Monday, October 31, 2011

Feasting in Iloilo

(Oct. 19-23, 2011)

I am a regular visitor in Iloilo because of my work assignment. Sometimes i'd merely let the time pass while i do my business and leave. Sometimes I would do something special like that one time i went church-hopping. This time though i went restaurant hopping, dear, food in Iloilo is always good especially if you check out the best places.

Home as always is at Century 21 Hotel along Quezon St. It's a short walk from SM Delgado and St. Paul's Hospital and public jeepneys ply the nearby streets and taxis are always around making it reall accessible. Best of all, they had a promo that time offering a much affordable price of 750 per night!


But going back to the main agenda, foodies, our first stop was at Bauhinia in Smallville.

I've heard about Bauhinia from this blog. I've seen this restaurant in Smallville but I have never tried it before till i read about its rather tasty reviews. They serve Filipino/Spanish food but in stylish platings and presentations. For starters, we ordered the fish kinilaw (ceviche) with side salad and a few slices of what looked like salted smoked salmon. The salmon was pretty salty complimenting the sour-sweetish taste of the kinilaw, yum! It was artistically served in shot glasses.

For soup, we had the pink salmon in sour broth (sinigang). The salmon was pan fried and the broth was served to us just right before eating leaving the fish still a bit crispy and not all too soaked by the soup. Very interesting indeed.

We also tried the pork roulade, it was deep fried making it really crispy like lechon kawali. And i like it that there's the right combo of crunchy skin, a bit of succulent fat and well marbled meat.

The star of the table though was the shrimp slathered with what seemed like crab fat with coconut milk, sinfully creamy and delectable!

Everything was a winner and i so love their fancy presentations without sacrificing the taste a bit. It was quite a memorable experience I would definitely love to go back there once I am in the area.

The following day we were brought to Breakthrough for lunch. Breakthrough has to be the fastest growing seafood restaurant in the area. The first time i was there they only have a few tables, when I got back however they have already extended their property up to several more long tables accommodating more groups and families who are the usual diners.

We feasted on their native lechon manok, sizzling crabmeat, crispy crablets among other seafood fares. Namit guid! Breakthrough is located in Villa Beach and is accessible via taxi or jeeps to Villa.

I met up with a college friend who is now based in Iloilo and she brought us to this place which is known for serving what they proclaim as the "best baked talaba in town!"

Allan's Talabahan is in Oton, the place looks simple and very unassuming but indeed, the baked talaba with powdered cheese is amazing!

I was going to post about Esca, a garden restaurant located is some subdivision there but I was underwhelmed with the place. Or maybe i expected going to a nicely landscaped and decorated place but instead a saw a quite shabby place with stacked up monobloc chairs. I learned that they just wrapped up an event thus the disarray. And there's supposedly buffet lunches and dinners during weekends and we went there on a wrong timing, oh well, next time perhaps.

And it is always nice to cap a great meal with a variety of desserts like the one offered in Nothing But Desserts in Smallville. This could be any sweet tooth's heaven on earth, pastries, cakes and gelatos of different varieties, and they have flavored coffees for your caffeine fix too. ;)

Anyway, I'm leaving you here with a photo of this bunch of kids i chanced upon outside Molo Church, i asked one of them to take my photo and they gladly posed for me in return. I'm tagging this to one of them via facebook. 

Viva, Iloilo! I shall be back!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Discovering Daraitan

Mang Mario said his hometown in Daraitan, Rizal is just about 2 hours from Antipolo, Rizal.  He initially wanted us to meet near the Antipolo Church at 6AM and we could all just go to Daraitan together. But it was a Sunday and I'd still be coming from Katipunan and my colleague is from Montalban so 6AM was just too early, eek!

So we met at Starbucks in Antipolo though i had my breakfast meal of longganisa at McDonalds, yey! From Antipolo we hailed a tricycle to take us to the sakayan ng jeep to Gate 2 in Cogeo. We got on the jeep and the ride of our life was about to start. And apparently that ride took us two hours! But it was a smooth ride and the scenery was just breath-taking. 

I spotted a few cyclists and bikers, the air was cold and fresh. It's my first time there and as time passed and we went farther I felt like Baguio was just within reach, lol.

