Thursday, January 28, 2016

Chocolate review: Lindt Swiss Dark Chocolate

We have always enjoyed Lindt chocolates and among those we call our favorites is their dark chocolate. I think I somewhat featured this before but with other Lindt chocolates in their miniature forms. I thought perhaps that this chocolate deserved to have its own feature.

Lindt Swiss Dark Chocolate
Detailed information on the chocolate is at the back and the packaging shows that this chocolate is sold in Japan where there is a large market for chocolates.
This dark chocolate claims 49% cocoa solids.

Lindt Swiss Dark Chocolate is somewhat smooth and somewhat bitter. I think it is a good dark chocolate among the more commonly available ones (i.e., those generally available in supermarkets and stores). It is Swiss and from a well-known brand. I will have to check though how much this bar cost in retail from a typical supermarket. This one was given as a pasalubong from a friend's recent trip.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

North Wing, Maginhawa Street

Coming from a wake, a friend and I decided to have dinner out before we went home. This was less about the belief about pagpag and more about us hungry for a good meal. We thought we could go to one of our favorites at UP Village but it turned out to be full of people. So we ended up looking for another restaurant to eat at and ended up at an new and relatively inconspicuous restaurant. 

North Wing is part of a food court set-up where there is another stand selling drinks. Customers have good enough choices from their menu but these may not be available when you come in late (we came in around 9PM). We had to settle for dishes we were familiar with. I ordered Pesto and my friend had Pomodoro.

The menu is written on a chalkboard
Pesto and chicken
Our food was okay. Our pastas were not as good as the Italiannis or Amicis but I guess they're definitely better than canteen or cafeteria fare on campus. The prices were also friendly to the budget so students can enjoy a meal here more regularly than in other places in UP Village.


Sunday, January 24, 2016

Happy birthday Ally!

Our daughter celebrated her 2nd birthday yesterday. We decided to have a big celebration and invited close relatives and friends to the party. They, of course, came with their kids (of all ages). We had a blast and the venue, "Mom & Tina's" along C5, was just perfect for children and adults. Here are a couple of photos before the party before our guests arrived.

Dessert buffet - it was actually the adults who were excited about the dessert
Setting up before the party
We had heavy merienda for the guests but everyone, especially the adults, were excited about the dessert buffet. Mom & Tina's is famous for their desserts especially their tortes. I think I've written about the Dark Toblerone Torte and Mango Torte before. These are delightful treats to young and old alike. 

This Mom & Tina's also was a bit sentimental for us as we used to have quite regular dinners here. That was years ago when I fetched the wife late afternoons or evenings from her office at Bonifacio Global City. She didn't know how to drive then and traffic was not so bad along our route. Yet, there were times when traffic was bad or she had to finish a bit later than our usual sunduan time so we ended up having dinner along the way. Of course, that was years before we had Ally. Nowadays, we are excited to rush home to our daughter!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Teppanyaki Brothers, SM Aura Food Court

One of the things I miss in our short (if 1.5 years can be called so) stint in Singapore is eating out at different restaurants. One restaurant we keep coming back to aside from Din Tai Fung is a Japanese teppanyaki restaurant at the top of the 313 Somerset mall along Orchard Road. The food is cooked in front of you and you have a choice of set meals including sea food, vegetables, beef and chicken. It had been a long time since we've had teppanyaki this way and decided to try out Teppanyaki Brothers at the food court at the cinema level of SM Aura at Bonifacio Global City.

Sea food - salmon, dory and shrimp - were cooked together with gyoza
Oil is added to the hot plate
Seasoning (looked like a mix of salt and pepper) is added to the salmon and dory
It was a fresh and welcome meal that led us to reminisce about lunch and dinner dates in Singapore. The food was okay and we were satisfied with the servings that we shared. We had to leave some space for the popcorn we planned to eat at the cinema (we watched Star Wars Episode 7 only last Friday).

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Cup noodle nostalgia

The Clairvoyant's uncle sent a balikbayan box from the US containing all kinds of goodies. These incuded clothes, toys and food. Among the food items were chocolates, cereals and coffee. What we didn't expect among the food were boxes of noodles. To those suddenly reacting to this as "unhealthy" I would say that everything is basically unhealthy if not eaten in moderation. You certainly don't eat these instant noodles in large quantities and for every meal. This and other variations of excesses are definitely unhealthy.

We got a box of Maruchan Instant Lunch noodles as part of our share of the balikbayan box contents.
Health issues aside, the noodles tasted good and brought back memories of eating hot cup noodles during winter in Japan.
We eat this once in while as a quick meal. What you can do to increase nutrition with these meals is to mix in some more vegetables as the noodles cook with the hot water. If you're not so picky, I can assure you it would be a satisfying enough meal.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Chocolate review: Witor's Fondente Dark Chocolate

I keep forgetting to publish this post on chocolate. It's been a while since the last one so it's only fitting to come up with my first for this year. I was browsing the supermarket shelf at Clark a few months last year when I spotted this chocolate. It was on an inconspicuous level at an inconspicuous shelf. I quickly picked up a few of the small bars of Witor's Fondente Dark Chocolate, which is made in Italy.

Waiter's dark chocolate in a 40g bar
Details about the chocolate and its maker are at the back
The information at the back states that the chocolate contains at least 50% cacao
I thought the chocolate was okay but closer to ordinary as far as dark chocolates go. I tried another one I had 'in stock' and my observation is still the same. Its probably good as instant gratification in as far as dark chocolates go but I would prefer other chocolates if given the choice. Still, it is quite inexpensive, too, at about 54 PHP per bar. The last time I checked, the supermarket in Clark was out of this chocolate.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Farewell to a mentor and friend - Prof. Alfredo B. Juinio, Jr.

