Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Jack-O-Lantern Cheesecake

So, how was your Halloween?   I'm sure it was a totally wicked day for our kids.   I'm wondering if there are still enough candies and chocolates at the stores for tomorrow.    Just a reminder to parents, make sure your kids have properly brushed their teeth before they retire for the night.   If they wore any make-up or face and body paints make sure they are tidily washed up and moisturized.
This year's All Souls Day have  been festive, rather than reposed as compared to the past years.   Hmmm, tell me, were you one of those moms who unhesitantly prepared for the kids costume?
With the Halloween wallowing away,  I could not help myself to share with you a FOOD FIND for the season.    
Last October 26, my kids and I were at Rockwell to attend Candy Corner's Carnival.   After that they requested to visit their library, Fully Booked.  While they were looking for books of their interests, I left them and checked out Baker's Dozen, which apparently moved to a new location of the Powerplant Mall.  Will do a separate blog about my amazing sweet trip of the Baker's Dozen.   For now I will be featuring the purveyor which best caught my palate's interest.

Do excuse me for this, I will be having a series of split personality behaviors.  You see the sound of Sugarbee, gives me the goosebumps.   For one, sugar is my enemy and also my friend.  Due to my daughter's diabetic condition, I'm tad bit scared of refined sugar or any kind of sugar for that matter.   However, we can not remove the importance of sugar in our diet.   We love pastries, chocolates, and having desserts and sweet snacks, even my daughter need a proper intake of it due to insulin injections.

The decadent Pumpkin Cheesecake.
Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Cheesecake eater.
P-for Pumpkin.
Alright, the Pre-school teacher in me wants to get out, but nhey, I'm a food-blogger now.   I will never tire of saying I love cheesecakes, that is explained more at the blog entitled The Queen of Cheesecakes.
For this, let me introduce Sugarbee's Pumpkin Cheesecake.  

Bewitched by the thought of pumpkin and cream cheese, and  in its plain-ness, a slice was placed on a take- out plastic pack.   I  was ready to go home with it, until a cupful of brownish thick concoction was dripped over and out comes the gooey caramel syrup in all its lusciousness. 
  And I thought I'm going to go home even happier.  Until, slivers of pecan nuts were then topped over  the caramel laden pumpkin cheesecake.    It yes it was heavenly!

If you think that was too much for a Halloween, get this.
In other countries,  the Halloween is also acquainted with fall season.   And how can not we talk about fall without the orange and brown leaves on the trees and on the ground, and pumpkins are also no exception.    Gosh, I've never actually eaten a pumpkin, and I hope that doesn't make me a loser.   I hope our own squash can put up with our county's loss of it, since they are of the same family of vegetable.
 But a big YEY!  Finally I had my sweet take on pumpkin, though flavored only for a cheesecake recipe, but still.
Pumpkin Cheesecake combines two American favorites; New York style cheesecake and pumpkin pie, which perhaps be a perfect dessert for this season or to any season for that matter.
The pumpkin in the recipe keeps this cheesecake light and almost gives it the consistency of a mousse or chiffon – it’s very light, smooth and airy. And fabulous. Did I mention that?
I love that the mousse and the crust isn't that too sweet at all.   Making the caramel syrup just perfect with it.   Making this one, perfect for a Blue Ribbon Award  from the foodie of Gastronomy By Joy.

Here are more treats for the coming Christmas season, from Sugarbee.
Sansrival chips with sinfully yummy butter dip.
Tinned Alfajores and Florentines.
Assorted bars for your takings.

Contact Numbers:  852-0557

Thinking of Earning From my Baking or Blogging

I woke up this morning with a plan to bake something for the family and have some fun for the Halloween which we don't normally do but something I'm sure my kids will also treasure..  And guess what, I baked, did house chores with my new art stamped nails.   It was already planned, me, my two kids and husband's niece all to go out trick or treating at the Greenbelt Towers, which was an exclusive invite, giving priorities to the tenants and their guests.  But then, the worst thing happened, we have to cancel the event and head to the doctor.    
 Much to my disappointment, I spent a couple of bucks for my nails, even went on a run late last night hoping the nearest nail salon is still open,  with a thought in my mind that if my kids will be dressed in  their favorite costumes, I also have to get a bit made up so I chose a design that's good for the Halloween.

