Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Share Away Your Food Photography Habits with OpenSnap

In the modern age where selfies rule, and iOS, Android Smarphones and tablets are affordable, ubiquitous photo-sharing on Facebook and other social networks have taken greater heights.  Thank God for these devices, I was able to save data of my favorite food, places and family activities.  Before, putting in memory the food I have tasted and loved, was a skill I have to enhance, but with giving birth and a major surgery, memory loss have been becoming more and more to blame to.  
Now, all I need to do is take a photo of a new dish I raved for, or even my recent recipe discovery, save it to my phone and what's even greater is I can share the experience to my friends and blog followers.  However great an application is for sharing, there are still some setbacks.
I do love Instagram or twitter, but what if I only want to see food photos?  Plus, If I do see photos of such gloriously taken plates, most of the time it lacked information, and I have to ask the owner of the photo for such info.  

With that, I am proud to be one on the first few to explore a new smartphone or tablet application which was rolled out to the bloggers last night at the Mactan Hall of EDSA Shangri La Hotel.  It's OpenSnap!
Yup! You said it and I sweetly admit! I'm one food picture-taker addict.  After savoring all these for our dinner, I instantly downloaded OpenSnap through a Google link.  The link then led me to www.opensnap.com and I just clicked on the Free Download link.

Now photo sharing is literally a snap!
It's apparently made by OpenRice, Asia’s Premier Dining Guide and is the first and unique food photo app in the Philippines and Asia that allows users to create personalized food albums and share their dining experience with friends and families wherever and whenever.

OpenRice.com in the Philippines is a website that features more than 80,000 dining places around the country, categorized by cuisine, district, and price range to allow users to hassle-free searching for their favorite restaurants. Moreover, each restaurant's listed have gourmet reviews and photos.  And to help
visitors search for gourmet information anytime, anywhere.  

OpenRice can also be found on popular social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram for the release of the latest gourmet information and privileges.

OpenSnap allows users to locate over 1 million restaurants in the Philippines and in Asia.  All thanks to connection to the OpenRice database, thus it's easy to identify OpenRice members, as well as Facebook friends and Celebrities who might be using OpenSnap. It allows Filipinos to enjoy local and  worldwide cuisine on their fingertips with the support of advanced i-cloud technology.

Here are some of the major  features of OpenSnap which I find pretty nifty:

1. Use food photos to search nearby restaurants 
Users can search nearby restaurants by browsing photos uploaded by friends. It helps you to save the time to locate alternate dinning locations while lining up long queue at the designated restaurants.

2. Create and share your personalized restaurant albums
OpenSnap provides users with personalized restaurant albums and easily share their dining experience wherever and whenever! Users could check the restaurant details by clicking the food photos, with more supplementary information for a perfect dining experience.

3. Browse  over 1 Million restaurants in Asia 
OpenSnap has an advanced search function to reach out dinning photos and restaurant information of  other Asian regions such as China, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and HongKong.

4. Photos come with a wealth of information
 Each food photo provides the user with restaurant address, map, contact details, reviews and comments.

So, are you ready for that foodie spotlight on your smartphone?

Installing it is so easy.  You can either register with Openrice.com (only an option) or directly download the application from iTunes or Google play.  Once installed it will automatically create a shortcut icon on your phone and access is there!  Now you are ready to either take a photo from your phone or use existing photos saved on your mobile data.

You can also beautify your pictures, the app has that option where you can adjust hues or lighting to the subject with filters.  Oh, also editing your photos can be more than just fun with stickers available.

You can share your photo through Facebook, Twitter and Weibo.

Once you had your photo, make sure to invite your friends and have them like your photos.


Monday, April 28, 2014

Sunday Wandering at the Manila Collectible Co.

Even sunny days that seem filled with endless opportunities, still yield the inevitable “Mommy, I’m bored!” Undoubtedly, your children will utter those words at least once during these summer days.
Summertime is a great time to encourage children to let their imaginations soar yet still keeping their minds a-brim to learning more.