We are deeply saddened by the passing of Prof. Alfredo B. Juinio, Jr., Freddie or Freddie Boy as his friends called him. I could never get used to calling him Freddie. By default, he was always a 'sir' to me. He was my teacher in three courses when I was a Civil Engineering student at the University of the Philippines Diliman. These were CE 151, CE 152 and CE 198. He was well-respected by us and we usually waited for him to arrive on his Toyota Corolla, looking on a the Melchor Hall driveway from the third floor. Our fond memories of him when we were students was a caricature of a professor with a cigarette on his hand and a bottle of Coca Cola on the other. The faculty room refrigerator always had a stock of Coke back in the day. And his desk was nearest the window where he had his own exhaust for his cigarette smoke.

Freddie's was the last class to give me a passing grade in my final semester at UP. I still recall approaching him to ask for a last chance to pass CE 152 as I was a borderline case after the final exam. He gave me that chance and I did my part to graduate in April 1993. After we graduated, he got married and later when I joined the faculty in 1995, he was one of the faculty members who warmly welcomed my addition to the then Department of Civil Engineering. I remember getting many tips from him and his batchmates in CE on how to go about in teaching and managing classes.

Freddie was very much part of the National Center for Transportation Studies to which I am affiliated. He was appointed as Officer-in-charge at a time when the NCTS was at a cross-roads. I became the center's Director after a period when he brought administrative stability to the NCTS. He was very instrumental in advising me and other faculty members affiliated with the Center on how to manage the affairs of the center including pointers on fiscal management.

Freddie Juinio (seated, 2nd from right) with CE colleagues at a workshop in 2011
Freddie (first from left) last attended a CE affair in December 2014 during the Christmas Party
We have not seen Freddie since he took a leave in early 2015. He was diagnosed with cancer in January 2015. I thought that he would like to be remembered as we last saw him - healthy, smiling, full of life. Farewell Freddie! Rest in peace with our Creator. You will be missed and you will be remembered as a mentor and as a friend. Thank you for sharing yourself as a teacher and as a friend.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Sudden unintended acceleration?

The motoring community in the Philippines is in rather heated discussions regarding the Mitsubishi Montero's alleged defect that causes what has been termed as 'sudden unintended acceleration' or SUA. This term refers to the vehicle suddenly, and without the driver doing anything, rapidly accelerating, forward or backward, and hitting anything in its path. The proofs to these alleged incidences are supposed to have been documented by many including videos that have been uploaded to YouTube and even shared or used by mainstream media. The vehicle's manufacturer itself denies that there is a defect in the model(s) being cited for SUA. They have also released a new model of the vehicle in the market and most people not paranoid about SUA seem not to mind the buzz about the alleged defect. The new model, after all, is supposed to be free of that particular defect considering the manufacturer, despite its denials, should have been aware of the complaints and concerns.

Defect or none, I think what's more dangerous is not the 'sudden unintended acceleration' of vehicles. In fact, I am not aware of any fatalities attributed to this and all the videos I've seen alleging the defect happened in parking lots and driveways. These have caused only minor injuries and, surely, damage to properties. What is more dangerous and should be the concern by all is the intended acceleration leading to speeding (or over-speeding) that is so common in our roads regardless of whether these are expressways or city streets. Such behaviour are almost always intended and therefore the drivers are very much aware of their actions and in control of their vehicles. In control, that is, until they hit something or, worse, someone. Such irresponsible and often reckless behaviour plague our roads and one person's folly can be the doom of others as is usually the case in road crashes involving (over)speeding.


Monday, January 4, 2016

Do dogs go to heaven?

There have been some heated and also humorous discussions about whether dogs go to heaven. You can easily google this and you will get articles about Pope Francis saying something to the effect that Heaven's gates are open to all of God's creatures. There are also many images including cartoons and photos (many likely photo-shopped) of bulletins outside churches in what appears to be a heated exchange about dogs going to heaven with references to the bible and Christian doctrine. I saw this cartoon that I thought perfectly captures my sentiments about dogs going to heaven.

Today is the birthday of our Labrador Retriever Troy who would have been 12 years old (84 in dog years). Here's another photo of him in our room in our former home.

Troy at my bedside in our old home - he loved to sit beside the aircon before eventually lying down just beneath my side of the bed. We thought at times during hot summer nights that he was gesturing for us to turn on the airconditioning.
I certainly would believe that dogs go to Heaven and our Troy who passed away in 2014 would be very qualified. I imagine that he is already there and enjoying himself while also watching over us. 

Rest in peace Troy. You earned it and deserve to be happy forever.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Sunsets at year's end & greetings for the new year

Definitely not every ending is a sad one but not everyone gets the "happily ever after" that they wish for. Sunsets to me are always beautiful. While they seem to be farewells, the positive thing about them is that they also represent a promise. That is, a promise of a sunrise and a new beginning the following day. I start the year with a greeting - wishing everyone a prosperous and healthy 2016!

A Manila Bay sunset taken from the Sofitel Philippine Plaza hotel grounds last Dec. 29, 2015.
Minutes later, one is rewarded with a view of the evening sky with remnants of the light from the sun
Here's a toast to new beginnings, a fresh start as we welcome the new year!