After about two hours we finally reached Sampaloc in Tanay, Rizal. The town of Daraitan is still much farther ahead and we could opt to get on another jeep which happens to be alas-puno. Or we could ride a habal-habal which accomodates only two persons per bike (in Mindanao, habal-habals could accommodate 6 persons per ride hehe), or we could ride on a tricycle which i felt was much, much safer. I have once met an accident somewhere in the mountains of Leyte aboard a habal-habal, nah, I'd get on a different mode of transportation if I could help it. At last we were able to negotiate with a tricycle driver who gave us a good enough deal. We first dropped by a gas station for him to fill-up, and a vulcanizing shop for his tires to be checked. Looked like we were in for another adventurous ride, eh!

Mang Mario said the tricycle ride could take about twenty minutes, the driver said it would take us an hour, naku!

It was a good thing that it did not rain. The road towards Daraitan was pretty rough it made me feel like we were actually traversing on a dry riverbed. I realized why the driver said it was gonna take us an hour, he had to inch slowly on the road I felt like we were almost tiptoeing on rocks and soil.

After almost an hour, a few photos and video shots, and a lot of murmured prayers we finally, finally reached Daraitan.

And what a sight indeed! There was a cool blue-green pool, okay it was a river. A few people were frolicking in it I felt like i wanted to dive in as well. It was hot and the waters seem cool and very inviting.

Ahh, but we had work to do and and we need to get across the river.

After about a couple of minutes, we saw ourselves setting foot on Daraitan soil. And what actually greeted us was a well-kept community with paved roads, a church, a barangay hall and a multi-purpose hall where people in the community could gather and even spend time for recreation.

I tried googling more about the area and found out that it is actually trekking destination and I saw more inviting photos about the place. Too bad we were there to work.

After quick interviews and taking a few video shots of the area and the people we had to head back home. Because home was still several miles away...

Mang Mario invited us to go back hopefully in summertime so we could go around more and finally get to dip in their cool blue rivers, nice thought, nice thought indeed. Kahit malayo, salamat talaga, Mang Mario! :)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Baguio in a Heartbeat

Went up to Baguio for a work assignment, the initial plan was to make it a Baguio-Banaue trip but the rest of Ifugao was still in a state of calamity after the recent typhoons that most roads were still impassable. 

For some quick description, my job is to look for individuals, groups, families in the different parts of the country who exhibit heroic qualities. This is mainly the reason why I've been to most provinces in the country and even around Asia Pacific. We get to meet and interview these good people scattered within our reach, yey!

Travel by bus took almost 7 hours since most areas were still flooded that some detours were implemented. Good thing that there is now wi-fi on the bus at Victory Liner, yes and it's free. I just hope that they install power outlets next time in case we need to charge our batteries. ;)

It was already cold when we finally arrived in Baguio at about 5pm. We checked in at Benguet Pine Tourist Inn which is conveniently located near the Orchidarium at Burnham Park. I like this place, a room costs 850 pesos and already includes continental breakfast. There is hot water in the shower at a scheduled time. And i love it's proximity to the city center the most. Bayanihan, where there's so many cheap ukay outlets is just a stone's throw away. And there's a quick shortcut towards Burnham Park.

After some preliminary interviews of our subjects, we brought them to Botanical Gardens to continue with our shoot. It's really for a more Baguio feel of our videos, and we get to go around as well hehe.

After our shoot, we went to the Philippine Military Academy. This is actually my first time there even if I've been to Baguio so many times already. It was nearing noon time and it was really hot and sunny. It's like Baguio in summer when it could feel as warm as Manila, yikes.

But I enjoyed touring the place and taking photos. A cadet was even game enough have a photo taken with us. And it was more than enough to cap my first PMA visit. ;)

Our second day was spent wrapping up our shoot and interviews, and we went to this place where we can see rows and rows of houses atop the hills around the city. I remember way back, there used to be trees in lieu of these houses, what happened???

I always say that Baguio is no longer that cool, refreshing place that i once knew. There's just so many people and cars everywhere that one has to carefully look for a spot to enjoy nature and one's solitude. And we can never go wrong with Burnham Park.

