Saturday, December 20, 2014

Sweet Sorghum: Another Sweet and Healthy Discovery

Whenever I go to bazaars and trade fairs, I usually have food on my mind, but not just any kind of food, it has to be under the category of healthy and delicious enough for my kids.  And whenever I'm caught shopping for such, I always ask and it never failed to catch my attention, whether it is diabetic-friendly.

At the last Big Bite! The Northern Food Festival in Pampanga, I got to talk to the hard-working couple who were also noted as Sweet Sorghum Couple - Antonio and Doris Arcangel, owners of BAPAMIN Inc., Batac City.  I was, as always, on a look out for a pasalubong fit for my diabetic daughter, and in my last stall stop I saw a low glycemic liquid sweetener.  It was from Healtika, but what I came home with are bags of sorghum grains and flour.

NITAS Christmas Party at The Wine Museum

Everything about the Christmas season, may it be religious or secular, fills my heart with joy, how could I not, everyone seems to have that joy of giving and sharing.  These values were evidently shown at one of the Christmas parties I have joined last December 11.  The Network of Independent Travel Agencies (NITAS) had their party and I might say it's one of those which I thought showed such great relevance and thought evoking.  Yep, even at a party!

Eggplant Salad and Spicy Lechon Belly on the foreground
The event was held at The Wine Museum Hotel and Restaurant, Pasay City.  Representatives of travel agency members of the association flocked this prestigious Colonial-inspired restaurant to share gladness and cheer in this season.  Of course, what can a party be without sumptuous delights from the restaurant itself.  

Red Salted Egg Salad
I've known The Wine Museum to have curated some of the finest wines all over the world and with that they have set apart a menu to particularity pair it with their wines.  However, if you are not a wine drinker, I'm 100 % sure you will love what's on their menu.  Though on occasions such as this, you can also request for a specific menu plan. 

Dessert - Sweetened Saba Bananas and Sago (tapioca pearls)
The sumptuous feast highlighted classic Filipino dishes and I was surprised to see the attendees garbed in traditional Filipino clothing.

I guess all these are but ques of how they are serious in promoting our rich culture and Philippine tourism.

The Filipino buffet was followed with an interesting program prepared by NITAS.  Short for Network of Independent Travel Agencies, NITAS is an alliance of local travel agencies to leverage tourism-generated revenue for our country.  The owner of  The Wine Museum and Ralph's Wines, is NITAS' President Bobby Lim-Joseph, who himself  is very strong and committed in positioning our country's top tourist destinations in the global tourism scale.  He was particularly pushing these hot spots even on their non-peak season as they are setting package tours that are unique and can also be enjoyed even on monsoon seasons.  "Imagine yourself or a group of foreign tourists watching fire dancers in Boracay while it's raining," said Sir Bobby Joseph as he gave a speech to welcome everyone.

Now, the network had been picking up with new partners from airline industries, hotels and restaurants around the world and with newly signed members both from AITA and non-AITA's.

The party was livened up with some games and raffles and a talk that may probably boost every one to prepare themselves for the challenging year ahead was given by Grace Rallos of the Rotary Club of Manila (also NITAS' Consultant), with a title "The Roadmap to Success."

The party got a bit more exciting when two performers worked out the floor.  First was a Lani Misalucha impersonator and then followed by Tina Turner's.

Philippine Airlines representatives looking on at the performances.

Oh, Tina Turner came!

Thanks to Pete Dacuycuy for inviting us.  I also came with Ms. Evelyn Felizardo of  Pasay Tourism and bloggers, Lee Ross  and Kristine Tagra.  

Do check out more of NITAS at their Facebook page

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Jack Daniels Holiday Barrel Tree Comes To Manila!

After a sumptuous dinner at Rue Bourbon, a spectacle bedazzled many guests as the tree lighting of another unique take on Christmas tree-making commenced.
The said event which happened last Dec. 16 at Fuente Circle in Eastwood Mall, is said to welcome the Jack Daniel’s Holiday Barrel Tree.  A Lynchburg Tennessee holiday tradition that through the years has spread to the United Kingdom and Canada. This year, it was brought in Manila.