 Well, I have to keep my nails, with the design I love and we have to live with our Trick or Treat Chocolate Chip Cookies for this day, which my kids adore.  
So now I'm back to blogging.   While I was starting out how to write something about the three basic thoughts to keep me away from my disappointment, I bumped into a  blog where the writer said about LinkFromBlog.   Where she had been paid by blogging something for that site.  Link From Blog is about blog advertising and earning from blogging.   Then it hit me.   How can this bloggers lay away time with blogging while they earn form it, and I don't.
"Okay," I said to myself, "I'm done with earning from my baking," (though I can still accept a few orders form friends and relatives)"maybe this time I can grab a few bucks from my site."   Anyway I'm paying for the domain and some additional add-ons from Google. 
Advertise with my Blog
I also remembered someone from Manila Bulletin online site asking me how much I am getting from writing reviews from restaurants or from covering a certain event or if I have advertisements on my site.   My face went blank and I hardly had good things to say about why I am not earning like  the other bloggers.  
So I've decided.   From now on, I will make an effort on making something out of this blog site, and in the process, make others get something from it as well.  So help me God!
Sponsored reviews

the tenant's and theitr guest.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sentro’s Sinigang na Corned Beef: A Tribute to Ten Years

How many different types of Sinigang Filipinos can think of?  Now, there's the pork, fish and yes even chicken.   With the various meat we could think of for a sour hot soup, there are still the souring elements we also have to take note of.   On the usual is the sampalok fruit, actually we can also use the leaves to add that leafy zest to our Sinigang.  A fish could not hide it's undesirable odor without the Miso.   A lot can be really said about our very own Sinigang, but words have been buzzing around since it came out on their menu.    Let me introduce Sentro 1771's Sinigang na Corned Beef.
You heard me right.   Nope, if you are visualizing a canned corned beef floating over a hot pot of Sinigang, you're on the wrong room. 
Sentro 1771 is known for it's unique spin on Filipinos’ ultimate comfort food where every dish is a signature certified as every Balikbayan’s favorite!

A brainchild of Executive Chef Vicky Rose Pacheco of Chateau 1771 Group of Restaurants, sinigang na corned beef is possibly the most creative take on the usual sinigang that everyone knows. In the Philippines where a full roster of vegetables and high quality meats are in play, cooking up anything is practically always in season for chefs. But there’s something so charming about an accidental dish, especially if it turns out to be quite historic. It’s like cooking at home, making sure each ingredient works from the little scraps and pieces and turn it into another dish you can call deliciously your own.

Like sinigang na corned beef, it’s one of the dishes that’s considered very special for its monumental discovery. While ever busy in the kitchen and thinking then of putting into good use excess corned beef broth from the first menu of Chateau 1771 then in El Pueblo, Ortigas Center, Pasig City, Chef Vicky came up with an idea: why not make the corned beef broth into sinigang soup?  All it needed was souring ingredient and the usual beef brisket could be substituted with beef cuts with sinews, fat and bones---these are what makes for a hearty soup. Well, the result is history, the dish not only came out to be Sentro’s signature favorite, it’s a heartwarming soup, flavorful and meaty, exactly what one craves for.

Many have come to try emulating and reinventing it, but Sentro’s sinigang is the only stand out original especially for its rounded flavor. Although this recipe is accidental by nature, it was never a recipe by chance. Chef Vicky’s consistent and meticulous choice of ingredients is the way she starts everything in all her restaurants, particularly with the meat as the major element of the dish. The beef is exclusively sourced from a mix of local suppliers trusted for ten years. Plus, the pot is loaded with vegetables such as tomatoes, okra, taro corms (gabi), daikon (labanos), water spinach (kangkong), and eggplant stewed in tamarind, served hot and steamy. The broth from scratch is loaded with flavor-boosting natural spices and guests are asked to sip the delicate soup stock prior serving so the sourness, saltiness, and spiciness can be adjusted according to preference--another personalized approach that this dish had built  a reputation on.

And no matter what the main ingredients are, the exciting part comes when it’s served. If there was a version that will elicit either string of exciting mmmmm’s and aaaaah’s, this is it. Sinigang na corned beef has a certain magic especially with plain rice that even foreign visitors find comforting.

Executive Chef Vicky proved that there’s more to Filipino food, especially if it’s reinvented with fresh ingredients which give that unique but homey experience. If you’ve been craving with something like this or your curiosity has been piqued, there’s no other better time than now to get to know this decade-old dish which can only originally be found in Sentro.

Sentro 1771 in Greenbelt 3 is open from 11am to 11pm (Monday to Sunday) while Serendra is from 7am to 10:00 pm (Sunday to Thursday) / 7am to 11:00pm (Friday to Saturday). For inquiries and reservations, call Sentro Greenbelt 3 (02) 757 3941 or Sentro Serendra (02) 856 0581.