I always love it here, the flowers and plants are always very calming like some nice balm soothing our souls now weary of urban distractions. And i enjoy the play of lights and colors in the water as the sun sets and the air becomes too biting. And the lovers, yes, it's nice spying and eyeing on lovers taking their own sweet time and oblivious to the world around them, noh? hehe

After sitting and walking around Burnham, i went to Session Road, ahh the happiest street in the world for me. That is of course before I've experienced the night markets of Hongkong, the crowded lanes in Shibuya and Shinjuku  and the forever busy streets of Times  Square in New York. But Baguio's Session Road remains to be the coolest, busiest, happiest street for me in the country. :)

It is so easy to get lost in the crowd here and i find it more exciting when there are hawkers everywhere peddling those pirated goods which makes you feel like you are committing a crime even at just by looking at their wares hehe...

I walked around the streets enjoying the sights and sounds, relishing the cool weather and saying a little prayer of good bye. It was a short visit and I was gonna leave again that night, back to the chaotic, temperate air of Manila.

The quick trip have been a bit meaningful and other than the sights that I enjoyed, I have also savored some awesome dishes in my short food trips, uhm, I should write about it too. :)

Benguet Pine Tourist Inn 
Chanum Street
Tel. No. (074) 442-7325

Friday, October 14, 2011

OMG, Chicken Charlie!

I first tried Chicken Charlie via a take out order of drumsticks and wings in soy garlic sauce which i shared with my office mates. We all enjoyed it and even deemed it better than Bon Chon's. I went back a second time this time for a dine-in experience. I always believe that new establishments should be given at least a second try before judging its quality. And it is almost always best to try the food at once while it's still piping hot and freshly served.

Chicken Charlie is the third new chicken place here in Katipunan that opened fairly recently next to BonChon and Manang's Chicken. I've long heard about this being the better but more expensive one and i was actually expecting for a more posh store interiors. But being in its soft opening just yet I am quite okay with their  simple yet tasteful design fit mostly for kids.

They say it's best to pair the chicken with their Bundaberg so i tried it. Uhm, nothing special really except for its novelty. Though it reminds me of the gourmet soda, Boylan which i loved much in New York. But at 90 pesos i find it pretty expensive. It tastes more like your regular root beer. I'll definitely have local sodas next time. 

The yam fries are good, sweet and crispy. And are they supposed to be healthier than the potato fries? I don't know and I didn't care anymore as i went on munching while i waited for my chicken. 

My only problem with Chicken Charlie is that they don't serve two-piece drumsticks. The minimum order is 4 pieces drumstick which is too much for me. They do serve 4-piece chicken wings for 99 pesos but I'm not much of a fan of chicken wings. Well, i ordered it anyway. 

Dum-du-bi-dum while waiting for my 4 piece chicken wings in sweet and spicy sauce...

I waited and thought that it's okay, Bon Chon is more accessible anyway and their 2-piece drumstick costs merely 145 pesos and I would already be happy with that.

And then came my order....

Oh wow! it was hot and steaming, and crispy,  and was spicy alright but not too spicy that it could drown all the other flavors. It was really good, i forgot all i thoughts about BonChon and them not serving 2-piece drumsticks. OMG, this is Chicken Charlie, the best fried chicken indeed! 

i heard about people separating the crispy skin from the flesh, meticulously picking them off the bones and setting them aside, carefully biting onto the chicken part chewing them well and picking unto the pile of chicken skin set aside and slowly biting and relishing the crunch, the crisp, the flavors, wow!

before i knew it everything was gone and i was slowly licking my fingers off with leftover sauces and savoring each taste. the battle is over, lol.

Addicting indeed! :p

Chicken Charlie in Katipunan is located at the second floor of the Oracle Building along Katipunan Ave. They also have branches in Banawe, San Juan, Malate and in Paranaque. I'm just really happy they added Katipunan in their list. ;)

Sunday, October 09, 2011

The 4-peat Bonfire!

I was going to wear my Ateneo shirt for the day but I had to go to La Salle Greenhills for work/interviews so I decided against it. It kinda felt different being in La Salle grounds but well, that's another story hehe...

I rushed off towards the Ateneo just before 5pm hoping to be there for the Thanksgiving Mass at the Gesu but traffic was really bad from Greenhills to Katipunan starting at the C5 flyover. I alighted at the Gate 2 overpass and walked/ran towards the Gesu. And thankfully, I managed to get there at least before the Eucharist celebration, yay!

There's something so serene, almost magical with Jesuit songs and prayers it's almost making me heady. I dunno, maybe it's the feeling of peacefulness, of familiarity, of home.