The first of its kind in Southeast Asia, the Jack Daniel’s Holiday Barrel Tree is more than just a symbol of the holidays that has traveled the world. It stands for a community that has built a tradition together, this annual tradition started by the men and women of Lynchburg. 

That the Lynchburg community would create its identity around the making of Jack Daniel’s is no surprise. Yet the man behind it all, Jack Daniel himself was not one to let them forget about the importance of family and togetherness, no matter the demands of building America’s oldest registered distillery. This could only bring the men and women of Lynchburg Tennessee to create the annual tradition of the Holiday Barrel Tree – made from the very barrels used in maturing Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, a symbol of their hard work and persistence, but more importantly a reminder of the value of gathering together as community and family. 
It speaks of how priceless this time of year is, not because of the rituals of gift-giving and excess, but because we come together for no reason other than gratefulness.  It tells us that above all else, gathering merrily with family, friends and loved ones is the reason for this season.
After all, it’s not what’s under the tree that matters most. It’s who’s around it.

Moreover, the event was graced by Mr. Gabriel Fajardo, Jack Daniel’s Philippine Brand Manager and Mr. Anthony Ramirez, Brown Forman Corporation Philippine Market Manager who also initiated the lighting of the first and only Jack Daniel’s Barrel Tree in Asia.

The opening of the main event on that night brought the crown on their feet as Up Darma Down performed.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Product Review: Wild to Mild Lemongrass and Turmeric Tea

A couple of weeks back Bhogs and I made our way to Glorietta after an event at Raffles, as he was checking out the toys exhibit, I went on bugging sales people at the glass stores just at the Palm Drive entrance of  the mall.  I thought I would buy something unique at the craft store I visited, for they have cool hand-crafted buri totes and accessories, however I ended up asking a lot of questions to its neighbor store.  

What made me stayed a while at this store was the Turmeric cream they were selling which they boast as something which fights swelling and has anti-bacterial elements good for acne.  I thought I'd have my daughter try this who have been hiding her forehead with bangs.  I bought a lot of facial washes for her to try but none seemed to work, I'm thinking it might also be something about her genes or being stressed with college works.  So, I bought one.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Scientific Breakthrough in Stem Cell as Effective Treatment For Type 1 Diabetes

My daughter has had T1 diabetes for five years already.  Any progress in technology and medicine, even if it's not a full-blown cure, is tremendously welcome.  My husband still struggle with the thought that she'll have to probably live with this for the rest of her life, but I refuse to, as I've claimed healing for her.
Mark 5:34
He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering."
Just now, my husband broke the news and was glad to share the announcements made by Harvard last October.  Call it press release, call it good news, call it breakthrough, which way you call it, it sound music to our ears.

DepEd, TESDA launch “Gulayan Cook-Off Challenge

In an effort to promote nutrition among Filipino children, the Department of Education (DepEd) in collaboration with the Technical Education and Skills Development Association (TESDA), sparked this worthy and sumptuous idea.  It's the “Get Your Gulay On: Grand Gulay Cook-Off Challenge."  It's a contest that aims to encourage innovation in making healthy snacks made of vegetables from the Gulayan sa Paaralan Program in public schools.

Ang gusto po naming gawin ngayong umaga ay ipakalat ang pagkain ng gulay sa mga kabataan at siguraduhin na kakain sila ng mga masusustansyang pagkain. Gusto rin nating gamitin ang mga gulay na tinanim natin sa mga paaralan bilang sangkap sa mga lulutuing pagkain,” said Education Secretary Br. Armin Luistro FSC. He emphasized the importance of proper nutrition in improving the performance of students in school.

In this light, participants from TESDA training institutes prepared nutritious vegetable dishes for some 100 elementary students from Taguig and Pasay Cities invited as judges. The challenge given was that the dishes should not contain ingredients with monosodium glutamate (MSG) – ready-made breading, soup stocks, liquid seasoning, which is also part of the criteria.