Kape Pilato Bistro Cafe

I was contacted by Quick Delivery to do a full review of their delivery service and of the food establishment being featured that period.   It was my first time to actually have a delivery service company come at our doorstep and bring us real cooked food.   Of course, we can not take for granted the good service of franchised fast foods, like McDonalds, Wendy's and Shakey's Pizza.   But it was such a thrill to have finished my job with them.
I was asked to also review Kape Pilato's food.   I've been to a site where it posted several photos of Kape Pilato, and frankly I was enamored.  When I saw the menu selection it blew me off my chair.   The name might suggest it to be a coffee shop with a Pinoy twist.  
 When we finally got our order from Kape Pilato.  I saw that they don't only serve big but they don't skimp on ingredients, even if it is a home delivery order.
Check out my review here:

 Kape Pilato Bistro Cafe Via Quick Delivery

 So, I went on searching about it, blog hopping and surveying Google map for it.   After which we planned to visit the place.  

It's located at  San Marcelino St., in Malate, Manila.   You have to be driving from Paco, Manila to get to this street, because it's one way. 
Located at the ground floor of Orange Nest Hotel, its a quite place to have a meal and of course get your boost of jolt with their selection of local coffee concoctions.

Modern-ish, sleek, clean look is what they portray on the outside but lo and behold once you see their menu, which I would say is a standard bragger.  They boast of their chosen Filipino dishes, International cuisine and desserts.   See more than just a coffee shop.   During our stay for dinner, a few couple came prepped up for a satisfying meal.
From casual to intimate to very bodacious family and friends gatherings, they can appease you with what it is you need.  There are several nooks, or something like special function rooms best for professional meetings or just mingling with barkadas and colleagues.

Those are just a few of the snapshots I got at the venue.   Now we can head on and see how they satisfied our empty tummies.
 We began with a huge bowl of Tortilla/Nacho Salad.   From it's namesake, it's a salad mixins of  nacho chips, iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, onions, topped with Mexican chilli, drizzled over ceasar salad dressing.  Let me tell you how one can really get full with these alone.  It is served on a huge bowl, and the play of the crisp lettuce and chips with the dressing and the chilli plus cubes upon cubes of cheddar cheese.   Gloryyyyy!
 Well, if you see a photo of a plate of Carbonara, you have to guess, my kids should be with me.   Always, a mommy's safe order for the little ones.  Pasta Carbonara.   Also one good way to just a good dish of it is through my pack (that's what I call  the family ready to devour a whole table of grubs, hahaha).   And guess what, I went hoe one happy momma.  They loved the creaminess of the sauce which clung to the pasta.   The pasta cooked al dente, it had loads of bits of bacon, and a gorgeous mound of ground parmesan cheese.  Two kids and two kid at heart shared with a serving of these.  So more or less, this is good for four people.
For the big eaters (that's for Daddy and ate Danie), I ordered Seafood Curry and Sizzling Sisig.   A plate of the Seafood curry has a half-sized corn on a cob and sauteed carrot slices, cauliflower and broccoli.  The dish is full of curry flavor, as you can see how yellowish it is.   The mix of seafood slices such as squid, shrimp and clams were cooked to tender without being over-cooked.  The same goes with the vegetables in it, the dish was served hot but the veggies stayed crisp and a still packed with nutrition.  I just hate it when vegetable are wilted on the dishes from over-cooking.

So far everything went well, Danie and Dana though have been waiting for the Sisig.   Sadly we weren't able to enjoy it.   It was way to spicy for their tasting.   The aroma was just so enticing with the sizzle and all, but appetite-inducing due to the several bits of chillies mixed into it.  One minus point though is that they didn't tell us that it's going to be that spicy, since we are dining with kids, they could have at least asked us if we are good with that, and advised to make it less spicy or you know a little info about every dish would help.
But there's always our Kuya Darren to take it home too.  So we just had it taken out.  After all, with the serving they have we are already good to go.
But of course we can not let a coffee shop be passed by without having to try something from their coffee selections.  Luckily, they do have a lot under Dessert Coffee.   We tried the Dark Chocolate Truffle Sauce.  It's a frappe, a cold coffee shake with Dark chocolate bits, cold cream and chocolate sauce.

