Saturday, April 30, 2016

Chocolate review: Maestrani Swiss Organic 72% Cacao

I close April with yet another chocolate review. I came across Maestrani Swiss Organic 72% Cacao at Santi's at Paseo Sta. Rosa in Laguna. We passed by for a lunch stop on the way back home from an overnight in Tagaytay and I decided to check out Santi's branch there as I usually got some very good dark chocolates from that store branch. I was rewarded with a few new bars to try out as well as some good old reliables like Munz dark chocolate.

This Swiss chocolate claims to contain 72% cacao
More information on the chocolate at the back of the package
The chocolate is supposed to contain 72% cacao so we expected it to be more bitter than other chocolates we have tasted and enjoyed. This turned out to be one of the better ones as the bitterness mixed well with the sweet with a hint of what I thought was coffee. I thought this would be a good dessert after dinner that's to be enjoyed perhaps with some wine and a lot of fine conversation.
I was curious about the 'myclimate' logo. I learned that this indicated the chocolate was made of ingredients (cacao) that was produced under climate neutral conditions. There was also information stating that the cacao used for this chocolate bar was fair trade (logo also in the previous photo). Such info likely translates into an environment-friendly production and socially responsible farming to produce and harvest the cacao.

I got this chocolate at Santi's in Paseo Sta. Rosa, Laguna for about 250 pesos for the 80g bar. I only got one to try out and will be looking for this chocolate the next time I am at Santi's.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Chocolate review: Kirkland Dark Chocolate Covered Mangoes

This month has already seen me posting what seems to be a 'career-high' in monthly chocolate reviews. It's not because I don't have other material to write about but more like I have a lot of drafts on chocolates that have accumulated that I have to trim down. Still, these posts seem to be quite enjoyable and a nice distraction from the more serious stuff I write about in another blog and as well as typical work-related writing that I also do.

This feature is about chocolate covered mangoes that we got at an S&R store the last time we did some groceries there. That was months ago and we got curious about this pack, which cost something like about 800 pesos. We had intended to taste this and then, if it was good, the plan was to purchase a few more packs to bring abroad to share with friends missing Philippine mangoes and like chocolate (who doesn't like chocolate?).

Kirkland Dark Chocolate Covered Mangoes come in a 500g resealable bag
The packaging states that mangoes are from the Philippines and the chocolate used was responsibly sourced. I am not sure about where the cacao came from but the mangoes most likely came from Guimaras, which is a prime producer and exporter of mangoes abroad and particularly to the US and Canada.
Details about the chocolate covered mangoes are at the back of the package
A description of the mangoes and a definition of what they meant by 'responsibly sourced' chocolates
Nutrition facts and serving size
It doesn't say what % of cacao comprised the dark chocolate but based on the taste, I would say that it would be minimum 30% cacao.
Kirkland's dark chocolate covered mangoes is a winner! I think it is a delight and enjoyable mainly because of the mangoes they used. Tremendously biased as I may seem but it is my opinion that the taste of mangoes from the Philippines is how mangoes should taste like. Soon I will be writing about a more premium chocolate from a more popular and established brand that also used mangoes and I will explain there why that chocolate doesn't taste quite right.

Monday, April 25, 2016

On decisions towards the May 9 elections

The Clairvoyant and I have been talking about who we will vote for in the coming elections. For local posts, we decided we will just scan the relatively short list of candidates for the posts of mayor, vice mayor, councilors and congressman for our city. We changed our residence a little over a couple of years ago and decided to change where we voted. I used to vote in Cainta where I resided for a long time at my parents' home and the wife voted in Quezon City where she also lived with her parents. Even after we moved together and found residence elsewhere, we had retained our venues for voting as a matter of preference. That changed when we moved into our new home in 2014 and decided to register in our new barangay.

