Friday, March 24, 2017

Pablo - cheese tart

I finally got to taste the much hyped cheese tart by Pablo. Pablo is a Japanese franchise that's only recently established a foothold in Metro Manila. Upon the opening of its stores, there were long queues of people curious about this specialty. I thought that the lines also reflected the word of mouth going around for people who had tasted the tarts abroad and specifically in Japan. And what seems to be an expensive delight (To be fair, I haven't checked the prices but people have told me the tarts were quite pricey.)

The big cheese tart
Here's a close-up of the tart showing the texture that to me is creamy yet firm enough that its really enjoyable 

I would say that Pablo's cheese tart was definitely good. I, however, am not exactly big on tarts although I enjoy the buko tarts of Rowena's in Tagaytay. The taste and texture for me were very familiar as I've enjoyed somethings like this when I was residing in Japan. The taste reminded me of the Japanese-style cheese cakes we enjoyed over coffee or tea. I even recall the nice neighborhood kind of coffee shops near the Tokyu Jiyugaoka Station where we had some really good cheese cakes that tasted like Pablo's tarts. I thought that Pablo's tarts were very good but I am not sure the steep price (~PHP 500 for the one pictured above) is value for money. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Paalam Tito Froi

Last Monday, another loved one was laid to rest. Froilan Laudit, or Tito Froi as my wife fondly called him, passed away almost two weeks ago after succumbing to organ failure due to complications brought about by a severe asthma attack. He was visiting his son's family in Auckland, New Zealand where the latter had immigrated. I could imagine it was a very joyful and exciting trip to Auckland as his first grandchild was born last year and only recently turned one. Who knew that only a few days after arriving there that he would have a fatal asthma attack.

The youngest sibling of my mother-in-law (the eldest), I have known him almost two decades now. The Clairvoyant also had told many stories about him. He spent a significant part of his life as an overseas worker in Tokyo, Japan. We could have been there at the same time when I was a student from 1996-1999. I'm just not sure our paths crossed at least one time because he resided and worked in the northern part of Tokyo while I spend most in Yokohama and the southern part of the capital.

Tito Froi was a doting uncle to his nieces and nephews. He was a good man, a kind person. He will be missed!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Chocolate review: Funky Monkey by The Bakeshop, EDSA Shangri-La

Last December, we picked up some chocolate bars at the EDSA Shangri La hotel. We stayed there for a couple of nights as we had some pest control work on our home. The hotel made some really good chocolates that we had enjoyed in the past and we wanted to try out some of what they had. One of the bars is curiously named "Funky Monkey Marshmallow & Crispies".

Funky Monkey Marshmallow & Crispies Homemade Milk Chocolate Bar
Some details about EDSA Shangri La's in-house chocolate

Though we don't usually buy milk chocolates, we made an exception for this one because of the marshmallow and crispies. This was the chunky kind that you will enjoy because of the ingredients. The bar did not disappoint but of course, we found it too sweet for our taste buds. Still, I would recommend this chocolate for whoever loves milk chocolate and especially those loaded with ingredients that make you chew. I seem recall that the bar cost 250 or 300 Pesos and the price is fair for a very good chocolate in a 180g bar.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Catholic Cemetery of Cabatuan, Iloilo

Nanay Nene was finally laid to rest last Wednesday, March 15, 2017 at the Cabatuan cemetery. The cemetery is located at the outskirts of the town but along the national highway that eventually leads to the next town of Sta. Barbara as well as the access road to the airport, which is on land within the jurisdiction of Cabatuan. The cemetery is centuries old and is easily identified by its distinctive main gate and mortuary chapel. I decided to post photos I took last Monday when I visited the cemetery to see the progress of preparations at our family tomb located beside the chapel. Nay Nene was to join her parents, other siblings and close relatives who had passed away years ago and Tatay and my cousin Manong Joam already made arrangements for her interment here. Meanwhile, a close nephew, Dexter, committed to improving the tomb in addition to works he already had done for the tombs bearing his parents, my cousins.