After the mass we all walked towards the grade school parking lot for the bonfire celebration. There was the usual throng of people mostly in blue. There were families and moms and dads and even lolos and lolas and kids running around. It was a truly festive celebration. There were people who brought food and some even had catered meals aside from the various food stalls offering different sorts of foodies and even t-shirts and souvenir items.

And it was such a delight being greeted by the hosts a warm "welcome to the annual bonfire celebration!" LOL!

And yes, even if it drizzled a bit we didn't have to trod on muddy soil anymore just like what we experienced during the very first bonfire celebration in the putikan back in 2008.

I wasn't able to queue up this time for autographs since they scheduled the autograph signing earlier that day but hey, look who's got the longest queue of them all!

Happy Lemon milk tea was a sure hit to the Atenistas, I am pretty hoping that Chris Tiu will put up a stall somewhere here as well, yey!

I didn't wait for the actual lighting of the bonfire anymore since I was already tired and I still have an early trip the following day. And the rain started falling heavily I don't how things went anymore. Although i heard the concert went on till almost midnight and there was even a  fireworks display that I could hear from my place. Well anyway, there is always next year, 5-PEAT naman?!!!!

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Katipunan is Milk Tea Heaven!

Yes, yes ooh yes!

So after that first time when i had my first taste of milk tea i started looking around my own neighborhood for my cravings, and boy was i never disappointed! Apparently Katipunan is home to several milk tea shops, there's just too many of them that I lost count already. Here's what I've tried so far...


tea.logy, i heard started out in Mercato and has another branch at Il Terrazo in Tomas Morato. I barely noticed this tiny shop when i pass by katipunan since it is located way inside Xanland just beside the Sun Shop. It was then filled with students hanging out and enjoying their pica-pica which they also serve other than the usual varieties of milk tea. I somehow managed to plop myself in some cozy sofa in a corner while deciding what typ of tea to drink this time. This is my usual problem with varieties, choosing what might be the best tasting ones could be hard to do. I somehow played it safe and chose their Honey Cinnamon Milk Tea with grass jelly and 50% sugar. As I've said it tasted safe and sweet and creamy enough. And i love their really cozy interiors i could stay there a long time and read a book or magazines. 

Cha dao

The first tea i ordered at Cha Dao was their Kopiko variant since i found it totally intriguing. "Kopiko" is really just red tea, brown sugar and milk. I am a fan of the Kopiko coffee and brown sugar for drinks so this is a hit for me. I like it too that I could also customize its level of sweetness and as to whether i'd want it on the rocks or shaken with ice. I have also tried their wintermelon and their assam. I could always go back there and try out their other varieties especially with that popping bobba sinker, interesting eh!

Cha Dao is located at the MQI Building along Rosa Alvero St. just beside Fruit Magic. 

The Tea Shop
The Tea Shop is located at the second floor of that building beside Bo's Coffee. The place is actually a cozy hang out place for students as it shares the floor with I Heart Froyo and Wich Craft, a place which i thought sells different kinds of sandwiches only to find out that they only have schubligs and frankfurters, but that's another story altogether.

I tried their Muscovado milk and yes, it's good. They have other interesting variants as Chocnut Milk Tea and even their own version of Happy Lemon's rock salt and cheese.

Aside from milk teas and their schubligs you may also want to try out their potato chips and fries to go with your drink.


I heard that Moonleaf's first store is at Maginhawa and I'm just glad that they were kind enough to open shop here in my area. It's just a small stall right in front of Crave Burger which is also but a short walk from Cha dao. Before I learned to appreciate milk tea I have already noticed the long queues they would always have making me think that their drink must really be good. My first order was their wintermelon and i liked it since it is light and fruity. and for just 70 bucks you can already get a tall cup with your choice of sinkers.  

And just recently they opened their second branch already. It's located just beside the Bat Cave along Dela Rosa St. (behind KFC).

My other favorites in the store is their Caramel milk tea and the Hakka milk tea. I heard their pearls are really good with its chewy, tasty flavor. Curiously though I am not a fan of pearls so my choice of sinkers is just the pudding and the nata or the grass jelly.

Tea Ninja

Tea Ninja is another new kid on the block, I think. This one's located along Xavierville Avenue inside the Quickbites convenience store. Their bestsellers they say are the Yasashii, Cocoa and the Pandas, whatever they are. I only tried their taro milk which is my usual order when I'm craving for something really creamy. They gave me a loyalty card so I am seeing myself going back every now and then and try out their other varieties.