For me, all I needed to do is get myself a cup of good coffee, some bread with a delish spread.  That can just get me right through such sunny boredom.  Well, that is just what I did but made it entirely different and even more interesting.  Yes, the kids did get just what they wanted as well - some learning activities that is not taught in their ACE-based curriculum classroom and of course with such fun.

Okay, the coffee was a complimentary from The Manila Collectible Co. and so are the bread bites with "Awesome Tsokolate con Crema and Dulce con Crema."  Awesome is just the right way to describe the experience once you try the two different spreads, which you can buy inside the venue.  Will definitely come back here once our Nutella jars empty.  The girls who Bhogs and I brought  had some lemon grass iced tea, again thanks to TMCC and Carla of Vera Studios for inviting us and paving the way for us to learn about the place and what it has to offer, specially to kids who are tired of staying at home and watching TV all summer.

So what then is The Manila Collectibles Co?
Before I formally introduce TCMM, let me give you some of the things you can expect at the place.
First, as you can notice on the above photos, the place opens up and welcomes visitor with art works.  As you go up the second floor, you will see paintings and and photos of the olden Intramuros.  The staircase is field with colorful artworks hanged on the walls.

As you reach the second level of the building, you will notice a welcoming vibe, because the entire place opens up like a gallery where you can buy everything on display, at low-cost.  Secondly, Ms. Virgie the manager gives a pedagogic tour which starts with the lesson on Philippines ancient script - Baybayin, wrongly known as the Alibata.

Alibata, which is a word that was invented just in the 20th century by a member of the old National Language Institute, Paul Versoza explained it after returning from the United States to give public lectures on Tagalog philology, calligraphy and lingusitics.
As he explained in Pangbansang Titik nang Pilipinas in 1939,
"I coined this word in 1914 in the New York Public Library, Manuscript Research Division, basing it on the Maguindanao (Moro) arrangement of letters of the alphabet after the Arabic: alif, ba, ta (alibata), “f” having been eliminated for euphony's sake.

Both Bhogs and I were surprised when we learned that ancient Filipinos actually had a writing system of their own.
From the root word bayb√°y meaning, “spell,” Baybayin, our ancient alphabet, is a Tagalog term that refers to all the letters used in writing a language but is more like a syllabary.  According to Ms. Virgie, the ancient writing was discovered on a stone tablet which was being used by a  tribe as a doormat, this stone is known as Ticao Tablet.

After this, we each have spelled our own names according to the Baybayin.  It's an art in itself, mind you. On the area of TMCC, we also learned about the Lingling-O which is an omega-shaped ornament that was excavated  in Batanes, which  symbolizes fertility, often used as a pendant or earrings prominent in Ifugao, bontoc an Kalinga regions.  We also saw and heard about the Philippine Tara or the “Golden Tara,” a  4-pound gold statue of a Hindu goddess that was discovered in Mindanao in 1917.  Another interesting piece was the Manunggul Jar.  However, this place is not a museum by the way, which at first I thought it was.  The prehistoric pieces are just replicas of the original, that is why they can be bought.

I'm loving these handcrafted bags which are great for beach-bumming.
My kids found every spot interesting, from books, native couture, toys, musical instruments, art pieces to accessories.  The owner really highlighted that Philippine arts and culture is very rich and supporting our very own local crafts  and crops can way benefit not only our indigenous brothers and sisters but more so in making marks to our foreign visitors in Intramuros.


Lastly, my girls made sure they go home exuberant, culturally-inclined and having their own contribution to Philippine arts.  They sure did have a blast designing and painting their terra cota pots.

Now I know where to buy the Batirol for making home-made Tsokolate.  I also bought some cacao bars and a pack of the sugar-free dried Mango ffrom Zambalez.

So the next time you felt boredom is drowning your family down, head up to Intramuros and make The Manila Collectibles Co, your next culture space venue.  

We surely found a way to beat that boredom jar, did we?

The Manila Collectible Co.