Kape Pilato Bistro Cafe
1814 San Marcelino St Malate, Manila
(02) 516-1630

Visit their Facebook Page to get more info about them and get a map on how to go there.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Adopt-A-School Program Partners Recognition Day

DepEd fetes its education partners through simple recognition rites for the private sector, non-government organizations and individuals like what had happened at the Bulwagan ng Karunungan, DepEd Central Office last October 25.

Republic Act 8525, also known as “Adopt A School Act/Program of 1998, "Adopt-a-School Program"  states that "it will allow private entities to assist a public school, whether elementary, secondary, or tertiary, preferably located in any of the twenty (20) poorest provinces identified by the Presidential Council for Countryside Development or any other government agency tasked with identifying the poorest provinces in, but not limited to, the following areas: staff and faculty development for training and further education; construction of facilities; upgrading of existing facilities, provision of books, publications and other instructional materials; and modernization of instructional."

Does upon acting on this, DepEd’s Adopt-A-School program, hovered through private corporations and individual donors being encouraged to donate to public schools to bridge education resource gaps.  In exchange, donors can avail of tax rebate from the government.

According to DepED, private sector investment in the public school system has reached P5.8 billion in October 2012, up from P3.4 billion in 2011.

Education Secretary Br. Armin A. Luistro FSC said the bulk of donation is in the form of school buildings amounting to P1.7 billion which translates to 3,184 classrooms. “We are indebted to our private sector partners who continue to invest in education knowing fully well its power to transform the lives of many Filipinos,” he added.   

Upon his appreciation, he taunted DepEd's relationship with its true partners likened to a dance, where both parties gracefully dance to the rhythm.  

 The Adopt-A-School secretariat of DepEd continues to receive increasing proposition to donate from the private sector.

Some of the support provided by the private sector to public schools are  classrooms, furniture, infrastructure including toilets, hand-washing facilities, school stage, fence and drainage system, feeding program, computers and technology support, school supplies, training and development, health and nutrition, direct assistance to students and teachers, reading program,  and DepEd-GASTPE scholarship grants.

"We believe that donors continue to give to DepEd because they are confident that their donation will be put to good use,” said Luistro.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Designer Blooms Cafe: First Fresh Flower Shop Cafe

It may be a cliche to rede - take time to smell the roses.   This idiom means to take some time to slack of and enjoy the surrounding.   It is just apt to use it here at the newly launched cafe in Molito Mall, Alabang.  It is not your typical cafe or restaurant, in fact it is one the most unique theme ever thought of in this lifetime.   It may seem to look like a typical cafe or shop from the outside, but the moment you step in, a blissful garden scent awakens your soul.   As if a garden was brought in literally.
  It brought me down memory lane.   I remember it was eight years ago at their Glorietta branch, when I had customized (if I'm not mistaken) five flower girls' floral head rings for my sister's wedding in Milan, Italy.  The familiar fragrance unique to Designer Blooms once again captured my dear love for  floral,  artificial, dried or fresh.   I even professed it to Designer Blooms' owners Ting and Rica Garcia, who were present at the event.  I'm pretty sure no mall-goers could have resisted the allure of bunches and bunches of flowers at any of their branches, not even me, for I used to posses a caboodle of different kinds and colors of  artificial flowers, when I only had two kids.   I would even drizzle, on a weekly basis, the aroma oils which they use for their floral arrangements.   Making my wake-up mornings to one lovely-scented start, not minding the full-tasks ahead.
After 20 years , the concept of  linking up a cafe and a flower shop is in full bloom.  Thanks to Marie Garcia and Issa Garcia-Sicam, the sisters who were behind this beauty.  Mrs. Rica Garcia even told me that Designer Blooms started when her daughter Marie was only 8 years old, now that they have different franchisees and branches, they manage to be unrivaled in the floral market here in the Philippines.   So fitting that they have formally launched the cafe on Designer Blooms' 20th Anniversary.   And I love it when they gave the honor back to the one who deserved the glory, to God.
At the launch, celebrity friend, Gary Valenciano, graced the event, with him on this picture are the family owner of Designer Blooms and its baby cafe.
I am steamy right now to share what the cafe offers but let me pave the way first by sharing something on the flowery side.    From radically distinctive artificial and dried flowers they were able to bring in fresh flower arrangements, like the bouquet I have in the picture below.   They were able to bring in more selections and  have been more innovative in serving their customers with designs strong on personal but tastefully unmatched.
The shabby chic look of the interiors make you feel more at-home.  The combined rustic fragrance of the the cafe-flower shop and the appetizing aroma wafting from the viewable kitchen is just so unearthly.  Making this place great for dates on anniversaries, Valentines day, birthdays, to say a few.