Mortuary chapel
Mortuary chapel wall and grills
Details on the mortuary chapel
Altar and crucifix
Main gate featuring a centuries old arch leading to the mortuary chapel
There was a time when a clear view of the chapel from the main gate was blocked by the tomb of the town's most prominent son, Tomas Confesor. He was a prominent senator during the Commonwealth and after the Second World War. That tomb was eventually moved to the town plaza.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Chocolate review: Casino Noir Ecorces D'Orange Confites

Towards the end of December last year, we decided to stay at a hotel as our house was being treated against termites. We didn't have termites but as a precautionary measure, we had to do some pest control. Among our discoveries around the hotel was a branch of Bacchus where I got a few Italian-made chocolates. And I did remember getting some very good chocolate bars at their branch in Alabang before so I made sure I would get a few bars here, too.

Casino Noir Ecorces D'Orange Confites is dark chocolate with orange peelings
Detail including ingredients at the back
Because the original information was in French, the local distributors placed this sticker of nutrition info in English
The chocolate claimed to contain a minimum of 52% cacao
Here's the close-up of the sticker containing nutrition info and ingredients

This chocolate retails for 125 PHP (about 2.52 USD) fora 200g bar. That's good value for money for a good chocolate.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Va Bene Pasta Deli, Bonifacio High Street

Rather than dwell on the sadness brought upon by news of the demise of a beloved aunt, I've decided to write about a recent lunch experience. I find writing to provide some healing as it helps me think about lighter topics. And the mental exercise I get from it also provides me with a more focused mind that keeps the sad thoughts away.

Looking for a place to have lunch at the Bonifacio High Street one Saturday after our daughter's play school, we ended up at the Central Square where there were also restaurants mostly at the top (cinema) floor. The Clairvoyant quickly saw Va Bene, which was familiar to her and it wasn't so difficult for us to decide to eat there once we saw their menu just outside their door. There were also many other people eating there despite us arriving towards the end of what is typically the lunch hour. Most were foreigners, families actually, and so we took that as an indication that the food must be good.

We were already so hungry that we thought about taking photos after we had already eaten some of the food that we ordered. They make their own pasta (thus the 'fresh' tag in their menu) so that was probably one of the reasons the pastas we ordered were flavorful and having just the right texture (definitely not soggy nor hard as if it weren't cooked properly).

Bianca pizza - this looks thick but isn't heavy as an appetizer. The cheese blended really well with the honey and the crust was the right crunchy
Parma ham with greens, cantaloupe melon and shaved pecorino - we didn't expect the serving to be so generous considering parma ham wasn't cheap to begin with
Potato gnocchi - the Clairvoyant enjoyed this very much and so did our daughter who continues to surprise us with what she likes to eat. I was expecting her to like the bolognese more than this dish.
Bolognese tagliatelle this is perhaps one of the best bolognese I have tasted

Va Bene offers high quality food and the prices make it good value for your pockets or wallets. Located at the cinema level of Central Square at the end of Bonifacio High Street, it is away from the other, stand alone restaurants along High Street. It's not really a secret that its there but perhaps its location keeps it from being too crowded. We are definitely keeping this on our list of restaurants we should eat at again sometime soon.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Paalam, Nanay Nene

A beloved aunt passed away yesterday. Enriqueta Regidor, Nanay Nene to many of us, joined her Creator yesterday afternoon. She was 84 and would have been 85 this June (b. June 24, 1932) if she was not hit by a jeepney that fateful morning last week. Although Nanay Nene had her share of illnesses, these were not so serious and she was probably as healthy as she could be at her age. In fact, she was walking to church that morning, as she had done so many times, to hear the early morning Mass. She liked to go for the early Mass even on Sundays as she preferred the relative serenity of those Masses when there were usually less people in attendance.

Nanay Nene was very dear to us. Among my aunts I would say that probably I was closest to her. I always tagged along with her whenever I was in our hometown of Cabatuan, Iloilo. That meant going with her to the market, to church and even to the city for whatever was needed there. It was her who usually took us to the airport when we departed to return to Manila. It was her who told me a lot of stories about life that I will always treasure and will be sharing with our daughter. Nanay Nene was a teacher. She taught at Badiangan Elementary School until she retired almost 20 years ago. She was a great inspiration for me and perhaps I teach now because I wanted to be like her.  I even remember that I was the one who filed her papers with the Public School Teachers Association in Quezon City in order to expedite her getting her pension. She also loved animals and dogs in particular. Some of her dogs including Marlon and R.O. were probably the reasons why I love dogs.

