Thursday, December 29, 2011

Noble rot

The Clairvoyant and I love sweet wines and there is always a bottle of a dessert wine in our home in Singapore either opened and currently being enjoyed or waiting to be opened even without an occasion to celebrate. While we have tasted wines together and individually in various venues, I think we fell in love with dessert wines after a good friend of my brother-in-law introduced us to Botrytis. He was hosting us one day in his Antipolo home and was relating about their family's vineyard in Australia. They have won many prizes for their wine but he was quick to point out one in particular that he said was quite difficult to produce because it required a certain species of grapes to develop an infection. The infection, termed the Noble Rot, is actually a fungus called Botrytis cinerea and one can read about it here. Our group consumed that bottle of Botrytis in one sitting and it was perfect with the cold cuts and cheese. Since that time, we tried to find Botrytis in Philippine stores but couldn't find a bottle of the Australian product.

It was in Singapore that we finally found a good supply of Botrytis, Botrytis Semillon to be exact. From what we found, two brands carry this sweet wine - De Bortoli and Wolf Blass, both originating from Australia. Below is the photo of a bottle of Noble One from De Bortoli that we usually buy at Changi Airport, where it is significantly cheaper than in Singaporean stores. We take advantage of our frequent trips between Manila and Singapore to get our bottles duty free. The other bottle is a dessert wine produced in Napa Valley, California in the USA. It is a late harvest wine that 

De Bortoli's Noble One and Castello di Amorosa's Late Harvest Gewurztraminer

Botrytis Semillon appears conspicuously in the Noble One label and this particular brand is fast selling in Singapore.

We actually have another bottle of the Noble Rot variety at our home in Singapore. After doing a little research, we found that the French produce the sweet wines under the name Sauternes. These are produced in the Bordeaux region of France, which is famous for its excellent wines. I discovered bottles of Sauternes at Changi while shopping for red wine as a gift to a friend back in Manila. It is supposed to be difficult to produce and thus tends to be more expensive. I decided to purchase a bottle upon my return to Singapore and it is still unopened a few months after.

Italianni's: Italian favorite

Italianni's is among our favorite restaurants in Manila. By its name, it obviously specializes on Italian food and from our quite regular patronage of the restaurant, we can say that one will not be disappointed. For one, they bake their own bread and serve these for starters, which you can enjoy dipping into a mix of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Their menu presents a good selection of starters, salads, pastas and pizzas, as well as drinks and desserts.

A grape shake each and freshly baked bread
Sicilian Chicken salad - this is just half of an order that the Clairvoyant and I  split
Fettuccine Tartufo e Prosciutto - again, half of an order that we split
Browsing the menu, one can opt to have either regular, lunch or abbondanza servings for certain dishes depending on how hungry you are. Also, it is highly recommended that one get the discount card of the Bistro Group of Restaurants, which is the mother company of Italianni's. The card avails one of a 20% discount every time the cardholder eats at restaurant of the group. These include Fish and Co., Flapjacks, TGI Friday's, and other relatively newer restos.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Exploring Universal Studios Hollywood

Another place on our "to-do" list was Universal Studios  Hollywood. The anticipation for this actually influenced our decision not to go to the version in Singapore despite Universal Singapore having certain attractions not found in the original Hollywood attraction. Following are some of the photos we took during our trip to Universal Studios Hollywood. 

Photo taken by Kuya Boy when after he dropped us off 

Another photo along the driveway and still with the fountain in the background

Western/cowboy themed restaurant near the Universal entrance

It was a good thing we brought our tripod so we could get photos even before  they opened the gates

Solo shot with the globe and the main entrance

Another solo shot

Red carpet moment c/o a kind fellow from India

Take two at the main entrance

These statues greeted us after entering through the main gate. The one on the right holding unto to camera crane was actually a person who moved when a child came closer to inspect.

Entrance to the King Kong 3D attraction

The way to the Studio Tour

Photo op with a popular family and the Spider Pig

The Simpsons Ride that replaced (updated) the old Back to the Future Ride

Marilyn Monroe reincarnated roaming around on a pink Cadillac
We found this set-up for a law office

And we just had to take this photo beside a law office set-up

I don't ride motorcycles unless my life probably depended on it. 
But with a Terminator behind us, what the heck!

Waterworld is a major attraction with the live action performances.

The performances featured Hollywood actors and stuntment.

They even had a plane crash land as part of the performance that wowed the crowd.

Aside from the pyrotechnics and other special effects, certain seats in the outdoor theater were  marked where the audience will surely have a wet experience prior to and during the performance.
Dora was there to help say farewell to visitors prior to closing time.

Monday, December 26, 2011

SF Choco: Cocoa Bella

A trip to San Francisco wouldn't be complete without experience, yes experiencing, its chocolates. Of course, there is the famous Ghirardelli, which deserves a separate post, and Tcho, and Scharffen Berger. Definitely one to try out is Cocoa Bella chocolates, which we enjoyed sampling while walking around the city. We also are thankful to our friends, the Camposes for sharing a box with us. We preserved this for Christmas when we opened the box after a few weeks of procrastination. The Clairvoyant had to go back to Singapore right after we returned to Manila and I made the promise not to open the box until she came home for Christmas and New Year.

A box of Cocoa Bella chocolates from the Camposes was the perfect dessert for dinner on Christmas Day
The box came with a guide to describe the selection as well as others offered by Cocoa Bella.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Gusto kong magpunta ng Disney

My first experience of Disneyland was in Tokyo in what was Tokyo Disneyland (now Tokyo Disney Resort). I went there back in 1998 with the family of a good friend. Still, I wanted to go to the original Disneyland in Anaheim, CA. It was the Clairvoyant who was first able to go there last 2005 with our cousins. Since then, we sort of plotted when we could go together. Finally, last November, we were able to go together and be kids again for a day. Following are a first batch of photos from our day in Disneyland.