 On the menu for the launch are samples from their original menu...
Home-made Potato thins were served in bowls together with buttered popcorn kept all of us busy while they prepared the rest of the menu.  The kitchen is led  by US-trained and CCA Alumni Chef Diana Morales.
We then began the round-up of menu samplers with a cup of Hearty Mushroom Soup with a bread stick. This hot soup instantly takes the care of this world, brimming with  three different mushrooms thickened with cream.
From the hot soup sampler, we get to the cold shooter of Gaspacho.  Known also as Gazpacho, a Spanish dish which is known as a liquid salad.  You slurp up fresh vegetables such as tomatoes, bell peppers, greens, celery, etc. made into a smoothie which is seasoned lightly.  They do live up to their catch-phrase "Freshly picked, freshly prepared," where they boast of using organic vegetables form sustainable farms, having gone the extra mile to look for the freshest ingredients.   I actually sensed the freshness of each shooter with my nose.   Typically eaten with a toast or rustic bread, it is the best comfort health food for summer.
Moving on with the mini bruschetta topped with Tinapa Mousse (the white topping) and tomato arugula.
From the four Salad choices (Under the heading "From the Farm"), two were introduced, the Greek Salad Medley and Mom's Potato Salad.   Intriguingly they serve it with an edible flower petal.
Make sure you visit and order the potato salad.  An heirloom recipe from Marie's Spanish grand-mom.  A creamy rendition of boiled potatoes with minced fresh veggies will surely lift your down-trodden spirit and fill your tummy too.
On the fishy side is a crusty fried Fish Cakes drizzled with Garlic Aioli and Mango Salsa.   Sadly, I wasn't able to taste it, due to my chit-chatting habit at events like this.  That would be one fine reason to get back here.
The Mushroom Truffle Panini, was spot on, not even having it rest on our table.  The musty aroma of the truffles really will pull you towards it and entice you to try not only one.   A panini, coming from the Italians as 'panino' refers to pressed and toasted sandwiches.   Making this cafe hit on the gourmet leverage, the truffle spread gives out a creamy  with a co-mixture of subtle pungent and syrupy-sweet taste.
What soon will be the hottest hamburger in Alabang then came to us in an open-faced Jalapeno Burger Slider presentation.   The bun, layered  with crisp iceberg lettuce, Angus beef burger niblet, cheddar cheese, the slice of jalapeno and topped with cherry tomatoes, is smackingly soo good.   Some of my co-bloggers on the table with me, removed the jalapeno.  For me, its not going to be that note-worthy without the shock of the chili.   Will definitely be back here to give you a full review of what's best to order here.   On the top of my list is the Jalapeno Burger.
Yes, there is a lot more.  How's about some grilled skewers.   And the Mediterraenian Shrimp Skewers  and the Corn on the cob are not exemptions.  Flavorful shelled shrimps are brushed with Aoili and drizzled with pesto sauce.  Waiting for this is worth it.
Just as I was so filled up, I was offered the Mushroom Ravioli, in Marinara sauce.   According to Ms. Marie, even their pasta are freshly made on the day of the serving (somewhat like in Bistro Ravioli), and I have yet to try other pasta creations.   Notice that the ravioli looks like a flower.  Everything were artistically thought of to suit the theme.  Big YEY to them! Clap, clap...
"Wait the dessert is still to come," as what we've told when we readied ourselves for the photo-op.  
The  Mango and Tablea Panna Cotta cups originally Pinoy as compared to the other stuff on the menu leaves   the fact that they can taut about.   Smooth layers of creamy  dark and smokey chocolate Tablea mousse and tarty mango panna cotta is best eaten to end a potent or light meal, sweetely.
 Of course how can I not share how I like the White Chocolate Cheesecake.  Whatever flavor it may come with as long as it's cheesecake, I have to check it out.   And indeed looked and taste as good.
So have I enticed you enough, living you drooling and and screaming for your turn of that wonderful experience? (Sorry about that)   Well they are now ready to serve you.   Come with your coffee and afternoon tea cravings also, for they offer freshly brewed organic teas and imported coffee from San Francisco.  
So, if you're dreaming for more than just food for the bod, how about trying a concept cafe, for a full sensorial feel, having to go home with your favorite choice of flowers or plants while you're at it!

Designer Blooms Cafe
Molito Complex, Alabang
Contact numbers: 02 512 0353
Facebook: DesignerBloomsCafe