Electing officials for national positions is quite a different matter and so far we have only decided on our preference for the Vice Presidency. That will be Leni Robredo, the first term congresswoman from my father-in-law's hometown of Naga City. Meanwhile, we have also started to finalize our list for 12 slots for Senator. Among those we are certain to vote for would be people we actually know and that includes reelectionist Senator Ralph Recto, whom the wife worked for when he was still a congressman at the House of Representatives. There is also former Sen. Kiko Pangilinan who is a friend of my brother-in-law from his college days. Though it may seem that we are voting for these people simply because we know them personally, I would rather that they be elected due to their good, hard work being lawmakers. Granted that they have been involved in some controversial issues (Recto, for example, for VAT) but these were necessities and despite the bad press, their legislative works are widely considered sound and with positive outcomes for most people. For myself, I am considering 10 other senators for my list and this includes familiar names like Dick Gordon (a former senator himself) and Risa Hontiveros whom we have supported from the time she first ran for the senate. I will likely include Walden Bello as the country needs someone with the firm grasp of social and economic issues and who is unwilling to compromise in addressing these issues via mainstream avenues. I met him a couple of years ago and found him to be a very wise and reasonable person who knew how to listen while also offering frank opinions on the constructive side.

I will likely post about the rest of in my list as election day approaches. And for the Presidency, let's just say that I am closer to a decision. But then as any responsible parent should be doing, suffice it to say that I will most likely vote for whom I think will lead this country to secure a good future for our children.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Chocolate review: Valrhona Lait Jivara

I seldom feature milk chocolate in this blog as I usually get dark chocolates whenever I get a chance. That, of course, is quite often and I am able to browse a few shelves once in a while including at some favorite shops. Valrhona's Lait Jivara chocolate bar was part of a box and price-wise it made sense to get the box than buy individual chocolate bars.

Valrhona's Lait Jivara milk chocolate claims to have 40% cacao
Details about the chocolate at the back of the box
Close-up of the part that shows the ingredients
Expiration date and instructions for keeping the chocolate
Valrhona's Lait Jivara was a very pleasant surprise as it was probabl among the best if not the best milk chocolate we've tasted. The chocolate was smooth, not so sweet and with just the right bitterness from the 40% cacao it claimed to contain. I thought it was good for dessert and the wife thought it would have went well with some wine. It probably would have and fortunately, we have another bar in another box we have yet to open and enjoy.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Barbecue Singaporean-style

When we met up with friends at Lau Pa Sat, we ordered barbecue from one of the hawkers so we could have some 'fuel' for the catching up and exchange of stories that night. There seemed to be a lot of choices based on the menu provided to us but when you scan the pages, you realise its basically chicken, beef, pork and an assortment of seafoods. They just appear to have many items because of the combinations (sets) that also mentioned the volume of food you get. We went for the chicken satay, pork barbecue and grilled prawns set to go with our individual purchases from the other food stalls at Lau Pa Sat.

Assortment of grilled food
There are many hawkers of grilled food that night and it appears that they are usually there only during the late afternoon to night time when there are a lot of people eating at Lau Pa Sat. It's easy to make an order as there are many hawkers going around with menus on hand. Cost-wise, there are many sets to select from and prices are very reasonable and won't hurt your pocket. Of course, it is better if you were a group so you can enjoy ordering and sharing more food. Chances are, if you are by yourself or a couple, you might best just get food from one of the many stalls at Lau Pa Sat. Of course, if you want to enjoy barbecue, you can probably opt for the smaller sets.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Chocolate review: Ghirardelli Intense Dark Sea Salt Soiree

I had written about this chocolate before but as part of a gift pack we got that had 3 chocolate variants in small square bars. I found a bar of what I thought was the best among the three, which is the Intense Dark Sea Salt Soiree. The chocolate is smooth and just the right bitterness mixed with the sea salt and crushed roasted almonds makes for a very enjoyable bite. It's one of those bars that's so good you must restrain yourself from consuming the entire bar in one sitting and in a short span of time.