Saint's Alp

Saint's Alp has to be the most upscale of them all. This store is actually a franchise from New York and Hongkong. They also serve meals and snacks aside from their teas. As usual, i ordered their regular sized taro milk this time with black pearls. I love that it is taro rich and creamy yet you could actually taste the brewed tea leaves, very good indeed. But it has to be since a small sized drink cost me more than a hundred bucks already eek!

Saint's Alp is located at the second floor of the new Regis Center just across gate 3.5. And oh, they also serve good kaya toasts. ;)

Aah, I'm really just waiting for this new guy to open. I haven't really tried their drinks but the hype is just killing me I can't wait to try it for myself. Serenitea is set to open soon at the Oracle Building just beside the newly opened Chicken Charlie. 

Meanwhile, there's a lot of tea places to choose from anyway so I sure know I won't ever go milk tea thirsty in my side of the metro, teehee!

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

My First Milk Tea

I know it may sound cheesy talking about my first time but yeah, here it goes hihi.

My first milk tea experience this year was when we chanced by Chatime in Pioneer on the way to the Ace Water Spa in Pasig. Un/fortunately, our tricycle driver was restricted to pass by the main road where Ace is so he dropped us at this arcade in Pioneer and told us Ace is just across the street. It was beginning to rain and we wanted to protest vehemently but lo and behold, there's a Chatime store in the area! So we skipped happily to the store after paying the driver and even thanked him profusely hehehe...

After finally deciding on which drink to choose (boy there's just too many varieties to choose from and you can still personalize it!) we were given this UFO-like thing. It sounded so strange yet valuable that we held on to it like some precious toy.

Chatime is said to be founded in Taiwan and already has branches in the different parts of the world. It pretty much excites me that they now have placed our country in their milk tea map, ayt! 

Oh lookie, may UFO-thingie finally lit up, it's time to claim my drink!

I got their taro milk with pudding, because I have always loved taro and since it's a first i preferred trying out a safer variant for me. And hey, i loooved it! It's sweet and milky and really creamy! My friend said it almost tasted like coconut milk, teehee. I tried her roasted milk tea, supposedly their bestseller and i didn't quite like it. I was just happy with my drink and I'll surely dream about it every now and then since we don't have a branch yet here in Katipunan.

Chatime has branches in  Robinson's Galeria Supermarket, the bridgeway at the Landmark Mall in Makati, One Archer's Place in taft and SM Mall of Asia.

So how was your first,? And have you had your milk tea fix lately? :)

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Burger cravings on a stormy day...

 Once you've tasted manna from heaven, why bother with bread from the baker. - (Quickmelt)

I've been craving for a mean burger for the past couple days now but since it has been rainy even stormy and I am currently down with flu i just can't get out of the house. McDonald's delivery service at 24/7 comes to mind but i don't like their burgers anymore. Especially now that i have tried this much more desirable and delectable burgers from Boulevard Diner here in Xavierville.

It is really just a tiny space with a modern minimalist look. It is cozy and pretty cool to hang out in with your friends. And since i always dine in solo i don't mind plopping myself in a corner and enjoy my burger.

Just me and my burger.

My first visit there was a couple of weeks back and the taste of the burger i had there is making me sleepless, listless. This is the Gorgonzola burger, it has a 1/3 lb. beef patty, lettuce, tomato, white cheese, sauteed oyster mushrooms topped with their special Gorgonzola sauce in a poppy seed bun, phew! I had it sliced into two knowing fully well that i could not consume a whole burger in one sitting.

The beef is truly juicy, the veggies fresh and crisp and the Gorgonzola sauce that could sloppily slide off your chin is just too good to let slip off. Ahh, i just can't stop dreaming about it now!

They have other interesting burger creations that are worth trying like the Crazy Cajun, Larry Lanai, etc..

And you may want to challenge and rate yourself with the spice level of their wingerangs aka buffalo chicken wings. ;)

Boulevard Diner is located at 91 Xavierville Avenue, Loyola Heights, QC. And their front door sign says they could deliver around Katipunan area if you call them at 504-5634, hmmm maybe i could just try that. ;)

EDIT: They deliver for a minimum of 500-peso order, oh well...:)