Address: Villa Blanca, Cabildo cor. Beaterio St.,
                Intramuros, Manila
Contact Numbers: +63 918 985-5830

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Rekados Cafe and Restuarante: A New Silang Gem Spotted

One that really made a mark on our marriage celebration was our get-away to Las Casas Flipinas de Acuzar last year.  This year however was nothing extra-ordinary but one that was endeared like the many wanderings we had with our little girls.  You heard it right, we spent our 18 years of marriage with our girls. We did all the planning but with little spending, since we are trying to lay aside some money for our two kids going to college.  
Initially, we wanted to go to Taal and do some more trivial heritage tour.  Ever since we got ourselves acquainted with ancestral homes from Cavite and Bataan, we could not seem to get enough of them. Antique houses are very much endemic in our country.  In every region there would not only be one preserved house, especially if the house belonged to a hero, a famous person or just someone who wanted to retain how they loved seeing their house.  So it was planned to see more of them, this time in Batangas.
But alas!  Things didn't go as planned.

What supposed to be hours of driving with our favorite love songs on the background was replaced with endless singing of the movie Frozen soundtrack, "hirit and birit," here and there from the backseat.  But we never minded.  Seeing them happy along with the drive and knowing they will be safer with us can't be replaced with any other love songs.  
With that, plans were changed.  We booked a night stay at Wyngate, where we would only stay for the night.  We were to leave the house early to pass by Meteora before going to Taal to explore different ancestral houses, I even draw out an itinerary, but then the sad news fell.  Our Dana, was stricken with mild flu.  She is diabetic, so we could not let pass any sickness without monitoring her blood sugar closely.   Feared that her temp may get high while we were away, and that her sugar may also react to whatever virus she might have gotten, the Dad and I decided to bring her along together with the "bunso." 
So this has what became of our two-day tour.

First Day:

1 pm -        Leave the house 
7 pm -       Complimentary massage at Wingate
8 pm -       Dinner at Robinsons Tagaytay
9 pm -      Rest

Second Day:
8 am -     Breakfast at Wingate cafe
9 am -     Swimming at the pool
12 pm -  Check out from the hotel 
12 pm-   Explore Memory Lane which was along the street where Wingate is.
12:30 pm Lunch at Rekados
2 pm -   Buy pasalubong and head home

When we are with our kids, we make things simple and practical, cause most of the time when they are with us, they tend to request a lot of things, in domestic word - "magastos."

So after checking out, we went to Memory Lane hoping to get some good grubs.  However, my husband got irate because we were charged P100 for parking, which was refundable or will be deducted from the billed amount inside the restaurant cum store.  Also, we got reprimanded while we were taking photos inside the restaurant and store area.  Mind you, it was all lovely, the inside of the house will definitely give you a major blast from the past, as if you were taken to the 60's or 70's canteen.  So disappointing.

Thanks to that experience, I would not have remembered a friend's recommendation, when in Tagaytay or Silang.  All thanks to Joy Mendiola of www.occasionsofjoy.com, I came to know Rekados.  She told me about how she liked the place after talking to the owners when they got the chance to dine there after buying the furniture for their newly renovated house.  I've actually seen it when we were driving home from our Christmas and New Year holidays, spent at Tagaytay.   Drove passed it, I got dismayed for it seemed like a promising Filipino or Spanish restaurant.  This time we were able to cease the moment and assay the place.

