one kind for entree per diner can be enjoyed.  

On the huge platter are chilled jelly fish, marinated bean curd, sliced pork knuckles with garlic, tender marinated beef, honey-glazed pork barbecue and century eggs.

For the mains we were made to try Hot Prawn Salad, which I thought was for dessert when I saw it being served.  Kinda looked like a fruit salad then I heard it has fried prawns.  
The prawn was crisp fried on a batter and mixed with fruit cocktails and the usual dessert salad dressing of mayo, cream and condensed milk.

It was rather unusual but I loved it.

Sauteed Beef with Celery in Sichuan Sauce is also good but I wouldn't rave about it.

Now let the dim sum start.  I thought it was game on, but I got heavy immediately and cringed over the massive dim sum servings.  Then again, it's all about pacing...

While waiting for our orders we were given a complimentary bowl of Braised Tofu.  I love that it's fairly seasoned with a hint of sweetness.

We then began feasting with stacks of basket steamer which carried the Steamed Pork Dumplings with Fish Roe or Siomai, Steamed Crystal Skin Shrimp Dumplings, Steamed Spinach Dumplings stuffed with Shrimps.

The Steamed Crystal Skin Shrimp Dumplings was likened to Xiao Long Bao, though shaped differently.  With it's broth intact the silky wrap and the filling has that same texture and taste.

Barbecued Pork Pie is the bomb!  Everyone' fave for its savory filling, crusty sesame seed bun.

Steamed Chicken Feet with Spicy Black Bean Sauce

Crisp Deep-Fried Spring Rolls

Pan-Fried Turnip Cake with XO Sauce, with the subtle flavors of turnips accentuated by the flavorful XO sauce...

Prawn with Cheese Balls

Deep-Fried Taro Puffs with Diced Scallops

Steamed Pork Rib with Black Bean Sauce

Chilled Mango Puree with Sago and Diced Mango.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Peppermint Kids Salon And Boutique is Now 3 Years Old

Thank you Peppermint Kid's Salon and Boutique for having us on the celebration of the 2nd anniversary of your Aura branch.  I could still remember those times when you were on the planning stages of this second branch.  Now that you are three years old already and still in bloom, I'm sure there are more surprises at stake for us clients.

It's always been a pleasure coming to the only salon that caters to the whims of girls and boys and moms alike, when it comes to looking good and spiffy.  The celebration was a blast and the guests have to thank Charry and Florent Flora for the continued love and gracefulness they give to their friends turned clients and probably clients turned friends.

My girls and I wish you more successful years ahead, more girl's hair to braid, more cute little finger nails to paint, more kids' hair to cut and more parties to give fun and joy to every young-ones and even young-at-hearts alike.  

I have always been in love with this posh kiddie and adult spa and salon, check this article why...

It's a no-brainer why even celebrities and famous people get spotted on this place which is slightly tucked in SM Aura.  According to the management, such personalities like  Priscilla Meirrelles, Angelou de Leon, Maui Taylor, Pia Guanio, Anna Roces, Yasmien Kurdi, Nyoy Volante, Paolo Avelino, basket ball players like Jeff Chan, politicians like Miguel Zubiri, while some are families of philanthropies like Henry Sy, have been spotted together with their families.

Sharing here photos from the event last July 18, Saturday, at their SM Aura branch.

My Danica's Request: Mac n' Cheese

"Yey! Finally, mommy!"
That was what my daughter shouted when she heard the news form her sisters that we'll have Mac N' Cheese for dinner.

After a foodie meet up hosted by Zomato at Shang Palace, in Shangri La Makati I made sure to drop by Landmark to get some cheese for Ina Garten's recipe that I got from Foodnetwork.com.  The recipe called for sharp cheddar cheese and Gruyere.  But since I'm a personally imposed cheapskate, I just bought 250 gms. of Gruyere and thought of using Eden cheese which I have at home, you know frugal matters.

How I slightly tweaked the recipe somehow was successful and our meal turned out okay.  Yet to me it kinda needed more sharpness from the cheese.  Eden as we moms know it is very mild and less salty, which btw is perfect for sandwiches, however, I realized our Mac n cheese could be better if I have followed the said recipe stringently.

Posting here the real recipe, and as I have said, I replaced the need for extra-sharp cheddar with the commercial Eden cheddar bar.  I also omitted the tomatoes, as my kids might find it weird with red colored stuff on the cheesy based pasta.  You can follow what I did or use the actual ingredients.


Kosher salt
Vegetable oil
1 pound elbow macaroni or cavatappi
1 quart milk
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
12 ounces Gruyere, grated (4 cups)
8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 pound fresh tomatoes (4 small)
1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (5 slices, crusts removed)

To do:

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.

3. Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't boil it. Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a large (4-quart) pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and stir well. Pour into a 3-quart baking dish.

4. Slice the tomatoes and arrange on top. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine them with the fresh bread crumbs, and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Why Nabbing a Reservation at Impressions is a Bang for Your Buck

Both locals and foreign visitors are becoming more food-obsessed these days as compared to ten years ago, but without ever losing their discriminating taste for unparalleled good food.  One reason why a French restaurant in Resorts World Manila stood the test of time, and have been regarded  as one of Manila's Best French Restaurant, none other than Impressions.

So when a random text message comes with an invitation to try one of Impressions' Wine Dinners, how could I say no, even though my work is up to my neck I said yes in a heartbeat, with only six hours left before the said dinner.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Cuteness Overload with McDonald's The Minions Happy Meal

I'm sure Minions' fans will gather up and say "Banana!" knowing that these adorable bunch is back to bring great fun and joy.  Oh yes, the Minions are back and they have officially taken over McDonald’s!

If you're like me and my girls who want a full Minions experience with Kevin, Stuart, and Bob plus stars of the Minions Movie then I'm sure you'll get overly excites as they bring us the Minions Banana Festival. Get ready to go bananas every time you enter a McDonald’s store with the new Minions Happy Meal toys —10 Minions collectibles now available in-store— and the Minions Combos featuring an array of Minions-themed desserts.

Pair a classic like McDonald’s World Famous Fries with the all-new Minions-themed desserts and you get the perfect snack combination for you and your friends. Try the new Honey Banana McFloat, a sweet and refreshing banana and honey flavored drink topped with vanilla soft serve, through the Minions Medium Fries ‘N McFloat Combo for only Php65.

In the mood for a McFlurry? Go for the Minions Medium Fries ‘N McFlurry Combo for only Php95. You have a choice between two new and exciting McFlurry flavors. Discover the Banana McFlurry with Oreo where a classic gets a banana-licious twist, as banana flavor is mixed with Oreo bits in vanilla soft serve. You can also have the Banana Crumble McFlurry, made with crushed graham and banana flavor blended in creamy vanilla soft serve.

Just like Kevin, Stuart, and Bob, great things come in threes and so do our Minions Combos. So grab your friends and enjoy the Minions BFF Fries ‘N McFloat Combo (Php165) or the Minions BFF Fries ‘N McFlurry Combo (Php225).

McDonald’s is also introducing the Minions Banana McDip, a delicious vanilla soft serve covered in banana-flavored dip on a blue wafer cone—one of the cutest dessert items you’ll ever see and taste for only Php15.

Head over to McDonald’s to see the Minions Movie come to life! Bring the entire family or barkada and find a Minions treat for everyone. Minions Happy Meal and limited-edition menu offers are all available in McDonald’s stores nationwide.

Share your love for the Minions at McDonald’s via the official Facebook fan page, www.facebook.com/mcdo.ph, or by tagging @McDo_PH to your sweet and funny McDo moments on Twitter or Instagram. #MinionsAtMcDo

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