TESDA Director-General Secretary Joel J. Villanueva explained that the program promotes the talents of TESDA cookery graduates, while helping develop nutritious recipes for students. “It is important that we not only provide nutritious meals to help our students Go, Grow, and Glow but also to give them the opportunity to be transformed—to transform their community, and even transform our beloved country,” he said.

Gulayan Cook-off winner Helen L. De Guzman of STI Computer College of Parañaque, Inc., coached by Rosela P. Ongkeko, garnered the most votes from the students for her “Kalalunggay Tart” recipe, with kalabasa and malunggay as the main ingredients. Their recipe will be verified by TESDA for nutritional benefits and may be included in the menu of public school canteens as snacks.

The two secretaries, pleased with the outcome of the launch, eyed a nationwide event for the coming months. “Because of the success of this pilot program, we plan to go around the country, one region per month come 2015,” said Luistro. He also shared that both DepEd and TESDA will “collect the recipes of the food made and post them on the website so that parents and teachers may be encouraged to eat more nutritious meals.”

Bro. Armin hopes for this kind of events to inspire parents, teachers and specially school canteens to make sparing use of the vegetables being planted in the specific schools' Gulayan.  Thus, urging the participants to continue supporting the Gulayan sa Paaralan Program by DepEd.

As part of the directive by the President through Executive Order No. 26 entitled the Implementation of the National Greening Program, the Gulayan sa Paaralan Program was formed as a task force for all public schools to “establish vegetable gardens to serve as food basket and a main source of commodities to sustain supplementary feeding."

When Fine Dining Spells Fun at Il Ponticello

Salcedo Village, still sounds like a residential community, but have been known as one of the bustling cities thronged with businesses of all sorts.  Looking back, from years, years  ago, it is where I started of as an insurance professional with Allstate.  Then, there were a few restaurants where we can have meals or business meetings and most of the times, we would end up driving or hitching a cab to Glorietta or Greenbelt to get business deals going.  But most of those times spent eating where made along the streets where Jollijeeps are parked catering to employees of Ayala.

Now a counterpart of Legazpi Village in the foodie scene, Salcedo Village hosts to one of Manila's to-go to restaurants.  If you think non-Makati workers won't be able to appreciate even the streets of Valero and Rufino, you might want to read on.  

I never knew I would have such a wonderful time dining with my "bunso" (youngest daughter) at a business place such as Antel 2000 along Valero St.  It was the first time I brought a kid with me at such a place.  Bonding moments with my girls came with mall tours or bazaar-shopping, then some delightful meals, of course in the malls, except on occasions where we would go to restaurants not in the mall.

You might not believe I brought my daughter to Il Ponticello.  Many moms may think twice but I didn't and I never felt so glad.  They did had the reputation of a good-hang out place after a day's hardwork.  Bet you didn't know it has been acquired and have been re-branded by a different owner just last October.  With these, exciting promos and dining packages are in place making it not just a place for Makati people but for families as well.
The place looks typical of some Italian homes I've been to in Milan, sophisticated with a rustic touch.
Don't be intimidated by it's hidden venue, the people at the lobby of Antel 2000 are so accommodating, so just go ahead and ask how go to Il Ponti.  We took the stairs and my daughter had been bugging me why we were there, not after entering the doors of Il Ponti, she finally had the idea, then she asked, "Is this were we are having brunch mom, it's so posh here?!"

Termed as Ponti by many, they have launched the weekend brunch offering-Brunchissimo [The Tuscan Brunch] last December 6, coinciding with another promo, Ponti’s specia, the Pizza Santino: Create Your Own Pizza for Kids.

Lovey table setting, I was also served with Prosecco, fizzy white wine
 Like any proud mom, I'm eager to show how my baby did with her pizza creation.  While I was asked about my choice of brunch, another wait-staff helped out my Danica with her DIY pizza tray.  You'll feel well-accommodated as your kids make their pizza on their table.  A wooden tray carrying four of your kids' choiced toppings, pomodor and bechamel sauces and a 7 inch home-made pizza dough.