I haven't visited our home in Iloilo since August 2010. That's almost 7 years ago. I have some personal reasons for not visiting there but I have always kept her in my heart and included her in prayers. I feel both sadness and guilt for not being able to see her one more time while she was living. I would have wanted her to see our Ally and we were planning to visit soon until her untimely passing. I imagine they would have hit it off at once. The photo above is my last photo with her taken in 2010. I would like to remember her as I saw her then.

Paalam Nanay Nene. Rest in peace. We know you are now with God in Heaven. You will be missed and we will always remember you as we continue in our journeys. 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Kuya J's, Fairview Terraces

We usually go to the Fairview Terraces mall after hearing Sunday Mass with my in-laws. We go there for our regular Sunday lunches with the lolo and lola, which our daughter looks forward to once the weekend approaches. Our usual lunches are a rotation among three restaurants - Chili's, Max's and Wee Nam Kee. Since we got to try Kuya J's one time we were at a newly reopened mall in Pasig, we wanted to try it our again considering what we saw in their menu that we were sure would be 'hits' with my in-laws.

Their take on lumpiang sariwa
Grilled scallops - Our daughter loved these
Salad with tuna, mango and greens
Barbecue chicken - their specialty did not disappoint
Kuya J's is a family friendly restaurant and we definitely enjoyed our lunch there. The staff are attentive and helpful. More importantly, we thought their food had really good quality as the taste suited what a lot of people would refer to as lutong bahay (home-cooked food). The prices are also "wallet-friendly" and I think they got the surefire combination of good food with the right prices. The owner, actor Jericho Rosales, seems to know what people like when they eat out. We will definitely be back for more meals in the future.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

A sad start for the month of March

A week and a half ago, we were struck hard with news of a beloved aunt, Nay Nene, the elder sister of my father, being hit by a jeepney in Iloilo. She has since been transferred from the ER to the ICU where she survives, albeit miraculously, and is still in critical condition. As I write this, relatives are trying to figure out how to go about paying the hospital bills and transferring her to the district hospital (she's currently in a hospital in the city) closer to our home there. From the looks of it, her case will be one that will be lingering for a while. Although it is a sensitive matter, the mounting costs will definitely be a major concern as this is the sort of situation that could drain a family's resources. Whether she fully recovers or not, we expect some difficult times ahead, especially emotionally and even perhaps spiritually.

Now comes news of an uncle, Tito Froi, the younger brother of my mother-in-law, having a severe asthma attack and went into coma almost immediately. He only recently flew to New Zealand to visit his son's family. The latter recently had a baby, the first grandchild of our uncle from any of his children. And so it came as a big surprise to a lot of people especially his siblings that this would suddenly happen. As I write this, his son, a nurse in Auckland, would have had the prognosis from the doctors. He would have to make what we think is an extremely painful decision to let go. The asthma attack starved his father's brain and heart of oxygen, and there have been too much damage for him to recover. We await for news from New Zealand but the Clairvoyant is now en route to their home in Novaliches to talk to and comfort her mother and aunts who have congregated there and now stricken with grief about the situation.

We thought February was a sad month because of what happened to Nay Nene. We truly didn't expect it to be sadder with what happened to Tito Froi. Very recently, too, a couple of friends lost their mothers, both mainly due to lingering illnesses. We can only pray for them and ask for our Creator to comfort loved ones they left behind. We can only beg the Lord for mercy on their souls and by His grace that they be with Him in heaven.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Chocolate review: Droste Chocolate Pastilles Dark

It's been a while since I have tasted their chocolates. I discovered Droste chocolates while traveling between Singapore and Manila. I was looking for dark chocolates at our favorite Cocoa Tree shop at Changi Airport and found these chocolates at the counter as I paid for the bars I had selected. At first sight, they seem to be more for snacking in its packaging (pastilles in a box) and so I bought a few. It was so good that we bought more as we shuttled between Manila and Singapore. I checked my chocolate reviews in this blog and it turned out that I haven't written about this chocolate yet.

I found Droste chocolates at the new Cocoa Tree branch at the NAIA Terminal 3. The packaging is simpler. Instead of a box it is now in foil. The chocolates are still very good and as we remembered.

Droste chocolates are a product of the Netherlands
Details on the chocolate are found at the back of the simple packaging
The chocolates
I failed to note the price for this pack of chocolates but you can get these at the Cocoa Tree at the NAIA Terminal 3. There is a branch at the terminal mall and another inside the domestic wing just after you clear security checks. I don't know if they also have a shop inside the international wing of the terminal.