A bar of Ghirardelli Intense Dark Sea Salt Soiree also has roasted almonds
Details at the back
A close-up of the description of the chocolate and the process of making it
Nutrition facts and the price tag

This retailed for 7.40 USD (about 340 PHP) at the Duty Free Philippines. You get a 5% discount for the travel light promo and get your chocolates when you come back. Still, it is an expensive bar compared to others available in the market. It's right there with the Valrhonas in terms of the price but it is worth every gram of this 100g bar.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Chocolate drink from Family Mart - Cocio Dark Chocolate Milk

I am always curious about what I could find in convenience stores. I already am familiar with what Seven Eleven and Mini Stop have to offer in their shelves but I have not really had the chance to check out what Family Mart has and soon there will also be a Circle K nearby the university. Among the items I usually look for whenever I am abroad are chocolate drinks. I found a good one at Family Mart.

The bottle reminded me of the old Choco Vim and Magnolia Chocolait drinks of my childhood days
Detailed information on the chocolate drink at the back of the bottle.
Cocio retails for about 80 pesos at Family Mart. The drink is actually made in Denmark so that in part accounts for it being pricey. There is another variant that is Milk Chocolate available at the same convenience store but I prefer the dark chocolate drink. Is it worth the price? Definitely! And I will likely get a bottle or two whenever I get a chance.


Saturday, April 9, 2016

Chocolate review: Charbonnel et Walker Milk Chocolate Shoes

This is actually a late post about a gift last Christmas. Among the hoard the Clairvoyant took home from her office was an interesting box in the shape of a bag. The contents are already stated as milk chocolate shoes so there was no surprise there.

Interesting packaging for chocolates - front
Back of the small box shaped like a handbag
Original detailed information on the chocolate at the back was obscured by the sticker containing the same info
The 'bag' opens to reveal its contents covered by more packaging
The surprise was a pair of milk chocolate high heel shoes
I seldom feature milk chocolate in this blog but I must say this one was smooth and as good as the better milk chocolates we've had before. Would I buy these myself if I saw these in a shop somewhere? Maybe and probably for our daughter if she wanted to have some.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Indian food craving in Singapore

We liked to eat Indian food whenever we were in Singapore and it helped that the city state has a sizeable Indian community, which is part of the multi-racial, diverse composition of Singaporean society. It is not difficult to find places where you can eat good Indian food there. We didn't really go for fancy Indian restaurants. The food courts and hawker markets where many people eat at are among the places where you can eat authentic Indian food without hurting your pockets.

On this recent trip to Singapore, we decided to get some Indian food at Lau Pa Sat. We went for some safe choices in the form of chicken biryani and chicken tikka. I saw somewhere on the counter a sign stating that the food was in the Hyderabad style. Hyderabad is one of the states in India. I will probably look up what exactly is meant by the food being prepared/cooked in the "Hyderabad style". I'm no food connoisseur so I didn't really notice a very significant difference from Indian food we had in other places like Lau Pa Sat before. The food was actually quite pedestrian compared to restaurant food but that's okay for us and we enjoyed our meal.

Chicken biryani and a generous serving basmati rice with curry on the side
Chicken tikka and nan


Friday, April 1, 2016

Mourning at the University of the Philippines Diliman Faculty Center

It seemed like an April Fool's Day joke when we got a message that the Faculty Center or FC of the University of the Philippines Diliman was on fire. And then we saw the images on social media and were shocked by the realization of just how much was lost with the destruction of the building. Housed there are documents, art works and personal properties of faculty members, staff and students of the College of Arts and Letters (CAL) and College of Social Science and Philosophy (CSSP). Among those probably lost are the life works of prominent writers, poets and artists, copies of thesis and dissertations of graduate and post-graduate students, many of which you cannot put a price tag to describe their worth.

My memories of the FC includes many registration periods when I had to get an instructor's prerogative to get me enough units so I won't be underloaded for the semester (it was tough to get subjects during our time). I also recall submissions of reports and getting classcards for my grades from faculty members who had their offices there. I also attended some forums there as the FC was a popular venue for relevant discussions at the time including those that took up the issue of the future of US bases in the Philippines back in the early 1990s.

Today and the following days, we mourn the loss of the physical items that were destroyed in the fire that gutted the FC. Despite this, valuable memories of the FC are still with many people including present and retired faculty members, and present and graduated students of UP. I am sure that the FC will eventually rise from the ashes of the building and new memories will be forged by faculty, staff and students who will be occupying the next FC.