Thursday, September 29, 2016

BarbiQ, 2003-2016

Our mixed breed BarbiQ or Barbi as we liked to call her passed away today. She was more than 13 years old or 91+ years old in dog years. It was no surprise that her lifespan was longer than our lab Troy who was her contemporary. He was 10+years old (73 dog years) when he passed away in 2014. Barbi was a smaller breed and her being a mongrel likely made her more sturdy than Troy.

We "rescued" Barbi from the wife's parents' home where she seemed to be the odd dog among 2 dobermans and a three Japanese spitz. She was actually given to my mother-in-law by one of her students when she was still teaching. At the time we took her in sometime in 2004, she was already an adult dog and it took her a while to adjust to our place. She did get along immediately with Troy who was still a puppy. 

Barbi relaxing on a pillow at our home
Barbi survived being bumped by a car and a couple of operations on her ears. She was generally resistant to illness and only at times had a significant tick problem. That was when we were still at our first house. The past months she had become weaker and had less and less activity. She still liked her treats and would come to us whenever we called her. The last few days our helper had noticed that she seemed to have lost her appetite. This was probably a sign that she was already dying.The Clairvoyant last checked on her yesterday when Barbi refused her dinner and decided to hang around the bath at the back of our home. It was quite cold and damp the past few days because of the heavy rains so the weather also probably was a factor in her passing.

We will miss Barbi. She was a good guard dog who knew about our impending arrival home even when we were far away. She was the first to bark and had very keen senses. She also had a good feel for people so you know by her moods if a person was a dog lover or not. Rest in peace Barbi. You served us well and we are also glad that Ally got to experience your company even as you were at the twilight of your life.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

A second look at Asakusa, The Grove

In a recent post about this restaurant, I was only able to share a photo of their menu. I think we were just too hungry that we just took a few personal photos. Last weekend, we were back and had a late lunch so we could spend some time. Our daughter actually fell asleep the entire time we had lunch and we didn't want to wake her up so we ended up eating as if it were only us two.

Some frames add character to the restaurant
Scallops and dip
Tiger prawns and dip
Tempura, gyoza and rice
Highly recommended is their green tea ice cream with Valrhona brownies. Yes, I got that right - Valrhona chocolate brownies!
You can opt to order tempura a la carte instead of their sets. That means you can pick from their nice selection for your very own set. We both like scallops so we ordered a few this time. I would probably order some fish next time. The previous time I also had cold soba but this time I opted for rice. I did mention that the restaurant was child friendly and their staff were very attentive and helpful. Cost-wise, I think the prices are just right and fair for the quality of the food and service they provide. We will definitely be back soon at this restaurant.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Casa Abuela, Antipolo City

The wife and I were curious about Casa Abuela, which we usually pass by on the way to and from Sumulong Highway from and to our home along Ortigas Avenue Extension. After some time procrastinating (and passing the area so many other times), we finally decided to drop by one Saturday afternoon for merienda.

The furniture here seems an eclectic connection
A view of the inside of the restaurant shows a variety of furniture. Most look very comfy to sit in. Perhaps your choice of seats depends on your mood or your company?
Cakes, pastries and other items they offer are posted near the counter along with notes from customers who have enjoyed these.
An old chest converted into a table has underneath the glass top various notes, some on stationery, containing greetings and praises for the food and the service.
We decided to have a few slices of sansrival to take home. This is really good and highly recommended.
Here are the other cakes available that day

We always enjoy eating out and are quite selective whenever we are with our daughter. We thought Casa Abuela has very good food judging from the notes all around the restaurant, and our daughter enjoyed her ensaymada and some sansrival. The Clairvoyant also enjoyed her coffee. We will be back to try out their meals and we are also curious about their take-outs for when we have guests to feed over lunch or dinner.

We also want to promote our chosen city of residence and what better way to promote our home city but through some of its restaurants. Tangkilikin ang sariling atin!


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Asakusa restaurant, The Grove, Ortigas

There's a nice Japanese restaurant at a residential enclave along C.P. Garcia Ave (formerly E. Rodriguez Ave. and also part of Circumferential Road 5) near the intersection with Ortigas Avenue. Asakusa is a Japanese restaurant located at The Grove along C-5 and across from Tiendesitas. They have a good menu and the food is very good. We were already hungry when we got there, deciding to explore the place as we often passed this area on the way home from our daughter's Saturday play school.

Asakusa's menu - you can refer to their website ( for more details

I wasn't able to take photos of the food we ordered but I assure my readers that its good and did not taste like just another local restaurant masquerading as a Japanese restaurant. We noticed that the staff were also very attentive and helpful to customers. In fact, I thought they were a very child-friendly restaurant and this was a plus for parents like us who had a toddler with us. We will definitely be back at this restaurant for lunch or maybe dinner.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Chocolate review: Karl Fazer Orange & Crisps Dark Chocolate

I spotted this big bar at the airport duty free shop and didn't hesitate (Didn't I say in previous posts that we love dark chocolate?) to purchase one. The orange and crisps are definitely among the reasons I didn't hesitate because the orange blends so well with the dark chocolate and the rice crisps give the chocolate an enjoyable crunch.