For Php 250, your kids can get to design and play with the toppings.  For now, like the Brunchissimo, it is only offered during Saturdays.  

A waitstaff will be near to help out, however, since my daughter seemed to know her ways well with pizzas, coz we usually make some at home, he just looked on and waited for her to finish.  The toppings on her tray btw, are mushrooms, ham, pancetta, mozzarella and parmesan.

As her final topping, she laddled the bechamel sauce over the pizza.  Can you recognize the letter? According to her, it's M for mommy.

Then, the staff accompanied her to the kitchen and brought her pizza to be baked.  

Then, that tadah! moment when the cooked pizza was served to her.  Oh my, look how excited she was, not minding how piping hot the pizza was. 

The pizza was too big for her so she gave me a slice, and boy, that was one heck of a truly delightful Italian pizza, and my bunso made it all by her self (clap, clap).  Not only did she enjoy the experience of making her own pizza but with the ingredients being of good quality, she loved every bits and pieces of it, literally.

The Tuscan Brunch Set on one hand, begins with a serving of slices of foccaccia and a bowl of a creamy dip.

You can either choose to have just the brunch special (Php 390 ala carte) or go really big time (enough for you to have an excuse to skip lunch) with the Tuscan Brunch Feast (Php 1250).

The brunch specials:

  • The Truffled Cheese and Mushroom Frittata boasts cream baked eggs and sautéed mushrooms flavored with Provolone and truffle oil.
  • Italian Style Eggs Benedetto turns a brunch favorite Italian with Mortadella Bologna topped with Choron, a special tomato béarnaise sauce.
  • For meat lovers, order the Tuscan Polpetone with Mortadella Bologna, Italian Meatloaf and Rosti Potatoes.
  • Lasagna Carbonara. Perfectly al dente lasagna sheets are sandwiched between gooey layers of mozzarella cream, topped with grated Grana Padano and salty strips of pancetta.
  • Porchetta Alla Romana. The epitome of a slow roasted pork belly, flavored with fennel and garlic, surrounded by a buttery layer of fat and crisp outer layer whose crackle haunts the hungry imaginations of those who’ve tried it.
Porchetta Alla Romana
Tuscan Brunch Feast is also served with unlimited slices of Pancetta Arrotolata.  To-die-for kind of Italian bacon, cooked the way you want it.  This is something one needed to have control to, unlimited of this is literally to die for. 

Not that I'm scaring you, but it's utterly tempting, you won't be able to resist more than just one serving.  I had to restrain myself, cause my daughter and I had  a lot! Like everything in the menu, this is homemade dry-cured pork belly, cured for nine days and it wasn't salty nor sweetened, it's seasoned fairly to everyone's liking.

My choice of main, Lasagna Carbonara, or more like my daughter's.  

One of the best-seller here, the Lasagna Carbonara.  For such a simple dish with just four ingredients, pasta alla carbonara varies impressively from cook to cook, plate to plate.  I thought this would not impress the little one, using lasagna, it however put lasagna to the next level.  According to Chef Pankie, Ponti's executive chef, everything is made from scratch including the pasta.  That's another reason why will surely love this dish, just the way we did.

How can a meal be a feast without desserts.  You'll be more than happy when I tell you the the brunch feast includes three dolci (dessert) of your choice.  I had Caramello di Semolina, Cheesecake Caramel Panna Cotta and Decadent Chocolate Cake.

Not only that I had a wonderful day brunching with my bunso, it also was a good time catching up with Joy M. of Occasions of Joy.

Il Ponticello

Address: 2/F Antel Corporate Center,
               121 Valero Street, Salcedo Village,
               Makati City
Contact details: 02 5539971, 9949512
                          63 9497608731


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Gift Ideas for your Foodie Friends and Loved Ones

Photo inspiration from

Maybe you have wrapped all your gifts or maybe, like me you haven't bought any gifts yet for your friends and loved ones.  If gift-giving have been an eensy-weensy hard for you, specially finding items to the people who basically have it all, have not, here are some budget-friendly and awesome gift ideas to give this 2014 Christmas.