After parking our car at the right side of the area, we saw they have a pasalubong shop, and all the way to the left leading to the road is a local milk and mini-pasalubong shop.  To my excitement, I almost forgot the kids were hungry already, I went through the colonial-styled gate leading to the al-fresco dining, while the three got comfy at the resto.  I quickly headed to them and realized that the resto itself was already filled with conversational pieces tucked in so daintily at every nooks and crany of the place.  I love seeing antique styles so the terra cota brick wall really caught my interest.
The main wall were adorned with vintage pieces, or some may be new, they somehow give out a sense of antiquated feel to it still.
Joy mentioned that the couple who owns Rekados are Christians (like us) and very amiable.  Though I was not able to meet them there, I can tell that they may indeed be kind-hearted.  As seen on this shelf, notable Christian paperbacks and  self-help books were sitting snugly atop. 
Not long enough, the male wait-staff approached us with the menu and gave us a cold glass of water immediately.  How kind!  You can tell already that they were trained so well and have mastered the art of hospitality, the Christian way.  He spoke politely and waited for our choice answering every question I have for him and the resto.  What do you know all my requests were granted with no ifs and buts.
Love, love the artwork on the menu, soo me and my other craft (profession/being a wedding planner)!  Vintage and damask, in all hues and patterns will never get out-dated.  Also, love the inside of the menu!  We got surprised the prices were not steep and are all designed for sharing.  They serve Filipino, Continental, Italian and some Spanish dishes.  Occasionally, they would have lunch buffet.
While waiting for our menu, Bhogs and I left the kids inside the resto and went around the vicinity.  You will be surprised how large the garden area at the back is, plus you get to see more interesting knick knacks and paddy whacks on some places.
Let me give you a short tour...

Huge chess pieces at the buffet area.

Restful spots under the trees.

Shh...someone's hiding...

I remembered the old rural comfort rooms situated out side the kubo.

Miniature wooden houses with front porch decorated with capiz windows and colored glass.

Recovered long seating swings from dilapidation... Spot the "mano-mano" olden sewing machine somewhere?
Stone stair path leading to a more spacious garden ground.  This is open for garden weddings and other events, by the way, which was according to some staff.
Oh there's me, trying out how to make "bayo the bigas kuno", hehe.

This mini cottage has a dining set up inside so, you can use this for a more intimate meal with up to four people at no extra cost.

The buffet area on the covered garden which can be rented out for an event as well.
On that day, these are what were served.
Garden Salad
Potato croquettes
Penne in Tomato sauce
Fish chips

Divine isn't it!
Unfortunately, we didn't avail of the buffet, the girls had their usual Spaghetti Carbonara (or any white sauce) while we had the usual Tagaytay food fare - Bulalo.  When I'm with my husband, we could not stay away from the cholesterole-laden soup, it is a must when driving up Tagaytay.  Good thing we didn't go to Mahogany Market this time, ah, don't you get so tired of the place, unless I'll be buying fruits and potted herbs on the market.

I need to mention a cup of roasted peanuts were also served on our table as we waited for our food.  It didn't take more than 15 minutes to serve our food though, or maybe I didn't notice the time because I was busy checking out the whole vicinity.

Lookey, ze girl would not let go of the parmesan cheese bottle.  One order of any pasta dish can serve up to two persons.  So the Carbonara we ordered were divided into two for the girls.

Now time for some serious dining.  Let me reiterate that Bulalo is my husband's Tagaytay food must-have and I coudn't bare see him get disappointed.  
Walah!  It was perfect for us.  First, the dish was served on a heated bowl.  Second, you can see how fresh the vegetables used and they were not overcooked.  Third, they have sliced corn on the cob on the soup.  It's not to often we catch a cob of corn on the Bulalo, and for one, the corn gives out a sort of sweet after note on every sip, plus, it's one good extender compared to chayote (sayote in Tagalog) or potato.  Now the real judgement is in the soup base and the meat.  From the aroma alone, one can easily test, if the beef is freshly cut or spoiled.  Now it's in the tasting.  The stock isn't that salty, it was just right to our taste, plus it was still clear, making sure that the stock have not been resting too long with the meat on the stove.  Like what we suspiciously detect from most of the "bulalohan."
Of course, we had some cups of rice with it.  Look how they serve their plain steamed rice.
We didn't get a chance to save rooms for dessert because we got some Loumar's pies to eat at home.

On that note, I can safely say that we spotted a jem of a place when it comes to having Bulalo in Tagaytay.  It is truly worth driving for in Silang.  The menu is loaded with dishes that everyone will rave and have been craving for, so we are definitely coming back here and our usual side trip to Tagaytay or Silang will never be the same again.

Address:  Santa Rosa- Tagaytay Road
4118 Silang, Cavite
Phone: (046) 443 2193
Email: rekadosph@yahoo.com
Facebook::  www.facebook.com/rekadoscafeandrestaurante