Karl Fazer's Orange & Crisps Dark Chocoalte
Back of the pack
Description of the chocolate including a short history of Karl Fazer chocolates - this one claims 47% cacao
Price tag

This was a good buy at 8.40 USD (about 393.50 to 402.51 PHP depending on the exchange rate) for a 250g bar. It was very good chocolate and I would definitely pick up another one or more the next time I saw one. Incidentally, I did get another bar when I saw a familiar store at the domestic wing of NAIA Terminal 3.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Chocolate review: Icam Cioccolato Fondente 72% Cacao

I don't recall I have tasted chocolates from Italy. That, of course, is with the exception of chocolate ice cream since we enjoyed eating gelato her and abroad. I encountered several good bars of chocolate at a wine shop in Alabang and decided to purchase a few bars. One is Icam's Cioccolato Fondente that claims to contain 72% cacao. We already have tasted many other 72% cacao chocolates and this % was just right - not too bitter.

Icam dark chocolate is supposed to contain 72% cacao
Details on the chocolate at the back
There is an English translation (as well as other languages as well) for the ingredients to this bar
Nutrition information on the chocolate

This is a smooth dark chocolate and I definitely won't hesitate buying a bar or two the next time I see this chocolate in a shop. I think I lost the receipt for my purchases so I would have to check the prices again for this and the other chocolates I bought. However, I do remember that this didn't cost me more than 150 PHP for the 100g bar. That, I think, is a bargain for very good dark chocolate.
[I checked this recently and it retailed for 125 PHP for a bar - Dec. 30, 216]

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Off-season atis

My trip to the wet market last Saturday allowed us to re-supply with seafood, particularly fresh tuna and shrimps from our 'suki' vendors. But my most interesting find, well according to me, is that my favorite fruit is available at the market. Atis or sweetsop is something I would have expected during the dry season in the months we often refer to as summer in the Philippines. We are currently in the middle of the wet season and experiencing some heavy rains almost everyday although there hasn't been a major typhoon to affect our area, which is close to Metro Manila.

Atis or sweetsop is a popular fruit that's usually available during the summer (dry season).
Though I welcome having atis at this time of year, I wonder if this pleasure is actually in exchange for something quite serious and maybe bad. Perhaps change is really coming (to use this favorite tagline of supporters of the current Philippines president). Only this time, this is climate change that's probably already here.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Chocolate review: Valrhona Lait Caramelia Crunchy Pearls 36% Cacao

Another bar of Valrhona chocolate we tasted recently (last month) is a milk chocolate. This, I admit, is a bit out of character as we usually purchase only dark chocolates but this came in a pack and you couldn't choose which bars came with the box.

Valrhona's Lait Caramelia Crunchy Pearls claims to have 36% cacao
Details on the chocolate at the back of the packaging
More details including the expiration date, which we almost failed to note thus the chocolate's consumption on the expiration month. Valrhona's are so good we usually hesitate depleting our supply.

The Clairvoyant made the observation that this chocolate reminded her of the Nestle Crunch chocolate bars. I remember we still have another one of this in the fridge but the wife already said she only wants a tiny piece in case I opened a bar for dessert. The chocolate indeed has some similarity to the more mass produced and 'pedestrian' Nestle Crunch but this chocolate was more refined and less sweet than the former.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Chocolate review: Another taste of Godiva's dark chocolate almond

We discovered we still had a couple of Godiva chocolate bars and so we decided to have one for our dessert. Of course, we exercised some restraint on our part so it took us a couple of days to finish this one. I already featured this chocolate last May so I won't be writing about it in details. Suffice it to be said that this 'revisiting' of this chocolate bar was quite a good way to conclude a meal. The crushed almonds offered something to chew on and blended well with the 72% cacao bar.

This chocolate retails for 10.80 USD (currently about 502.15 PHP) at the Duty Free Philippines shops at NAIA Terminal 3.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Mantellassi San Giuseppe Morellino Di Scansano 2013

I bought three bottles of wine last July the one time I was able to find the Bacchus wine shop in Alabang. One of the bottles was an Italian red wine that was their feature for the month - Mantellassi San Giuseppe Morellino Di Scansano (that was a mouthful!). I tried the wine at the shop and ended up drinking 3 glasses (on the house, of course) as I went about deciding on the 2 other bottles I wanted to get. The shopkeeper who was very helpful (not to mention very patient in answering my questions) in my choosing wines gave some helpful tips with this Italian wine including to let the wine breathe for about 30 minutes after opening the bottle.

This wine is young at 2013
Information about the origin region in Italy
The wine from this bottle was as good as the three bottles I consumed when I was shopping last July and the wife was also very pleased with the wine. Of course, we didn't finish the entire bottle in one go as we enjoyed a glass each for a few nights after dinner. We enjoyed the wine sometimes with cheese, sometimes with chocolate and sometimes with both. I will likely get another bottle if I ever see one somewhere. So I am posting this here to help me remember. I only regret that I wasn't able to take photos of the wine on glasses.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Hokkaido Ramen Santouka, Greenhills Promenade

I open September and what is often jokingly referred to as the longest Christmas season in the world with a post about a favorite of ours. The Clairvoyant and I went on one of our rare dates to watch a concert at the Music Museum in Greenhills where two of our friends were performing. We decided to have dinner in the area and as we crossed to the Greenhills Promenade we made the quick decision to have Japanese food upon seeing Hokkaido Ramen Santouka.

Blended iced tea
Santouka chicken ramen - chicken noodle soup, the Japanese way, for which they only serve 20 bowls a day
Tokusen toroniku ramen - one of their specialty ramens
Service was really good with their staff attentive and knowledgeable about the food in their menu. The ambiance was also very good. Most of all, the ramen we had were great and so it was not surprising that they had a lot of diners. We definitely would like to eat here again or perhaps at another branch somewhere.