1.  For the Tea-lovers

(1) 8 oz Teapot, (4) 3 oz Tea Cups

2.  For the beauty-conscious

EOS Organic Lip Balm Smooth Spheres

These fun, dome shaped lip balms are 95% organic, 100% natural, and paraben and petrolatum free. Packed with antioxidant-rich vitamin E, soothing shea butter and jojoba oil, EOS keeps lips moist and soft for hours on end.  Celebrity men and women use them.

The Smooth Sphere comes in six craveable flavors: summer fruit, lemon drop, strawberry sorbet, honeysuckle honeydew, tangerine and sweet mint. The lemon drop version comes with an added bonus of SPF 15, while tangerine provides medicated balm for extra dryness relief.

The EOS Lip Balm Smooth Sphere is available at most major drugstores for $3.29 or at the EOS
(Evolution of Smooth) website.

3.  For the foodies and young-at-heart

Williams-Sonoma Sandwich Cutters: Garden Set

Williams-Sonoma Sandwich Cutters: Transportation Set

4. For the bakers

Nordic ware mini bundt pan
Nordic Ware Garland Bundt pan
Bake up six perfectly sculpted little cakes with this cleverly designed pan; just pour in your favorite batter and bake. Your elegant homemade dessert needs only a touch of decoration; top it with a simple glaze or a sprinkling of confectioners’ sugar.
Durable cast-aluminum construction ensures perfectly even baking.
Premium nonstick finish means your cakes will come out of the pan easily—and cleanup is a breeze.
Made by Nordic Ware, a family-owned company famous for fine bakeware since 1946.
Makes 6 individual-size cakes, two each of shape.
Recipe included.
10-cup cap.
Made in USA.

Order Williams-Sonoma products here.

5. For the Organized Foodie

Whether you fill these Mason Jars with your favorite beverage or use them to adorn your wedding table, they will be the focal point of your event. Our 16 oz pressed glass mason jars come in Translucent Rainbow colors including: pink, purple, blue, green, yellow, and hot pink. Hand wash only to preserve the colors. Approved for drinking. Make sure to include a straw

Set of Six 5 1/2"H X 2 1/4"
To buy click here

6.  For the business-minded, busy and OC foodies (Also for travelers and backpackers)

The travel journal is composed of a reusable jacket that utilizes hand-woven fabric from Cebu-based social enterprise ANTHILL Fabric Gallery and an insert filled with full color illustrations. Customers will enjoy content and discounts from startups Trail Adventours, Culture Shock PH, Route +63, FlipTrip, Kawil Tours, Gouache, Bambike, ANTHILL Fabric Gallery, Risque Designs, Nipa Foods, Habi Footwear, Gugu, 22 Tango Records, Gawad Kalinga – Enchanted Farm, Friggies, Olivia and Diego.

You can get it at any Bo's Coffee shop for Php 1000

7.  For those who loves to smell like food


If you want an amazing fruity perfume, give a try to this juicy fragrance! Not only is it packed with refreshing and crisp scents, but it's got American apple, cucumber, tuberose, white muguet, rose, grapefruit, tender skin accord and some white amber. It's a free-spirited, unique smell that is ideal for any beach bum girl!

The Cream Factory's products contain real goat's milk which is great for the skin. They also use a lot of healing ingredients like Witch Hazel, Jojoba, Honey, Seaweed, Chocolate, Sea salt, Avocado and Cinammon.

8.  For Cath Kidson and floral print lovers

Make-up Organizer

Travelers cup

Eye glass keeper

Kiddie baker
More Cath Kidson items here.

9. For the Green-thumbed Foodies

Live mini Christmas pine tree

Potted Organic Kale

Potted Organic Arugula

These are easy to manage plants which you can grow anywhere, even inside your house, as long as it's near a window light.  Homegrown Organics have tons of different edible plants for sale.
Catch Homegrown Organics at Greenfield Weekend Market every Saturdays at 4 pm onwards
You can text here to order: 0920-57-707

10. Food, of course

These unusually delish cheesecakes are my favorites from My Pink Wasabi.

Inquire here for these.